Pauline sister celebrates silver jubilee

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Sister Maria Grace Dateno, Daughter of St. Paul, observed her 25th anniversary of her commitment to the religious life with a Mass celebrated by Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde May 21 at Marymount University in Arlington.

Surrounded by other sisters, friends, and her parents, Bill and Betty Ann Dateno, the jubilarian beamed with happiness as Bishop Loverde thanked her for her service to the church. Bishop Loverde also congratulated her parents, who celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary that week. Bishop was assisted by Father Frank J. Ready, retired, and Father Robert Wagner, bishop's secretary.

In his homily, the bishop spoke of the blessings of a consecrated life and the virtue of humility, reminding those present that Jesus Christ showed humility in calling Himself the "vine that nourishes the branches" with His grace for them to bear great fruit.

"It is only when we are humble that we place God's will above our own," he said. "Humility is necessary for holiness."

He concluded the homily sharing the community's joy for Sister Maria Grace and her "25 years of fruitfulness and 25 years of clinging to Jesus Christ."

After the homily, Sister Maria Grace renewed her vows, rededicating herself to the service of God and church.

Sister Maria Grace said she was happy to be stationed in the Arlington Diocese during this celebration because it is where her vocation started. She remembers God putting "a drop of an idea" in her head when she was 5 years old and met her first nun, Sister Maria Immaculata, Daughters of Wisdom, at St. Bernadette School in Springfield.

"My first thought that I would be a sister was because my name is Maria and her name is Maria," she recalled. "I didn't know at the time that half the nuns in the world have Mary, Maria or Marie in their names."

Growing up, she thought about becoming a religious sister on and off, but also considered getting married and having children, and pursuing a career in math and science.

"It wasn't until seventh or eighth grade and then high school that really the thought came back to me seriously," she said.

She started her postulancy immediately after graduating from high school in Boston and entered the Daughters of St. Paul formation house in Boston, professing her first vows June 28, 1989.

Her current assignment is manager of Pauline Books and Media in Alexandria. Sister Maria Grace is also a children's book author, and her most recent releases are the six books in the "Gospel Time Trekkers" series - time-travel adventures for kids ages 6 to 9.

Exuding happiness, Sister Maria Grace said that she still cannot believe it has been 25 years since her first profession.

"It's all kind of hitting me now, but I just feel gratitude for these 25 years," she said. "I'm beginning my feeling of jubilee right now."

Later this year, Sister Maria Grace will celebrate her silver jubilee with her community in Boston.

Negro can be reached at mnegro@catholicherald.com or on Twitter @MNegroACH.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2014