The best homilies often begins with a story.
During a special jubilee Mass at Salem Heights on July 3 Missionary of the Precious Blood Father Larry Hemmelgarn told of a person who upon returning to his unlocked car found a note from a would be car thief. The thief had seen a sticker on the car that said ‘Peace be with you.’ It gave the person pause, because if the vehicle had been stolen, neither the thief nor the owner would be at peace. The sticker extended the peace of Christ to the potential thief and the vehicle was left alone.
It was the perfect segue for Father Larry to reach out with gratitude to six Precious Blood Sisters who are celebrating milestone jubilees this year. He was grateful to God for working through them to bring peace to the world and for their years of service to God’s people.
“We thank you for [a combined] 380 years of peace-building that you have engaged in,” he said. “May God continue to use you to build the kingdom and may you continue to be transformed by that experience and continue to be re-created every day.”
Sisters Joanella Whaley and Rita (M. Melania) Yahl are celebrating 75 years as a Sister of the Precious Blood; Sisters Arlene (Marie Andre) Hirsch, Mary Ann (M. Rose Michael) Mozser, and Margie (M. Loretta Rose) Zureick are marking 60 years; and Sister Margo Young is celebrating her 50th jubilee.
More than 80 Precious Blood Sisters from across the United States and Chile and Guatemala attended the Mass. The jubilarians processed into chapel and participated in the liturgy as lectors, gift bearers and Eucharistic ministers. Sister Joyce Lehman led the Congregation in a renewal of their vows.
A banquet and program followed the Mass.
Sister Margo, the only member of the class of 1966 remaining in the Congregation, spoke of the challenging time in which she entered the Congregation as the reforms Vatican II were being implemented. She recalls being able to return to her baptismal name just 10 days after receiving her religious name. Still, she said she was grateful to have experienced enough of the pre-Vatican II tradition to appreciate it.
“I’d like to thank God for 50 years,” she said, her voice breaking. “I thank God and I thank each of you.”
Speaking for the class of 1956, Sister Arlene spoke of the bond her classmates share. They enjoy being together and are grateful for the support the Congregation’s given them. Sister Nancy (Rose Catherine) Kinross, shared that the class of 1941 offers thanks for the well-wishes and prayers.
The jubilarians were also recognized at a prayer service and reception the previous evening.
The jubilee celebration followed the Congregation’s annual Spirit Days. Part business meeting and part family reunion, Spirit Days focused on multi-cultural awareness and vocations. Sister of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary Sophia Park, an author and professor of religious studies and theology, was the main presenter. Over a day and a half she helped the Congregation recognize barriers to multiculturalism and how to overcome them.