The 22nd of November 2014 was a blessed and joyous day for our congregation. In Nigeria, all roads led to Ibadan for the First Profession of Srs Blessing Ekanem, Rosemary Agada, Sarah Youmene, Agatha Maurice and Chidinma Njoku.
The day was blessed with the presence of many RSCs from different communities in Nigeria; the relatives of the five new sisters and the novices from different congregations around Ibadan. There was a great celebratory spirit among everybody as we processed into the Formation House Hall where the Mass took place.
It was very moving to witness five young women giving themselves to God as they approached their commitment in different dispositions expressed by the symbols they presented. Blessing came in with a blank sheet of paper symbolising inner freedom and an emptiness waiting to be filled with God’s unconditional love, giving way to an openness that will allow God to ‘write with his own hand how best he wants me to bring his love and tenderness to all’
Rosemary came in with a clay pot acknowledging her unworthiness and humanness and inviting God to continue ‘beautifying me, transforming me and shaping me into his own design as I give witness to His love and mercy to the (broken) world.’
Sarah on the other hand came in with a lit candle expressing how the candle of her life had been lit with the fire of God’s love, dispelling the darkness of her life that had crippled her, giving her the inner security that she had longed for. Hence filled with this light, she came ‘with the desire of radiating this divine light to those who live in the shadow of darkness.’
Agatha came in as a growing plant held in the palm of God’s hand, nutured and nourished by divine love and covered with divine mercy, fostering growth. She approached her commitment ‘with the desire to remain rooted in His love and to share this love with the lonely, the forgotten and the abandoned Lazarus of our world.’
Finally, Chidinma came in with an apron as a reminder of her responsibility to the poor. She approached her commitment “ready and available to imitate Christ in my service of ‘God’s nobility the poor’ wherever they are and in whichever manner God indicates.”
I also saw tears being shed among the witnesses as the new sisters, answering God’s call from their own families, ‘Lord you have called me,’ walked the aisles with their parents and then sadly but joyfully saying goodbye to them setting their eyes on the plough without looking back.
In his homily Fr. Reginald SMA, the celebrating priest, making a link between the Gospel of the day (Luke 9:57 – 62) and the ritual of bidding farewell to their parents, challenged the new sisters on their call to remain focussed on Christ who called them in the words of the Gospel “Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” He cautioned them about what he called the ‘beautiful challenges of Religious life’ from community, family and society and encouraged them to always turn to the ‘Almighty and eternal God’ who will never fail them when the journey becomes rough. He also highlighted the seriousness of the vows, making a link with the fact that nobody wants to be poor or obedient and that nothing is free in this world, not even a sweet in the supermarket. Everything has a cost and so does Religious Life. One has to pay the price for choosing to live the vows for the love of God. He also talked about the need to remain open to God at all times and to the people he uses to journey with them. In this way, one would not find the life draining but experience the joy and peace that flow from selfless giving.
We continue to support the new sisters through our prayers as they take up their new missions in different parts of the Congregation. To view photos click HERE.
‘Truly love will make our labour light’
Mary Aikenhead 11th July 1840
‘Tell our Lord it is He and He alone who is your support, and that your entire confidence is in Him’
Sr Geraldine Hamukale,