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‘It is all about mercy’: Bishop Burbidge celebrates 335 –year combined service of jubilarians

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Four of the six religious sisters in the Arlington Diocese celebrating jubilee anniversaries this year gathered with fellow community members as Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge celebrated the jubilee Mass May 17 at the Sacred Heart Chapel at Marymount University in Arlington.

This year’s jubilarians include Sister, Servant of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Helen Maureen Campbell, 60 years, Daughter of St. Paul Sister Margaret Michael Gillis, 25 years, Sister of Notre Dame Mary Margaret Ann Schlather, 50 years and Benedictine Sister Andrea Verchuck, 70 years. Medical Mission Sister Joan Foley, 60 years, and Benedictine Sister Mary Leo Wirt, 70 years, were not present.

Benedictine Sister Andrea Verchuck said her years have been “absolute happiness and certainty that all of life is what it should have been. When God calls, He gives you all the graces necessary to fulfill one’s life.” 

Daughter of St. Paul Sister Margaret Michael Gillis, vocations director for her order, gave thanks to God and said, “He has been totally faithful to me and that has helped me be faithful to Him. It has been a beautiful history with the Lord and with His people.”

Sister of Notre Dame Mary Margaret Ann Schlather, currently dean of catechetical programs and accreditation liaison at Catholic Distance University in Charles Town, W. Va., said she is celebrating her jubilee in union with Our Lady of Fatima because it is the centenary year.

Servant of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister Helen Maureen Campbell was principal of St. James School in Falls Church from 1986 to 1992 and now serves the parish’s homebound.

Bishop Burbidge thanked the sisters for their service on his behalf, as well as Bishop Loverde, priests, deacons and lay faithful of the Arlington Diocese.   

The bishop told the jubilarians and guests that his happiest years as a priest were when he lived with 80 women — as a young priest assigned to serve as chaplain for the Sisters of Mercy. He was nervous at first, but comforted to find a note that read in part, “Welcome to our home, where mercy is breathed, celebrated and lived. Here it is all about mercy and so we know you will be happy.” 

“I am sure in this year of jubilee you are reflecting on when you first heard that call, when you really knew the Lord was asking you to leave everything behind, to give your service in consecrated life,” he said. “You came to discover through God’s grace none of the weaknesses or limitations are ever greater than His love and mercy.” 

 “I hope, dear jubilarians, that you are able to spend some time reflecting on how you have done that, how as God’s instruments you have helped wake up the world,” Bishop Burbidge said. “You have helped to transform the hearts and lives of so many people in ways you can never imagine.”

This article has been updated. 

 To see and buy photos from the Jubliarian Mass go to catholicherald.smugmug.com.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017