Nine Sisters of the Holy Family to celebrate jubilees
Nine Sisters of the Holy Family will celebrate jubilees of religious profession with a Mass June 11 at 10 a.m. at St Maria Goretti Church, 7300 Crowder Blvd., New Orleans.
Together, the sisters have given 560 years of service to the people of God throughout the United States and other countries.
The public is invited to attend the Mass.
Celebrating 80 years
Sister M. Letitia Senegal was born in Sunset, Louisiana, but her home parish was Sacred Heart Church in Grand Coteau, the closest Catholic church that she could attend. At an early age, she desired to become a nun. When she was 6, she accompanied her aunt on a visit to a convent, sealing her desire to become a sister. She began to wear cloths on her head, pretending she had a veil. She was only 16 when she convinced her parents to allow her to enter the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family. Her many talents and gifts of sewing, embroidery, painting and drawing served her well as she ministered in education and as mistress of the temporary professed. Her St. Joseph Day altars were heralded as truly beautiful and inspiring. She actively sought to learn and do something new. “I encourage young people to seek constantly to know what God is asking of them. Do not just settle for what someone else suggests that you think or do. Pray daily and be open to the workings of the Spirit within you.”
Celebrating 70 years
Sister Frances Cabrini Turnbull, a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, attended boarding school with the Sisters of the Holy Family at St. Mary’s Academy in New Orleans. There she found herself inspired by the Holy Spirit, edified by the example of the sisters, and by her father’s sister (a Sister of the Holy Family) and decided to enter religious life. Sister Frances Cabrini served primarily in the ministry of education. Her very special gift was in the field of music. She also gave service as a bookkeeper at Lafon Nursing Home. “I thank God daily for my vocation and pray for perseverance daily,” she said. “I try to let the Holy Spirit govern my religious life, and thank God for his graces and gifts to me.”
Sister Cynthia Marie Jackson, a New Orleanian who was a member of Corpus Christi Parish, was motivated to join the Sisters of the Holy Family by witnessing their love and care of children. “They inspired me to want to join them,” she said. Sister Cynthia has ministered in the field of education and served as an academic counselor. She is energized by the students and still gives service at St. Mary’s Academy. She continues to be inspired by her sisters as she sees them at work, and it makes her “want to continue and give all I can. I am still working as admissions director.”
Celebrating 60 years
Sister Sylvia Vallet was born in Lakeland, Louisiana. Her home parish was Immaculate Conception Church in New Roads. She was 22 when a mission priest spoke about vocations and noted that although the parish was very large, there were no vocations from that parish. A thought began to form in her mind and she spoke with her confessor, who encouraged her to pursue the possibility of entering religious life. Sister Sylvia was very concerned about her lack of education. Her father had died very young, leaving a wife and seven young children. Through her mother’s strong faith, hard work and unwavering focus, the family was able to stay together and thrive. With her mother as a model and through many prayers, she made the decision to enter the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family. She has ministered with the orphans at St. John Berchmans, at Lafon Boys Home, served as activities director at the Motherhouse of the Sisters of the Holy Family as well as at St. John Berchmans Manor (an independent living facility for low-income seniors). She encourages those who are struggling to make a decision to go forward – with the help of God, you can do anything you set your mind to do.
Sister Sylvia Thibodeaux entered religious life from her home parish, St. Francis of Assisi in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. She says the inspiration for her vocation came from the simple experience of the lived faith of her parents, an ordinary couple doing the best they could to raise a family of eight. Her parents made great personal sacrifices for their children in order to give them a Catholic education. “The most compelling influence on me was the way they lived their faith: weekly Mass, daily rosary on our knees, confession on Saturday and kindness to our neighbors in time of need.” Her vocation was further nourished by the Sisters of Holy Family, who were her teachers and mentors from elementary through high school. She was intrigued by the mystery of their life. She wanted to know how the sisters lived, what they did after leaving the classroom. They were so good and kind. “I felt so loved and accepted by them,” she said. “I wanted to be like them. I thought they must be very close to God. I wanted to become one of them.” Sister Sylvia has served in ministry through education, religious formation, administration, as co-founder of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart in Benin City, Nigeria, congregational leader of the Sisters of the Holy Family, and vicar for religious in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. She has learned well that we can wait confidently on the Lord, for as Jeremiah 29:11 says, “I know well the plans I have in mind for you. When you call me, I will listen to you.”
Sister Agnes Marie Sampia was born in Carencro, Louisiana, but was reared in Lafayette. It was her grandmother who inspired her vocation to the consecrated life and who taught her to listen for God’s invitation to serve him as Bernadette Soubirous did. Her older sister encouraged her to join the Sisters of the Holy Family because the sisters had taught them in both elementary and high school. Thus, she left her home parish of Immaculate Heart of Mary to begin her journey of listening more intently to God. “Today I am still listening to God as I serve him in the various ministries in which he has called me,” Sister Agnes Marie said. She has served in ministry in the field of education in the U.S. and in Central America, in religious life formation in Nigeria, West Africa, and as treasurer general for the Sisters of the Holy Family. She is a manager of an affordable housing facility for the elderly and physically disabled. Sister encourages others to learn to listen and trust Jesus, to develop a faith that does not rest on what you can do, but on what God can do through you. She prays, “May my life give praise and glory to his name!”
Sister Clare of Assisi Pierre, born in St. James, Louisiana,was reared in New Orleans. Sister Clare’s home parish was St. Joan of Arc. She was educated and spiritually formed by the Sisters of the Holy Family. Sister has ministered primarily in the field of education at both the elementary and secondary levels. She served in the U.S. and in Belize, Central America. Sister Clare also is a member of the leadership team of the congregation and has served as assistant congregational leader. Currently, she is president of St. Mary’s Academy. She is a strong advocate for the poor and marginalized. She works diligently to empower both youths and adults encouraging them to develop an awareness of God’s almighty power and assist them in fostering a close relationship with him.
Celebrating 50 years
Sister M. Regina Amos, a native of Opelousas, Louisiana, from Holy Ghost Parish, felt the inner call to live a life where God would be her guide, her all. She was introduced in 1966 to the Sisters of the Holy Family, who served in Opelousas, and it is then that she found what she was searching for. She says of the Sisters of the Holy Family: “They offered me a well-established way, approved by the church, of professing vows to God forever. I am grateful.” Sister Regina has ministered in the fields of education and nursing. Currently, she serves at Lafon Nursing Facility of the Sisters of the Holy Family and is responsible for the training, assigning, and supervision of the certified nursing assistants. She is fond of saying, “Our God is an awesome God.” The words of St. Paul (Rom 8:32) that resounded in her heart when she professed her final vows still speak to her today: “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.”
Sister Geneva James learned from her parents of the love of God and to express her love by doing as Jesus did. Her faith formation was supported by her home parish of Notre Dame Catholic Church in St. Martinville, Louisiana. She was motivated to enter the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family by her desire to live a life of prayer and to serve God’s people. Her ministry was in education for 25 years. She has also served in pastoral ministry and at Lafon Nursing Facility of the Sisters of the Holy Family. She keeps very busy and involved with preschoolers by managing the facilities at St. John Berchmans Child Development Center and has established a speakers’ bureau to promote the cause of Henriette Delille, foundress of the Sisters of the Holy Family. Sister and her members visit church parishes throughout Louisiana and other states. They include in their presentation vocation awareness to all forms of consecrated life. One may ask, “How can Sister manage so many tasks?” Her response is surely: God provides when you are doing his will. Sister says, “Be kind to all people, be merciful and forgive others.”