By Anne Marie Amacher
DAVENPORT — Two women took steps toward becoming members of Franciscan Sisters of Christ the Divine Teacher (OSF) on Aug. 2, the Feast of Our Lady of the Angels, at St. Alphonsus Church in Davenport.
Katrina Beck became a postulant, the first step in the formation process. Later that day, Sister Mary Anthony of the Most Holy Eucharist (given name Jennifer Worrell) professed first vows, said Mother Susan Rueve, the religious community’s superior.
Beck, 25, became a postulant at the 8 a.m. Mass at St. Alphonsus Church. Father Thom Hennen, vocations director for the Diocese of Davenport, was the celebrant.
Born in Seattle, Beck attended college in North Dakota and moved to Iowa City. She has been living at the Davenport convent for the past year, attends St. Alphonsus Church and works full-time to reduce her student loan debt. Recently, Beck has been raising funds through The Laboure Society, which helps finance student loans for individuals in formation. The society has assisted more than 220 individuals with religious vocations since 2003, disbursing over $2 million in grants, Mother Rueve said.
Before formally entering a religious community, a person may be referred to as a candidate or aspirant. Postulancy is the first formal step in religious life.
“The purpose of the postulancy is to acquire some knowledge about religious life and about our particular convent/order by ‘living’ the life through personal experience. Also, it is a way to develop the virtues that will determine if someone can live the life and so continue to the next step, which is the novitiate,” Mother Rueve said.
While the postulancy is a way to test the waters in a more external form of religious life, the novitiate digs deeper into an interior spiritual form of religious life, Mother Rueve said.
During the novitiate in this community of Franciscans, a woman receives her habit, which includes a white veil, and her religious name. A novice is admitted to the community as a member preparing for eventual profession.
At present, according to Canon Law, at least one year (known as the canonical year), is required, but many religious communities require more. “Ours is a two-year novitiate. The novitiate follows the postulancy and precedes the first profession of vows. Up until final vows the Sisters are in a period of probation and may leave or be requested to leave. To enter into the religious life is through the grace of God and is of free will. No one is ever forced or trapped into becoming a Sister. The process of years of formation allows the individual to clearly decide freely their destiny.”
Beck’s postulancy could last six months to two years before she enters the novitiate.
Sr. M. Anthony Worrell
Sr. Worrell professed first vows during Mass at 6 p.m. at St. Alphonsus Church. Fr. Hennen was the celebrant. Concelebrants were Msgr. James Parizek, pastor of Our Lady of Victory Parish in Davenport; Father William Meyer, retired priest of the diocese; Father Michael Phillips, pastor of St. Wenceslaus Parish in Iowa City; Father Scott Lemaster, pastor of Assumption & St. Patrick Parish in Charlotte, St. Patrick Parish in Delmar, Immaculate Conception Parish in Petersville and Ss. Mary & Joseph Parish in Sugar Creek; Father Daniel Whelan and Father James Bromwich, friends of the religious community from the Fort Wayne, Ind., Diocese.
Sr. Worrell, 30, is a native of Davenport from Our Lady of Victory Parish in Davenport. She graduated from St. Ambrose University in 2004.
She took the name Sister Mary Anthony during her novitiate, which she just completed.
First vows are known as temporary vows, Mother Rueve said. “Sister is still in formation, still in a form of probation, but preparing ever more for final vows or perpetual vows.”
Sr. Worrell received the black veil, the Franciscan crown habit rosary and a three-knotted cincture which represents the three evangelical vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
The time from postulancy to final vows is six to eight years. Sr. Worrell will renew her vows after one year for another three years and “God willing will make her final vows in 2016,” Mother Rueve said.
Both women were referred to the religious community by local priests, Mother Rueve added.
Founded in 1981, the community’s common apostolate is teaching. The motherhouse is located across the street from St. Alphonsus Parish. The foundress, Sister Bernadette Counihan, OSF, is still living, although retired.