First ProfessionA day of great joy
Saturday, 7 March – the culmination of a weekend of joy and gratitude was the celebration of the Mass of First Profession for four of our Sisters in the Parish Church of the Sacred Heart, in Blauuwbosch, KZN.
In the presence of Sisters, family and friends, and members of the Parish, Sister Nonhlanhla Maseko, Sister Sphelele Langa, Sister Maria Tam Nguyen and Sister Maria Thuy Duong made their First Profession into the hands of Sister Felicity Cunningham OP, Congregation Prioress. The act of making profession is a public act within the Church, which is why it takes place during the celebration of Mass. It is indeed a celebration of the whole Church.
After being presented by their families or Sisters of the Congregation, Sister Felicity asked each Sister, What do you seek? and she replied, God’s mercy and yours. For that is how we entrust ourselves to God on this adventure of a Dominican vocation: we are always at the mercy of God and one another.
In the midst of a joyful Mass, filled with song and dance, these four women made these promises:
I, Sister N.N., make profession and promise obedience to God, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to St Dominic and to you, Sister Felicity Cunningham, prioress general of the Congregation of St Catherine of Siena, Newcastle, Natal, according to the Rule of St Augustine and the Constitutions of this Congregation; and I will be obedient to you and your successors for three years.
A Sister makes her Profession initially for three years, but always with the intention of her vows being for life. Her formation as a Dominican continues as, journeying with her Sisters, she listens in prayer and community to discern God’s call and answer to the best of her ability.
At First Profession, the scapular is blessed. This is the cloth of the habit which hangs over a Sister’s shoulders. In the Dominican tradition, it is a sign of contemplation and for that reason a Sister never sits on her scapular but carefully moves it aside.
The white veil of the Novice is replaced by a black veil which is a symbol of a Sister belonging to Christ and being dedicated to the service of His Church.
Each newly professed Sister is presented with a copy of the Constitutions of the Congregation by which she will live out her commitment to Christ. And finally, the Profession Book is signed by each newly Professed Sister, two witnesses and the Congregation Prioress.