The Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration celebrated on Monday, Aug. 1, as two of their members professed their first vows at the convent’s chapel in Mishawaka. Sister Emmanuel Kurtzweg, OSF, and Sister Chiara Luce Brinkman, OSF, committed themselves to the religious life at a Mass celebrated by Father Mark Gurtner, Vicar General of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. Also present were other priests from the diocese including Fathers Mark Hellinger, Ben Landrigan, and Logan Parrish.
During the ceremony and in the presence of family members of both sisters, they promised before Sister M. Angela Mellady, OSF, the order’s Provincial Superior, to live “in poverty, obedience, and chastity,” according to the order’s rule.
At the ceremony, the two women received their black veils, in which they exchanged the white veil of a novice for the black veil. No longer novices, they are now considered “temporarily professed.” Their formation will continue, and while a sister who has professed first vows can still discern out of religious life, this demonstrates her intent to become a fully professed sister in three to five years, depending on her order. In the case of the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, that is usually a three-year process.
The sisters took similar paths to their vocation, as both were called to the religious life at Franciscan colleges.
Originally from San Antonio, Texas, it was at Franciscan University of Steubenville where Sister Chiara Luce first encountered the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration. She said, “I was really drawn to their joy. I never had experienced the joy they had and their simplicity of life.”
She had first considered a religious vocation as a junior in high school, but did not move on that idea until her college years. Part of the reason she was drawn to the Franciscan sisters was their charism. “Perpetual adoration is very important in my faith life,” she said.
Going into her first vows, Sister Chiara Luce felt “very excited, a little nervous,” but she saw it as “an opportunity to give my trust to the Lord.”
Her parents, aunts, and uncles came from Texas to witness her vows that day. Her first assignment with the sisters will be as a middle-school math teacher at St. Agnes School in Chicago Heights, Illinois.
Sister Chiara Luce anticipates the beauty of her life going forward from her first vows. She remarked, “I’m really excited to be married to Jesus in my vows.”
Sister Emmanuel is a Fort Wayne native, the second-oldest child of Eric and Missy Kurtzweg, parishioners at Our Lady of Good Hope Parish. After graduating from Bishop Dwenger High School, Sister Emmanuel studied nursing at the University of Saint Francis, where she met the sisters who run the university. Spending much of her time in the campus ministry office where she served as a peer minister gave Sister Emmanuel greater exposure to religious life. She didn’t think God was calling her to that life, though she attended a discernment retreat.
In her junior year, she felt “a great attraction to religious life.” She knew that the university strove to embody the ideas of Franciscan spirituality, but it was in watching the sisters’ “joy and love of the Eucharist” that she fully understood it.
Finally, “It was through time before the Blessed Sacrament that I felt the call from Jesus to be His bride.”
To prepare for their profession of vows, Canon Law requires a five-day canonical retreat; the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration requires that to be a silent retreat. Sister Emmanuel was grateful for that time in prayer and was “open to what the Holy Spirit is going to do on the retreat.”
Father Gurtner, who celebrated the Mass of profession, is also the pastor of her home parish, so for Sister Emmanuel it was “very special” to have him there that day.
Of the occasion, Father Gurtner commented: “We are so proud that a parishioner of Our Lady of Good Hope, Elise Kurtzweg (now Sister Emmanuel), will be making temporary profession with the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration in Mishawaka, on Aug. 1, 2022. May God bless her and raise up more young women to give themselves to God in religious life!”
The week brought other spiritual fruits for the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, as two new novices, Sister Solana Voegele and Sister Stella Marie Armes, received their habits and new names the same day, and Sister Fiat Staley and Sister Marie Thérèse Lolmaugh renewed their vows the day prior.
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