Jubilarians of 2013 reflect on heavenly city found on earth

By | May 5, 2013

I picture the angels and saints constantly giving praise to God by praying and singing the Divine Office, which is the universal prayer of the church. (Sharing in this prayer,) we give glory and praise to God in a very powerful and majestic way. — Sr. Delia Gaber, 50 years

Because I once lived in Kailua, Hawaii on the windward of Oahu in the foothills of the Pali Mountains, this scripture passage is particularly graphic and meaningful to me. Memories of looking at those majestic mountains, even at times as mundane as taking out the trash, still rekindles that spark of consciousness and confidence in God’s abiding presence and work in my life. — Sr. Nancy Kinate, 50 years

This phrase reminds me of the reality of the whole church. My most memorable experience of this was being at Mass in St. Peter’s Square in Rome. It was a very powerful experience of church in its universality, the reality that is the heavenly Jerusalem. — Sr. Patricia Linssen, 50 years

I went to Mundelein (Seminary) to attend the Institute on Religious Life which was an awesome experience. Hundreds of sisters and priests were easily distinguished by their religious garb. I felt the presence of God amidst these joyful, spirit-filled people. Speakers gave excellent presentation on faithfulness to the church, prayer, life in the community and dedication to our apostolate. The liturgies were a taste of heaven. A bishop and other priests celebrated the Eucharist with great solemnity. The homilies were very inspiring as well as practical. The outstanding music lifted my spirit as I praised God for this beautiful experience. — Sr. Jane Marie Loderbauer, 50 years

The second reading for May 5, 2013, describes the heavenly Jerusalem which “gleams with the splendor of God… and the Lamb.” The divine indwelling in us and our believing makes us citizens of this city. The best part of my day is when I have the privilege to attend daily Mass and receive the Holy Eucharist! On June 14, 1963, my twin sister and I had the privilege to make our first profession with the rest of our group. — Sr. Mary Lou Loonsfoot, 50 years

It seems to be the more (and most) challenging experiences of my life which have revealed new, life-changing insights and greater awareness of God’s merciful, ever present love. Deo gratias! — Sr. Michael Ann O’Donnell, 50 years

When I was a pastoral associate at St. Joseph, Sturgeon Bay, a parishioner called to tell me her husband wasn’t doing well and could I come with Communion. (Cyril had been blind for several years and was in a nursing home at the time.) When I got to Cyril’s bedside, his wife, Katherine, and I prayed together. Then I placed the Eucharist on Cyril’s tongue. All at once, Cyril smiled with the greatest joy and raised his arms to a vision that gave Katherine and me goose bumps. He died shortly afterwards. Katherine and I both said we were grateful we witnessed Cyril’s heavenly experience together, or we might have doubted what we saw. — Sr. Sandra Peterson, 50 years

At every liturgical celebration I have the privilege of seeing “the holy city Jerusalem” coming down from heaven as I look about me and I see God’s people, the church, the new Jerusalem, worshiping the Lamb together with me. — Sr. Janet Rose, 50 years

I was privileged to be in Jerusalem on a pilgrimage in 1985. It was indeed a mountaintop experience. After three weeks, I didn’t want to leave, but came to realize that the next place I was called to serve would be my Jerusalem for that time, because God was already there, too. It helped my transition back to the real world of ministry. I had a chance to climb a high mountain in Colorado with a friend years later. The quiet and stillness of the heights spoke volumes to me of the majesty and beauty of God, reinforcing my Jerusalem experience. Another lapse of several years and I found myself on retreat with the theme of liturgy as a mountaintop experience. This totally reinforced the concept that my whole life, if I allow myself to be caught up in God’s love, can be lived in “my” Jerusalem, the holy city where God calls me to be. And he is there. — Sr. Anne Marie Selinsky, 50 years

May the angels guide you… and lead you into the holy city Jerusalem (“In Paradisum”). For me, the new and eternal Jerusalem is symbolic of the now and eternal embrace of God’s holy people at home in God. Guided and led by the messengers who have gone before us, we walk together in faith more precious than gold, in love stronger than death. We walk now and forever in the radiance of God’s light and the lamp of the Lamb. — Sr. Jo Ann Dold, 60 years

Many years ago, my superior asked me to represent her at a sisters’ formation conference taking place at O’Hare Airport in Chicago. (In) what began as a daunting task, I soon discovered God’s presence in a conference room at the airport high above the hustle and bustle of travelers coming and going to all parts of the world. For three hours, the assembled group spent most of our time praying silently and communally for these wayfarers. How awesome that, as planes arrived and departed below, God was in the midst of their busy lives. God had come down to this holy city! — Sr. Janice Funk, 60 years

I retired in 2010 and am now living with our retired sisters at Franciscan Courts in Oshkosh. This time in my life seems like “the holy city Jerusalem coming down from heaven.” It is so wonderful to be living with my fellow sisters that I have known most of my life. Now I have the opportunity to spend more time in prayer and to also be able to serve those sisters that need extra help. — Sr. Catherine Holker, 60 years

“Seeing the holy city coming down from God.” As a city made of people, at times I could see “the city of God” in the sparkle in the eyes and the joy in the voices of my first and second grade day school and religious education students, our future adults. Many times this was evident when they expressed deep, simple love for Jesus, complete trust in God/Jesus, and total sincere belief that God did and still does work miracles. Seeing this always gave me great hope for our church and world. — Sr. Marie Goretti Marcelle, 60 years

The realization of the call from God to a dedicated religious life is my vision of God’s all absorbing love that drew me and continues to grow. — Sr. Annice McClure, 60 years

My life has been very ordinary. I see God coming in small ways and in the ordinary things that happen in daily life. Only when you let the shepherd lead and you follow can you cope with the highs and lows in your life. My motto remains: The Lord spoils me rotten and chuckles with me all the way! — Sr. Georgiana Rank, 60 years

Our life consists of many high points and low points. One important high point in my life was at my reception when I was received into our Franciscan community and I felt very close to God. At that time, I didn’t have a care in the world. But as time went on and I started living and working with others from various backgrounds and experience, I soon “came down from the mountain” and faced reality. — Sr. Alanna Ring, 60 years

During one of my European trips, I was blessed to be able to visit France and Spain and pray at the shrines in Lourdes and Fatima where the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared. For me, these two sacred places felt close to seeing “the holy city of Jerusalem” this side of heaven. It was particularly meaningful since my brief pilgrimages were in off-tourist season and I was able to spend time alone at the Lourdes grotto and Fatima shrine — a special grace for me. — Sr. Lorna Zemke, 60 years

I can’t say I have experienced seeing “the holy city Jerusalem” coming down from heaven, but have felt him in the small and humble experiences of my life. Seeing his presence in the peaceful, joyful countenance of our senior sisters or the bearded smiling face of a homeless man was an awesome presence knowing God is near.  — Sr. Jessica Zwarra, 60 years

Each time I encounter (the) depth of another authentic person, I experience the joy of illumination. In fact, all of God’s creatures call forth a caring and reverend response from me. They give me joy and I respond. As for seeing the “holy city of Jerusalem,” I am not aware of any such experience. — Sr. Lorraine Aspenleiter, 70 years

As I look back on my religious years, feasts of the church such as Pentecost, even Christmas, Jesus as a babe — and as I celebrated jubilees — these are occasions of seeing the holy city and now, as I am aging, I think of how soon I will see the holy city coming down; God to take me to that glorious holy city. — Sr. Mary Constance West, 70 years

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