The June road trip is winding down as I point the blue car toward Oklahoma for the Holiday Weekend. Saturday, June 27 a joyful celebration of thanksgiving took place in the Immaculate Conception Church at the Motherhouse of the Sisters of Providence. More than 300 Sisters were there to celebrate Golden and Silver Jubilarians. Among the Golden Jubilarians was Sister Betty Paul who worked with me in Youth Ministry from 1977 till 1989. The sound of 300 Sisters singing in this grand church was extraordinary. The joy and commitment of the Sisters bears witness to the faith, courage, and vision of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin who came from France in the 1840 founding this community of women who have extended their ministry from the great forest on the banks of the Wabash River to the founding of Bishop McGuinness High School, and Corpus Christi Grade School in Oklahoma all the way to Taiwan and today in China. The Women’s College they founded 175 years ago still thrives with alumni all over the world.
From that celebration, I drove on to Indianapolis to spend three days sitting with Father Noah Casey as he prepares to share in the fullness of life he has proclaimed for so many years in preaching the Gospel. Even in his suffering this week, his rich Irish humor provided more laughter than tears.
On the return today, I was back at “The Woods” (St Mary of the Woods Motherhouse in Terre Haute) to be present on behalf of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City at the funeral of Sister Alexa Suelzer. At age 97 after 75 years as a Sister of Providence she rests now as we say in our prayers “in the sure and certain hope” of the resurrection. She served in the Archdiocese of Oklahoma with Archbishop Quinn and Archbishop Salatka as Vicar for Women Religious and Director of Ecumenism. A teacher with rare gifts of wisdom and humor, she was a wise counselor to many and shared in the formation of countless Sisters of Providence. The community grieves her loss today, and it was privilege to stand with them.
Both visits at “The Woods” gave me a chance to visit with Father Bernie Head who lives there in retirement. Father Head taught me English and Creative writing in High School. He is the last of my High School teachers still living, and while he is a bit frail, he recognized me and was delighted to have news of other classmates I have heard from recently. Here are pictures of the Immaculate Conception Church on Campus, Sister Betty at the Reception following the Jubilee Liturgy, the Blessed Sacrament Chapel and one of the windows there at the Convent. Finally, the shrine and tomb of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin.