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Seven new sisters take perpetual vows as Sisters of Life at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan

Sisters of Life Mary Pieta, left, Mercy Marie, Mary Grace, Fidelity Grace, Zelie Maria Louis, Ann Immaculee and Catherine Joy Marie stand in the sanctuary as they prepare to profess their perpetual vows during a special Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City Aug. 5, 2023. In the foreground is a portrait of New York Cardinal John J. O’Connor, founder of the Sisters of Life. (OSV News photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

NEW YORK — About 1,500 family members and well-wishers joined bishops, priests, religious brothers and dozens of sisters from the Sisters of Life as seven new sisters took their perpetual vows August 5 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan.

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan served as the ceremony’s principal celebrant. A previous archbishop of New York, Cardinal John J. O’Connor, founded the Sisters of Life in 1991, after publishing an article in Catholic New York entitled “Help Wanted: Sisters of Life.” Eight sisters founded the new order on June 1, 1991, which has now grown to more than 100 sisters.

The seven Sisters of Life who made their perpetual vows are: Sister Mary Pieta, Sister Mercy Marie, Sister Mary Grace, Sister Fidelity Grace, Sister Zelie Maria Louis, Sister Ann Immaculée and Sister Catherine Joy Marie.

The annual Mass is celebrated to coincide with the feast of the dedication of the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome, the world’s largest church dedicated to Mary. According to legend, snow fell in Rome on the day of its dedication. Cardinal Dolan referenced this in his homily, saying, “He (Jesus) is the Lord of surprises, like an August snowfall.”

Sister of Life Catherine Joy Marie kneels before Mother Mary Concepta, superior general of the Sisters of Life, as she professes her perpetual vows during a special Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City Aug. 5, 2023. Sister Catherine Joy Marie was one of seven women who professed their final vows during the liturgy. (OSV News photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

Cardinal Dolan also called upon those taking their perpetual vows to “change the culture of death into the culture of life.”

The seven sisters made their perpetual vows before Mother Mary Concepta, who was elected the Sisters of Life’s new mother superior earlier this year.

Concelebrants included Archbishop Gabriele Giordano Caccia, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations; Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska; and New York Archdiocese auxiliary bishops, Bishop Peter J. Byrne, Bishop John J. O’Hara and Bishop Edmund J. Whalen; as well as New York Archdiocese vicar general Msgr. Joseph P. LaMorte and Father Enrique Salvo, rector of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Among the Sisters of Life in attendance was their founding superior, Mother Agnes Mary Donovan, who received the Gaudium et Spes Award from the Knights of Columbus at their 141st Supreme Convention in Orlando, Florida, which concluded August 3. The award was first given to St. Teresa of Kolkata in 1992 and also to Cardinal O’Connor in 1994.

Also in attendance at the Mass were Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly and his wife, Vanessa; and Sister Joan Curtin, the New York Archdiocese’s vicar for religious.

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