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Sister Maureen is finally professed

May 24, 2011

By Sister Pat K.

What does “finally professed” mean?

To be finally professed in a Catholic religious community of women means that after many years, perhaps as many as seven or eight, a woman has recognized the rightness of the call she answered at least six years earlier to become a religious, a nun in common parlance. To ritualize her recognition of the authenticity of her call, she formally, in the presence of already professed sisters, her family and friends, speaks the words that express by name those vows and the fact that she is making them “for the rest of her life.”  The vows Maureen made on May 14, 2011, as a Sister of Mercy of the Americas are poverty, chastity, obedience and the service of the poor, sick and ignorant.

Those of us who witnessed her profession of vows were deeply moved. Members of her family might have felt they were giving her away in much the same way parents feel when their daughters marry. Friends sense the fact that, while Maureen is still their friend, she has a way of life that supersedes her commitments to friends and social life. Those of us who are professed and have known Maureen from the day she entered as a candidate, through reception as a novice and first profession of temporary vows, know what her commitment really means. Women who are themselves in the incorporation phase of becoming a finally professed Sister of Mercy saw Maureen as the embodiment of the woman they hope to be when they reach the time for final profession.

Maureen herself was radiant. From her time of association with the Sisters of Mercy when she was called a Mercy Associate to this profession day it has been a journey unlike any she ever took before. First, she learned about the foundress of the Sisters of Mercy, Catherine McAuley, a single woman in Dublin, Ireland in the mid-19th century. She read about her life and what prompted her to devote her considerable inheritance to building a house of refuge for poor women who lived in threatening situations, lacked education or training for meaningful jobs.

Maureen was fascinated with Catherine as a person – a fun-loving, generous, compassionate woman who attracted other women to join her long before she thought of becoming a nun. Today’s needs are different in many ways and Maureen saw in the sisters she knew some of the same characteristics that Catherine had and wondered if her fascination was more than just passing interest. She decided she needed to come and see. In much the same way Jesus invited his apostles-to-be to follow him around, see what he was doing and whether they wanted to do those things too, Maureen came to a convent in Brooklyn, New York, to see for herself what life as a Sister of Mercy was all about.

Now Maureen has lived this life herself and she is as sure as anyone can be that she is ready to say I do to the questions that are asked of her in the profession ritual. So now she is a full-fledged Sister of Mercy and we raise our hands in blessing and say “Amen, we affirm! Amen, we encourage! Amen we bless and celebrate!”

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