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Welcome Sister Giovana Fuentes Bendivez, IHM

On November 10, 2020, our Sister Giovana Fuentes Bendivez made her first profession of vows as a Sister, Servant of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Scranton, PA.

On November 10, 2020, our Sister Giovana Fuentes Bendivez made her first profession of vows as a Sister, Servant of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Scranton, PA. This day was also the 175th anniversary of the founding of the congregation in Monroe, Michigan. We celebrate the new life and commitment Giovana has made in love of God and in service to God’s people that reflects and continues the legacy of our co-founders, Theresa Maxis and Louis Gillet.

The following are Giovana’s commitment statement and Sister Mary Elaine Anderson’s affirmation.

What do you ask of God, of this Congregation and of the Church?

God of love, on the day of my baptism you consecrated me and you invited me to follow you more closely. Today I fully consecrate myself to you and I ask to serve you in this Congregation to which you have called me. I wish to commit myself to live the IHM Charism and maintain the spirit of our founders Father Gillet and Theresa Maxis. May Mary be my teacher of fidelity and simplicity in my daily life.

I commit to love this wounded church and I want to be part of this missionary church that seeks to embrace the poor and the excluded. I want to show solidarity with the poor and restore their human dignity so that they may always feel welcome.

I ask God to help me to live the evangelical counsels faithfully and radically. I want to live in a counter cultural way, against what consumerism offers and what separates me from what is essential. I want to put my gifts at the service of the congregation. I ask God for the grace to be faithful to his unconditional love and to live with compassion and solidarity in my IHM community, my family and with those I serve.  God of love, I commit myself to being open to listen to your voice, to discern and make timely and responsible decisions, always seeking the common good for our congregation, our country and the entire world.

Sr. Ellen I ask to profess my vows in this beloved congregation. I hope that my personal response will join that of the community to live our vows in mutuality and collaboration.

Affirmation of Giovana’s Readiness to Profess Temporary Vows

by Sister Mary Elaine Anderson

Sisters, associates, friends and family of Giovana, it is truly a privilege to be here this evening to affirm Giovana’s readiness to profess temporary vows as an IHM Sister.

Hermanas, asociadas, amigos, amigas y familia de Giovana, verdaderamente es un privilegio estar aquí esta noche para afirmar la disponibilidad de Giovana a que profese sus votos temporales como una hermana IHM. 

I met Giovana for the first time in the year 2010 when she came to visit Rosalvina, a young woman who was studying at the university with Sister Norma and living with us in Chorrillos, Peru. At the time, Giovana was discerning her call to religious life. Over the course of the next few years, Giovana occasionally joined us for Sunday dinner. She was present for Sister Norma’s profession of perpetual vows, and little by little she came to know more of what it means to be IHM. Desiring a deeper encounter with IHM, Giovana asked to live with us in Chorrillos, which she did from June 2013 thru April 2014. Her bond with IHM strengthened in the years that followed, and she eventually entered the congregation in Sicuani, Peru, on November 19, 2016.

Me encontré con Giovana por primera vez en el año 2010 cuando vino a nuestra casa para visitar a Rosalvina, una mujer joven que estaba estudiando en la universidad con la Hermana Norma y ella también se encontraba viviendo con nosotras en Chorrillos, Perú. En ese momento, Giovana estaba discerniendo su llamada a la vida religiosa. En el transcurso de los próximos años, Giovana se reunió con nosotras de vez en cuando para almorzar los días domingos. Estuvo presente para la profesión de votos perpetuos de la Hermana Norma, y poco a poco Giovana fue introducida a lo que significa ser IHM. Deseando conocernos más, Giovana pidió vivir con nosotras en Chorrillos, y lo hizo desde junio de 2013 hasta abril de 2014.  Su relación con la comunidad IHM fue fortalecida en los siguientes años, y eventualmente entró a la congregación en Sicuani, Perú, el día 19 de noviembre de 2016.        

Two words come to mind when I reflect on Giovana’s journey to reach this moment in time: INTEGRATION and ENCOUNTER.

Dos palabras surgen cuando pienso en el camino recorrido por Giovana para alcanzar este momento: INTEGRACION Y ENCUENTRO.

Giovana’s discernment and her journey to profess vows as an IHM have been intentionally slow. She has had to integrate a lifetime of relationships and meaningful experiences into her present life. Family, culture and country are dear to Giovana, and they are so intricately woven into her identity—who she is now and who she will be in the future as a woman religious.

