INDEPENDENCE — The theme was thankfulness as Bishop James Johnston, Jr. celebrated a Mass for Consecrated Life and Jubilarians Oct. 9 in Our Lady of the Angels Chapel at the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Eucharist.
As he said in his homily, “we give thanks to God today, and among the reasons for our thanks is the gift of consecrated life in the church and for the church. And in particular, we give thanks for our Jubilarians who have lived consecrated life for 70, 60 and 50 years.”
Giving thanks was the focus of the Gospel Acclamation, “In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. In all circumstances … good, bad, boring, suffering, joy, sickness, health, success, failure, ordinary, exceptional … in all circumstances give thanks…”
Bishop Johnston thanked the Sisters celebrating Jubilees on behalf of the entire Church, “and we join you in thanking God for His gift to you and to us.”
Celebrating 70 years
Sister Madonna Gieselman, OSF; Sister Laetitia Harrison, lsp; Sister Mary Edward Hartmann, OSB; Sister Sharon Verbeck, SCL, and Sister Mary Bernardine Weis, OSB.
Celebrating 60 years
Sister Antonella Bayer, CSJ; Sister Mary Clare Gappa, SCL; Sister Elizabeth Jimenez, MMB; Sister Mary Andrea Kantner, OSF; Sister Martha Niemann, CSJ, and Sister Margaret Walker, OSF.
Celebrating 50 years
Sister Maria Heppler, OSB; Sister Jeanne Jansen, CSJ; Sister Ann Loendorf, SCL; Sister Anastasia Mary of St. Joseph Miller, lsp, and Sister Hildegard Zerwas, OSB.
Taken together, the bishop said, among those Sisters, there are 1,010 years of consecrated life.
The Catechism says of Consecrated Life that women and men religious manifest Christ and show how the Holy Spirit acts [in the Church], he said. “You give yourselves to God, who is to be loved above all, and you show us that our lives are not for this world alone. You also reveal a life lived by the Beatitudes.”
In other words, “…Our worth is not tied to our success … Our self-worth is not measured by our achievements and successes, but by the fact that we are loved by God.
“Love transforms us. Someone once told me the purpose of prayer is not to ‘simply recharge our spiritual batteries.’ The purpose of prayer is to be transformed. That is the work of grace — Jesus wants to transform us. It is also the purpose of your vocation. You are each different today than the day you entered the convent.”
Bishop Johnston continued, “By analogy, I look at my own parents who will celebrate their 60th anniversary of marriage this year. You can’t know my dad, now, without knowing my mom, and vice versa. Their love has transformed them. As it is with you. Your love for Jesus and your sisters has changed you; and so give thanks!”
Following the homily, he asked the Jubilarians “to stand and publicly renew their commitment before God and His holy people.” The sisters vowed to live in poverty, chastity and obedience in accordance with the Rule and Constitutions of their communities. “As You Lord, have called me to love and serve you, so may you grant me the grace to persevere.”
Following the Mass, a reception and dinner in the dining room of the motherhouse continued the thanks and celebration.