A bright and beautiful day dawned on the 20th of April, 2013 when sisters, friends, families and co-workers gathered at Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish, Navy Town, Lagos, for the final profession ceremony of Srs. Stella Adewole and Rosemary Udeaja. Bishop Hyacinth Egbebo MSP of Bomadi Vicariate presided at the Mass for the profession, while eleven other priests concelebrated with him at the joyful event.
The family of the Religious Sisters of Charity in the Nigerian Region gathered en masse from all our communities far and near. The presence of Sr. Mary Christian, our Congregational Leader who travelled all the way from Ireland was a very special blessing.
During the homily, Bishop Egbebo said that there are times in life when doors open to let the future in. Now at this time a very important door is opening to let the future in for Sisters Stella and Rosemary. It is a great time for you and for the Church. This is God’s dream in your lives coming true. It is a great witness in today’s world when young women return generously the gift of themselves to God. We thank God with them and we pray for them.
Elaborating on the readings from Isaiah 61:1-3, Philippians 3:8-14 and Luke 1:26-38, the Bishop pointed out that the choice of the all-powerful God to bring salvation to his creation through human mediation when he could have done otherwise is very significant. Responding in utmost freedom, the Blessed Virgin Mary demonstrated what it means to surrender to God’s will and to co-operate with his grace. Once she got an assurance from angel Gabriel, she surrendered totally. We all need such assurance at certain points in life. We are grateful to those who have been sources of such assurance at different times in life which enables us to respond to God’s invitation. Leaving us an example, Christ responded to God’s will from an abundance of his personal freedom. That freedom enabled him proclaim the Good News to the poor, liberty to captives, freedom to those in prison… Spiritual freedom is of utmost importance in life’s journey, as those who have no freedom cannot set others free. If we are not willing to throw ourselves away, we may not really be able to spread God’s message of freedom, the Bishop emphasized. Really great people are those who rejoice at seeing others grow greater than they are. ‘Trees are known by their fruits’ he said, while relating the prayer of St. Francis. In his concluding words, Bishop Egbebo seized the opportunity to express his gratitude again to the Congregational Leader for the Congregation’s exemplary choice for Bomadi instead of big cities. The Bishop enjoined other religious congregations to borrow a leaf from such a good example while making radical choices for places of ministry.
After the homily, having declared their resolve to make perpetual profession in the Congregation of the Religious Sisters of Charity, Srs Stella and Rosemary lay prostrate before the altar in self-surrender and as a sign of dependence on God’s grace and prayers of the saints to actualize their intention. The posture alone spoke volumes and they felt carried and supported by the prayers of the people, a host of angels and saints. The Litany of the Saints was sung by Srs Beatrice Opia and Martina Iyama. With confidence in God’s grace and in total freedom, Srs Stella and Rosemary proceeded and pronounced their vows after which they signed them on the altar – a ritual of outstanding significance. Their hearts burned at the words of the solemn blessing and welcome. They were so happy at the warm greetings of sisters, celebrants, families and friends. The words of the psalmist, “What marvels the Lord has done, indeed we were glad”, fittingly describe what they felt. It was very exciting seeing many people who meant so much to them at various points in their lives’ journey gather to celebrate God’s dream in them. That moment echoed these words in silence to them: ‘See how much we love you, how much we support you, how much goodness we expect of you’.
After the Mass, the second part of the celebration continued at St. Anne’s Convent, Satellite Town, a short distance from the Church. Dances and choreography featured at that phase. Srs Stella and Rosemary cut a beautifully decorated cake made by Sr. Freda Ehimuan. The people who came really enjoyed themselves and they left happily afterwards.
A final message from Srs Stella and Rosemary:
“We are profoundly grateful to our Congregation – The Religious Sisters of Charity, the General Leadership Team and all our sisters across the globe for your prayers, good wishes and gifts. To Sr. Rosaleen Desmond and her Council who invested so much energy at the background, St. Anne’s community and the planning committee who worked so hard, all our communities and sisters in the Nigerian Region, we cannot exhaust our gratitude. May God bless, reward and keep you all. May the love of Christ continue to lead us all to his desired future for us as we journey on in the footsteps of Mary Aikenhead! Thank you.”
For photos click HERE.