Joy, Hope and Commitment: Three Women Answered God’s Call
April 21, 2023 • Diocese of St. Augustine

Bishop Erik Pohlmeier celebrates Mass for the profession of vows for three Mercedarian Sisters at St. Augustine Church in Gainesville on April 12. Photo credit: Fran Ruchalski

By Fran Ruchalski

Sisters Yvelyne Marie Bernard, April Marie Josefina Candelaria and Lourdes of the Holy Eucharist professed solemn vows as Mercedarian Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament community at St. Augustine Church and Catholic Student Center in Gainesville on April 12. 

“As you rise to new life with Jesus today with this new commitment, as you lay down your life and let him take control, his hope and joy for a better world will become better known through your lives. Pay attention to the burning in your own hearts because the more you experience the satisfaction that only Jesus can give, the more you will be a beacon of that love for the people that come into your lives, and you will be the ones that bring people to Jesus,” shared Bishop Erik Pohlmeier, the principal celebrant of Mass and profession of vows.

Father David Ruchinski, pastor of St. Augustine Church and Catholic Student Center, explained his huge smile for the three members of his congregation giving their hearts and lives to Jesus Christ by saying, “What father wouldn’t be happy to see his three daughters married off so well?”

“Today is a very special day for our sisters,” exclaimed Mother Mary Rosario Vega, regional superior of the order. “They received their ring and their crown that signifies they are married to God.”

Pictured from left to right, Sister Lourdes of the Holy Eucharist, Sister April Marie Josefina Candelaria, Bishop Erik Pohlmeier and Sister Yvelyne Marie Bernard. Photo credit: Fran Ruchalski

Sister Lourdes of the Holy Eucharist recalled in her junior year at the University of Florida, “The Lord revealed to me how much he loves the world, and he asked me to remain with him. And how could I deny him?”

While the other sisters will remain in Gainesville for the time being, Sister April Marie Josefina Candelaria will be returning to teaching science to fourth and fifth graders. She hopes to continue there for another year.

As a junior at the University of Florida, she remembers, “I had a powerful encounter with a feeling of joy as the healer, Jesus Christ, showed me that I was called to be his.”

If someone feels they may be called, she suggests, “Do not be afraid. Jesus uses that term often in the Gospels. Fear is problematic for him, but he is the only one who can give you the strength to find the way to overcome it with him.”