Mary, you are the fairest honor of our race.
On the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception the Church celebrates the singular grace bestowed upon Mary that from the first moment of her conception she was preserved free from all taint of Original Sin, in order that she could be a worthy Mother of the Word Made Flesh, Jesus Christ. It is our special petition that as we share in Mary’s joy on her feast day, she may intercede for us and obtain for us the graces we need to one day be able to share in her purity and complete love of God forever.
The feast of the Immaculate Conception is of particular importance to our Province and to the United States of America, both of which are under the patronage of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. Accordingly, we spared no effort to honor Our Lady with the most solemn liturgical celebrations and the most joyful festivities possible in thanksgiving for all the many graces we have received throughout the years by her constant and most loving intercession. One of Mary’s most precious gifts to our family is the gift of vocations. And so, it was with great joy that as a whole Provincial Family we witnessed on this feast the final profession of vows of three sisters, the investure of the habits of both the male and female novices, and a sister’s first vows.
The Vigil Mass, December 7th
Perpetual Vows: Sponsa Christi
Our celebration began on Wednesday with the Vigil Mass, which we were blessed to be able to celebrate in the Crypt Church of the National Shrine to the Immaculate Conception. During the Mass, Sister Maryam Sub Diloo Ki Malka D’Souza, Sister Mariam Annai Vailankanni D’Souza, and Sister Mary of the Angelus Crowell made their Final Profession of Vows, a beautiful and moving ceremony in which the religious sister dedicates her entire self to God as a living oblation to the love of God. As a sign of this total gift of self, the religious prostrates herself before the altar during a solemn Litany of the Saints. She then stands and makes her profession of vows. Each perpetually professed sister receives a wedding ring which symbolizes her espousal to Jesus Christ, a crown of flowers which represents the crown of glory she hopes to receive in Heaven, and a copy of the Constitutions of our Institute–the rule under which she has consecrated her life to God. All three of the sisters are from parishes in the Archdiocese of Washington, and Sr. Sub Diloo and Sr. Annai D’Souza are also identical twins, originally from Pakistan.
Investiture and Religious Names
From witnessing the fulfillment of religious life in the Perpetual Vows, we also experienced the very beginnings of religious life in the investiture of habits for the novices from both the male and female branches of our Religious Family. The female novices also received their religious names, all advocations of Mary.
The Mass was followed by a reception at St. John Baptiste de la Salle Parish in Chillum, Maryland. We were so happy to celebrate with such a large number of our family and friends from around the Province. The festive atmosphere was a true testament to the joy which is the Blessed Mother’s gift to her devoted children.
A Day for Our Lady
We celebrated the Immaculate Conception as a Province with a beautiful Mass at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in Washington DC. During this Mass, one sister made her first profession of vows and another sister renewed her temporary vows. The Mass was followed by a large brunch open to our family and friends who had been celebrating the feast with us. The rest of the day was spent in relaxing and entertaining community activities, such as walks, a basketball game, or touring local monuments. In the evening we spent an hour in Adoration followed by the solemn chanting of Vespers in honor of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception. We ended our day with an informal feast with the sisters and some family and friends.