I made my perpetual profession on May 18, 2019 and so my memories of perpetual profession are still quite fresh in my mind. One particular experience that moved me was that during the profession Mass, I was thinking to myself, "I guess God was serious about this!" I couldn't grasp that this was really happening to me. I never really considered a religious vocation growing up. I always consider discovering my vocation to the religious life played out quite vividly in the parable that Jesus talks about the landowner who goes in search of laborers to work in His vineyard (Matt 20:1-16). Jesus says that the landowner goes out and calls laborers at nine o'clock, at noon, at three and at five o'clock. I'm that five o'clock laborer that had no clue that the Lord was calling her to work in His vineyard! So, yes. God was very serious when he popped the desire in my heart to belong to him in my college years and then shepherded me daily during the years following to help me discover that he was calling me to be a religious sister. And so, I am so grateful to be called to give my life to such a worthy cause and to such a worthy Person: Jesus Christ. I feel like I have truly hit the jackpot. I have found the greatest of treasures. I have found what my heart was looking for. I have found the dearest of Friends. To proclaim him as God for all my life is the greatest of adventures. Belonging to Jesus forever as a religious sister is one of the greatest gifts for which I will be eternally grateful, especially knowing that I am not perfect, I am often afraid, weak, and feel incapable. But that does not stop Jesus from calling me again and again to Himself. I delight in knowing daily that I am loved unconditionally by this great God of mercy and still called to witness His love and mercy to the ends of the earth. Praise Him! Sr Jackie Jean-Marie Gitonga, FSP, 7 years professed
From the time I was very young, the idea of "belonging God forever" fascinated me. As a child I would create a long, flowing veil out of a bedspread and go around the house, imagining myself to be a Sister. In our formation at home, my father stressed the importance of spending eternity with God in Heaven. In fact, he said that ideal was the most important thing in life, even more than having the love of our parents. The "love of our parents" was a very strong notion for my younger sister and me. We would bring ourselves to tears thinking about how it would be to lose our parents. In spite of the strong ties with my parents, God gave me the courage and strength to leave home at the age of 16 to fulfill the quest I had been set on. The ideal of belonging to God in life and eternity has remained with me throughout these 48 years of religious life.
St. Theresa of the Little Flower was a model for me. As a child, she had been shy at school and liked to be apart from the others. I was shy for a different reason, but I thought my desire to remain out of the "public eye" meant that maybe I had a vocation. Back in the early 70s I entered the convent. Just as at the beginning of anything new, I had so much to learn about myself, the sisters, and the mission that would be mine. As the years went on and life unfolded, I learned gradually what my life as a missionary would look like. Initially, the public aspects of encountering people scared me. I often said to myself "I'll never be able to do that!" By the grace of God, I did do that: using the means of social communication to evangelize the people of God! Being involved in this mission has set me on a path to fulfill my goal—to get to heaven. And not just me, but many other people who will come along with me because of the power of our mission, which, in some ways is the same as Jesus' mission. I don't need to worry about "earning" Heaven, as long as I belong to the Lord now and forever! Sr. Cynthia Guza, FSP, 44 years professed
The first time I witnessed a religious profession was when I was discerning a vocation to the Daughters of St. Paul. I had met the sisters and loved their joy and friendliness. I was intrigued and excited about the mission of evangelization with the media. I had the desire to enter religious life, but I still was not certain that this congregation was where God was calling me.
Then I was invited to visit our Boston motherhouse for the profession of a sister who, like me, was from Virginia. I drove up to Boston with friends of her family. The profession Mass was so moving! Witnessing the beauty of Sr. Kathryn James Hermes responding wholeheartedly to God’s call, in joy and freedom, clinched my decision. By the end of the Mass, I was convinced—this is where I belonged. Sr. Maria Grace Dateno, 31 years professed
I remember during my time of preparation for perpetual profession being struck by the witness of fidelity of our elder sisters. As I got to know some of them better (accompany them on walks, learn Italian from them), I realized that each of them had lived through many adventures in religious life with great faith and humility. It inspired me to trust Jesus more deeply as I prepared to take this "forever" step in faith.
Recuerdo que durante mi tiempo de preparación para la profesión perpetua, el testimonio de vida y de fidelidad de las hermanas mayores me conmovió mucho. Al conocerlas más (acompañándolas a caminar, aprendiendo italiano de ellas...) me di cuenta que habían vivido sus aventuras en la vida religiosa con mucha fe y humildad. Me inspiraron a confiar más profundamente en Jesús en mi preparación para el paso definitivo del "si" para siempre.
I would say to women discerning a call to religious life: Don't be afraid to give God your whole heart! He gives His very self in return! ¡No temas entregar tu corazón enteramente a Dios! ¡Jesús nos da a sí mismo a cambio!
Take time for silent prayer, especially lectio divina... you will learn to listen to God's voice and to know the Lord more deeply. He will guide you!
Dedica tiempo a la oración en silencio, especialmente a la lectio divina ... aprenderás a escuchar la voz de Dios y a conocer al Señor más profundamente. ¡Él te guiará!
Trust in the intercession of our Mother Mary. She loves to lead us into deeper relationship with Jesus and will guide you in your discernment.
Confía en la intercesión de nuestra Madre María. Le encanta llevarnos a una relación más profunda con Jesús y te guiará en tu discernimiento.
Sr. María Elizabeth Borobia, FSP, 32 years professed
The reality of belonging to the Lord forever—born from perpetual profession—is unspeakably beautiful, entirely freeing, and intimately consoling.
