UP Catholic 07 14 2017 E Edition Page 10

10 July 14, 2017 THE U.P. CATHOLIC www.upcatholic.org Sisters Enright, Gervais, Sweeting begin new ministries BY CAROL HOLLENBECK THE U.P. CATHOLIC Three sisters in the Diocese of Mar- quette are seeing changes in their lives this summer. But they arent strangers to change. Sister Ellen Enright, most recently pastoral associate at St. Albert the Great Parish in Houghton and St. Anne Parish in Chassell, has retired and left the diocese. Sister Colleen Sweeting, pastoral as- sociate, and Sister Marcelyn Gervais, parish assistant, at St. Christopher Parish in Marquette are both moving. Sister Colleen is leaving the diocese to a new ministry at Holy Family Hospital in Manitowoc, Wis. Sister Marcelyn will be at St. Anne Parish in Chassell. As with anyone who has been in the religious life for a long time, all three have seen immense changes. Sister Marcelyn sums it up, The challenges and joys of each day are unique, with God al- ways adding a surprise or two to keep life from being routine. What stands out most for Sister Colleen is the drop in the number of women in her commu- nity. When I went into the convent, it was very common for girls to enter the convent, and for boys to enter the seminary. But not any- more, she said. We had 1,000 people in our community then, but now we have 250. There arent a lot of young people coming in, and, of course, the older people are passing. Sister Ellen agrees life has changed radically since she took her first vows and arrived in Sault Ste. Marie in August of 1968. Shortly after that, the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (IBVM) began open place- ment. When I went to the Soo, I had been assigned by my superiors, Sister Ellen explained. After that, the com- munity decided that the sister should have a say in her ministry. Thus each sister would job hunt like the rest of society. What would be taken into consideration would be asking our- selves if we had the particular skills for that ministry, could we live where the ministry was, and then we would consult with our superiors and the hiring entities to see if it would be a fit for everyone. An example was when I went to Holy Spirit in Menominee. Holy Spirit was in need of a pastoral associate, and I had had seven years of experience. The SSNDs invited me to live in their commu- nity. With Father Pat (S. Patrick Wisneske), Holy Spirits Pastoral Council and my superiors, we agreed it would be a good fit, and so I went and spent 20 years there, she said. Sister Ellen said she didnt really want to be a teacher, but opportuni- ties for women then were limited to teaching, nursing or social work. She agreed to teach, but found that God had a lesson for her, as well. It was in the high school math department that I realized my membership as part of the Body of Christ, she said. I discovered I love being with peo- ple. Any ministry that I can do that involves being with people has been a blessing. As it turns out, her role at the high school was short lived. The school closed in 1970-71. Then the sisters were responsible for a very innovative program for religious formation for people in the Soo deanery. I was responsible for faith formation for grades 9 through adults, she said. She took her final vows in November of 1971 at St. Mary in the Soo, which she felt was her home. The pastor at St. Mary offered Sister Ellen the job of pastoral associate in 1973. She agreed to give it a shot, and has remained a pastoral associ- ate at St. Marys Pro-Cathedral, Holy Spirit in Menominee and most recently St. Albert the Great in Houghton and St. Anne in Chas- sell almost ever since. While Sister Ellen lived with a community for most of her early ministry, she had been the only sister in a three-county area for several years. But she says she didnt feel isolat- ed. It would have been different if we didnt have the kind of communi- cations we have now, she said. The sisters were great at e-mailing, calling and writing letters. They kept me in the loop of what was going on. Sister Ellen has also worked with all ages. I joked that at St. Annes, I was young and at St. Als I was short and old! she said. Sister Ellen left the U.P. on June 18 to return to the Chicago area in retire- ment. Im living at Casa San Carlo, a retirement community in the suburb of Chicago Northlake. Im living with four other IBVM sisters there, she said. How is retirement? So far, so good, she said. Im still getting orga- nized. I lived alone all those years and now I have to downsize. While she has cut back on her work, full retirement probably wont happen for a while. There are something like 189 units here, and we are the only sisters. People are always asking us questions and for prayers. Its nat- ural, she said. She also remains in contact with her family at St. Albert and St. Anne. Is there a counseling or advisory position in her future? Im sure, Sister Ellen said. Sister Colleen took her first vows in 1955 and final vows in 1960 at the Holy Family Convent, Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, Manito- woc, Wis. She earned her Masters of Education at Oshkosh University and SEE SISTERS, PAGE 11 JAMIE GUALDONI THE U.P. CATHOLIC Sister Ellen Enright speaks during a special Mass celebrating her 50th jubilee in 2015. Sister Marcelyn Gervais j Sister Ellen Enright Si t Ell

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