By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
RAYTOWN — Some things are just supposed to happen.
Ten days after she was struck by a car, Sister Christina Marie Morse quite literally rose from her wheelchair Nov. 21 to profess her perpetual vows as a Sister in Jesus the Lord.
And a month after her father was struck by a sports utility vehicle while sitting in his Catholic Charities office in St. Joseph, Erica Marie Goedken became Sister Faustina Marie as she entered the Sisters in Jesus the Lord noviate before Bishop Robert W. Finn and her father, Deacon Martin Goedken.
“The love of Jesus Christ, the Lord, Christ our King, calls these women today, a new novice and another daughter who stands ready to make the lasting profession to her spouse, Jesus,” Bishop Finn said.
Sister Christina Marie, baptized as Nicole Angela Morse, took the name of Sister Christina Marie of the Crucified Lord of Love for the order, now headquartered at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Raytown, but founded to serve missions in Vladivostok, Russia, pray for unity with the Orthodox Church, and serve the local community.
Those who came late and didn’t see her in the parish narthex in her wheelchair greeting the hundreds who came to witness her profession and Sister Faustina Marie’s entrance into the novitiate, would never know how close she came to losing her life.
Nor would they know that when she stood, knelt, and laid prostrate during her profession that Nov. 21 was her first day out of her room and out of her bed, where she had been healing physically from the accident.
Sister Christina Marie was on her 30-day silent retreat when, on the late afternoon of Nov. 11, she went for her usual walk and prayer at William Klein Park on the opposite corner from the parish grounds, across Gregory and Blue Ridge boulevards.
Heading back, she just stepped off the curb with the green light onto Blue Ridge when a motorist making a left turn failed to see her in the crosswalk.
“I bounced off the top of the car and landed on my head, and on my left side,” Sister Christina Marie said.
She was rushed by ambulance to Research Hospital where, to the amazement of doctors, she was found to have suffered no more serious injuries than severe bruising.
“No broken bones, no brain damage,” she said.
Sister Christina Marie had to break her silent retreat, but she said she made up for it while recuperating.
“I prayed even more and did my meditations in bed,” she said.
Deacon Martin Goedken, director of Catholic Charities’ office in St. Joseph, was at his desk on Oct. 26 when a driver attempting to leave a parking space put her SUV into reverse by mistake and rammed through the wall and into the office. The driver then panicked attempting to get out, and rammed into the building again.
“I was looking at it before, and thought ‘That’s getting pretty close,’” Deacon Goedken said.
The impact left him with a cracked bone just below his nose which put him on a soft food diet and under the care of his wife, Lisa. But on the day of his daughter’s entrance into the Sisters in Jesus the Lord, he was at the side of Bishop Finn, serving as deacon and reading the Gospel at the Mass of Perpetual Profession of Vows for Sister Christina Marie.
In fact, both ceremonies had the flavor of both families.
Franciscan Sister M. Bernadette Morse and Elizabeth Rebecca Morse, sisters of Sister Christina Marie, read the first readings from Hosea and the First Letter of John.
Two more sisters, Alisha Morse Sampedro and Anna Morse, along with grandmother Mary Catherine Gappa and Amanda Gappa, presented the gifts.
Christopher Goedken, brother of Sister Faustina Marie, served as thurifer.
And to keep the celebration young, the music was led by the St. Pius X High School Choir, under the direction of Sandy Prothman, with Sister in Jesus the Lord Maria Stella of the Merciful Heart of Jesus providing the organ and harp accompaniment.
Sister Faustina Marie said her reason for entering that particular order was simple and complex.
“To serve our Lord, to love him and to help others love God more, especially in Russia,” she said.
Her parents, she said, were “faithful examples of the love of God.”
“They have always supported me and desired me to follow God,” Sister Faustina Marie said.
Bishop Finn looked over the hundreds of faces in the pews at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish and noticed many young faces.
“We have many young women here and the Lord may be calling you,” he said.
“The Lord may be using this moment to strengthen in your hearts that he is calling you,” the bishop said. “The example and inspiration of our sisters today is if God chooses, we must say ‘Yes.’”
In his homily, Bishop Finn said that Sister Faustina Marie and Sister Christina Marie are examples of Christians who for nearly 2,000 years have sacrificed everything to follow Christ.
“Many have come to give themselves, to lay down their lives freely, in peace and joy, all for him and his church forever,” Bishop Finn said.
“What hope such gifts give us in the church,” he said.
“Thank you, Lord Jesus, for working the miracles of grace in the hearts of your children,” he said. “Weak as we all are, today he chooses and accepts this offering, a perpetual offering, for his glory and for the help of the church.”
Bishop Finn also thanked the families of the two sisters.
“Thank you for the gift of life and faith that you have shared with these daughters who will always be yours, but now also in a special way, they are God’s,” he said.
Bishop Finn also reminded the sisters of the example of Mary, Mother of Jesus.
“The Mother of God and our mother gave herself completely to God and his will,” he said.
“Imitate her and she will lead you and help you to follow her son, the Lamb of God, wherever he leads you,” he said.
“I know you are ready for this grace,” Bishop Finn said. “May God sanctify every intention of our heart. May he who has begun this good work in you bring it to fulfillment.”
The Sisters in Jesus the Lord will gratefully accept donations for their work both in Russia and in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. Donations can be made online at www.cjd.cc, or checks made out to Sisters in Jesus the Lord can be mailed to 7049 Blue Ridge Blvd., Raytown, MO 64133-5679.
Because they are only able to obtain 90-day visas from the Russian government, the Sisters make frequent trips to and from Vladivostok. They will also accept donations of frequent flyer miles of any amount from Capitol One, or other types preferably in increments of 25,000 miles and above.