Mother Susan Catherine, foundress of the Daughters of Divine Hope religious order, will profess her solemn vows before Bishop Joseph E. Strickland Sept. 14 at 6 p.m. in the Chapel of Sts. Peter and Paul in Tyler.
With the profession, Mother Susan Catherine will enter permanently into religious life. She will profess vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and fidelity.
“My poverty is complete,” she said. “I have surrendered everything so that now I can be more generous and more freely giving of myself to the will of God and the needs of the church. This is Gospel poverty.”
The vow of chastity, she said, while addressing physical purity, “also goes to purity of spirit, purity of heart, so that I may grow in union with Christ and be one with him.”
Obedience, said Mother Susan Catherine, “gives us the freedom to follow the will of the Father. As Christ was obedient unto death, giving his whole life to follow the will of the Father, so we are giving our whole lives to follow the will and teachings of the church and those in authority over us.”
The vow of fidelity “goes along with obedience,” she said, “but as obedience is given in mind and will, fidelity is given from the heart. In promising fidelity, we promise to live in a faithful relationship with the Holy Trinity, the magisterium of the church and our local authority, who is our bishop.”
Mother Susan Catherine is a former Nacogdoches County judge who founded the order in 2010. After the death of her husband, Deacon Bill Kennedy, in 2007, she began discerning a call to enter religious life, but had difficulty finding communities open to accepting older women. Through discussions with then Bishop Álvaro Corrada, SJ, she felt a calling to establish just such an order.
Bishop Corrada issued the decree establishing the order in November, 2010, and named Mother Susan Catherine superior.
She professed first vows that same month and received permission to wear the habit. She professed one-year temporary vows each year after that on the Feast of Christ the King.
The Daughters of Divine Hope is open to women over the age of 25, with a particular openness to widows and older women. The community’s charism is one of service to the church and solidarity with her sacred ministers. Sisters of Divine Hope wear habits of green, the liturgical color of hope.
The order has two novices who are completing their period of novitiate and could profess first vows in November.
At present, the Daughters reside in a convent on College Street, behind the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. It was previously occupied by Franciscan Sister Susan Seitz, but was vacated in May when Sister Susan returned to her community’s motherhouse in Iowa.
“We’re in the convent to complete our novitiate,” Mother Susan Catherine said, “but we will be looking for another, more suitable place for our permanent home.”
The order has received a number of enquiries, she said, and will be accepting aspirants into formation in the spring.
For information about the order, see the website at daughtersofdivinehope.org.
– Courtesy Sue DeMatteo, Catholic East Texas