SUMMERVILLE—Ever since Sister Maryjane Golden took her vows, her ministry of choice has been faith formation, especially for youth and families.
The success of her mission over 50 years as a Sister of St. Mary of Namur showed in the faces of those who joined her golden jubilee celebrations — one at St. John the Beloved Church recently and another with her congregation in Buffalo, N.Y., in July.
Mary Jo Martin, who helped plan the parish event, said Sister Maryjane was involved in most of it, but they did try to sneak one surprise by her and had the children come up to sing “Smile.”
She said they had about 20 children practice the song, but when the time came, a whole lot more participated.
More than one parishioner commented on the sister’s ease with children, calling her a natural storyteller with an innate ability to capture the imagination and attention of youth.
“When Sister gets up to talk, the children just right away get calm and quiet,” Lorraine Connor said.
She and her husband Deacon Michael Connor have worked with Sister Maryjane on many parish programs, and both praised her mix of compassion, knowledge and organization.
“She’s a leader. She doesn’t get distracted in terms of what she wants to accomplish,” Deacon Connor said. “Her mannerism just compels you to want to help.”
Sister Maryjane has helped those in the diocese for 25 years, working in Charleston, Kingstree and Garden City. The other half of her ministry was spent in Buffalo and other areas of New York.
Now, in addition to serving as faith formation director at St. John the Beloved, she is also a member of the Diocesan Catechetical Advisory Board, is the moderator for the Coastal Deanery of Catholic Women and is a member of the Coastal Association of Directors of Religious Education.
She said she has always wanted to be a messenger of God’s love wherever she is, with an emphasis on faith formation.
In her years of service, she said people’s lives have become increasingly hectic, but her goal is simple.
“The greatest contribution anyone can make is to help keep people focused on the most important value, which is to live their spirituality and rejoice in how much God loves us,” Sister Maryjane said. “Sometimes that gets buried under all the other things.”
Msgr. Christopher E. Lathem, pastor of St. John the Beloved, said Sister Maryjane’s role is critical to the future of the church.
“She’s the one, in my view, who gives us the guidance and watches over things so we know faith is being handed on well, especially to the next generation,” Msgr. Lathem said.
During the liturgy prior to her celebration, he held up Sister Maryjane as an example of how to find comfort and challenge in God’s word. The priest said she has successfully brought God’s message to different people in different times for half a century.
“To think of someone living this life for 50 years, and to see the changes wrought in history and adapt and carry on” is inspiring, Msgr. Lathem said.
Sister Maryjane said she had a wonderful time at her celebration, especially seeing her friends from other parishes and her fellow religious in the state.
Her national jubilee also brought together many special people, she said, noting that spending time with her sisters from Rwanda was especially touching, as was seeing Sister Rejeanne Roussel, superior general.
Most of her family — consisting of her mother, four sisters, three brothers-in-law, a brother and sister-in-law, 10 nieces and nephews, and 19 grand nieces and nephews — also attended the event in Buffalo.
She praised all of her sisters and the work they do on an international level, adding that her congregation serves in 10 countries now.
“I have absolutely no regrets in following the call to be a religious woman,” Sister Maryjane said. “I have been blessed in many ways.”