Sisters of Charity Celebrate 85 Years In Arizona
Sunday, September 9, 2018
Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church
Thanks to all who made our 85th anniversary in Arizona a huge success.
Sister Jeanne Bartholomeaux
We come today with hearts full of gratitude.
Lord, it would be enough today just to celebrate
each other, so many amazing people in the hall today.
Lord in your goodness we are being
nourished with your gift of Eucharist
nourished with good food and fine entertainment
nourished with companionship and time together
It would be enough!
Bu, lord, we have 85 years to remember and rejoice in.
85 years with the Sisters of Charity
85 years touched by the charism of Charity
And 85 years of spreading the charism of Charity to generations of Arizonians
Lord, we are blessed.
So we pray.
We give thanks almighty God for these and all your blessings which we have received now and in the future, through Christ our Lord, Amen.
Bishop Weisenburger Homily
Sunday Mass: 9/9/2018
The Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill are a congregation founded by Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. Their patrons are St. Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac. Their motto is “The Charity of Christ urges us.“ It reflects a source of encouragement from Mother Seton’s spirit that inspires great willingness to try new ventures: Hazard yet forward!
Education, health care and social work where prominent traditional ministries for the sisters. In 1930, the ministries were located generally in Pennsylvania, with the mother house in Greensburg, Pa. In 1933, Fr. Patterson, who was taught by the Sisters of Charity in Pennsylvania, requested Sisters to come to Tucson from Greensburg, to run the Saints Peter and Paul Parish School. Eight sisters from Pennsylvania arrived by train in August 1933, having crossed country to encounter a really different geographic and cultural experience. They eventually grew to 80 in the southwest. A total of 300 served in Arizona throughout these last 85 years. Beginning in Tucson, they spread through the years to include Ajo, Nogales, Phoenix, San Carlos, and Globe. Their ministries expanded from education to: parish ministry, hospital work, social work, diocesan ministries, incarceration ministry, counseling and art.
In addition to these, Sisters served the diocese in many secondary ways: including spending weekends teaching catechism at the deaf and blind school, summers on the reservations and in various mining town throughout the State of Arizona.
Five Sisters remain among us—sharing the charism of charity, located in Tucson and Scottsdale. Those who have spent time in Arizona during these last 85 years enjoy a special place in the hearts of our people.
From the archives:
No description of the Seton Hill Sisters pioneering in the West would be adequate if it did not start by using the name of their beloved Mother M. Eveline Fisher. She who jokingly remarked that the erection of a chicken coop was the only building to her credit. It is written that perhaps she failed to realize at the time: the many mansions in Heaven that would be built due to her zeal to spread the Kingdom of God in the neglected land of the West.
Now, sisters, when we pause to consider the children and many others that you and your pioneer sisters before you,
–taught to read & write,
–the faith you not only TAUGHT but LIVED by good example,
–the broken, hungry and poor you helped along the way,
–and the host of other ministries of evangelization you shared so generously,
We can only conclude that your contribution to the Church of our Diocese and our State is nothing less than immense. On behalf of all those whose lives you touched, as well as those of us blessed to know you today, please stand and accept our most sincere gratitude.
Now Sisters, I don’t mean to let myself “off the hook” today when it comes to breaking
open the Scriptures for the sake of a true homily, but in some respects, your history, lives, and ministry “ARE” the homily. Allow me to explain this through 3 points that stand out to me in this gospel passage:
(1) First, in today’s Gospel, recall that Jesus heals a man who is deaf and can barely speak. And it happens because the man is literally “TAKEN TO JESUS BY THE CROWD!” On his own, he probably had no idea who Jesus was or what Jesus could do for him. But out of their love and affection for him, there were members of the crowd who at least intuited that this “Jesus” could help him. And Jesus responded abundantly to their initiative.
Again, this man would never have been healed, or come to know Jesus, had it not been for the love of the crowd—his “community.”
(2) Secondly, Jesus takes the man away from the crowd, by himself. This action reveals Jesus’ desire for us to spend time with Him in a privileged environment of communion, friendship, and formation in the Christian way of life. The distractions of ordinary life, and the noise of the crowds, can prevent us from being able to focus our attention on HIM ALONE, and to foster a relationship with him. In every age, we too have to step apart, and spend privileged time alone with Jesus.
(3) Thirdly (and finally), note that in the actual healing of the man, Jesus physically touches him. While it’s Jesus divine “WORD” that heals, the healing is affected through human touch. A great many scripture scholars insist that this gesture tells us that discipleship is not possible without a personal connection to Jesus Himself. Indeed, the crowds may have heard about him, but to come to life in him requires a personal “connection.”
Sisters, this biblical “crowd” (which we might call “community”) the way you live, has brought untold multitudes to Christ. And in your great love for each of them, it was your community that lovingly got them to Jesus!
Again, it’s well worth remembering today what you have done in these last 85 years, and what you do for us today! But perhaps it’s equally worth pointing out that your EXAMPLE of THE CROWD can help the rest of us to find our own way to be “community” – our own way to band together as his followers, and then bring others to Christ.
Second, as Jesus has taken the deaf/mute man aside to spend time with him, I cannot help but be reminded that, for example, in priestly ministry it is oftentimes not the group experiences of ministry where we find we made a difference—it’s in the privileged individual encounters. The one-on-one appointments, interactions in the hospital, in the confessional, in our office, etc.
Sisters, as many reflect back on your 85-year history, the stories that oftentimes come out reveal the many and critical intimate, one-on-one interactions, when you reached out to the person before you, in whatever circumstances—and helped them to know the love of Christ. Those experiences, like that of the gospel, are powerful and redemptive.
And lastly Sisters, there’s an old saying “a good doctor is not afraid to touch the wound.” Sisters, just as Jesus healing is effected through his GENTLE TOUCH; through being “connected to him”, so too have you – perhaps in a figure of speech, but with much power, — touched the wounds of many – bringing a healing and wholeness that would rival any physician today.
In the end, Sisters, this is what I think you have been for us for 85 years, and who you continue to be for us today and into the future. Thank you for your past; thank you for your present; thank you for what you will be for us in the future.
But above all, thank you for being—in a unique and loving way—Christ for us.