Blessed to belong

Thursday, October 12, 2017

by Sister Semerita Mbambu, CSC

“God has plans for me, plans for prosperity, a bright future and hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

Sister Semerita Mbambu, CSC, expresses her gratitude to God, her sisters and her family as she receives her bachelor’s degree from Uganda Christian University in Mukono, Uganda. She is looking forward to continuing her ministry with Rwenzori Forum for Peace and Justice in Fort Portal, Uganda.

What an exciting moment for me when I was awarded a bachelor’s degree in public administration and management on July 7, 2017, from Uganda Christian University, Mukono, Uganda. How would I have achieved this success without the support of my sisters, friends and family? Despite the fact that during my schooling I faced sickness and many challenges in my family, God was on my side. I have been equipped both mentally and spiritually. I can now carry the honor of my academic accomplishment with humility, giving glory to God.

I extend my deep appreciation to the entire Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross, who supported me and made sure I had all I needed to excel in my academics. Thanks to my sisters in the Area of Africa, particularly in Uganda, who encouraged me in one way or another. Thank you also to my sisters in Brazil, particularly Sister Michael Mary (Nolan) who helped me continue with my academic work through an internship while I received needed medical treatment in Brazil during my final academic year. Through your care, the Holy Cross Mission and Core Values came alive in my life: “Compassion compels us to stand with and embrace others in their suffering. Compassion moves us to reflect on the signs of the times, discern needs, and respond.” I will continue to strive to live out these same values in my daily life and in my ministry, which is currently with Rwenzori Forum for Peace and Justice (RFPJ) in Fort Portal, Uganda.

I will always remember how my sisters took turns staying with me at the hospital. This kind of love gave me a sense of belonging and I felt blessed to be a Sister of the Holy Cross. May God bless you all.

He chose me

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

On June 17 Sister Areli Cruz Hernández, CSC, made her perpetual profession of vows as a Sister of Holy Cross at Parroquia Nuestra Madre Santísima de la Luz in Cd. Guadalupe, Monterrey, Mexico.

"It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed
you to go and bear fruit that will remain."
— John 15:16
by Sister Areli Cruz Hernández

When I began my journey in the "Come and See" program, I wasn’t quite sure of what I was doing or where I was going. The only thing I was sure of was my desire to do something different with my life, for I had a strong feeling to serve others. I believe God sent a Holy Cross sister in my path to remind me about my call. I was attracted to the Congregation by the love and compassion this sister showed to people and the ministry she was doing with the poor. I saw joy and happiness in doing it, so I said to myself, "I want to become one of them."

I had no idea how my life was going to be, but she told me to trust God and to listen to His calling through my heart. After a few years of discernment and formation, I made my initial vows. As a Holy Cross sister, I have had the opportunity to show love and compassion to people in various ways, especially to children and adolescents who have suffered all kinds of violence. I have been able to walk with those who have been neglected by their families and society.

On the day of my perpetual profession of vows, I reaffirmed my commitment to God by saying "yes" to go and bear fruit that will remain—for it was not me who chose Him, but He who chose me to live this way as a sign of hope and love in this fragmented world. I give thanks to God for entrusting to me this mission, and to those who were, and still are, part of my journey, my community as well as family and friends. Thank you all for the love and support I received. I commend myself to God’s grace and to your prayers to continue showing God’s love, compassion and mercy to all creation.

Finding the pearl of great price

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

by Sister Esperanza Jacobo Acevedo, CSC

On June 17 Sister Esperanza Jacobo Acevedo, CSC, (left) made her perpetual profession of vows as a Sister of Holy Cross at Parroquia Nuestra Madre Santísima de la Luz in Cd. Guadalupe, Monterrey, Mexico. Sister Suzanne Brennan (right) received her vows. 

"The kingdom of heaven is like a man who is looking for fine pearls, and when he finds one of great value, he goes and sells all he has, and buys that pearl." Matthew 13:45-46

When I started my discernment 10 years ago, I asked for God’s guidance. I trusted her and I can say she has been faithful all these years. It was in 2005 that I met the Sisters of the Holy Cross. They inspired me to think about religious life. They helped me to experience God’s love by showing respect for my culture and my personality and their dedication to my people.

They were the reason I decided to live the experience of "Come and See," where I only wanted to see. I told my family that it was a three-month retreat, because I did not know how to explain the program. God, however, had another plan and I am here after 10 years with great joy searching for the hidden treasure.

The life of Jesus—a peasant born in an environment of poverty, violence and ignorance—not only inspires me, but also challenges me to live a life that according to Blessed Basil Anthony Moreau extends preference to the most needy. As the person who bought the pearl of great price, I am willing to sell everything in order to attain something more valuable. I believe that in solidarity and love is found liberty, joy and strength to support the well-being of others.

