By Audrey Yu
KUCHING — On 2 February, hundreds of people, including family and friends of Sr Karen Wee, witnessed her solemn profession during the Mass presided over by Archbishop Simon Poh at Carmelite Chapel.
Sr Karen took the religious name “Karen Emmanuel of Jesus on the Cross”.
At the rite of profession, Sr Karen knelt before the Mother Prioress, Sr Marie Evelyn of the Mother of Sorrows, and read the formula of profession which she had written. “I, Sr Karen Emmanuel of the Cross, … vow to Almighty God forever, chastity, poverty and obedience, according to the Rule and Constitutions of the Discalced Carmelite Nuns of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel.
“With my whole heart I give myself to this religious institute restored by St Teresa, to seek perfect charity in the service of our Mother Church by the grace of the Holy Spirit and by the help of the Mother of God through constant prayer and evangelical self-denial, and to give eternal glory to the most Holy Trinity.”
It was an emotional moment for both Sr Karen and the faithful who were present.
After praying over the newly professed nun, Archbishop Simon Poh clothed Sr Karen with the veil.
Sr Karen, 40, is the youngest child of Aloysius Wee and Rosie Chin. She has two brothers and two sisters. Her family migrated to Singapore when she was 17 years old. As a youngster with high ambitions and technology savvy, Sr Karen was always seeking self-fulfillment. Gradually, she became a lukewarm Sunday Catholic.
The turning point was during the years of her doctorate studies in pharmacology, when she faced one failure after another despite her best efforts. “One day, I heard about a Youth in the Spirit Seminar (YISS) retreat. I decided to go,” she recounted in “The Story of How God Called Me” printed at the back of the Mass booklet for the occasion. She was a different person after the retreat; spending time in prayer and forsaking her worldly hobbies.
Sr Karen’s journey into Carmel began with her interest in St Thérèse of Lisieux. “I fell in love with the noble values she practised, and I said to myself ‘I want to live this kind of life in the world’,” she wrote. The meeting with the Carmelite nuns in Singapore was the moment the strong desire of being at the other side of the grille seized her. “I badly wanted to be on the other side of the grille. I realised I was on the wrong side, and my eyes started to tear.”
After constant discernment and prayer, she finally entered the Carmelite Monastery of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Kuching on 16 July 2013. She was clothed on 18 January 2014, and took her temporary vows on 1 February 2010.
“May I be faithful to him, and give him the glory so that many, many other souls will come to love him more, and spend eternity praising him,” she wrote. “Please pray for me to be faithful.”