What does a religious vocation mean?

Members of religious communities celebrating milestone anniversaries were asked to share their thoughts about what their vocations have meant to their lives. Here are their responses:

25 years

Sr. Mary Angela Parkins, CSSF
“Reflecting on these past 25 years as a Felician Sister I thank God for His goodness to me. It has been a faith-filled journey for which I am humbly grateful. I have been happy to be of service to His people and my fellow Sisters. I hold deep in my heart all those who have touched my life.”

Fr. John Celichowski, OFM Cap.
“Celebrating 25 years of religious life has been an opportunity to give thanks to God for my vocation and the opportunity to serve God and the Church in various places and ways. It has been a blessing and a privilege.”

Fr. Joseph John Gillespie, LC
“Celebrating 25 years of religious life has been the best thing I could have done with my life. For me as a religious and a priest, is the possibility of bringing souls to God and getting closer to salvation myself. Life is short. This is for me the best way to live it.”

50 years

Sr. Orlanda Leyba, OP
“Celebrating 50 years of religious life has been an incredibly graced gift and journey wherein God’s Spirit continues to bless, delight and surprise me. My life has been enriched beyond expectation as I journeyed with people of all ages, all of us, in one way or another, reaching out for the extended hand of God.”

Sr. Pat McCluskey, IHM
“Celebrating 50 years of religious life as an IHM Sister has been a journey far beyond anything I could have imagined. It has been a journey of expanding horizons, growth and transformation, one in which I’ve been blessed by those with whom I have been privileged to share life and ministry, both here in the U.S. and overseas, a journey which has led me to an even deeper awareness of God’s beautiful love and Presence in our midst, inviting us to ever deeper life. My heart is full of wonder and gratitude!”

Br. Bob Malloy, OFM Cap.
“Celebrating 50 years has been an experience of discovery, risk and contentment. In 1963, the Church and the world were going through turmoil and change. I am grateful for the grace of perseverance. Now, I pray to know what God wants of me — and the grace and strength to do it.”

Br. Raymond Meier, OFM Cap.
“I have always liked where I was serving and found it hard to leave. But I always soon loved where I was sent. I thank God for all these experiences. I have always been impressed by the many Capuchins I have lived with and those who have come before us.”

Sr. Joyce Marie Van de Vyver, CSSF
“Celebrating 50 years of religious life has been a time to offer gratitude: for the gift of FAITH which was given to me freely by the Spirit throughout my life; for the support of the FELICIAN Congregation which allowed me to serve the people of God totally and completely; for the love of FAMILY and FRIENDS which has graced me with joy. Advocating for young children year after year has given purpose to my religious life. Knowing that these children go into the world spreading the Good News has strengthened my resolve to continue the work God has begun through me.”

Sr. Mary Giovanni Monge, CSSF
“Celebrating 50 years of religious life has been a time to give praise and thanks to God for His unrelenting mercy upon me. Thought I am still in need of much conversion, God’s love gives me the courage to get up each morning and serve His people in love.”

Sr. Ann Nett (Sr. Marie Nora), IHM
“Celebrating 50 years of religious life has been an enriching learning experience as I accompanied and was accompanied on life’s journey. This was especially true of my ministry among the poor in northeast Brazil, where I worked with individuals, groups and communities, choosing life in whatever circumstance, a teaching and learning experience.”

Sr. Kathy Avery, OSM
“Celebrating 50 years of religious life has been a delightful journey of faith. As a Servant of Mary, I have been in Catholic education during my years of ministry. Sharing my beliefs, love and concern for each child and family I have worked with has been life-giving.”

Fr. Giulio Schiavi, PIME
“Celebrating 50 years of religious life has been a celebration of thanksgiving to God, to my parents, and to those who brought me to the missionary priesthood and especially to PIME (Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions). Fifty years of missionary life in Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea and the United States helped me to understand the greatness of my faith, to communicate with others, and it has great meaning that this golden jubilee happened to me in the ‘Year of Faith.’”

Fr. John Phelps, C.Ss.R.
“Celebrating 50 years as a Redemptorist carries memories of awakening hope in disconnected young adults from their faith communities. Professed in the middle of Vatican Council II, I was ordained the year Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated. My life has been centered on ‘Life’ out of death situations and forgiving coming out of violence. From daily prayer and Eucharist to community organizing through public schools, I have traveled an adventure of joy and look forward to more!”

60 years

Sr. Mary Jo Rosenau, IHM
“Celebrating 60 years of religious life has been a wonderful experience and my response to God’s call. Living in a community of sisters and teaching for so many years has been my way of using my God-given gifts and talents. I offer grateful prayers for all I’ve received and for all those I’ve served.”

Sr. Anne Wisda, IHM
“My 60 years of religious life have been a sacred journey. Within my IHM community, I have been called through various ministries to reach out in compassionate ways to serve those in need and to work for peace and justice in our world. For me, jubilee is a time of celebration, prayer and grateful remembering.”

