Saturday, March 10, 2018

Bonded: A Reflection on First Profession

“I get it now.”

My best friend looked at me with a wry smile on her face and love in her eyes. We were sharing about my first profession as a Sister of Notre Dame just days before.

“At a wedding you’re saying your vows to each other, and the priest is right there, but it was just you, facing the altar, saying your vows to God. I get it now.”

My best friend had walked through all the steps with me. She was one of the first people I told about my desire to be a sister, and I had even practiced my vows in front of her just a week before my profession. She had heard all my doubts and all my joys along the way. She was the one who helped me realize that I couldn’t picture any other future for myself except one dedicated to God through the vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience. But it took her witnessing me vow my life to God to fully understand.

So what does it mean to me to profess vows? The experience was surreal. At the same time nothing and everything changed. I cherish the moment of surrender as I spoke the desires of my heart in profession. I remember with love the act of abandoning myself to God as I flung my arms out in orans posture and each of my sisters joined me in singing the Suscipe. I found joy in watching each of my family members involved in the special ceremony. But most of all, I cherish that the ceremony and celebration had such an impact on each person who witnessed my profession. Countless persons commented on how different parts of the ceremony moved them. Guests talked about crying. Live stream participants felt connected and present. My sisters remarked at the spiritual renewal my profession was for all. As the focus of the day, I couldn't pin down my emotions long enough to have a connection to what was happening. For me, the meaning of profession has come after the ceremony in living it out. At the same time nothing and everything changed. 

The "Suscipe" in which my sisters join me in abandoning our lives to God.

Singing the Magnificat with my sister, father, and Sister Michelle.
Nothing has changed because I have been living into the vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience and preparing for this day for three and a half years. But something is different. Everything is different. I feel a physical difference in how I am, how I relate to God, and how I interact with others. After publicly committing my life to God, I feel more bonded to Him in some mystical way.

About two months before my profession I met with our provincial superior for an interview before I was accepted for first vows. Toward the end of our time together she asked, “will your identity change after professing vows?” As I answered I explained that I have been living as if I were vowed during novitiate. And in fact, following my vocation to become a Sister of Notre Dame is helping me to become more the person God created me to be. The vows, the charism, it was all a part of me from the very beginning. She looked at me with a quiet smile and said “Well, I think you’re ready then.”

So no, after professing vows my identity did not change, but it sure did get stronger and more bonded to the one who calls me into being the best version of myself.

I get it now.

Ready to profess!

With Sr. Margaret, our provincial, and Fr. Oleksiak.

My friends and fellow young sisters came to support me as we have for each other over the years.

My family flew in from all over to be a part of my profession.


  1. Here's to keeping on getting it.
    Sorry I missed your Profession.
    Thanks for this post.
    Welcome to the next step into life!

  2. Wonderful story Nicole. Blessings on the rest of your ND life!

  3. Am reading this after a long day at the retreat house and before slipping off to peaceful slumber. This reflection is just what I need to close this day with the One who has called me to vowed life in ND for so many years! Thanks for helping me “get it” once again, Sr. Nicole! Daily renewal!