Religious in diocese honored at Mass

CHARLESTON — A special Mass honoring the men and women religious of the Diocese of Charleston was celebrated Feb. 11 at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. Bishop Robert J. Baker was the celebrant at the liturgy held for the World Day for Consecrated Life.

“It has been an annual event to celebrate religious life in the diocese,” said Dominican Sister Pat Keating, vicar for religious. “Bishop Baker has met with the religious by hosting a luncheon at his house, but only in recent years have we had a special Mass.”

The bishop began his homily by thanking the religious for their dedication to the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

“The Western world has lost sight of these virtues,” he said. “I believe that the most important people in our Church are those who live the consecrated life. Your witness is greater today than it was 50 years ago.”

The virtue of poverty is lost in a world of materialism; chastity is considered an impossibility, and obedience has lost its importance even in our churches today, he said.

The bishop compared consecrated life to a marriage.

“Married life is not what it used to be,” he said. “Today more important than weddings are anniversaries, and we wish to honor and thank all of you especially those celebrating jubilees.”

Nine religious were marking major anniversaries of their vocations and three congregations also reached milestones. The Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia were honored for 150 years, the Daughters of St. Paul for 90 years, and the Sisters of Sts. Cyril and Methodius celebrated 60 years in the diocese.

Bishop Baker concluded his homily by calling consecrated life an important manifestation of God’s love in the world.

“There is love, there is God, and God is the ultimate manifestation of love,” he said. “Free to love, free to serve — that is the life of poverty, chastity, and obedience.”

The nine jubilarians were presented with gifts honoring their commitment to service. The jubilarians included four Sisters of Charity of Our Lady of Mercy: Sisters Clement Fine, Marcella Zwingmann, DeNeri Faase, and Helen Grobusky, all of whom celebrated 70 years. Sister Josephine Murphy, a Daughter of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, celebrated 60 years. Celebrating 50 years were Franciscan Sister Helen Chatterton, Daughter of Charity Sister Claire Debes, Sparkhill Dominican Sister Joan Marie Looney, and the only religious brother in attendance, Peter Campbell, a Brother of St. Francis Xavier.

“There is great diversity among us and that is a true blessing to this diocese,” Sister Pat said. “We are bearing witness to the fact that there are many ways to live in community and to remain faithful.”