Home » Features » Living Vows

Living Vows

Posted on December 1, 2018, by JoAnn Gates

* Knowing our human need for security, I vow ongoing conversion toward rootedness in God.

* Knowing our human longing for connection and generativity, I vow ongoing conversion toward a living communion.

* Knowing our human propensity to control and dominate, I vow ongoing conversion toward cooperation with all life.

Photo by JoAnn Gates

Nov. 4, 2017, I, along with Susan Classen, professed non-canonical vows to God within the Loretto Community. I was, of course, deeply grateful for the sacred opportunity to make such a statement with my life and to have it held, honored and appreciated by so many in the Community. But never in a million years could I have imagined the impact that those vows would have upon my life. The vows I made to be of service to Life have, in fact, been of service to my own.

I enjoy perennial flower gardening, especially the challenge of taking a plant that appears to be on its last leg and helping it to restore itself to a viable and beautiful plant. It’s no surprise, then, that I would experience the vows as a sort of stake, or a trellis, which has been set into the container in which I am growing. Picture a young tree, inclined to lean in the direction of sunlight and warmth. We can all understand such a tendency, no? But doing so would likely ensure the sapling’s lopsided or compromised growth, or its eventual inability to carry its own weight. Tying it gently but firmly to a stake helps to guide it into its own integrity and fuller flowering.

And that is exactly what the vows have been for me. They have become a three-pronged trellis to which I have bound myself. Bound, that is, but not impeded. Bound as in given direction. Bound as in held to an ancient way.

The Loretto Community will at least vaguely recall the four years during which the Emerging Forms Committee discerned within itself and among Community members if a new and non-canonical form of vow would be relevant in today’s world and a viable life commitment for which Loretto could serve as a container. For how long did Susan, I and our committee wonder about and struggle with what the vows would be? Given what Elaine Prevallet had put forth to the Community four-six years earlier regarding the relationship between the chakra/life energies of grounding, connecting and cooperating and the traditional vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, we had the strong sense that the vows we would profess would be aligned with those same three life energies. But what, exactly? And how to state them? And then, less than three months before the actual (and already planned) ceremony date, the vows seemed to nearly write themselves. After years of seeking, praying, talking with others, writing and rewriting, the vows were actually born with great ease, as though they were being given to us.

And gift they have been. The specifics of it will have to wait for another writing, but suffice it to say that these three vows have served as a daily reminder of the way I want to be in this world, a constant call to groundedness in the Holy and a deep source of freedom. As I said a year ago, so do I say again, today:

I ask you, Loretto Community and friends, to gently hold me accountable to these intentions.

May this offering of my heart, joined with the longings of all humanity, serve our collective emergence into Divine Consciousness.


JoAnn Gates

JoAnn, a Loretto co-member since 2000, is director of Knobs Haven, the retreat center located on the grounds of Loretto Motherhouse in Nerinx, Ky. She also is a member of the Community's Emerging Forms Committee.
Cupola Cross 2-Icon

Loretto welcomes you

Learn more or plan a visit to the Motherhouse!

Cupola Cross 2-Icon

Loretto welcomes you

Learn more or plan a visit to the Motherhouse!