Three young Sisters make their First Vows as Sparkill Dominicans in Pakistan

February 24th, 2018 was a beautiful day for the Sparkill community in Bahawalpur, Pakistan. Three young women — Sr. Anna Bashir, Sr. Mehreen Abbas, and Sr. Reema Ashraf — made their first vows as Dominican Sisters, officially entering the Sparkill Congregation and beginning their journey in Religious Life. There was much excitement among the 21 Sisters who make up the Sparkill Community in Pakistan, as family members and Sisters from other congregations began arriving for the ceremony and celebration.

Sisters Anna, Mehreen, and Reema professed their vows to Sr. Anna Bakhshi, Sparkill’s Regional Representative in Pakistan and a much-loved and respected leader of the community there. The Mass was held at the beautifully-adorned St. Dominic Church, the main Catholic Church in Bahawalpur, and was presided over by His Excellency Bishop Benny Mario Travase, the bishop of the Multan Diocese. A talented choir left everyone feeling spirited for the festivities that followed.

L-R: Sisters Anna Bashir, Mehreen Abbas, and Reema Ashraf at their vows ceremony in St. Dominic Church, Bahawalpur, Pakistan. 

Before making their vows, our three new Sisters shared their reflections on what draws them to Religious Life and what they most look forward to about living as a professed Religious Sister:

“The love of Jesus, his selfless service, humility, and sacrifice for my sake draws me to Religious Life. I want to live in the presence of God forever. My Sisters’ acts of mercy and love for others inspired me to Religious Life. As a professed Religious Sister, it will be necessary for me to keep my vows which I am going to profess. With this, I need to reflect on the four pillars of religious life (study, prayer, community, and contemplation) through which I can draw energy to serve in the vineyard of God with the same spirit Jesus had: the spirit of faithfulness, love, determination, and self-sacrifice. As a professed Religious, I will walk in the footsteps of Jesus and live according to the teachings of my Congregation.” ~ Sr. Anna Bashir – currently studying for her BSC.

Religious life is a beautiful life. It is about the love of God for His creation and His people. This love draws me towards this life, and I would like to give myself freely for the love of Christ. God has called me to give myself selflessly and to spread his Good News, which is that God loves us all. I have known Sparkill Sisters since my childhood and it gives me immense happiness to enter this Congregation and continue their legacy of joy. As a professed Sister, I will walk in the footsteps of Jesus and live according to the good teachings that my Sisters have given me. I will go wherever the need of my community is and will offer myself happily and honestly.” ~ Sr. Mehreen Abbas – currently studying for her BSC in Botany, Zoology, and Geography.

“The love and graciousness of our Heavenly Father, the humility of the Lord Jesus Christ my savior, and His passion for lifting up the marginalized and rejected of society draw me to religious life. As a professed Sister, I will work to follow Christ more closely by living the three Evangelical Counsels of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience. I will share my life and all my graces wholeheartedly while living in the Community. I look forward to learning more about the spirituality of our Foundress and the charism of our early Sisters.” ~ Sr. Reema Ashraf – currently studying for her Masters in English Literature.

Sisters Anna, Mehreen, and Reema will continue their studies in Bahawalpur and will move on to full-time ministry once they receive their degrees.

Sister Mary Murray, President of the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill, shared her thoughts on what these Sisters’ First Vows mean for the Congregation and for Religious Life overall. “In a world where Religious Life is often viewed as outdated, these young women’s commitments to their vocations and to the growth of our community are signs that Religious Life is still very relevant. In Pakistan, Christianity is a minority religion that is widely unsupported by the larger society. Our Sisters’ Christian witness in a non-Christian society and their service to people of all faiths speak loudly of God’s compassionate love and care for all people. There, our Congregation gives hope to the world that peace and tolerance are possible, and that people of different backgrounds and cultures can live together peacefully. Sisters Anna, Mehreen, and Reema’s First Vows are a gift to our Congregation. Their eagerness and enthusiasm for Religious Life is evident. May they always be blessed in their lives as Dominican Sisters.”

The three new Sisters processing into church for the vows ceremony with their parents. 

Sr. Mehreen Abbas taking her vows.
Sr. Reema Ashraf taking her vows.
Sr. Anna Bashir taking her vows. 
The new Sisters receive crosses from Bishop Benny Mario Travase.
Sisters Anna, Mehreen, and Reema with the clergy who concelebrated the Mass. 
The Dominican Sisters of Sparkill, clergy, and the new Sisters in Pakistan.
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