By Debbie Shelley
The Catholic Commentator
As the church grapples with many challenges, candles flickered in St. Joseph Chapel in the Catholic Life Center, testifying to the faithfulness of the present honored religious holding them, who have weathered the storms in the church’s history and light the path for Catholics to “keep going.” These men and women were honored at a Jubliee and Consecrated Life Mass Feb. 1.
A Mass honoring men and women religious celebrating jubilee anniversaries was held at the Catholic Life Center on Feb. 1. Photo by Debbie Shelley | The Catholic Commentator
The Mass was celebrated in conjunction with World Day for Consecrated Life.
The 17 men and women were celebrating a combined 855 years of service included: 70 years: Brother Carl Evans SC and Sister Doris Vigneaux CSJ; 65 years: Sister Carolyn Brady CSJ; 60 years: Brother Roger Lemoyne SC, Sister Betty Lyons FMOL, Sister Julie Sheatzley CSJ, Brother Marcus Turcotte SC and Sister Margarida Vasques FMOL; 50 years: Sister Barbara Arceneaux FMOL and Brother Ivy LeBlanc SC; 40 years: Brother Dwight Kenney SC, Sister Mary Christa MC, Sister M. John Janet MC, Sister Ann Maria Mathew SOM and Sister Theresina Thadathil SOM and 25 years: Sister Julie Kraemer CSJ and Sister Rita Lanie FMOL.
In welcoming the attendees, Sister Lucy Silvio CSJ, representative of the Council for the Religious, commended those present for stepping into their vocation.
“We know that each one has been called by name. Each one has a special story of generosity, dedication and service. Each one has endeavored to life a faithful vowed life witnessing to the Gospel,” said Sister Lucy.
She noted religious have been called to serve in schools, hospitals, social centers, church missions, their communities, and places “too numerous to recount,” said Sister Lucy.
And the linchpin that holds everything together is love, according to Sister Lucy.
In his homily seasoned with humorous stories, Bishop Michael G. Duca stressed that even as the religious celebrate and reflect on their life journeys through their vocations, it’s important to “keep going.”
Bishop Duca, who studied at Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum), said he learned in Rome you have to “keep moving forward.”
“First, you start crossing the street. There’s a car coming at you and you stop, thinking you’re being polite, and they get all upset,” said the bishop, musing that his advice to “keep moving no matter what” and that cars will go around you is the reason he is alive today.
The principal to “keep moving” applies to the spiritual life as well, said the bishop.
Referring to the Mass’ first reading from the book of Hebrews, Bishop Duca pointed out St. Paul reminds his readers that God says to his people “My righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.”
There may be various reasons, such as conflicts in communities, institutional or other problems that may cause religious to have a jaded outlook. They know they are supposed to walk through it, but they don’t know what’s on the other side, Bishop Duca said.
When people take action and walk through to the other side, the results will be more than they had ever expected, and they will find wisdom and solutions for problems, according to the bishop.
He noted that St. Paul exhorted the faithful to cross the finish line, and even in the face of strong opposition be committed to “giving everything anyway.” And resurrection is on the other side.
The bishop thanked the religious for being an inspiration during a time when faithful witnesses are especially needed in the church.
You all set your example, the example of hope,” said Bishop Duca. “Yours is one of that faithful presence that keeps moving forward faithfully and holds true to the teachings of the Gospel.”
During the Mass, the jubilarians held candles and renewed their vows and Bishop Duca blessed them.