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Happy 50th Jubilee, Sisters!
50th Jubilee Instruction, June 14, 2014
Sister Gerard Wald Sister Patricia Schap and Sister Mariah Dietz
Sister Nancy Miller, OSB, Prioress
What a joyous celebration this is! With family, friends, colleagues, Benedictine sisters, (and with music of trumpet, harp and zither,) we praise and thank God for Sisters Mariah, Patricia and Gerard on this, their 50th jubilee of their monastic profession.
We are also grateful to our chaplain, Father Daniel, and all the concelebrants of today’s liturgy. We are blessed to have you among us. Thank you for celebrating with 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.”
If we abide in the love of Jesus, we are not only one with Jesus but also are called to love others as He loved us. That love must be visible, concrete and a hallmark of our way of life. People will know we are disciples of Jesus by the way we show our love for each other.
Sisters Mariah, Patricia and Gerard by your monastic profession which you publically proclaimed 50 years ago, you promised to love God and God’s people through the Benedictine monastic way of life. You committed yourselves to love the sisters in our monastic community – those in your families – and the people of the Dakota prairie whom you have worked with and served in your many and varied ministries.
To commit one’s self to love over a lifetime is always risky. “Discipleship is a harsh and dreadful love,” says author Nathan Mitchell - “because falling in love may be a feeling, staying in love is a decision.”
Sisters Mariah, Patricia and Gerard, you made the decision to stay in Jesus’ love. You made the decision to persevere – to keep on giving of yourselves no matter what. Through good times and hard times, you made the decision to remain faithful to the Benedictine monastic way of life. For this we are extremely grateful to and for you.
Sister Mariah - You have witnessed your love for God and others as a nurse, nurse educator at the University of Mary, spiritual care director at St. Gabriel’s, as director of new members to our monastic community and currently as vice president for Mission Effectiveness at St. Alexius Medical Center. You have a passion for caring. You care deeply about our monastic life, the people with whom you work and serve and the Earth on which we live. Caring for and about others is a vital part of who you are.
Somehow you manage to get yourself involved in many projects outside of your ministry and even persuade others to help you. Whether it is sewing a banner or prayer quilt, saving fertilizer for the garden or cooking a grand meal, you always give of yourself by doing that extra something for and with others.
Sister Mariah, thank you for the gift you are to us. We are grateful for your presence among us.
Sister Patricia – Spirituality is vital to you. Growing deeper into God and helping others to do so is one of the great joys of your life. You are a spiritual director, director of the oblate program at Annunciation Monastery and lead groups in centering prayer and in retreats. For 23 years you directed the religious education program at St. Mary’s Parish in Bismarck and prepared many children and adults to receive the sacraments. You continue to assist people to grow in the love of God. This is one of your special gifts to the Church.
You also love teaching - especially children. There is a mutual delight between you and these little ones. You have taught elementary school and currently are a reading volunteer in the second grade at St. Mary’s Grade School. Every year you invite these second graders to our monastery for a tour and snacks. We see and experience the mutual joy that exists between you and them. You are a reflection of Christ’s love to them.
Sister Patricia, thank you for spreading Christ’s love for 50 years. We are grateful for the gift you are to us.
Sister Gerard - even after many years as a Benedictine sister, you still are a bundle of energy – and that energy overflows into love for God and people. You have had many and varied ministries. You are a nurse, an educator, and a great organizer. You coordinate the monastery’s health center and care for the sick. For the past 17 years you have directed the student volunteer program at the University of Mary and for many more years you haves served as the advisor to Spurs, a university service organization. You also coordinated adult education services at the university and have served as vocation director for our monastic community.
Your cheerful, wholehearted nature is contagious. People around you can feel your enthusiasm for life and for whatever you are doing. You love the students at the University of Mary and they love you – they affectionately call you Sister G. You are an example of someone who lives life fully. You work hard, pray daily and take time for fun activities. You strive to reach a healthy balance of prayer, work and leisure.
Sister Gerard, we are grateful for the gift you are to us. Thank you for 50 years of faithful monastic living.
In a few moments our Jubilarians will 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 preserve in our search for God, and to bind ourselves to this particular group of women. We put down deep roots into God, each other and the people of North Dakota. This is home for us. This is where our lives become fruitful as we carry on the mission of Jesus to love.
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 our common life. Relying on God and being open to change and conversion, we experience inner transformation and become ever more Jesus-centered.
Obedience means to listen intently – to listen and become aware of God’s direction for our lives. We pay attention to God’s word in the Scriptures, the Rule of Benedict, in the prioress and in one another. We listen to those we serve; we listen to the call of the Church and the world. And then we respond in obedience to what we hear.
After the renewal of profession, with arms extended, Sisters Mariah, Patricia, and Gerard will sing the Suscipe three times. Each time we Benedictine sisters will respond as a sign of unity with them. The Suscipe, “Receive me, O Lord,” is an ancient prayer asking God to receive the gift of ourselves.
Sisters Mariah, Patricia and Gerard, as you renew your monastic profession, we pray for you. We pray that you will continue to remain in Jesus’ love. And as St. Benedict says, as you progress in this way of life and in faith, may you run on the path of God’s commandments, your hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delights of love.