Two Final Professions in the Time of Pandemic
….and both of these were held in Mindanao:
Sr. Anne Catherine of the Good Shepherd gave her definitive YES to the Lord on December 8, 2021, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, in St. Vincent Ferrer Parish, Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte.
On January 25, 2022, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, Sr. Therese Augustine of the Most Holy Trinity made her final profession in St. Francis Xavier Parish, Kibangay, Lantapan in Bukidnon.
IT’S A YES TO MY FOREVER
December 8, 2021 - “Ito ang araw na ginawa ng Panginoon. Tayo’y magsaya at magalak.”
Yes, indeed, this is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad. The celebration took place in the midst of a pandemic. The very same day we celebrated the 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines. The whole Church has also been united as we celebrated the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary – which is another profound blessing. And I, like Mary, proclaimed the greatness of the Lord.
Never had I thought before that I would go into a relationship. Never had I realized that I would be engaged and would have this FOREVER in my life…not until I entered the Assumption and followed my vocation. Never had I thought that I would also utter this phrase “Kami na po.” This “Kami na po.” in Filipino really brought a peculiar smile in me - a Filipino lingo which simply means that a man and a woman officially admit and announce that they are in a relationship. Having professed my definitive “YES” became very significant to me. After having publicly professed that I am in a relationship with – or wedded to – God, this “Kami na po,” ushers my lifelong commitment to Him and my constant self-giving to His Church through the mission of the Religious of the Assumption. This “Kami na po” is my profession of readiness to be a responsible and faithful bride to my God – to the love of my life – to my Good Shepherd. This “kami na po” is my “yes” to Him, to be His and to belong to Him forever.
Yes, there is a FOREVER. Hopefully, all may find their forever. I have found my FOREVER.
Before, it has been my earnest desire to have my final vows in Malibay - a place where my vocation started and the place closer to my family and friends but through a discernment process, the Spirit invited me to go back to the most essential – God Alone. Nothing can compare or even replace the joy within me because I am married to the One I love and who loves me unconditionally. I am flawed, sinful and broken, yet, I realize that even in my weaknesses and incompleteness, IT IS THE LORD who loves me completely – no matter what. I may be imperfect, but IT IS THE LORD who loves me perfectly. I may feel lost like a sheep sometimes, but HE IS MY SHEPHERD who will patiently look for me, assured that I will be carried onto His shoulders to bring me home. As Bishop Rapadas shared in his homily: “Only in God have I found true happiness and contentment in life”. Yes, everything is possible because of God’s fidelity and love.
Our parish priest Fr. Aldrin and the parishioners said that it is a grace to witness for the first time a Final Profession of Vows in Kauswagan Lanao del Norte. What a blessing for the people!
The celebration was all about God and His steadfast love. IT IS THE LORD who continues to form and shape me in the many events that have happened within and around me. Many unexpected events have occurred, yet His fidelity and enduring love have always been there. There were many struggles and challenges along the way, but my GOOD SHEPHERD never abandoned me. I may not see the light at the end of the tunnel yet, I continue to put my faith and trust in Him – completely. I have learned to give up my security and comfort zone and allow Him to be in control. He is now the captain. IT IS THE LORD who provides all my needs, He has always been present – to protect and guide and bring me to greener pasture. His example continues to encourage me, helping me see that difficulties at times can pave the way to strengthen my inner character. As He promised since my postulancy, from Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you.” “For I am and will always be like clay in the Potter’s hand” (Jeremiah 18:6) to be shaped by Him, closer to Him in the Religious of the Assumption.
Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Marie Eugenie, may we find the courage to be faithful to our mission in and out of season. Through Mother Mary’s example, may we also be faithful instruments of God assured of His grace and providence despite the many competing choices brought about by the advent of the new technology. We can still be like Mary, attentive to God speaking to us.
To all of you who were with me – physically or virtually during my Final Vows, for those who are journeying with me through and through, for those who guided me closely and have been part of my spiritual journey, Daghang Salamat po.
And to our loving and merciful God, I am all yours forever. All for Jesus, in Jesus!
"What return could I make? Could I ever repay, with my life, O God? May I love as you have loved.” Yes, this lyric sums up all my gratitude and love to God who first loved me and chose me to this life of grace. People asked: What is the reason for celebrating amidst suffering which the pandemic or even violence and war have brought forth? I’d like to answer that we are here to celebrate God’s Love and Faithfulness in each one of us who is created in His own image and likeness.
Religious life is a call to be a “living memory of Christ” and in this life, I have rediscovered and reclaimed my identity as “God’s Beloved Daughter.” There is no such person who can accept me without asking anything in return, as God. I come to Him with empty hands but He himself fills up what is emptied to become fruitful and abundant.
The word etched in my ring, GOD ALONE, is my response to His Love and I thank God for revealing this to me during the recent retreat with Sr. Sheryl- my Junior Formator. This Word is manifested in the reality that I am in now.
“Sana all” (Hopefully all)
My family is not here; the people I wish to be here are not here. “Sana all and sana all”. If I keep this feeling of “sana all”, I would not be here standing before you to pronounce my vows with great joy of belonging to God Alone. I am making this covenant of Love with God Alone and it will be forever with God Alone. This Word is the Light for me to guide me along the journey toward becoming Christ-Like.
I am deeply grateful for all the sisters in all the communities of Asia Pacific Province as well as my friends and teachers in Xavier de Kibangay High School who attended my vows physically and virtually. They are part of my journey. In fact, I was not ‘alone’ but I was enveloped by their love and prayers. “YOU ARE MY FAMILY”.