Jubilee Sisters Give Bishops Reasons to Smile
God put a smile on the faces of four Precious Blood Sisters who celebrated their 50th and 60th jubilees of profession in Mthatha, Eastern Cape.
That was the message of the city’s Bishop Sithembele Sipuka at a thanksgiving Mass at Glen Avent chapel, concelebrated with Bishop Dabula Mpako of Queenstown and ten priests.
The Mass marked the jubilees of Sr Maria Mechtild Biberauer, who celebrated 60 years of religious life, and Srs Ferdinand Kabai, Hilary Ngqanda and Anna-Rita Schedl (all 50 years).
“What adds joy and a smile in a human is their quality of life,” Bishop Sipuka noted. “So I guess our jubilarians are smiling today because they have indeed experienced God’s unconditional love.”
Addressing them, the bishop said: “You have seen his guiding providence in your lives, you have seen how he weaves his plan of salvation into your lives, and all this gives you reason to praise and bless him with great joy today.”
Bishop Sipuka said there was a wonderful reason for him to smile too: “In you we have veterans who are an inspiration for younger generations to stay on track. And so because of you, there is hope.”
The bishop added: “Your quality as human beings has developed and you have also grown in your spiritual lives. It is one thing to take a vow, another to live it. Over many years, your understanding and practice of these vows has deepened and changed you.”
Due Great Respect
The Sisters were due great respect, he said. “When you speak, we might listen because with 50 and 60 years of final profession behind you, you have the moral authority, you have earned the right to speak. For the good of the Church, tell us the truth when we go astray. You have nothing to lose now in being frank.”
Bishop Sipuka added: “We may be cheeky because we are in power and do not listen, but we will have been told. Do not tell us what we would like to hear, tell us the truth, warn us about our sins so that our fate may be averted. Warn us so that we do not perish.”
The bishop noted with concern the decrease in vocations to the religious life.
“We are experiencing a decline in religious life, and there are no indications of an increase in married life either, so you wonder what is happening. Not only do we see a decline in commitment to a way of life, we are also seeing it in commitment to good causes,” he said.
“The prevailing misery, corruption, injustice, and abject poverty indicate a shortage of people committed to good causes. People are concerned only about themselves,” Bishop Sipuka said, before thanking the Sisters “for being examples of both commitment to a way of life and to a good cause”.