Reflection by Sister Marg Heinz, OP Jubilee Mass for Holy Rosary Chapter November 4, 2020 You are the salt of the earth You are light of the world These gospel words we just heard have truly been lived out in the lives of our Jubilarians. They offer much for our reflection today, but as I prepared this homily the only words that filled my mind were We’ll get through this together do not be afraid The pandemic has changed everything. Just look at our celebration. Here I am behind the plexiglas speaking to a few masked people in Chapel and you are listening to me from your rooms or apartments. Yes, the pandemic has changed everything but deep down and in our hearts, we know we will get through this together. And haven’t our Jubilarians made these same words the mantra of their life journey? Just think about some of their challenges and how they met every one. They met every challenge! They got through it together! Most of our Jubilarians were born in the mid-1920’s and early 30’s, the children of the Great Depression. They grew up when bread was 9 cents a loaf, eggs 14 cents a dozen, and gasoline 12 cents a gallon. The monthly rent for an apartment was $20.00 and many couldn’t afford even that. They remember farm foreclosures, cardboard in your shoes, soup lines and sometimes want around their own kitchen table, but they sang along when the radio played “The Best Things In Life Are Free!” They hoped it was true and got through it together. Jubilarians remember the attack on Pearl Harbor that sucked the U.S. into World War II. They remember the men and boys leaving home to fight and the women taking their places in the factories of the nation. They remember ration books, Victory gardens, war bonds, USO’s and long lines at the butcher shop hoping there’d be something left when it was your turn. They remember a gold star in a neighbor’s window meant a soldier would never be coming home. They got through it together. Jubilarians remember the joy of their call to religious life even though it came with tears and goodbyes to home and family. They came by train, bus and car to the doors of the Adrian novitiate where after months of study, discipline and prayer they knelt in the quiet beauty of Holy Rosary Chapel and pronounced their first vows. To this day they cherish the friendships forged there and the laughter that got them through the ups and downs of formation days. They got through it together. Jubilarians were sent out across the country and beyond. With youthful vigor they staffed crowded classrooms, taught catechism, took the census, served as school administrators and along the way earned advanced degrees in the midst of summer school heat. These were the days of starched head bands and long white habits that needed scrubbing with felsnapha soap on Friday nights. They rose at dawn to chant the office in Latin and were in bed by 9:00pm when the lights went out. They balanced a medieval life style against the growing needs of the time and got through it together. When Vatican II threw open the church windows calling for Renewal, Jubilarians responded with courage and faith. They studied the documents, read the contemporary theologians and examined every aspect of vowed life in the light of the times and the needs of God’s people. They expanded their horizons beyond the classroom to embrace the marginalized and underserved all around them. When this required a change in life style and dress they were willing to pay the price. Change was not easy – harder for some- and when sister-friends discovered in the freedom of change that vowed life was no longer their chosen path, Jubilarians grieved their leaving but got through it together. As the years passed, the nation’s growing division filled the nightly news. Jubilarians remember the protests against the Viet Nam war and the violence that spread across our college campuses. They remember the increasing cries for racial equality that led to “sit ins” in the south and voting rights rally’s across the country. They remember the police brutality on the bridge and Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech and they remember exactly where they were when Walter Cronkite told us that President Kennedy was dead. They got through it together. Midst turmoil and grief, Jubilarians continued their efforts to achieve peaceful school integration and to stem the ride of “white flight” to the suburbs. They remained an oasis of calm in the face of the riots that scarred the nation after the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. and when the first plane slammed into the World Trade Center and 9/11 plunged the country into fear and grief, they stood ready to comfort and calm the people of God. But even as they reached out to others, they struggled with their own anger, pain and disillusionment over the scandal of pedophile priests and the Church’s cover up at the highest levels of leadership. Jubilarians grieved, they prayed and they got through it together. Today their steps may have slowed and time and illness taken their toll but our Jubilarians continue to raise their voices in defense of women’s rights, racial equality, economic justice and care of the earth. Long before the virus claimed it first victim they had been living into the 21st Century with the same courage and faith that had always marked their life journey. As we celebrate these women today we cannot help but feel wonder at such steadfast faith. I think, long ago, when they heard the first whisper of God’s call, they also heard the word we find in Isaiah – they not only heard – they believed. Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by your name, you are mine. Should you pass through the sea, I will be with you, Or through rivers, they will not swallow you up, Should you walk through fire, you will not be Scorched, and the flames will not burn you For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel Your Savior Because you are honored and I love you, because You are precious in my eyes, Do not be afraid for I am with you One day, down the road, we know not the day or the hour, our Jubilarians will hear those words again “Do not be afraid, I have called you by your name, you are mine” and like all Depression kids who played in the streets after supper, they will remember that it’s time to go Home when the street lights come on and they will not be afraid.