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Congratulations 50 Year Jubilarians - Sister Barbara Weber and Sister Janet Zander
Jubilee Instruction – Sister Barbara Weber, Sister Janet Zander
Sister Nancy Miller, OSB, Prioress
June 30, 2012
Bishop Kagan, Father Cavanaugh, and celebrants of today’s liturgy, thank you for being with us to celebrate the 50th jubilee of Sister Barbara and Sister Janet. We are blessed to have you among us.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus urges his disciples to keep abiding, - to keep staying in his love. He says “as the Father loves me, so I love you. Remain in my love.”
Sister Barbara and Sister Janet you have remained in the love of Jesus. By your monastic profession which you publically proclaimed 50 years ago, you chose to abide in and be transformed by Christ’s love. You promised to walk with the Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Monastery on the journey to God through prayer, community life and service to the people of the diocese of Bismarck.
Sister Barbara and Sister Janet, we rejoice with you and are grateful for your many years of faithfulness to the Benedictine way. A lifelong dedication to God and God’s people is certainly not easy. But you, Sister Barbara and Sister Janet are witnesses that such a commitment is possible.
To commit one’s self to love over a lifetime is always risky. “Discipleship is a harsh and dreadful love,” wrote Nathan Mitchell –“because falling in love may be a feeling, staying in love is a decision.”
Sister Barbara and Sister Janet, through the hard times and the good times, you made the decision to stay – to persevere - to remain faithful to keep on giving of yourself which you promised 50 years ago. You had no idea what path that commitment would take. You remained steadfast on the journey wherever it did take you.
Sister Barbara, for 35 years you have listened with a compassionate heart to patients, their families and staff at St Alexius Medical Center. As a social worker and now in pastoral care in the telemetry and intensive care units, you help people from all walks of life. Your calm and caring presence bring comfort and peace to those who need empathy and a listening ear.
Your colleagues nominated you and you received the medical center’s higher standard award for outstanding service, for going above and beyond the call of duty to help in times of crisis. Sister Barbara, we thank you for your ministry at St. Alexius, but we also appreciate your presence at the monastery.
Your faithful presence at community prayer, your willingness to help where needed and your passion to care for the Earth are only some of the many reasons we appreciate you. Thank you, Sister Barbara for giving the gift of yourself.
Sister Janet, you are passionate about liturgy done well. As a liturgist, you help us sisters and our guests experience beautiful and meaningful Eucharistic and prayer celebrations. You create just the right environments in our chapel for the various feastday observances of the Church year and assist us to celebrate well the liturgical seasons.
Your ministry has taken different forms – as teacher, community secretary, pastoral minister at Queen of Peace Parish in Dickinson, and for the past 23 years as assistant to the president of the University of Mary.
Wherever you have been, you have been a great support to those you have served. Your keen insights into life and your ability to listen with compassion are wonderful gifts. You make a difference in the life of the University of Mary and in the life of the monastery. Sister Janet, thank you for the gift of your presence among us.
In a few moments, we will hear Sister Barbara and Sister Janet recommit themselves to the monastic life through the three-fold promise of stability, fidelity to the monastic life and obedience.
When we profess stability, we promise to persevere in our search for God, and to assume mutual responsibility for cherishing the ideals of the Rule of St. Benedict and the tradition and customs of our monastery. And so we bind ourselves to this particular group of women and are invited to grow deep roots with God, each other and the people of the prairie. This is home for us. This is where we seek God and strive to further the mission of Jesus.
By fidelity to the monastic way of life, we commit ourselves to keep on growing in the Benedictine way. We live out this promise through daily acceptance of our human condition and steadfast dedication to community life. Experience of God’s love prompts us again and again to turn to our Creator. Relying on faithful love, we are gradually transformed.
Obedience means listening, listening for God’s will in our lives. We do this by paying attention to the voice of the Spirit present in God’s word, in the Rule of St. Benedict, in the prioress and in one another. We listen to those we serve; we listen to the call of the Church. We listen and then respond in obedience to what we hear.
Sister Barbara and Sister Janet, you have remained in and have grown in Christ’s love through the monastic life for 50 years. You have been faithful because God has been steadfast in love to you. The Holy One has been your strength in the peaks and valleys of your lives. The first reading you chose for this Eucharist says it best:
“God became their savior in their every affliction. It was not a messenger or an angel, but he who saved them … he redeemed them, lifting them and carrying them all the days.”
Jesus says to Sister Barbara and Sister Janet and to all of us, “I will always be with you – in every joy and every sorrow. Do not fear. I love you. Come with me and continue to walk on the way of discipleship.”
And as St. Benedict says, “As we progress in this way of life and in faith we shall run on the path of God’s commandments, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of Love.” Sister Barbara and Sister Janet, may your hearts overflow with joy and love as you continue on the Benedictine way to everlasting life.