Saturday, the 16th of February, 2019, was the most joyful day of my life. I got married! Though it wasn’t, perhaps, the most traditional wedding: the bride wore black, and the groom is 2,000 years old!
On that day, I made my first profession as a sister in the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth. The past four years of affiliacy, postulancy and novitiate have been a time of intense preparation not just for this day but for life as a consecrated woman. In some ways it feels like it was a long journey, and in other ways like it passed by in the blink of an eye.
The profession of vows takes place during the celebration of the Mass. Our Mass was celebrated at Our Lady of Częstochowa Polish War Memorial Chapel in Marayong, a place very special to my heart. It was a wonderful joy for me to have Bishop Vincent Long van Nguyen, OFM Conv., as our main celebrant, with several priests joining as concelebrants. It was a privilege for me to be supported with the loving presence of my parents, siblings, grandparents and godparents, and to be joined by my sisters and by friends and companions from different stages of my formative journey. I was also so happy to have with us Sr Helen Tereba, assistant to our Mother General, who came from Rome to receive my vows in the name of the Congregation.
There were two very special moments of the day for me. The first was to receive a blessing from my parents before the Mass. The vows I am making are for myself, but they also involve my family. Someone told my mother that she now has the most beautiful mother-in-law, and her father-in-law is pretty great too! My parents have been such a gift and support to me all my life, and especially these last four years. Sometimes it has not been easy for them, but they have always given their love and that has seen me through many trials.
The second special moment was to kneel before God, and in the presence of my sisters and my family, and profess my vows. It is amazing to think that the moment I had been preparing so much for and longing for has finally come. Before professing my vows, I was so nervous, but as I knelt before the altar I just felt an incredible calm. I felt strongly the presence of Jesus with me, and I felt His joy. That presence has drawn me and led me along my life’s journey, is always with me and will continue to lead me.
I am so grateful to all my sisters, and especially to my formation director, Sr. Margaret Kozub, who is so wonderful and whose kindness to me has just blown me away. I am, above all, grateful to God for leading me home to Nazareth. If anything, these last four years have taught me the importance of trust. Seeing myself and knowing myself more clearly, I don’t really understand the reason for my call to religious life. But I’ve realised it’s not for me to understand. It’s for me to trust, and to step out and live a life of daily love and service.
Sr. Sophie Boffa