Celebrating over 331 years of religious service!

Jubilees are joyous occasions to acknowledge and celebrate the many years of dedication in answering God’s call to religious life. Celebrating 70 years are Sisters Anna Marie Willer, Rita Hanson, and Charlotte Kramps. Celebrating 61 years is Sister Reinalda Kloosterman, and 60 years is Sister Pauline Lally. 

Although not all Jubilarians could celebrate their milestone at the same time, they have celebrated together. In the words of Sister Pauline Lally, a Jubilee celebrant this year, “where one of us is, there each of us is.”

Included below are excerpts from speeches made by Sister Sandra Shannon, General Superior, and Sister Pauline Lally, representing the Jubilarian celebrants this year.

In her speech, Sister Sandra touched on highlights from each of the three Jubilarians present at the Friday, June 14th celebration – Sisters Anna Marie, Reinalda and Pauline.

Our wish and hope for all the Jubilarians is that the God of Providence who has sustained them for 70, 61 and 60 years will continue to walk before them leading them to peace-filled, joy-filled, hope-filled lives.

Anna Marie has served the congregation well through her health care ministry. She has tended the sick and infirm both in Eastern and Western Canada. She has held various positions in health care institutions. We thank her for blessing us as well with her creative gift of art.

Reinalda also served God and God’s people in the health care field. Reinalda nursed in Brockville and Kingston, Ontario, and in Daysland and Camrose, Alberta. We most appreciate her years at the Motherhouse where she was Motherhouse Coordinator and in charge of nursing for Marian II. She accompanied many of our Sisters as they transitioned from this life to the next. We always knew our Sisters were in compassionate caring hands. She has and does gift us with her delightful gift of music and song.

What does one say about Pauline Lally. Her life has been as diverse as the shapes of multiple snowflakes. She began early religious life in the education of children but graduated to the education of teachers as the first Religious Education Consultant in our congregation for the Roman Catholic Separate School Board. Pauline has lived in group homes for girls, done campus ministry, taught religious education at McArthur, was the first coordinator of our Providence Associates, was a moving force in the development of our JPIC ministry as director and as a member, and has been General Superior. When I go to almost any kind of meeting and say I am a Sister of Providence the reply is, ‘Oh, Sister Pauline Lally’s community.’ Pauline’s influence has gone far and wide.

Now you know as well as I do that working in the market place requires strength and courage. As women religious where do we find the energy to keep on, keeping on? I say our life shared, maybe not under the same roof but shared, in communion, is our strength and hope. I believe the future before us will be marked and built upon how we love and support one another in community.

Where you are is a good space. We as religious women and especially the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul are on the verge of another evolution. We are becoming what God wants us to be in the year 2019 and beyond.

After Sister Sandra concluded her speech, Sister Pauline was invited up and spoke on behalf of the Jubilarians.

Meeting monthly with an interfaith group for almost 3 years now, I have become sensitized through our aboriginal sisters and brothers upon whose land we stand and share. Thus, in the spirit of reconciliation with them I acknowledge this. Often, too, they call upon their ancestors to be present as I do today.

For I would like to call upon our ancestors,  our parents, our families, our patrons and our founders, as well as all our Sisters who have gone before us – especially those with whom we would celebrate today – and I would like to dedicate this brief Jubilee response to them.

For myself, my mother did not want me to enter the convent. My father had died suddenly in his 50’s when I was in Grade 13. Three years later when I brought up the subject of following my persisting call, my mother, who was still in mourning, was not pleased.

“God took your father from me; he does not want to take you as well,” was her response.

In many ways, I think, our entering was harder on our folks whom we left behind, than it was for us. We were following our call – living the dream, as folks would say today. And what a call it turned out to be. This great adventure with God took us beyond our dreams.

Regarding the loss of us to our families, they really didn’t lose us. Our families were enhanced, whether they knew it or not, by our vocations.

I know I shared much of these new perspectives with them. We had great discussions in those days. My mother was so ripe for a fresh position.

Returning to my mother, who was the one free enough to be present to Mom in her last days? The one who had left her so many years ago to answer the invitation of Jesus in the dream of the Father. My presence was not only gift to her, but her gentle dying was a great gift to me.

Before she died, I remember two things Mom said: that I had been a great joy to her and that she was not afraid to die. It took the fear of death from me. And it made me very grateful for my community.

Who was present to me and with me at my mother’s passing, but one of you?  One of my sisters. One of my community of the Sisters of Providence which I had entered 25 years before – Sister Inez Donovan.

That’s what we do for each other.  That’s what we have always done for each other. We share one another’s joys and sorrows. Later Inez said to me, “Pauline, I want you with me when I die.”

I wasn’t; but some of you were. But you know – where one of us is, there each of us is. And thus, it has always been. Providence has been there. For, where one of us has been, each of us has been.

So yes, let us celebrate and continue to celebrate with gratitude and joy the faithful Providence of God whom we are still and always called to proclaim with our lives.

Jubilee celebrants during the June 15th Mass for profession of faith and renewal of vows.