In August, 2017, Fr. Burfitt oversaw young ladies dedicate their lives to the service of God in the Franciscan community of Christ the King, Kansas City.
Come, My chosen one, and I will establish My Throne in thee: For the King hath desired thy beauty. Hear, O daughter, and see, and incline thine ear. Forget thy people and thy father’s house, for the King hath desired thy beauty."
– Responsory for the religious profession of a novice, from the Ordo Fratrum Minorum
The August day of the Portiuncula Indulgence was the occasion of a joyful event for the Franciscan Sisters of Christ the King in Kansas City, MO, when Sr. Marie Louise of the Visitation took her final vows, four sisters renovated their vows, and three postulants received the habit and began their novitiate: Sr. Jacinta Marie of the Infant Jesus, Sr. Mary Philomena of the Stigmata of St. Francis, and Sr. Maria Serra of Our Lady of the Rosary. Over a dozen priests and more than 200 faithful were also in attendance.
Fr. Trevor Burfitt, an old friend of the convent’s founder, Fr. Eugene Heidt, received the vows of the sisters and offered the Mass for St. Mary of the Angels. In his sermon, Fr. Burfitt spoke of the day’s venerable ceremony and the devotion of the Portiuncula, which has been kept and promoted now by three orders of the Church:
Father’s sermon also touched on the examples that the sisters set, reminding us to pray for them:
These sisters want to be like our Lady and go to Heaven. Our Lady teaches us the virtues of the Religious life. These sisters live the counsels of obedience, poverty, and chastity – they have given themselves to the religious life, and then they can help Catholic families. We must pray to Mary, and pray for these sisters, and for the souls that our Lady is calling.”
Following the Mass and the profession ceremony, the convent enjoyed a celebratory banquet with the many priests, religious, and faithful in attendance.
The sisters keep the 1927 Rule of the Third Order Regular, approved by Pope Pius XI. The six-month postulancy for all candidates begins in February, and some also spend up to six months in a pre-postulancy before that. In August, the postulants receive their habits and their religious names and begin their two-year novitiate. At the end of the novitiate, if accepted into vows, the novices take their first vows for one year. The annual vows are renewed twice, followed by vows of three years. This may be followed by another three years if necessary, for a total of six or nine years in temporary vows. Temporary vows are followed by final vows.
The perpetual profession or the final vows takes place before and during Mass, the rest after Mass. The sacramentals used in the ceremonies include the habit, cord, white veil, flower-crown, Franciscan Crown, book containing the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Rule, and the candles, the ring, and the crown of thorns.
Before the Mass the sisters petition the celebrant to make their perpetual vows, after which the Veni, Creator Spiritus is sung. The ceremonies that follow include many beautiful prayers and blessings, including this one for the blessing of the rings during the perpetual profession:
Creator and preserver of mankind, giver of spiritual grace, and liberal donor of salvation to men: do Thou, O Lord, pour forth Thy blessings upon these rings; that those who wear them, being fortified by heavenly strength, may keep their faith unimpaired and their fidelity unspotted: and that as spouses of Christ they may preserve the purpose of virginity, and persevere in perpetual chastity. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen."
After the veiling of the novices, meanwhile, the priest makes this fitting invocation:
O Lord Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd Who laid down Thy life for Thy sheep, cause Thy handmaids, clothed in the sacred garments, to live in justice before Thee, and grant them to arrive at Thy great mercy with the fruit of their good works. Grant them, at the same time, obedience in Faith, strength in labor, devotion in Charity, success in their undertakings, joy in peace, goodwill in their behavior, patience in troubles, and healing in sickness and suffering. Just as they are, at the present time, happily running on the paths of justice, so grant that they may, at the Last Day, receive Thee most cheerfully as their coming Judge: Thou, Who with the Father and the Holy Ghost, livest and reignest, God, world without end. Amen."
The ceremonies conclude with a solemn thanksgiving by singing the Te Deum.
The profound need for traditional Catholic teaching sisters inspired the foundation of the community by Fr. Eugene Heidt (+2006). With much prayer and the help of Sr. Herlinda McCarty (+2006), O.S.F., the motherhouse was established in Oregon in 2000; in 2002 the convent was moved to its present location in Missouri. Today the sisters travel every day from their convent to give classes at nearby St. Vincent de Paul Academy. During the summers they travel to chapels around the country to host summer camps for girls who might otherwise never have a chance to meet a religious sister.
The Convent of Christ the King is a beautiful and majestic Romanesque brick complex atop a hill on over six acres surrounded by a wrought iron fence. The chapel contains a marble-clad and pillared sanctuary with rounded apse, a transept with original choir stalls and a pipe organ, and a large nave. Attached to the chapel is a six-story bell tower, visible from a great distance.
Prayer for the Franciscan Order
ALMIGHTY and eternal God, who hast mercifully deigned through the death of Thine Only-begotten Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, to restore the world, in order to free us from everlasting death and bring us to the joys of Paradise: Look down we pray Thee, with a loving eye upon this devoted family, gathered here today in Thy Name, which Thy servant, Blessed Francis, founded to increase the throng of the faithful. Strengthen it, we pray, upon the solid rock, which is Christ; that it may be free from every disturbance of the world, the flesh, and the devil, and that, walking on the path of Thy commandments, through the merits of the most bitter Passion of Thy Son, and of His Immaculate Mother, and of our Blessed Father Francis and all the Saints, it may possess eternal joys. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.
The Franciscan Sisters can be contacted at:
Convent of Christ the King
1409 E. Meyer Boulevard
Kansas City, MO 64131
United States of America