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Jubilarians honored at annual Mass for women religious

093022sister jubilee mass 6 gift

Bishop Robert J. McClory presents a gift to Sister Annie Serene Jacob, C.M.C. in honor of her 25-year jubilee as a women religious. Four milestone jubilarians and all sisters serving the diocese were feted at the a dinner following the annual Eucharistic Liturgy in Thanksgiving of Women Religious, held at the Cathedral of the Holy Angels in Gary on Sept. 15. (Marlene A. Zloza photo)

 

BY MARLENE A. ZLOZA / Northwest Indiana Catholic

           

      GARY – Four religious sisters celebrating milestone jubilees this year were among those honored for serving the Diocese of Gary at the annual Eucharistic Liturgy in Thanksgiving for Women Religious on Sept. 15 at the Cathedral of the Holy Angels.

      “I want to salute you for the lives you have given, the service you have given,” said Bishop Robert J. McClory to the more than 30 women religious gathered for the Mass and catered dinner.

      The bishop used the words of poet T.S. Eliot to reflect on the love shown by those who serve others: “Why love, if loss hurts so much?” accepting that “If we risk love, we risk pain.”

      To choose to live a life of love, of service to the Gospel, added the bishop, means that “losses and sorrows along the way … that’s the deal, that comes with the love.

      “Today is a day to celebrate all the great blessings you have been to those you have served and continue to serve,” said Bishop McClory. “The alternative is not to have lived, and that’s a painful life. I want to salute you for the love you have given, the service you have given. As Blessed Mary saved Jesus in her heart, she would also hold us in her heart. Any sorrows along the way are vastly outnumbered by the love we have felt.”

      The bishop also pointed out that while with most things, “I have this, I give it to you and then I don’t have it anymore, that’s not the way love is. It multiplies as we give it to others.”

      Celebrating the love they have given as this year’s jubilarians are:

      Sister Joyce Diltz, PHJC, Hammond, celebrating 55 years, is a former teacher, chaplain, vocations director, postulant director and Bethany Retreat House director. Sister Joyce currently serves as a spiritual director and conducts retreats as part of a team.

      A Mishawaka native, she earned a bachelor of arts in English from Alverno College in Milwaukee, a master’s in Christian Spirituality from Creighton University in Nebraska, and a doctorate in Spiritual Direction from the Graduate Theological Foundation in Mishawaka.

      She taught at St. Augustine Grade School in Chicago, Our Lady of Perpetual Help School in Hammond and Ancilla Domini High School in Donaldson before entering the vocation ministry. She did retreat work at the Crosier Center in Fort Wayne, chaplain training in a Clinical Pastoral Education program in Cincinnati and then freelanced as a spiritual director before opening Bethany Retreat House in East Chicago in 1992 and heading it for all 25 years of its existence.

      She entered religious life “because I wanted to give my life to God, and chose the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ because “It was the community I knew the best and where I felt most at home.”

      “Growing in friendship with God and helping others to do so,” brings her the most joy as a sister.

      Sister Margaret Anne Henss, PHJC, Portage, also celebrates 55 years.

      “I admired the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ Sisters that taught me in grade school,” led to a religious vocation for the Trenton, Ill. native, who earned a bachelor of arts degree from Alverno College, a master’s degree from Marquette University in Milwaukee and a master’s of business administration from the University of Notre Dame.

      Sister Margaret Anne spent nine years teaching at St. Augustine High School in Chicago, three years at Ancilla Domini High School in Donaldson, 14 years at Mater Dei High School in Breese, Ill. five years as treasurer of the PHJC and a term in provincial leadership as well as working at HealthVisions Midwest, where she now volunteers after her retirement.

      “Being able to help the poor and those in need, and teaching the young to become God-centered women and men,” has given Sister Margaret Anne the most joy.

      Sister Liz Maria, C.M.C., Schererville, celebrating 25 years, is a native of Kevala, a state in India, is a registered nurse who served in India, and spent 13 years in Kenosha and one year in Milwaukee, Wisc. Working in nursing homes before coming to St. Michael Convent to live and work for the past four years at Residences at Deer Creek assisted living facility in Schererville.

      Her vocation began with observing “the life of my grandparents and parents and their faith and devotion,” as well as “the influence of priests and religious sisters in my family.” She chose the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel, an Indian religious order, because she has aunts and cousins in the same religious order.

      Her joy comes from witnessing “the joy, love and mercy of Jesus as a Sister” and “giving living care and service to my patients.”

      Sister Annie Serene Jacob, C.M.C., Schererville, also celebrating 25 years, is in her fifth year as a middle school science teacher at St. Michael School in Schererville. Sister Serene is a native of Kevala, India, where she entered the convent after high school and spent her formation years, earning bachelor’s degrees in zoology and education and a master’s in zoology.

      She taught for 19 years in India before coming to Wisconsin, where she spent one year as a religion teacher in Kenosha before joining the faculty at St. Michael.

      Sister Serene joined the convent “to serve people, having been inspired by one of our Indian saints, St. Alphonsa.” She chose the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel “because I love the Carmelite spirituality and the charism of our Congregation – ‘Be holy and lead others to holiness, the redemptive uplift of women and children.’”

      Her joy comes from “God (giving) me the chance to proclaim the gospel as a teacher in different parts of the world,” she said.

* * *

      Several other religious sisters who have served in the Diocese of Gary are also celebrating milestone jubilees this year:       

      Sister Evelyn Ovalles, a native of Polillo, Quezon, Philippines. She recently began a new ministry as pastoral associate at St. Katherine Drexel parish in Chicago, having previously ministered as a volunteer at Top Box Foods in Chicago.

      She is celebrating 25 years with the Sisters of Providence this year, having entered the Congregation on Sept. 15, 1997, from St. Columban Parish in Los Angeles. She professed perpetual vows on Aug. 15, 2004.

      During her time in the Diocese of Gary, Sister Evelyn’s ministries included: paralegal/advocate intern, Diocese of Gary Pastoral Center, Merrillville (1999-2000), advocate/paralegal, Diocese of Gary Pastoral Center, Merrillville (2001), Defender of the Bond, (2003-04), director of Tribunal and Judge, (2004-17), and director of religious education, Our Lady of Consolation, Merrillville (2018-19).

      The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ have several jubilarians who formerly served in the Diocese of Gary: Sister Marilyn Haselhorst, 60 years, Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, Hammond; Sister Patricia Peters, 60 years, St. Mark School and St. Ann School, both in Gary, and St. Mary School in East Chicago; Sister Mary Ann Dettmer, 50 years, St. Mary Medical Center, Gary; and Sister Shirley Bell, 50 years, St. Catherine Hospital, East Chicago.

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