Sisters share ‘joy of serving God’
“The people we meet on the street are very friendly. Port Sanilac is very peaceful,” stated Sister Clare Marie.
“We felt very much a part of the community in a very short amount of time,” commented Sister Mary Teresita.
Sister Maria Inviolata is the pastorial administrator at St. Mary Church and St. John’s of Forestville, so that the priest, who is retired, only has to administer the sacraments. Sisters Mary Teresita, Clare Marie and Mary Philomena are visiting the large population of elderly and shut-ins, and calling parishioners who haven’t been to church in a while back to the faith.
“We want to share that joy of serving God with people in our daily life and in our service, and to work for the church,” said Sister Maria.
The women all joined religious life in their late teens and early 20s after meeting sisters from Spokane, Washington in missionary outreach programs.
“We felt a calling as young people. We felt called to serve God,” stated Sister Clare.
“When you are a young person a lot of times you find more to life than what hits the eye. You want to make a difference, you do not want your efforts to be wasted,” added Sister Maria.
“A religious life is a life of total dedication to Christ and his gospel. As we come to know our Lord better, we can better serve his people,” stated Sister Maria.
The sisters are hoping their religious community will grow with young women looking for a religious vocation.
“It is a wonderful place to train young religious, for spiritual transformation. You do not have the distractions of the big city,” noted Sister Mary Philomena.
Sister Maria said there is an increased interest in serving God among young people.
“God made us that way, to have an interest in him,” she stated.
They live a traditional religious life with official prayers and a half hour of meditation and Mass in the morning. They close the evening with prayers during the Eucharistic Holy Hour.
“Many of the people we meet are promised prayers. They are remembered then. It is a part of our life...so God gives them the blessings and assistance they need,” explained Sister Clare.
The sisters, who were originally from California, Toledo and Oregon, had spent 30 years with their religious order in Spokane, which is in eastern Washington State.
However, in June 2007 they were among several of the nuns in the order to form another religious community.
“Our former community was not in full communion with the Pope...the leadership was not under the Holy Father. Fifteen of us felt we needed to be under the Holy Father,” stated Sister Mary Teresita.
“Our former community had drifted away from Rome (and the changes of the Second Vatican Council. There was a lot of confusion in the 60s,” explained Sister Mary Philomena.
Eleven stayed in Spokane, and these four moved to Alma, Michigan at the invitation of the Religious Sisters of Mercy.
They took classes in spiritual formation from the Sisters of Mercy, who sponsored them to go to Rome for a year. While in Rome, the nuns took classes in theology at the Angelicum Pontifical University of St. Thomas and helped the Sisters of Mercy of Rome. They wrote a constitution and re-established themselves as the order of Sisters of Our Mother of Divine Grace under the Second Vatican Council. Bishop Cistone accepted their new order as part of the Diocese of Saginaw, and assigned them to Port Sanilac.