The Maronite Servants of Christ the Light announce the reception to the Novitiate of Therese Touma. This next step in the formation of religious life took place at Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral in Brooklyn on November 21st, 2010 during the 11:00 AM Divine Liturgy with Bishop Gregory J. Mansour presiding, and concelebrating, Father James Root, rector.
It was the Sunday of the Announcement to Mary and the feast of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary, both fitting themes for the sacrifice and dedication of religious life. Also adding blessing to the day was the unexpected visit of six Sisters of Life who stopped in for the Divine Liturgy, as well as, a Sister of St. Joseph and a Franciscan Sister.
After the homily, Bishop Gregory blessed Therese as she was led to the sanctuary by Mother Marla Marie, who then presented Therese saying, “She has completed a period of Postulancy, and has asked to be received into the Novitiate of the Congregation of the Maronite Servants of Christ the Light, in the Eparchy of Saint Maron of Brooklyn. As her Superior, I have granted her request and welcome her as a Novice with the Religious name of Sister Therese Maria. We ask your blessing upon her habit and rosary, the rich symbols of Religious life, and also upon the Typicon of the Congregation, which Sister Therese Maria will study in preparation to embrace the evangelical counsels of our Congregation.”
After Bishop Gregory’s blessing upon the articles of the habit, Mother Marla Marie presented them to Sister Therese Maria, and clothed her with the white veil of the novitiate. Sister Therese Maria is the first member to join with the foundress, Mother Marla Marie, in this new congregation of Maronite religious in the Eparchy of Saint Maron. Sister Therese Maria began a postulancy period last February to help her make the transition into monastery life. Following the postulancy is the novitiate, at which time the Maronite Servant is given the title of “Sister” and receives the habit. Then begins a two-year formation, which is a foundational period for the deepening of the spiritual life in preparation for vows.
Reflecting on the ceremony, Sister Therese Maria said, “One of the highlights was when Mother Marla Marie handed me the white veil which I then kissed, symbolizing the vow of chastity.” She also added, “I see the Novitiate, as a precious time of deepening my love and commitment to Jesus. These two years of formation will be a beautiful opportunity to humbly grow in my understanding of what it means to be a Maronite Servant of Christ the Light.”
Sr. Therese Maria, 26, is from Sydney, Australia and is the daughter of Joseph and Jacqueline Touma. She was raised in the Maronite Church and cherishes her early memories of family members’ teaching her the faith. She also has a strong devotion to the Maronite saints, and says St. Rafka in particular has been “a great role model” as she strives to live out her faith.
More information on the Maronite Servants can be found on the website: maroniteservants.org.