PAZ & Friends: May 2009 Archives
The Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth (CSFN) in the New England region celebrated the jubilees of three sisters today: Sister Mary Victoria (75 years), Sister Mary Barbara (50 years) and Sister Maryann (25 years). We also remembered Sister Jeanette who died in December and who was to celebrated 50 years.
The Sacrifice of the Mass was celebrated by Father Jim Meszaros (of NY) and the homilist was Monsignor Robert Weiss, pastor of Saint Rose of Lima (Newtown, CT & friend of Sister Barbara); six priests concelebrated. Sister Mary Ellen did a very nice job with the music that was selected by a julibarian sister.
The Mass included the renewal of vows of the jubilarians. After giving thanks for the graces of perseverance and service, the sisters promised to continue to be faithful to Mother Foundress' vision and spirit cooperating with Christ and the Church as women of prayer and service. The example of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph and the saints were invoked for supernatural assistance. A striking line from Blessed Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd were striking: "Once again I had the unmistakable evidence that human hearts are in the hands of God, that we depend upon Him alone, and that His Will guides the course of our lives."
Guests from all over New England and New York and Pennsylvania came to pray and celebrate. The Sisters had a delicious dinner for us. I enjoyed dinner and conversation with friends and colleagues Sisters Mary Ellen, Thaddeus, Rose, (at right) Virginette and Mary Anthony. The company was truly delightful and the hospitality warm!
Following our midday dinner Sister Mary Ellen (in the gray habit) gave me a gracious tour of the beautiful grounds and the CSFN heritage room. Since I love the history of religious life and the Sisters of this congregation, I was much happy to see how the CSFNs have labored in the Lord's vineyard.
Among the sisters at the Monroe convent are my second and fifth grade teachers plus a few other sisters I've known since my grammar school days. Sister Mary Constance is doing well for 86 (65 years in the convent) and Sister Mary Estelle is living with Alzheimer's and was peacefully sleeping. I also saw Sister Hedwig at dinner.
But who are the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth (CSFN)? In their own words they are:
We, the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, an international apostolic Congregation, believe that the Holy Family of Nazareth, three persons in communion with God and each other; obedient and faithful to the will of God, reveals to us the profound reality that God is present in the most simple and ordinary experiences of human life. This vision, which so captivated our Foundress, Blessed Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd (Frances Siedliska), is the source and inspiration for our life and service. Sharing in Jesus' mission of spreading the Kingdom of God's love, we engage in a variety of ministries with and in the Church. Mindful that it is an environment of love that persons come to fullness of life, we witness a family spirit among ourselves, and are dedicated to the moral and religious renewal of family life. We are committed to create communities of love and hope, which celebrate the oneness of the human family.
This morning I attended the Mass of Christian Burial of Sister Mary Veronica (of the Eucharistic Face of the Lord) Grzelak. Sister Veronica was 98 years old and 83 years a professed religious sister in the Congregation of Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth and she was my grammar school principal. The chaplain to the sisters, Father James Cole, gave a fine homily connecting the suffering and pain we suffer here, as Sister Veronica did in the last years of her life, with the suffering and pain of the Lord. That is, suffering and pain is redemptive, that is, it has real meaning if we accept it and connect it with the Lord's suffering. Therefore we say that in connecting our trials here with someone greater than ourselves allows us not to focus on ourselves alone but on the needs and sufferings of those around us, indeed others in the world. In this case, that someone is the Jesus.