Sr. Vilma Franco of El Salvador to profess first vows in Spokane
Vilma Franco, 27, a native of El Salvador, will make first profession of the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience as a Sister of Providence at a 7 p.m. Eucharistic Liturgy on Saturday, October 7. Concelebrants for the Spanish and English Mass in the chapel at Mount St. Joseph, 9 East 9th Avenue, will be the Most Reverend William S. Skylstad, Bishop of Spokane, and the Reverend Michael Cook, SJ. A reception in honor of Sister Vilma will follow.
By taking these vows, Sister Vilma makes her formal commitment as one of the 180 sisters in Mother Joseph Province who embrace the charism and the mission of the Sisters of Providence.
Sister Vilma has been living at the novitiate in Spokane since February after spending a canonical year in Chile to explore in depth the call to vowed life in the religious community. She first met the Sisters of Providence in 2000, when Sister Fran Stacey moved to her neighborhood.
"I observed the work that Sister Fran did with the people of my community and was moved by it," Sister Vilma says. "I saw the spirit of Mother Gamelin and I wanted to a part of it, too." Blessed Emilie Gamelin founded the Sisters of Providence in 1843 in Montreal after the deaths of her husband and three young sons. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2001 as a model servant of God to the poor.
"When I read Mother Gamelin's story and the pain she went through, I realized that we had a lot in common," Sister Vilma says. "Mother Gamelin used the pain of losing her beloved ones to be compassionate to the poor around her. It is a pain that I understand well."
Vilma lost her father, uncles and six brothers in El Salvador's civil war from 1980 to 1992. After the war, she and her sisters relocated with their mother to the department of the Usulutan in the coastal zone of El Salvador, where she met Sister Fran in the community of Angelo Montano. While assisting with youth ministry, Vilma expressed a desire to become a sister and was encouraged by Sister Fran to pray and explore this call.
She participated in a "Come and See" experience in La Papalota and in the Sisters of Providence pre-candidate program in El Salvador. The latter included basic community living skills, personal development and group skills. She also attended the University of Central America (UCA), a Jesuit university in San Salvador.
Since her arrival in Spokane, Sister Vilma has been studying English as a Second Language at the Institute for Extended Learning's Adult Education Center. One of her dreams is to return to El Salvador to do pastoral and parochial work in her community. She also would like to work with promoting vocations.
"I will go wherever Providence leads me," she says. I am grateful that I am in a wonderful community that will support and help me through this journey.
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