Saying yes to the vows
I love being a Sister of Providence!
As I approach professing for the first time the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience “according to the Constitutions approved by the Vatican for this Congregation of the Sisters of Providence,” I find myself wanting to proclaim repeatedly that I love being a Sister of Providence! I love being a young sister in the world today!
I love my fellow sisters — within and outside of my Congregation, those who are older and those who are my peers. I love our Providence Associates and other partners in mission. I love the spirituality of Providence, the ongoing challenge to dig deeper into myself and discover new ways of relating to the Holy and to the world — and to the presence of the Holy in the world. I love the relationships that this life has offered to me. I love the opportunities this life has offered to me. I love the version of myself that I have already started to become as I’ve walked this journey of initial formation.
Poverty, chastity and obedience
On Sunday, I will profess vows of poverty (“generous justice”), chastity (“reckless love”), and obedience (“limitless listening”)* in a life as a Sister of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. I’ve endeavored to live these virtues for the past three years without publicly proclaiming them as vows. They have pushed me and challenged me and frustrated me in ways I didn’t imagine they could. They have also drawn me, attracted me, into their embrace. I have seen the fruit of living these virtues in my improving relationships with myself and with friends and family. I have seen their fruit in my ability to persevere in my relationships, in my local community, and in my place of ministry. I have come to realize that it will never be easy to live these vows. And still, with a sense of mystery, I feel called to them, drawn to them.
I wonder about the ways in which poverty can draw me more deeply into solidarity with my global siblings who live in true vulnerability. I seek the kind of love that chastity allows me to share — extravagantly. I most resist obedience, knowing that I may have to see things differently or understand nuance in new ways. And still, I’m drawn to the challenge of that very stance in the gap of nuance — perhaps especially in our polarized political and religious climate.
As I say “Yes!” to these great unknowns, I am excited to see the ways that Providence will draw these vows into my life. I’m excited to see the way they will shape me into my most authentic self. I’m excited to see what religious life will come to be as we navigate this time of transition. I’m excited to walk this journey with my family and friends, with my sisters and our Providence Associates, with sisters and brothers across all congregations and all walks of life.
I say “Yes!”
Tune in to the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Facebook page this Sunday, June 30, at 11 a.m. EDT, to join us as Sister Emily TeKolste professes her first vows as a Sister of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
*These descriptions of the vows come from The Fire in These Ashes: A Spirituality of Contemporary Religious Life by Joan Chittister, O.S.B.