Religious Sisters celebrate decades of keeping promises

Renewing their commitment to the religious life, are Benedictine Sister Sharon Hamsa, (50 years) Sister of St. Joseph of Carondedelet Laverne Mary Aumuth (60 years) and Franciscan Sister of Mary Immaculate Sol Angel Diaz (25 years). (Marty Denzer/Key photo)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

INDEPENDENCE — Each year religious sisters of many orders celebrate the anniversaries of profession of vows with a renewal of those vows. And for the sisters of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph marking 25, 50, 60 or more years of faithfulness to their promises, the diocese celebrates with them.

For the past several years, a Mass honoring the Jubilarians has been celebrated at Our Lady of the Angels Chapel on the campus of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Eucharist. On Oct. 1, the Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower, Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr., celebrated the Mass in honor of (70 years) Benedictine Sisters Kathleen Gorman and Dorothy Kordick, (60 years) Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet Laverne Mary Aufmuth and Benedictine Sister Rosario Martinez, (50 years) Benedictine Sister Sharon Hamsa, and (25 years) Franciscan Sister of Mary Immaculate Sol Angel Diaz.

The Diocese also welcomed three new Religious orders — the Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist, the Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate and Labor Mariae.

In his homily, Bishop Johnston reflected that, in celebrating a Jubilee of another, his own life and vocation to the priesthood was strengthened and renewed. “So Sisters, we thank you not only for your fidelity to your call from Christ but also for allowing us to be renewed because of your fealty.”

The Gospel reading of the day, Matthew 21: 28-32, is a parable of two servants, one who gives his word to the master to do something requested, and then does nothing, the other who says ‘no’ and then changes his mind and does what he is asked, the bishop related what Jesus said, to the stock market and to people.

He recalled a fund manager’s comments: an investor should not care too much where a stock has been, but where he/she thinks it’s going to in the future. “In a way,” he said, “that’s what Jesus and Ezekiel, in the first reading [Ezekiel 18:25-28] are saying about people — don’t look backward, look ahead.

“As we celebrate jubilees and we each look at our lives, we see things clearly. Our promises are the most important things we do in life. First, there are promises changing the shape of things. Our lives are shaped by the most important promise: our Baptismal Promise that we reject Satan and all his works. We keep going back to God’s promise to us; our promise to him. This is a fundamental promise.”

He turned toward the Jubilarians seated in the first row, “Your promises to the religious life not only impacted your life, they touched the lives of many other people. By your promises, you chose who you would become.” Acting on our promises is important, he continued, but the words said in a promise are most important. “Keeping our word by our actions is the necessary follow-through. Religious Jubilarians, you have kept your word through your actions. It’s time to give thanks to God for sustaining you and giving you grace to be faithful to your word.

“Making promises and keeping promises. It’s also the time to pray with you for the grace to continue into the future.”

He spoke about St. Therese of Lisieux, one of the most popular saints in the Church.

“It was 20 years ago today that Saint John Paul II declared her to be a Doctor of the Church, the third woman to be named such. In his apostolic letter for the occasion, St. John Paul highlighted three things that St. Therese contributed that have enriched the Church … Her moving discovery of her own vocation in the church, ‘Charity … the key to my vocation. I understood that it was love alone that made the church’s members act … I understood that love includes all vocations. In the excess of my delirious joy, I cried out, Oh Jesus, my love! At last I have found my vocation, my vocation is love!’”, the disarming simplicity of what would become known as the Little Way, ‘doing little things with great love,’ and her great desire and zeal to be a missionary disciple, an evangelizer, to make Jesus known and loved by all. It was in her Little Way of offering everything she did in love that she contributed to the Church’s missionary efforts and why she is their patron.”

St. John Paul’s apostolic letter explained that “St. Therese of Lisieux … grasped and described the profound truth of love at the center and heart of the Church. In her short life, she lived intensely. It is precisely this convergence of doctrine and concrete experience, truth and life, of teaching and practice, which shine with particular brightness in this saint and make her an attractive model for young people and those seeking true meaning in their life.”

Bishop Johnston reminded those present that living the Little Way is to “live one’s life with trust and total self-abandonment to the Lord’s grace … The Little Way is not reserved for the exceptional, it is accessible to everyone.

“This is wisdom that transforms everything we do and gives it the potential to become material for the Kingdom of God. This is the great lesson from the Little Flower: everything in our lives, the joys, the sufferings, is potential material for the Kingdom of God. All we have to do is embrace it and offer it to God in love.

“To each of our Jubilarians, we offer our thanks and our congratulations. As we celebrate these religious Jubilees this year, let all of us, no matter what our place in the Body of Christ, carry with us the wisdom God gave St. Therese, which continues to give light and enflame hearts, leading them to holiness.”

In closing, Bishop Johnston spoke of the autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux, Story of a Soul. “May we each realize that God’s grace is at work in us too, as we live out our promises, writing the lines of the story of our own soul.”

A reception and dinner followed the Mass.



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November 29, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph