Two beautiful sisters I know well just made their profession recently at our motherhouse in Boston and the convent was abuzz trying to guess the names they would choose, (when our sisters make profession, we choose a second name).
The sisters even put out a goofy guessing box in the cafeteria.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all about the names. Profession day in the convent is so much more than names.
All of the sisters are involved in making the convent beautiful, setting the tables, cooking delicious food, welcoming friends and family, and most importantly making sure the liturgy is perfect (and canonically valid!).
Sr. Carly shared:
One of my sisters wants to bring an air horn, yes an air horn to profession to blow at the end of Mass. She was joking—but, seriously, what an image! Once that closing song ends and the air horn goes off—it’s game time for Jesus. First Profession marks the beginning of my life bound to Christ and the real race for his glory.
But air horns aside, names are still a pretty exciting part of the day.
Everyone is on the edge of their seats at the moment in the Mass when the novice formator calls the new names of the sisters.
There was some confusion last year when she called, “Aletheia” for me.
But this year, Sr. Carly and Sr. Chelsea went easy on the sisters. Their names were easy to spell and pronounce.
Sr. Carly has chosen the second name “Paula” and Sr. Chelsea has chosen the name “Bethany.”
I am still getting used to their names. I sent Sr. Chelsea Bethany a text yesterday calling her “Sr. Britney.”
She responded by saying, “Sure Sr. Peggy.”
My nickname is an inside joke between the novices because they had jokingly guessed I would choose the name Areopagus. which they wanted to shorten to “Sr. Peggy.” It was particularly funny because it was strangely not that far off my actual chosen name! (If you missed, it here’s the post where I explain why I chose my name “Aletheia.”)
Anyway, Sr. Chelsea and Sr. Carly have allowed me to share with you the beautiful reflections they wrote about the names they have chosen. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
Here is Sr. Carly Paula’s reflection:
I feel very blessed to be always in St. Paul’s protection. Sundays at my home parish, St. Paul the Apostle I was surrounded by beautiful stain glass windows of St. Paul’s Conversion, Preaching, and Martyrdom. Ever since I was little I would look forward to hearing my Dad’s voice as he read at Mass. On my own journey to respond to Christ’s invitation, I began to taste St. Paul’s fatherliness, tenderness and strength in a particular way. It was in the year dedicated to Saint Paul that I started to more deeply discern my vocation. I can see the “footprints” of St. Paul in my life. My own father was given the name Paul after the current Pope Paul VI and from my grandfather’s middle name Elmo Paul (whose 97th birthday would have been on my profession day). And my maternal great-grandfather was even from Malta; the image of Paul being bit by a snake and continuing to preach has always been deeply apart of me. I stand in awe and thanksgiving that in a very real tangible way I can thank Saint Paul for my gift of faith.
Now more deeply among the Daughters of Saint Paul I have only learned to grow in trust in St. Paul as protector, model, and father who prays fervently “that Christ may be formed in me.” The more I have come to know our father of the congregation the more my heart wants to cry out much like Maestra Paula’s (our foundress in the US) own booming voice “how much Saint Paul loves us!” Many times through out my journey here in formation the Holy Spirit has continually reminded me of the phrase from St. John Chrysostom, “Cor Pauli, Cor Christi” the heart of Paul is the heart of Christ. This is the beautiful mystery I feel Jesus inviting me to ever deeper—our Pauline goal— “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives with in me.” I entrust my own heart to St. Paul who will settle for nothing less that helping me along to this goal. It is exactly this mystery that Jesus wants to live radically in us to be St. Paul in Christ living and breathing today.My Dad chose my first name Carly and it means “little champion” in Gaelic. Carly was chosen by my parents because it is close to my maternal grandmother’s name Carole. The moment Saint John Paul II died I asked if he would pray for me as the patron of my name– because I felt I didn’t have one— so he, Karol also has been a beautiful intercessor on my journey. It makes me smile now that Jesus has deepened the meaning of my name— what else other than “little champion” would Paul call his daughter on her way closer to Christ. “Carly” calls me to keep my eyes on the goal and to always strain ahead—How much I can resonate with St. Paul’s words to continue the pursuit toward the goal in Philippians 3 and Corinthians 9: 19-27.
In asking for Sr. Carly Paula I trust that Saint Paul like a good father will always bring from Jesus the graces necessary for the apostolate and sanctity of life in Christ. I stand in gratitude and humility of asking for this name during our centenary year of our foundation. I also ask for the prayers of Maestra Paula and Mother Thecla that I too may like them have a great faith and a great love for our father, Paul.
Sr. Chelsea Bethany’s reflection:
The name “Bethany” means “House of Poverty” or “House of Song.” For me, this “House of Poverty” invites me to live in the attitude of Bethlehem. I want to model my living of poverty on Mother Thecla who lived, not only her own interior Bethlehem, but lived both the interior and exterior poverty of the congregation as well.
“House of Song” holds particular meaning for me as a musician. I have been surrounded by music my whole life, and so it’s no surprise that even as a child I understood my life to be like a song—as a symphony being written note by note.
I was originally drawn to the name because Bethany is a special place for Jesus. His closest friends were there: Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. It is a place Jesus loves and is loved intimately. The name Bethany not only represents a place, but people who possessed the heart with which I want to live my consecrated life: I want to live the exterior life of Martha (ready to receive Him and others with attentiveness, authenticity, and love) and the interior life of Mary (to be present and willing to sit at His feet) and of Lazarus (to hear the voice of Jesus calling me from death to life in continual conversion). For me, Martha symbolizes the active life, Mary the contemplative, and Lazarus represents my need for constant conversion.
However, this name, which is very much about the relationship between Jesus and me, is not inward turning and is not exclusively about us. While Jesus was received here in Bethany, so were the disciples, and many other people who traveled to Jerusalem. The name Bethany serves as a reminder to me that I am to be a place of peace, love, and joy, for my sisters and for those I meet through our mission.
Please pray for these newly professed sisters, and if you would like to follow them on social media, (we are the #medianuns after all), you can find them on Twitter and Instagram under the name SrPaulaFSP and SrBethanyFSP.