A sister’s profession for life is a celebration with many guests - unless there is a pandemic. Yet the alternative celebration was very touching.
Already a year ago Sr Veronika wanted to commit herself to our Congregation for life. Part of this event is the presence of many, because profession means making a public promise. This was not possible last year due to the pandemic. Full of hope, we therefore postponed the celebration for a year. But now the rules are just as strict. The result was a simple format that concentrated on the essentials. With only a few people present, we celebrated with Sister Veronica and our Archbishop in our Motherhouse Chapel.
On the eve of the event, Sr Philippa prepared Sr Veronika and the Sisters of the Motherhouse for this day during Vespers. Her sermon centred on the story of how Moses curiously approached the burning bush in the desert, which did not burn. There he heard the voice of God telling him: "The place where you are standing is holy ground." Sr Philippa pointed out that wherever we are, in our everyday life, is a place where God's encounter can take place, a place where God calls us by name. And our response is our "Here I am!". God himself responds similarly, "I am who I am - I will be who I will be - I am with you." This promise carries us and was made visible in a "thorn bush" with tongues of flame bearing the names of all living and deceased sisters.
This was also the response of Sr Veronica when the Superior General called her by name at the beginning of the service: "Here I am! The biblical texts tell of fire that does not burn (Moses at the thorn bush) and burning hearts (Emmaus narrative). They are seekers who set out on the path, who trust their doubts and ultimately encounter God, said Archbishop Ludwig Schick. In his address, he drew attention to Moses, Veronica at the Way of the Cross, the Emmaus disciples and St. Francis, whose faith still encourages us today. Sr Veronica may place herself in the ranks of these seekers.
The rite of profession began with the Litany of All Saints. Meanwhile, Sr Veronica assumed the prostrating posture of prayer. In this trusting gesture of total surrender, she is united with all the faithful who throughout time have been seekers and followers of God's call - each with the life given to them.
Afterwards, Sr Veronica promised to follow Christ and observe His holy Gospel. The form for this are the evangelical counsels, the Rule of the Brothers and Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis and the Constitutions of our Congregation. She then confirmed this promise with her signature. The ring she now wears is the outward sign of her lifelong commitment to our Congregation.
Fellow sisters, our pre-postulants and Companions were able to join in the celebration via livestream. In the afternoon, the sisters from Peru and India congratulated in a video conference.
It was a completely new way of celebrating this ancient rite. But it was also a new way of experiencing community.
Video. (from Johannes Titze and Stefan Hoffmann)