Belfast, Ireland: Two women who swapped successful professional careers to embark on religious life will take another major step towards their calling this weekend.
Former television journalist Martina Purdy and ex-barrister Elaine Kelly will take their vows on September 23 to become temporary professed sisters, more than three years after joining the Adoration Sisters.
Speaking ahead of the ceremony, which will be held at St Peter’s Cathedral in west Belfast, Sister Martina and Sister Elaine have described their joy that they will become “brides of Christ”.
The two women joined the Adoration Sisters, an order of nuns based in the Falls Road within weeks of each other in 2014, both wanting to embark on a life dedicated to their faith.
At the time, Sr Martina was a political correspondent with the BBC who had spent more than 20 years covering pivotal political events during the peace process, while Sr Kelly was a renowned barrister.
Both spoke at the time of how they had completely changed their career paths to fulfil a calling to God.
After serving as postulant and novice nuns, the women will this weekend take their biggest step so far by making their first profession of vows.
Large crowds of family, friends and members of the local community are expected to attend the ceremony where Mother Mary Josephine Caldwell, the superior general of the Sisters of Adoration, will receive and accept the vows of Sr Elaine and Sr Martina.
The main celebrant at the service will be Bishop of Down and Connor, Noel Treanor, with Fr Robert Sloan, Fr John Murray, Fr John Nevin and Fr Martin Graham also con-celebrating.
During the ceremony, the women will each receive the brown veil, as well as the ring and brown scapular (robe) of the congregation, which will “signify their spiritual union with God”.
In six years time, the two women will make their perpetual vows.
Speaking to the Irish News yesterday ahead of entering a period of reflection, Sr Martina said it was a “big step” on a wonderful journey.
“We see it like a great adventure into the heart of God,” she said.
“We think it’s a mind-blowing that a barrister and a journalist have been called to receive God’s life and commit to him. We were surprised as anyone else was when it happened.
“It’s a big step, we will be making our vows before God.”
Sr Elaine said the ceremony would be a “celebration” for everyone.
“We will have our families with us and our friends, Martina’s friends from the BBC and my friends from the Bar will be there as well as people from the local community,” she said.
“We see it as a celebration and the fact that it will be held in our own parish, at St Peter’s, is wonderful.
“We want people from no matter where, no matter who to come and join us on Saturday.”
Sr Elaine also said the ceremony will see them become “brides of Christ” and will mark how “God is in our hearts forever”.
“Three and a half years ago I received the call and when I first entered, people couldn’t believe it would be nine years of a journey,” she said.
“But you live it every day and here we are, so far along the journey already.
“We are servants of God, we are called to be holy and humble. He takes the gifts he has given us and he makes the best of them.
“We want it to be a joyful occasion, there is a real tangible excitement in the community, you can feel it.
“The joy of the day is for everyone.”