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Religious sisters mark jubilees from 25 to 70 years

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The following sisters celebrate their jubilees this year:

70 years

Benedictine Sr. Mary Ellen Black

A native of Richmond, Sister Mary Ellen Black entered the Benedictine Sisters in Bristow in 1946 and made her monastic profession 70 years ago in 1949. Being an educator and musician, Sister Mary Ellen taught in several schools in Richmond and Arlington, including the Benedictine Sisters schools, St. Gertrude High School in Richmond and Linton Hall School in Bristow, serving as principal of both schools.

After working in schools for nearly 40 years, Sister Mary Ellen studied at Chicago Loyola University in the spiritual leadership program. She then became a pastoral associate at Sacred Heart Mission in Hoadly and spent several years as a spiritual director. Throughout her years in community, Sister Mary Ellen served at various times in the formation of the new members of the community. She has had a spiritual and monastic influence on her sisters in community and continues to be an integral part.

Benedictine Sr. Doris Nolte

Sister Doris Nolte entered the Benedictine Sisters right after graduating from St. Gertrude High School in Richmond. She made her monastic profession in 1949. Having been educated at St. Joseph College in Emmitsburg, Md., and St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., Sister Doris was a teacher in several schools in both the Arlington and Richmond dioceses and was principal at Linton Hall School in Bristow. 

After 30 years in education, Sister Doris went into nursing, working especially with the elderly and in hospice care. She has held several roles in the monastery including subprioress, health care director, and formation director. Currently, Sister Doris tutors for BEACON, the sisters’ adult literacy program and she is a member of the community formation team. She is a lifelong student of Scripture and very faithful to the community schedule and its monastic practices — a real example to all of her sisters.

60 years

Benedictine Sr. Patricia Hagarty

Sister Patricia Hagarty, known as Sister Pat, entered the Benedictine community at Bristow in 1956 and made her monastic profession in 1958. Growing up in Arlington, Sister Pat attended St. Charles School and Marymount High School. She pursued a degree in dietetics at St. Benedict College in St. Joseph, Minn., and became a registered dietitian through the Medical College of Virginia. She worked for many years as a clinical dietitian in Fauquier Hospital in Warrenton.

Upon retirement, Sister Pat became the supervisor of the monastery kitchen, bakery and gardens. She delights in baking and making goodies for the monastery Christmas sale and catering the community’s events.

Benedictine Sr. Louise Dowgiallo

Born in 1937 as one of triplets, Sister Louise Dowgiallo became a Benedictine Sister in 1957, making her monastic profession 60 years ago in 1959. Sister Louise spent many years ministering as a teacher in both the Arlington and Richmond dioceses. In 1985, she was appointed director of the Benedictine Pastoral Center, the Benedictine Sisters retreat ministry, a position she served in for more than 20 years.

Currently, Sister Louise is serving as the monastery sacristan. To this ministry and everything she does, she brings an artistic touch, being particularly famous for her flower arrangements and stained-glass creations.

Benedictine Sr. Romayne Schaut

Sister Romayne Schaut transferred to the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia from St. Joseph Monastery in St. Mary’s, Pa., in 2000. Growing up in St. Mary’s, Sister Romayne entered the Benedictine Sisters there in 1957, making her monastic profession 60 years ago in 1959. Most of her years in St. Mary’s were spent in education, many of them as the school principal. Sister Romayne was educated at Duquesne University in Formation Spirituality and assisted with the formation of her community members. She was dean of studies at the diocesan seminary in Arusha, Tanzania (1986-91), a ministry which she loved.  

When Sister Romayne transferred to the Bristow community, she served as portress for several years. Currently, she is retired and prays for her sisters, especially the newer members of the community.

50 years

Franciscan Sr. of the Eucharist Judith Gebelein

Sister Gebelein was born Dec. 10, 1946, to Roy and Shirley Gebelein in Rantoul, Ill. She is the oldest of seven children and grew up in rural Wisconsin. She earned a bachelor’s of science from Viterbo College in LaCross, Wisc., in 1972 and earned a bachelor’s of science in nursing from Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich., in 1982.

