Left, Sister Maria Luisa Miller; photo by Dave Eck. Middle, Sister Amy Junk gives Sister Paula Gero her Jubilee rose; right, (from left) Sisters Maria Luisa Miller, Mary Ellen Andrisin and Madonna Ratermann enter the chapel for the Saturday evening prayer service during Spirit Days; photos by Sister Mary Lou Schmersal.
As we recognize Sts. Peter and Paul for their fidelity to Christ, we also celebrate the nearly 700 years of Christian witness by a dozen Precious Blood Sisters marking milestone jubilees this year.
That’s the message Missionary of the Precious Blood Father Stephen Dos Santos shared during the Jubilee Mass June 29 at Salem Heights. The Mass and banquet were the highlight of the Sisters of the Precious Blood annual Spirit Days.
Sister Virginia Hebbeler is celebrating her 75th jubilee this year; 60th jubilarians are Mary Ellen Andrisin, Maryann Bremke, Della Mae Meyer, Madonna Ratermann and M. Rose Helene Wildenhaus; and 50th jubilarians are Sisters Noemi Flores, Paula Gero, Edna Hess, Joyce Lehman and Joyce Ann Zimmerman.
“Their fidelity and Sts. Peter and Paul’s are quite similar,” Father Dos Santos said of the jubilarians.
From their first days of novitiate to standing in front a classroom to getting on a plane bound for missionary service in Chile, the jubilarians continued to renew their commitment to the Son of the living God, he explained. At a time when many people slow down and contemplate retirement, these Sisters started new ministries.
“You’ve responded to the changing needs of the church over the years,” Father Dos Santos said. “Through every one of those changes and challenges, you’ve been faithful. Today we celebrate your fidelity.”
The jubilarians participated in the Mass as lectors, cross bearers and Eucharistic ministers. Following the homily, Sister Joyce Lehman, president of the congregation, led all the Sisters in a renewal of their vows.
Father Dos Santos extended a special blessing on this year’s jubilarians.
“We praise you this day for choosing these Sisters,” Father prayed. “Bless them on this special day.”
There were plenty of smiles and sharing of stories as the Jubilarian classes reminisced during the banquet meal.
Speaking for the 60th Jubilarian class, Sister Maryann Bremke shared that the class has jelled over the years. These classmates gathered at the congregation’s cabin following their 25th jubilee and took a trip to the beach every other year.
“We’ve grown personally,” Sister Maryann said. “I think we’ve enriched C.PP.S. as C.PP.S. has enriched us.”
Sister Edna spoke for the five Sisters celebrating their 50th jubilee.
“Thank you for your love and support over these 50 years,” she said. “We are grateful because you have honored our lives and our ministries, but we remember that this is God’s work.”
The jubilee celebration began June 28 with a prayer service at the close of Spirit Days. The honorees received a special gift and the background of each jubilarian was featured in a light-hearted PowerPoint presentation.
The Jubilarians will also be recognized during individual celebrations at their parishes and places of ministry throughout the year.
Sisters from across the United States, Guatemala and Chile gathered at Salem Heights for Spirit Days. With a theme of “Inflamed with the fire of redeeming love,” the event enabled Sisters to be reenergized and reacquainted with each other.
Precious Blood Missionary Father Jerry Stack gave a keynote address on the spirituality of St. Gaspar del Bufalo, founder of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. Spirit Days also included business meetings, small-group sharing and community presentations.
Story by Dave Eck
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