By Colleen Rowan
Women and men religious of the diocese were honored for their ministry and service at the annual Mass and Appreciation Dinner. This year’s gathering was held at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Wheeling with Bishop Mark E. Brennan as the celebrant of the Mass.
“Today we recognize and show our esteem for consecrated women and men who have served or who are still serving in our diocese,” the bishop said in his homily. “Ladies and gentlemen you have been and still are faithful servants, faithful stewards of the resources that God has given you—your talents, your energy, your dedication to others, your love for God’s people.”
Communities of sisters and brothers attending were the Congregation of St. Joseph, Dominican Sisters of Peace, Eudist Servants of the Eleventh Hour, Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Heart, Sisters for Christian Community, Sisters of St. Joseph of Pittsburgh (Baden), and Marist Brothers of the Schools. Concelebrating the Mass was the parish’s pastor, Msgr. Paul Hudock, and newly appointed vicar general of the diocese, Msgr. Gene Ostrowski, V.G., who Bishop Brennan noted served for many years as a Marist brother before becoming a priest.
Continuing his homily, Bishop Brennan emphasized to the gathered religious that their congregations have left the diocese schools, hospitals and many good works as well as endowments to continue in some fashion those good works. “But your primary service has been to give of yourselves,” the bishop said to the gathered religious, “that’s what really you’ve been doing, giving of yourselves through the days and the years for our benefit and that of the whole community.”
The sisters and brothers and religious priests have shown all, vividly, the value of community life in poverty, chastity and obedience, the bishop said. “When lived out well those vows and the community life sustain us and remind the rest of us, the secular clergy and the laity, that we are a religious family,” he said. “Thank you my religious sisters and brothers for that witness.”
This was met with a round of applause from the congregation.
At the end of the Mass, all of the gathered religious stood for a blessing by Bishop Brennan.
“We give thanks to you for responding to God’s call and consecrating your life to Christ and to the service of your brothers and sisters in the church,” the bishop said to them, “and we confidently pray that God who has begun this good work in you may bring it to completion in the day of Christ Jesus.”
The bishop then bestowed the blessing upon them, “May God who is the source of all good intentions enlighten your minds and strengthen your hearts. May he help you to fulfill with steadfast faith all you have promised.”
Following the Mass, all gathered at the parish hall for the dinner. The gathering is sponsored by the diocese’s Office of Consecrated Life. Sister Ellen Dunn, OP, delegate for Consecrated Life for the diocese, recognized religious present who are celebrating jubilee anniversaries this year: from the Congregation of St. Joseph, Sister Caroline Benken, CSJ, celebrating her 70th anniversary, and Sister Mary Clark, CSJ, celebrating her 60th anniversary. Also present at the dinner and recognized was Marist Brothers of the Schools Brother John McDonagh, FMS, who is celebrating his 60th anniversary.
Religious celebrating jubilee anniversaries this year, but not present at the dinner are: Sister Rita Marie von Berg, CSJ, celebrating her 80th anniversary; Sister M. Joanne Obrochta, SAC, celebrating her 65th anniversary; Sister Joan Marie Coleman, OSF, and Sister Carole Riley, CDP, celebrating their 60th anniversaries; and Sister Karen Kirby, CSJ, celebrating her 50th anniversary.
Religious Honored in Wheeling
By Colleen Rowan