Cardinal Fernando Filoni blesses the shawl with the insignia of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem presented to Mother Shaun Vergauwen, FSE as she is invested in the Order.

MERIDEN, CT (09-20-2021) – The Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist rejoice to announce the investiture of Co-foundress Mother Shaun Vergauwen, FSE in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem as a religious dame. The Order’s overarching purpose is twofold: to foster Christian holiness, and to support Christians in the Holy Land. As a religious dame, Mother Shaun’s support will be that of prayer and apostolic relationship.

Soon after the founding of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist, Mother Shaun and Mother Rosemae Pender, Mother Foundress, sent Sisters in 1978 to take steps toward establishing a center in the Holy Land. Mother Shaun’s dedication to the mission in the Holy Land has continued throughout the past 43 years as she has served the Community as Vicar General, Mother General and Mother Co-foundress. By inviting Mother Shaun to be a religious member of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, Fernando Cardinal Filoni, Grand Master of the Order, recognized and honored Mother Shaun’s many years of heartfelt spiritual and practical commitment to the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist’s presence in the land of Christ.

Through the years, the Sisters have served the Church in the Holy Land in various ministries – the Franciscan Custody, the Latin Patriarchate, Catholic Relief Services, Bethlehem University, Little Plot Preschool, teaching, counseling and pilgrimages – in Jerusalem and surrounding villages. In 1996 the Sisters founded the Holy Child Program, a therapy and educational center to address the needs of children and families experiencing intergenerational trauma. The Sisters remain as spiritual advisors to the staff and to the Bethlehem Holy Child Program Board comprising lay Franciscan Apprentices.

The ceremony of investiture included a solemn vigil of prayer the evening of September 18 in the Community’s Chapel of St. John and a Mass on September 19 with His Eminence Cardinal Filoni as the celebrant and Reverend Maxim Baz as Master of Ceremonies. The main concelebrants were The Most Reverend Leonard P. Blair, Archbishop of Hartford, and The Most Reverend Daniel A. Cronin, Archbishop Emeritus of Hartford. Concelebrants were Monsignor John Bevins, Monsignor Thomas Ginty, Reverend Raymond Borkowski, OFM Conv., Reverend Douglas Mosey, C.S.B., and Reverend Michael C. Saharic, KCHS.  During the Mass, H.E. Vicki Downey, Eastern Lieutenant, read Cardinal Filoni’s decree of July 8, 2021, admitting Mother Shaun as a religious member of the Order. Several members of the Order attended the Mass. In his homily, Cardinal Filoni spoke about the calling of a religious knight or dame to give spiritual vitality to the Order. He welcomed Mother Shaun to the Order and commended her on her many years of serving Christ in religious life.

Archbishop Leonard P. Blair, Archbishop of Hartford (right) and Archbishop Emeritus Daniel A. Cronin concelebrated the Mass.

Cardinal Filoni and Mother Shaun with Knights and Dames of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem who shared in the celebration.

Vigil Ceremony, September 18, 2021

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Mass of Investiture, September 19, 2021

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