“It is, indeed, all about LOVE!”
Surely, this is the essence of God
and that this be known and fully realized
is God’s Mission.
July 6, 2013 was a very special day for the School Sisters of Notre Dame and the Church as six young African women boldly proclaimed this LOVE with their lives making their First Profession as School Sisters of Notre Dame.
Sr. Eti-ini Sr. Lucy Sr. Magdalene Sr. Vera Sr. Terngu Sr. Millicent
We began the celebration with Eucharist which pulsated with joyful song and movement as drums gave forth the heartbeat of the Spirit’s flow within and through us all. For four years these women have prepared for this day of “YES!” However, for all, the call to follow Christ in this way came out of the faith of their loving families and committed Christian Communities who nurtured and formed them in faith from their Baptism. They chose the theme—
Guided by the Spirit we respond anew to God’s continuing call
—realizing and appreciating God’s faithfulness in guiding them from Baptism to this “new” and more profound moment of commitment. We, as Church – People of God – are privileged to have witnessed their vows and we celebrate the gift of these committed women to the Church and world.
The readings of the liturgy were Is. 61:1-3,6,8 and Jn. 15:9-17. The prophecy of “The Spirit of the Lord given and anointing – sending – to bring good news to the poor, to bind up hearts that are broken; to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to those in prison;…to comfort those who mourn….” And where to get the strength for this? From Jesus who assures
“as the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Remain in my love…
so that my own joy may be in you and your joy be complete. This is my commandment: love one another, as I have loved you…. I call you friends because I have made known to you everything I have learnt ”
Yes! “It is, indeed, all about LOVE.” With these words Sr. Mary Kerber, SSND Provincial leader of the Province of Africa, gave hope-filled yet challenging reflections on these readings and on the life these women are embracing. She said:
“Life is about becoming slowly caught up in this love. Love is freely given by a God whose very being is Love. We do not work for it, deserve it, merit it or beg for it. It is here, gratuitous, both far beyond us as well as practical. There is a most beautiful poem attributed to the former Superior General of the Jesuits, Fr. Pedro Arrupe.
Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.
Sr. Mary continued: “So when Jesus proclaimed the words of Isaiah in the synagogue and told his hearers that these words were being fulfilled in him, the time of favor had indeed come. Jesus is the time of favor. And the favor is LOVE – God’s vision for the world and, for each of our lives, is the mission of love. We are, each of us, sent to be God’s love in a world that is so divided, so broken, so abused, so imprisoned, so listless and sad…. We most certainly see it all around us – in broken homes and broken lives, in abuse of children and neglected elderly, in devastated forests and polluted waters caused by our carelessness, in warring clans and nations, in corruption and in greed. Yet… Yet! It is a world that God recognizes as having a potential so great, that God has made a lasting covenant with it. We are called and we are sent as an essential part of God’s covenant. We are sent as Church to bear with Jesus, as his intimate friends, the fruits of love and grace in our world. We are to share what we have already received through Baptism. When we are caught up in this love of God, it decides everything.”
We SSNDs of Africa and the entire world rejoice in the blessing of our new sisters who are responding anew to God’s call to mission:
Sr. Lucy Clement Etim (Nigeria) missioned to Kiptere, Kenya
Sr. Millicent Achieng’ Oduor (Kenya) missioned to Bwiam, The Gambia
Sr. Vera Nnennah Owoh (Nigeria) missioned to Mbribit, Uyo, Nigeria
Sr. Terngu Emmanuel Sule (Nigeria) missioned to Soma, The Gambia
Sr. Eti-ini Solomon Udom (Nigeria) missioned to Akwanga, Nigeria
Sr. Magdalene Philip Uwoh (Nigeria) missioned to Lokomasama, Sierra Leone
One very surprising and special sign of the Church’s joy with us happened the day after our celebration when a representative group of St. Peter’s Parish (Fiapre), where we attend on Sundays, and Msgr. George Kwame, the parish priest who had been the main celebrant for the First Profession, arrived laden with messages and gifts for the newly professed. They prayed with and for them and then ceremoniously greeted each Sister placing a traditional Kente cloth sash around her neck and handing her a gift of a beautiful piece of Ghanian cloth. This gesture of solidarity and support will forever be remembered and appreciated by all of us.