07 August 2008

New Novice! Congratulations Sister M Veronica, OSF!!

A week ago I posted a note that postulant Jaimie (Franciscan Sisters of Peoria) was beginning her pre-reception retreat. Well, she was received yesterday on the Feast of the Transfiguration, was clothed as a novice, and is now Sister M Veronica, OSF!!

Sisters from L to R- Sister Judith Ann (Major Superior), Sister M Veronica (new novice), and Sister Mary John (Director of Formation). Congratulations, Sister Veronica, and best wishes as you begin the next and critical stage of your initial formation!!

By the way, when I first posted Sr Veronica's new name, I inadvertantly left off the OSF. Readers should know that that was pretty careless of me because it is just now, with reception, that Sister Veronica can truly call herself a Franciscan Sister (Peoria), albeit as a novice. (In my defense, let me note that in some congregations, the use of congregational initials is actually reserved until after first profession.) Postulancy is a period of preparation and discernment (as is novitiate for that matter), but the postulant (from the Latin, postulare, to ask) is still not officially part of the Order or Congregation. This affiliation (and the life, in Christ, of complete self-giving to God and all he cherishes) is what she seeks and requests, hence the name postulant. Religious use the initials of their congregations to indicate precisely this belonging. Nor is this is a trivial matter because it points to a specific charism (that is, a unique gift quality) and mission to the church and world in which Sister Veronica now newly shares, and of which she will seek more and more to become an embodiment. (Along with the rights and responsibilities which come with profession, the need to grow in this embodiment is another reason some congregations reserve the usage until after first profession when they believe the Sister is more truly formed in these things.)

Beyond this, the initials adopted (along with the title, Sister) signals the ecclesial nature of a religious' vocation. That is, there is a mutual process of discernment going on: the one asking to be received into the community to try her vocation (the postulant) acts on what her heart tells her, but the church (in this case, through the mediation of the Franciscan Sisters of Peoria) also must determine the reality and the nature of the vocation and must officially extend God's own call to young religious. This is true of any vocation requiring and allowing public profession in the Church; someone must officially also discern and mediate the call of God to the person; hearing a call in one's own heart, while important, is inadequate. That the Franciscan Sisters of Peoria have welcomed Sister Veronica officially as one of their Sisters is a significant step. Now she and they move into her novitiate, a two year period where that discernment, and Veronica's formation as a Franciscan Sister of Peoria continues, and where in particular, Sr Veronica begins to prepare in earnest for her first profession and the assumption of some of the legal rights and responsibilities which come with the initials OSF.