Sep 17, 2012

Nine Sisters of St. Joseph celebrate anniversaries at special Mass



(Photo by David Martin)

By David Martin

HOLYOKE – Nine Sisters of St. Joseph celebrating silver and golden Jubilees in 2012 are grateful for family, friends, community,colleagues and all who have walked with them during their joyful journey in religious life.

Sister of St. Joseph Annette McDermott is celebrating 25 years in religious life. Golden jubilarians include Sisters Natalie Cain, Barbara Hesselton, Kathleen Knowles, Paula Robillard, Maureen Sheehan, Nancy Welsh, Frances White and Elizabeth Sullivan.

A special Silver and Golden Jubilee Mass was celebrated in the chapel at Mont Marie in Holyoke at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept.16. The Mass was celebrated by Columban Father Mark Mengel.

Sister of St. Joseph Elizabeth Sullivan said in a reflection she gave during the Mass that she and her fellow jubilarians were pausing to commemorate all the blessings that they have received. She said they are delighted and proud to be celebrating this milestone occasion and are amazed at each other’s accomplishments.

“Our lives together have enriched one another, have caused us to be inspired by one another’s courage, to share with each other’s spirituality, to have diverse opinions and pursue different interests, to challenge one another, all the while understanding the individual persons we each have become and know that it is truly God’s work within us,” said Sister Sullivan.

During her reflection, Sister Sullivan expressed the jubilarians’ appreciation for their families, friends and sisters in community for the “devotion and encouragement that they have always provided.”

“In turn, we convey our love and gratitude for the many ways you have loved and supported us these many years,” said Sister Sullivan.

The jubilarians have served in a wide variety of ministries in the Springfield Diocese and beyond. Here is a summary of their experience:

Sister Sullivan (Johanna Michael) served for 10 years in schools in the Springfield Diocese and as a religious coordinator in Holyoke. She also worked as administrator, and is presently interim administrator, at Mont Marie Infirmary which became the Mont Marie Health Care Center. She also serves on the congregation’s Leadership Team as vice president.

Sister Cain (Marjorie Joseph) worked with various community organizations in the Berkshires for many years and currently serves the congregation as coordinator of the Team for Membership.

Sister Hesselton (Ann James) served for more than 35 years in schools of the Springfield Diocese and has been a tutor at The Gray House for the last 10 years.

Sister Knowles (Walter Grace) taught and served as principal in the Springfield Diocese for many years and is a reading interventionist now at the Center for Excellence.

Sister Robillard (Anita Paul) has taught in both the Worcester, Mass., and Springfield dioceses and has been involved in religious education in several parishes around the state for many years. She presently serves as director of faith formation for the Springfield Diocese.

                (Photo courtesy of Sisters of St. Joseph)

Sister Sheehan (Honora Eugene) served the Springfield Diocese in numerous education ministries and now serves as assistant principal at St. Thomas the Apostle School in West Springfield.

Sister Welsh (Paul Maria) is one of four sisters who founded HOPE House in Gardner, Mass., and also served for many years on its staff. She also taught in Holyoke and Gardner and has served as pastoral minister at several parishes. She currently works in the medical records department and is the pastoral minister at Mont Marie Health Care Center.

Sister White (Walter Marion) taught physical education at several schools in the Diocese of Springfield and also served in religious education and pastoral ministry at several parishes. After serving on the leadership team of the Sisters of St. Joseph, she continues her pastoral ministry at St. Rose de Lima Parish in Chicopee.

Sister McDermott worked in government affairs, and later at the Bureau of Exceptional Children and Adults at Jericho. She also served as cabinet secretary of social services for the Springfield Diocese. She is currently pursuing an academic degree in the Department of Political Science at Boston College as an O’Neill Fellow and serves as chaplain to Mount Holyoke College and advisor to the Catholic community at the college.

During the Mass, after all nine sisters stood to recite the renewal of their vows, Sister Maxyne Schneider, president of the Sisters of St. Joseph recognized the jubilarians, both collectively and individually, which was followed by a standing ovation.

Sister Schneider said each of the jubilarians “has grown in their union with God, through prayer, and faithful living of their vow of commitments and persisting in that commitment for 50 or 25 years.”

“It is here that the fostering of union among neighbors, and between neighbors and God, has shown itself, and so we honor and thank these women for their lives and for their service through which we know them so well,” said Sister Schneider.

A reception was held after the Mass in the Mont Marie Dining Hall.