It was with great joy and delight that we celebrated the Golden Jubilee of Sr. Marsha, on July 2nd, 2017. Preparations were well under way, invitations had been sent and RSVPs received. The Jubilee Mass and celebration were to take place outside in front of Caritas. Tables were dressed and umbrellas were opened to provide shade from the California sun.
Salads and the jubilee cake were ready for the meal which would follow the day’s liturgy. The day dawned bright and beautiful -- perfect, with plenty of sunshine and comfortable temperatures.
The guests arrived from near and far – Marsha’s Mom, Peggy and sister, Linda, friends from Marsha’s places of ministry through the years, RSC’s, long-time friends, and, of course, many from her large, extended family—and a veritable reunion had begun. We even got to surprise Marsha, when one of her cousins and her husband arrived from Colorado. Although Marsha had known about a few other relatives coming from Colorado, these two decided to make it a surprise – it worked! Marsha described the success of the day as the fact that so many RSC’s, family, and friends were able to celebrate with her.
Mass began at 2:00 p.m., celebrated by Fr. Francis Benedict, OSB (from St Andrew’s Abbey in Valyermo, California) a longtime friend of Marsha. He was assisted by Deacon Bob Kelleher, another special friend from Marsha’s ministry in St. Columban’s, Garden Grove. (These two were also with her for her Silver Jubilee!)
The Mass included many songs/hymns that were special to Marsha and her life’s journey. Her coe, Sr. Kathleen Bryant, gave a welcome to all gathered for the celebration. Having known Marsha since their high school days, Kathleen was able to intersperse her remarks with personal memories -- at several points, as anyone who knows Kathleen will understand, her sharing elicited laughter, as well as many, many nods of agreement. Kathleen also led the singing, accompanied by Fr. Robert Juarez. Marsha’s sister, Linda, proclaimed the first reading, Sr. Francis Maria read the responsorial psalm, Sr. Edith read the second reading, and Sr. Brid read the intercessory prayers. Fr. Francis delivered an inspiring homily. During the offertory procession, different members of Marsha’s family and some RSC’s presented gifts that represented people or places that were very much part of Marsha’s life -- a picture of Mary Aikenhead, a cloth from South America, a carving from Nigeria, a piece of Zuni stone art, and a photo of Yosemite’s Inspiration Point in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains -- signifying the diverse parts of the world where Sr. Marsha has been blessed to minister with the people of God, or where she finds God in the beauty of creation, as well as, as she says, a “place of unmistakable beauty and peace.”
After Mass the guests were invited to walk down to the parking lot, where the meal was being served. It was an unusual party - not quite the usual “sit-down meal.”. Sr. Marsha had arranged for the In-N-Out Burger truck to come and serve their famous burgers, chips and soft drinks. Everyone formed a line and placed their orders. They served three different kinds of hamburgers, which were all made from fresh ingredients and cooked on the spot. They were delicious! Fresh fruit salads and tossed green salads were also served to complete the meal. The guests enjoyed the menu very much -- there were even seconds for those who wished. Towards the end of the meal cake and ice cream were served as dessert. Sr. Marsha cut the chocolate cake to much cheering and clapping.
It was a great day filled with many blessings and memories. Sr. Marsha, we wish you many more years of joy and happiness.