This time every year, the Archdiocese of New York honors vowed men and women who have given their lives in service to the Church. It’s important to hold up their example that supports our Church in so many good ways.
(On page 22 of this issue, CNY also recognizes archdiocesan priests marking 50- and 25-year anniversaries of ordination this year.)
Last Sunday, June 12, Cardinal Dolan paid tribute to 25 religious sisters and brothers, including 75-year jubilarian Sister Mary McCaffrey, S.O.S.F., and others marking 70, 60, 50 and 25 years of religious life, at his 10:15 a.m. Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
The cardinal welcomed them all at the beginning of the Mass, saying, “We want to thank Almighty God for your service and ask Him to bless you in a particularly strong way your jubilee year.”
Two of the religious sisters, Sister Brid Long, S.S.L., and Sister Mary McCaffrey, S.O.S.F., served as lectors, and Brother Terence Michael Connolly, C.F.C., led the Prayer of the Faithful. Five other sisters, Sister Constansia Kimuyu, S.S.J., Sister Cecilia Lopez-Mendez, S. de M., Sister Mary Elizabeth Mooney, O.P., Sister Margaret Theresa Oettinger, O.P., and Sister Mary Alice Young, R.S.H.M., brought forward the offertory gifts.
The jubilarians renewed their religious vows following the cardinal’s homily.
In phone interviews the next morning, two of the jubilarians shared thoughts about their religious life.
Sister Mary Elizabeth Mooney has been a member of the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill for 60 years, including an amazing 48 years at St. John Chrysostom School in the Bronx.
She was a teacher for two decades at St. John’s. When her predecessor as principal was leaving in 1995, Sister Mary Elizabeth said she decided it was time to “take a try.”
“This had to be God’s plan,” she said. “It’s one of the best decisions I ever made. I love the children, their families and my colleagues.”
Sister Mary Elizabeth talks about the school in personal terms, saying that parents rely on it as a place where their children will receive an excellent education, learn to exceed expectations and also be kept safe. Many alumni send their next generation to St. John’s, she said, recounting fourth-generation students enrolled. Students tell her they consider the school their “home away from home,” she said.
Her work as a principal is a vivid reflection of her life as a woman religious. “I try to bring concern and love for every child in the building, and for my colleagues as well. I treat everyone individually.
“I try to be a joyful woman of the Gospel,” Sister Mary Elizabeth said.
Brother Terence Michael Connolly, C.F.C., a 60-year jubilarian, was the only religious brother among the sisters at the Jubilee Mass.
Brother Terence, a member of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers of North America, taught in the archdiocese at St. Cecilia’s School, East Harlem; Iona Grammar School, New Rochelle; and Cardinal Hayes High School, the Bronx. He later served as principal of St. Augustine School, Highland; St. Francis School and St. Lucy School, both in Manhattan; and as president of Rice High School, Harlem.
Brother Terence, who now resides in the brothers’ Mount Sion community in West Park, said most of his religious service has involved “reaching out to others and working with the poor.”
Talking about his adult education work and affordable housing initiatives on behalf of the migrant community in Bonita Springs, Fla., Brother Terence said while the circumstances in which he found himself weren’t always ideal, the results made the struggles worth it.
“Whenever you helped them, you saw it,” Brother Terence said.
Sister Joan Curtin, C.N.D., the vicar for religious, helped to coordinate the Mass as well as the luncheon following at the Cardinal’s Residence.
“These jubilarians are vibrant witnesses to Jesus who called each to follow Him as consecrated women and men,” Sister Joan said. “Countless lives have been blessed by their lives of service.”
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