Catawba woman makes first profession

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Marena Hoogland

Marena Hoogland, formerly of the Diocese of Superior, became a Benedictine sister of Annunciation Monastery, Bismarck, North Dakota, Oct. 19.

Hoogland, 23, is the daughter of Jeff and Lori Hoogland, Catawba. She has three brothers and three sisters.

After completing the year-long novitiate, Hoogland, along with Krista Ferrell and Mary Ruth Kayute, made her first monastic profession. Sisters and family gathered to witness and celebrate this next step in their journey.

In the stage of first monastic profession, Hoogland made a promise to live in the monastic community, under the direction of the prioress, according to the Rule of St. Benedict.

This stage of initial formation calls each new sister to live the Benedictine life more fully and further her understanding of it. Sr. Marena continues her formation program of study while engaging in an assigned ministry.

The stage of first monastic profession is three to six years.

Sr. Marena’s reflection

“How does one begin to summarize a year of study on the Rule of Saint Benedict when so much time has been spent expanding on its chapters and their content? Luckily, I think Saint Benedict has one answer in response to a multitude of questions: love. Throughout the novitiate I have grown in understanding and practice of love of God, love of community, love of stranger, and love of self.

“One thing about the Rule of Benedict that appeals to me is how deeply it is rooted in love. Why do the sisters take special concern for the sick? Why are all items treated as vessels of the altar? Why the attention given to kitchen service? What is the ‘good zeal which separates from evil and leads to God and everlasting life?’ It is all based on the self-giving love of God. God initiates the love, and we are only able to properly respond once we accept that love. This year more than ever, I have come to recognize how we are each loved intentionally, individually, and uniquely by God.

“It has been a gift to experience community life more fully during the novitiate. I have seen firsthand how the sisters put the Rule of Saint Benedict into practice. “They should each try to be the first to show respect to the other, supporting with the greatest patience one another’s weaknesses of body or behavior” (RB 72:4-5). The sisters are there to support each other through the good and bad times, and it is humbling and encouraging that the community is willing to offer this same support to me.

‘“How can I love well in this moment?’ is one of the most valuable questions that has been posed this year. It has helped put things into perspective, to be mindful to the now and to whomever I am with. It can still be overwhelming to think too far into the future, but this question helps remind me to give all that I can in the place that I am at.

“It still seems kind of unreal that we have made our first monastic profession. Sometimes the days in the novitiate went slow, but the months went fast. I get caught between thinking not much is changing or that suddenly everything will change. It is only by God’s grace that I have been brought to this point. As I continue to grow in relationship and faith, I hope to faithfully carry out God’s will and love those I encounter.”

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