She professed first vows April 3, 1969, and made her final profession May 27, 1978. She was one of the founding members of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist in 1972.

Sister Gebelein served in FSE Centers in Meriden, Conn., Detroit, Mich., and Lowell, Mich. She spent 30 years in the Center in Lowell, Mich., and was a staff nurse for 25 years at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Mich. (1982-2006). She has served as superior of the Falls Church FSE community, and has worked at Inova Fairfax Hospital in the Gastroenterology Department as a staff nurse since 2006.

45 years

Adorer of the Holy Cross Sr. Theresa Lan Tran

Sister Tran was born Oct. 20, 1949, in Vietnam to Dang and Hue Tran. She graduated from high school in Vietnam.

She professed first vows May 20, 1968, and made her final profession May 27, 1974. Sister Tran served in university at a convent in Saigon (1968-74), at the Thanh Binh Convent working daycare at the convent, and with the youth group at local church (1974-91). She worked in daycare at the Gia Kiem Convent and with the youth group at local church (1991-96); at the Don Duong Convent (1996 to 2000); at the Thanh Xuan convent (2000-03); and at the Phan Thiet convent (2003-07).

She came to the United States in 2007 to the Adorers of the Holy Cross in Portland, Ore., where she learned English. She came to Fairfax in 2011 and worked at the Busybee Day Care (2011-13) and taught religious education at Holy Martyr of Vietnam Church in Arlington. She worked at Busybee Day Care in Sacramento, Calif., and taught religious education (2013-16). Since 2016 she has worked at Busybee Child Care and she teaches religious education at Holy Martyrs of Vietnam.

25 years

Benedictine Sr. Trinidad Montero

Sister Trinidad Montero became a member of the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia in 1991. Born in the Philippines in 1932, Sister Trinidad had a distinguished career as an educator. She received a Fulbright Scholarship to study at the University of Minnesota where she earned a doctorate in education. Subsequently, Sister Trinidad served as a college dean at Pangasinan State University in the Philippines for 20 years.

Having cared for her parents until their deaths, Sister Trinidad then was free to follow her desire to be a religious and traveled to Virginia to explore her vocation as a Benedictine Sister. She made her first monastic profession in 1993 and perpetual profession in 1996. Since then Sister Trinidad taught, worked with homeless families, and currently serves at All Saints Church in Manassas as a pastoral minister.  She has great devotion to the local Filipino community who regard her highly and assist her ministry.

Pax Christi Institute Sr. Laura Nieves

Pax Christi Institute Sister Laura Nieves entered the order in 1991 at age 16 in Queretaro, Mexico. She was born Oct. 26, 1974, in a family of 12. She was sent to formation in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1993.

Sister Nieves moved to Virginia to study at Christendom College in Front Royal in 1995 and she earned a bachelor’s in theology in 1999. She earned her master’s in Scripture in 2001 at the Notre Dame Catechetical Institute.

She helped at St. Mary’s Mission in Corpus Christi, Texas (2001-02). She then was stationed in San Antonio where she served as local superior, administrator and did parish work (2002-13). Sister Nieves has been the director of religious education at St. John Bosco Church in Woodstock since 2013. 

Benedictine Sr. Lilliane Normand

Born in Manchester, N.H., in 1945, Sister Lilliane Normand explored monastic life with the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, Pa., and Liberty, Mo., before coming to the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia. Her transfer to the Bristow monastery was completed in 2014. Sister Lilliane is highly regarded by her sisters in community as a person with an affinity for the poor and those who are in need of help. She spends much of her free time delivering food to the homeless and looking for small ways in which she can help and make a difference in people’s lives.

Currently, Sister Lilliane is working as a crossing guard for the Prince William County school system. In the monastery, Sister Lilliane does the important work of recycling in a way that shows how much she cares for our planet. She also helps with the grocery shopping for the community, care of the infirm sisters when needed, and is a gracious presence at the front desk where she greets visitors.       

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019