Signs, Symbols, Ritual and Tradition

On Friday night as regular readers know, I made my perpetual vows as a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace. It was a wonderful evening full of signs, symbols, ritual and tradition.  In fact, each step along the formation/incorporation journey has carried its own symbols and ritual.

Back in February 2005 when I became a pre-candidate, I received a copy of Peace Pays a Price, the story of our founder Margaret Anna Cusack and a copy of our community prayer book during a short prayer service with a few people gathered around a table.

Later that October, when I became a Candidate, we had a ceremony of welcome with community gathered in the chapel at St. Mary-on-the-Lake, where I received a peace candle and an icon of St. Joseph.

The next summer, when I became a novice there was a two step ritual process.  In August I was received as a novice, again in a simple ritual held in the St. Mary-on-the-Lake Chapel, where I received my beloved Peace Cross and a personal copy of the Constitutions.  It's also when I started having Sister before my name and CSJP after!

A few weeks later, we entered the Congregation Novitiate in New Jersey in a simple gathering and prayer ritual in the Novitiate house with our leadership team and some local Sisters and Associates.

In September 2008, the two years of novitiate over, I professed my first vows in the context of a Eucharistic Liturgy at the St. Mary-on-the-Lake Chapel.  I received my ring, with my motto inscribed inside, "Live with an Open Heart."

And this past Friday, after three years of temporary profession, I professed perpetual vows in the context of a beautiful and meaningful Eucharistic Liturgy yes, you guessed it, in the St. Mary-on-the-Lake Chapel.  This time as the symbol I received a profession cross that belong to one of our Sisters who passed away earlier this year .... more on that in the next post!

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