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Celebration of First Profession on the IHM 175th Anniversary

by Mary Elaine Anderson, IHM

Sister Giovana Fuentes Bendivez celebrated her First Profession of Vows on November 10, 2020, in Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel in the IHM Center, Scranton, Pennsylvania. The day also marked the 175th Anniversary of the IHM Congregation.

Born in Arequipa, Peru, Giovana first came to know the Scranton IHMs in Lima around the year 2010. Her journey to profess vows as an IHM has been intentionally slow as 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 intricately woven into her identity.

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.

Giovana understands the meaning of encounter. Her relationships are deep, and her conversations are meaningful. Giovana has taken to heart Jesus’ command “to love one another as I have loved you”. She has created lasting friendships with persons living in Peru, across the United States, Mexico and many other countries. Giovana 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.

During the Eucharistic celebration of her First Profession, when asked what she desired of God, the Church and the IHM Congregation, Giovana
responded passionately and lovingly with these words:         

“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 acountercultural 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.

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.”

The IHM sisters and associates, as well as the family and friends of Giovana, promised to support her ongoing and evolving journey with their prayer and example. ¡Felicitaciones, Giovana!