Jubilarians reflect on 490 years of love and service

July 1, 2022 by

Each year, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia celebrate our Jubilarians — the remarkable women we celebrate on the noteworthy anniversaries of the date they were received as novices into the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia.

In 2022, we honored seven Sisters who together represent 490 years of love of God and service to the neighbor: Sisters Vivian Boucher, Mary Savoie, Rose Marie Dwyer, Eulalia Kloeker, Christina Meyer, Sylvia Winterscheidt and Regina Ann Brummel.

The Jubilee Committee selected the theme, “The Universal Love through Universal Presence” for their special year.

The Community will hosted a private celebration for the Jubilarians on June 5, 2022, at the Nazareth Motherhouse.

Each of these sisters has taken a unique path in her journey as a Woman Religious. To learn more about these special women as they prepare to begin their Jubilee year, we asked each one to write a short reflection that would be an answer to these questions:

What stands out to you about your years in religious life?

What do you cherish and how would you describe it?

75 Years – Sister Vivian Boucher

I was young and immature when I joined the Community.

Religious life has been a life-long process of maturation for me. I am grateful for all the people who have helped me along the way, especially the more experienced educators who helped me learn to teach and assist children.

After the second Vatican Council, when other sisters were looking for other types of ministry, I decided to give my life to Catholic education.

I started in lower grades and gradually went from grade school teacher to high school teacher and then to principal.

I am thankful for friends who gave me companionship and joy for many years.

While I was living alone, those friends especially meant lot to me. They were advisers who helped me over the rough spots.

I am most grateful for the opportunities to grow spiritually: the retreats every year, the theology workshops, the community meetings, and the many special speakers throughout the years. Mass has always been my guiding force. I cherish very much the opportunity to assist Mass frequently. I have never had any second thoughts about having joined this Community. It has been my life.

75 Years – Sister Mary Savoie

It is unbelievable that 75 years have passed since I said “yes” to the Lord’s call to dedicate my life as a Sister of St. Joseph. The support of Leadership teams and members of the congregation have been a source of strength in the opportunities I have had to minister in this country and abroad.

My desire as a young sister was to serve as a missionary in a foreign country. A need to remain in the United States and serve as a Nurse Educator superseded this desire.

Little did I realize that God would provide, but in a different way, for that desire such as participation in foreign ministries as responses to working with an international organization and from various sources. For example, work in Eastern Europe came as an invitation from U.S. bishops that provided opportunities to collaborate with sisters, some of whom spent years in prison under communist regimes.

I believe that God led me to Eastern Europe for many reasons. Certainly a conversion that opened my mind and heart to become as expansive as I saw their lives to be. I am sure that this chain of charity, which traverses the continents and the oceans, gives glory to God.

I believe that God calls me each day to serve others. God is in charge of my life, and if I truly put my trust in God, God will enable me to reach out each day to the dear neighbor, especially those caught in the net of poverty.

If I am faithful to God’s call, He will minister through me. Whatever my age, I hope to continue being a loving, kind and helpful person wherever and in whatever circumstances I find myself. God is ever present, walking with me.

My life has been and continues to be, abundantly blessed.

70 Years – Sister Rose Marie Dwyer

My family nurtured my religious vocation from childhood on. I was blest to be number two of 10 children. I learned chores, caring for babies and being there for others.

In high school in Leoville, Sister Zephyrine was sure that I was to be a Sister of St. Joseph. It was exciting because I was to be involved with people, and that has been my whole life, my joy.

This call has led me to be of service to so many people.

I am most grateful about my life as a Sister of St. Joseph because I was called to go to Brazil. I was always in the midst of a needy community. God found those places for me. I found the opportunities and transportation. Sometimes the transportation was borrowed horses, a motorcycle or a truck bed. In all of the villages there, wherever I went, I was simply a humble channel of love to all whom God wished to reach. Thank you God for using this lowly instrument as your Divine Plan so willed.

I had the opportunity to teach English to Hispanic workers.

The more I think about my life The more I know that I am always geared toward people … just to be there for people. … reaching out to them … walking with them … being there for them.

It starts with people and it ends with people.

I am so grateful for my CSJ Community who allowed me to live those 40 years in Brazil and gave me so much support. I am grateful to God for the rich life I have had and for God’s presence in all of it!

 

70 Years – Sister Eulalia Kloeker

In past years when attending anniversaries, birthdays and numerous milestone events in life, I frequently heard the remarks from older generations mentioning how quickly the years have gone by.

Now it is my turn to voice the same comment in serving God, the Church and the Dear Neighbor for 70 years.

At a glance, my life divides into thirds. The first as an elementary teacher; the second as a staff member in a parish; and the third will be called “miscellaneous.” Each had its mountain peaks and each had its hurdles.