During my short time as a Sister of the Holy Cross, I have had experiences in ministry that have changed my life, and I give thanks to God for all of them. It is thanks to my own experiences in life, such as poverty, limited education and death in my family, that I can accompany others, such as immigrants to the United States and Mexico, or patients in hospitals, through their difficulties. Who understands the pain of another human being? Those who have passed through similar difficulties.

Today, the day of my perpetual profession, is a joyful celebration of my beautiful journey as a woman. I am responding to God’s unconditional love by choosing religious life above all other good lifestyles.

I want to thank my family for their supportive love; my sisters in Holy Cross for all their ways of expressing God’s love in their lives; my friends for walking with me; and above all God, for her love and infinite mercy.

Reflection after the Word

Friday, July 28, 2017

by Sister Marilyn Zugish, CSC

This reflection was given at the Jubilee celebration on July 16, 2017 at the Church of Our Lady or Loretto, Saint Mary's, Notre Dame, Indiana. Scripture passages referenced in this reflection are Isaiah 55:10-11, Romans 8:18-23 and Matthew 13:1-9.

The scripture today from Isaiah speaks of ordinary life. Rain and snow water the earth. Seed sown in rich soil produces fruit. Creation waits with eager expectation and we, too, once we have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan within ourselves for more. Perhaps, surprisingly, our creative God, imitates creation. God declares just as water makes the earth fertile and fruitful, so MY word goes forth to do MY will. 

Words are such ordinary things. Yet, they can have such extraordinary effects. We can speak healing words, encouraging words or helpful words. We speak words that solidify bonds, declare what we value or set a direction for our daily lives. We can hear words that call us to be our best selves. We can hear words, words that entice us to see life in a new way. Much of our ministry and community living depends on words. Are we able to “hear with our ears” so that we can speak words that fit the situation, the ordinary life?

At the Brothers of Holy Cross Jubilee, Brother Chester often reminds us that the jubilarians have ministered for a total of oh so many of years and have probably reached a total of so many people.

Today, I wonder how many words our Jubilarians have uttered? Some more than others, we know! But the numbers don’t really matter. The seed produced fruit a hundred fold, or sixty fold or thirty fold. Whatever the number, the seed produced fruit – in the ordinary course of things!

Our Jubilarians have gathered us this morning. Did you know that each of them is on life support? We are their life support system and they are ours. These women have taught in classrooms and in daily life. They have heard a variety of calls over the course of their lives and responded to those calls whole-heartedly. They have walked the sea shores and treasured the beauty of flowers and plants. They have birthed new ministries and maintained close friendships.

Long ago—25, 50 or 75 years—these sisters uttered words that vowed them to God in the Church and in our Congregation. Today we stand with them, to listen together to God’s continuing words of love and hope. We stand with them to proclaim God’s fidelity; to re-affirm that we love and support one another whether in ordinary times or times of trouble. We stand with them awaiting the next revelation of God’s Word.

Sister Salome Nanwar, CSC

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Silver Jubilee — 25 years of consecrated life

Sister Salome Nanwar, CSC, who currently teaches at Saint Patrick High School, Khagrachari, Chittagong, Bangladesh, will be honored on July 16, 2017, during a jubilee celebration in the Church of Our Lady of Loretto at Saint Mary’s, Notre Dame, Indiana, for her 25 years of consecrated life as a Sister of the Holy Cross.

Sister Salome served in parish ministry at Corpus Christi Parish in Jalchatra, Tangail, Bangladesh, and at Neerala Convent, Kulaura, Moulvibazar District, Bangladesh. For 13 years she has shared her gifts as an educator, serving at Corpus Christi High School, Jalchatra; Agrani High School, Lokhipur, Kulaura; Saint Placid’s High School, Chittagong, Bangladesh; and at Saint Patrick High School, Khagrachari, where she ministers currently.

Sister Salome was born in Burmacherra, Moulvibazar. She attended Jnanodaya Dharmaram College in Bangalore, Karnataka, India, and Saint Mary’s College, Shillong, Meghalaya, India. She earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Govt. Teachers’ Training College, Dhaka, Bangladesh, and her Master of Education from Bangladesh Open University, Chittagong. Sister Salome made her initial profession of vows on December 4, 1992, and her perpetual profession on September 26, 1998.
Send a Jubilee card! Your donation will make a sister’s special year even more so.

Reflection after the Word

Friday, July 14, 2017

by Patricia Anne Clossey, CSC, for the Perpetual Profession of Vows of Sisters Areli Cruz Hernández and Esperanza Jacobo Acevedo 

Sisters Areli Cruz Hernández (left) and Esperanza Jacobo Acevedo (right) at their perpetual profession of vows as Sisters of the Holy Cross on June 17, 2017

Good evening, everyone! Well, the day has finally come! Throughout our lives there are many pathways to take and many decisions that we must make along our journey. How did we arrive at this moment? Perhaps the families of Sister Areli and Sister Esperanza are asking that question! “How did my daughter, sister or aunt come to make this decision?”

