My first vow at Candlemas on the 2 Feb 2011 was a very uplifting and moving service for me. The fact that my vows were made within the context of The Candlemas Service made it even more special, because as Mary and Joseph presented baby Jesus in the temple, so Br. Damian SSF, who has been a wonderful support to me and enabled me to make this new commitment into SCL, presented me to Bishop Bill, for him to receive my vows and enable me to become a Sister of SCL.
As I placed my hands within The Bishops hands whilst making my vow, I found this most re-assuring and affirming, as this symbolises the bishop being the head of the church, whom enfolded me into Christ Church, and enabled me to feel secure and enveloped into the love of Christ, and gave me the re-assurance of my commitment that I had made into The Single Consecrated Life.
There were over 80 people at this service of which, 40 had played a significant part over many years, in my pilgrimage with the Lord and of whom had travelled some distance to be with me on this special occasion.
I was overwhelmed too with the wonderful support from the parish of Harnham where I work as a Parish Worker and from the Hospital Chaplaincy, where I have been a part time Hospital Chaplain for over ten years.
I look forward to Candlemas 2012 when hopefully I will make my life vows into SCL, if this is God‘s will for me. Having already been a religious sister within The Community of St. Denys in simple vows for the past 14yrs, it will be good to eventually move into life vows, then being fully professed at last, within The Single Consecrated Life and to become a servant of God, and to the gospel of Christ, in life profession.
Life vow - 16th Feb. 2012
My Life Profession Vows into The Single Consecrated Life took place on the 16th February 7-30pm, at St. Georges Church, West Harnham, Salisbury, Wilts. Bishop Bill Ind a retired Bishop from Truro was due to receive my life vow and preach, but sadly he was unwell so our new Bishop of Salisbury, Bishop Nicholas Holtham stepped in at the last minute and Presided and Received my Life Vow instead. The Bishop is an amazing person and straight away put myself and everyone present at ease. He also has a great sense of humour and full of humility. There were 110 people present including my two daughters, son-in-law and three granddaughters which made it even more special for me, so there was full church with standing room only. Many were clergy whom had played a significant part in my pilgrim journey into the religious life, plus friends and colleagues and the parish.
The whole service was very special and very moving and full of love from all present and again as was the case when taking simple vows, when The Bishop placed my hands within his, the symbolism meaning enfolding me into Christ Church, I felt very profoundly the presence of The Holy Spirit there within me and amongst us all, and many phoned me the following day saying how much they too had felt the love and the power of the Holy Spirit within that service .
I have to say it has taken 15 years within the religious life to arrive at this point of Life Profession for various reasons. The thing I found so amazing about this spiritual journey was how The Good Lord had used so many people to play a significant role in this journey. One can only realise this whilst one is in silence and reflecting back over the years. What also is amazing is that the Lord used a dying religious community as the enabler or a stepping stone along the way, to test my vocation and lead me into a full and vibrant ministry within the church as a religious.
As I said in my thank you speech within the service, one should never forget the individuals that played there part in this journey.
It can be so easy to forget and echo only how we have done the work. Most people were able to join in the light refreshments in the church hall afterwards which was quite a social event in itself and a cake had been made by one of the parishioners and everyone gathered round while I cut the first slice. It felt like it did on my wedding day, cutting the first slice as a bride, but then I suppose that Life Profession is, becoming a Bride of Christ, after all we are giving our whole life to Christ at this stage.