Every year the Serra club of Erie hosts a luncheon at the Erie Yacht Club to recognize and honor priests and religious sisters working in the diocese of Erie who are celebrating jubilee years. Last year the club was unable to hold the event because of the pandemic. This year Covid numbers were still high in the spring. The Serra Club of Erie re-scheduled for the fall but had to cancel in early September because Covid numbers were rising once again.
Since the Jubilarians were unable to be recognized at an in-person event this year, Dennis Deiner, president of the Serra Club of Erie, and Dave Wayman, VP of communications, met with each local order of sisters and gave them certificates recognizing their years of service to the diocese of Erie. Priests and deacons within the Erie area were given their certificates and those outside of the Erie area were mailed their certificates.
The Erie Benedictive Community had eight sisters celebrating a Jubilee:
70 Years - Sister Marlene Bertke, OSB
70 Years - Sister Miriam Mashank, OSB
70 Years - Sister Patricia McGreevy, OSB
60 Years - Sister Rose Ann Kolbas, OSB
60 Years - Sister Mary Lou Kownacki, OSB
60 Years - Sister Audrey Steff, OSB
25 Years - Sister Ann Bannon, OSB
25 Years - Sister Patricia Hause, OSB
Accepting the certificates for the sisters of her community, Sister Stephanie Schmidt, prioress, thanked the Serra Club and said, "The story of any vocation is a story of love. Why do any of us do what we do? Sisters are people who fell in love with God and they want to therefore respond by giving all of their life in the service of God's people."
The Sisters of Mercy had three members being honored for their service:
75 Years - Sister Rita Brocke, RSM
70 Years - Sister Rita Marie Hettish, RSM
70 Years - Sister Joan McCabe, RSM
Sister Rita Marie Hettish spoke of her vocation and said, "We serve because of the grace of God and the prayers of all the sisters."
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Northwestern Pennsylvania Jubilarians included these eight sisters:
75 Years - Sister Lucille De Stefano, SSJ
70 Years - Sister Mary Carol Hoke, SSJ
70 Years - Sister Maria Onuffer, SSJ
70 Years - Sister Barbara Ann Zakutney, SSJ
60 Years - Sister Michele Healy, SSJ
60 Years - Sister Moira Sullivan, SSJ
50 Years - Sister Claudia Dombrowski, SSJ
50 Years - Sister Phyllis McCracken, SSJ
Speaking for these Jubilarians, Sister Carol Morehouse of their leadership team said, "Our sisters are motivated by love of God and love of neighbor. It's what the Sisters of St. Joseph call the double union. We work in order to bring people together with each other and to take people to God."
Two other religious sisters active in the diocese of Erie celebrated jubilee years as well: Sister Kathleen Dietz, FSO - 25 Years; The Spiritual Family. The Work sisters Sister Sandy Pedone, HM - 25 Years; Humility of Mary sisters.
Nine priests of the diocese of Erie celebrated their jubilee years. They are:
65 Years - Rev. Msgr. Richard J. Stack
60 Years - Rev. Msgr. Bruce R. Allison
60 Years - Rev. Msgr. Richard G. Mayer
60 Years - Rev. Robert P. Susa
50 Years - Rev. Msgr. H. Desmond McGee
50 Years - Rev. Msgr. Thomas J. McSweeney
50 Years - Rev. Walter E. Packard
40 Years - Most Rev. Mark L. Bartchak
40 Years - Rev. Jeffrey J. Lucas
This year the Serra Club of Erie also included diocesan deacons as honorees for the first time, including:
20 Years - Deacon John E. Brophy
20 Years - Deacon William Gibson
20 Years - Deacon Jerome P. Peterson
Upon receiving the certificate recognizing his years of active ministry, Deacon Jerome Peterson said, "Recognition from the Serra Club highlights the fact that deacons are performing their ministry of service to God and God's church, and if the Serra Club is acknowledging that, then we must be fulfilling our ministry, the purpose for which we are ordained."
Accepting the certificate from club president, Dennis Deiner, is Sister Stephanie Schmidt, prioress.
The three Mercy Sisters receiving their Jubilarian recognition certificates are (from left) Sister Joan McCabe, RSM; Sister Rita Brocke, RSM; and Sister Rita Marie Hettish, RSM.
Sisters of St. Joseph of Northwestern Pennsylvania
Sisters being honored for their years of service are (from left) Sister Michele Healy, SSJ; Sister Lucille DeStefano, SSJ; Sister Moira Sullivan, SSJ; Sister Claudia Dombrowski, SSJ; Sister Phyllis McCracken, SSJ; Sister Maria Onuffer, SSJ; Sister Barbara Ann Zakutney, SSJ; and Sister Mary Carol Hoke, SSJ.
Deacon Jerome Peterson who is assigned to and serves at St. Julia parish in Erie accepts the Jubilarian recognition certificate from Dennis Deiner, president of the Serra Club of Erie.