Journey Into Full Communion
Wanting to serve God in consecrated life and not being immediately aware of anything questionable, we were members of a Traditionalist community of women religious in Spokane, Washington. The leadership of this community gradually led the members to separation from the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.
2005, April – Pope John Paul II died and we watched his funeral. As Pope Benedict XVI was elected, we began to ask questions about our lack of connection with the Pope. The leadership of the community tried to quiet the questioning, eventually articulating that union with Rome was not and would never be an option.
2007, June – By the grace of God, some of us returned to full communion with the Catholic Church. We began a three-year period of discernment seeking in what manner we would continue to serve God as women religious.
2008, June – Desiring to learn from women religious who were knowledgeable about the theology of consecrated life and who lived in a thriving community, we sought help from the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Michigan. We went with the blessing of Bishop William Skylstad, who had established us as a Private Association of the Faithful. We spent two years with them, one in Alma, Michigan, and one in Rome, Italy. The year in Alma introduced us to what the Church taught about consecrated life and expected of women religious since Vatican II. The year in Rome gave us the opportunity to bond with Holy Mother Church and to study further Her teachings in the Eternal City.
2010, May – While we were still in Rome, Bishop Joseph R. Cistone formally accepted us into the Diocese of Saginaw as the Sisters of Our Mother of Divine Grace, a Public Association of the Faithful. He asked J. Francis Cardinal Stafford to witness our profession of vows, which took place in Rome at St. Peter's Basilica in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception on May 25.
2010, August – We returned to Alma and after much prayer and reflection. Bishop Cistone assigned us to work at St. Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Port Sanilac and St. John Chrysostom Church in Forestville. Sister Maria Inviolata was assigned Pastoral Administrator and we all help in faith formation as well as other works of charity on the local parish level.
2012, March – On the feast of the Annunciation, we renewed our vows at St. Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Port Sanilac in the presence of Bishop Cistone and our friends from various parishes in the Thumb of Michigan – a first for many of those who were present.
2013, July – In accord with the Diocesan “Planning Tomorrow's Parishes” initiative, St. Mary Church merged with St. Denis Church in Lexington and St. Patrick Church in Croswell, forming the new Ave Maria Parish. St. John Chrysostom Church merged with Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Ruth, forming the new Holy Apostles Parish. Sister Maria Inviolata was assigned Pastoral Administrator of the new Ave Maria Parish, which was centralized at St. Denis Church in Lexington. We began helping with faith formation in neighboring parishes: Holy Family in Sandusky and Holy Name of Mary in Harbor Beach.
2015, August – Having had several young women “come and see” over the past few years, we accepted our first postulant.
“Our Journey” is painted in broad brush strokes. Each Sister has a unique story entirely her own as to how the grace of the Holy Spirit, given through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother, led her back to the barque of Peter. But regardless of the details of individual stories, please know that we appreciate your prayerful support, love and kindness. We ask your prayer both for us as we continue to serve in the Diocese of Saginaw and for a greater unity in the Church, especially for all those who have yet to come into full communion with the Church.