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Celebrating milestone anniversaries

Contemplation and action.

That combination – part of the charism of the Sisters of Mercy – has highlighted 50 years of religious life for Sister of Mercy Patricia McDermott, president of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.

And not just her own service – but by virtue of her leadership position, the service and prayer she has witnessed throughout the order’s ministries in health care, education, social services and spirituality, she said.

"I’ve had a unique window in how each sister, and our sisters collectively, try to reflect that rhythm," said Sister McDermott, an Omaha native serving in Silver Spring, Md.

Sister McDermott is among 60 religious sisters and brothers with ties to the Archdiocese of Omaha who are being honored in this edition of the Catholic Voice as they celebrate milestone anniversaries of 50, 60, 70 or more years of service to the church. Each either were born in the archdiocese, served here or both.

School Sister of St. Francis Janet Guenther, a Crofton native whose 50 years of service has included teaching children in archdiocesan schools, pastoral work in parishes and working as a chaplain in hospitals, said a highlight for her was a pilgrimage to the Holy Land she might not have made without a generous gift from a woman she ministered to in the hospital until her death from cancer.

The trip was filled with experiences she could share in the classroom as she helped prepare children and adults to enter the church in the Rite of Christian Initiation, said Sister Guenther, now living at New Cassel Retirement Center in Omaha.

Both sisters said they are grateful for opportunities to serve and pray for others. And they have advice for people who might consider the religious life.

"Entering a religious community is the living out of one’s baptismal promises," Sister Guenther said. "Living with other sisters in community has its challenges and rewards. Check out different communities and get involved with their mission activities. If possible, living and working with sisters is a good way to experience their lifestyle."

Sister McDermott said "it’s a great life. And it holds great promise for those who have a call. It is about a call – God’s movement in someone’s life."

For her, Sister McDermott said, "It’s been total gift. It’s been nothing but gift and opportunity and a deep, deep privilege."

Religious sisters and brothers and their anniversaries as they appeared in the Aug. 12 issue of the Catholic Voice are available by clicking here. Unless otherwise stated, all assignment locations are in Omaha.

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