Eight Sisters of the Holy Family representing a total of 500 years in religious life will celebrate jubilees of religious profession at a 10 a.m. Mass June 10 at St. Maria Goretti Church in New Orleans.
The eight jubilarians are Sisters M. Bertha Pierre-Auguste, 80 years; Mary Daniel Cooper, M. Joseph Ann Gillette and Elma Olivera, 70 years; M. Ann Elise Sonnier, 60 years; Theresa Sue Joseph, M. Germaine Henry and M. Ann Michelle Mercier, 50 years.
Celebrating 80 years
Sister Mary Bertha, a native of Cankton, Louisiana, prayed the family rosary each night while kneeling. She was introduced to the sisters at the Holy Rosary Institute in Lafayette and was impressed by the nun who came to meet their bus. “Sister was tall and so dignified,” she said. “I loved the way she dressed and moved.” Sister Bertha served at Notre Dame Seminary, at the archbishop’s residence and with the elderly at Lafon Nursing Home of the Holy Family. She also taught at congregational schools. For many years she served as local superior and alumni co-moderator for the Sisters of the Holy Family Alumni Association. “I enjoyed every mission and every sister with whom I lived,” she said. Her advice to anyone trying to make a decision is: “Make sure you pray.”
Celebrating 70 years
Sister Mary Daniel, a native of Algiers, was one of 14 children who attended All Saints Church. She entered the Sisters of the Holy Family at 18 and has had a sincere love and affection for children. She attributes her beautiful arts and craft skills, along with her culinary skills, to her mother. She has served in both education and culinary arts. She has served on several missions in Louisiana and Texas. Her greatest delight was to serve in her home parish for six years, teaching second graders and preparing them for first Communion.
Sister Joseph Ann, a native of Belize, grew up in Belize City as one of 13 children. Her favorite older sister was Evelyn, who entered the congregation several years before and took the name Sister Mary Eleanor. When Sister Joseph Ann graduated from high school, she headed for New Orleans to become a sister as well.
She served as a teacher and administrator in both elementary and secondary schools. She is a highly skilled artist and has served throughout Louisiana, Texas, California and Belize. Her advice is, “Do the best you can. Give it all you can, and God will do the rest.”
Sister Elma is a native of Belize City. The only religious sisters she knew in her childhood were the Mercy Sisters and later the Pallottine Sisters, who were white, so she never shared with anyone her desire to enter the consecrated life. While at work one day, a friend of hers (known now as Sister Joseph Ann) told her she was going to enter the Sisters of the Holy Family, and the two left for the United States together. Sister Elma has been a teacher and administrator at elementary and secondary schools in Louisiana, California, Oklahoma and Belize. She currently assists in the Development Office. She enjoys the community aspect of religious life.
Celebrating 60 years
Sister Ann Elise, a native of Lafayette, entered the Sisters of the Holy Family from her home parish of Immaculate Heart of Mary. She was motivated by the sisters she knew and wanted to be of service. “I was grateful for the love, stability and early formation in faith that I received as a young person, and I wanted to be able to serve God and be an example to others,” she said. For 39 years, she served as a teacher or administrator at schools in Texas and Louisiana. She served as administrator of Lafon Nursing Home of the Holy Family and for the past 12 years has been serving as catechist/director of religious education. “I invite young women and men who are seeking to do God’s will to pray for openness to his call to become sisters, priests, brothers and deacons,” she said.
Celebrating 50 years
Sister Theresa Sue was born on a farm near Opelousas, Louisiana, one of 12 children. The Sisters of the Holy Family staffed her elementary and high schools. “We were made to feel very special in their presence,” she said. After graduating from high school, she went to Houston to live with her sister and became active in the Legion of Mary. She entered the congregation from Our Mother of Mercy Church. She spent more than 35 years in the field of education. She also did pastoral work and served as the vocation director for the community. She is secretary general of the congregation and does prison ministry. “I am still inspired daily by the fact that I was chosen by God to proclaim his love to others by the way I live and sometimes by words,” she said. “I realized at the beginning of my religious life, that to enjoy a life of true peace and happiness, God has to be the focal point. By keeping my eyes and heart focused on God and on the reason I’m here, I know, that no matter what, I’m headed in the right direction.”
Sister Mary Germaine was born in Kinder, Louisiana, but reared in Lake Charles, where she attended Sacred Heart of Jesus Church. Her desire to become a nun began when she was in the third grade, although she knew nothing of the Sisters of the Holy Family at the time. She has taught in elementary schools in Louisiana, California, Texas and Belize. “I am deeply amazed at the presence of God in my life,” she said. “I am grateful to the Sisters of the Holy Family, my family, friends and co-workers who have walked with me on this grace-filled journey.”
Sister Mary Ann Michelle was born in Scott, Louisiana. In Lafayette, she met Sister of the Holy Family Jane Frances. “I was immediately drawn to her and her way of life,” she said. She entered the congregation after high school. She has taught in elementary schools in Louisiana, California, Texas and Belize. She serves as assistant archivist at the motherhouse. “I get my inspiration and energy from a strong prayer and community life,” she said. “These two together wrapped in service energize me.”