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First Profession of Vows
Province of England, Ireland, Wales. On a glorious summer’s day, June 26th 2018, Sister Marilou Iway made her first Profession of Vows in the Parish Church of Our Lady, Help of Christians and St Lawrence, Olney, Bucks. This was an ideal venue for such an occasion. St Joseph’s Convent, Olney, is one of our first ‘Houses of Charity’. Our sisters have lived and worked in this parish and town since 1902. The First Professions of seven sisters took place here in April, 1918, as the war prevented them from going to France. History was being made again, on a smaller scale, with Marilou’s First Profession, 100 years later! Being close to the church made it possible for all the sisters in St. Joseph’s Care Unit to take part. Sister Francis Mary, with great sadness, was unable to attend this significant event. As the sisters, local associates and a few friends of Marilou arrived, there was a palpable air of joy, expectation and a warmth of welcome extended to all.
After the singing of ‘Come Holy Ghost’ Sister Regina Bond, Provincial, warmly welcomed everyone, especially our chief celebrant, Mgr Sean Healy and Fathers Mark Floody, Anthony McDermott, and John Fowler, who were assisted by Deacon David of Oscott Seminary. The chief server was Bill Senior, an associate. The congregation continued to sing with full voice accompanied by Judy Ashford, the parish organist, also an associate. For the psalm and responses we were led by Sister Josephine Walsh who sang beautifully, and with feeling. The hymns and readings were chosen by Marilou who also printed and artistically designed the special Mass booklet. Everyone listened very attentively to the Rite of Profession, especially at the very solemn moment when Marilou pronounced her vows of chastity, poverty and obedience with clarity and sincerity.
This was the first time that our associates and the friends of Marilou had witnessed the profession of a Religious Sister. Afterwards they made comments such as: ‘I feel so very happy, honoured and privileged to be here… the service was so simple and impressive…we have been given a wonderful insight into Religious Life through Mgr Healy’s homily, the questions and answers in the Rite of Profession, the giving and the symbolism of the dove… It was all very moving.’
After Mass, Marilou was joyfully congratulated on her special day. It was particularly poignant to see our sisters from the Care Unit, their faces radiant with joy, congratulating her. We then made our way to the nearby Olney Centre for a simple celebratory meal.
It is quite a while now since we last had a Profession in our Province. We, and especially Sister Marilou, have been touched by the many messages of congratulations, love and prayer from our sisters throughout the Congregation. We praise and thank God for this spirit of love and solidarity shared among us. Let us continue to pray for new life, new members, to our DHS Spiritual Family in all our Provinces and Vice Provinces.
Sister Patricia Anne Purchase - Published July 4, 2018
Extracts from Mgr Healy’s homily:
The word which is at the heart of our readings today is the word ‘love.’ That is surely right as Marilou commits herself in this first profession of her religious vows. In love she commits herself to Christ and his Church; out of love she will serve the communities where she lives and works…In the gospel, Jesus invites us to remain in his love…to put him at the centre of our lives, to live in that love and to allow it to change and transform us…For the Religious the relationship with Christ must truly become the central relationship of her life. She must come to know the Lord as friend, brother, lover, companion and saviour…this love which has been given to us must be a love that is shared…So the Religious must bring that word of love by being close to all people, especially those who are most disadvantaged but also to those who feel comfortable…No wonder at the beginnings of the Congregation of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit their communities were known as ‘Houses of Charity.’ So Marilou, this is what you commit yourself to today – to be a person who knows Christ and his love for you, to share that love with sisters, consecrated seculars and associates, to all the people you are called to serve. You follow the evangelical counsels…Poverty reminds you that Christ is your only treasure…chastity reminds you that chaste love is experienced in the loving embrace of your communities and obedience is experienced as you listen to the guidance of your superiors who, having discerned your gifts and talents, place you in settings where those same gifts and talents will radiate love to all around you. And do not be afraid, Marilou! You are joining a Congregation with a long and proud history which from its earliest beginnings with Marie Balavenne and Renee Burel has faced many challenging times! Know that the Spirit is with you, calling on you in the face of challenges and opportunities to renew the face of the earth in the company of these good and faithful sisters.
1, 2, 3: Rite of Profession
4: Marilou receives the dove from Sister Regina
5: Blessing by Mgr. Sean Healy
6, 7: After Mass