The joyful celebration of Sister Catherine Marie-Elizabeth Rotterman’s first religious profession began on the evening of October 28 at the Provincial House in Beaver Falls, PA. The local community gathered to pray Solemn Vespers, expressing gratitude for the day that had passed and offering praise to God. Solemn Vespers can be chanted or sung, creating a reverent atmosphere that emphasizes the importance of evening prayer. Sister Christina Conroy, director of Novices, offered a reflection after the readings, and the traditional recitation of the Litany of Loretto followed the liturgy. The Litany of Loretto, also known as the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is a form of prayer listing various attributes and titles of the Virgin Mary. The litany is a way to express devotion to Mary and seek her intercession in various aspects of life.
The joy of community and prayer overflowed into the next day. Even the chilly autumn day could not dampen the spirits of everyone gathered for the Mass of First Religious Profession for Sister Catherine. Felician sisters, family and friends all came together in the Provincial House Chapel, with many others joining the Mass via Zoom. Father William Schwartz, the house chaplain, served as the celebrant for the Mass, with assistance from Deacon Marc Leaderstorf from the Diocese of Buffalo, a family friend and a diaconate classmate of Sister Catherine’s recently deceased father, Deacon David.
During the homily, Deacon Marc spoke of Catherine de Hueck Doherty who was a Catholic social activist and author, and her life of service. Her dedication to promoting social justice has made her an inspiring example of a devout woman living out her faith, and her legacy continues to influence others in their spiritual journeys. Quoting Catherine de Hueck Doherty, Deacon Marc reflected on the role of women religious in the world: “You are the one who is in love with God, because how could one be consecrated or dedicated to anyone unless it were in love? … You hold out hope to those of us who are almost hopeless … You identify God to us.”
Deacon Marc concluded with encouraging and faith-filled words,
“Sister Catherine we will pray for you each day, Jesus is your strength, call upon him often. You are special and our world needs your witness, as you continue on this journey, on this adventure! May God bless you now and forever!”
After the homily, Sister Catherine made her first profession of vows and received the black veil, crucifix, Rule of the Third Order Regular and Constitutions of the Felician Congregation.
It was a weekend filled with great joy and a testament to the enduring power of faith and service.