On the 29th June Sr Mary Teresa’s solemn profession was a wonderful celebration of joy and thanksgiving for our community. The profession took place during the celebration of the Eucharist at which Fr Laurence Collins OP, vicar of the Master of the Order for our community presided. Fr Noonan from Sr Mary Teresa’s home parish, concelebrated as well as several Dominican friars – some of whom travelled from as far away as Cork and Limerick in order to be with us on this special occasion. Also in the congregation were some Dominican student brothers, sisters from the Cabra Congregation of Dominican Sisters and local Lay Dominicans and friends. Of course Teresa’s proud parents,Nuala and Brian Dunphy, her sister and her seven brothers were present and participated in the Readings, Prayers of the Faithful and Offertory procession. Fr John Harris OP preached the homily which we are happy to share with you here.

According to our 800 years’ Dominican tradition we make our profession in the hands of the prioress while holding the Book of the Constitutions of the Nuns of the Order.

Here we share a few photos but shortly we hope to be able to share more of this joyful occasion through video – so keep your eye out for it!

Fr John Harris preached the following homily

Anyone who knows Sister Teresa will know that if you ask her a question you will get a quick, clear and intelligent answer. An answer that leaves you in no doubt about what she is thinking. Never in her life has she given such a clear answer to a question as she does today. To the question of questions, “who do you say I am?” today Sister Teresa says in reply to Our Blessed Lord with her whole life “you are my all”. For this is the meaning of solemn profession. One could easily use the words of St. Paul in today’s second reading “My life is being poured away as a libation”. Today Sr. Teresa in a solemn act of Holy Church offers herself totally to God in an act of perfect love. She does so in this community, following a way of life blessed by the Church which can lead her to true holiness of life.

Today Teresa is saying to God first and foremost, but also to us present and to the world “I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as so much rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him… I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection”. (Phil 3:8-10)

Is she doing a foolish thing? Absolutely not! She is answering the deepest longings in the human heart, loving God with all her mind, all her will, all her body and all her soul. She is reminding us all of our own precious calling, to love God and to come to know ourselves truly in this Love. If one tries to know oneself outside of this love one searches in the darkness and never attains true happiness. Love of God is not the denial of humanity but its highest calling and its truest expression.

Today Sr. Teresa you are the freest creature on the face of the earth.

To make an act of solemn profession to love God is to make the freest act possible for a human being. Your voice today as you make your solemn profession is a making present of Christ’s voice in the Garden of Gethsemane, echoed in the voice of Mary at the Annunciation. To say yes to God is to be fully human.

Today in Rome the new archbishops will receive the Pallium from the Pope, a circular band of lamb’s wool, worn about the neck, breast, and shoulders (one could say our religious scapular is a development of the Pallium), said to have been originally a brace which kept slaves together as they were being transported from one place to another: Pope Benedict XVI says that “this may be considered an image of the yoke of Christ, which one takes upon one’s shoulders. God’s yoke is God’s will, which we accept. And this will does not weigh down on us, oppressing us and taking away our freedom. To know what God wants, to know where the path of life is found – this was Israel’s joy, this was her great privilege. It is also our joy: God’s will does not alienate us, it purifies us – even if this can be painful – and so it leads us to ourselves. In this way, we serve not only him, but the salvation of the whole world, of all history”. Today Teresa takes on this yoke of freedom. “For freedom Christ has set us free” (Gal 5:1).

Teresa’s yes of today will be lived out her whole life long as she prays to God unremittingly, continuing the prayer we read about in today’s first reading. Her life of prayer here in Siena monastery will be a source of life and freedom for the whole Church. Just as the prayers offered for Peter in today’s reading set him free to preach the word of God so the prayers offered in this holy place is the real heart of the preaching of the Dominicans on these islands. From prayer, from contemplation comes the preaching of the Gospel as we pray in psalm 67: The Lord gives the word to the bearers of good tidings. The Lord is the source of all our preaching and the Nuns here in Siena not only remind of this truth but also are active in that public preaching by their prayers. Without the prayers offered unremittingly for Peter he would have stayed in prison and could not have continued his ministry of preaching so without the prayers offered in this monastery no Dominican could preach a homily, no teacher could give class, no confessor would hear confessions, no writer would write books. The life lived here silently in Siena is no quaint curiosity adjacent to the story or the work of the Order of Preachers it is a vital component of the holy preaching.

Today Teresa, daughter of Brian and Nuala, you are a happy woman, blessed are you Teresa, for it was not flesh and blood which revealed the beauty of this life to you, but it is your calling from God, to a life of intimacy and love. A life lived in freedom for the good of the Holy Church and the preaching of the Good News.

My final words to you come not from me, words that were given to me many years ago by Fr, William Barden (a great friend of this community and all that it stands for) words from the other great Teresa, Teresa of Avila:

“Let nothing disturb thee; Let nothing dismay thee; All thing pass; God never changes. Patience attains all that it strives for. The one who has God finds she lacks nothing: God alone suffices.”