News & Events

News & Events

Vows during a pandemic: an interview with Sr. Josephine Garrett

December 23, 2020

Sr. Josephine Garrett professed her final vows as a Sister of the Holy Family of Nazareth on November 21 at Saint Joseph Vietnamese Catholic Church in Grand Prairie, TX. After her vows, Sr. Josephine took some time to reflect on a few questions about her journey to becoming a Sister of the Holy Family of Nazareth (CSFN).

 

What has been your greatest joy and biggest challenge in the last several years of formation?

The answer is the same for both questions - COMMUNITY LIFE! I really enjoy meeting young women who are discerning. A lot of times… what stands out to them are the externals, or what I would call the non-human aspects of our life: the style of prayers, the veil, the habits, the routines. These are all important.

Over the past five years, what has been the greatest joy and, sometimes, the greatest challenge were actually the relationships with the sisters in community life. But, it’s hard to explain. There is a relationship between joys and challenges. Buried in the challenges, when they were faced… was great joy and the gift of a brief moment of seeing clearly, instead of dimly... [This is] the miracle and treasure of community life as religious sisters. To slowly build meaningful relationships, face struggles together, pray together, solve problems together, laugh together, share tears, this was full of challenges and a great joy.

 

What have you learned or discovered about community life in your journey from temporary professed vows to final vows? 

I think it’s so important to hold in mind that we [as CSFNs] do not choose who we are living with in most cases. So, we are in the process of receiving the community life reality that God has called us to. This makes it a mystery and something I’ve had to learn to be ok with when things take time.

 

What are your family’s thoughts and feelings about your vocation journey?

They’re really proud. They adore the sisters; they of course have their favorites. My aunt was raised Catholic and returned to the Church after my first vows. My uncle said he feels like Jesus is his “son in law” and his bond with Jesus is different because of my vocation.  He said once that he realized now that he will have an innumerable number of grandchildren. And so I pray for this - that when he gets to heaven he will somehow be allowed to see his fruit, the spiritual children born in this vocation, but sort of first born in his marriage with my aunt. [Sr. Josephine spent much of her childhood in the care of her aunt and uncle.]

 

What do you look forward to in your continued journey after your final vows? What ministry will you be doing?

I look forward to not planning final vows during Covid! It was a lot… I look forward to life. To continuing my formation. I love spiritual direction; I love 12-step spirituality; I love retreats and workshops. So, I’m just excited to continue all that. I have a new spiritual director and I’m hoping that shapes out to be fruitful. I’m gathering weekly with a couple of sisters to work through a spiritual workbook and I’m excited about that. [I look forward to] continuing to grow in relationship with the sisters I live with -- I’m still fairly new here. I’m looking forward to continuing to grow as a counselor. I’m also still a green counselor and I love my clients. I love the kids at the school [St. Gregory Cathedral School]. I have a ton of admiration for the families I get to serve, so I’m looking forward to continuing to be their school/community counselor as well as serve adults in my supervisor’s private practice. There are some speaking events that are popping up (virtual things) and I’ve had a chance to publish a few pieces for magazines and one for a book, and that has been great as well.

 

What has it been like preparing for final vows during a pandemic? What have you had to give up? What have you gained?

 Well, I could list the things that were given up. There were all these little details that many honestly wouldn’t notice that we needed to lay down for the greater good and prudence. What was given up was my personal vision of what it was supposed to be. And, that is my greatest joy. Thanks be to God I had to surrender that vision because what I gained was God’s vision and a SURE sign of his providence and his real presence and his particular and personal love for me. Three weeks before vows we had to change Churches. The college campus closed where we were having vows and they mentioned that they might open again, but we couldn’t really risk it three weeks before vows. The pastor and parishioners of the new location, Saint Joseph Vietnamese Catholic Church, poured their hearts out for us, and it was beautiful. But, to really make sure I got it, God provided a floor to ceiling sign of his providence. I had not been in this Church before and the sisters were sending me pictures. When I got them, I was trying to figure out what the stained glass behind the altar was. It was so large it was hard to tell at first. If someone asked me to pick one image to capture my vocation I would say a monstrance. In June, during my 30-day retreat while reflecting on the wedding of Cana in prayer, I saw myself making my vows at that wedding before a monstrance. Behind the altar of Saint Joseph Vietnamese Catholic Church, the floor to ceiling stained glass is a monstrance.

God is faithful, and his plans are always good. This is what I gained planning vows during a pandemic.

 

Sr. Josephine entered the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth in 2011 and professed her first vows in 2015. In 2019, she completed her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She is a licensed counselor.

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