Sr. Mary Sandra Jakubowski, CSSF
“Celebrating 60 years of religious life has been a privilege to pray, serve and love God and His people. Celebrating this jubilee is a gift from God which I cherish and thank Him for daily.”

Br. Paul Hanisko, OFM Cap.
“I have become more wise, more humble and more thankful as a Capuchin friar. I thank God for calling my name. I feel unworthy. I reach out to those who are thinking to be a religious. I say please give it a try. God will do the rest.”

Sr. Carol Favor, IHM
“Celebrating 60 years of religious life has been a great joy for me. I feel God has blessed me in many ways. I will always appreciate all the community has done for me and my family. I praise God every day for my vocation.”

Sr. Marie Josephine Lichowicz, CSSF
“Upon profound reflection the following have been somewhat realized: gratitude for my religious vocation; satisfaction in molding young minds; appreciation for the numerous opportunities to improve myself; and developing a greater love of God, trying to exhibit it in every aspect of my life!”

Sr. Helen Huellmantel, SSJ-TOSF
“Living 60 years as a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis is a gift I cherish deeply. Through all life’s happenings I have felt the love of God. Teaching, chaplaincy, ministry in the inner city to children and families, many of whom lived below the poverty level, were experiences that were both challenging and rewarding. I have learned that we are all human beings, subject to the hardships, joys, weakness and pain. I have met many wonderful people and been enriched by knowing them. I am happy to visit members of my parish, Sacred Heart, in nursing homes. I take Holy Communion to them and pray with them. I continue to have time and the opportunity to reflect, attend Mass, participate in the sacramental life of the Church and be a part of my religious community. Over and over again, I experience God’s profound love in my life. I hold the sisters, and other people of the community, country and world in prayer. I especially pray for peace. I celebrate this milestone with heartfelt gratitude.”

Sr. Caroline Clark, DC
“I celebrate my 60th year as a Daughter of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul and I am grateful for all the blessings, joys and privileges I have experienced. I have met so many wonderful people in my many years as a teacher and principal. Today I continue to grow in love of God and service of others as the regional spiritual advisor for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.”

Sr. Jane Marie Lebiedzinski, CSSF
“Celebrating 60 years of religious life has been, for me, a truly humbling experience of God’s loving care and guidance, throughout each day in His service as I touched the lives of so many. The Lord’s Love and Trust in choosing me to help Him accomplish His mission of saving souls for all eternity has been the greatest gift received during these 60 years.”

Fr. Gerald Cavanagh, SJ
“Fr. Paul Hallinan of Cleveland, Newman Chaplain at Case, was a good friend and inspired my vocation. Paul Hallinan was later the first archbishop of Atlanta and a leading figure at Vatican II, so I had a model exemplar. I have taught business ethics in Detroit (1970-79) at Wayne State University and then at the University of Detroit, now at University of Detroit Mercy. While at Wayne and UDM, I celebrated Sunday and daily Mass for students and faculty. I also taught at Santa Clara University (Calif.), 1979-80, and Boston College, 1986-87. Teaching and writing about business social responsibility demands that I understand the ethical entanglements of business and businesspeople, and this provides a foundation for understanding and communicating with all people. It also offers me an opportunity to advocate for Catholic social values — from fair wages to preserving our planet. An annual enjoyable week for the last 40 years is taking student leaders on a weeklong backpack-retreat to Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. We enjoy the spring wildflowers, waterfalls and mountain views in the backcountry, away from electricity and indoor plumbing. It is a freeing experience for all. After daily hikes we generally have Eucharist, with students planning the Mass and picking themes and readings.”’

Sr. Carol Anne Heitgen, OSF
“Celebrating 60 years of religious life has been a joyful time of praise and thanksgiving to God for all the many blessings I have received. I am grateful to my family and my Bernadine Franciscan community for their continuous support, love and encouragement. I look forward to the future with my God as my Lord and my Friend.”

65 years

Sr. Mary Jo Maher, IHM
“Celebrating 65 years of religious life has been filled with wonderful opportunities for ministry among faith-filled Catholic people and with dedicated priests, sisters and lay ministers.”

Sr. Mary Jean Rogoszewski, CSSF
“Celebrating 65 years of religious life has been many years of blessings and opportunities. I am humbly grateful to the Lord for my vocation, to my family, sisters and friends for their support over the years.”

Sr. Mary Paulita Bikowski, CSSF
“Celebrating 65 years of religious life has been a gift from Almighty God. I felt the support of the Sisters when establishing the Montessori Center of Our Lady in 1976, and even now in my recent illness, myasthenia gravis. What a joy it is to live in community!”

