This weekend, Sister Natalie will celebrate her Golden Jubilee as a Sister of St. Francis of
Philadelphia with her family and friends. (We will celebrate Sister Natalie as a school family in conjunction with St. Francis Day in October). A Golden Jubilee is a celebration of 50 years in religious life. There is no two ways about it; faithfully living out one's vocation for 50 years is a remarkable accomplishment. Like any other vocation, including single life, married life, and the priesthood, a vocation as a religious sister has gifts and challenges. I suspect that Sister Natalie would tell you that the gifts of her vocation far outweigh the challenges. This is evident to me in the way that Sister Natalie has ministered in our school for the past 30 years as a fourth grade teacher.
It sometimes amazes me when I encounter someone my age, or every older, who, upon finding out that I am the principal of St. Gregory the Great Academy, ask me if Sister Natalie is still here. Generally, once I respond in the affirmative, the person will share an anecdote about his or her time in fourth grade with Sister Natalie. What a tremendous testament to the effect which teachers in general, and Sister Natalie in particular, have on us for our entire lives.
St. Gregory the Great Academy is blessed to have a Franciscan religious presence. Sadly, many of our sister schools in the Diocese of Trenton, and in the United States, do not have the gift of the presence of religious sisters. My firm belief is that the most effective way to attract young people to religious life and the priesthood is for the young people to witness sisters and priests happily living their vocation. Together with Sister Barbara, Sister Natalie joyfully shares her Franciscan charism with the fourth grade, the faculty, and the parish. We give thanks to God for blessing our Academy with the sisters. In a special way, we give thanks for Sister Natalie and her ministry among us.
Congratulations Sister Natalie!