Jim, Cindy, Pat and I ventured out on Wednesday morning to drive to Boston. From the moment we arrived at St. Thecla's Retreat Center in Billerica, Massachusetts on Thursday afternoon we were surrounded by unconditional love, gracious hospitality and gentle care.
it was such a joy to be with family. Jane and Chris so proud to have Theresa taking her vows. All the Noble siblings and significant others surrounding us with love.
There were four little ones, Sarah's Ella, Liz and Joes' s Margot, and friends of Theresa's Little Theresa and John. They were the main attraction at the retreat center. The Sisters just loved them and had complete patience for their antics.
Over the next few days the Sisters joyfully transported the families and friends to St. Paul's Church in Jamaica Plain, a 45 minute drive from the retreat center, the airport, even the bookstore, wherever they wanted to go.
Every meal was prepared for us and they were such delicious meals. We didn't have to think of anything except enjoying the time with our loved ones.
Sr. Carmen went over every detail of the ceremony with each family. Her great love for God pours out of her and embraces anyone she is with.
After Mass on Friday we were taken on a tour of the media center. The Daughters of St. Paul took precious time out of their work day to explain their mission to our family. Sr. Theresa stopped at each office for us to hear what was accomplished each day by the Daughters working there.
We were amazed to learn that so many projects were going on at the same time in one building.
At the radio station one sister explained that when she began working at the station the technology used was reel to reel tapes. She would mail it out praying they would arrive in time. Many people depended on those tapes to hear the word of God. She said that many times in foreign countries a villager would ride a donkey or a horse for hours to pick up those precious tapes. This was the only way people in the remote villages heard the word of God.
She said that now with digital programming available there was more time spent on preparation and the programs were in greater depth. They were sent worldwide in a matter of seconds over the Internet all over the world. The families commented about how technology had changed so much in the past twenty years.
Stopping at the video department was very fun. Sister showed the children the puppets which were used in their videos. Then she showed a section of the video she had been working on. The little ones were fascinated with the dinosaurs.
The art department was busy making handmade greeting cards. Beautiful wreaths in yellows, oranges and reds adorned the front of the cards. These cards were meant to welcome someone to a new home. Sister showed many finished projects including a coloring book of saints.
The book department was everyone's favorite stop. That is where we saw two prototype book covers for Sr. Theresa's book. They were side by side on a white board. One maroon and gold and the other one blue and gold. Each with the words, 'The Prodigal You Love' by Theresa Noble. I had tears in my eyes; overwhelmed with the pride and great love I had for my niece. Her book will be published just a few weeks after her profession of her vows. Such an accomplishment! I can't wait to read her book.
Back at the retreat center we did what families do when they gather. We laughed and talked and laughed and took pictures and laughed some more.
The next morning Sr. Martha was taking pictures of pictures on the wall. I asked her if she was a tourist! She said the Daughters were going to tweet all during the weekend and she wanted pictures to add interest to her tweets.
Saturday morning was turning into a beautiful summer day. Honestly I couldn't stop the tears flowing. The solemn vows and rich rituals were overwhelming.
It is up to each Sister to take on an additional name or change their name completely. The Daughters of St. Paul could not contain the excitement and anticipation of the new names. There had been a box in the dining room for the past few weeks with guesses of what their names would be. When it was announced that Sr. Theresa would add the name Aletheia (the greek word for truth) to Theresa and Sister Cheryl would become Sr. Khristina it was tweeted out for the Daughters all over the world to be a part of this extraordinary day.
A beautiful reception followed. We were at the table with the longtime Noble friends, the Maddens and Sr. Mary Elizabeth who grew up in Bay City. She enjoyed talking about Saginaw and Bay City. It was great conversation and a good time getting to know everyone.
Back at the retreat center we had a delightful evening. A Piñata, music and dancing, games and lively conversations.
This morning we had Mass at the retreat center. Fr. Anthony, Sr. Theresa's spiritual advisor, celebrated the liturgy. His homily filled me with renewed conviction to increase my prayer time. He graciously gave me his copy and permission to post it here. I will make it a seperate post.
We have been loved and cared for by the Daughters, certainly a little piece of Heaven on earth. I thank you with all my heart and soul for being sisters to my sweet niece for eternity and caring so lovingly for us this week.