Laudetur Jesus Christus! In Aeternum, Amen.
My name is Sr. Gemma Hugoboom, S. Praem, and I entered the Congregation of the Norbertine Sisters five years ago on August 30th, 2015 on the feast of Blessed Bronislava, who was a Norbertine nun. I am a junior professed sister, and am currently living in our convent located at St. John the Baptist Parish in Costa Mesa, California. We are contemplative-active sisters, who live our lives centered around the Eucharist and the Divine Liturgy, which fosters our prayer and work, while enabling us to live a rich community life. In the spirit of St. Norbert, we are “prepared for every good work”, meaning that we are not bound to a specific apostolic way of life.
I am currently helping at St. John the Baptist School, and I am one of the sisters in charge of our liturgy in the community. I always enjoyed singing and playing the piano, and joining the convent took my love for music to a whole new level. Our community spends extra time studying Latin and chant to make our sacred liturgy beautiful for the praise and worship of God, and I enjoy playing the organ to accompany the psalms that we sing during office as well as our hymns.
Some of my favorite memories as a girl were the weekends we spent in Tehachapi, helping to build the early foundations of the Norbertine convent for our cloistered nuns. While I knew I did not have a cloistered vocation, I had a strong desire to give my life totally to God when I was very young, and was very much was drawn to Norbertine spirituality. When I was sixteen, I met our superior, Sr. Adriana, who was visiting St. Michael’s Abbey in response from an invitation to discuss the possibility of founding an active branch of Norbertine sisters here in the states. Being from Slovakia, her English was limited, yet her authenticity and joy of her love of Christ radiated from her so brightly that I promised her I would join her if she did indeed come. It would be another seven years before I entered, as our good Lord was preparing me while I worked in a flower shop, as a nurse’s aide, then for a catering company until I completed my college education at the Franciscan University of Steubenville with a degree in social work. While I am grateful for all the experience our good Lord graciously gave me, I see more clearly it doesn’t matter much what I do, but who I am.
One of the blessings living in the convent is to have Jesus always present in the Eucharist dwelling in our chapel. St. Gemma Galgani perfectly articulated that it is worth it to leave all behind to follow the Lord: “Oh Jesus, I see you as greater than all the treasures on Earth. Yes, my sweetest God, my most loveable Jesus: to my eyes You are greater than the greatest treasures on earth!”