From the Pastor: A Note From Sister Rachel Maria
You all know that we currently have two young men currently studying to be priests, Joshua Heiman, who is studying for the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, and Esteban Merkt, who is studying for US Military Archdiocese and is being sponsored by the St. Augustine Diocese. We also have several young ladies who have been seriously contemplating entering Religious Life. A couple are even in the first stages of formal discernment. But later this year we will be blessed to have one who has completed her discernment period, who has already spent years as a Sister under temporary vows and will now be making those vows permanent. This is a VERY BIG THING! Sister Rachel Maria (Hernandez) sent the following note to her family and I received permission to share some of the more explanatory parts with you, her parish family. Enjoy!
Hello [Epiphany] Family!!
I hope you are all doing very well. It's been a very long time since I've seen or spoken with most of you! I would have liked to write to each one of you individually but it would be impossible. But know that I've been keeping all of you in my thoughts and prayers and I hope things are going well for each one of you in your lives and that you are happy.
As you know in 2009 I entered the community of the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother, a religious community based in Spain, because I believed that God was asking me to surrender my whole life to Him. As this is a very serious commitment there is quite a long process of formation and discernment. I was in "training" if you like as a candidate for 3 years until I moved to Spain in 2012, and officially took the habit and entered the community as a novice that summer. For 2 years I did more intense "training" until summer of 2014 I made my vows for the first time. (In the religious life three vows are taken: of poverty, chastity, and obedience...as a sign of the commitment of our entire life to God. And in our community as well we take a 4th vow, to defend the Eucharist and our Blessed Mother the Virgin Mary in and with our lives.) After making our vows we can be sent to the different communities that we have in different parts of the world, in order to spread the message of God's love and help people in any way we are able. So for the past 5 years I've been living and working in different communities, mostly in different parts of Spain, until last year I moved here to Ireland, and am now living in Mitchelstown, near Cork in the south of Ireland.
Anyway, that in a very brief summarized way has been my life for the past 10 years, and I am very very happy!! Now finally after 5 years of what we call "temporal" vows, I will be making this coming September 8th my final or perpetual vows, which means I will be formally surrendering my life totally to God forever, even though I already did so in my heart a long time ago! It's going to be beautiful ceremony in Madrid, Spain, and several other Sisters who have followed the same process as I have over these past several years will also be making their perpetual vows along with me. It's the equivalent to a wedding, if you like, only we don't say "until death do us part" because it lasts for all eternity!! And we have this ceremony on September 8th, which is the day we celebrate the Blessed Virgin Mary's birthday, as a sign that we give our lives to her because she is the best one to help us love God and others, fulfill our mission in life, and reach Heaven.
So I would love for you to be able to come to the ceremony, I'm sure you've already heard about it from my mom and dad, and they can give you more of the practical details. And even if you would not be able to come, please keep me and the other Sisters in your prayers during these next few months and especially on that day!! I keep praying for all of you every day!
With lots of love, God bless,
Sr. Rachel María (Rachel Lee Hernández)
So now her family members are making plans to get over to Spain for the big day. Since there isn’t really anything that Sister Rachel Maria needs, the greatest “Profession gift” that she could receive (other than prayers, obviously!) is having her family present for her vows. A couple of her older sisters are out of the house and independent and so are able to make it there on their own but Kevin and Cheryl, her parents, are trying to bring five more of their younger dependent children along with them for the ceremony. Supporting vocations is a big part of this parish’s modus operandi and this is a great opportunity for you all to help the family fly to Spain and, by doing so, to help support our first (of many more to come!) Perpetual Profession among our parish families. You know the drill. Homemade breads will be offered this weekend and a couple more times this summer. Take some home when you make a donation towards airfare as a gift to Sister Rachel. Thank you for your continued generosity to our children who give themselves to God through Holy Mother Church!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka