I have a wonderful cousin who went marching off to Mt. St. Joseph in what was then far-away-Cincinnati nearly 60 years ago to become a Sister of Charity. So it was that we were invited to join in a celebration of the Mount’s 200th Anniversary Celebration for families of Sisters on March 14.
Son Brian and I drove out to the Mount after marching in the St. Patrick’s Day parade, to join in the mass and the reception that followed. A number of other members of the extended family attended from around the region as well, so we were from several months old to nearly 8 decades.
I don’t remember having been in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception before. And it is quite a chapel, seeming larger than our parish church in Springfield OH, lo those many years before – though looking a great deal like that church, St. Raphael’s, used to. Mass itself was a joyful celebration, full of the sisters’ creativity and grace. It opened with two nuns dancing/gliding down the aisle, with long banners wafting out over those of us in attendance. The singing – those wonderful high voices – was meditation-inducing, as it had always been, and sent me straight back to the past.
A strong and gentle priest, Fr. Jim Shapelle, officiated, but otherwise the entire celebration reflected the values of those strong women at the Mount. It was a truly powerful ritual.
And then followed time to eat assorted wonderful hors d’oeuvres, drink (pink lemonade, with or without sherbet), and be merry – always easy for our crew. We also got to visit Sr. Rose Elizabeth’s (Betty’s) very self-contained and well-organized apartment, and the lounge / gathering area for the 11 other sisters in her part of the Motherhouse. There was a jigsaw puzzle going on one of the tables, so I felt right at home. It’s clearly been a great life for Betty, and she remains one of the happiest folk I know.