Today, in the presence of his family, friends, seminarians, and his monastic confreres, Br. Etienne Huard professed solemn vows as a monk of Conception Abbey. In the ceremony, Br. Etienne made a perpetual commitment to live as a monk of our monastery, vowing obedience, stability, and conversion of life. As you can imagine, this is an absolutely joyful occasion in the life of Br. Etienne, the monastic community, and the entire Church. Such an event is very fitting on this Sunday, since the universal Church celebrates “Gaudete” Sunday, which means “Rejoice!”
The profession ceremony took place within the context of Sunday Mass.
After the proclamation of the Gospel, the Junior Master brings Br. Etienne to the altar with hands joined. The Abbot begins the rite by calling forth Br. Etienne in the name of the whole community. Abbot Gregory sings, “Come, my son, hear me. I will teach you the fear of the Lord.” Br. Etienne states his intention to profess vows before the Abbot, the community, and before Almighty God.
After the Abbot’s Admonition, Br. Etienne is free to come forward and profess vows, by reading aloud his profession document and signing it on the Book of the Gospels on the altar.
Once, Br. Etienne has signed his profession document, he stands before the altar and prays, “Suscipe me, Domine, secundum eloquium tuum et vivam, et non confundas me ab expectatione mea” (Psalm 119:116- Receive me, Lord, as you have promised, and I shall live; do not disappoint me in myhope). Br. Etienne sings this prayer three times, each time it is repeated by the solemnly professed members of the monastic community, who then add the doxology. It is a prayer of total surrender and trust in the Lord. Then, the newly professed lies prostrate on the floor as he is covered with the black funeral pall and the bell tolls, which is symbolic of his death to self and his former way of life. The entire assembly prays for Br. Etienne.
Following the Litany and Prayer of Consecration, the funeral pall is removed, the monk rises, receiving new life in Christ. He stands before the Abbot to receive the cuculla, the pleated robe worn by the solemnly professed members. The Abbot and the solemnly professed monks congratulate him with the Kiss of Peace, which seals his permanent fraternity int he community of Conception Abbey.
Br. Etienne with his mother and brothers (Left to Right: Connie, Ryan, Br. Etienne, Joe).
The cover of Br. Etienne’s worship aid for the ceremony: Soli Deo (To God Alone)