by Moira Cullings
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Archbishop Emeritus James P. Keleher wears a tangible reminder of selfless love every day.
Twenty years ago, one of the Sisters, Servants of Mary gave him a small golden ring with an inscription of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
“I’ve worn that ring every day for the last 20 years,” said the archbishop. “It has an awful lot of meaning to me, especially because it was a gift from those wonderful Sisters.”
The Sisters, Servants have gifted countless others in the Kansas City community with selfless service for 100 years.
To celebrate the order’s century of service, the Sisters and their supporters gathered at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Kansas City, Kansas, Nov. 11 for a Mass and reception.
“The church was absolutely packed,” said Archbishop Keleher. “There wasn’t an empty seat in the whole cathedral.”
The Sisters’ ministry is to care for the sick and dying in their own homes throughout the night at no cost.
It wasn’t difficult to fill the cathedral with people who have been touched by their ministry.
Archbishop Keleher, whose ties with the Sisters date back to when he first became archbishop, celebrated the Mass.
He remains in awe of the work the Sisters have accomplished in the community.
“These Sisters are particularly trained to come in for eight hours a night to relieve the family from taking care of the sick and, often cases, the dying person,” said Archbishop Keleher.
“The thing they have that’s difficult for other hospices to do is they bring Jesus to what they do,” he continued. “They’re there to console the person.”
The Sisters’ ministry has inspired priests of the archdiocese as well — priests like Msgr. Tom Tank, pastor of Church of the Ascension in Overland Park, who concelebrated the Mass.
Monsignor Tank has been acquainted with the Sisters for almost 50 years. During that time, he has periodically led conferences for the order.
“The Sisters, Servants of Mary provide a beautiful witness both to the consecrated life and to Christ’s concern for the sick and the dying,” said Msgr. Tank.
“They have assisted so many,” he said, “including my own grandfather, during their last days on this earth with both nursing and spiritual care.
“They truly minister to both the body and the soul, helping them with comfort in this life and confident hope for eternal life.”
The anniversary celebration was unique for a couple of reasons. First, a few representative Sisters from each of the order’s convents in both the United States and Mexico were present.
Second, it represented the largest gathering of members of the religious order to ever take place in North America.
“The fact that all of us were together made the unity [within the order] more visible,” said Sister Lucero Garcia, mother superior of the local Sisters.
“Wherever we are, we are the same and we celebrate the same,” she continued. “We are all about our mission.”
Many in attendance were benefactors of the Sisters, as well as families of individuals they’ve served.
“We are really and truly grateful for all of our friends and benefactors,” said Sister Lucero. “They are God’s providence for us.”
Archbishop Keleher and Msgr. Tank pray that more women will be called to join the order so the Sisters’ ministry can continue for many years to come.
“They have continually inspired me with their joyful spirit and loving witness to Christ,” said Msgr. Tank.
Archbishop Keleher agreed.
“I think it’s one of the most beautiful ministries you could think of,” he said.