A 50th Anniversary is Special in Many Ways

Posted on May 29, 2013

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Kelowna garden

The garden’s ready for a celebration.

A 50th anniversary of anything is a big deal, whether that be a wedding anniversary, the duration of a business, a birthday, a career, a bottle of fine Scotch or a vintage vinyl recording. Heck, I’m amazed that the Rolling Stones are still on tour after that long! This week marks a special anniversary for my oldest sibling; she is marking 50 years of devotion and service to the church as a Religious in the order of the Sisters of Charity of Halifax. Hubby and I are hosting a large reception at our place for some of her close associates and friends in the community. There’s a lot of scurrying about in preparation for the event inside and outside in the garden. Needless to say, there’s been a few prayers said for decent warm weather so that the crowd can enjoy the lovely spring flowers. With all the rain showers lately, the only gatherings out in the wet shrubbery are the mosquitos which really are a nuisance at least and a health issue at worst.

Relative to this event being planned, my mind has drifted back to the last major milestone that has intersected with my life, that being the 65th wedding anniversary last November of my in-laws in England. It is a time-span that I can’t really comprehend of being with one partner, though Hubby and I aspire to match that feat with only 35 years of marriage so far. Before that date, witnessing a 50th anniversary celebration for my own parents seemed monumental. Viewing it as nearly an eternity from my side of the calendar, both sets of parents remarked at the time that the years seemed to have raced by. When you’re busy dealing with life’s twists and turns and raising families, it’s no wonder life’s a fleeting thing.

Sisters of Charity old habit

It was common to see the old style habit in the 60’s and 70’s.

Back in 1963, when my sister professed her religious vows, I was still in elementary school, and my younger sisters and I had no actual memories of her except for family photos. Those first visits with her when she returned to the West Coast from Halifax, Nova Scotia were surrounded with some natural curiosity. It took time to reconnect the dots and learn about her new life. My oldest sister had basically “disappeared” for a few years and returned wearing a habit. (As a result, most of us in the family heard every stupid ‘nun’ and ‘penguin’ joke around.)

Elizabeth Seton stained glass window

A beautiful stained-glass window dedicated to the Sisters of Charity – Halifax and the foundress Elizabeth Ann Seton

What I learned about her chosen vocation was that it was about a life of humility and caring for others. Her community of women were all positive people, seeking to know and be a witness to God’s love. These sisters genuinely got involved with making the world a better place. As much as the media usually portrayed the typical North American religious ‘nuns’ as stern-faced, middle-aged matrons ready to hand out some harsh punishment as a correction for wrong-doing, there were only infrequent references to young women in their twenties desiring to enter the religious orders. That’s a sad, untrue statement. In fact, I’ve been introduced to several lively, vibrant young women of faith over the years who were interested in health, education, human injustices and many other areas. There’s no room for ‘penguin’ humour anymore – just respect and inspiration.

So, congrats to you Sis for following your path of faith and service for 50 years! You’ve come a long way, travelled countless miles, and your journey is not ended, I know. As you have touched people’s lives, so may you continue to be blessed in the years ahead. Wow, 50 years!

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