Thursday, November 23, 2017

My joy in Holy Cross

Monday, October 23, 2017

by Sister Comfort Arthur, CSC

Sister Comfort Arthur (left) stands with Sister M. Veronique (Wiedower), CSC, Congregation president, following her perpetual profession on September 2 in Cape Coast, Ghana.

“I chose you before you were born…” Jeremiah 1:5

I first encountered the family of Holy Cross through the brothers in my junior secondary school. It was their selfless spirit of serving and helping the people of God through education that attracted me to learn more about Holy Cross. When I would see them helping so many others, it gave me a desire and a burning zeal to help other poor children like me when I grew up. Little did I know that the fulfillment of my deepest wishes was very near.

It was after I completed my secondary schooling and a year of work with an insurance company in Takoradi, Ghana, that the zeal to answer my call became obvious. I realized my passion to serve and join a religious order was at the forefront of my heart.

Nearly 10 years ago, when I was almost 21 years old, I moved from my parents’ home and joined the sisters in Tanokrom for a live-in experience. At that time, my father, who has since died, said I was too young to join the Congregation. However, I know he would be proud of the work I am doing and happy with this life I have chosen and the call I answered.

The new experiences and exposures through all the stages of formation have made me the person I am today. From my candidacy program in 2008 to the International Novitiate program, in my community life and my ministries, each experience has offered me so much and taught me more than I ever imagined.

The journey to this point has not always been easy, but it brings me great joy. You can say my journey has been like a tart fruit—bitter, but still sweet. I experienced the loss of my dad when I was just about to complete the novitiate program, but today I know great joy in sharing this moment with all of you. When I think about these, and the other challenges and blessings in my community, school and other areas of my life, I often think of this quote from Father Stephen Lacroix, CSC, director of Old College Undergraduate Seminary at the University of Notre Dame.

“As apostolic religious, we realize that suffering is very real in our world and that many of those we serve experience heavy crosses each day. Sometimes we are in a position to alleviate this suffering and sometimes we are not. What we always have to offer, however, is hope. Mary is the perfect model of this hope. Even in the midst of her Seven Sorrows, she never despaired. Her faith endured through this suffering and so she shared in her Son’s victory over death. We believe that her intercession and patronage can help us do the same.”

And so, no matter the struggle, no matter the challenge, I am able to be in solidarity with those who went before me—Mary, Blessed Basil Anthony Moreau and all of my sisters in Holy Cross. Their focus, and now mine, is Jesus Christ. The motivation and burning zeal to serve is my joy of God, so I feel happy and safe in him, my beloved.

When I saw the joy of Holy Cross, that was something I wanted to be a part of for the rest of my life. Like the Samaritan woman who found the water of life, I, too, found the water of life in Christ. Like Peter and the rest of the apostles, who left everything and followed Jesus Christ, as I live this life, I find fulfillment in the total surrender of serving God through his people in consecrated life with the Sisters of the Holy Cross. I made a joyous, free choice to be part of this mission.

Some of my joy, as I profess my perpetual vows, stems from the people I have encountered throughout my life: the constant love and support of my family and friends, my community and the Congregation, my formators, spiritual directors, teachers, and those who are poor and living in the streets, all of whom Jesus loves and I love. May Mary, our compassionate mother, whose heart was pierced and knows the mysteries of life, continue to intercede for me and all of us by having her crucified Son as our hope—Holy Cross, our only hope.

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.