"Before God, in the Church, and in the presence of [her] community," Sr. Akeneta of the Incarnation professed her first vows as a Religious of the Assumption on the 30th of April at Assumption College's Chapel of the Holy Spirit in Worcester, MA. We give thanks and rejoice!
Before the Eucharistic celebration began, Sr. Mary Ann (who had been Sr. Ake's novice mistress) gave an introduction that traced Sr. Ake's journey from the time she first met the Assumption Sisters until this day of her first commitment to God in the Assumption. We share it with you here so that you too can share in our joy!
If you would like to send Sr. Ake a message of encouragement and support, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
Introduction, Mass of First Profession
Sr. Akeneta of the Incarnation
Good afternoon! Thank you all for coming to share in our joy as we witness our dear Sister Ake profess vows of poverty, chastity and obedience as a Religious of the Assumption.
April 30th is always special for us Assumption Sisters. On this day in 1839, St. Marie Eugenie and another young woman came together in a small apartment in Paris to found a new congregation, the Religious of the Assumption. Many others soon followed, coming from every corner of the earth. Today, 177 years later, a woman from Fiji -- the first -- is stepping up to join Marie Eugenie in the great adventure that is our congregation.
When Ake makes her vows in a little while, she’ll become Sr. Akeneta of the Incarnation, and her story will add its own special grace to the Assumption story. And what a story it is!
Sr. Ake was born and raised in Fiji, the 14th child – and not the last – of a large family. After completing her studies to be a teacher, she lived and worked for many years in Fiji, the Republic of Nauru, and Australia. Hers was the happy life of a single woman, with meaningful work and cherished friendships.
Through it all, though, there was a deeper longing, an inner restlessness that she couldn’t shake. By a quirk of fate – or shall we say, the Providence of God – she won a green card through a U.S. government lottery. Moving to San Francisco, she began a new line of work: caring for the elderly. Caring for her old ladies, on quiet duty nights while they slept, she began to listen more closely to the deeper stirrings of her heart. And there she heard the voice of her Lord say, “Come. Come and be with me. Come and be mine.”
Very similar to the experience of Marie Eugenie, really. But Akeneta had a resource that Marie Eugenie didn’t have: the internet. Yes, the internet. In her search for a congregation where her heart would find a home, Sr. Ake visited many websites and asked for information from many congregations. Quite a contest -- happily for us, the Assumption won the prize! When she sent us a photo of herself at a Halloween party, wearing a witch’s hat and a tee-shirt that read, “I’m a Good Witch!” we had an idea that she might be a great fit for our community. After some serious communication back and forth and a visit to our community in Chaparral, NM, Ake asked to begin a formal process of discernment of her vocation. And so it was that she came to our Worcester community in September 2012.
That was three and a half years ago. Since her arrival, she’s been engaged in what we call religious formation – learning about our Assumption religious life: our way of prayer, of community, and of mission. She’s prayed daily with us at home and with us and our Assumptionist brothers here in this chapel. She’s had the experience of living in our community in Chaparral, and also in our community in Iloilo, the Philippines, where she spent three months late last year. She’s been involved in a wonderful volunteer ministry at St. John’s Food Pantry here in Worcester, as well as in our own programs of ESL and mentoring at St. Peter’s Church. Many of you have also been touched – quite literally – by her enthusiasm for the annual Worcester Walk for the Homeless. So now she knows from up close what we seek to pray, live and do with our life as Assumption Sisters.
Throughout her time of formation, she’s shown a remarkable resilience and flexibility – as well as a beautiful humility. It’s not so easy to become a learner, a novice, all over again when you’ve owned your own house and made your own decisions for so many years. Most of all, Ake has shown a great desire to know God through his people, particularly those who have very little. Now she seeks to bind herself more deeply to Him and to them through these vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, through her life as an Assumption Sister. She – and we – are grateful to God for all the marvels he has done for her and for us. Thank you for joining us in celebrating those marvels today.