On 22 July 2022, the novitiate community welcomed guests from all over the country for the first profession of vows. It was a special day in the life of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit congregation as the Vice-Province of Nigeria celebrated the first profession of vows of Elizabeth Adekunle, Elizabeth Adeyemi, Cynthia Alafuonye, Oluwaferanmi Aluko, Lucy Aurelius, Martha Francis and Lydia Umagba.
The celebration began on 21 July with a prayer vigil. We shared our sacred story using the palm tree planted by the river as a symbol. No one can imagine the potential of the small fruit of the palm tree until it is planted…. and even when it is planted and nurtured, you probably won’t see the growth in the first few months of its life. A palm tree is a unique and productive tree with all its products being important so that none can be eliminated. We compared our journey to this tree because looking back, we came in innocently unaware of some of our potential, strength and uniqueness that resides within us as a group. We were all buried in our fears, our differences, not wanting to risk expressing ourselves as a group. As a result, our growth was not visible. We learned to draw strength and courage from the water flowing from the river that Christ takes the risk of bringing forth, as the Rule of Life says: “At certain times we must accept to lose our security in order to face the contradictions and walk in the risks of faith”. Little by little, our growth began to shape our lives.
The next day, at 10am, the celebration of Holy Mass took place and we joyfully walked to the altar with our families, the formation director and the vice-provincial. The main celebrant, Rev. Fr. Joseph Onijigin, welcomed everyone and the rite of Mass began. After listening to the Liturgy of the Word, the Formation Director, Sister Stella Oluwafemi, invited us to come forward to make our intentions and requests known to the congregation; the Vice-Provincial, Sister Anthonia Ayeni, welcomed our request. A hymn of thanksgiving was sung by all the ESF present.
Michael Abiodun Oluwadare, SJ, began his homily with the analogy that if someone is looking for a job, he prepares himself very well and does his best to prove that he is qualified for the job: so those who come forward have done their best to be part of the congregation where Jesus hires them. He said, “God has invited you into a lasting relationship and the success of that relationship depends on time, energy, love, service, community life and prayer.” Furthermore, he explained that the cost of following Christ is embodied in the three gospel vows and that our YES to Christ will not always be a bed of roses. Therefore, we should be happy in the mission and always return to Him who is the source of living water. He ended the homily with a quote from the Rule of Life: “Our decision to follow Jesus who was truly poor is a call to create with others a more just and humane world for all” (RV. Art. 18), so we were encouraged to always remember the four P’s which are: Passion, Persistence, Perseverance and Prayer. These four P’s will form the foundation of our religious journey.
The interrogation of the rite of profession was done by Sister. Anthonia Ayeni, FSE, Vice-provincial representing the Superior General, Sister Ann Almodovar, and then we pronounced our vows of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience in her presence and in the presence of two witnesses. This was followed by the blessing and presentation of the badge – the dove. We joyfully sang the Magnificat. We were invited to sign the congregational register, and were welcomed by all the ESF present and our families. At the end of the mass, we received a blessing followed by the rite of sending on mission. Then photos were taken with all the priests and sisters present at the celebration.
We give thanks to Almighty God who made this day a success and for the graces we received; we thank all those who helped us to respond to God’s call. May God bless and reward you all.
Sent by Stella BUKOLA, DHS. Published on 24 July 2022