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Jubilarian sisters call consecrated life 'an amazing grace'

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This year's jubilarians have spent a combined 205 years in service to God. Years of teaching schoolchildren, ministering to the homeless and caring for parishioners. Years following God's call in various states and foreign lands. In spite of the challenges they faced over the years, the sisters said "yes" to God all over again when they renewed their vows at the jubilee celebration.

Dozens of sisters celebrated along with the jubilarians at a May 18 Mass celebrated by Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde at Marymount University chapel in Arlington. The three jubilarians present - Sister of Our Lady of La Sallette Aniliza Juan and Sisters, Servant of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Janice Thérèse Urbanec and Anne Marie Markoe - wore boutonnieres, and served as lector and gift bearers. The fourth, Benedictine Sister Anita Sherwood, who marks her 80th jubilee this year, was unable to attend.

The reading from Songs of Songs was a tribute to the loving relationship between a bride and bridegroom. The sisters all joyfully sang the psalm: "The bridegroom is here, let us go out and meet Christ the Lord."

In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, Bishop Loverde encouraged the women to be signs of Christ's everlasting mercy, just as their own vocations were a sign of His mercy working in their lives.

"The vocation or call not only to be a disciple, but a disciple invited into a unique bond with Jesus Christ, is brimming over with divine mercy," said Bishop Loverde. "God destined that each one of you dear jubilarians would be a spouse to his only Son, Jesus. His love and mercy toward you endures forever."

For Sister Aniliza, celebrating her 25 years of commitment to the religious life was an "amazing grace." She grew up in the Philippines and was a sister there until 2012, when she moved to the Unites States and began working at Christ House in Alexandria.

Her only regret is that her mother wasn't able to be there. "God planted the seed (of my vocation), but she watered it," said Sister Aniliza. "This is my first time at a mission … but it's always on His plan and I thank God for this."

Di Mauro can be reached at zdimauro@catholicherald.com or on Twitter @zoeydimauro.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016