The Golden Jubilarians celebrated at a Mass at St. Vincent Church on Sunday, July 19, 2009.
Homily for Golden Jubilee Celebration
July 19, 2009
Jeanine Jaster, SCN
As we have just heard in today’s Gospel, the Apostles gathered with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. These words resonated with me as I began praying over the Scripture and thinking about what I could say to the Jubilarians and to you who have gathered with us today. I asked the class of “59” to respond to the invitation to report “all they had done and taught”. I also asked them to share some reflections of who we are. I begin with some of their quotes. “All of us were so different but so much like the Apostles, God chose us, a motley bunch, yet through it all we certainly have left our mark on the whole world.” “In diversity, we found unity of purpose.” “Our works have been simple and ordinary.” “We are a ‘salt of the earth’ kind of class, hard working, putting our nose to the grindstone and doing what needed to be done.”
Before beginning to tell you of our journey, it is interesting to listen to how we were given our “great commission” back those many years ago. One of our group remembered, “When Sister Lucille took us into the classroom after we had said our first vows, she handed us a blank piece of paper and said, “Just sign your name, and I will fill in the space above throughout the year.” – Little did we know where that path would take us.
As I begin to recount “what we have done and taught”, I want you to think about the Apostles recounting their deeds – they probably could have done that in 7 minutes, after all they had only been on mission a few years. We have 50 years to recount so it may take a bit longer.
We have been examples of prayerful women dedicated to making God’s love visible in our world. We have been teachers in hospitals, classrooms, clinics and homes. We have witnessed in city, county, village, and on Indian reservations. We have labored in the United States, Botswana, Nepal, India and Belize. We have been pastoral ministers, choir directors, an inner city boys’ basketball team coach, Toastmaster coach, driver at Nazareth, youth directors, librarians, director of Camp Maria, long term car committee members, overseers of the renovation of the Motherhouse, and the guiding force behind the loving, careful demolition of Russell Hall.
We have cared for the sick, the prisoner, the stranger, those who had never heard the Good News. We have been fighters for justice and human rights in every setting where we have ministered. Some of us were called to the very powerful ministry of suffering early in our community lives. Two of us, Ann Murphy and Rita Vaughn, went home to God before we could all celebrate this day together. There were an integral part of this class as are Elizabeth Emmanuel, Anne Elizabeth, Teresa V., Bridget K., who are celebrating their golden jubilees with us in India.
As you can see, we have been the salt of the earth kind of people that we mentioned earlier, putting our energy to the task at hand and doing it well. We have been faithful daughters of Catherine whose lives have been simple and free. Mother Catherine said, “Oh, what a grace the gift of perseverance.” We have gathered here to celebrate and give thanks for this grace, the grace we prayed for in our vow formula …”and as You have inspired me to desire it, so may You give me the grace faithfully to accomplish it.” Today, we express our gratitude and give heartfelt thanks for God’s faithfulness and enduring presence which have been the constant source of strength and commitment and which have made this day possible.
So much for the past, we now look to the future. What is God asking of us, and all of you, today?
Our Psalm today speaks of shepherds, shepherding – God as our shepherd. While most of us are unfamiliar with “being a shepherd” we may be more like shepherds than we think! It can be a lonely job and it is certainly not one of status! Shepherds keep watch – they seek out the lost – protect the lambs from all kinds of danger, especially in the night, the “dark times”. Jesus called the leaders of his time to “feed my sheep, feed my lambs.” In imitation then, of our Good Shepherd who continues to care for us, who calls us around this table, and leads us to green pastures, we too are called to be shepherds – to protect, to nourish, to seek out the lost, to preserve green pastures where God’s people can lie down and be spiritually refreshed.
Our opening song challenges us – to continue to act with justice, to love tenderly, to serve one another and to walk humbly with God. Some of us are not able to walk as easily as we did in those bygone years but we are still impelled by the love of Christ to continue to work for justice, to be in solidarity with oppressed peoples, to care for Mother Earth and women.
After 50 years, we have experienced some diminishment but the call and the grace are still there for us to go forth from this place recharged, reinvigorated, and to be that Motley Crew that proclaims the love of Christ to all our brothers and sisters.