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Four Women Religious to Mark Milestone Jubilees

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The Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of Raleigh, will celebrate Mass on Saturday, January 30, 2010, for four Religious Sisters celebrating milestones of service in 2010. The Mass will take place at 11:00 AM at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Raleigh. The four jubilarians total 190 years of pastoral ministry.

Sister Grace Campbell, IHM - 50 Years

A Sister Servant of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Scranton, PA, Sister Grace Campbell met her Congregation in first grade and wanted to be an IHM Sister from that time. Sister loved teaching, especially first grade, and she served as principal for three years. It was during these years that she began visiting the sick at the hospital next door to the convent. In time, she realized that she was called to serve the infirm and studied for her Clinical Pastoral Education certificate. After twelve years as a hospital chaplain, she became pastoral administrator at St. Elizabeth Parish in Farmville, NC. At present, she is on the staff of St. Paul’s Parish in New Bern ministering in faith formation.

Founded by Mother Theresa Maxis, a woman with both Haitian and British roots, her Congregation has a special concern for diversity and the inclusion of all people. She recounts that the IHM Sisters came to North Carolina to teach African American children during the period of Jim Crow in the South, and now the Sisters have a special concern for Spanish-speaking newcomers. Sister Grace’s own life is energized by her prayer, the Eucharist and love of the Blessed Mother.

Sister Mary Jean Korejwo, SND – 50 Years

Sister Mary Jean is a member of the Sisters of Notre Dame of Chardon, Ohio. She came to know the Sisters when she attended Notre Dame College of Ohio, and she was attracted by their care and concern for the young women they taught. Sister Mary Jean began teaching high school biology and math as soon as she made first vows and continued for 37 years: 13 in the Diocese of Cleveland, 21 in the Diocese of Youngstown and three years at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh. Sister continued ministering at Cardinal Gibbons as a member of the Development Office for eight years, and now serves as an administrative assistant in business and admissions.

The great gift to Sister has been the people she has come in contact with in her ministries and communities. She believes in immersing herself in her current community, and she is buoyed in her faith and prayer by four other Sisters of Notre Dame in the Raleigh area.

Sister Mary Jean believes that personal commitment to God and openness to what God calls her to be are the ways in which she can best nourish the Catholic communities where she lives and ministers. Her lifelong motto comes from the Acts of the Apostles: “Silver and gold, I have not, but what I have I give.”

Sister Helene Therese McGroarty, IHM – 50 Years

Sister Helene Therese is a member of the Sister Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Philadelphia. In her sophomore year in high school, Sister yearned to serve in the missions. After considering several missionary communities, she joined the IHM Sisters, who had been her teachers and models for religious life. Her family was a bit surprised but offered no resistance to Sister’s life choice.

Over 30 years of her ministry have been spent in Latin America as a teacher. She taught religion in high school and in summers went into the jungle to do pastoral work and teach catechetics.

While she was teaching in Chile she learned that Bishop Burbidge was searching for Sisters with Spanish language skills. Sister talked with Monsignor Tim O’Connor, Pastor of St. Michael’s in Cary, about the needs of the Spanish-speaking community of St. Michael’s and returned to the U.S. to serve there. Sister works with others on the parish team to provide faith formation, retreats, RCIA, hospice and family visiting to the Spanish-speaking parishioners. On two evenings a week, Sister and a co-worker go to the trailer parks, where many of these parishioners live, to say the Rosary with them and to encourage them.

Sister Helene Therese is grateful for all the spiritual benefits she has received through her beloved IHM community. She says that she is full of hope and at peace about the future of religious life because “God has brought us this far and will continue to lead us.”

Sister Mary Margaret Filan, IHM - 40 Years

Sister Mary Margaret Filan is a member of the Sister Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Philadelphia. Raised by loving Catholic parents, Sister received her family’s blessing to enter the Congregation and her happiness in the novitiate convinced them she was doing God’s Will.

Sister Mary Margaret was taught by the IHM Sisters and became interested in the missions when she heard talks about them. A few years after her profession, she went to Latin America where she spent over 20 years ministering in Chile and Peru. While in Chile, she learned that Bishop Burbidge was looking for Spanish-speaking Sisters to minister in North Carolina. Missioned to St. Bernadette’s in Fuquay Varina, Sister is the director of religious education to the Spanish-speaking parishioners, children and adults, in a catechetical program that includes 1000 children and celebrates forty baptisms a month.

Sister Mary Margaret is sustained by her prayer and community, her love for Our Blessed Mother, the Rosary and the Eucharist. These, she believes, will be the bedrock of any future form of religious life. She considers Sisters as Daughters of the Church and she treasures her years in community, calling it a “jewel, to be able to transmit the gift of faith.”

(Additional information is available on the four Sisters in the Jan/Feb issue of the NC Catholics.)