Sr Sofi made her first profession as a sister Faithful Companion of Jesus in Yogyakarta on 7th December. Sr Clare, her novice director, tells us of this time with joy and gratitude.
After months of planning in the FCJ novitiate for Sofi’s first profession of vows, everything began to fall beautifully into place in the days before the big event. The booklets were printed, the choir was in good voice, Sarasvita FCJ Centre was looking good and the lunch menu was finalised. We were beginning to feel very excited! Two days before the vows, Sofi’s parents, one of her older sisters and one of her younger brothers arrived. It was lovely to welcome them to Soropadan. Once they had settled in Sofi took them to see something of Yogyakarta.
Friday morning, the 6th December, was given to practices and final preparations. The day flowed really well. It was satisfying to see everything in order. The hall was ready for the Mass, the altar and flowers were beautiful. On Friday evening we gathered for prayer and Sr Afra, FCJ Leader for Asia, welcomed Sofi to her new life as a professed FCJ. It was touching to watch Sofi’s parents give her their own special blessing. We then enjoyed the opportunity to relax together over supper and even to enjoy some spontaneous singing. We were grateful that a powerful storm brought heavy rain that evening, it heralded a bright and fresh morning.
Novices making vows often wake up early on the morning of their ceremony. Some use the time to pray or to sit and think about the coming day, others need to deal with last minute nerves. To our great amusement Sofi rose extremely early to join her family in catching and cooking the special fish needed for a traditional Batak ceremony later that evening. They didn’t have to go too far as the fish had been kept overnight in one of the ponds in Sarasvita. The kitchen was filled with the fragrance of exotic spices. As the day was still young Sofi still had time for prayer long before the vow ceremony.
The ceremony began at 10am. It was beautiful from beginning to end. The music and singing carried us joyfully from moment to moment. It made the service so much more meaningful that the celebrant, Fr Manuel Sanchez Gutierrez SX, a Xaverian Missionary priest, knew Sofi and her family well from his time in Pekan Baru. His sermon was brilliant. It was a real encouragement to Sofi and to all of us. Sofi made her vows with certainty and confidence. Sr Afra received the vows and Srs Clare and Irene were witnesses. After the Mass, we moved from the hall into the grounds of Sarasvita for the reception, where we enjoyed a delicious lunch.
We gathered several hours later for Sofi’s missioning. After the prayer Sofi’s family held their own traditional Batak blessing. This blessing is only given to people at important moments in their lives. Sofi’s parents prayed over a plate of the fish, vegetables and rice they had cooked earlier that morning. They fed some of the food to Sofi and then prayed for her. They then gave some of the food to Afra and Irene as a sign that they were entrusting Sofi to the FCJ Society. Sofi, Afra and Irene were required to finish the food together as an expression of their unity as companions. We all joined in the meal at that point after which we enjoyed looking at the cards, greetings and gifts that Sofi had received. It was a truly wonderful day for Sofi, our newest, FCJ and for all those who shared the happy day with her.