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Msgr. Weiss: He was there
Sister Mary Ann Walsh: The Nuns Who Form Us
Read the words of Sister Florencia Silva, Director of Youth Ministry of the Diocese of Bridgeport, on her vocation and Perpetual Profession.
I want to thank all of you for being here today to celebrate this great joy with me and all of my sisters. I just wanted to take this opportunity to share with you a little bit of my experience of making my perpetual profession.
Each one of us has a different path through which the Lord brings us to Himself. In the same way, each one of us sisters also has a different story of how we discovered our vocation and how we responded to the Lord. In my case, I fought much with the Lord before becoming a sister. It was not what I had planned and definitely not what I wanted to do with my life (not what my family had thought of either). But slowly, the Lord showed me that His plan was a plan of love for me and that nowhere would I be happier than following his will. And He won me over with this love and I knew with certainty even back then in 2003 that He was calling me to be a fraterna. It wasn’t easy, I had everything I wanted and did exactly what I wanted and so I had to give up much and die to my self: my plans, my wants and likes. It’s been over 10 years and I wouldn’t take back anything. I wouldn’t give up one day of my life now for all that I had before. I am so grateful for all the Lord has given me and all that He has allowed to happen in my life.
By the time I joined the community, I was absolutely certain of my vocation and I have never doubted it since. I knew that this is who I was and who I am and I would have made my perpetual profession on the very first day (I actually said that to my superiors ). But I had to wait. It’s been 8 years and I am thankful that I waited because now I can say “yes” to God, for all the days of my life with a much better understanding of what this means. Making my perpetual promise has been a very strong experience of seeing how God fulfills his promises and how He really gives us a hundred fold here on earth and life everlasting, always exceeding all of my expectations.
When I imagined making my PP I thought that I would be so excited. It certainly was the happiest day of my life. But maybe today, I am mostly thankful to the Lord. Since that day, I look at my ring every day and I thank the Lord for his faithful love (that’s what it represents). I am thankful for my vocation, for calling me to give him my life knowing that I didn’t deserve it and I don’t deserve it now. Who is worthy to be called by God to give Him their life? We are not, but He calls us out of his overabundant love. And I am thankful for the infinite blessings he has bestowed upon me throughout my life to bring me closer to himself. It is beautiful to look back and to see the grace of God, his presence, his loving care, his perseverance, even at times where I didn’t see him or I didn’t want to see him. Many of these blessings throughout the way have been hidden in crosses, in sufferings that seen with the eyes of the Lord are nothing but blessed times. Like St. Paul tells the Romans, we are certain that “in everything God works for good with those who love him” and that all that He allows is to bring us closer to himself. So perhaps, I am even most grateful for these difficult moments because it’s been then where the Lord has worked the most in my heart and I have been able to see His love more clearly and strongly. Other graces have been more “silent”, in the secret of my heart: subtle inspirations, deep and unexplainable certitudes, illuminations in times of darkness.
And many other times, this love of the Lord has been manifested through people: through my family, the sisters in my community and many many others who –through their love, words and actions-‐ have been a manifestation in my life of God’s love. All of you here in this room –and those who were invited but couldn’t make it-‐today have been those people that have shown me, in different ways, this providential love of God.
I have been a fraterna for almost 9 years now and 7 of those I have spent here in CT and it is here that I learned to live my life as a fraterna. The Lord brought me here to serve others and at the same time to learn and to grow in my friendship with Him. I am the person I am today because of what the Lord has done in my life and because of all of you. There are so many blessings that the Lord has given me during my time here that it would be impossible to name them all but I just want to mention a few.
I have been blessed to work at the office for Pastoral Services with a group of people who genuinely and sincerely seek to respond with generosity to what the Lord asks of them every day. To work with a team like that is a rare privilege for which I am most thankful. And to work in the Catholic Center has also been a joy: from Archbishop Lori and his wonderful witness of love to the flock that the Lord had entrusted him here, a love that never spared anything, that was always willing to give of himself to the last drop. Or so many other friends that I have made walking up and down the hallways and so many beautiful and edifying conversations that we have all the time!
Another great blessing in my life has been my Bethany group, the mom’s prayer group. I remember that when I started I was a little nervous – I’m not gonna lie-‐ because I had never done it before and I had only worked with young people. But it has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. It has been beautiful to see how much they love their families and how they are willing always to sacrifice themselves for what is best for them -‐even if it’s not the easiest thing-‐ and most importantly, to see their deep faith and their desire to transmit that faith to their families because they know that it is the most important thing they can give to them. I really look forward to it every month.
