By Reneta Webb, SSJ-TOSF Associate
"Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place..." Thus sang forty sisters and associates for the opening hymn of the re-commitment ceremony of Ella McCall and Susan Griffin as associates of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis. The ceremony was held January 26 at Clare Oaks in Bartlett, Illinois.
Associate Laura Wells read the passage from Genesis about Jacob's dream about the stairway to heaven, after which he exclaimed, "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it!" After the reading about the woman with the alabaster jar of ointment, Associate Reneta Webb reflected on the "ladder to heaven" which we all have within, giving us the strength to do the beautiful and bold things required of a disciple. The woman in the Gospel did the beautiful and bold thing – the fitting response to the person before her – and so have the SSJ-TOSFs throughout their history.
Each member of the gathering then blessed the anointing oil by holding the vessel for the space of one breath, and in that sigh, bringing the spirit of God and her own spirit to the oil. Following a litany of the congregational spirits, Ella and Susan were anointed
On the forehead:
† May the spirit of the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, guide your mind.
On both hands:
May you always do the works, and live the life, † of Francis and † of Clare
And blessed with a hand on the associate's heart:
† May your heart always be committed to the spirit of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis.
Ella and Susan then signed their commitment forms, renewing their associate relationship for one year. They received a lighted candle, and the gathering sang, "Before you, O Lord." Sr. Alice Myslinski, associate area contact person for Illinois, concluded the ceremony with words of congratulations and blessing for the associates.
The community continued the celebration with a lovely luncheon in the Clare Oaks dining room. The joy and the lively conversation was testament to the oneness of spirit that was sealed that day.