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Sr Beatrice Baker's Homily


Sr. Bea baker was invited to give the homily in her parish for the collection for retired religious:

“My high school principal was Mother St. Irene of the Angels. She was also a mentor to Fr. Ray. As an impressionable young priest he was influenced by Mother St. Irene. She opened him to justice issues and an attitude of service, which I think he has maintained to this day! She had contact with Fr. Ray throughout his life. His time away from the priesthood did not separate him from her. They were loyal friends to each other. In her old and declining years Fr. Ray continued to visit her in Kankakee, until her death. He still remembers her and prays for her. I think this is an example of the best of relationships that Sisters have had with the People of God. None of us Sisters are perfect, sometimes we have even made mistakes, mistakes in the way we have treated others, but all-in-all we have a pretty decent record for good works.

Fr. Ray told me about an article (NCR Dec. 2011) he just read on Religious Women. It said that we could be in any of 3 attitudes: 1- Running, 2- Standing Still, 3- Twitching nervously as we wait for death. I told Fr. Ray that I thought we were running, but I would acknowledge that sometimes we might stand still, or even twitch, but mostly we are running. I belong to the Congregation of Notre Dame. We are international, and have sisters in Canada, Guatemala, Salvador, Honduras, Japan, France, and Cameroon.

Since the collection today is for Religious in the United States, I’ll just tell you how we’re RUNNING here. We are 139 sisters in the USA. This is a run-down of our ministries: teachers and principals in elementary and high schools, teaching Theology in Universities, catechetical offices, religious education, pastoral associates, missionaries, teaching ESL, family counselors, working in ecology centers, soup kitchens, food pantries, Birthright, vocation offices, financial office at a Jewish Center, jail educators, working with women inmates at Rikers Island, campus ministry, Nursing Home pastoral care, Hospital chaplain, Covenant House in NYC, Appalachia community center, social workers, Visiting Nurse Service, Spiritual directors, Diocesan Catholic Schools Offices, mentors for young teachers, librarians, ministry at Red Cloud Indian Reservation, family counselors, drug counselors, grief counselors, working with the Deaf, Immigrant Advocacy, mothers groups, community nursing, formation of novices, office of deacons, Coordinator of CND Associates, care of the elderly, retreat presenters, Eucharistic ministers, musicians, caregivers of the earth, NGO at the United Nations, Justice offices, author, poets, ministry of prayer, ministry of presence, ministry of comforting ... and I probably missed a few. That’s just what 139 sisters are doing. So…I think it’s safe to say we’re RUNNING. We’re running, and our average age is 75. This is not to brag about MY congregation, actually we’re not the congregation most dedicated to the poor and marginalized, but we try to contribute something to our world. Multiply our service 500 times, (by the total number of U.S. Sisters) and see what is being done in God’s name throughout the U.S. and the world.

Ours is just ONE profile of Religious men and women in the USA. But the reality is that many congregations have serious economic challenges, and do not have the financial resources necessary to care for their aging and sick members. Those retired members have served the People of God faithfully their whole lives, usually for 50 years or more. Now their congregations have the responsibility to care for them in their retirement, and the congregations feel the pain and worry of not being fully capable of meeting that primary charity.

This is where we ask you to help. Whatever contribution you can make today, will be much appreciated. The sisters pray for you daily, and thank God for your generosity. Please send the sisters you know a Christmas card, or call them, or visit them. That is what brings them Joy. It’s humbling to be needy and have to ask for help, but many sisters count on you. We will be forever grateful to you for your support.

I think that both sisters and all the People of God together try to live the Scripture of today: The spirit of the Lord is upon us. The Lord has anointed us. God has sent us to bring glad tidings to the poor. To heal the broken-hearted. To proclaim liberty to captives. Release to prisoners. To announce a year of favor from the Lord.

Our souls proclaim the greatness of the Lord. Our spirit rejoices in God our Savior. Together we are RUNNING. Running with Jesus. Running with his mother Mary. Running with each other. Let’s help each other to KEEP running!”

Sr. Beatrice Baker, CND



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