Celebration of Jubilees – a gathering of ‘saints past and present’

October 29, 2013

HOUSTON — The founder of the Office of Aging. Professors at the University of St. Thomas. A doctorate recipient in organ performance. An immigration attorney at Catholic Charities.

These are just some of the diverse titles, duties and recognitions associated with the 43 religious sisters, priests and deacon gathered for the annual Archdiocesan Celebration of Jubilees at All Saints Catholic Church on Oct. 13. The Mass was celebrated by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, who presented each Jubilarian with a framed certificate as brief introductions and biographies were announced by Sister Anita Brenek, CDP, Office for Vocations associate director.

This year’s Jubilarians were honored for 25, 50, 60, 70 and 75 years of service. The Serra Club sponsored a reception in the parish hall following the Mass.

All Saints Church recently completed the installation of 12 icons depicting a variety of recent saints, making the venue particularly suitable for the occasion, according to Sister Heloise Cruzat, O.P., the vicar for religious for the Archdiocese and celebration organizer.

“This was truly a gathering of saints past and saints present,” Sister Cruzat said. “This year’s Jubilarians represented 2,285 years of service and prayer.”

The two Jubilarians who have served for more than seven decades both have ties to the All Saints community.

• Celebrating 75 years in ministry, Sister Denise Bordages entered the Dominican Sisters of Houston in 1938 and attended Dominican College after graduating from St. Anthony High School in Beaumont. She was in active teaching ministry for more than 40 years, serving in many Beaumont and Houston area elementary and high schools, including All Saints. 

In retirement, Sister Bordages volunteered for the Ministry with the Aging in Beaumont, and later worked with the archives at the Dominican Sisters’ motherhouse. She currently resides at St. Dominic Villa where she is active in prayer ministry. 

• Sister Teresita Partin, a Diamond Jubilarian of 70 years and Sister of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament, is the aforementioned founder of the Office of Aging in Galveston-Houston. Growing up in All Saints Church, she trained as a nurse before entering the community.

Her first assignment as a sister, however, was as a teacher at St. Vincent de Paul when it opened as a new school. She later received her doctorate in education and served as one of the first diocesan supervisors of schools. She also worked as a government employee at a Job Corp Center and ministered in All Saints Parish for 30-plus years. She is now retired but also serves in her community’s Heritage Collection. 

• Sister Marie Faubert, CSJ, a 60-year Jubilarian, is a Sister of St. Joseph of Boston. She began her teaching career at St. Mary’s in her home state of Massachusetts but her longest ministry was in evangelization within African-American communities.

“The most unique experience I have had, which symbolizes the Universal Church, is being able to participate in the Eucharistic Congress in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1985,” she said. “I was part of the African American Catholic delegation from the United States of America.”

She has a doctorate in Counseling Education and Supervision and has served now for 20 years as a professor of Counselor Education at the University of St. Thomas. She is proud to be a Sister of St. Joseph whose charism is to be women of reconciliation and hospitality. 

“In addition to my own cultural upbringing and being part of the charism of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, the Providence of God has allowed me to grow with my neighbors whose spiritual experiences and ways of living them come out of experiences of oppression and discrimination,” Sister Faubert said. “These opportunities for spiritual growth have been life-changing.”

• Sister Dympna Lyons, another 60-year Jubilarian and a Sister of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament, came to Texas in 1949 with 11 other young women from her home in County Mayo, Ireland. When newly professed, she was assigned as a teacher at St. Theresa’s in Memorial Park. She later worked as a hospital chaplain and as a director of religious education. For several years, she served as pastoral minister at St. Vincent de Paul Church with many varied responsibilities. She is currently an archivist for her community.

“Looking back, there were many blessings,” Sister Lyons said. “God blessed me along the way, gave me the health and the strength that I needed to work.”

God also gave her the strength to endure through the inevitable challenges.

“There are difficulties as we go through life; sisters are not exempt from difficulties and sorrows and all of that,” Sister Lyons said. “My experience is that God always gives us grace, we trust Him. As a teenager, Jesus was very real to me and His presence in the Blessed Sacrament was and still is very significant for me. From reading the scriptures, especially in high school and being taught by nuns, we studied the Gospels and Jesus became very alive for me and became very personal. A personal relationship with Jesus can bring you through anything, through any difficulty. He is always loving us and providing for our needs and giving us the strength we need when the times are hard.”

Referencing her experience as a vocations coordinator, she encourages those discerning the priesthood and religious life to have a “real, definite relationship with Jesus” and to seize the call to a vocation whenever the opportunity presents itself.

“You don’t come just to teach, you don’t come to just minister to people... the consecrated God, the call to answer His call and to serve Him in whatever way He asks of us is very important,” she said. “What I say to young people is don’t delay answering the call. If you feel the call, you will never know until you try it. God gives us the strength with whatever it is we need to know and to develop a better relationship with Him. He is always calling and encouraging us.”

Sister Lyons urges young people to be involved in their parishes, in receiving the sacraments and by staying close to God and doing “whatever He calls them to do.”

“When we open ourselves up, we do come to know Him better and love Him more. He is always blessing us with many graces every day. The gift of faith, the gift of life — that is the greatest gift of all.” 

Sister Heloise Cruzat, O.P., and Sister Anita Brenek, CDP, contributed to this report.