This article by Sr. Nora Cunningham is published in the Winter 2020 issue of Vision.
My soul magnifies the Lord…resounded in song twice on January 4, 2020!
For the first time, it was for Luisa Cristina Francisco as she became Sister Luisa Cristina, a novice, receiving the Constitution of the Sisters of Charity of New York from Sr. Donna Dodge, President of the Congregation. For the next two years she will be studying this sacred document in the Formation House in Guatemala.
Sister Luisa chose songs and readings that reflected her desires and response to God’s call to religious life: My thoughts are of you, my God, my strength, my joy, my hope. You have given me life and love. This beautiful entrance song was played by her family of musicians. The readings she selected were from the writings of Saints Vincent, Louise, and Elizabeth, and the Gospel of Mark 1:16–20—the call of Jesus to his disciples. Sister Sheila Brosnan gave an inspiring reflection on vocation.
As part of the service, after her commitment and acceptance into the Congregation, the community of Sisters, family, and friends promised prayerful support and presence to the new novice. The joyful celebration continued during lunch at the Barbara Ford Peacebuilding Center.
The second time the Magnificat was sung in the Cathedral in Santa Cruz del Quiché, Guatemala, was for Sisters Manuela Quiché and Margarita Tax Álvarez as they pronounced their temporary vows. It was the feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and the Liturgy of the Epiphany. The presider was Padre Abraham Quiché, the brother of Sr. Manuela. The voiced vows were individually written from the heart of each one’s prayer.
Top left: Sr. Donna, center, led the procession with Sr. Margarita, left, and Sr. Manuela; top right: Guatemala SC Vocation Director Sr. Nora Cunningham, left, with presider Padre Quiché as the Sisters profess temporary vows; above: Sr. Luisa with Sisters Donna and Gloria De Arteaga as she received the Sisters of Charity Constitution.
Sister Manuela knelt humbly before the altar asking for the light that will illumine her way so that she would be able to work with love to continue the mission of Jesus as did St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.
Sister Margarita prayed to the God of her heart—present within her from Baptism—and spoke of her longing to love and follow God’s desire for her with joy. “With this call inspire me to be light in your service, responding with generosity to your desires and the needs of those who are poor.”
Sister Donna Dodge received their vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience with much joy. Their parents brought the symbol of the Sisters of Charity to be blessed by the priest and then presented them to Sr. Donna to give to each Sister.
Enthusiastic applause echoed throughout the Cathedral as the ceremony concluded and the Liturgy ensued. Before the final blessing special thanks were offered by Sr. Margarita in Spanish and Sr. Manuela in Quiché.
After a long line of people offered congratulations to each Sister, a celebrative supper followed with music and dance. “Our spirits rejoiced in our God.”