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Thoughts

 

This year in the U.S. Area we celebrated 4 platinum jubilees (70 years), 3 diamond jubilees (60 years) and one golden jubilee (50 years).

 

                70 years - Platinum Jubilarians                                                                                          60 years - Diamond Jubilarians

Sr. Rose Carmel Berberich - Sr. Marie Clement Edrich                                                    Sr. Mary Louise Sahm - Sr. Mary Virginia Schreiner

       Sr. Clarita Frericks - Sr. Mary David Mulroy                                                                                         Sr. Rita Kruthaupt

                                                                                                  50 years - Golden Jubilarian

                                                                                                        Sr. Christine Edwards

 

sr-m-clarita-frericksSr. Clarita FrericksOver their collective 510 years of service, they have given much, seen much and, particularly, experienced so much change. As Sr. Clarita Frericks said, “Remembering, journeying through the traditional past … remembering is precious to me.”

When asked to compare religious life today with religious life when they entered the Congregation, they agreed unanimously on one thing: Religious life is so different today that there really is nothing to compare!

Even the Church – even the world -- has changed in innumerable ways – especially since Vatican II. While the Sisters regarded some changes as beneficial, they were a bit more guarded about other changes. However, they all agreed that the ability to keep their families as an integral part of their lives was a blessing. In fact, the importance of relationships – both within the Congregation and with family and friends – has grown greatly in importance offering a depth previously unattainable.

sr-mary-louise-sahmSr. Mary Louise SahmThe changes in the Church led to the development of the Associate program -- and a far greater awareness and appreciation of the role lay people can play in the life of the Congregation. The changes in the world greatly enhanced the growing focus on relationships: communication is so much improved – telephones (and then cell phones) and the development of the internet -- and allows you to stay close to people you love, even when they are very far away. They also reminisced about the role institutions played in their lives; today there is much more acceptance of individual ministries. Most thought this was a reflection of the increased freedom of the Sisters to choose their own path and develop their own ministries.

Still they had some kind thoughts about times gone by: “Actually Sr. Mary Helen, Director of the Junior Professed, talked with me about what I was interested in doing, and we decided I would become a social worker. And I don’t regret a single day of it!” said Sr. Mary Louise Sahm.

Sr. Marie Clement Edrich added, “I would never have thought about going to a college of pharmacy, but I loved it! After Vatican II, when we were allowed to decide more for ourselves, the question of obedience became greater. Before, we learned that God would lead us through other people – and those people were our religious ‘superiors.’ Now we have to think long srmarieclementedrichSr. Marie Clement Edrichand hard about obedience to God’s will.”

sr-mary-david-mulroySr. Mary David Mulroy“No, it was not oppressive,” said Sr. Mary David Mulroy. “Whatever I felt, I said. Sometimes [chuckling] I am surprised that I’m still in the convent! But I’m still here, and I wouldn’t leave for anything. It is 70 years that I never stop thanking God for…I will always be grateful for it.”

“No indeed, it wasn’t oppressive but it could be surprising.” said Sr. Mary Virginia Schreiner. “One of the reasons I entered the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor was because I did not want to be a teacher. This was a ‘nursing’ Congregation so I thought I was ‘safe’! I was sent away to become a teacher for the Aspirancy, which closed shortly thereafter. And then to Rome to prepare for the big General Chapter we had after Vatican II . . . and then I stayed on to help in the formation of eleven Junior Professed Italian Sisters. What days those were!”

sr-mary-virginia-schreinerSr. Mary Virginia Schreiner“When I was small, I always wanted to be a teacher. Then I went into the Aspirancy and I felt called to contemplative life. I was drawn to the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor because of the ‘Recluses,’ I thought I could become one of them.” Added Sr. Rita Kruthaupt. “But surprise! I was sent to college to become a teacher and then went on to St. Henry’s to teach grade schoolers. Then I volunteered to go to Brazil where I helped take care of the children in the Creche. I returned and went to school again to become an Occupational Therapist. I worked at Drake Hospital for 12 years.

As you can see, we went from being sent, to voluntarily choosing to do something. Today I teach adults Church history and Bible Studies.”

All the Sisters talked about the ‘structure’ in the old days, Daily life was determined by the ‘Horarium’ – set times for waking and sleeping, for prayers and Mass, recreation and meals – for work and for cleaning. And all agreed that this was what was wonderful about the old days: there is security in structure.

sr-rose-carmel-berberichSr. Rose Carmel BerberichHowever, it also was what was the worst about the old days: it was regimented! But you knew what you were getting into and what was expected of you. You had the continuity of a life style – which is very attractive when everything around you is shifting and changing.

sr-christine-edwardsSr. Christine EdwardsSr. Rose Carmel Berberich added, “I would tell a young woman considering religious life that it will be very challenging today because religious congregations are being criticized for working among the poor – and for the way we work among them: open and inclusive! Sisters embraced the mandates of Vatican II, and the hierarchy did not. But, if a young woman feels called to join us, it is good to remember that Congregations have survived many things – and we’ll survive this too!”

“Moreover, Pope Francis is changing this.” All the Jubilarians agreed that Pope Francis is “leading us into the future. He is open to and looking for input…but he also is returning the Church to its preferential treatment for the poor and disenfranchised.”

“What excites me most,” said Sr. Christine Edwards, “is that God’s Will will be done on earth as it is in heaven in the new ‘springtime’ that is to take place in the Church in this new millennium.” The future, although it will continually change, is still a bright one!

 

 

Published: December 9, 2013