DORAL | Brimming with joy upon entering the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, four young women gave their lives wholly to Christ, in service to God the Father and Our Lady. Among them is Sister Amanda Magdalena Davis, a University of Central Florida Catholic Campus Ministry (UCF CCM) graduate. It is there she first met the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary. On Aug. 11, her first vows to the order promise a complete surrender to God’s will.
Society of the Most Precious Blood Father Ben Berinti served UCF’s campus ministry when Sister Davis arrived. “I remember Amanda always exhibited a quiet, generous servant’s heart during her time at UCF Catholic Campus Ministry, so it comes as no surprise to me that she entered the ‘Servants’ religious order,” he said. “The leadership of CCM encourages students to offer themselves in service beyond the campus, as well as consider whether there is room in their lives to hear the call of the Lord to religious life or priesthood. Amidst all the noise that comes with being a college student on a huge campus like the University of Central Florida, CCM always invites community members to cultivate discerning ears and hearts to listen to the voice that really matters in their lives — the voice of the Lord calling out to them to ‘follow me!’”
Sister Davis agreed. “I look back with great gratitude for that place where I had to allow my faith to grow, to be nourished, to be able to prepare my heart to hear the Lord’s voice,” she said. “That was the first place I ever prayed a holy hour – where I came to have a greater love for the Lord. It gave me a greater foundation in which I could build my relationship with Him.”
Sister Gianna Grace Perino, assistant vocations director for the Diocese, had the pleasure of accompanying Sister Davis on her journey to religious life. Sister Perino recalled the many years the sister served discernment retreats for young women. “The witness of how ardently and persistently Sister Amanda sought the Lord’s perfect plan for her life inspired many other young men and women in the CCM Community and in the Orlando Diocese to begin discerning the Lord’s call,” Sister Perino said.
In an interview prior to making her first vows, Sister Davis shared her excitement, recalling her entrance as a Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary postulant in 2020.
“I entered and I looked at three years of formation ahead of me, but now I’m here. I’ve witnessed other sisters make their first profession and now, just joy that I get to give my life to the Lord for the rest of my life,” she said.
She acknowledged concern for the impact it might have on her family. With minimal visitation permitted and communication primarily through letters and phone calls, the nature of their bond did indeed change. But she said, what she first believed was going to be a difficulty, became something beautiful. “The Lord in our littleness takes what we have and He makes great things out of it,” she said. “To witness my mom not only embrace my religious vocation, but to also send gifts for the other sisters I live with…. to embrace all of us as an extended family is a gift.” She noted her mother recognized the sisters are her daughter’s family as well, and that includes the families of each of the sisters.
There is no coincidence the profession came on the feast of St. Clare of Assisi. She is one of the order’s patron saints, particularly for her vow of poverty. “St. Clare lived poverty of heart and we are called to live the spirit of the vow,” she said.
In his homily, Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami harkened to the words of St. Clare. “We become what we love and who we love shapes what we become. If we love things, we become a thing. If we love nothing, we become nothing. Imitation is not a literal mimicking of Christ, rather it means becoming the image of the beloved, an image disclosed through transformation. This means we are to become vessels of God’s compassionate love for others.”
This is exactly the hope of Sister Magdalena of Christ’s Redeeming Gaze of Love. She feels that gaze most during the sisters’ holy hour of Adoration with the Blessed Sacrament. It allows “us to sit before His Eucharistic presence and be, live and grow in our identity as spouses and mothers. To really receive from His heart in a very present way — to gaze upon Him as He gazes upon us,” she said.
It is there that the grace of transformation of heart occurs, becoming pure and holy, she says. “The Lord desires transformation,” she noted. “He desires a transfiguration for us to become who He has created us to be.” It is in Eucharistic Adoration and among the sisters’ she found confirmation this path is one He’s given her. “This is the path to holiness.”
“Before the Church I have said these vows publicly. Now I get to live it in a ministry, in the heart of the Church, serving wherever the Church needs me to be serving, and continuing to be formed. Formation doesn’t end the day you profess vows,” she said. “We look at it as day one all over again because there is constantly more to learn.”
Sister Davis will serve as pastoral assistant in the Diocese of Birmingham, Alabama, which is opening a new foundation in a couple of months. Until then, she continues to serve St. Agnes Academy in Key Biscayne.
“In the world your religious life is a sign of contradiction,” Archbishop Wenski told the new sisters. “Your service offers the possibility of a path where God is the primacy of love…. And the treasure of God is all we need…It is the response to the desires of our hearts.” Then he noted, “The Church does not reflect its own light, like the moon. The Church and each of its members must be the light of the world.”
By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic staff, August 18, 2023