Monday, September 5, 2011

The BIG Weekend...

[below] Sisters Joanna and Shirley
[right] Sister Andrea

[below] Sister Pat and her director, Sister Doris, receive a blessing. [right] Sister Pat signs her profession document before laying it upon the altar.

We’ve just concluded a three-day celebration of monastic life. Labor Day weekend is the time we have all our formation ceremonies and get individually commissioned for a new year of ministry to God’s people. This weekend contained three separate liturgical rites, three receptions and the blessing of ministries. In the blur of moving furniture, setting tables, tuning instruments, ironing our Sunday best and cooking for 60, we did for our newest members what was done for each of as we moved deeper into the monastic life. Here’s the good news:

We have three novices! Sister Joanna Burley, OSB, hails from Florida. A musician and educator, Joanna has been giving her gifts graciously in her postulancy. Sister Shirley Arce, OSB, moved to Bristow from California. She is an artist and serves the community as webmaster. Sister Andrea Westkamp, OSB, was born in Germany. A citizen of the United States for over a decade, Sister Andrea spent over twenty years of her life as a missionary Franciscan. Now, she embraces a new path as a Benedictine Sister of Virginia. We are blessed to call these three women our sisters.

Sister Pat Novak, OSB, made her First Monastic Profession at Evening Prayer Sunday night. This three-fold promise of obedience, stability and fidelity shape the Benedictine life. Sister Pat’s profession is for three years with the hope that she will make perpetual profession – a permanent commitment to this community and to the Benedictine search for God.
This morning – this Labor Day morning – our prioress, Sister Cecilia, blessed each of us for the individual works to which we have been assigned. A beautiful prayer card with our “jobs” for the year came with a hug and a smile. There is a happy/sad moment on Labor Day, too. Our sisters on mission return to Richmond and Arlington. More hugs, kisses and yes, some tears. Sister Kathleen Persson, OSB, is moving into Saint Gertrude Convent today. Though we will see our missioned sisters several times a month, I am still left with the feeling that a few pieces are missing from the puzzle. That’s community – this mysterious entity which, like the Body of Christ, is so much more than the sum of its parts. Community is where the living God dwells among us. We are sisters in Christ – daughters of Benedict and Scholastica. And somehow, when all days end, Christ will bring us all together to everlasting life [RB 72:12].

Blessings and love to you all…
- Sister Vicki