Golden Jubilee Ceremonies of Srs. Rebecca Conlon and Roberta Ryan
On December 8th and 12th 2020.
We, Rebecca and Roberta are grateful to all the people who were and are part of our lives over these 50 years and beyond. We are grateful to our parents and families, our Columban community worldwide, our friends, relatives, those among whom we work and also to our Benefactors and all whose generosity contributed to our mission that still enables us to continue the missionary work of the Church wherever we are. To each one of you we are deeply grateful because you are our partners in mission and we the hands and feet in the field.
It is pandemic time and so the Golden Jubilee celebrations of Rebecca and Roberta had moments calling for adjustments, not knowing and wondering! In Ireland there were no visitors allowed at the Magheramore ceremony because of strict Irish Lockdown regulations and in Pakistan invitations were sent out 2 days previous to the event as we did not know if we could celebrate or not, but then there was no control or stop to the welcome of unexpected ‘guests’ in the midst of a global pandemic. The angels hovered over both situations and protected all present as we reflected on this great Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Our Lady who gave her complete YES to God which led to a turbulent life of finding God in all things and in the circumstances of her own life. Mary is our role model as she kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.
Reflection on December 12th Magheramore: by Sister Roberta Ryan.
A Jubilee is a truly ‘golden’ opportunity to pause, reflect, remember and acknowledge with deep gratitude, God’s faithful love.
And even if the date was unplanned, what a wonderful Feast Day on which to celebrate a Jubilee, that of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas, who called the Church to embrace the poor and indigenous peoples. Today she saysto us, as she said to Juan Diego, ‘Am I not your mother.’
Thanks to each one of you for sharing the joy of this day with me, especially those of you following this Mass in the Nursing Home. How blessed I am to have a Eucharistic celebration, thanks to your presence with us Fr. Michael.
Today’s readings have been my touchstone down through the years.
From Genesis: I would hear God asking me, “Where are you?” Where are you now when it comes to our relationship? Where are you now in both your inner and outer journeying’s? This question always stops me up short and invites me to let God renew my heart. This reading also reminds me that there is no hiding from God and that I am called to stand in the truth of who I am before Him, believing that I am wrapped in the cloak of His love, even if I don’t feel it.
From Ephesians: I would let myself be blown away by God’s call and choice of us even before we were born! And it is from this same passage that my motto comes: ‘To live through love in his presence’ (Eph 1 v 4), and as the Jerusalem Bible is quick to point out, not our love for God but his love for us.
From the Gospel: I continue to marvel at the mystery of choice. God chose Mary! God chose an obscure woman, from an obscure country and an obscure village to become God’s earthly mother. I marvel too, at Mary’s ability to listen, to question and hear her fears addressed in such a way that she could freely, lovingly and with great simplicity, give her full consent “May it be done to me, according to your word.”
Like Mary, each of us here has answered our own unique call as Columban Sisters. I was privileged to work with our Sisters in Korea for almost 20 years and where strong bonds of friendship were made with the people among whom we lived and worked. My varied ministries included running the hospital pharmacy, choosing to work in the Home for the Destitute (Aejung Won) even though this was short lived due to ill-health, working in a Leprosy clinic, outreach to illegal migrant workers and Vocation Promotion through which Susanna met the Columban Sisters and is our Congregational Leader today!
I was also blessed to have the opportunity, during my years in CLT, to visit all our missions and experienced first-hand the variety and diverse expressions of our charism and witnessed the wholehearted and joyful commitment of all our Sisters.
In Pakistan I was called to join the Sisters there in the challenging mission of Interfaith dialogue among Muslims in Hyderabad and Hindu tribal peoples in Kunri. In spite of a very oppressive situation and experiencing numerous lockdowns caused by Muslim/Christian conflict both within the country and without, we were still able to accompany the minority Christian community through Justice and Peace initiatives and in sharing their feasts and their fasts, their joys and their sorrows. With the help of wonderful donors, many of whom were from Ireland, we were able to respond to those left behind by society, children with special needs as well as families and communities affected by poverty and ecological disasters. At the heart of our mission in Pakistan has been peace building and working for social harmony with peoples of different faiths, particularly building bridges with Islam.
After 17 years in Pakistan, my life, in a certain sense, has come ‘full circle’ as I enter into another way of being in mission here in Magheramore with all of you. The following lines capture the kernel of my story.
And you my God,
Have guided me along my years
Through joy and sorrow
To unexpected places
That held riches
Infinitely more than I could
Have asked for
And as I face the unknown land of my future
One thing remains constant
Your being there
With me and for me.
You have guided me through my past,
My present and future are yours.
May the Lord bless you all abundantly and may this Advent be a time of great blessing and expectation of the great things the Lord is doing,in and through us all, as we are more connected than we can imagine.
With gratitude and love,
Rebecca and Roberta.