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Sister Rosa Hang, left, and Sister Cecilia Tot carry the bread and wine to the altar Dec. 28 after making final vows as members of the Lovers of the Holy Cross, a religious community in Vietnam. Also pictured are Sister Pia Rottinghaus, left, subprioress of the Missionary Benedictines, and Sister Pia Portmann, prioress.

Vietnamese sisters make final vows while living in Norfolk

Nearly three years ago, the Missionary Benedictine Sisters in Norfolk witnessed and celebrated the final vows of two women they’d come to know and love.

And last month, it happened again. Only this time, the women weren’t committing to their order, but instead to a religious community in Vietnam.

Sister Cecilia Tot and Sister Rosa Hang made final vows Dec. 28 as members of the Lovers of the Holy Cross congregation for the Diocese of Bui Chu in Vietnam.

Archbishop George J. Lucas presided, representing the local bishop of the Diocese of Bui Chu, and Sister Pia Portmann, prioress of the Missionary Benedictine Sisters, represented their superior general and received their vows. At the rite of final profession, the sisters received as insignia of perpetual profession a ring and a crucifix. They showed the crucifix to the assembly and sang a song in reverence.

The sisters, both 31, came from Vietnam in January 2015 to pray, work and live with the Missionary Benedictines in Norfolk as they study English and other subjects at a local community college. They plan to be in Norfolk until they graduate in May 2018.

It isn’t common to have sisters from other orders stay with them for a long time, Sister Portmann said. However, several sisters, mostly Benedictines from overseas, have stayed for short periods of time, she said.

Several other religious communities in Omaha said they have offered this type of hospitality to men and women religious from overseas. For instance, the Creighton University Jesuit Community and the Office of the President of Creighton University routinely sponsor international Jesuits; College of Saint Mary in Omaha has three sisters from other countries who receive full scholarships, which the Sisters of Mercy help support; and the Benedictines of Mount Michael Abbey near Elkhorn are trying to arrange to have monks from a monastery in India stay at Mount Michael.

Sister Portmann said the Vietnamese sisters have adjusted well to their Norfolk community.

"They are well formed in religious life, mature and good religious. They are such a blessing for our community. They are loved by all community members," she said.

Sisters Tot and Hang said they are "deeply grateful" for the Missionary Benedictine Sisters, and feel a sense of belonging.

"Their love and care have supported our religious vocation and studies here in the United States," Sister Tot said.

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