I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I arrived at St. Monica Church shortly after noon May 2. Sister Melissa Rose Gernon soon would be professing her perpetual vows as a Sister of St. Joseph, and I had arranged to meet with her prior to the start of the liturgy.
I was feeling a bit uncertain because I’d never attended a profession of vows. I’d also never met Sister Gernon, so when I walked into the church, I wasn’t sure which of the many women inside was the one I was seeking.
Sister Gernon must have noticed the lost look on my face because she immediately approached me and introduced herself. Within minutes of meeting her all of my uncertainty melted away, I think because Sister Gernon was so passionate about her vocation and excited about the afternoon’s events.
That passion and excitement, along with a sense of gratitude, was clearly visible on her face. During his homily Father Ray Fleming, pastor of St. Monica, mentioned that gratitude is one of the themes of the current Year of Consecrated Life.
"That gratitude," he began, then paused. Looking over his shoulder at Sister Gernon, who was seated in the sanctuary behind him, he gestured to her beaming face before continuing, "We need to say no more."
There’s something refreshing and inspiring about being in the presence of someone who is so completely certain she is exactly where God wants her to be right now. Although I had only met her an hour or two earlier, I couldn’t help but smile broadly back at Sister Gernon as she processed down the center aisle at the ceremony’s conclusion, her face filled with joy and her footsteps met by thunderous applause from her fellow Sisters of St. Joseph, friends and family members. As Father Fleming noted in his homily, it was "a glorious moment."