What could be more beautiful than having Jesus, the Lord of Lords and King of heaven and earth as my Spouse? I can’t think of anything, really, and reflecting on this consequence of perpetual profession only deepens the wonder of it all.
My bridal relationship with Jesus frees me from so many pulls and attractions that can subtly hinder me from becoming the unique person God created me to be. Living in and with Jesus makes me truly free. He is, as He promised, the Life: our Life, my Life, abundant Life, and in Him I find all that I need.
What drew Jesus to call me to belong solely to him forever? Only love. What a continual consolation it is to realize that the Son of God has poured out this unconditional and unmerited love on me….
This quote from our Founder sums up for me the meaning of perpetual profession as a Daughter of St. Paul; I offer my all in exchange for the All:
“All, this is the important word. Your holiness depends upon that all. If we give ourselves entirely to the Lord, that is, if we give Him our mind, will, heart, and body, all we have and all we will have, we will belong entirely to the Lord.” (Blessed James Alberione) Sr. Patricia Edward Jablonski, FSP, 42 years professed
After the gift of my life and of my baptism, the gift of my call to be a religious sister is the biggest gift God could give me. I still remember how I felt when I pronounced my vows of poverty, chastity and obedience “for all my life” for the first time. Having lived them for 56 years, they mean even more to me today.
My vows express my love for God, my trust in God and my desire and commitment to be God’s alone. In one way, I can say that it is a very mutual relationship, God gives God’s self to me and I give my self to God. This is the most precious relationship I could ever have. It actually continues to deepen and grow as I live my vows daily. I will never forget the words of Cardinal Cushing at my profession, “God and you are one—and God is the one.” This is my experience. Sr. Patricia Shaules, FSP, 56 years professed
Religious Life is a gift of grace for me, my family and the whole church. It is a call to deepen all of the wonderful gifts each person is given in baptism. To be an icon of what we strive for, to live a parable of community, to focus on surrender and share the journey to life in Christ, to total Union.
Belonging to the Lord forever—through perpetual profession—is the place where I lean. When other thoughts crowd my mind and heart this truth fills me with gratitude and consolation. I am all yours! You grasped me! Even my yes to You is a daily gift that I can rely on because I lean on the One who is eternally faithful.
If you are discerning religious life I desire to share with you this: Religious life is a way of love with all of the fulfillment, challenges, hopes, dreams, desires of an earthly love – and so much more because of the fidelity of God in Christ. It is a proven love, not something to wonder about. It is a love that lives inside of you though the Spirit. It is a love that overflows to others so that your family keeps enlarging and your heart grows. It is a love that asks you to empty yourself to allow the greatest love to take over your life. Sr Margaret Charles Kerry, FSP, 43 years professed
I see Profession as a covenant of love and commitment between God and the soul. He calls and I answer and continue to answer every day of my life. I see the terms “final vows” and “perpetual vows” as two distinct things. Final implies the last time that the vows are pronounced publicly, the final yes to commit to my community's charism (spirituality and mission). My perpetual vows are not the end but the true beginning of my covenant with my Lord. They make me who I am, "apostle of the Lord," chosen and beloved, evangelizer and bearer of his Word. Each day I must recommit myself in love and open my heart to the voice of God. It is a continuous process, to humbly accept the endless graces granted to me to become another Christ - "he must increase, I must decrease" (Jn 3:30 NABRE). Each day is a new opportunity, a new beginning, a fresh start to love the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and to be loved unconditionally by them in return. Sr Maureen George Muldowney, FSP, 46 years of profession
I have many beautiful memories around my perpetual profession as a Daughter of St Paul. Before the young sister makes this step, she spends a few months with other sisters ready to make their profession in a time of preparation. Special classes, times for deeper prayer, and a greater reflection on the Pauline religious life fill these days. I remember looking forward to this time of preparation for when we would offer ourselves to the Lord “for all my life.” Our novice mistress, Sister Concetta Bellegia, had a beautiful way of speaking about intimacy with Jesus Master. During the months leading up to our perpetual vows she seemed to glow with her enthusiasm for our mission and our goal “that Christ may live in me.” Sister Concetta would throw a kiss at Jesus whenever she was leaving the chapel. Her example was a vital part of her classes.
When the day came for our perpetual profession, I was walking on the clouds emotionally at least! Now that I have been living the Pauline vowed life, I am grateful more than ever that God has granted me the grace to be his forever in the Pauline Family.
That expression “religious sisters are spouses of Jesus Christ” is very true. We begin our day at the altar receiving Jesus. We spend each day giving Jesus through the media and through our example. We close each day with prayer and look forward to the day when Jesus will call us to “Come” and be with him forever in heaven.
After my Perpetual Profession, I was sent to carry out the mission in many places in the United States and in the world. I begin in San Antonio, Texas, working in our book center there and visiting people in their homes and businesses to offer them the Word of God. I also learned how to speak Spanish while I was there. Then I went on to Philadelphia, to New York City, to Alaska, to Hawaii—which brought me to Samoa, to Guam, and to Chuk (Truk). Then I was sent to Miami, to Charleston, SC, to Alexandria, VA, to Toronto, to Rome (where I learned to speak Italian), and back to the States. A lifetime now of evangelizing in so many places and in so many ways has deepened my love for my Father St. Paul. As he became “all things to all people,” I too, like this great apostle, want to bring all people to Christ! Sr Mary Peter Martin, FSP, 58 years professed