Sunday, July 12, 2015


By: Sr. Andrea Koverman, SC

It’s hard to believe, but today is the first opportunity I’ve had to spend any measureable amount of time reflecting on my profession of first vows, which was a week and a half ago! We’ve had out-of-town visitors, birthdays to celebrate, the installation of our new leadership team, plus the business that comes with living in a lively community of seven. But the house emptied out for a few hours after Mass this morning, and I found myself with the gift of solitude that my spirit has been asking for. As I began to pray, it was no surprise where my thoughts settled!
It’s most certainly unlikely that any other day of my life will exceed that of June 27, 2015 in affirmation of my call and of my pure and unreserved joy in responding to it! Tracy and I were able to plan every detail of the ceremony, and to modify our vow formula to reflect a more personal expression of our commitment. It was deeply prayerful and absolutely beautiful because of the participation of many people who have shared in our journey, helping us believe and grow into the moment that we were able to vow our lives to God. From the presider, readers, musicians and choir, gift bearers and alter setters, Eucharistic ministers, and liturgical dancers to all the dear friends, family and community members that filled the chapel, each moment was a blessing!
And for me, nothing can express the meaning of that day as well as the words of Sr. Janet Gildea, who graciously did us the honor of writing and giving the homily. Because what she says applies to all of you who are discerning or responding to a call to religious life, I want to share it with you. Replace our names with your own, and just feel how your own heart leaps with its, “Yes!”
Blessed are YOU among women, Andrea!  Blessed are YOU among women, Tracy! Blessed are YOU who believed that God’s promises to you would be fulfilled!
What beautiful readings you have chosen for our Liturgy of the Word! They show us the journey of discernment that you have been on for these past several years.
The prophet Isaiah tells of the awakening of your hearts to God’s personal call. “Here is my servant whom I uphold. My chosen one upon whom I have poured my spirit. I have called you for justice-have grasped you by the hand and formed you.” God has chosen you, Tracy. God has chosen you, Andrea. You have experienced a deeply personal call. God has taken you by the hand and has formed you for mission.
In accepting the call you become God’s own instrument for justice, healing and liberation. Embracing the prophetic call, nothing can ever be the same again. Andrea and Tracy, you have been chosen by God to live a prophetic life!
The second reading expresses the deepening acceptance of that chosen-ness. These two years of novitiate have been a time to strengthen the inner self, to probe the breadth and length and height and depth of God’s love for you, here in the heart of our home. You willingly entered into the mystery of the love of Christ that urges all of us as Sisters of Charity. You have had moments of break-down and moments of break-through, and within this sacred space, you have come to know the love beyond all knowledge that brings you to the profession of vows today.
And who are we that you should come to us? We are your Elizabeth!
We, the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. We, your sisters, welcome you with the same words that Elizabeth welcomed Mary. Blessed are you among women! Blessed are you who believed that God’s promises to you would be fulfilled! And blessed are we who believe along with you!
When Mary went running to her cousin Elizabeth, in the first flush of her secret “YES” to God, Elizabeth did not ask, “What? Why are you doing this? You have so many options for your life!” I know that you have each had that reaction from some people when you told them you were discerning a vocation to religious life. But that was not Elizabeth’s response. She exclaimed, “Most blessed are you among women! Blessed is the fruit of your womb!”
In Elizabeth, Mary found a kindred spirit. She found someone who “got it”. No explanations were needed. Elizabeth just knew- Why??? Because she had also responded to God’s call with the big YES! At the time of Mary’s arrival she held the great prophet within her own womb. She explains to Mary that no explanation is needed. “The moment I heard your voice, my baby turned joyful somersaults within me!” The little prophet brought the prophetic words to Elizabeth’s lips. What is the role of a prophet? To announce the breakthrough of God!
Blessed are you! Blessed is the fruit of your womb! Blessed are you who believed that God’s promises to you would be fulfilled!
Elizabeth affirmed Mary’s call and today we are your Elizabeth. Blessed are you- and blessed are we! This beautiful account of the Visitation shows us what happens when women of different generations affirm the breakthrough of God in their lives. Your “YES” recharges our hope. No matter how our backs might be aching and our energies on the wane in a late-life pregnancy, your arrival awakens a deep memory in the heart of every Sister here present. Like Elizabeth we can’t wait to hear you sing out in a strong voice:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God my savior. For God has looked upon me in my lowliness.”
By now every one of us is joining you in the whisperings of our heart as we remember: The Mighty One has done great things for me! Holy is God’s name! Yes! The Mighty One has done great things for us- in us- through us. God’s mercy from age to age to age.
Holy is God’s name!
We have seen the wonders of which you remind us: the lowly lifted up, the poor filled with good things.
Gratitude is our song, from generation to generation!
Blessed is she who believed...blessed are we who believed
Called not just for ourselves but for the cause of justice
The Mighty One has done great things for us!
We can’t wait to see what more God will do with you and for you!
Tracy, in your social action outreach at the Archdiocese and at Holy Family parish ministry to the Spanish-speaking. Andrea, in your ministry at the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center, advocating to end the death penalty and human trafficking. In your efforts to create an intentional community and welcome women in discernment. In the ways you will continue to let the love of Christ urge you, networking across the Federation for a Future of Charity and with other young religious across the country for the evolution of consecrated life.
We are with you- in spirit if not in body- as you “see what Love can do” with your YES today. In the words of our other Elizabeth who blessed Margaret George on her way to her first mission in New York, we urge you to “remember all the little things that you have learned in this corner about kindness to strangers in the true spirit...for you have so much to do for our Lord.” As you leave this chapel today, know that you are accompanied by generations of Charity who headed out to mission after first profession, among them two very special Sister-Sisters.
Blandina and Justina Segale, intrepid Sisters of Charity, never said “No” to the Spirit. They lived the Magnificat, roaming the streets of this city, confronted by the same needs that you have already identified: immigration, human trafficking, ignorance and racial prejudice, and they wondered what two poor Sisters of Charity could do? Sister Justina recorded in her journal that one day they found a penny on the sidewalk. Stooping to pick it up she said, “A penny and two sisters is nothing. But a penny, two sisters and God...omnipotent!” The Mighty One did great things with them at the Santa Maria Institute- and God will do great things with and for you, Sister Tracy Kemme and Sister Andrea Koverman.
Blessed are you among women! Blessed are you who believe in God’s promises. Blessed are we who believe!

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