“Loving God, raise what is awakening in us up
to your light that we may better discern the action
of your Spirit calling us forth in this dawning
age of Charity Rising, now more than ever!”

The Sisters of Charity of New York customarily renew their vows every December 8, the feast day of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Associates and companions join the sisters in renewing their commitments as well. The custom is to recite the vows during mass in the chapel on the campus of Mount Saint Vincent, a continuation of the tradition that began in 1855 in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at McGown’s Pass in Central Park.  

The Congregation reaffirmed the tradition, and vows were renewed on December 8, 2020, although the COVID-19 pandemic upended the plan to hold the mass with a regular in-person congregation this year. As 2020 has taught us, the ceremony has the potential to reach additional people when live-streamed.  

Sister Donna Dodge welcomed those in attendance both virtually and in-person to the few present, explaining the necessity of virtual service. The streamed audience included sisters and associates in Guatemala. Sister Donna also discussed the events of last year when sisters discussed revisions of the Sisters of Charity’s constitution and, in particular, the section on the vowed life. She quoted an excerpt: “As Sisters of Charity, we freely respond to the loving invitation to enter into relationship with God, the congregation, and all creation.”

Sister Donna said she had hoped to distribute copies of the new constitution at this time, but the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdowns prevented those plans from fruition. Yet, she brought good news of developments, reading a letter she received last week from Cardinal Dolan about the new constitution. He wrote, “I’m sure St. Elizabeth Ann Seton would have approved of these changes for this time in your history.”

Sister Margaret Egan and Sister Mount Dorothy Metz both read God‘s word from sacred scripture. In his uplifting homily, Father Ramos encouraged all to follow Mary’s example of trusting in God’s goodness and God’s power acting within her, enabling her courageously to do the will of her loving God. “Mary must have been overwhelmed,” he said, but she “listens and hangs on the word of the angel.” Saying “Yes” to the angel, Mary was secure in her love of God and “gives a total gift of self.”

Sister Arleen Ketchum led the renewal of vows for sisters, and Sister Sheila Brosnan read the vow renewal in Spanish. Director of Associates Maureen Reiser led the renewal of commitments for associates, and Associate Elena Miranda followed with the Spanish version; Sister Claire Regan read the companion renewal.

Sister Mary Mc Cormick offered the Prayer of the Faithful, and Sister Margaret O’Brien shared Father Pedro Arrupe’s famous reflection, Fall in Love. Associate Nicole Quaranto was the altar server. The cantor was Kelly McCormick, accompanied by Andrew Bauer on the piano.

– Teri Tynes, Communications Associate