MERIDEN, CT (02-04-2018) Sister Rosario Ongayo, FSE professed perpetual vows in the presence of almost 200 people in the Chapel of St. John at an 11:00 a.m. Mass on February 4, 2018. Mother Miriam Seiferman, FSE, Mother General, received Sister Rosario’s vows and affirmed the unique gift Sister Rosario is to the Community and to those she serves. Sister Rose Mesa and Sister Mary Anne Linder were the official witnesses of the profession. In his homily, the Most Reverend Leonard P. Blair, Archbishop of Hartford, principal celebrant, shared reflections on the mission of mercy in caring for those who are ill or infirm, as Sister Rosario does, and his gratitude for the gift a newly professed Sister is to the entire Church. Archbishop Blair thanked the Community for their service in the Church and expressed his appreciation for having “this vibrant, growing community” in the archdiocese.

In professing the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, Sister Rosario becomes a permanent member of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist. Following the statement of profession, Sister received individual blessings from Mother Miriam, Mother Barbara Johnson, Vicar General, and Mother Shaun Vergauwen, Co-foundress. The Community sang the Blessing of St. Francis for Sister. Archbishop Blair prayed an ecclesial blessing as part of the ritual of profession.

Sister Rosario, a native of the Philippines, was accompanied to the altar during the entrance procession by her mother, Mrs. Lucenia Ongayo (pictured here). Romelia Ongayo, sister of Sister Rosario, and cousins and friends joined in the celebration, having traveled from the Philippines, Canada, New Jersey, Oregon, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania.

The presentation of gifts at the Offertory included a family photo carried by Romelia; a palm tree seedling representing Sister Rosario’s years in the Holy Land, presented by Minerva Roa; a statue of Mary carried by Sister Collette Maritim; a basket of rosaries made by Sister Rosario, presented by Sister Mary Kolbe Heffern; Community documents presented by Sister Maria Sena, Sister Mary Peter Ryan and Sister Faith Marie Woolsey; and a photo of Mother Rosemae Pender, Mother Foundress, carried by Mother Shaun.

Archbishop Blair blesses Sister Rosario

Sister Rosario grew up in Barobo, Surigao del Sur, Philippines, and was named Rocenia by her parents, a combination of her mother’s and father’s names, Romeo and Lucenia. Her siblings’ names all begin with “Ro” as well, and the tradition was continued as Rocenia received her religious name, Rosario. During her years in elementary school and high school, she was an athlete, excelling in softball, swimming and tennis. She earned a Bachelor of Elementary Education with a concentration in physical education at University of Mindanao in Davao where she played varsity tennis. In her early twenties, she traveled to the Holy Land to work as a caretaker and companion for elderly persons in their homes. She met the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist in Jerusalem and after several years of association, she requested entrance into the Community.

In 2016 Sister Rosario was awarded a Masters degree in Theology with a concentration in Scripture from Holy Apostles College and Seminary, Cromwell, Connecticut. Her Special Project in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Masters degree was a book of meditations on the 20 mysteries of the Rosary, illustrated with Scriptural references and poignant examples from her work as a certified nursing assistant with Franciscan Ever There Care. Sister Rosario has a profound devotion to the Rosary as indicated by her name. As a memorial of the celebration of her perpetual vows, she made a rosary for each guest who attended. Archbishop Blair blessed the rosaries before Mass. After the final blessing, Sister Sophia Peters, commentator, announced that Sister Rosario had a gift of a rosary for each and Sisters would distribute them. She added, “If you prefer to trade rosaries with someone else, that s fine.” Archbishop Blair smiled and said, “I have heard of trading baseball cards, but never rosaries!” The Mass ended with a vibrant, joyful hymn accompanied by organ, flute, horn and cello. A luncheon followed for the approximately 200 guests.