On Tuesday, April 30, feast of Our Lady of Africa, the Missionary Sisters of Jesus and Mary celebrated their very first religious profession. Sister Irene de Jesus took her first vows at the congregation’s novitiate in Nairobi, Kenya.
NAIROBI, KENYA | 5-10-2013
On Tuesday, April 30, feast of Our Lady of Africa, the Missionary Sisters of Jesus and Mary celebrated their very first religious profession. Sister Irene de Jesus took her first vows at the congregation’s novitiate in Nairobi, Kenya, following an 8-day retreat preached by Fr. Niklaus Pfluger.
Sister Irene’s family, the de Poncins, traveled from France to be present at the ceremony. Fr. Loic Duverger, District Superior of Africa, and Fr. Marc Vernoy, his predecessor (now stationed in the United States in Sanford, Florida), also attended, with the priests from the nearby priory, Frs. Nouveau, Demonex and Picot, and members of the local faithful.
A Solemn Mass was celebrated by Fr. Pfluger, who preached on the detachment mandated by the vows and the zeal that all Christians must share for the salvation of souls. After the sermon Sister Irene took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament and of Fr. Pfluger, and received the brown veil of a professed Missionary Sister of Jesus and Mary as well as the cross and the ring symbolizing her espousal of Christ.
The ceremony was followed by festivities in the garden of the novitiate with delicious French wines and foods, entertainment, and a moving address by the father of the newly professed sister.
The Missionary Sisters of Jesus and Mary were founded by Bishop Fellay, who sadly was unable to attend this important event for the young congregation, but was represented by Fr. Pfluger, the First Assistant. The congregation is assisted in its beginnings by four of the Oblate Sisters who have taken on the task of forming the new community in the religious life.
The congregation now includes one professed sister, three novices, two postulants and two pre-postulants. In October, please God, two more professions will be held and two more will take the habit. The sisters hope to attract many more vocations from throughout the world to assist in their special apostolate to women and children in mission countries.
Photos and text courtesy of Fr. Philippe Pazat.
Address by Mr. Olivier de Poncins
Dear parents, dear Sisters, dear Fathers:
Irene, with you, emotion has always been powerful; today, when we have all come for this meeting between you and your God, we assisted at such a calm and peaceful ceremony, sensing nonetheless the impetus and the energy that leads you on the path of life you have started on with such ardor.
On this path, where "each man in his night, walks towards his light", you have outstripped us, you are our pathfinder. And it is true that we are only 150 kilometers from Nyeri.
You have truly become a Kenyan; and Kenyans win all the races.
They have a secret: they set their toes on the ground first. That is why they win, and that is why their running is so light, so graceful, so swift.
Your secret, the secret of your running, graceful too, is the Love that guides you, precedes you, awaits you.
And there we are out of breath, far behind you, we who often know only the bitterness and the suffering of love.
Love is indeed a movement, a movement that ennobles you, that makes you see the world with greater clarity than we do, and with the wish to bring others there; you see it, no doubt, through Another’s eyes.
Today, here, in Africa, you desire, yes, you desire—what a surprise to us—whose actions are so often laborious and restricted, to see an act fully attuned to its thought. How wonderful it is to see love overcome the entire will.
That which is the least in our world will be the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven. This is a frightening idea, one that judges us when we see the little space we make for God in our thoughts and our lives.
To the littlest of children on this earth the Christ of the Apocalypse promises to give hidden manna, with a white pebble whereon is engraved a new name unknown to all save he who receives it.
Irene, today you are the first, you lead the race, you will remain the elder sister of all those who follow your footsteps with the Missionaries of Jesus and Mary. I bring you the good wishes of all your friends on this earth and all those we have in Heaven, especially the one who was present three years ago for the founding of this order. I bring you their wishes that to you and to all your sisters may be given the most beautiful of pebbles of many colors.