By John Heuertz
Special to the Catholic Key
INDEPENDENCE — “I wish to express the thanks of us all for your charity and faith, the contribution of your holiness, and your service in this local Church.”
These words in Bishop Robert Finn’s homily captured the essence of the Diocesan Jubilee and Mass for Consecrated Life Sunday afternoon at the Franciscan Sisters of the Holy Eucharist motherhouse in Independence.
Over 100 sisters, seminarians and well wishers attended, including members of the Serra Club of Southeast Kansas City.
Benedictine Sisters Mary Pascaline Coff and Mary Lucilla Scurlock were each recognized for 60 years of service, along with Sister of St. Joseph Patricia Lorenz and Sister Dolores Mendoza, a Mercedarian.
Those celebrating their 50th anniversary included Sisters of St. Joseph Marie Joan Harris, Ann Landers, Ann Strizek, Helen Alder and Ann Everett; Little Sisters of the Poor Laetitia Harrison, Denise Marie Lane and Rose Marie Mayock; Sister of Mercy Jeanne Marie Christiansen; and Benedictine Sister Therese Elias.
Benedictine Sister Patricia Seipel celebrated her 25th anniversary of consecrated life.
“It’s not so much the initial profession or the anniversary,” said Sr. Patricia, who teaches kindergarten. “It’s getting up every morning and saying yes to that day.”
Bishop Finn said Mass for the assemblage, and the sisters were presented to the faithful after renewing their vows following his homily.
“Today is a day of Jubilee, a day of thanksgiving to God,” he said – a theme echoed by several jubilarians.
“I like to belong to God,” said Sr. Dolores Mendoza, who entered the convent in Spain in 1948 and spent 40 years as a missionary in Micronesia.
“I’m grateful that the Lord called me to be a Little Sister of the Poor,” said Sr. Rose Marie Mayock, an Irishwoman who has spent her life in health care.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been 50 years. I feel very blessed to have these years,” Sr. Ann Everett said.
“I consider myself very much blessed. The people I minister to offer me more than I offer them,” said Sr. Ann Strizek, a chaplain at St. Mary’s Hospital in Blue Springs.
The jubilee sisters are part of a living tradition of service to others — a tradition drawing the interest of increasing numbers of young women, as evidenced by a generous number of young sisters at Sunday’s celebration.
“They did so much as hospital sisters to help so many people, and they did it for very little money. They did it for the love of Christ,” said Serra Club member Roger Tilling of his forebears.
“So many of us have been formed and inspired by religious sisters and brothers,” the bishop said after Mass. “In teaching, health care and in advocating for the poor, they fulfill a vital role in the Church.”
“If you give yourself to Jesus, everything can happen.”