MERIDEN, CT (03-27-2021) – Sister Marie Benedict Elliott and Sister Francesca Silver, who were given their religious names in the memorable year of 2013 which saw the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and the election of Pope Francis, professed their perpetual vows on Saturday, March 27.
The Mass of Religious Profession was celebrated by the Most Reverend Leonard P. Blair, Archbishop of Hartford, in the Franciscan Sisters’ Chapel of St. John. Reverend Matthew Gworek assisted as Master of Ceremonies. In light of the current capacity restrictions, only the Sisters’ family members and the Franciscan Community of Sisters and Brothers were present at the Mass.
As part of the ceremony of religious profession, Archbishop Blair asked the Sisters the “Questions by the Church” to ascertain their free choice to vow themselves to Christ and His Church as women religious, and to serve the mission of the Church and of the Community. Each Sister enthusiastically explained her purpose and vision to give her life in this way.
Sister Marie Benedict Elliott and Sister Francesca Silver professed vows of chastity, poverty and obedience for life within the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist. Mother Miriam Seiferman, Mother General, received their vows and spoke of the individual gifts they, as radiant spouses of Christ, bring to the Community. Mother Miriam affirmed Sister Marie Benedict in her mission of education and the poignant sensitivity and respect with which she encounters her students. Her love of the Church and its teachings call her to promote Truth as a namesake of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
Following Sister Francesca’s pronouncement of vows, Mother Miriam spoke of the beautiful sense of wonder Sister awakens in others, especially of the uniqueness of each element in creation. Delighting in the miracles of nature, Sister Francesca will continue to be inspired by Pope Francis and St. Francis of Assisi.
Sister Marie Benedict is the daughter of Angela and Will Elliott of Fairfax, Virginia. From age five months to five years, Sister Marie Benedict, then Christine, lived with her parents in Botswana, Africa, and from ages 8-9 in the Republic of South Africa, followed by a few months in Jordan. Given her international experience, it was not surprising that she earned a B.A. degree in Government and Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia. Christine returned to the Republic of South Africa to work at a children’s orphanage and also at an orphanage near Nairobi, Kenya. Back in the United States after a year abroad, she was an intern for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Office of International Justice and Peace, as well as an intern for Bread For the World’s Research Institute of Hunger and Poverty in Washington, D.C. She was then hired as a Care for Creation Fellow for Education and Advocacy by the Franciscan Action Network in Washington, D.C. While in the D.C. area, she met the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist. She entered postulancy in 2012. During her time of formation, she completed a Master of Arts degree in dogmatic theology at Holy Apostles College and Seminary. She is a full time teacher of religion at St. Paul Catholic High School in Bristol, Connecticut.
Sister Francesca was raised by her parents, Chris and Marty Silver in Kingsport, Tennessee. They inspired in their children a love of nature which has continued to grow in the life of Sister Francesca. Sister Francesca, then named Mary, received a Bachelor of Science degree from Northland College, Ashland, Wisconsin, in Outdoor Education – Natural History. After graduation, she was hired back in her home state as a teacher/naturalist at Great Smoky Mountain Institute at Tremont, a position she enjoyed thoroughly for five years. Considering a religious vocation, she discovered the website of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist. She entered postulancy in 2012 and novitiate in 2013. During her years of formation, Sister Francesca had experiences working with children in various settings, including ESPN Kids Center, Enfield Montessori School, and for the past six years at St. Bridget of Sweden School in Cheshire. She also brings joy to all in the Summer Experiences for Children and Youth Leadership programs of the Franciscan Life Center and conducts outdoor challenge course sessions for youth. Sister Francesca assists in beekeeping for the Franciscan Sisters’ Regina Bee Garden. Within the past year, she completed a Masters degree in theology at Holy Apostles College and Seminary.
Following the Mass, the congregation gathered to ring the Guardian Chimes, led by Mother Miriam, Mother General, and Mother Shaun Vergauwen, Mother Co-Foundress. The chimes honor Mother Rosemae Pender, FSE, Mother Foundress, who died in 2016. Archbishop Blair congratulated the Community on this happy occasion.