A triumph of faith and love in the face of a pandemic

The First Profession of Sister Lucia Marie OP

[Summit, NJ – March 20, 2020] Photography and text by Jeffrey Bruno

It was possible that no one would be able to attend.

With only a few days before the Sr. Lucia’s First Profession, they learned that her brother, a seminarian in Maryland, couldn’t come. Her parents couldn’t come. And her relatives from Indiana couldn’t come.

But the celebration of public Masses hadn’t been suspended yet, so things would go on as planned.

With or without them…

Alone before the Blessed Sacrament - In the last moments prior to making her first profession, Sister Lucia Marie of the Visitation sits focused in prayer in the Choir.

At 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 14, in the presence of a dozen or so, in the company of the nuns in the cloister, the Eucharistic Celebration and First Profession of Sr. Lucia Marie of the Visitation began.

The white veil of the Novitiate. - After two years as a Nun of the Order of Preachers as Novice, Sr. Lucia will shed her white veil for a black one, marking her entry into the last period of discernment before making her (permanent) Final Vows.

It was a milestone on a lifelong journey. Sr. Lucia entered the Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary in June 2017 to begin her discernment and formation. Having passed through her Aspirant, Novitiate, and Postulancy stages, she would now make her First Profession, the last step before taking her Solemn Vows.

This profession includes taking vows of obedience, poverty, and chastity. “By profession, the nun dedicates herself to God, following Christ and leading the Gospel life in the Order. This profession is the fuller living of her baptismal consecration, and it achieves its effect more completely. The years in temporary vows (for a total of nine years of formation) enable her to prepare for her total consecration (Solemn Vows).”  summitdominicans.org

Prostration – An outward sign symbolizing total obedience and humility before Christ.

“What do you seek?” asked prioress Sr. Mary Martin, as Sr. Lucia prostrated herself on the floor of the Choir (Nuns Chapel). “God’s mercy and yours …” she replied. And with that, the rite began.

The First Profession – “I Sr. Lucia Marie of the Visitation make profession and promise obedience to God, and to Blessed Mary, and to Blessed Dominic and to the Master of the Order of Preachers, and to you, Sr. Mary Martin de Porres of Jesus, prioress of this Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary, and to your successors, according to the rule of Blessed Augustine, and the constitution of the Nuns of the Orders of Preachers…”
The black veil – Sister Joseph Marie OP (Vocations Director) and Sister Mary Martin de Porres (Prioress) replace the white veil on Sister Lucia Marie of the Visitation signifying consecration to Jesus alone.
Sister Lucia Marie of the Visitiation
Holy Mass – At the conclusion of the Rite of First Profession, Father [?] concelebrates Mass with Father Roger Landry on the public side of the Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel. They face the Sisters who sit behind the grill on the Cloistered (private) side.
Holy Communion – Sister Lucia Marie of the Visitation approaches the grill to receive the Body of Christ from Fr. [?].

Fortunately for those who could not attend, the nuns of the cloister had worked frantically to set up a live stream. And the world was able to witness this landmark occasion on Facebook Live. One relative relayed the joy of her family back home and described the scene: “They have a big screen, and they’re all gathered ’round … as if they had been watching the Super Bowl!”

Joy - Sister Lucia Marie of the Visitation embraces Sister Mary Martin in a moment of pure joy after making her First Profession.
Entering the book - Sister Lucia Marie of the Visitation signs her name in the book of the Community establishing her as entering into her final phase of discernment.

The joy of the day prevailed. Through laughter, tears, and hugs, friends gathered to greet Sr. Lucia in the parlor, a room joining the cloister to the world outside.

Despite today’s fears and uncertainties, hidden away in the small corners of the world, the Faith carries on. Men and women called by Christ to a deeper union with Him, continue to respond. And in this, regardless of the storms we face, we can rest assured in God’s abiding love for us and His Church.

For more information about the Dominican Nuns of Summit please visit their  summitdominicans.org

[Published with permission: Aleteia.org]

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