And for 6 of those years I worked at SJHS. When I started, I really had no idea what I was doing and I I don’t know what I would have done without Patty, Doc Marino and Maureen’s help, especially through my first years in the school. Or without all of the parents I met at the sidelines and bleachers who helped me to organize drives and deliveries time after time, some of whom I became really close friends with and many of whom I still keep in touch with. Like Eileen and Mike who picked me up and dropped me off from everywhere -‐including the airport-‐ so so many times and who have helped me in so many ways that only the Lord knows and will repay abundantly of for which I am most thankful! Or Father Marcello, who taught me so much (including a great love for incense) and who has been such an immense witness of genuine love to God and to our vocation to give our lives to God. He has truly been the best of friends during this time and I have no words to thank him for everything.
Looking back, it was certainly not easy but through all my mistakes the Lord taught me to be humble and to remember that He is the one that called me and the one that sustains me, that without Him I can really do nothing but that with Him, I can do anything He asks of me. I remember telling my first classes over and over again that I knew I was a pretty terrible teacher but I also knew that the Lord wanted me there and therefore that I was the right person for them, exactly who they needed to grow closer to God and that they were exactly who I needed to grow in my own holiness.
But in a way, no one has helped me more than the twenty one hundred students I had in my 6 years at St. Joes and I’ve gotta say, they will always have a most special place in my heart. With them I learned to be a teacher and to keep my class under control, to bring one hundred kids to Washington DC to the March for Life and make sure no one gets lost and to organize retreats for 450 kids. But that is the least important. It is they who taught me what it means to love without measure, it is they who taught me what it means to live my spiritual motherhood, it is those kids who taught me that when I thought I had given everything I had and I thought had nothing more to give, God wanted to make my heart bigger and I was able to love even more.
With every graduating class, I thought that my heart was going to break, that I would miss them too much and I couldn’t possibly love anyone like I had loved them. And I did miss them with all my heart –and still do-‐ but then a new class would come and my heart would enlarge and stretch to fit each and every one of them. I love them all and miss each one of them to this day and pray for them every day (I still pray for absolutely every one of them on their birthday, all 2,100).
Many of them are here today –and many wanted to come but couldn’t make it-‐ and I would like to thank them especially for allowing me to be a part of their lives, for allowing me to accompany them in their joys and sorrows, for allowing me to rejoice with them and also to suffer with them. Some of them I have known for 5, 6 or 7 years. I have seen them grow, graduate from middle school, high school or even college. I have seen them make mistakes and learn from them; I have seen them change and become adults. But most importantly, I have also had the privilege to see them grow closer to the Lord and mature in their faith. Sometimes I was able to help them in small ways but often times all I could do was to be with them, suffer with them and help them carry their crosses, like Simon of Cirene did with our Lord on his way to mount Calvary. It is then that we have forged the strongest friendships –of the type that never breaks-‐ and it is there where we have both grown closer to the Lord.
I am especially thankful for my community, for all the fraternas worldwide, for all my friends who have supported me and accompanied me throughout these years, throughout the good times and all the difficulties and for all the ones that have lived here with me –some of whom you may remember-‐ Sr. Ale, Sr. Ana, Sr. Eileen and Sr. Erika and in a very special way for my sisters who are part of my community today. It is in the community where we learn to live love and grow in holiness so we can better serve and help those the Lord puts in our lives and I am very thankful to the Lord for each one of them.
So thank you all for your friendship. In our vocation of being fully available, we treasure those friendships greatly, even if in the future I was moved somewhere else, I hope to keep in touch but most importantly I will always pray for all of you and ask the Lord that He continues to bless you all abundantly and bring you closer to himself.
As you see, I have so much to be thankful! And today, I can thank the Lord in no other way but with the total gift of myself: my time, my love, my talents and gifts: all that I am and that I have.
Like our constitutions say on #7: the Lord has called me to give my life to God, freely and responsibly so that, through me, He can bring his word and his love to all people. And this is what I pray to the Lord that He gives me, that He gives me the grace to respond with generosity to this and that I can be very very faithful to my promises for all the days that the Lord grants me in this world. So I ask you that you also pray for me and for all of us, fraternas, that we may be very faithful to all that the Lord asks from us everyday and in every circumstance of our lives. Thank you