Ceremonies Are For All of Us
By Sister Sheila S.
…or reinvigorate a person for the life-choice she/he once made…or cause a person to consider how she/he is moving in the process of discernment toward a particular life choice.
In late August a woman entered the Sisters of Mercy in our area. On Labor Day weekend another young woman professed her first vows as a Sisters of Mercy after two years of Candidacy and two years of Novitiate, and the following weekend another professed her final vows after seven years of living the life of a Sisters of Mercy and continuing to discern her call.
Three unique and beautiful ceremonies steeped in the rich history and tradition of Mercy. Three unique and beautiful women journeying in Mercy, each seeking God’s will for her life. One just beginning, one in the middle of her Incorporation (formerly known as Formation) process and one ready to say “yes” to God through the Sisters of Mercy, forever.
For each ceremony the chapels/church were filled with sisters, associates, Mercy Volunteers, co-ministers of the women and family and friends. There was excitement before and after and much embracing and congratulating, but during each ritual there was a sense that each woman was doing something important and life-changing. Each woman glowed as she responded to Sister Nancy, our president, when asked a series of questions about her intentions. Each spoke confidently about her willingness to continue her life in Mercy. At the professions, each professed her vows with a confidence which came from years of faithfulness to the Incorporation process, continuing discernment, a life lived in community and in ministry and a deep and growing intimacy with God.
But these ceremonies were not just about these three women alone. They were as much about each person who witnessed the Welcome of Nordia, the First Profession of Sister Jenny and the Final Profession of Sister Laurie. Most people in the chapel/church have made a commitment already, and if we were attentive it likely caused us to consider once again our own call to married life, single life, vowed religious life or priesthood…why did I chose my vocation? what has happened to the commitment I made a few or many years ago? how have I matured in my calling and my relationship to God? how has God been with me along the way? if I had it to do over, would I do it all again? and lastly, am I still joyful, content and challenged in the vocation to which God has called me?
For those who witnessed the ceremoniew and have not yet made a commitment…how was I moved by the commitment I saw today?…what reasonated within me as I watched a woman make a choice? … what inspired me? …how is God leading me and how am I listening to God’s call?…what will it take for me to make a commitment to a particular lifestyle choice?
Ceremonies are wonderful events, and three in a short time is a real blessing to our Mercy Community. Yes, indeed, we have all spoken since about how invigorated we felt and how our own vocation was renewed as we saw these three women take a step forward in faith in response to God’s invitation.
We “affirm, encourage and celebrate” with Nordia, Sister Jenny and Sister Laurie at this wonderful time in their lives and in the life of Mercy.