On May 31, I had the great privilege of photographing the first profession of vows of two members of the religious community Marian Sisters of Santa Rosa. Most might call these veiled women nuns. Nuns live a cloistered life; sisters do not. But they both wear habits that reflect their life of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
Sister Mary Victoria and Sister Michelle Marie made their first profession of vows after a time of discernment on their part and on that of their community. First profession is like a declaration of intention to live the life of the community, which for the Marian Sisters is to "magnify Jesus Christ, her Divine Son, by communicating the Beauty, Goodness, and Truth of the Catholic Faith in a spirit of joyful evangelization while living the fullness of the Church’s liturgical life" (praying regularly and attending Mass daily, etc.).
Discerning religious life is a long process, some seven years or so. While a couple may be engaged for six months to a year before they make their lifelong commitment to one another in marriage, men and women in religious life have a considerable length of time to recognize whether they are being called to the religious life or not. If they are, they will eventually make a final profession of vows.
While the final profession of vows is a solemn occasion open to the public (See my photos of Sr. Maria Faustina's final profession here.), with family, friends, and the parish community invited to witness the profession, the first profession is an intimate affair, with only immediate family members and close friends present.
So, for me to be able to witness this milestone was truly a privilege. With my camera, I was able to view the faces of the sisters as they made their promise to God. During certain parts of the ceremony, I got the view only Reverend Mother and the bishop got! Below is a picture of Sister receiving her blue veil to replace the white veil of the novice. To see the sisters' glowing countenances was priceless. To witness these two women give their lives fully to not just something, but Someone, was edifying.