Archbishop Nichols leads celebrations for Golden Jubilarians

 Archbishop Vincent Nichols was the principal celebrant and preacher at a special Mass of Thanksgiving for religious sister and two priests celebrating the Golden Jubilee of their Religious Profession, at St Chad's Cathedral, Birmingham, on Saturday, writes Peter Jennings. The 12 sisters and two priests who made their Religious Profession during 1957 each carried a lighted candle as they processed into the Cathedral during the entrance hymn. The sisters were: Sister Marie Boyle, Sister Monica Dowling, Sister Mary Eanswythe, Dame Raphael Foster, Sister Consolata Gallon, Dame Joanna Jamieson, Sister Gertrude Lynott, Sister Brigit Keegan, Sister Marie de Chantal McFadden, Sister Dympna Smith, Sister Hilda Wood, and Sister Patricia Wragg. The two Golden Jubilarian priests were: Fr Michael Power OSA, an Augustinian Friar, from St Mary's Harborne in Birmingham, and Fr Edward Simpson SCJ, a Sacred Heart Father, Parish Priest of the Holy Ghost and Mary Immaculate, Olton, near Solihull in the West Midlands. During his homily, Archbishop Nichols said: "Today I thank God for the diversity and durability of religious life in the Archdiocese, as made clear in the lives of our Golden Jubilarians. They include priests and monastic nuns, teachers, nurses and administrators, all following the distinctive pathway of their founders. "Yet beneath that diversity, their lives show common characteristics. They are lives, rooted in prayer, open to relationships in community and in ministry, and giving a constant, public witness to Christ in word and deed. "Above all else I ask you today to remain faithful to the Lord in the ways you have learned over these last fifty years or more. Renewal in religious life is much more a renewal of the heart than an anxiety about structures, identity or power." The Archbishop of Birmingham concluded by encouraging the 14 Golden Jubilarians to: "Be faithful to the food of the Eucharist, for without it we do not have strength for the journey. Be faithful to the gentleness of the Lord, that 'still small voice' which speaks to us each day. Be faithful in your public witness even in the face of opposition or ridicule." After the Prayers of the Faithful, the Golden Jubilarians stood together at the bottom of the sanctuary steps, and Archbishop Nichols invited them to commit themselves again to: "The service of Jesus Christ, The Light of the World." They responded: "We continue to dedicate ourselves wholeheartedly to serve you and the Church, and to spread the kingdom of Christ with love and zeal." Before the blessing the Archbishop greeted each of the Golden Jubilarians in turn and presented then with a special Papal Blessing from Pope Benedict XVI. He then invited the congregation to join a round of applause. It was a lovely end to a memorable celebration.

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