Once we arrived at Reagan National, we quickly picked up our rental car and drove 45 minutes to stay with Benedict's god family. They had two pots of hot soup, freshly baked bread, and a glass of wine all ready for our arrival. We had time to chat for a bit before praying a couple decades of the rosary and then heading to bed.
The next morning we all went to Mass in their home parish. What a wonderful Mass and an amazing homily by Father Larry Swink. What a blessing! After Mass, my dear friends held a brunch for Olivia and I and nearly all our friends from our Maryland days were in attendance. It was such a great time to catch up with all my old homeschool friends and to hear about all of their children's comings and goings and accomplishments. Two of my dearest friends are now grandmothers! Unreal! I can't believe I didn't take a single photo of the brunch, but after everyone left, I was able to spend some quality time with godmother and our other dear friend, who makes up our BFF trio. I did manage to get a photo of the three of us together! Ha!
That evening, I took Olivia and the eldest daughter of our hosts and headed into DC to the Juniorate. The sisters were just arriving after their day of activities and they received all of us so warmly and joyfully. Viva la Virgine! Sister Clemente and Olivia's skirt, which was hand made by Sister Hope, Sister Divine Innocence and a third sister, all from the cloistered monastery in New York. You can imagine how many prayers from these sisters went into Olivia's skirt. She was allowed to change into her postulant's habit and then we all joined the sisters in the chapel for an hour of Adoration, followed by evening prayers--which were sung! So beautiful and peaceful and holy! After prayers, a wonderful dinner was served. Oh, how I have missed these celebrations!
Along with Olivia, the sisters welcomed another postulant, Sister Gia, from Beulah Wyoming, who was accompanied by her grandmother and great aunt. She is a lovely, intelligent girl and seemed to fit in immediately. Please keep her in your prayers! After supper, Miss N. and I took our leave of Sister Olivia and headed home.
The next morning, Miss N., Miss I., Miss G. and I were up bright and early to join them all again for morning prayer and then Mass, at Saint John Baptiste de la Salle, ( an IVE parish) celebrating the Feast of the Presentation. Let me tell you, the IVE and SSVM choir is absolutely beautiful! I have to admit, the homily (touching on many themes of the consecrated life) was way over my head! After Mass, there was a brunch served in the parish hall and I was thrilled to see two of the brothers I've known for several years, Brother Rinju and Brother Chris.
Here I took leave of M. Ephesus, who was Olivia's mother for the three and a half years she was in school in Avondale, PA. I so enjoyed seeing her again and catching up. We then followed the Novitiate sisters back to Upper Marlboro to the convent there for an afternoon of touring and chatting. The girls made rosaries and joined the sisters for their afternoon community walk while I toured the convent and out building with Sister Gia's family and M. Aeiparthenos. If you have read my blog over the years, you may remember Sister Aeiparthenos from all of my SSVM posts and as Olivia's confirmation sponsor. She is now Olivia's Mistress of Novices or Mother Superior, as you have it. After a brief lunch, it was time to say our final goodbyes. It was hard to feel too sad when I feel so happy for Olivia. We will miss her so much during these next long months of discernment for her. She is in good, capable, and loving hands.
The three amigos, together again! I love these ladies!
Introducing Sister Olivia!
Sister Olivia with M. Ephesus and her former classmate, Sister Clemente
Brother Rinju of the IVE. I can't believe how tall he has gotten! I've known him since he was about 11 years old! He is in his first year of seminary at the Fulton Sheen House of Formation.
The Novitiate is located on a farm in Upper Marlboro. Our family has spent so many happy and holy hours there and we are looking forward to many more in the future, God Willing!
This is the 19th century house the sisters rent from the owner of the farm. He is an incredibly generous benefactor who charges a pittance for rent, pays their heating bills, and has given them the thumbs up on all the many improvements they have made to the property, which include installing and renovating a beautiful chapel, painting the entire interior of the house, paving the drive, and renovating the three door garage into a large classroom downstairs with a bathroom and three guest bedrooms(for visiting families) and a full bath upstairs.
This will be Sister Olivia's official photo for our parish religious prayer board here in Ogden.
The girls made rosaries with the sisters.
This map represents all the missions around the world the sisters now support physically, financially, and spiritually. Each mission has at least 3 sisters working at it.
(I am going to start using real names on the blog, beginning today. Really there isn't a reason not to. I mean, who am I fooling anyway? Plus I would really like Sister Olivia to be prayed for by name!)