This article originally appeared in the April 2019 edition of Broken Bay News.
Sr Sophie Boffa made her first vows on 16 February 2019 at Our Lady of Czestochowa – Polish War Memorial Chapel in Marayong, and is now a Junior Sister with the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth.
Sr Sophie, aged 27, grew up in Wahroonga and was a parishioner at Holy Name Catholic Parish, where her parents are still part of the parish community. Sr Sophie started her journey with the Sisters in December 2014, when she was accepted as an affiliate. She began living with the sisters in Marayong in February 2015.
Many people, especially her parents and three siblings, have supported Sr Sophie in her decision to join the Sisters. “My family have been wonderful, a real blessing, especially my parents,” she said. “They’ve always left it up to me to make my own decision, it game me that freedom to know that it was my choice.”
When asked what attracted her to the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, Sr Sophie replied, “it’s their joy! They were just so full of joy, passionate about their mission, down to earth and really genuine.”
“I first met them at a day of silence and reflection and they were so lovely and joyful,” added Sr Sophie. “But when you meet people in those circumstances they’re often outing on their best front, but I had a few more visits with them later in the year and the following year and they were always the same.
“Seeing that joy always in their everyday lives, and how caring they are, they’re like a real family for me, it’s beautiful!”
The last two years, Sr Sophie has been in the novitiate, which is a time of learning, enquiry and discernment before first vows. She has five years as a junior sister, during which she will renew her vows annually, until she makes her final vows and becomes a full-fledged Sister of the Holy Family of Nazareth.
“People ask how come it’s so long, the process takes nine years,” said Sr Sophie. “But it is really helpful, this is a challenging way of living and preparation is extremely important.
“Part of what attracted me to this as well is that it is a well-paced gentle journey.”
Now that Sr Sophie is on to her next phase, she has moved to the community in Plumpton. In her continuing formation, she is accompanied by Sr Grace Roclawska, director of junior sisters, and is preparing to begin her first ministry as a full-time chaplain in Westmead and Blacktown Hospitals.
“I’m very interested in chaplaincy and pastoral care, that’s something that developed in me while volunteering at Holy Family Services aged care in Marayong over the last two years,” said Sr Sophie.
“I’m currently studying my CPE, which is Clinical Pastoral Education, 400-hour course at Westmead Hospital. There are six of us in the class, and only two of us are Catholic, so it’s been enriching to share our faith and learn about other Christian faiths. This course has also really helped to prepare me for my ministry.”
At the centre of Sr Sophie’s journey as a Sister of the Holy Family of Nazareth is trust. “At the moment, God is entrusting me with a lot: with life, with vocation, with responsibility and mission. That is so exciting and humbling. God has called and invited me to live this life and is continuing to call and invite me every day. He is leading.”
Melissa Loughlin is the Manager, Office for Communications of the Catholic Diocese of Broken Bay and editor of Broken Bay News.