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 | By Danielle Mcgrew Tenbusch

Perpetually Professed

Sisters of Our Mother of Divine Grace Welcome First Perpetually Professed Sister

Twelve years after the Sisters of Our Mother of Divine Grace established their emerging community of consecrated life in Michigan, the first sister to profess perpetual vows did so on Aug. 17.

Sister Michael Marie Miller, a Colorado native, entered St. Mary’s Convent in Port Sanilac in 2015 as a postulant. She professed her first vows in 2018, and joyfully professed her perpetual vows at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Port Sanilac at a Mass celebrated by Bishop Robert Gruss.

“It was absolutely amazing,” said Sister Philomena, superior of the Sisters of Our Mother of Divine Grace. “We’re very grateful … for a young woman to come and feel drawn to our charism of Christian unity."

The Mass included the sisters processing with lighted candles as a reminder of their baptismal vows, Sister Michael Marie prostrating herself during the Litany of Saints, vows and Marian consecration, and giving Sister Michael Marie a ring, signifying her to be a bride of Christ as a professed religious.

While the entire Mass was a beautiful and moving occasion, the Litany of Saints was particularly powerful to Sister Michael Marie.

“As I was prostrated on the floor in front of the altar, I took the time to hear the choir name the particular saints I’d asked to be included in the litany, because I know without their intercession, I wouldn’t be here,” she said.

“She wants to share our [the Sisters of Our Mother of Divine Grace] life and she wants to give her whole heart to Jesus,” Sister Philomena said.

It was a long road to finding the religious community God was calling her to, Sister Michael Marie said. She had been studying to be a paleontologist when she began to develop a deeper relationship with God and discern consecrated life.

“Learning more about the truth of the Catholic Faith, the more I fell in love with it,” she said. “I also deepened my relationship with Mary, our nurturing and loving mother who helps us do God's will.”

She felt called to a Marian community and was drawn to the Sisters of Our Mother of Divine Grace’s charism.

“Throughout this entire process, I’ve had this interior peace that I was doing God’s will,” she said.

While moving from Colorado to Michigan to follow God’s call of entering an emerging religious community was a big step, Sister Michael Marie knows it was the right one.

“Love entails taking risks. It’s hard and it’s scary, but that is where you need to have faith in him,” she said.

Her spiritual journey has brought her to more fully realize “the truth about who I am in God’s sight:  I am his bride.”

Like a new bride, Sister Michael Marie is happy to be near her Beloved.

“[I look forward to] spending the rest of my life in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament,” she said.

Two Sisters Profess Perpetual Vows as Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma


In a joyful ritual Mass, two women professed their perpetual vows as Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Michigan at the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption in Saginaw on Tuesday, Aug. 16.

Sister Mary Mia Menke and Sister Mrija Hope Nuculaj each professed their perpetual vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and service to the poor, sick and ignorant. The perpetual profession comes at the end of nearly a decade of formation and discernment with the Religious Sisters of Mercy.

“In my time of formation … I have come to know (Jesus) and love him with a greater peace and surrender,” said Sister Mrija Hope, a Michigan native who currently lives in Germany. “In our Institute I have come to understand that faith is about relationships and not an individual project of self-improvement. God works, speaks, loves, corrects (and) accompanies us through our Sisters and it is very real, very beautiful and challenging in the best sense.”

While Sister Mrija Hope knows that their vocation demands all they are, “it gives more than we can think possible!”

Before their perpetual vows, the Sisters make temporary vows for one year and renew them for three years.

“When we make temporary vows, we are consecrated to the Lord. I remember after making my first vows that this consecration seemed so tangible to me at times. … Everything was the same, but everything was also different because everything was taken up into my spousal relationship with Christ,” said Sister Mary Mia, a Nebraska native.

Before their perpetual professions, the sisters prepared with a 30-day silent Ignatian retreat.

“The time of silence and prayer was a time of encounter with God. I felt my soul widen in a sense, to receive (Jesus) in a way I have never been able to before,” sister Mrjia Hope said. “It was challenging and yet easy at the same time, sensing his grace and the prayers of our Institute carrying me.”

During the Mass, each sister professed her vows, reading from a handwritten formulary, while kneeling before Mother Mary McGreevy, Superior General of the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma. After each sister had professed vows, Bishop Gruss prayed a solemn prayer of consecration over the sisters.

Mother Mary McGreevy then placed a ring signifying religious profession on the finger of each sister, reminding them that they are betrothed to the eternal King, Jesus.

Sister Mary Mia said she has been reflecting particularly on that perpetual espousal.

“I was (Christ’s) when I took temporary vows, but now I'm his for all eternity, and there's a great joy that comes to me when I ponder that reality,” she said. “He has formed a special bond between my heart and his that will never go away. How I respond to this love and grow in this consecration will unfold throughout the rest of my life, but there's a stability and peace in knowing that the offering of my life will be united in a special way to the complete offering of Christ's life due to these vows and this consecration.”

As perpetually professed religious, the sisters will share all things in common with the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma.

“My experience with my Institute, which I love so much, is that it's helped open my heart to be merciful because it has first helped me learn how to receive mercy— and my own need for it,” Sister Mary Mia said. “ Mercy changes everything and the authentic experience of it has brought me so much closer to the Lord.”

Both sisters look forward to a lifetime of service and faith as religious sisters.

“Looking back, I can only marvel at the goodness and mercy of the Lord! I look to the future with a heart full of joyful anticipation,” said Sister Mrjia Hope. “I look forward to living my life with him and to growing old with my Sisters. Sometimes I imagine myself with a quaint little cane, sitting on the porch with Sister Mary Mia and others telling the young ones stories of our early years in religious life, reminiscing the good old years. With a gentle smile, this thought reminds me that I am in the ‘good old years’ right now, and it is only right to make the best of them!”