ISFIYA – On August 15, 2017, the solemnity of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Sister Olive of Mercy made her perpetual profession at the Carmel of St. Joseph, Isfiya, on Mount Carmel.
The Carmelite Sisters of Saint Joseph have been settled in the Holy Land in Haifa since 1905. For over a decade one may travel to meet them in Isfyia. It is there that the community of six nuns runs a student hostel, a pilgrim house, organizes various retreats, study and prayer sessions, and participate in the life of local Melkite and Maronite parishes.
Among them, Sister Olive, a Congolese from Katanga. “Struck by the witness of unity between prayer and action, between the life of fraternity and apostolate that the community of Carmelites from Saint Joseph in Lubumbashi” had given her, it was then that she decided to consecrate her life to God by becoming a Carmelite of Saint Joseph. She discovered the call to consecrated life within the framework of the youth movements of her parish of origin.
Sr. Olive’s perpetual profession of was presided over by Bishop Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar in Israel, at the Maronite Church of Saint Charbel. The ceremony, celebrated by a dozen Carmelite, Maronite and Melkite priests, was also attended by all the Carmelites of Saint Joseph of Israel and the Superior General, Sister Anne-Marie, who received the vows of Sister Olive. Many religious sisters from Galilee, and local faithful of Haifa, as well as groups of Belgian and French pilgrims participating in a “Bible on the Field”, witnessed the very specific moment of the perpetual profession in the life of a religious sister.
In his homily, referring to the place (Mount Carmel), to the feast of the day (the Assumption of the Virgin), and to the social, religious and cultural context of this new profession, the Bishop reminded Sister Olive of the three Pillars on which she must build her religious life: “To be a living witness today of the choice for God, as Saint Elijah. To be a sign of hope and joy, as the feast of Assumption that we celebrate invites us. Being engaged in a truly ‘Catholic’ (universal) service of all, always and everywhere, as is your life: you are Congolese religious from a congregation of French origin, engaged in Israel, with Arab Christians, of the Latin rite in a Maronite church, in the midst of a Melkite population!”
After a cosmopolitan ceremony – the readings and ordinary parts in Arabic, the solemn profession in French and homily in both languages – a friendly and fraternal reception was held in the courtyard of the House of Pilgrims so that all could congratulate Sister Olive and enjoy the festive atmosphere, punctuated by many songs.
Text from our Haifa correspondent.
Photos: S. G.