When Jesus of Nazareth returned home to visit his family (after he raised from the dead a 12-year-old girl), the people of his hometown were questioning among themselves: “Isn’t this the son of the carpenter?” “Isn’t Mary his mother?” (Matthew 13:15) “Where does this all come from?” Imagine, he has just resurrected a dead girl and they were talking like that…instead of giving thanks.

But today I can imagine the following scene: “Look, there is Esperanza over there. Isn’t she the daughter of Juan and Maria Luisa and aren’t they from Colonia La Rosita? And there’s Areli, isn’t she the daughter of Gilberta (and the late Mario) and isn’t her mother’s house in the Colonia Simuplade? They are normal women just like us, how can they be religious sisters or nuns?”

With questions like these, Areli and Esperanza, you are in good company with Jesus. He also had to deal with these questions. And these were opportunities for him to talk about God, God’s love for us and the mission entrusted to Him.

The reality is that women religious, or nuns, priests and religious brothers are normal people and they come from regular families. They come from our own families!

The journey for each person is distinct. For Esperanza and for Areli, the journey was a long process as they reflected about their lives and continued to work and help their families.

In the first reading from the prophet Jeremiah, the prophet talks about his struggle with God. God had given Jeremiah a very difficult mission: to stir up the people, asking them to turn from their ways in order to live a better life. The people were making fun of Jeremiah, but God spoke to him “like a fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones. The effort to restrain it wearied me, I could not do it.” (Jeremiah 20:8-9)

God continues to speak to us today; God continues to call us. As our Gospel reading says, “You did not choose me, no, I chose you and I commissioned you to go out and bear fruit, fruit that will last.” (John 15:16)

So then, the interior struggle of each person begins. Perhaps it sounds something like this: “I am searching for meaning in my life, I want to love and be loved, I want to serve others. I feel something inside like a fire within me or a voice speaking within me. Perhaps God is calling me to do something special with my life. But, I don’t want to think about this. I want to run in the other direction. I just want to be normal, get married and have a family. The possibility of a call to religious life shocks me. It fills me with fear and at the same time delights me! But what will my family think of this? What will my friends say?

“As time goes on, these thoughts stay. The feelings don’t go away, so I talk to others like a sister, priest or wise friend. I pray a lot and reflect on what I am going to do with my life until I can say as Sister Glenda does in her song: ‘You have fascinated me, Jesus, and I have let myself fall in love. I have struggled with everything that I feel, but you have conquered me with your love.’

Yes, Jesus calls us today, but for what does he call us? He calls us to love, to give our life in service to others, to dedicate ourselves to God in prayer and to form a religious community. In our Constitution and Statutes we say, “We share in the mission of Jesus to reveal his Father’s love for all people, to proclaim the good news to the poor, freedom to the oppressed and healing to the afflicted.” (Constitution 1) And how do we respond to this call? By responding to the signs of the times and to the needs of our Church and our world. In meeting these needs we have seen the face of Christ in our brothers and sisters. While we are women of prayer, we are not in the chapel all day. We are an apostolic community. We work among the people.

Esperanza has had the experience of attending to individuals with very serious conditions as she worked as a paramedic with Cruz Verde (Green Cross) and in the department of social work in the hospital where she assisted families in crisis. In her time with Department of the Integrated Family, Areli has worked with abused adolescents and children as well as their families. As a psychologist, she has used her skills to help heal and reintegrate families back into society.

Yes, we respond to God’s call to serve, but we are also called to share life in community. We know that human relationships are not easy, whether in marriage, in the workplace or in service with others. It is the same with religious life in community. There are challenges every day. The second letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians reminds us of some of the qualities that are important if we are going to live our vocation with love and in peace. “Love is patient and kind, looks towards other’s interest and pardons all.” (2 Corinthians 1:13)

Today Areli and Esperanza, you are professing your perpetual vows in the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross. By doing this, you might say that you both have reached a goal in your lives. While that is true, in another way, this journey is just beginning! Every day you will have the opportunity to put in practice what you have professed today. Here are some suggestions as you continue. Be faithful to prayer in your life, kindling your relationship with Jesus so that the sacred fire within never burns out. Be women of passion and compassion, have a spirit of gratitude to God. Be patient with yourself and with those you live with. Be receptive to the ideas of others and to the ideas of leadership—they may be able to help you discover new gifts or new ways of serving. Continue to grow spiritually and professionally in your life. And finally, maintain a spirit of humility and a sense of humor which is so necessary in our common life.

This way of life is a great adventure! With confidence in the divine providence of God we go forward one day at a time with the promise that God will always give us the grace necessary to fulfill the mission.

As young Anne Frank, whose birthday was remembered this past Monday (June 12) said, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world!” With the apostolic zeal of Father Moreau, now is the time to love, to serve and to console. And as the song that you like by the group Jesed says, “It is love that impels me to labor in the name of Jesus!”
Thank you Areli and Esperanza for responding to this call. Know that God, your community, your families and your friends are with you to support you with love now and always as your continue your sacred journey.

(English translation of the original reflection in Spanish)