By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
In a vibrant and lively opening procession, flag and drum bearers representing the United States, India, Belize, Nepal and Botswana led the way at a Dec. 1 Mass honoring the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth.
The sisters concluded a yearlong celebration of their 200 years of service in the Archdiocese of Louisville and the world with the special Mass at the Cathedral of the Assumption.
The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth were founded in 1812 by Bishop John David and Mother Catherine Spalding. Since the congregation’s creation two centuries ago, the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth have focused their work on education, healing and social work.
In her welcoming statement, SCN President Mary Elizabeth Miller noted that the congregation was especially pleased to gather at the Cathedral because “this was the location of our first ministries in Louisville and a place very dear to the heart of Catherine Spalding.”
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, the principal presider at the liturgy, noted that the entire church “rejoices” for the 200 years of service given by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth.
“This truly is an opportunity for all of us to say thank you (to the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth) and to say thank you to the Lord as you take the step to the next 200 years,” he said.
Joining the archbishop as concelebrant was the Bishop of Owensboro, Ky., William F. Medley. Deacon Pat Wright also assisted during the liturgy.
During his homily, Archbishop Kurtz referenced Pope Paul VI who called the town of Nazareth, the childhood home of Jesus, the first school of love and charity.
“How beautiful. And how beautiful especially as we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth,” the archbishop said.
“We recall from the Gospel passage something the first followers of Jesus knew very, very well,” he said. “That, of all the ways we as followers of Jesus Christ distinguish ourselves as his followers, it is precisely in the way we love one another.”
Archbishop Kurtz noted that it was 200 years ago that Mother Catherine Spalding and a small number of sisters began the work of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth.
“That’s the legacy to which we give testimony this afternoon, especially those first women who endured, as we all know, a great deal of hardship and through God’s grace did the work of healing, the work of teaching and became very much a part of that character that we’ve come to know as the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth,” he said.
Following the homily the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, led by Sister Miller, renewed their profession of vows.
Sister Miller said that “impelled by the love of Christ, we embrace our call as women religious to share that love with all of God’s people. As we minister today in Belize, Botswana, India, Nepal and the United States, we trust that we as Sisters of Charity of Nazareth will continue our tradition of pioneers of various ministries standing in solidarity of oppressed people, especially women and those who are economically poor,” she said.
Sister Miller expressed her gratitude to God for the “graces and blessings of the past” and prayed in “hope and trust” as the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth begin a third century of ministry.
Eileen Mitchell, a lay associate member of the SCNs who lives in Louisville, said that of all the services the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth have provided to the Archdiocese of Louisville, she believes the greatest gift to be that of education and healing the sick.
Joetta Davis, also an SCN associate from Louisville, added that the sisters are known for “proclaiming the Gospel message by example.”
Jack Chivatero, a parishioner of the Cathedral of the Assumption, noted the sisters’ constant outreach to those most in need. “They are always involved in charity, in the healing ministries,” he said.
Jerry Weber said he admired the sisters’ “spirit of service.”
“They provide such a wide range of service to the people in the Archdiocese of Louisville and beyond,” Weber, a Holy Trinity parishioner, said.