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More than one celebration needed for two Mercy Sisters

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One hundred times two plus one.

No, it's not the start of an algebraic problem. It's the math necessary to determine the number of candles needed on the birthday cake for Mercy Sisters Mary Theodore Jensen and Laurentia Cerovac, residents of Mercy Villa in Omaha.

Sister Jensen turned 101 Oct. 2 and Sister Cerovac marked her 100th birthday Oct. 29. The two sisters have known each other since entering the novitiate in 1925.

They celebrated their birthdays together with their community and then again separately with their families during the past month. Sister Cerovac said she has especially enjoyed opening the many letters and cards sent by friends, family and former students.

Over the years both sisters have led extraordinary ministries, said Sister Monica Reichmuth, community care coordinator for Mercy Villa.

Sister Jensen worked in health care from 1928 to 1971, serving as a nurse most of that time. Later she became an instructor of nursing primarily at St. Catherine Hospital, the predecessor to Alegent Health Bergan Mercy Medical Center in Omaha. She founded and served as the director of St. Catherine Alumnae Association until the mid-1980s. She was its moderator until 2000.

In 2002 Sister Jensen moved to Mercy Villa. Sister Reichmuth said that until a few months ago, Sister Jensen had been very active and alert.

Sister Cerovac has spent her life teaching. She served as an elementary teacher from 1927 to the mid-1970s in Catholic elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Omaha. She worked as a tutor until 1986.

But Sister Cerovac said she has never fully retired. Since leaving education, she has held small group meetings for individuals interested in spiritual knowledge and growth.

"The older you get, you get other interests than what you used to have," she said.

Sister Reichmuth said she believes staying interested in life is what has helped both Sister Cerovac and Sister Jensen age gracefully.

"Sometimes I feel like I am 99, and sometimes I feel 80 ... or 60 or 65 probably," said Sister Cerovac. "You start wondering how it all happened. You keep so busy most of the time that you don't feel it coming up."

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