By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
KANSAS CITY — They have served in schools, hospitals and parishes, and continue to do so.
Seven Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet celebrated 360 years — and counting — of continuing service, much of it continuing in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas at a special Mass June 5 at St. Therese Little Flower Parish in Kansas City.
And time flies when you are having a great time in a great community of great women, said Sister Helen Flemington, herself celebrating 50 years as a Sister of St. Joseph.
Now serving on the community’s provincial leadership team in St. Louis, Sister Helen logged 25 years in her hometown of Kansas City, including service as pastoral administrator of St. Therese Little Flower and as principal of St. Thomas More School before leadership called her to St. Louis.
“We do have lives of resounding joy,” Sister Helen said to the full-church congregation at the end of Mass.
“We are celebrating a journey that has been filled with joy, resounding joy,” she said.
This year is extra special for the order. Exactly 175 years ago in 1836, six religious sisters from France, all under the age of 30, arrived in St. Louis with little more than the clothes on their backs to establish the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.
Thirty years later, their numbers had grown enough to send the first Sisters of St. Joseph where their legacy can be seen in institutions they have established such as St. Joseph Medical Center in Kansas City, St. Mary Medical Center in Blue Springs, Avila University and St. Teresa’s Academy, as well as spiritually in the generations of Catholics they educated in schools on both sides of the state line.
“These women are remembered with great love for the inspiration we all feel,” said Sister Helen of the founding sisters.
“We cannot believe these years have gone by so quickly,” she said. “It has been one adventure after another, and it has all been good.
“There have been so many opportunities to serve dear neighbors, to right wrongs around us, to wipe tears, and to move one more mountain,” Sister Helen said. “We have been given so much, so very much.”
As impressive as the community’s accomplishments have been, the joy comes from the people they have met and served, she said.
“The true joy of life is the trip,” she said. “In many ways, we are in this trip together.”
In addition to Sister Helen, the jubilarians are:
• Sister Helen Alder, 50 years, who is serving as a school nurse and a parish nurse at St. Therese Little Flower.
• Sister Ann Everett, 50 years, who is serving as a teacher at St. Agnes School in Roeland Park, Kan., and has taught at Our Lady of Perpetual Help and Our Lady of the Angels schools in Kansas City.
• Sister Marie Harris, 50 years, who is serving as provost and vice president of academic affairs at Avila University.
• Sister Ann Landers, 50 years, who is serving as director of CSJ Home Care in Kansas City.
• Sister Patricia Lorenz, 60 years, who is serving on the boards of Avila University and Carondelet Health.
• Sister Ann Strizek, 50 years, who is serving as chaplain at St. Mary Medical Center.