Joy, Gratitude Mark Closing of CPPS 175th Anniversary Year

Story and photos by Pat Morrison

DAYTON — The Sisters of the Precious Blood brought the yearlong celebration of their 175th anniversary year to a joyful conclusion the weekend of Jan. 16-17. The weekend included on Saturday the fourth and final lecture in the Precious Blood spirituality series, and a prayer service and closing celebration for members of the congregation that evening. Sunday was highlighted by the Eucharistic celebration with Archbishop Dennis Schnurr and his visit with the sisters.

More than 180 persons filled the chapel at Salem Heights, the sisters’ motherhouse, for the final lecture in the anniversary year four-part series on Saturday, Jan. 16.

The presenter was Old Testament Scripture scholar Sister Dianne Bergant, a Sister of St. Agnes who is on the faculty of Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. The author and former president of the Catholic Biblical Association spoke on Precious Blood Spirituality from an Old Testament perspective. Previous lecturers during the year, who also spoke to full audiences, were Precious Blood Sister Joyce Ann Zimmerman, Mercy Sister Marie Chin and Precious Blood Father Barry Fischer.

The presenter was Old Testament Scripture scholar Sister Dianne Bergant, a Sister of St. Agnes who is on the faculty of Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. The author and former president of the Catholic Biblical Association spoke on Precious Blood Spirituality from an Old Testament perspective. Previous lecturers during the year, who also spoke to full audiences, were Precious Blood Sister Joyce Ann Zimmerman, Mercy Sister Marie Chin and Precious Blood Father Barry Fischer.

The members of the congregation had their own closing celebration, prayer service and social on Saturday evening, with many Precious Blood Sisters from around the country on hand for the lecture, community celebration and Sunday Eucharist. During the prayer service, the community viewed a PowerPoint presentation that showcased each of the living members of the CPPS congregation, a powerful way to weave the life of each sister into the living history recalled during the anniversary year. At its conclusion, CPPS president Sister Florence Seifert invited the sisters to renew their vows.

As she had at the opening of the anniversary year, Sister Florence offered reflections on the year and its blessings. As she reflected on the year, she said, four words kept coming to mind: humbled, grateful, challenged and hopeful. She noted that it was very humbling to hear people tell how much their lives were affected by an individual sister or by the congregation; humbling also, she said, to be able to present a check to a charity and hear the heartfelt thanks of those benefitting from the gift.

Gratitude was the unmistakable sentiment also in reflecting on the anniversary: first and foremost to God, and to CPPS women “who have gone before us and brought us to where we are today – who took risks, made sacrifices, moved forward as they listened and responded to the Spirit in their lives and times.”

A challenge, she said, is for CPPS sisters to ask themselves: How do we get more deeply in touch with [our] charism, re-enkindle the fire of the divine energy, so that it continues to transform us and to inform our actions and direction into the future?

Hopefulness, Sister Florence said, comes from reflecting on God’s gracious presence throughout CPPS history and trusting it for the future as the congregation strives to be a life-giving presence. “God is with us, and if we live faithfully our call, day in and day out, we will embrace the future with whatever that brings and, in so doing, we continue the legacy begun 175 years ago…

“The ending of the anniversary year is the beginning of the future,” she said. “Let us continue to find ever-creative ways to hear and respond to the cry of the blood and to continue our life-giving presence…

The new leader of the Catholic Church in Cincinnati, Archbishop Dennis Schnurr, joined the sisters on Sunday, Jan. 17, for the Eucharistic celebration to mark the close of the 175th anniversary year. This was the first time since his arrival in the archdiocese that the CPPS community had the opportunity to welcome Archbishop Schnurr to their congregational home. Following the Mass, he graciously took time to greet and speak with almost all the sisters, both those living in the archdiocese and those ministering in other states who were present.

In his homily, he linked the Gospel reading of the miracle at Cana with the “small miracles” all Christians are called to perform in Jesus’ name. (See link to full text of Archbishop Schnurr’s homily below.)

“Jesus shows us how we can turn sorrow into joy and despair into hope,” he said. “It was a small thing for him to turn water into wine… When guided in our service by the words of Jesus, what may seem like insignificant words and deeds become small miracles with great meanings.”

“Those same miracles with great meanings have been evident with the Sisters of the Precious Blood for these past 175 years,” Archbishop Schnurr continued, tracing the origins of the congregation and its arrival in the young diocese of Cincinnati. He noted the congregation’s expanding ministries of teaching, domestic service, Eucharistic adoration, care for orphans, and the opening of the first Catholic home for the aging in Ohio, as well as CPPS’ expansion to Chile and Guatemala.

“The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has been richly blessed by the countless Sisters of the Precious Blood who have served the People of God in Southwest Ohio throughout these many years,” he continued. “You have transformed the lives of countless men, women and children in the archdiocese by being a ‘life-giving, reconciling presence in our fractured world.’ We are grateful for your service and we are grateful for your witness to the values of the Gospel.

“My prayer is, the prayer of the people of this archdiocese is, that God will continue to bless your religious community in countless ways. We pray too that, through your commitment to consecrated life, and through your prayer and service, you may continue to make present the small miracles with great meaning.”

Following the Mass, the archbishop graciously took time to greet and speak with almost all the sisters present, both those living in the archdiocese and those ministering in other states who were in Dayton for the closing celebration.

In January 2009, the sisters opened the year marking the 175 years since their founding in Switzerland by a widow and mother, Maria Anna Brunner. Throughout the year, various celebrations took place across the country in places where CPPS sisters have ministered, including Phoenix and California. In Ohio, where the congregation has its motherhouse, celebrations were also held in Dayton, Maria Stein, Toledo, Glandorf and Cincinnati.

The anniversary year was also a time for the sisters to reach out to the public, in appreciation for their prayer, partnership and support over the years. The congregation hosted an open house and free four-part lecture series on Precious Blood Spirituality in Dayton, a Mass and picnic at their historic Maria Stein Center and shrine, and a Mass of Thanksgiving with Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk at Precious Blood Parish in Dayton in October. As a way of giving thanks for the gifts they have received from God and God’s people over their 175 years as a congregation, the sisters also used their anniversary as an occasion to present “Legacy Donations.” These were financial gifts made from a fund for this purpose and given to various groups and organizations which CPPS sees as continuing its own mission and ministry today.

 
Return to 2010 C.PP.S. news