Is. 66: 18 – 21 Heb. 12: 5 – 7, 11 – 13 Luke 13: 22 – 30
In Gratitude for Migrants
Today’s Gospel ends with the words “And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.” On August 10th, we had a beautiful view of what this looks like when Sr. Lola Ulupano, a native of Tonga in the South Pacific, made her perpetual vows as a Sister of St. Mary of Namur in Fort Worth, Texas.
Sister Lola grew up in Tonga and came to the U.S. in 1999 to join her family who were in St. Michael Parish in Bedford, a suburb of Fort Worth. There is a large Tongan community in that area and they have shown our diocese the meaning of a loving parish where the members care for and support one another. Sister Lola’s father is a Permanent Deacon there.
Sister entered the community in 2008 and made her canonical year of novitiate with our Sisters in Brazil. When she made her first vows, her family and the members of St. Michael showed us what a typical Tongan ceremony was like with the beautiful singing, dancing, joy, and celebration as Sister gave herself to the Lord, with the entire community of the parish as well as the Sisters participating! When Sister made her perpetual vows last week, again the Mass and reception were at St. Michael with Father Kapiolani Kakala from Tonga and Father Boyalla Balaji, their pastor from India, officiating with Deacon Ulupano. If possible, this occasion was even more joyous than that for her first vows!
If you would like to see some of the photos from that day, please go to Facebook and search for: Ssmnvocationcruz. Under the heading “Memories of Celebration,” you will find a number of photos of the Mass and reception. They are dated Aug. 10 and Aug. 13.
Over the years, the Sisters in Fort Worth have had even more opportunities to meet and join together with so many friends from other cultures. The Daughters of Abraham, a group of
Christian, Muslim, and Jewish women, have invited us to several of their activities and now Sr. Mary Fran is a very active member of the group. Of course we have many friends and former students and teachers who are Hispanic, Vietnamese, African-American, etc. Sister Roberta was delighted to receive a visit from a young Congolese man whom she had known in Africa, and, for the past few years, we have had several Rwandese immigrants who have joined us for Mass and dinner and have become good friends.
In his message issued for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees to be commemorated on Sept. 29, 2019, Pope Francis reminds us that we are blessed by the migrants and refugees who have come to our country. He states: “…Through them, the Lord invites us to embrace fully our Christian life and to contribute, each according to his or her proper vocation, to the building up of a world that is more and more in accord with God’s plan.”
As we celebrate our 200th anniversary as a congregation, we also remember the courage and wisdom of Mother Emilie and so many Sisters who were immigrants to this country over the past 150 years and remind ourselves that “I am standing on the shoulders of the ones who came before me.”
-Sister Louise Smith
Sisters of St. Mary of Namur . 241 Lafayette Avenue . Buffalo, New York 14213 . (716) 884-8221