Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades celebrated a Mass June 24 at which he honored six jubilarians of the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, and reflected on a prophet with an extraordinary calling.
The Mass, which more than a dozen priests concelebrated, took place at St. Francis Convent in Mishawaka on the feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. Sisters, family members and friends filled the chapel as the bishop invoked jubilee blessings on the six, who marked 60, 50, 40 and 25 years of commitment to the religious order.
“As young women, our sister jubilarians became aware of their calling to the consecrated life,” the bishop said in his homily. “Even now, so many years after their profession of vows, they continue to grow in their vocation, as they say yes every day to the Lord, to his plan in their lives and to his love.”
John the Baptist, who “surpassed all the prophets” with his vocation “to prepare the way of the Lord,” models for the sisters and everyone an acceptance of God’s call, the bishop said. He also credited John the Baptist with a humility that pointed toward Jesus, a prayerful attentiveness to the word of God, and a bold fidelity to the Gospel path.
In the Rite of Jubilee, the bishop invoked “forgiveness of all sins and the remission of all faults” for the three Franciscans celebrating their 60th anniversaries — Sister Jane Marie Klein, Sister M. Theresa Ann Long and Sister M. James Agnes Maroney — as well as Sister M. Madonna Rougeau on her golden jubilee, Sister M. Jennifer Henry on her 40th anniversary and Sister Marie Morgan on her silver jubilee.
All six sisters, holding lighted candles, renewed their vows, resolving “to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the spirit of St. Francis” in accord with the Rule of the Franciscan Third Order Regular.
The bishop highlighted the qualities of John the Baptist as God’s joyful gifts, not only to the sisters, but also to the church through those living the consecrated life. “May our Blessed Mother, St. John the Baptist, St. Francis and Blessed Mother Maria Theresia intercede for our sister jubilarians,” he said. “May they continue to grow in humility, prayer and fidelity.”
The latter reference was to Mother Maria Theresia Bonzel, who founded the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration in Germany in 1863. Pope Francis approved her beatification in 2013. Blessed Maria Theresia’s international order, whose key ministries include education and health care, serves the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend through its Immaculate Heart of Mary Province, housed in Mishawaka.
Mark Kirzeder, principal of Marian High School in Mishawaka, attended the Mass. He commented afterward about 25-year jubilarian Sister Marie Morgan, who he said had been a blessing to that school since her arrival in 2004; she now chairs its theology department. “She is an authentic and powerful witness of Jesus Christ as teacher and servant,” Kirzeder said.
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