First Profession: Words of Gratitude from Sr. Mary Leonora, Provincial

What a long awaited and beautiful day in the life of a religious – profession day – which translates “wedding day” with none other than our Lord and Redeemer, Jesus Christ!

 Sr. Carly Paula and Sr. Chelsea Bethany, you have found the ONE and He made sure to let Himself be found by you. And looking at you both, I have to admit that the Lord has done a great job in choosing! In psalm 45 that we prayed today, it says: “Radiant they shall enter the palace of the king.” And before that: “the king shall desire your beauty”; “the king will fall in love with your beauty”! The psalm writer is talking not only of exterior beauty, but of interior beauty. 

And that beauty has been bestowed on you by Jesus Himself; it is the beauty of love that radiates from your hearts. It’s the gift that you received, first, in your families – from your parents, grandparents, siblings, extended family, and from your friends – the love you experienced and learned among them. I thank them in our name and in your name for the wonderful women of goodness and beauty that you are. From all of you Chelsea and Carly have learned generosity and self-giving, which is why they were so ready to follow Christ. Thus you have a real part in their overflowing happiness today.

 So, too, all of us, the community of your sisters who have accompanied you both… We have watched you grow, loved you, cried with you, laughed with you, rejoiced with you. Most of all, we have prayed with you and for you and carried you in our hearts. Hopefully, we have inspired you and let a good bit of the joy and gratitude we experience for the gift vocation infect you with its contagion! The call to be Christ’s own is an O so awesome gift! 

How appropriate that your profession should be on the Feast of Mary! She is the most radiant of all brides and lives out for us what it means to be a bride of Christ. Her Magnificat proclaims it to the world: “My soul magnifies the Lord!” – and the Lord magnifies Himself in her. The Lord Jesus is at the center of her life; it is He she magnifies, makes great, proclaims through her life and mission. So, too, do you magnify the Lord, focus the lens on Him and project Him everywhere so that all can see and hear and understand “how good and merciful is the Lord”! Our mission of evangelization is this. Our lives as brides of Christ let us experience this reciprocal magnification. 

It’s the lens to the vows as well. We joyfully magnify the Lord and not ourselves! This is the vow of obedience you have just professed. God lifts us up in our want and fills us with good things, because we trust in Him, renouncing the superfluous so that we can better magnify the Lord, making Him #1 always. This is our vow of poverty. Finally, we magnify the Lord in a life of intimacy with Him, of chaste love and of  joyful self-giving to others. Jesus is our ALL. This is our vow of chastity

Sr. Carly Paula, St. Paul’s life was all about Christ. He could say: “I live now, not I, but Christ lives in me. For me life IS Christ.” The more Christ is formed in you, the more your life will become a magnification of Him, a Magnificat lived out in all the spiritual movements and humble or great activities of your Pauline life.

 Sr. Chelsea Bethany, one of the meanings of Bethany is “House of Song.” In requesting the name, you made the reflection: “even as a child I understood my life to be like a song—as a symphony being written note by note. ... I know that with Him as my composer and director, He will create the melody of my life to be a hymn of praise.” Do that and your life will, in fact, magnify the Lord. 

May you both be blessed every day with the joy of the bride who gives all and holds nothing back. Jesus loves you with a love that is unconditional and you are precious in His eyes. May this joy strike deep and lasting roots in you and carry you through life. May you always be, in mind, will and heart, the disciple-bride, who follows her Lord wherever He leads. 

Thank you for your “yes” to the Lord and your “yes” to us. How very happy we are to have you as our youngest professed sisters

May God bless you, bless your parents, your siblings, your relatives, bless your extended family and friends, bless all here present. Thank you.