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Archives Celebrating consecrated life

Feb. 3, 2021

By Jessica Hargrave
Contributing Writer

This weekend we pray for the men and women who made commitments to consecrated life and those who have yet to answer their call to vocations. World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life will be celebrated in parishes February 6 and 7.

Religious orders in the Diocese of Ogdensburg have ministered to North Country residents in forms of education, healthcare, and social ministries for two centuries.

Missionaries of the Sacred Heart arrived in Watertown from France in 1876 and are still there today. The Catholic order of priests and brothers live by one charism, wanting everyone to experience God’s love through the compassion of Jesus.

Their ministry began with formation, training young men to become priests and eventually establishing a high school seminary in Watertown until it closed in 1976.

Father Frank Natale, MSC, pastor at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church in Watertown and a member of the order, said the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart have evolved since the order’s beginning while the devotion to serve the people of the parish has not changed.

“It eventually grew into more outreach in the area,” Father Natale said. “We try to meet the needs of the community along with passing on the message of God’s love for them. We’ve been called to parish ministry, prison ministry, hospital chapel, and teaching.”

Father Natale added, “It’s important to celebrate those in consecrated life who have sacrificed the warmth and comforts of home to help others. These brothers and sisters let go of the home they know to go out and serve God.”

It was the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart who brought the Sisters of St. Joseph to Watertown in 1880 to start Catholic education in the area. Front and center of a small wooden schoolhouse were sisters and missionaries who gave poor and immigrant children a chance at opportunity and to grow their faith.

Sister Gabriel Marie Meyer, a Sister of St. Joseph, served as a teacher in nearly every corner of the diocese, embodying the Sisters of St. Joseph charism of love God and love our neighbor. She wore many hats, volunteering at Hospice and a Women’s Crisis Center and Respite Center, working in Catholic Charities as a social worker. She became the group mother and administrator at St. Patrick’s Children’s Home, which gave orphaned children discipline and structure.

Two Sisters of St. Joseph served as speech and hearing clinicians at the House of the Good Samaritan in the 1960s and 1970s, Sister Mary Stella Klopf and Sister Annette McGettigan. Today, Sister Rosie Soosairaj, A Sister of the Cross of Chavanod, carries on the legacy of sisters in healthcare. Sister Rosie is a nurse practitioner at Samaritan Hospital in Watertown and feels blessed to be practicing the healing powers of God.

“There is something different in me that most of my patients can see, can feel,” she said. “I like to think it is the presence of prayer, the power of honesty, and caring for God's charisma. The warmth and trust they give me far outweighs anything that I could expect to give them.”

Sister Rosie says while it’s frightening to work during the COVID-19 pandemic, she feels great solace educating her patients about the facts and misconceptions of the virus. She says those in consecrated life could use the extra prayers this weekend, because human strength alone is not enough.

“We need prayer support from each other, lift us through our difficult days to focus on God who is the source and master of all for whom we have dedicated our life,” she said.

We thank all the special people called to consecrated life. May they continue to respond generously to God's gift of their vocation. We also pray more men and women will answer the call to consecrated life.


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