On Wednesday, January 25, the Sisters of Providence welcomed Carolyn “Lyn” Lobo into the novitiate in a 6:30 p.m. ceremony in the chapel at St. Joseph Residence, Seattle, followed by a reception. Lyn is a medical doctor and has been a trauma and critical-care surgeon at Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, Calif. The day after the ceremony, she moved to the novitiate in Spokane.
Because of the demands of her medical licensure and work schedule, the road to the novitiate has been a unique one for Lyn. It meant getting permission to work at the trauma and critical-care unit at the medical center in between time spent in the novitiate, becoming oriented to religious life. “With God, you know nothing is difficult,” Lyn said with great enthusiasm.
Since September 18, 2014, she has been a candidate for membership in the religious community, living with the sisters in Seattle and Spokane in a mutual discernment process to the extent that her busy surgical schedule in California allowed. She was able to live in community with the sisters, spend time in prayer and reflection on sacred Scripture, attend gatherings including first and perpetual vow ceremonies, and participate in some of their ministries.
The Provincial Superior and Council of Mother Joseph Province have approved Lyn to live her canonical year in Spokane in three sections, with intervening returns to California as an apostolic novice working as a surgeon.
Born into a devout family
Lyn is grateful for the opportunity to enter the novitiate while continuing to work and keep her medical license. “I am grateful for the opportunity the sisters have given me to be part of their community. I will try my best to be the best Sister of Providence that I can be.”
Lyn was born in Manora, an island in the Arabian Sea, into a devout Catholic family in the Portuguese tradition. She learned about and was attracted to religious life at a very early age. As a newborn, she was known as “BabLyn” to the Franciscan Sisters of the Heart of Jesus, a Maltese community. In her early school years she was taught by Daughters of the Cross, a Belgian community of sisters, and she came to know the Dominican cloistered nuns of Perpetual Adoration through school retreats at their monastery.
Lyn always knew that she wanted to be a surgeon and entered medical school in the British system initially, and then went to England for a clerkship (practicum) in general medicine, obstetrics and surgery. Her residency was in surgery and her fellowship was in surgical critical care.
Wants patients to know her as a woman of prayer
It was at that point that she began to clearly hear God’s call to religious life and began a discernment process with her spiritual director, Franciscan Sister Rosa Maria Branco. After completing her studies, Lyn was recruited to Providence Holy Cross, where she met the Sister Teresa White and other Sisters of Providence in 2011. Contact with the vocation office led to a visit to Seattle and Spokane, followed by acceptance of her application to become a candidate. Sisters Karen Hawkins and Joan Gallagher have been her companions on the spiritual journey.
“This draws me,” Lyn has said. “I can hear God calling me. I want to develop the call so I can really know what it means for the community and for me.” Her hope is to serve in ministry and to have an opportunity to get closer to God. “I want patients to know that I am a woman of prayer and that my prayer for them is inseparable from my service to them.”
Her co-workers in California have been very supportive of her decision to pursue religious life, Lyn said. “They are happy for me and wish me well.” Her parents and one sibling are in heaven, but she said she knows that they are proud and happy with what she’s doing. The Sisters of Providence also are happy for her, she said, adding that many have shared their experiences of the novitiate as well as “their hopes, values and goals which are similar to mine. Mother Emilie Gamelin (foundress of the Sisters of Providence) prayed that sisters would love the poor and seek peace and unity. That is the goal that I am looking forward to in the novitiate.”