By Sister Maryann Seton Lopiccolo, S.C.
This is the text of a talk delivered during the Jubilee Mass for Religious Brothers and Sisters, celebrated by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio at the Immaculate Conception Center in Douglaston, on Pentecost Sunday, May 20.
I am very happy to welcome our religious sisters and brothers who are Jubilarians and their guests as we celebrate this festive day. As always, it is a joy for me to offer each of you jubilee blessings and congratulations in the name of all the women and men in consecrated life in the Diocese of Brooklyn.
Today is a day of great celebration for each of you as you take account of the years of religious profession which range from 25 years all the way to 80 years!
For the 48 sisters and brothers celebrating this year there is a total of 2,885 years of service given to the Church and the people of God. It is a great day for all of us as we gather to be a part of this happy day for you.
And what a day to celebrate – Pentecost Sunday! We heard in the readings how the disciples were filled with the Spirit and moved from fear to confidence, from confusion to understanding, from not knowing to preaching boldly and from feeling alone to being part of a community of believers.
Isn’t this our own journey too as women and men religious as we embarked on this way of life?
How we moved from fear of the unknown to a new culture, a new way of being; not knowing what it was all about and with confusion in a time of radical change in the Church, in religious life and society; how we may have felt alone as we crossed this threshold to finding and building community with others who helped us and shared this life with us.
The Holy Spirit empowered the first disciples to move outside of their comfort zones to boldly embrace their call to be witnesses to the Risen Jesus, to proclaim in word and deed the mysteries and the gift of God-with-us in new ways, no matter what was ahead. Stories abound on their travels, successes and trials, but they never stopped proclaiming the Reign of God in Jesus Christ.
So, too, are all our lives as Christians and your lives as consecrated public witnesses in the Church to the same Christ Jesus and the Mission of His Gospel. Your lives and stories may not be written in the Book of Sacred Scripture, but they are recorded in the lives of all those you have served.
Just imagine how crowded this chapel would be if all the students you taught, all the parishioners you worked with, all the hospital and infirm patients you cared for and visited, all the families you helped were here with you today. We’d never all fit!
No, they may not be here in person, but they are here – in you and in the Scripture of your life; the story of your “yes” to God’s invitation to be a living and dynamic witness to God’s love for all people.
Your lives are a challenging legacy to us as Church and to all your companions in consecrated life. You have remained faithful in good times and bad; you have been present to others in sickness and in health and you have given your lives to so many others and will continue to do so until God calls you home to your heavenly reward.
Once a heart catches the fire of true love, nothing can deter it. Once the Spirit of the Living God lives deep in you, nothing can hold you back from giving your all to be witnesses of this love.
So my dear Jubilarians, our prayers and blessings are with you today, on Pentecost, on your jubilee, as you continue to proclaim with your lives the Gospel of Jesus the Christ! Congratulations!