Retreat ended yesterday with the Vigil Mass for the Feast of the Assumption. I was the impromptu lector, but it was an especially significant matter for me: 32 years ago, at about that very time of day, I entered the Daughters of St. Paul. Sr. Sharon Anne (then Sr. Mary Irma) had picked me up at Logan airport, where I had taken the now-defunct Eastern Airlines nonstop from New Orleans. (There are now zero nonstops from New Orleans to Boston, I believe.) Arriving at the motherhouse, we paid a visit to chapel, and then went to the dining room (refectory, that is) where the postulants were having a snack, and then I was shuttled to the seamstress' room where a half-finished uniform was waiting to be fitted. (Mother Paula remembered me from my visit the year before, and gave Sr. M. Veronica an approximation of my size.) Then it was...off to St. Thecla's for the postulants' retreat! So I spent my first night in the convent on retreat. The next morning, I dressed in my black uniform, surprising the other postulants who had had to wait up to a week for theirs to be custom made.
Many of these memories came to mind, oddly enough, in the linen closet at St. Thecla's. While hunting for a pillowcase, I came across one of the bath towels that had been part of my original trousseau. The idea was that you entered with a lifetime supply of things like sheets and towels and handkerchiefs. And other things, too: a black sweater (I had to bring my mother's), snow boots (this I could not find in New Orleans!) and a black umbrella. As far as the linen went, when you made vows, most of them went into the supply closet and you only kept the ones you were using. If I remember correctly, we were told to bring 12 bath towels, and for some reason I thought they ought to be identical. On a trip to the factory outlets in North Carolina with my godmother I hunted down the only pattern which the outlet store seemed to have in sufficient quantity: a bland beige-and-white design. (Naturally, I got the matching face cloths, too!) And there was one of them in the linen closet, worn thin with the years, but definitely identifiable!
I don't know what our recommended trousseau list looks like now; we have three young women who are probably putting the finishing touches on their boxes, though. Entrance day is August 22. Pray for our candidates and for all those who will be making a first step toward a religious vocation!