Catholic Sisters Week

We should all be shining lamps!

Sister Boreta Singleton (right) receives a blessing from Sister Rose Weidenbenner during her reception ceremony.
Sister Boreta Singleton (right) receives a blessing from Sister Rose Weidenbenner during her reception ceremony.
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By Sister Boreta Singleton

The theme for Catholic Sisters Week—Celebrating Tradition, Changing the World— reminds me of our Mercy tradition of Sisters renewing their vows and Associates and Companions renewing their Covenants on New Year’s Eve. When I moved to New York in 2002, I always returned to my hometown of Philadelphia during the Christmas holidays to visit family and friends. One year I accepted the invitation of my friends Sisters Suzanne Neisser and Anne Marie Weisglass to attend the Reflection and Mass at Merion, PA on December 31. The first year I attended I was struck by the beauty of the Sisters’ renewal of vows as they held lit tapers. This gesture reminds me of the minister of Baptism giving the newly baptized child a lit candle. He says,” This child of yours has been enlightened by Christ. He(she) is to walk always as a child of the light. May he (she) keep the flame of faith alive in his (her) heart.” The flame of faith has been kept alive in the hearts of our sisters as they respond to God’s call to their vowed life. They walk as children of the light and practice what Jesus said, “Let your light shine before all so that they may see your good works and give glory to God.”( Mt. 5:16) 

 As the years have progressed, the beauty of that part of the New Year’s Eve Mass continues to resonate with me. As I watch the sisters light their candles before they renew their vows, I am reminded of the thousands of Sisters of Mercy throughout the world who stand on the threshold of a new year and remember the vows they made at their Profession: that light of Christ radiates both in them and out to all they encounter. The sisters’ ministries through the years have touched countless lives and continue to change the world. Each time we remember a Sister who is present to God’s people– including our Sisters who are no longer in an active apostolate and have the ministry of prayer—God’s people encounter their light and experience their good works which bear light to our world so in need of healing.   No wonder Catherine McAuley said to us, “We should all be shining lamps, giving light to those around us.” May God’s people continue to see the light of Christ that the Sisters of Mercy bring to them!