The solemn profession of Sister Elizabeth Burgess at St Cecilia’s Abbey, in Ryde on the Isle of Wight on January 6, the feast of the Epiphany, was a celebration of joy, thanksgiving and song.
Sister Elizabeth joined the Benedictine community at Ryde six years ago when she was 19. Bishop Crispian of Portsmouth, who has not been well, delegated his role to Fr Abbot Cuthbert Brogan of Farnborough, who was accompanied by the two young juniors from his community.
Sister Elizabeth belonged to the Oratory parish in Oxford and five Oratorians were present, including the Provost Fr Daniel Seward who preached the homily.
Canon Thomas Farrell of Coventry, Fr Finbar Kealy, prior administrator of Quarr, Fr Nicholas Spencer, also of Quarr, and Fr John Redver-Harris of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham were also present in the sanctuary.
After the Creed Sister Elizabeth came forward with a lighted candle singing in Latin “Now with all my heart I follow you… I seek your face.” After pronouncing her vows she sang the traditional threefold Suscipe with arms held up in prayer and signing the chart of her vows on the altar, she received the monastic cowl and then prostrated for the Litany of Saints and the Prayer of Consecration. She then received the black veil, gold ring and book of the Divine Office.
Sister Elizabeth’s mother died when she was a novice and so her profession ring is her mother’s wedding ring. Sister Elizabeth then placed her two joined hands between those of Mother Abbess, to signify her obedience, after which she received the kiss of peace from each member of her community.