What a fabulous weekend of beginning and celebrating commitment. I could feel the walls of Nazareth and my heart swelling with all the love and support that was in that building this weekend. Many sisters were home and sisters from the other centers joined us for the celebrations of my novitiate ceremony and our jubilee celebrations for those in religious life for 50, 60 and 75 years. It was a very busy weekend with all the parties, socials, programs, ceremony and liturgy!
For my entrance into novitiate, sisters from the Cleveland, LaGrange, Wheeling, and of course Nazareth were all present. In fact there were a couple of sisters from Cleveland that came up for the ceremony and I hadn't even met them previously. That's what community does in your life though. You realize the spirit and heart that is in those around you and those with the same initials after there name and though you've never met, you share the same experience and are able to be a support and a presence without even knowing names. I thought a lot of those sisters that traveled all that way to celebrate my day, even for a short time!
During the ceremony, I think I was called up 3 times in front of all who were gathered and just looking out towards the people made my heart expand with their prayers and support. All of the innumerable hugs will definitely last me quite a while.
Some sisters requested that I make available the responses to Marie's questions that I answered during the ceremony. Below you will find those but before I do that, I just want to thank everyone that was with me whether is was with their physical or prayerful presence.
Marie: Jenn, What do you ask of the Congregation?
In this period of novitiate which the community and God have invited me to, I would ask from my sisters: prayers, support and encouragement. Relationships through both prayer and presence are the things that have helped me to see God within myself and in this community. I would hope that your words of encouragement would continue to help me say “yes” to all that God plans on my journey.
Marie: What has brought you to this decision?
I can’t say that I alone am responsible for this decision to continue my journey in religious life. There have been struggles (and I would guess there will be a few in the future) that make me realize how counter-cultural this life is. There are times that I’ve allowed God to say “yes” for me when I couldn’t say it myself. I know that each struggle, each joy, each lesson-learned, gives me more strength to allow God to keep working in my life. I know that this period of novitiate will allow me the opportunity to build a deeper relationship with God. This is the “something more” that I started to search for before coming to this community. The desire to deepen and strengthen this relationship is what brings me to say “yes” with God today.
Marie: Jenn, What has drawn you to the Congregation of St. Joseph?
In my 7-year introduction to the Sisters of St. Joseph, I have experienced being one with the God-given Spirit for authentic life that runs through this community. As my family is realizing, this lifestyle is very different than the American culture we are used to but that difference is what attracted me. I have seen the Spirit of humility and hospitality at work when sisters are in relationship with others both in and outside of the community… welcoming others and putting them at ease. There is also an honesty that CSJs live out of that allows them to be open to God and to the Spirit as they live their day to day life. I have also found that a Sister of St. Joseph’s energy comes from the time that they are able to have alone and with God. This energy allows them to live life to the fullest and with enthusiasm while being aware of God’s continuous presence. These are characteristics that I desire to have as a part of myself. I have found that I can grow in these traits with this community and also be focused on the presence of God throughout life.