Religious sisters celebrate jubilee years of profession

Twelve religious celebrated their jubilee years with a special Mass offered by Bishop Johnston. In the front row are, left to right: Sr. Theresa Kramps, BVM; Sr. Mary Hope Rodenborn, OSB; Sr. Rosario Fiscal, FMI; and Sr. Leona Bax, OSF. Back row, left to right: Sr. Janette Munsterman, OSF; Bishop James Johnston; and Sr. Loretta Luse, OSF. (Megan Marley/Key photo)

Megan Marley

INDEPENDENCE — “In the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, I, Sister…, vow to Almighty God to live in poverty, chastity and obedience in accordance with the Rule and Constitutions of my community. As You, Lord, have called me to love and serve You, so may You grant me the grace to persevere…”

Six of the 12 religious sisters known to be celebrating a jubilee year within the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph renewed their vows before the bishop August 18, during a special Mass at the Franciscan Prayer Center in Independence.

The Mass recognized 12 jubilarian religious, including two who passed before August:

Celebrating 75 years: Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster, OSB (deceased)

Celebrating 70 years: Sister Mary Elizabeth Krone, OSB, Sister Mary John Meyer, OSB, and Sister Raphael Speichinger, OSF (deceased)

Celebrating 60 years: Sister Leona Bax, OSF, Sister Theresa Kramps, BVM, Sister Paul Mary of the Cross Lee, lsp, Sister Loretta Luse, OSF, Sister Janette Munsterman, OSF, Sister Mary Hope, OSB

Celebrating 50 years: Sister Audrey Locke, OSF

Celebrating 25 years: Sister Rosario Fiscal, FMJ

In his homily, Bishop Johnston congratulated and thanked the sisters for their persistence in ‘running the race’ in some 720-combined years of consecrated life. He mentioned he had attended the profession of vows by several Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles the day before.

“There was great joy in those young faces, and rightly so—it’s a joy to be in love, especially to be in love with God. And there is joy today, because as beautiful as it is to see a young woman make vows, it is an added joy to see those promises kept and clung to over the passing of the years,” he said. “…it is an honor to celebrate God’s goodness to you and through you today in this celebration of the Mass and certainly in the festivities that follow.”

Bishop Johnston then unfolded the day’s Gospel reading from Luke where Jesus says He is a cause of division.

“I think the key to understanding this challenging Gospel is to go back a bit to the beginning, and that sets the context—Jesus says first, before He talks about being a divider, He says ‘I’ve come to set the world on fire’. The translation is a little bit off—if you go back and read the Greek original, Jesus really says ‘I’ve come to cast fire on the earth’—He’s come to literally be a flamethrower!—‘and how I wish it already were blazing’,” Johnston said.

He went on to explain that fire in the bible signifies God’s love as a consuming fire, but also as judgment.

“How can God who is love and mercy also be experienced as judgment? I once heard it explained this way—we receive God and experience God in our lives according to where we are in life. God is consistent,” Johnston said. “…Jesus entered a fallen world, and so we experience him as those who are fallen.”

In a way, it’s like Bishop Johnston’s experience of cave spelunking in his youth.

“It’s almost painful, coming out into the bright sunlight after being in darkness for so long—you experience it differently than someone who has been outside already all day,” he said. “…If we’ve been at odds with God or away from God, it’s almost like the person who’s been in the cave. When we first experience the demands of the Gospel, the demands of God’s love, we can experience it almost as painful, as challenging—it can be disconcerting even.

It’s a beautiful way that we can also understand the doctrine, the dogma of Purgatory—it’s God’s purifying love confronting anything that remains in us in opposition to that love, and it’s experienced as a painful purification,” he continued.

“How can we be open to this love of God, this fire that is meant to transform us?

There’s advice that people learn, kids learn for when there’s a fire—STOP, DROP and ROLL. The same is true with God,” Bishop Johnston said.

He said our reaction should be to STOP to let God catch and speak to us and encounter Him as we are; DROP to our knees in humility, in recognition of our need for mercy; and ROLL forward with action in commitment to follow God’s Will.

“Jesus does come for division, but it’s a holy division—He comes to separate us from the dysfunction that we’re all born into and gather us into the Kingdom,” Johnston concluded.

“May we prepare for His judgment now, by letting the fire of Christ’s love bring order to our chaos, light to our darkness, even if it is painful at times.”

For information on the Office of Consecrated Life or to see a list of religious orders active in the diocese, visit


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

October 26, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph