Auxiliary Bishop Fernand Cheri will be the principal celebrant of a Mass of Thanksgiving June 9 at 10 a.m. for four Sisters of the Holy Family who are celebrating major anniversaries of religious profession.
The Mass will be celebrated in the Motherhouse Chapel, 6901 Chef Menteur Hwy., New Orleans.
Celebrating major anniversaries will be Sister Mary Jacinta Blanchard and Sister Joan Marie Alexander (70 years), Sister Rose Fatima Henry (60 years) and Sister Jean Bernardine Martinez (50 years).
Celebrating 70 years
Sister Mary Jacinta, a native of New Iberia, attended St. Edward elementary and secondary school, which was staffed by the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. She became acquainted with the Sisters of the Holy Family through an older relative, Sister Gervase Blasé, who would visit the family. Sister Jacinta taught in elementary schools throughout Louisiana, as well as in Texas, Oklahoma and Belize. She was well loved by her former students for her gentle, kind and loving demeanor. One of her projects is making each sister in her congregation a rosary using worry beads. She also served at Lafon Nursing Facility of the Holy Family and later became ill and was admitted as a resident. She continues to pray for the residents. “If you want to do something special for God, become a religious,” she said.
Sister Joan Marie, a native of Lafayette, was reared in New Orleans, where she attended St. Joan of Arc Church and attended the parish elementary school. As a young girl, she was inspired by the love and kindness witnessed by the Sisters of the Holy Family who taught her. She has spent her life teaching in elementary schools and continues in that ministry today.
Sister Joan Marie said she is “totally motivated by an undying love of God and service to others.” One of her favorite passages is Psalm 130:7: “Hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is unfailing love.” She says, “All of my energy and strength comes from Jesus, who continues to inspire and energize me one day at a time.”
Celebrating 60 years
Sister Rose Fatima was born and reared in Cankton and attended St. John Berchman Church in St. Landry Parish. Her vocation was nurtured by daily recitation of the rosary, her mother, who prayed that one of her daughters would become a Sister of the Holy Family, and her cousin, Sister Paschal Henry, who visited her home and often would say, “I am praying for you.” Sister Rose Fatima said she was touched by Sister Paschal’s joy. “The Lord touched my heart at a very young age, and I said ‘yes,’” she said. She entered religious life in 1958 and has taught in elementary schools in Texas and in Louisiana, at St. Raymond and St. Paul the Apostle in New Orleans and at Holy Ghost in Marksville. She is sacristan at the congregation’s Motherhouse. “God speaks to us, but we must be silent and listen, for he will speak,” Sister Rose Fatima says.
Celebrating 50 years
Sister Jean Bernardine was born in Seine Bight and was reared there and in Georgetown, Stann Creek District, Belize Central America. Because her village was a great distance from the town, she and her family did not have the luxury of going to a church on a regular basis. The priests in Stann Creek at Sacred Heart Church would make their rounds of the villages and the local devout persons of the villages would minister to and assist their people in keeping the faith strong and vibrant.
Sister Jean attended secondary school in the town of Stann Creek in Belize. She felt a desire in high school to give her life to God and was inspired by the example of the Sisters of the Holy Family who taught her. Sister Jean has earned many academic degrees and is a prolific writer of poetry. She also writes a weekly reflection on the Sunday Scripture for the Belize Catholic newspaper. She taught in both elementary and secondary schools, was a school administrator and served in health care, spiritual direction and pastoral care. Sister Jean said she is inspired by “the abiding call/urge to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, the example of Mother Henriette (Delille) and the encouragement of the sisters in their desire to serve God among his people.”