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First Kalinago becomes a Cluny Sister


On Friday, May 13, at 10 a.m., the Diocese of Roseau and the Kalinago community rejoiced that one of their very own made forever vows of Obedience, Chastity and Poverty in the Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny (SJC).

Sr Marlene of Our Lady of Sorrows, Valmond is the first from the indigenous people to become a Sister of St Joseph of Cluny.

What a celebration for the Kalinago community who turned out in numbers to witness a daughter take such a daring step. They applauded her for stepping forward in faith to commit her life to the service of God’s people.

For many it was the first time they experienced such a ceremony, and they were filled with amazement, joy, and gratitude. Several travelled great distances to congratulate and support her in the commitment she was about to make.

It was a touching moment for her father, and other family members who were present, while her deceased mother looked on from above.

Cluny Sisters from Grenada, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago participated in this joyful occasion. Sr Martha Sebastien SJC, our only other Dominican sister (working in SVG) who made her Final Vows in 2009, travelled to her homeland for the ceremony.

We know that our other two Dominican Sisters now enjoying their eternal rest: Sr Patricia Ann Douglas (died May 20, 2005) and Sr Sylvia Toulon (January 21, 2015) were with us in spirit.

The Portsmouth choir, and Sr Marlene’s home community assisted with the liturgy and church décor and their presence and support added to the happy  day.

Dominica’s Minister of Trade, Ian Douglas, and his wife; Lorenzo Sanford, the Carib Chief; and Donaldson Frederick who represented the Minister for the Upliftment of the Kalinago Territory, participated in this most inspiring ceremony.

Our Cluny Associates were there in their numbers, easily identifiable in their blue t-shirts and logo. They had worked long and hard behind the scenes from Portsmouth.

What a powerful and awe-inspiring homily by Msgr William John-Lewis, the chief celebrant, who represented the Apostolic Administrator, Archbishop Gabriel Malzaire. Six priests concelebrated with Msgr John-Lewis.

Many hearts were touched, and he gave us much food for thought.

Msgr John-Lewis elaborated on the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience and said, “In a world where wealth, possessions, sex is rampart, this young, beautiful, and attractive woman made an astounding decision to give her life totally and completely to her Lover. Take Lord, receive all that I have and possess. I give all back to You.”

Sr Marlene accepted the ring of chastity. Therein lies a bold statement that there is more to life than wealth and possessions.

We thank the people of the Kalinago community, who in a beautiful setting for the reception served us a sumptuous meal.

The day was indeed unforgettable, joyful, and filled with many blessings. —Cluny Sisters