Sr Amanda Nguyen makes her vows of perpetual professionPrint
Sr Libbey Byrne gave the reflection at the liturgy celebrating Sr Amanda Nguyen making her vows of perpetual profession as a Sister of Charity of Australia on the Congregation’s patronal festival, the Feast of the Assumption (August 15) at St Ambrose’s Church, West Concord in Sydney.
She began: “No, no, no, no, no…. YES”…
Do you remember this famous line from Jim Trott, one of the parish council members in the TV series, The Vicar of Dibley?
During the past twenty years it has become part of the vernacular for many. “No” is often the first word learned by children as they become aware of themselves as separate beings and, like Jim, it can take some time and a few tantrums for the “no” to grow into a “yes.”
Sometimes we say yes to please others, like the son in Matthew’s Gospel who told his father he would go and work in the vineyard, when he actually had no intention of going. At other times, our initial “yes” can lead us into circumstances which make us wonder just what we’ve got ourselves into, how we will survive or if it is possible to extricate ourselves from somewhere we would rather not go.
Whether our motive grows from a sense of adventure, or the desire to help others by making a difference in their lives, a wholehearted, genuine “yes” requires courage, generosity, and a good dose of common sense to keep us faithful to our promise.
This August 15 is a momentous day for our Church and world. It is the feast of the Assumption and the 75th anniversary of peace declared at the end of World War II.
Today we gather to celebrate three of the great “yes-es” which have changed and will continue to change the course of human history. In hearing the Word of God and acting upon it, the Word takes flesh, and God’s mercy reaches from age to age, as Mary proclaims in the Magnificat.
In our liturgy today, we hear of Mary’s connection to God’s mission establishing the reign of God in and for the life of the world. The feast of the Assumption is, in a sense, the Church’s “yes” to Mary, now completely at one with God, body and soul. She was, and is, co-creator in the life of the world to come.
In 19th century Ireland, another young woman responded to the Word, being called to serve God’s people in a time of famine, poverty and unjust penal laws. Mary Aikenhead’s “yes” led her to change the course of religious life for women, making it more practical and able to meet the needs of the sick poor and their families…
She chose I can do all things in God who strengthens me as her personal motto and, in founding the Sisters of Charity in 1815, adopted Mary the mother of God as patroness of her congregation – Mary the woman clothed with the sun and with the moon and stars beneath her feet. We see represented on our congregation’s crest.
The motto Caritas Christi urget nos which wraps the crest sums up the WHY of who we are and what we do as Sisters of Charity. Christ’s love impels us, urges us, motivates us, at times gives us a good prod and leaves us no other choice but to shout “YES” in response to the Word.
Our 2014 Chapter Statement proclaims for all the world to see:
We are Sisters of Charity, women of Mary Aikenhead, contemplatives in action, impelled by the love of Christ.
We live the joy of the Gospel.
We respond courageously to the call to mission, going out to the margins, walking in partnership with others.
Which brings us to the third YES we celebrate today:
Amanda, your chosen motto “Abide” calls you to contemplation, but also to action, embodying unity and love, for and with all whom you meet.
In a few moments we will witness Amanda’s “yes” publicly proclaimed through our four vows of chastity, poverty, obedience, and service of the poor, not with the intention of making herself less free, but rather, as Sandra Schneiders writes: I commit my whole self, everything and forever, to the undying love that has claimed me for the transformation of the world.
Amanda, through your yes, the love of Christ continues to be brought forth to all the corners of our universe and our wishes for you are summed up in these words from Sr Cathy Sherman csj:
May the greatest love the world has ever known, seize you, inspire, set your heart on fire, and dare you to be bold, with wisdom to be told.
May the neighbourhood of our sacred universe be carried and treasured, embraced inside of you, that all may be one for a future yet to come.
This we ask, this we pray as we bless you this day.
To watch Sr Amanda make her vows of perpetual profession, please click on this link to the Sisters’ YouTube platform.
Image 1: Sr Amanda signs her vows, watched over by the Congregational leader, Sr Clare Nolan; 2: After the liturgy in which she made her perpetual vows, Sr Amanda flanked by Sr Adele Cottrell-Dormer and Congregational Leader, Sr Clare Nolan; 3: Sr Amanda; 4: Sr Clare; Sr Margaret Beirne