Many of us Sisters entered the community of the Sisters of Notre Dame on February 2, the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord (also known as Candlemas, the Purification of Mary, or the Meeting of the Lord). As a worldwide congregation, we celebrate big jubilees—25, 50, 70 years—from the day of our religious profession; however, it’s nice to remember this anniversary of the day we left home. Those who entered before 1975 or so assumed that they would never set foot again in their family home. Quite a commitment for a teenager or young adult! Vatican II changed much in religious life, so over the past 50+ years those entering the community did not face this renunciation and perhaps left home with less emotion.
Like Mary and Joseph who presented Jesus in the Temple, my parents dropped me off at the front door of the Provincial Center on Secor and Monroe. The parents of Jesus did everything “in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.” They offered two young pigeons and then took the 40-day-old Jesus back to their home in Nazareth. My parents would leave me there. Was this a greater sacrifice? My parents never said what was going through their minds and hearts that day or any day thereafter. They would never interfere with my desire to be a Sister of Notre Dame.
I think we should give this feast another name—The Feast of Parents Who Sacrifice. If you know parents who have permitted their children to vow their lives as priests or religious sisters or brothers, thank them. I can only imagine that their sacrifice continues to bless the Church—not unlike Mary and Joseph’s sacrifice that continues to bless the world with the words and life of their son.