Diocesan News

‘We Are Celebrating Special Milestones In Our Journey’

This young-at-heart sister looks like she can’t wait to join her fellow sisters to celebrate her jubilee. (Photos: Paula Katinas)

Jubilarians are hailed for their prayers, compassion, and service

DOUGLASTON — A collective 6,780 years of service to God was celebrated on Saturday, May 7, as women and men religious from the Diocese of Brooklyn gathered at Immaculate Conception Center for their Jubilee Mass.

The Mass, which was celebrated by Bishop Robert Brennan, is held each year to honor the contributions of women and men religious who are marking the 25th, 50th, 60th, 65th, 70th, and 75th anniversaries of taking their vows. It also provides an opportunity for the jubilarians to stand in church and publicly renew those vows in the presence of the bishop.

There were 112 jubilarians honored this year. Sister Maryann Seton Lopiccolo S.C., the episcopal delegate for the religious in the diocese, noted to the honorees that collectively they had amassed almost-7,000 years of service to the Church.

Because the pandemic prevented a Jubilee Mass in 2020 and caused a scaled-down celebration in 2021, this year saw jubilarians from all three years — 2020, 2021, and 2022 — honored on Saturday.

Last year, Sister Maryann worked with Bishop Emeritus Nicholas DiMarzio to come up with a creative way to salute the jubilarians despite the ongoing pandemic. They organized a hybrid celebration in which Bishop DiMarzio celebrated Mass at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph, and a six-minute video created by DeSales Media Group — the communications and technology ministry of the diocese — was presented on NET-TV immediately afterward.

The lack of large-scale celebrations last year and the year before made this year’s Mass even more special, participants said.

“The last two years have been a challenge. Well, we’re finally here. We are celebrating special milestones in our journey,” said Sister Maryann, who marked her 50th year as a Sister of Charity – Halifax in 2020.

Women and men religious have made their mark over the decades in the fields of education, health care, and social work but have also made valuable contributions in private by helping people one-on-one, Bishop Brennan noted.

“I have loved my life as a sister. It has brought me nothing but joy all these years,” said Sister Rose Uche Ndimele, D.M.M.M., who marked her 50 years in consecrated life.

Saturday was a big day for Sister Rose Uche Ndimele D.M.M.M., who was there to celebrate her 50th year as one of the Daughters of Mary, Mother of Mercy. She first became interested in joining a convent when she was a young girl in her native Nigeria and looked up to her local bishop.

Her journey eventually led her to the Diocese of Brooklyn, where she continues to serve, even though she is retired, as a caregiver to an elderly woman in Flushing. “I love bringing joy to her. She tells me that she always looks forward to my coming,” she said. “I have lived a wonderful life.” 

Sister Anthony Gracyalyn, C.S.F.N. grew up as the daughter of a farmer in Burlington Flats, New York, and went to church in Cooperstown. 

“I wanted to be a sister when I was in the fourth grade,” she recalled. 

She has fond memories of an aunt, a member of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth in Philadelphia. “She used to come to us every five years for vacation. She was always so joyful. And I said, ‘I want to be like her.’ And so then when I became a senior in high school, I joined the order,” she said.

Sister Anthony marked her 70th anniversary as a Sister of the Holy Family of Nazareth in 2021 and came to the Mass on Saturday for a belated celebration.

Bishop Brennan, who grew up on Long Island, recalled the various religious orders whose works inspired him over the years. 

“There are so many of them. I was taught by the Dominican Sisters of Amityville out on Long Island, and they are very present here today. I was taught by the Franciscan Sisters of Allegheny and then I came to know the Josephites and the Mercies along the way in my work,” he said.

He added that the Mass was truly a special occasion honoring the women and men religious who “have given their whole lives to Christ and to the Church.”

This story will be updated with additional photos as they become available.