Sister April Signs Perpetual Vows After 6 Years of Preparation


Bishop Sweeney, Salesian Sister Joanne Holloman (right), provincial, (from left) Sister Katie Flanagan, Sister April Hoffman, and Sister April Cabaccang.

Taking the perpetual vows as a sister means devoting yourself to Christ for the rest of your life. Such a commitment should not be taken lightly and it takes years of dedication to finally reach this point. With these vows comes new insight into oneself and one’s relationship with God. Here at Saint John Neumann, I had the pleasure of talking with Sr. April Cabaccang about her experience.

On July 19, Sr. April set off to a retreat in Mornese, Italy, in preparation for professing her perpetual vows. This month was spent meeting sisters, spending time where St. John Bosco began his work, and seeing the place where the Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco originated in 1872. Sr. April describes this experience saying, “It was really a gift, to go to those places and spend some time there.” She explains that signing these vows wouldn’t have been possible without the amazing sisters alongside her: “When I was spending all that time in Italy it was special to see the places where Mother Mozzarello grew up, but it also became real to me that she didn’t do that by herself, that she became a sister with other sisters.” She explains that her fellow sisters are an imperative part of her journey: “especially doing it with Sr. April and Sr. Katie. They’ve been really helpful in my journey.” Each sister shares advice and prays for the others when they have doubts or experience some kind of setback.

Leading up to the days before the vows, Sr. April explains that she was nervous and emotional. The church where the vows would’ve taken place burned down in an unfortunate accident a couple of years ago. A beautiful new church was offered as a site for the ceremony, and they were off to New Jersey for an experience she spent the last 10 years preparing for. “What really gave me courage was the prayer of the people, ” sister April added. “Right before the vows the whole church prayed to the saints and it was comforting,” she said.

I asked what her thoughts were right before the vows and she explained, “As we were entering the church the person in front of me was holding the cross. As I was looking up to Jesus, I just realized that God is going before me all the time so I don’t have to be nervous.” After this realization her nerves were settled and she made the vows that’ll last a lifetime. These vows were incredibly special to sister April because she’d been living the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience for 6 years in preparation for this moment. Saying the vows was her final confirmation that she is where God wants her to be: “It gives me freedom to say in the future, if I get distracted or ever doubt, that this is where God is calling me to be. I’ve made a commitment and God has blessed that commitment.”

We talked more about how her relationship with God has changed since she took her vows. Sr. April explained that although it’s only been a month, she’s definitely grown. Since signing her vows she’s been able to talk to God more throughout her hectic days: “I’m still very much a person who loves silence and prayer, but I can go throughout the day and talk to God even at lunch time, when I’m just walking around or when I’m in the hallways.” She also shares that she’s gotten more comfortable with God since her vows, and that with each passing day she grows closer to him.