Ordinary encounters are now treasured memories and examples of living religious life
|Sister Mary Paul|
by Sister Elise Cholewinski
I remember how, when I had the opportunity 20 years ago to visit the Holy Land, Sister Carolyn Zahringer was my roommate. Although we had never lived together and I didn’t know her very well, I found her to be a wonderful companion, someone with whom I could easily share the special joys of each day. She took a real interest in what impressed me as we traveled from one site to another, and did not hesitate to share her feelings about what touched her deeply.
I remember going through a very difficult summer program many years ago. I arrived home at the convent on a July day, just before dinner. As I anxiously entered the dining room, out of nowhere came Sister Virginia Churas. She put her arms around me and gave me a big hug, and I have cherished that moment ever since.
I remember lying on a gurney in a hospital, waiting to be wheeled into the operating room for knee surgery, and I was a basket case! Sister Mary Paul Thetreau, with a background in nursing, sat by my side, and in a gentle manner, along with a little teasing, calmed my fear, at least a little!
I remember bringing a friend to see our convent, and we concluded our tour in the library, where we met Sister Bridget Stumpf. Before I knew it, she was holding open a book about icons and explaining them in great detail in a way that revealed the depth of her spirituality.
I remember finishing giving a retreat and being ready to leave the retreat house on a Sunday afternoon, when I bumped into Sister Jeanne Jarvis. She had come from some distance, just to spend time in prayer. Sometime later I would hear her say that she just wanted to be “saturated with Jesus”.
On this Sunday, August 12, we will celebrate our Jubilee Day and will honor these five Sisters. The convent chapel will be filled, the liturgy will be beautiful, and wonderful words will be spoken about the 345 years of service that these Sisters have collectively given to God’s people. As big as the number is, as impressive as the celebration is, I will treasure those one-on-one moments when each of these Sisters touched my heart and spoke to me with great clarity the meaning of religious life.