In a ceremony surrounded by family, friends, longtime supporters and religious sisters, a woman who grew up at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Tempe professed her perpetual vows as a Daughter of Mary, Help of Christians, also known as the Salesian Sisters.
Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco (Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians)
Established: Aug. 5, 1872
Founders: St. John Bosco and St. Mary Mazzarello
Charism: The expression of the gifts of: Eucharist and Confession; devotion to Our Lady; fidelity to the pope; pastoral charity; joy and optimism; work; and community
Sr. Sydney Moss joins the 13,000 Salesian sisters around the globe who evangelize and minister to youth. “Working with young people and mission work have been my two passions since high school,” Sr. Sydney said.
Now, as a professed Salesian Sister, she’ll be engaging in it both at a South Central Los Angeles parish and as director of the Salesians Sisters’ program that prepares young adults to go on mission.
Bill Marcotte, who once led youth ministry at OLMC, attended the Aug. 5 ceremony at the Salesian Sisters’ provincial house in San Antonio, Texas. He knew Sr. Sydney when she was a teenager active in the parish’s Life Teen group.
“We did Bible studies on Tuesday nights and that’s where I think she really fell in love with the Scriptures and understood the basics of what Jesus’ teachings are,” Marcotte said. “She began to understand what the Bible said and how to apply it to her life.”
Marcotte also recalled several mission trips the youth group made to Mexico that he said made a significant impression on Sr. Sydney.
“It really opened up my eyes to how the rest of the world lives,” Sr. Sydney said of the mission trips. “Seeing the poverty that people were living, but the joy that the kids had — I wanted that.”
She became a core team member of OLMC’s Life Teen program during her years as an Arizona State University student, but it wasn’t until a few years after graduation that she began to consider a vocation to the religious life. By then she was living in Washington, D.C., where she encountered a lively group of missionary religious sisters who worked with kids.
“I loved spending time with them. I thought, ‘they’re just like me,’ but I had no desire to be a sister. I ran away from that idea. So it took about five years until I was finally ready to say, ‘OK, this is what I want.’”
She spent two years in the Salesian Sisters’ volunteer program in Central America.
“Being there and being with the young people, I was happy, and I realized I can do this.”
The joy and family spirit of the Salesian Sisters captured her heart. She was 28 when she entered the Salesian community. For the past six years, she’s been a middle school religion teacher at schools in Texas, awaiting the day of her perpetual profession.
Marcotte said he was moved by the ceremony. “It was amazing. She’s got a charism of inspirational leadership and she really inspired the sisters,” he said. “They clapped and cheered for her. She exuded enthusiasm for being a Salesian.”
Fr. Don Kline, who has known Sr. Sydney for more than 25 years, concelebrated the Mass.
“As a teen in our youth group, the young Sydney Moss was precocious and humble. She was a pleasant and balanced girl with strong convictions,” Fr. Kline said. “She was always a bright light of God’s goodness. It did not surprise me that she responded to Our Lord’s invitation to follow Him as a consecrated religious sister.”
Sr. Sydney, he said, “truly possesses a servant’s heart” and personifies the charism for young people exemplified by St. John Bosco, founder of the Salesian community.
Wearing the immaculate white habit of the Salesian Sisters, Sr. Sydney signed her perpetual vows on the altar, uniting her life with Christ. She received a crown of flowers as a symbol of being the bride of Christ. Each of the Sisters present came up and embraced her one by one.
“It was a powerful moment,” Sr. Sydney said. “I now belong forever in this beautiful family and our congregation.”