On April 26, 2023, the Novices: Sisters Maruca Ramirez, Minh-Ngoc Tran, My Ngoc Nguyen, and Noella AliceKashemwa Nshobole attended the last class of ICN on the Care of the Earth. It was the first and only class that Sr.Noella participated in with her peers in St. Louis. She joined the ICN program in Kenya before arriving in the United States. In honor of the end of ICN 2022-2023 class and welcoming Sr. Noella to St. Louis, the novicesplanted two Magnolia Jane trees, one Japanese Maple Bloodgood tree, and two apple trees―Fuji and gala apples. Sr.Noella arrived at Villa de Matel on April 16, 2023. After a few days of rest at the Villa, she joined the International Novitiate Community in St. Louis on Saturday, April 22, 2023.

In their own words, the Novices explained some of their insights from the ICN program:“During these nine months of the ICN program, we have had wonderful and adventurousexperiences with good moments of learning, opportunities to build companionship, and greatmoments of self-discovery. From the topic of psychosexual development, we learned theimportance of knowing ourselves to bring joy to those whom we encounter in our mission. Wediscovered that reconciliation takes time to create a safe space for each person to connect withtheir true selves and for healing to begin. One of the most insightful learnings from the topic of the Eucharist was the awareness that the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is the same Jesus who is in everyone. We learned to live our vows of celibacy, obedience, and poverty as our way ofbeing rather than doing. All three evangelical counsels are about relationships with self, others,and God. It was eye-opening for us to hear that the empty space in our hearts of choosing not toget married and have children is our vow of poverty.

We also had an opportunity from our class on Care of the Earth to explore the grounds ofthe Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate Novitiate and learn about their ecological initiatives.One of the activities in that class was to guess the degradation time of different materials we usedaily. This experience deepened our awareness of how our earth is affected by the choices wemake. Inspired by this class and at the end of our ICN program, we crowned the day with acommunity activity of planting two Magnolias, two apple trees, and a Japanese Maple. We aregrateful to have had this opportunity to learn to grow, be, and serve with gladness.

On May 3, 2023, the four novices participated in a closing Mass, integration ritual, and shared insights from what they learned with other novices and participating congregations during theICN program. The International Novitiate Community in St. Louis welcomed Sr. Noella to thecommunity with a festive meal and Ted Drews frozen custard—a St. Louis special treat!

Praised be the Incarnate Word―Forever.

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