El discernimiento de Giovana y su decisión de profesar votos en la Congregación IHM progresaban pausadamente y con intención. Tuvo que integrar las relaciones interpersonales y las experiencias significativas de toda su vida con lo nuevo traído por el compromiso de ahora. Giovana quiere mucho a su familia, su cultura y su país. Son aspectos íntegros de su identidad y seguirán formando parte de su identidad en el futuro como religiosa.  

Giovana’s first encounter with religious life was with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondolet who had and continue to have a profound impact on her. Giovana has integrated her devotion to St. Joseph with her love for Mary, whom we IHMs embrace as the first disciple and model of a life rooted in God.

During initial formation, Giovana immersed herself in Alphonsian spirituality. She has integrated the spirit of the Sisters of St. Joseph, who compassionately speak of the other as their dear neighbor, with the spirit of the IHMs, who joyfully and passionately embody God’s unconditional love for all. 

El primer encuentro de Giovana con la vida religiosa estuvo con las Hermanas de San José de Carondolet quienes tenían y siguen teniendo un impacto grande en su vida. Giovana ha integrado su devoción a San José con su amor por María, que nosotras las Hermanas IHM abrazamos como la primera discípula y el ejemplo de una vida enraizada en Dios. Durante su formación inicial Giovana estaba sumergida en la espiritualidad de San Alfonso. Ha integrado el espíritu de las Hermanas de San José, quienes hablan con compasión del otro como su vecino querido, con el espíritu de las Hermanas IHM, quienes gozosamente y apasionadamente encarnan el amor incondicional de Dios para todos.

Giovana came to the IHM Congregation, not alone but rather with the support of her family and her many friends. She truly understands the meaning of ENCOUNTER. Giovana’s relationships are deep, and her conversations are meaningful. She notices who is feeling vulnerable and who is on the fringe, and she responds with sensitivity and compassion to them.

Giovana no vino sola a la Congregación IHM sino con el apoyo de su familia y sus muchos amigos y amigas. Verdaderamente entiende lo que significa EL ENCUENTRO. Las relaciones interpersonales de Giovana son profundas y sus conversaciones son significativas. Giovana está atenta a los más vulnerables y marginados y responde a cada uno con sensibilidad y compasión. 

Giovana is all about relationship. She has taken up with great seriousness Jesus’s command “to love one another as I have loved you”. Giovana has created lasting friendships with persons living in Peru, across the United States, Mexico, the Philippines and probably other countries of which I am not even aware. She truly embodies the IHM spirit of welcome, lives radical interdependence and places herself in the midst of the joys and the pain of our world.

Giovana entiende la importancia de cada encuentro. Ha respondido con mucha seriedad a este mandato de Jesús: “Amar al otro como yo te amo.”  Giovana ha creado amistades duraderas con personas viviendo en el Perú, en todo los Estados Unidos, en Méjico, en Filipinas y probablemente en muchos otros países. Giovana realmente encarna el espíritu de bienvenida de las Hermanas IHM, vive la interdependencia radical y toma su lugar entre las alegrías y el dolor de nuestro mundo.    

God is the sustaining force in Giovana’s life. She has described her relationship with God as “a unique experience of grace and gratitude.” Giovana cultivates time and space to encounter God, to listen attentively to how God manifests Him/Herself in her daily life and to respond lovingly and passionately to God’s voice. 

Dios es la fuerza que sostiene a Giovana. Describe su relación con Dios como “una experiencia única de gracia y gratitud.” Giovana cultiva el tiempo y el espacio para encontrar a Dios, para escuchar atentamente su presencia en su vida y para responder amorosamente y apasionadamente a su voz.

Speaking of her spiritual experience, Giovana says: “What more can I say? God sustains me; God loves me; God gives me peace.” And so, Sister Ellen, I affirm Giovana’s readiness to commit her life to God and God’s people through profession of temporary vows in the Congregation of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Hablando de su experiencia espiritual, Giovana dice: “Que más puedo decir? Dios me sostiene. Dios me quiere. Dios me da paz.” Y por eso, Hermana Ellen, afirmo la disponibilidad de Giovana para comprometerse a Dios y a su pueblo a través de la profesión de votos temporales en la Congregación de las Hermanas Siervas del Inmaculado Corazón de María de Scranton, Pennsylvania.

To view a slideshow-video celebrating our Sister Giovana:

To view the profession liturgy:

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