"Chronicle of my solemn profession" – Sister Mary Grace D. Gicos-
My Life up to the age of 28
Trazos de mi vida hasta los 28 años
"I want to be a cloistered nun when I become an adult," I answered a Comboni missionary priest when he asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up. I was three years old when I started going to catechism class during May for the Month of Mary devotions. We would especially go for the treats they would offer us after catechism instruction.
The idea of being a cloistered nun disappeared that same year after seeing how the overflowing river took with it our land during typhoon season. This took place in Ilog, Delicioso, Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental, where I was born. My parents, Blas Gicos and Erlinda Dadivas Gicos, seeing that they had nothing to offer their children, sent me to a relative's house who at least had something for me to live better.
Even though I lived with my relatives, I knew I had to help with chores in the house, and I even babysitting at the age of six. Later I worked in a pharmacy where I started winning more money to help my family. I worked while I studied to be a computer data processor until the desire to be a religious nun appeared again. So I entered the St. Ezekiel Moreno Monastery of the Augustinian Recollect Nuns at the age of 28.
Chronicle of my Solemn Profession
When I woke up on the 5th of December, I knew I was starting the most important day of my life. I felt the nervousness in my stomach, and it was all overwhelming that I thought I would die. The big day finally arrived. I kept thinking of how unworthy I am to be part of such a beautiful vocation and just having to accept that God was the one who took this initiative in making me only for Him. Today he will ask me if I genuinely love him and choose Him above everyone and everything else and become his consecrated wife. I know this is the only thing that can make me truly happy. I accept and let the day begin!
At 5 am while I was helping our oldest sister get prepared for morning prayers, the rest of the sisters surprised me by singing the traditional Mexican birthday or special day song of "Las Mananitas." They greeted me with hugs and best wishes and even a beautiful bouquet of red roses as a reminder that I was to be the bride for Christ.
The Divine Office and Morning Prayer became so special for me that morning as if all the readings and psalms were narrating my vocational story. I thank God for the gift of prayer. I prayed for all the world that it might benefit from my offering to God.
After midday prayer, we had a light lunch, and due to the butterflies in my stomach, I barely ate anything. Then Mother Superior and I went out of the cloister to start the liturgical ceremony. The Bishop, Patricio Buzon, was already there and kindly greeted us and asked me how I felt. I told him I was very nervous, and he made a quick reference to this in his homily.
Together with my siblings and other family members, my parents were there whom I had not seen for the longest. I was profoundly thankful for their presence; it made the day extra special.
When all was ready, and everyone in place, immediately after Mrs. Corazon Colmenares read an introduction to the liturgical ceremony, the procession started with the Bishop, Recollect community priors from UNO-R and Talisay, diocesan deacon, Kurt Emmanuel Baylin, who served as master of the liturgical ceremony, my parents, mother superior, and the altar servers who gave greater solemnity to the celebration.
I saw the rest of the friars from UNO-R, members of the SAR's, Recollect Youth, and other guests in the pews. The UNO-R Knights of Columbus choir lead us in worship with their solemn voices. I could not believe that all of this was happening for the solemn profession of a poor little girl growing up in the neighborhood.
As the solemn profession ritual started, I was very much prepared. My name was called; I stood and responded as I put all nervousness aside.
The Bishop, who himself is a religious, said some very inspiring words. Bishop referred to the challenges of the cloistered religious life is very special compared to the world's challenges. Still, the compensation it offers is incomparable because of the joys it brings.
After the homily, we continued with the ritual as I lay in front of the crucifix and the altar. At the same time, two Recollect friars from Talisay beautifully sang the litany of the saints. I was much aware of everything that was happening and being said and sung. It was easy for me to sense God's presence. I felt loved and forgiven for my past sins, and I was thankful for God's abundant grace. I have never felt this humbleness as I offered my whole self to God. I went on to hug my monastery sisters with gratefulness for letting me be part of this community, and they made me feel welcomed and loved.
My heart is full of joy. I keep thanking everyone for their prayers. After the Holy Mass ended, it was time for the Pilipino "ritual" of taking many pictures with everyone present; this took around a whole hour. Everyone was invited to enjoy a delicious meal.
I was deeply moved on this special day. I will never forget this memorable and unbelievable day. Love is great; it is truly outstanding. God is love, and I had the vision of it this day. All glory and praise to God!
Sister Mary Grace D. Gicos, Augustinian Recollect