On Sunday October 4th we gathered with friends, RSC associates, former RSC’s with their spouses, colleagues in ministry and family members to celebrate our 200th anniversary at St. Cornelius Parish, Long Beach. This was the site of the first community of the Religious Sisters of Charity in California in 1953.
After weeks of scorching heat, a soft rain fell the morning of our gathering! Some thought it was an Irish blessing!
Bishop Joseph Sartoris was the presider and homilist and did his research on Mary Aikenhead with the help of Google. His homily integrated the ministries of the current RSC’s along with Mary Aikenhead’s vision and list of initiatives. Bishop Joe mentioned that Mary Aikenhead was the first to get sisters visiting in prisons, sent the first sisters to set foot in Australia, and was a true feminist, ”fearless in challenging clerics about their unjust treatment of her congregation”; then pausing to say to the priests, “Gentlemen, we would have lost! “ Bishop Joe emphasized Mary Aikenhead’s legacy and paraphrased her contribution saying “her descendants shall be renowned…all who see them as a race the Lord has blessed.”
A joyful sound resonated throughout the church as the parish Samoan choir sang with full hearts and voices, rich deep baritones and trained voiced sopranos. At the Offertory the Samoans danced down the aisle bringing a lei (a wreath of flowers) to wrap around Mary Aikenhead’s picture. The choir sang the Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus for their closing hymn.
Crystal, Kristen and Keara, three young girls served the Mass, while other students of St. Cornelius read the Prayers of the Faithful, handed out holy cards of Mary Aikenhead at the end and greeted the people.
The principal, Nancy Hayes, with volunteers, spent the previous day working hard to set up the hall for the many guests. In honor of our 200th anniversary, we contributed to the Tuition Assistance Scholarship Fund and this was presented to the Pastor, Fr. Mike Gleeson and to the principal.
The regional committee that planned the celebration consisted of Sisters Angela Flavin, Carmel Somers, Michelle Hetherington, Bríd O’Shea, Madeleine Meagher, Bernadette Morgan and Marsha Moon. Thanks to all the hard work and planning everyone enjoyed quite a celebration.