coming home

Guest blogger: Sister Sarah Hennessey

Family life is messy.  If you are part of a family you probably know what I mean.  To be church is to be family.  To me this means that we are more than some institution or club to belong to; as family we belong to each other.  Our lives weave in and out of each other through birth and death, joy and sorrow, sudden tragedy and daily victories. 

I recently celebrated my perpetual profession as a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration.  My Franciscan sisters were joined by family and friends from across the country to celebrate a mass I had been planning in my head for years!  Secretly, I had been afraid that if my crazy quilt of a family and my FSPA community and my parish came together in one place that world war three would break out or at least a minor explosion. But instead it was an explosion of joy. 

My five year old niece carried flowers down the aisle with me as I carried a precious lard light.  My home priest presided in joy and song.  Friends sang a psalm I had composed.  I professed vows to the leadership team, received my blessed ring, and signed the official papers.  We processed out smiling and clapping to “This Little Light of Mine.”

To me the day was a homecoming.  As Sister Eileen McKenzie said in her reflection, in Jesus and my FSPA sisters I have found my home.  Home as you know is a complex place.  The people we love the most are often the people we hurt the most.  And as we come to forgive each other we love each other more. 

Henri Nouwen comments on this characteristic of home when he says:

                Community is characterized by two things: one is forgiveness, the other is celebration.   Forgiveness means that I am continually willing to forgive the other person for not being God- for not fulfilling all my needs…

                The interesting thing is that when you can forgive people for not being God, then you can celebrate that they are a reflection of God.  You can say, “Since you are not God, I love you because you have such beautiful gifts of his love.”

We celebrate the gifts of God in one another, while continually forgiving each other for not being divine and omnipotent.  My family, my true home, is this circle I know of the People of God.  It includes my birth parents and siblings, ninety-six year old nuns, and fourteen year old parishioners.  My family holds a place for the immigrant and the resident, children and prisoners, the suicidal and addicted.  Whatever label sticks to some part of our life, we are all children of God.  Day by day we learn to forgive and celebrate and forgive again.

10 thoughts on “coming home

  1. Congratulation!
    That quote from Henri Nouwen is really great! It can be all too easy to forget that people are only human and so hold those we love to a much higher standard. That’s a really great thing for me to keep in mind as I start my second year in my community.

  2. Well said, Sister Sarah, well said. I was there when you said your final vows, a part of that messy, crazy quilt of a family. I was blessed. You have a beautiful way with words, reflecting the beauty of your soul, sharing the Family of God.

  3. Thanks, Sister Sarah, for the beautiful video! I’m sending your post to some women I know who are thinking about following your path into the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.

  4. Thank you for sharing Sarah, your words, your video are awesome – you are awesome. I’m proud of you and so glad you are part of my family. Welcome home.
    Rita

  5. Sarah, you have touched the lives of many with your beautiful words and touching thoughts. Thank you for gifting us with all you share. May you always know Love in your life as an FSPA.

  6. Thanks for sharing this, Sarah. It was delightful – not as good as being there would have been but it helps us share a bit in your excitement and commitment! Welcome to full membership. Love, Prayers, Pauline

  7. Thank you, Sarah, for posting such a beautiful expression of your life — forever! — with our FSPA Congregation. As a 22-year Affiliate of FSPA, my heart overflows with as much joy as being there to celebrate with you in person — well, not quite, but you catch my drift. We are so blessed to have you and the power of your presence, witness and ministry to inspire us. Peace and all good.
    Your brother, John P. Tully (Oakland, CA)

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