Rebecca Heffern of Houston enters novitiate

MERIDEN, CT (08-21-2011) - A graduate of the University of St. Thomas, Rebecca Heffern of Houston was welcomed joyfully into the novitiate of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist in a private ceremony on the Twenty First Sunday in Ordinary Time at the Franciscan Sisters' chapel in Meriden. Mother Shaun Vergauwen, Mother General, accepted Rebecca's request to continue her formation by receiving the habit and veil of the Community and a religious name. Mother Shaun announced that Rebecca will be known in religious life as Sister Mary Kolbe. Rebecca had expressed her desire to have a name related to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her name, Kolbe, is from St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Conventual Franciscan whose entrepreneurial spirit and deep love of the Blessed Virgin drove him not only to be a missionary but to start a printing company in his native Poland to promulgate the truths of the Catholic Church about the Virgin Mary, especially the truth of the Immaculate Conception. For this he was arrested by the Nazis during World War II and sent to a concentration camp. He offered to take the place of another prisoner who was being summoned to be killed. St. Maximilian Kolbe is revered as a modern day martyr for the faith.

As a novice, Sister Mary Kolbe will learn through intensive study and practical community life experiences over the next two years, the meaning of the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience as lived by the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist.

Above, Rebecca receives her religious name from Mother Shaun after being clothed in the habit of the Franciscan Community.
Sister Mary Kolbe listens as the Franciscan Sisters and Brothers sing the Blessing of St. Francis for her.
Sister Mary Kolbe (center) shares her joy with the Sisters who were her formation directresses for the past two years, Sister Mary Elizabeth Endee (left), Directress of Pre-Postulants and Sister Catherine Mary Clarke, Directress of Postulants.
Surrounding Sister Mary Kolbe are other women Sister had lived with at the Chiara Center during her time of postulancy. Next to Sister Mary Kolbe is Erin Hammer, a participant in the Franciscan Community Service-based Land Program. Behind them are Rebecca LaFever, Mary Silver, Emily Woolsey, Denelle Ryan and Christy Elliott.



Sister Mary Kolbe pauses for a photo after the ceremony of reception.