With much rejoicing, the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration welcomed three new fully professed sisters into their company Aug. 2 at their convent chapel in Mishawaka. Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades celebrated Mass with the sisters on the occasion, and provincial superior Sister M. Angela Mellady, OSF, accepted their vows into the Franciscan order.
Fully professed Sisters Mary John Pultorak, OSF; Mary Bosco Davis, OSF; and M. Karol Ann Hoefer, OSF; spent eight years in formation for the occasion. Five years ago, they made their temporary vows.
In addition to many priests from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, priests from the Lafayette-in-Indiana and Gary dioceses, along with Holy Cross and Franciscan priests, concelebrated the Mass.
The day was exceptionally meaningful for the sisters, as it was the feast of Our Lady of the Angels, the title of the Blessed Mother under whose patronage St. Francis placed his order. In his homily, Bishop Rhoades summarized St. Francis’s devotion to Our Lady of the Angels and his rebuilding of the “Portiuncula,” or chapel in Assisi that he rebuilt in her honor.
He then addressed the three sisters. “Sisters, you have chosen a state of life that is a special gift of God to the Church. Your consecration and profession of the evangelical counsels is a special witness of love. We pray that your love may never fail. It will not fail if, as Jesus says in the Gospel, you remain in Him as He remains in you.”
“The more we love and obey Jesus, the more our lives become conformed to His,” he continued. “When people look at us, they should be able to see God’s love shining in the world. When they look at you who are consecrated women, they should be able to see the poor, chaste and obedient Jesus.”
The bishop spoke of the need for their example of holy obedience, chastity and poverty in a culture of hedonism and consumerism. He also elaborated on the place the Eucharist and adoration have in the consecrated life. “Adoration enables and equips you to do the works of the apostolate and to serve others with the love of Christ. It also helps you to carry every cross, like St. Francis and Blessed Maria Theresia did, as a gift of God with peace and with joy.”
After the homily, the sisters stood before Bishop Rhoades, who proceeded to ensure that they were fully prepared to commit themselves to the Franciscan order. Once they professed their readiness, they laid prostrate before the altar as the Litany of the Saints was sung over them by the family members, friends and other sisters gathered in the church.
Each sister knelt before Sister Angela and read the traditional formula of profession, after which they signed the document of profession at the altar. Then the bishop presented them with a ring, or the insignia of profession, saying, “Receive this ring, for you are betrothed to the eternal King; keep faith with your Bridegroom so that you may come to the wedding feast of eternal joy.” Then they were confirmed into the religious community.
Of the three sisters, only one is from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend: Sister Mary Bosco, whose parents remain members of St. Therese Parish in Fort Wayne, where she grew up. Sister Karol Ann’s home parish is Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Mount Carmel, Indiana, and Sister Mary John hails from St. Paul the Apostle in the Diocese of Joliet-in-Illinois. They came into their postulancy together in 2013.
Sister Karol Ann spent all eight years of her formation at the motherhouse in Mishawaka. With her background in accounting, she has worked for the Franciscan Alliance and plans to continue working with the health care organization while she completes her MBA through Franciscan University of Steubenville online.
She said that during the Mass “I really just felt like I was in heaven.” The bishop’s words of blessing reminding the sisters to hear Jesus’ voice as their bridegroom continue to resonate within her heart. “It’s just like freedom – freedom to love the Lord with my whole heart. My call is a response to the gifts He’s given me.”
Sister Mary John said she was not initially interested in joining the order when she first encountered Franciscan sisters as a student at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. She simply enjoyed being with them. The more time she spent with them, however, the more she felt God calling her to live a life of adoration with the community. After professing her final vows, she declared that she is “overwhelmed by the gentleness and greatness of God’s love for me in little and big ways and by His providence. … There is a joy within my heart that is deeper and more profound than myself: I am His and He is mine – forever and all eternity. What greater joy is there than this: to lay down my life for Him?”
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