"You have called me," declared Sister Michele Pettit (beginning at 32:30), making her first vows as a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration at Viterbo University's San Damiano Chapel in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
Joy permeated San Damiano Chapel in La Crosse, Wisconsin, on Saturday, July 25, 2020, as Sister Michele Pettit professed her first vows as a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration. In a confident, clear voice that could not be silenced by a COVID-19 mask, Sister Michele boldly declared poverty, consecrated celibacy and obedience for three years as an FSPA.
From left, Sisters Corrina Thomas, Michele Pettit and Eileen McKenzie
Those who gathered to witness Sister Michele’s declaration of these vows (following social distancing guidelines) read words of support and acceptance from behind their own masks. Thunderous applause erupted and smiling eyes beamed around the chapel as Sister Michele walked back to her seat. Like Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi before her, Sister Michele offers light and life to a world encountering darkness, this time in the shadows of the COVID-19 pandemic, racial divides and economic disparity. She will be here when humanity celebrates the joys of life, sorrows and even the mundane. Life in God and with God will always be an adventure.
Nourished by the Word of God and at the table of the Eucharist, we exited through the chapel doors, renewed and filled with hope, ready to encounter the reality of life outside.
A virtual reception met Sister Michele as many sisters logged onto Zoom and offered words of encouragement for her new life as a vowed FSPA. They shared with her a traditional greeting for newly-professed sisters: “May God give you the grace of perseverance.” And while Michele is making community history as the first person to make first vows during the COVID-19 pandemic — a true test of this sentiment — she is in good company. Twenty-two FSPA made first vows during the flu pandemic of 1918. They too knew that their call from God to religious life would find a way, even in the midst of human trials. Sister Michele now becomes the connection to future generations of FSPA.
Is God calling you to join the next generation, to discern religious life?
Are you discerning religious life? Walking with someone who is? We invite you to share this link, fspa.org/showmeasign, and join the conversation.