And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. (John 3:14-15)

With the whole Church our sisters celebrated the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on September 14th around the world, marking our own central feast of the Cross of Matará.

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In our province, we gathered at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC for a mass presided over by His Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington.  We were blessed also to have present at the Mass His Eminence Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington.  Together with many IVE priests and other concelebrating diocesan priests, the Mass was a deeply ecclesial moment for all of us together at the foot of the altar.

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Along with six sisters in Egypt and two in Italy, five sisters made their perpetual profession during the Mass in Washington, receiving their rings from Cardinal Wuerl:

  • Sr. Mary Servant of the Cross Kmetz, SSVM (serving in the Juniorate House of Formation, Washington, DC)
  • Sr. Maria Altar Purisimo Flores Ayllon, SSVM (serving in the Shrine of Our Lady of Peace, Santa Clara, CA)
  • Sr. Maryja Wspomozycielka Borkowski, SSVM (serving in New York, NY)
  • Sr. Maria Filotea Rivera, SSVM (serving in New York, NY)
  • Sr. Marie Notre Dame des Victoires Songong, SSVM (serving in our mission in Ushetu, Tanzania)
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Sisters prostrate during the Litany of the Saints.

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Sisters pronounce the formula of their vows.

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Cardinal Wuerl pronounces the prayer of consecration over the perpetually professed sisters.

Insignia of perpetual profession

Insignia of perpetual profession

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A sister receives her ring: “Sponsa Christi”.

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After receiving the crowns, each sister is greeted by Cardinal Wuerl as he offers a word of congratulations and encouragement.

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Embratio: the other perpetually professed sisters greet those who have just professed.

Embratio: one of our Byzantine sisters (in black) was visiting and attended the Mass as well.

Embratio: one of our Byzantine sisters (in black) was visiting and attended the Mass as well.

As the liturgy continued, the gift of the consecrated life finds its source and summit in the Eucharist.  The total gift of self to the Father must be “even unto death, and death on the cross” in order to be fruitful and to be intimately united with Christ.

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After the final blessing and the close of the Mass, Cardinal Wuerl shared our joy of this day in a wonderfully fatherly manner.  That day his blog post was entitled “The Renaissance of Consecrated Life” and included a mention of the day’s liturgy with us!

 

 

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In the reception that followed, families and friends joined in our celebration in a great feast with songs.  A Cameroonian women’s prayer group offered a song and traditional dance.  Two youth from Avondale, Pennsylvania performed a traditional Mexican folk dance.  Finally, the large contingency from Oklahoma offered a stirring inter-generational rendering of “Home on the Range”!

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A beautiful occasion to realize that in the Year of Mercy, we find that it is indeed the patient loving Father who has awaited the return and arrival of His daughters so that He could “put a robe on her, a ring on her finger, and sandals on her feet.” (Cfr. Luke 15:22).  Please pray for our sisters and the missions they have been called to serve!