Fr. John's Column - August 13, 2017
Congratulations to Sister Margaret
Lamberty as she celebrates her 50th Anniversary of making her First
Profession as a School Sister of Notre Dame. Whether teaching in our school,
visiting with parishioners, or being with us at Sunday Mass, it is a great
blessing to have Sister Margaret as a part of our parish. During many of her
years with us at Saint Patrick Parish she has been best known as a dedicated
and outstanding teacher of our children in our school. More recently as she as
battled health issues, she has been a great witness to what it means to trust
God in all things.
We welcome her family, many
friends, former students, and her Religious Sisters to Saint Patrick Parish as
we honor her during the 10:30 Mass this Sunday. The celebration will continue
as we join for a free meal after Mass in the parish hall. Reservations are not
necessary for the meal, and all are welcome.
As we celebrate Sister Margaret’s
anniversary, it is interesting to reflect on the role that Religious Women have
played in our Church, our country, and the world. Even in the Church we may
forget how important they are, but for much of the 1900’s and continuing today
there are more Sisters in the United States and throughout the world than there
are priests. Worldwide there are over 670,000 Sisters, or about one Sister for
every 11,000 people.
Sister Margaret’s community traces
its own beginning to October 24, 1833, when three women began a common
religious life in Neunberg vorm Wald, Baveria. Among the women was Caroline
Gerhardinger, who at the age of 15 was already a certified teacher. She was an
enthusiastic, encouraging, and gifted educator. Gradually she recognized the
call to form a new religious community. On November 16, 1835, she professed
religious vows and took the name Mary Theresa of Jesus.
As she sought to give her new
community direction, she sent the Sisters who joined the community out in small
groups of two or three to small towns and villages. There they taught primarily
girls who would have otherwise been deprived of an adequate education. On
November 17, 1985, Mary Theresa of Jesus was declared “Blessed” by Saint Pope
John Paul II.
Within fifteen years of the
founding of this new community in Bavaria, after the Sisters had moved their
motherhouse to Munich, they were approached by missionaries from the United
States who asked if Sisters could be sent from Munich to teach the children of
German immigrants. In June, 1847, Blessed Theresa and five Sisters traveled
from Munich to Pennsylvania. Upon arrival they faced great hardships because
they had no letters of acceptance or any means of support. Though the Sisters
were advised to return home, by that September they opened their first school
in St. Mary, Pennsylvania.
Blessed Theresa next traveled to
Baltimore where, with the assistance of Saint John Neumann, she was able to
open a motherhouse and three German parishes. As additional Sisters began
arriving, Blessed Theresa and Saint John Neumann traveled more than 2,500 miles
west in order to examine new places to extend their mission. By 1850 the
Sisters were staffing six schools.
Prior to leaving the United States,
Blessed Theresa placed Sister Caroline Friess in charge of the community in
America. Among her first tasks was to establish a motherhouse in Milwaukee.
Under her leadership that lasted until her death in 1892, the Sisters continued
to expand their work, eventually staffing hundreds of schools and caring for
many children in orphanages and homes for children, always giving preference to
helping children who were poor and never giving concern to a child’s country of
Just as the many children who were
educated and cared for by the School Sisters of Notre Dame, hopefully most of
us can remember one or more Sister who is important to us. Whether we know her
well or had a casual meeting, likely we were impressed with her kindness, moved
by her simplicity of life, captivated by her life of prayer, encouraged by her
commitment and dedication to her community, and moved with her love for God. If
you have not had such an opportunity come and meet Sister Margaret or visit the
Carmelite Sisters who live here in Hudson. You will be richly blessed by being
in their presence.