Sr. Mary Virginia Gola, CSSF

Sr. Mary de Sales Herman, CSSF
“Celebrating 65 years of religious life has been a time of grace, granting me the gift of a lively faith, a firm hope, and an ardent love for God and neighbor, particularly in my ministry of teaching and vocation ministry. I treasure the daily remembrance in prayer all of the Felician Sisters, living and deceased, who have graced me with their prayerful and good example of what it means to be faithfully steadfast in your religious vocation.”

Sr. Eva Schoell, IHM
“Celebrating 65 years of religious life has been a tremendous gift, filled with many joys, sorrows, successes and failures.”

70 years

Sr. Noeleta O’Dea, IHM
“Celebrating 70 years of religious life has been the fulfillment of an invitation from a loving God who summoned me to follow Him many years ago. As a sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, my ministry was spent teaching school beginning in 1945 in elementary grades, progressing through middle grades and finishing teaching high school from 1960 through 1998. Following a year of renewal, I joined our retired sisters in Monroe, where relaxation and choice of activities is the order of the day.”

Sr. Patricia Guthrie, IHM
“Celebrating 70 years of religious life has been a gift that I treasure. The leadership of my IHM congregation has recognized and nurtured the God-given gifts I possess, which have enabled me to become a good educator, administrator and supervisor of schools at the elementary and secondary levels. I have treasured, also, the opportunities provided for spiritual growth and development.”

Sr. Mary Bernadine Fabiszak, CSSF
“Celebrating 70 years of religious life has been a life of challenges and blessings. I am grateful to God for my vocation.”

Sr. Mary Martin Lewandowski, CSSF
“Celebrating 70 years of religious life has been great. Teaching has been my life. It makes me feel happy to present the goodness of the Lord to my students.”

Sr. Mary Redempta Czepirski, CSSF

Sr. Marie Hopkins, IHM
“Celebrating 70 years of religious life; ‘Deo Gratias’ is for a wonderful life. My heart overflows. Thanks be to God.”

Sr. Mary Modesta Piwowar, CSSF
“Praise and glorify the Lord with me, for the fulfilling and enriching 70 years of my religious vocation. I thank God, my Felician Franciscan community, my family and friends and all who have touched my life in the teaching apostolate for 13 years and in the health ministry for 54 years. I especially thank God for the grace and privilege to initiate, in 1998, the No One Dies Alone Program. Presently, 80 compassionate companion volunteers assist me to provide a reassuring presence to the dying hospice patients and their families at St. Mary Mercy Hospital in Livonia.”

Sr. Mariella Chrusciel, CSSF
“Celebrating 75 years of religious life has been a blessing to me. I am grateful to God, my family, my sisters in community, my friends and those whom I have been privileged to serve who have walked with me on this life journey.”

75 years

Sr. Letitia O’Connell, IHM
“Celebrating 75 years of religious life, looking back over those years has revealed an amazing journey into life with Christ. My years in Michigan, in Puerto Rico, Japan and Washington, D.C., with people of all cultures, have developed an amazing realization of how Jesus Christ works in every human being.”

Sr. Mary Angelita Winkowski, CSSF
“Celebrating 75 years of religious life has been a continuous series of activity for me. I have been a junior high teacher, a supervisor of schools for six years, a Montessori teacher for 16 years and worked in the archives of Orchard Lake Schools for a number of years. Today I am on a mission of prayer. I am grateful to God for all of these experiences in my life.”

80 years

Sr. Mary Teresitta Dams, CSSF
“Celebrating 80 years of religious life has been a joy for me, as it brought me closer to Jesus. My sister, a Felician Sister, set the pace for me and I followed her into the Felician Congregation. Being small in stature lent itself very well in teaching first graders the four R’s — Religion being the first. Having a special devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux aided me in adorning the altars for the Lord as a sacristan.”

Sr. Margaret Sullivan, IHM
“Celebrating 80 years of religious life has been a challenge and a great blessing. Adjusting to many changes in religious life has been the challenge. The blessings have been numerous. My IHM community has nourished the seed of my vocation by providing me with opportunities for spiritual growth and involvement in ministries promoting earth, peace and justice and prayerful influence.”

Sr. Mary Maureen Pilecki, CSSF
“Celebrating 80 years of religious life is very special to me in that the Lord gave me the gift of a vocation as a Felician Sister enjoying good health and sound mind. Although I served in many ministries walking in the footsteps of our foundress, Blessed Mary Angela, I was especially fond of the ministry of nursing in the maternity section of the hospital. The Lord be praised!”

Sr. Mary Symphoria Boros, CSSF
“Celebrating 80 years of religious life is very special to me. Being a Felician Sister, working in so many ministries for a great number of years is beyond compare. The greatest gift the Lord has given me is good health so that I was able to serve the Lord in various ministries while walking in the footsteps of our foundress, Blessed Mary Angela.”

81 years

Sr. Stephanie Mueller, IHM
“Celebrating 81 years of religious life has been deeply enriching — wish I had another 10!”