Monday, March 23, 2015

Celebrating Our Vows: Sister Joanne

As we prepare to renew our vows this year, three Sisters share their perspective about our annual vow renewal. Check in March 24 and March 25 for more posts.

Part I by Sister Joanne Vasa, D.C.

Sister Joanne Vasa,
39 years vocation
March 25 is the Solemnity of the Annunciation, the feast day that honors the angel's announcement to the Blessed Virgin Mary that she was the one chosen by God to bring Jesus Christ into the world. This is also the day thousands of Daughters of Charity around the world renew their commitment to a life of service of the poor, poverty, chastity and obedience. As a Society of Apostolic Life, the Daughters make annual, simple vows. This is not simply a refreshing of an original commitment, but rather a new pledge each year.

One of the ways I imagine the vows of the Daughters of Charity is to think of them as "pillars" that support my ministry and everyday life in the community. From the early days of the Sisters in the 17th century, the vows were seen as a framework to support them in their efforts to serve the poor. Making vows was a way to ensure the way of life and ministry of the Sisters would continue and not weaken with time.

How does this happen for me today? I think of poverty, chastity and obedience as three supporting columns and my service of the poor as the surface or "arena" where I respond to God's call each day. In fact, these structures are so much a part of my everyday life I often forget their impact on me. The time of vow renewal puts them front and center. Poverty is a commitment to embrace a simple lifestyle and a means of being in solidarity with poor persons around the world. Chastity places the person of Jesus Christ as first in my life and ensures all other relationships flow from that primary one. This makes me more conscious of how I proclaim the power of this relationship in each interaction as a celibate woman. Obedience–not a popular subject these days–challenges me to offer my service for the common good of the people I serve, the Church and the community. This means I choose God's will freely, no matter the cost. These three pillars are not so much "what I do," but really form the fabric of who I am as a Daughter of Charity. It's one package!

In my ministry I encounter persons who are homeless, people seeking a deeper relationship with God and our own Sisters discerning God's call in their lives. What I notice in these three diverse populations is they have something in common: They have a strong desire to be "at home with God." For me, the vows are an anchor around which I can extend myself in service to each person, confident in the way God will be present. Promises give stability and purpose. If I can be a source of encouragement and a person who deeply listens, then the vows are doing what they do best: giving meaning and direction to my life.

I am grateful for the vows because they both test and stretch me; they affirm me some days, but most often they remind me authentic gospel living does not come without cost. I pray for the grace to continue letting them provide the basis for "washing the feet" of those I serve.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this inspiration, Sister Joanne...much appreciated.