Just to say 'thank you' (Sr. Louise's words of thanksgiving for the celebration of her Perpetual Profession)

When I look at the mosaic of my life and all the people who compose it. God’s hand gathering lives of colour to form a masterpiece, a body, cell by cell.  Tiny little pieces put together colour by colour and forging something unforgettable, something that fits perfectly into the master plan, God’s handiwork where his grace allowed our paths to meet in life. Reflecting back upon the years of my life, I have found that the pieces fit perfectly, not always by my doing and not always by my understanding. Happiness and pain fitting together because one can’t know one without the other.  The ups and downs, the ins and outs, all mean there is a perfect balance somewhere and we spend our waking hours searching for it, knowing that we are restless until we rest in God.
Each one of you here today would merit a personal ‘thank you’: by your presence, your accompaniment, you remind me that this vocation is not my vocation but a vocation for the Church, for the world, for each of you! Everyone that has made an appearance in my life has left an indelible imprint and contributed to the ‘bigger’ picture, bringing me to where I am now. I can only hope that my gratitude can find it’s expression in prayer and in sharing with you that I am truly happy to arrive at this day.
To my religious sisters: some of you know me since I began coming to the convent when I was eleven years old (20 years ago!) That’s a long time! Others just a few months but the beauty of our religious life is that we are always family by grace of the bonds which hold us together as religious. Each one of you have individual characteristics and gifts which have edified me and helped me to grow in my identity as a Disciple of the Divine Master.
To my family who have always walked with me, ensuring that the distance between home and abroad be but a Christmas parcel away, a photograph or a phonecall away, it’s the little things in life which are the most precious! To Mam, you have continued to ensure that our home be the meeting place for us all, above all, that you are always there to welcome us. To Marie and Aime, every time I see you both, I give thanks for the gift of motherhood and for the great mothers that you are to your children who bring some much joy to our family. To Robert, ‘blessed among women’, you have looked out for your sisters throughout the years and been there when we needed, thank you. To Andrea, your presence and positive outlook on life continues to be a tonic for all those who meet you.
Today we remember in a special way my Dad Ray. I know you’re smiling down on us this day and joining the celebration. I remember my grandparents with love and gratitude for I believe their simple faith and religious practice was a fertile seed ground for my early vocation. May God grant them all their reward in Heaven.
To Fr. Mauro, here from Rome, and to Fr. Ian, your spiritual presence, guidance, wisdom, friendship in my life over these past fifteen years has nourished my convictions, re-orientated my doubts and taught me the values of a personal and necessary relationship with Jesus and the Church, His Body.
To Sr. Kathryn, for your leadership in our Delegation which has always been generous and enthusiastic. Your vision and belief in the capabilities of each person has helped me to explore new gifts and talents.
To Sr. Brid, you have journeyed with me since the beginning, accompanying me during these fundamental stages and maintained your support and concern across the waters to Italy and Poland during my times there.
To Sr. Santina, also here from Rome, with patience and love, you too journeyed and guided me during the crucial journey of novitiate, helping me to become the person God wanted me to be. I am sure that God will reward you for your generous ministry in our Congregation.
To Elaine, Sheena, Shane, Caroline, Fr. John: ‘whoever finds a true friend, finds a treasure’  I am truly rich! Your ongoing support, friendship and prayer have helped me to put many things into perspective, whilst seeing in each one of you the wonderful things which our young people, laity and priests are doing together in our Church.
To Bishop Christopher Jones: thank you for your presence here today. As bishop, in you is symbolised the Shepherd who cares for his sheep, especially for his priests, who in turn are called to be pastors of the people. For the various priests here today, for your ministry to me throughout the years. To the priests of the parish here who have always welcomed me on the various home visits to Athlone, and in a special way over the past few weeks. I have learned so much about the priesthood from you and hope that I can transform this into apostolic action for the good of the Church.
May God bless each one of you, your families and communities as I hold you close in prayer today and always.