Rejoice with me, because I have found . . .

Rejoice with me, because I have found . . .

Rite of Entrance into the Novitiate
Valerie Luckey
September 10, 2016

On this very special occasion, the Rite of Entrance into the Novitiate for Valerie, I would like to share two ideas that I believe fit in with this moment.

The first is on the reading for this weekend which we just heard from the Gospel of Luke. In both of these short parables‒one of a shepherd finding a lost sheep and the other of a woman finding a lost coin, I was struck by what happened after “the lost was found.” In the translation we read, their responses were identical: “Rejoice with me, because I have found….”

It is that short phrase that resonated with me for this ceremony tonight.

I wondered if Val, or for that matter if any of us, could repeat today or any other day of our lives that sentiment, “Rejoice with me, because I have found…” ---

…found my path to God,
…found the way for my life,
…found the group with whom I wish to be,
…found what I have been searching for‒for a long while.
…found what I thought I had lost, but now I have re-gained.

I think that our Federation document, Call to Life, is in some ways asking for that
“Rejoice with me” response, too, when it reminds us: “A vocation to the Benedictine way of life is a call from God to shape one’s life according to the Benedictine charism.… During her time in initial formation, each woman studies and lives by the Gospel, the Rule, Call to Life, and the lived expression of these texts in the monastery.”

After such study and the beginning of following the Gospel way of life in a particular Benedictine way, we hope to echo the shepherd’s and woman’s response: “Rejoice with me, because I have found….the community with whom to live the Benedictine Monastic way of Life.”

I hope, Val, that this year of novitiate, continues to bring such a response for you.

The second thought for this evening is from the homily that Jim Piszker shared with us last Sunday, particularly the question that was the foundation and challenge of his message:
“We are very good at worshipping Jesus, but are we as good at following Jesus?”

And that question, too, seems appropriate for the outset of such an experience as a novitiate year.
There is no question that you will have many times for worship, Val ---

• we pray together three times a day,
• we celebrate Sunday Eucharist,
• we prepare special music, prayers, rituals and many other special liturgies throughout the year as we celebrate Liturgical Seasons and acknowledge feasts and times that we wish to commemorate.

As a novice you will not only be present for all of them, you will participate in many of them, in many different roles. There will be countless opportunities for worship.

The challenge that I heard behind Father Jim’s words was that of not getting caught up in the worshipping, as the center of our religious observance, but to make the transition or the connection from “worshipping” to “following” Jesus….which is costly and much more demanding.

One very good way to meet that challenge in this community is to use our Corporate Commitment as a touchstone, a measure of the quality and genuineness of our discipleship as Erie Benedictine monastic women here and now.

In it we lay out quite clearly how we wish to follow Jesus’s message, his call, his way of living life fully:

“As Benedictine Sisters of Erie we commit ourselves to be a healing presence and prophetic witness for peace by working for sustainability and justice, especially for women and children.”

Val, I know that I speak for all of the sisters in saying that we feel deeply blessed by the presence of true “seekers” among us. Your desire to live the monastic life in this community encourages us and brings us great joy.

Valerie, I welcome you to the novitiate of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie. May you be open to the wisdom that you will find here and may you always make following Jesus, following the way of the Gospel and the Rule of Benedict central as you continue on your spiritual path.

May you continue walking in the Holy Presence.

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.