Sunny skies and bursts of spring color highlighted the celebration of fifty years of monastic profession for Sister Germaine Fritz and Sister Sharon Simpson on April 29 at the monastery. The occasion was marked by a concelebrated Mass attended by community, family, friends and associates and by a festive dinner in Benedictine Center.
Presiding at the Eucharistic Liturgy was the Rev. Hilary O'Leary, OSB of St. Mary's Abbey in Morristown, the homilist was the Rev. Kenneth Lasch of the Diocese of Paterson. The congregation of several hundred exhibited a palpable level of enthusiasm and energy.
Sister Sharon McHugh, Prioress, presided over the renewal of monastic profession by the jubilarians. The ceremony included the dramatic gesture of the jubilarians raising their hands higher and higher as they sang the traditional Suscipe chant on successively higher tones. This chant taken from Psalm 119, expresses trust in God's goodness and goes back to monastic profession ceremonies in the time of St. Benedict himself. For both sisters, the most deeply moving aspect of the day was sharing this renewal of monastic commitment with so many people who have been a part of their lives along the way.
Both jubilarians are lifelong educators and school administrators, in addition Sister Germaine served as the community's prioress from 1985-1997. Currently, Sister Sharon works as a counselor at Sacred Heart School in Vailsburg, Newark, and Sister Germaine is president and principal of Benedictine Academy. Both are active in various projects and activities within the monastery.
Karin's brothers, Geoff and Howard, Howard's wife Francesca, and their daughter Olivia, attended the Rite of Welcome presided over by Sister Sharon McHugh, Prioress, who greeted Karin, presented her with the book of the Liturgy of Hours and, together with the community, gave her a blessing. The new postulant was also welcomed by Sister Dorothy Huggard, her previous director, and Sister Rosemary Kenny, Karin's new director. Vespers was followed by a light supper in the Community dining room.Karin comes from Greenwich, Connecticut. She is musically talented with a contralto voice. Before entering, she worked as an office manager, lectured in her parish, taught Religious Education and had volunteered on a crisis hotline. Now she is open to learning the monastic way and using her gifts and talents in Community. On reflection, Karin said, “I am profoundly grateful that God has led me home.”