Celebrate Jubilee 2021: 70, 60, and 25 year anniversaries

Seated, jubilarians Sisters Ann Bannon, Rose Ann Kolbas, Miriam Mashank, Pat McGreevy, Marlene Bertke. Standing Sisters Audrey Steff, Patricia Hause, Prioress Stephanie Schmidt, and Sister Mary Lou Kownacki.

The Benedictine Sisters celebrated the anniversaries of monastic profession of eight sisters in August—see the slide show in the home page header. At a special community dinner during their annual summer gathering at the beginning of August, they honored those marking 70 years of Benedictine life, Sisters Miriam Mashank, Patricia McGreevy, and Marlene Bertke and celebrating 60 years, Sisters Audrey Steff, Rose Ann Kolbas, and Mary Lou Kownacki, and celebrating their 25th jubilee, Sisters Ann Bannon and Patricia Hause. "I'm still can't believe I am celebrating 60 years as a Benedictine," said Sister Audrey. "They have been incredible years filled with so many good things, I hardly remember the challenges. I highly recommend this life!" Short biographies of each jubilarian are in the Summer 2021 issue of The Mount magazine, pages 12-15.

At evening praise prior to the dinner on August 3, the 70 and 60 year celebrants renewed their vows; the 25-year jubilarians celebrated in a public ceremony later in August. The ceremony included a light rite with each jubilarian lighting a candle from the Paschal candle and then placing it on the altar. Once all the candles were placed, the three 70-year jubilarians proclaimed their vows aloud and then one by one went to the altar where Prioress Sister Stephanie Schmidt waited with the open book of Scripture. Each placed her profession document on the Scriptures and signed it, then the prioress signed the paper and sealed it, as the community has done throughout its history. As each profession document was sealed, the entire Benedictine community stood to sing, "Amen, amen, alleluia!"

The ritual was repeated by the 60-year jubilarians. After all six documents were signed and sealed, the six sisters gathered around the Paschal candle to sing the Suscipe, this verse from Psalm 119:116, three times with raised arms: Uphold me, O God, according to your word and I shall live, and do not fail me in my hope. After each time the jubilarians chanted the verse, the community repeated the it. After the third time, together they concluded with the doxology, Glory be to the Creator and to the Redeemer and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and every shall be, world without end, Amen.

After the prioress led the community in blessing the jubilarians, evening praise continued. At the conclusion, the six sisters, followed by the community, processed to the dining room for a special dinner and program of short tributes to each jubilarian, including the two silver jubilarians, given by a sister who knows them well. The loving, sometimes poignant, sometimes humorous tributes captured personalities and honored lives given to seeking God.

The sisters celebrate 60 and 70-year jubilarians among themselves, but family and friends are invited to celebrate with 25 and 50 year celebrants at a separate event. This year, Sisters Ann Bannon and Patricia Hause invited their guests for the celebration in the chapel, followed by a reception, on August 21. After the two sisters followed the same ritual as their sisters had two weeks earlier, which has its origin in Chapter 58 of the 1,500-year-old Rule of Benedict: The Procedure for Receiving Members, they led guests and sisters, all wearing masks due to COVID, in procession to the dining room for the festive reception.

"It’s a day I will remember forever," said Sister Pat, who spent the afternoon going from table to table to visit with family, friends, and sisters who gathered to celebrate with her. "I knew celebrating a silver jubilee would be special but it was better than I could have imagined!"

Listen to Prioress Stephanie Schmidt's reflections at the 25th Jubilee Celebration.