First Profession

First Profession

First Monastic Profession
Sister Valerie Luckey
October 21, 2017

Good evening and welcome to this very special occasion, the First Monastic Profession of Sister Valerie Luckey.

When I welcomed you to the novitiate one year ago, Val, I reminded you that our Federation document, Call to Life, tells us that “a vocation to the Benedictine way of life is a call from God to shape one’s life according to the Benedictine charism.”

I know that you have spent the last two years‒as both a postulant and a novice‒ both analyzing and trying not to analyze the big picture of your life and, equally, if your embracing of the journey to God has led you here as the place where you will find that home in God.

You have joked about your efforts to control and yet you have freely put them down to allow yourself to be led to and by the God you seek. During your time, I’m sure you have come to understand that the journey through life is a journey of making your way through greyness. The search for exact and perfect answers is an illusion.

Val, you have entered into all we have asked of you‒everywhere and in everything that has come to you over the last year. I know that God has been with you through it all.

Today, Val is proclaiming that she has chosen to make this journey, this endeavor into the life and ways of Jesus, not by herself, but with others….as part of a group that is on the same search, with the same goals and values and under the same guides, namely the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Rule of Benedict.

Our Sister Joan Chittister has written extensively on the Rule and through her own lectio has given her commentary on how this 6th century European document can be interpreted and lived in the United States in the 21st century.

I’d like to draw on what she has written about the three vows that Valerie will be professing today.

Our vow of obedience:

Sister Joan has written, “The obedience Benedict wants is not dependence. It is obedience to the will of God and to the Spirit at work in all of us. The spirituality of obedience is a spirituality based on listening to those around me. The monastic listens to the Gospel, to the prioress, to the Rule, and to life around us. The monastic listens, and listens, and listens. To find God we must be always ready to bend our hearts, change our paths and open our minds.”

It is not easy to listen, to gather and wait and watch for the intervention of God.
But we listen and respond as individuals and as a community, so that the reign of God may come: may come on earth, in our country, in our city and into our own hearts.

Our vow of stability:

Monastic stability is probably the vow in most need of definition. It is not about never moving, staying in one place for 50 years or having an aversion to change.

Sr. Joan’s thought: “The purpose of stability is to center us in something greater than ourselves so that nothing lesser than ourselves can possibly sweep us away. The Rule calls for steady, steady attention to everything: to prayer, to the service of the other, to the community as a whole, to regularity and continuity and manual labor and intellectual discipline. Stability, the willingness to continue to grow where I am is the ground of conversion, the willingness to be changed. With these people, in this place, at this time I dedicate myself to rebirth and growth and maturity.”

This is the group with whom I now say “home.” This is the group with whom I am associated and proudly a part. And that never changes. In fact it, ideally, gets stronger and deeper—starting the day a sister makes her first monastic vows and continuing every day thereafter.

Our vow of conversion to the monastic way:

Our days are days of constant conversion, of turning and turning in the direction of what we seek with a new heart and new mindset. Sr. Joan’s thoughts tell us that: “The vow of Conversatio Morum is a promise to take on a lifestyle, values and attitudes that are different from the lifestyle, values and attitudes that permeate the society around us. We are to be gospel people.

The purpose of Benedictine spirituality is to make life significant and sacred and full of meaning. The secret, of course, lies in the Benedictine commitment to conversion. Conversion requires us to grow and to change.

It tells us what we stand for and where we draw our energies from and why we go on from day to day. It tells us that over the years, though everything has changed, nothing has really changed at all, not our commitment, not our values, not our life with one another.”

As the both the first reading of this weekend’s liturgy from the prophet Isaiah and the second reading from the letter to the Thessalonians say: We have been chosen, called by name to follow the ways of God and the places where that following will lead.

Today we welcome Sister Valerie to continue on that path with us in a deeper and richer way; to respond in her ministry with the people of God to whom we are dedicated; to continue her dedication to our Benedictine hospitality, and to surrender her own self to God through prayer and every action of life itself.

Your commitment is now very public, Val‒you are a vowed member. We join you today as we recall our own vowed allegiance to a life greater than we could ever have had alone, to endeavors that we can do only as part of a committed group together, and to a lifetime of celebration and commitment in and through this monastic community.

Sister Anne Wambach, OSB, the twenty-first prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, Pennsylvania is a native of Philadelphia. She moved to Mount St. Benedict Monastery in 1992 to respond to a desire to experience the monastic way of life. Previously a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Chestnut Hill, Sister Anne began the formal transfer process to the Erie Benedictines in 1993 and made her monastic profession in 1997.

Sister Anne has served the people of the Diocese of Erie as a teacher at St. Gregory's School in North East, Pa., from 1992-1995, and at the Neighborhood Art House in Erie, beginning as program director in 1995 and as executive director since 2005. She served on the Monastic Council from 2006-2010.