Welcome to Saint John Paul II Parish, Bishop Cistone! It is always a delight to have you present at the parish. I am so happy that you are able to preside at the 4:00 PM Mass this weekend and join the parish community in celebrating my Golden Jubilee as a Sister of Saint Joseph.
Welcome to all who have traveled far and near to be with me for this weekend’s celebration! I am really looking forward to having you meet one another: family, friends, CSJs, parishioners, my colleagues in ministry, and our bishop. I have been aware that the parish staff and many parishioners have been working together on this celebration for weeks. I am sure that all that is being planned for Mass and the dinner reception will be great. In advance, I would like to express my appreciation to all who had a part in the planning and preparation of this jubilee celebration.
Just a note: please keep my mother, Mary, in your prayers. She is unable to travel as she is not in the best of health and resides in a Nursing Care facility, but she will be with us in spirit. Along with my father (who died in 1974), she has always been very supportive of my vocation and has kept me (and all her children) in prayer daily. I have inherited some of my strongest gifts from both my mom and dad who were a great example of faith to me. They taught me a great deal about love and sacrifice and keeping God first in my life.
Some of you have said that you can hardly believe that I am old enough to celebrate 50 years. Well, I am, and it is hard for me to believe it as well. The years have really gone by quickly. I entered the convent at age 18 and became a Postulant in August, 1966, and a Novice in 1967. Our community went through a number of changes in the formation program during my time of Initial Formation. I was part of the Diocese of Kalamazoo those first 5 years, and was quite involved in music ministry at the Motherhouse and then at the College. I was missioned to the Diocese of Detroit for 18 years, and then ministered in the Diocese of Saginaw for the past 27 years. My assignments (excluding two-six month sabbaticals) include the following:
· Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish (Plymouth) – Parish Music Director and Elementary School Teacher (1971-1975)
· Gabriel Richard High School (Riverview) – Choral, Band and Humanities Teacher (1975- 1979)
· Saint Cyprian Parish (Riverview) – Assistant Organist – (1975-1979)
· Our Lady of Victory Parish (Northville) – Music and Liturgy Director (1979-1989)
· Holy Family Middle School (Bay City) – Band, Choral, and French Teacher (1989-1991) – also part-time: one class as needed (music or French) through 2000
· Saint Boniface Parish (Bay City) – Director of Music and Liturgy (1991 through 2000)
· Saint Brigid Parish (Midland) – Director of Worship and Music Ministries (2001-2004)
· Saint John the Baptist Parish (Carrollton) – Pastoral Administrator (2005-2014)
· Office of Liturgy (Diocese of Saginaw) – Associate for Music and Liturgy (2007-2013)
· Saint Josaphat Parish (Carrollton) - Pastoral Administrator (2013-2014)
· Saint Matthew Parish (March 2014 through June 2014) - Pastoral Administrator
· Saint John Paul II Parish (Carrollton) – Pastoral Administrator – appointed July 1, 2014-2016, appointment renewed July 1, 2016 for 3 years
There is significance in being able to celebrate my jubilee with the parish on the date of August 6. It is the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, our Congregational Feast Day, and, this year, the 10th Anniversary of “our merger.” Ten Years ago, seven congregations of Sisters of Saint Joseph in the Heartland region became one congregation after going through a long process called Reconfiguration, receiving papal approval in 2006.
This weekend we celebrate the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Gospel passage reminds us to be vigilant and ready to meet the Lord when he comes. Let us ask ourselves: what do we do each day to make ourselves ready to meet the Lord when he comes?
Blessings on your week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