A favorite image for me that I cherish has been to follow the light of the Holy Spirit. Long ago I found a verse card entitled, “Rabboni.” It reads in part as follows:

When I am dying,

How happy I shall be,

That the lamp of my life

Has burned out for Thee…

At one time the light of a candle mesmerized me and I indulged in the craft of candle making. Some were molded in sand, while others were fashioned in tin molds. One I made in multi-pastel colors burned well and was the focus of many small groups’ prayer sessions. Those attending often fixed their eyes on the flame.

One event that stands out that had an impact in my life was the Vatican II documents. Sixty years later many good people still struggle with the changes. I seldom think of the documents myself, but many good people still do and carry the question, “why?”

That brings me to the third section, “miscellaneous.” One experience was that of grooming others’ hair. My hands were gifted in cutting hair. While attending formal training, I discovered I had held the scissors incorrectly for about 10 years. That was a good laugh on me.

As I celebrate this milestone, I thank my parents for their example of faith, the Sisters of St. Joseph, the parents of children and the aged for placing their trust in me.

 70 Years – Sister Christina Meyer

This, my Jubilee year, has reminded me to acknowledge God’s generous gifts to me. My years in religious life have been marked by surprises and blessings. My response is one of profound gratitude to God, Community, family and friends.

Seventy years seems like a long time and I am grateful for each day and everyone who has been with me on this journey.

Some of my most memorable experiences that I recall are from years in pastoral ministry and being involved with RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) in parishes. The transformation and growth in faith that I observed and experienced in the candidates was often, for me, a ‘WOW.’

I was also moved when accompanying those who were ill and on their journey to the next life. I was amazed and inspired in observing the letting-go when recovery from illness was no longer possible. I have always felt profound gratitude and blessings in being allowed in homes or hospitals with family during this most holy time and mysterious experience.

My Community allowed me and supported me in this pastoral ministry, for which I am extremely grateful.

I am also very grateful for the ministry of Mission Coop. I have been involved with giving talks about the work of our sisters in Brazil for the past 11 years. This has taken me to many parishes in the dioceses of Kansas and Grand Island, Nebraska, where I have always experienced gracious hospitality from pastors and people.

For this, I am also very grateful.

70 years – Sister Sylvia Winterscheidt

When I reflect on my life’s journey the past 70 years, I am amazed and grateful for God’s abiding presence. I’ve had many opportunities for meaningful and varied ministries.

I’ve enjoyed years of teaching, of parish ministry, and through Spiritual Direction, of helping others discover God’s presence in their daily challenges and surprises.

As one called to be a Concordia CSJ, I cherish our charism of “love of God and love of neighbor.” I find examples of it in Community living, in our ministries, and in daily life.

I am especially grateful for an experience I had while being on staff at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Grand Island, Nebraska. Our Christian Service Committee responded to the pastor’s request to sponsor a Vietnamese family, coming from a refugee camp that day. The family consisted of three adults, one teenager and five children.

We housed them in a small hotel for a few days while we explored suitable housing. Early the next day, I checked on their immediate needs. As I drove closer to the motel, I saw the two young boys gleefully running barefoot through the fresh fallen snow. This was my introduction to the joys and challenges of companioning refugees. Watching this family begin to rebuild their lives, seeing their deep Buddhist faith, enriched my life. I know God is not finished blessing my life.

This 70th anniversary is just a comma in my life’s journey, not a period.

60 Years – Sister Regina Ann Brummel

I am delighted to celebrate my 60th Jubilee as a Sister of St. Joseph as I expressed ten years ago for my 50th Jubilee. Religious life for me has come to mean Jesus’ call to share life in our CSJ Concordia, Kansas, Community, including His friends and disciples. Jesus has brought us together with one another and with the dear neighbors without distinction.

One of the experiences of this solidarity that has been most significant for me is a “moment” when, after teaching in our schools in Plainville, Kansas, and inner-city Chicago, I became a Marymount College French instructor. An educational program led me to spend the 1975 summer in several countries of French-colonized West Africa. There, indigenous people called me to share a new way into the world neighborhood.

This neighborhood is anywhere our sisters and brothers have been and are suffering through political and economic injustice. As a Sister of St. Joseph, I have found myself alive when I can engage in friendship, collaboration and service between and among the poor and voiceless. Native (indigenous) people have taught me that this neighborhood is as close as our extended family and as near as all creation.

As I try to listen to the Spirit of Jesus, the neighbors have continued calling me to solidarity with the poor and marginalized, especially in American Indian reservations. The experience is a constant reminder that as long as I can share my gifts and talents, no matter where I serve in the world, my CSJ sisters are there also.

For several years, I have been teaching at the Turtle Mountain (Chippewa) Community College in Belcourt, North Dakota. The Turtle Mountain reservation is very close to the Canadian border and the International Peace Garden.      

A few years ago, several of our Sisters came to visit me here; that would be great again!

I believe that we are disciples, partners and collaborators with Jesus who gives His life to all, and whose only rule is that we love one another as He has loved us, the love of friendship. [John 15:12].

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