The US Province celebrated a Double Jubilee on November 11th: 50 years for Sr. Evelyn and 25 years for Sr. Nuala! The Worcester community welcomed a crowd of well-wishers to the 10:00 a.m. Mass at the College of the Holy Spirit at Assumption College to rejoice and give thanks for our two Sisters. Below is the introduction our Provincial, Sr. Mary Ann, gave before the Mass. It gives you a peak into the lives of our Jubilarians!
Jubilee Mass, Sr. Evelyn and Sr. Nuala
Good morning everyone. I’m Sr. Mary Ann, the Provincial of the Assumption Sisters in the USA and a member of our community here in Worcester. On behalf of all the Sisters of the Province – some of whom have made the journey up from Philadelphia and Lansdale to be with us today – I’m very happy to welcome you to this Eucharistic celebration and thank you for being here.
What some of you may not know about Sr. Nuala is that she does the weekly food shopping for our community. Peals of joy ring out through the house when she comes home from Big Y saying, “it was buy one, get two today!” So it’s fitting that today, we get to celebrate not just one Jubilee, but two.
You could say that our two Sisters who celebrate their anniversaries today – Sr. Evelyn, her 50th and Sr. Nuala, her 25th – are very different. Sr. Evelyn came to know our congregation as a student at the Assumption school in Denmark. When she heard Jesus’ invitation to ‘come, follow me’ her young heart responded in love and embarked on the adventure of becoming an Assumption sister – doing her novitiate at the Mother House in Paris, earningher teacher’s degree in London, and spending many years as an educator in our Assumption schools in England, Kenya, Tanzania and Sweden. Now on her 20th year in our US Province and having lived in each of our communities in the Northeast and Southwest, she has found her joy and passion as an ESL teacher, befriending our immigrant brothers and sisters in Chaparral, New Mexico and more recently, here in Worcester through the different programs of our Assumption Center.
Sr. Nuala, on the other hand, met the Assumption as a newly minted PhD in English Literature when two of our Sisters ahead of her in line didn’t have enough money to buy donuts and coffee after Mass at a parish in West Philadelphia. That act of paying for their Sunday treat led to an invitation to pray with them and befriend them. In 1993 during a raging snowstorm she professed the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience for the first time. Some of us wonder if she made a fourth vow – loyalty to the Patriots and citizenship in Red Sox Nation. For unlike Sr. Evelyn, Sr. Nuala has spent the last 29 years in this Worcester community. This is where she went through her initial formation (with two years off in Belgium where her hair turned white studying Theology in French), to her final vows in this chapel, to 15 years as a professor of English and Theology in this college, to six years (just ended) as our Provincial, and now as Director of Mission at our Assumption Center.
Different stories, yes. And different paths in making real what we say in our vows: “for love of Jesus Christ and in answer to his call, I desire to consecrate myself to him, freely and forever, and to devote my whole life to the extension of his Kingdom.” Like the widow in today’s Gospel, our Sisters have given – and continue to give – all they are and all they have in the daily circumstances of shopping at Big Y and making lesson plans for classes and accompanying young people in their search for meaning and standing with our immigrant sisters and brothers who seek community and dignity. And like the other widow in today’s first reading -- that giving, that surrender, that loving has given them a taste of what she experienced: a jar of flour that never goes empty and a jug of wine that never runs dry. Let us thank God this morning for our Sisters Evelyn and Nuala, and with them, give our thanks to God whose faithfulness never fails and whose providence ever sustains us.