August 4, 2020 // Bishop

‘This is what I seek’

Sisters of St. Francis make perpetual profession of  vows

In a Spirit-filled Mass at the St. Francis Convent in Mishawaka Aug. 2, two young women professed their perpetual vows as Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration in front of Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades as well as their families.

The appropriateness of the sisters’ vows taking place on a particularly important Franciscan feast day was emphasized by Bishop Rhoades. “You make your final profession of perpetual vows as a Sister of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration on this feast of Our Lady of the Angels,” he noted in his homily.

Colleen Schena
At a Mass with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades on Aug. 2, the feast of Our Lady of the Angels, two young women of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend completed their final profession of vows with the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration. From left are Father Daniel Scheidt, Sister Mary Regina DeVreese, Sister Mary Joan Roeder and Bishop Rhoades. A joyous outdoor reception with the sisters and the families of the newly professed followed the Mass.

The bishop shared the words of St. Francis as he addressed the perpetually professed directly. “You say in your hearts today what St. Francis said in that Portiuncula chapel: ‘This is what I wish. This is what I seek. This is what I long to do with all my heart.’ Like St. Francis, St. Clare and Blessed Mother Theresia, you desire to give your lives totally to Christ and to His Church. You profess perpetually today the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience as a response of love to the Lord Who has loved you and called you to the consecrated life.

“He calls you to bear witness to the power of His love by your joyful living of His perfect chastity,” he continued. “He calls you to bear witness that God is our true treasure by your faithful living of evangelical poverty. And He calls you to bear witness that true freedom is found in doing the will of God by your joyful embrace of obedience.”

Colleen Schena
Sister Mary Regina, left, and Sister Mary Joan, right, show the rings they received as a sign of their matrimonial, perpetual profession. The sisters professed their vows with the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration in Mishawaka Aug, 2.

The newly professed are following Christ as members of a family, he reminded those present, and community life is one of great beauty and goodness. The call to the community, he added, is still unique to each member. “You receive a new and special consecration in which you make your own Jesus’ way of life, in poverty, chastity, and obedience. This is your special path to holiness.”

Sister Mary Regina DeVreese, 34, the daughter of Timothy and Catherine DeVreese of Mishawaka, encountered the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration as a student and became more aware of her vocation after an internship in her field of study, accounting, left her restless. She reached out to the sisters after receiving a penance to do so from her pastor at the time, Father Daniel Scheidt. She entered the order in September 2012. Sister Regina has served in health care ministry for four years in Chicago Heights, Illinois, and Munster. Following her final vows, she returns to Mishawaka to assist in vocational ministry and hospitality at the St. Francis Convent.

“The journey keeps going, He keeps calling,” said Sister Regina. “My heart is overflowing with gratitude and wonder and awe and joy because God’s love is so great. He never ceases to amaze me!”

Sister Mary Joan Roeder, 30, is the daughter of Robert and Sarah Roeder of Goshen. She was a parishioner of St. Mary of the Annunciation in Bristol. She found herself drawn to the Eucharist and falling in love with Christ more deeply, and began to want to spend more and more time in adoration. She made her initial vows in 2012. “The more you go to adoration, the deeper the awareness came of Christ’s majesty and His love for you,” she said.

For the past five years, Sister M. Joan has been at Central Catholic Junior and Senior High School in Lafayette, teaching junior high English. Her new assignment is a continuation of her ministry: She will teach language arts for sixth and seventh graders as well as religion for eighth grade students at St. Matthew Cathedral School in South Bend. She is excited to continue teaching.

The perpetually professed receive applause from the Sisters of St. Francis and from their families, welcoming them into the religious community.

The newly professed gathered with their families and fellow sisters after the Mass for an outdoor celebration. Each said they were grateful for the support they have received from family, friends and the Sisters of St. Francis as they progressed toward full union with Christ. They eagerly anticipated their service in Him to the diocese and beyond.

In a blessed continuation of the vocations cycle, Sister Mary Peter Ruschke, 28, Sister Zélie Marie Warrell, 29, and Sister Mary Amata Naville, 23, made their first profession of vows Aug. 1 before Father Terrence Coonan, their families, and an excited group of in-person and virtual supporters. First vows are temporary promises of poverty, chastity and obedience to Christ and His call, and are renewed repeatedly prior to completely and permanently vowing oneself to consecrated life in Christ.

Sister M. Peter Ruschke hails from Lawrenceburg and was a member of St. John the Baptist Parish in Cincinnati before entering the order in 2017. She holds a degree in elementary education and has been assigned to teach fourth grade at St. Agnes School in Chicago Heights, Illinois. 

Sister Zélie M. Warrell is from South Bend and holds a Bachelor of Science in chemistry as well as a Master of Science in organic chemistry from The Ohio State University. She entered the order in 2017 from St. Andrew Parish in Columbus, Ohio; she will work in Service Excellence and Infection Prevention at Franciscan Health in Michigan City. 

Sister M. Amata Naville is from Floyds Knobs. She studied at Ball State University in Muncie, where she first encountered the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration. She entered the order in 2017. Sister M. Amata is continuing her education at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, pursuing theology and communication arts.

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