Newest Sisters of St. Joseph are an unlikely pair

June 11, 2016 by

This morning's Mass and profession ceremony ends with the Community of St. Joseph gathered around the newest sisters to sing a blessing.

This morning’s Mass and profession ceremony in the Sacred Heart Chapel at the Nazareth Motherhouse ends with the Community of St. Joseph gathered around the newest sisters to sing a blessing.

SCROLL DOWN FOR A SLIDESHOW OF TWO DOZEN PHOTOS FROM TODAY’S CEREMONY.

When Christina Brodie first came to Concordia, she was applying for a position as a full-time volunteer, as the coordinator of the new Hands Across Our Community program.

When Emily Brito first came to Concordia, she was visiting one of her late husband’s relatives as something of an adventure outside the “eight square miles” in which she was born and raised.

Neither woman would have imaged that today (Saturday, June 11) they would be together in the Sacred Heart Chapel of the Nazareth Motherhouse, professing their vows as the two newest Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia.

Sister Christina Brodie

Sister Christina Brodie

Sister Christina is a native New Yorker who says she “fell into advertising” as a career. After graduating from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, with a degree in History and Communications, she went to work for the New York ad agency Lowe Marschalk. By 28, she was the youngest vice president in the company.

She had married while in college, and in 1986 her son Christopher was born. Then, although still working the long hours required of an ad executive on the rise, her priorities began to change, she says: “My guilt-ridden Italian-Catholic kicked in; I realized I didn’t ever see my son.”

It was also during that time that her marriage ended, and she petitioned for and received an annulment through the Church.

With the hope of finding a slower-paced life, she quit her job and moved her toddler son and mother to Florida. Then she returned to work, for McFarland & Drier Miami, and later with Office Depot as the vice president of advertising at its world headquarters in Delray Beach, Fla.

In 2006, she returned to New York and a position as partner and group planning director with Maxus Global, a part of the GroupM media agency network.

She also began attending Manhattan’s St. Francis of Assisi Church and in time joined the Third Order of St. Francis, a fraternity of Catholic men and women often called Secular Franciscans.

After a handful of years with Maxus Global, Sister Christina realized it was time for another change — and this one might very well be the most dramatic so far. First she returned to Florida but remained with the New York City agency by “telecommuting.”

Then she developed a plan to pay off all her debt and divest herself of all but the most basic belongings.

When she was finally ready — with only the possessions that would fit in her car — she started searching the Catholic Volunteer Network for a full-time position where she could live as part of a religious community.

At the same time, the Sisters of St. Joseph had listed an urgent opening for someone to lead a poverty outreach program in Concordia. Sister Christina saw the posting and then visited Concordia for the first time in October 2012.

Within a month, she had moved to Concordia, was living with Sisters of St. Joseph at Manna House of Prayer — and had become a candidate for membership in the congregation.

In June 2015, she was received into the congregation as a novice — and then would spend from August to May 2016 in the Sisters of St. Joseph Federation Novitiate, studying and living with four other novices from the U.S. and Canada.

Sister Emily Brito

Sister Emily Brito

Meanwhile, Sister Emily Brito says she has been on a path to religious life since she was in third grade in her hometown just south of Albuquerque, N.M.

“I wanted to be a sister then,” she says, “but it probably wasn’t serious. But when I was in high school, I felt called.” She even visited a community of Franciscan sisters, she recalls, but her father insisted she was too young, and that she wait.

And as often happens, life intervened. She went to work for Smith’s Food and Drug, where she would eventually retire after 29 years, and she married and was widowed, and then she married again. She also became an active member of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Peralta, N.M.

After her second husband Clifford died in 2008, the idea of religious life returned – and she started coming to Concordia to visit his cousin, Sister Ramona Medina.

“Before I started going to Kansas, my traveling was about eight square miles,” Sister Emily says with a laugh. “My life is in this tiny section of New Mexico.”

By the fall of 2013, she had decided she wanted to take the charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph home with her — and so she, too, became a candidate for membership in the congregation.

This morning, Sister Christina professed the traditional three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience to become a canonical Sister of St. Joseph of Concordia. Sister Emily professed a single vow of fidelity to God and to the congregation and became an agrégée Sister of St. Joseph.

The term agrégée — pronounced ah-gre-ZHEY — comes from the French word for “attached to” or “aggregated with,” and it dates to the religious order’s founding in France during the mid 17th century. (To read about canonical and agrégée membership, CLICK HERE.)

As part of the ceremony, each received from Sister Marcia Allen, president of the congregation, a profession cross — but what they didn’t know in advance was that each cross was a treasured memento of a sister who had gone before them. Sister Christina’s cross was worn for more than 50 years by Sister Bette Moslander, a longtime leader for women religious who lived with Christina at Manna House of Prayer before her death in March 2015. Sister Emily’s cross was worn by Sister Esther Pineda, who had served as Emily’s mentor until her death in May 2015.

With their profession ceremony behind them, Sister Christina plans to remain in Concordia, while Sister Emily will return to her home in Bosque Farms, N.M.

Christina explains that her nine months in the Federation Novitiate was a “sabbatical” from the Hands Across program, so now she will work to “broaden and evolve” the long-term anti-poverty program so it can serve “whoever needs help.”

Emily, meanwhile, says she will continue serving as sacristan at her church, teaching children’s religious education and ministering to parishioners who are homebound and in nursing homes. “I just try to give people whatever they need,” she explains. “I help at church, in the office, at funerals. I don’t do anything spectacular.”

But, she adds, “I just want the light of the Sisters of St. Joseph charism to be in my heart, so it will shine here in New Mexico.”

CLICK HERE to watch the video of the profession Mass on our YouTube channel.

Comments

6 Responses to “Newest Sisters of St. Joseph are an unlikely pair”

  1. Ofelia Diaz on June 16th, 2016 8:49 pm

    Congratulations Emily and Christina! God bless you both always!
    We are thinking of you Emily,
    LOVE
    JOHNNY AND OFELIA
    OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE PARISH
    PERALTA, NEW MEXICO

    GOD BLESS YOU !❤❤❤

  2. Marcia Allen on June 14th, 2016 2:42 pm

    Moments to remember! thank you Sarah for keeping them flowing.

  3. Faye huelsmann on June 12th, 2016 8:42 am

    Wonderful celebration with Csj’s of Concordia. Welcome Christina and Emily. Sarah, thanks for capturing the event so well.

  4. Loretta Jasper on June 12th, 2016 6:56 am

    A total honor for us CSJ’s to have the lives of these two women join in our lives and mission.

  5. Jodi Creten on June 12th, 2016 5:59 am

    Two more wonderful sisters joined us today, and they came with so many gifts of heart. We are so blessed! Thanks, Sarah, for always capturing the moments so well.

  6. Judy Stephens on June 11th, 2016 4:54 pm

    A wonderful celebration! Congrats Christina & Emily!!!
    And thanks, Sarah for the great photos!

Feel free to leave a comment...