A celebration of this 200th anniversary year of the state of Missouri isn’t complete without acknowledging the contributions of men and women religious as well as diocesan priests — and in more recent years, permanent deacons.
Missouri became a state in 1821, and soon after, the Sisters of St. Joseph arrived at Carondelet, opening the first school outside the East Coast for students who are deaf. The Daughters of Charity opened the first permanent hospital west of the Mississippi. The Sisters of Loretto, Ursuline Sisters and the Visitation sisters continued to open schools to meet the needs of a growing population.
Earlier, Vincentians, Jesuits, Christian Brothers, Religious of the Sacred Heart made so many contributions, especially in education, to the territory that later gained statehood. The institutions they formed and the values they taught are still continuing today.
This week’s jubilarian section of the St. Louis Review recognizes a lifetime of achievements by women and men religious, priests and deacons who are natives of the archdiocese or served here and who are celebrating significant anniversaries in consecrated or clerical life. Their years of service are noteworthy over many decades in Missouri, and also in some cases across the globe.
They continue the lifetime of service established by those who went before them from the pioneer years in our state. They’ve taught in Catholic schools, taken care of the sick in Catholic hospitals and accompanied the poor and downtrodden in social justice ministries. Priests, both religious and archdiocesan, have celebrated the Eucharist and administered the sacraments in all times, whether good and bad, in sickness and in health.
Today’s cultural stars are Hollywood actors, musicians and athletes, and the media. The public follow their every move — sometimes setting a good example and many times acting and speaking out in ways that are counter to the Gospel. The women and men religious, diocesan priests and deacons featured in our jubilarian section, however, show the humble Catholic Way of quietly bringing the light of Christ into world, of being the face of Christ to whomever they meet and to live as Jesus taught — “To serve, not to be served.”
We are all called to be missionary disciples who are willing to move beyond our comfort zones to proclaim the Good News and serve others, especially the poor and those who are most vulnerable. When you read about the service of the jubilarians, it’s clear that they have done just that, and their efforts continue.
We owe our archdiocesan priests and deacons and our men and women religious our gratitude. This issue of the St. Louis Review, in a small way, commemorates their lifetimes of achievement and the impact they have made on our communities.