Make First Profession
Sisters Elfie Del Rosario, FMA, and Jennifer Kane, FMA, professed the vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience for one year in a Mass of Religious Profession on August 5 at Mary Help of Christians Academy in North Haledon, N.J.
|With their parents in the pew behind them, Sr. Elfie Del Rosario (left) and Sr. Jennifer Kane take part in their Mass of Religious Profession.|
Sr. Karen Dunn, FMA, provincial of the Salesian Sisters’ Eastern Province, received their vows. Fr. Tom Dunne, provincial of the Eastern Province of the Salesians of Don Bosco, presided at the Mass and preached.
The large chapel was nearly full with Salesian sisters, Sisters of Christian Charity, relatives of the two newly professed sisters, Salesian Cooperators, other friends of the sisters, and some young women doing several days of vocational discernment. Ten priests, including five SDBs, concelebrated.
Sr. Jennifer is a native of Corning, N.Y., and served 16 years in the U.S. Air Force and National Guard before entering the convent. The Catholic press paid some mind to her vocation story last May, e.g., http://www.catholiccourier.com/regional-life/steuben-county/features/corning-native-evolves-from-bombs-to-bibles/#sthash.us63f1Jl.dpbs
Sr. Elfie was born in Nigeria, grew up in the Philippines, and went to college there, earning a B.S. in psychology. After graduation she came to the U.S. to join her family, who had already immigrated and settled in Union, N.J.
She worked with children with special needs for seven years before entering the convent and during her period of candidacy—she was still paying for student loans.
She became familiar with the FMAs through a “Come and See” weekend with a group of Cistercians Sisters in Massachusetts. “Praise Jesus for that sister who lovingly said that was not my charism,” she writes. She entered the FMAs in 2009.
Fr. Tom began his homily by thanking the parents of the two women about to make their vows for nurturing their faith and their religious vocations; their parents were seated right behind them in the front pews.
Then he alluded to the three readings that the two women had chosen for the Mass, comparing their contents to three acts of a drama and drawing a parallel between that and the dramatic unfolding of Salesian religious life, with a vocational beginning, a middle, and end. Specifically, he cited article 5 of the Constitutions of the Sisters: “God our Father calls us to live our Baptismal consecration wholeheartedly consecrating us in the Spirit. United in community, we bind ourselves publicly by our vows to follow Christ, chaste, poor and obedient, totally available for his mission of salvation. In this way we proclaim our determination to live for the glory of God by our work for the evangelization of the young, walking with them on the path to holiness.”
The reading from Isaiah 43:1-7, Fr. Tom said, emphasized God’s personal love for each person, a love that calls people to live in union with him, starting with Baptism. This is the vocational beginning.
Led by the Holy Spirit, Christians respond to the divine invitation of Baptism by living according to God’s will, as brought out by the reading from Ephesians 1:3-14. The second reading also points to a call to a more intimate love, one of total self-giving to God, which the Salesian sister does through her vows and her life in communion with other sisters. This is the vocational middle.
The vocational end only starts on this day of profession, Fr. Tom said. The gospel reading of the vine and the branches (John 15:1-11) calls the religious to a more intense relationship with God, to abiding in Christ and totally sharing in Christ’s life. Christ has to be the one absolute in our lives. This connection with Jesus keeps a religious faithful to her commitment and is the source of her holiness.
|At the end of the Mass, the 2 newly professed sisters expressed their thanks to God, to Mary Help of Christians, to their parents, and to many other people.|