Sister Mary Faith McKean, RSM, was among the recipients of the Marian Award, a new distinction inaugurated at a Feb. 9 Mass celebrating consecrated life in St. Mary’s Chapel at the Catholic Pastoral Center in Savannah. Photographs by Jessica L. Marsala.

Lives lived in service to the Lord with 'simplicty and quiet virtue' recognized at annual Mass

Originally Appeared in : 9904-2/14/19

Bishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM Conv., extended his thanks to the men and women serving in consecrated life during the annual Jubilee Mass at the Pastoral Center in Savannah Feb. 9. 


The Mass, which also extended a special thanks to seven jubilarians –Sister Assunta Deposito, RSM, 70 years; Sister Valentina Sheridan, RSM, 70 years; Sister Margie Beatty, RSM, 60 years; Sister Janet Fischer, FSPA, 60 years; Sister Nuala Mulleady, MFIC, 60 years; Sister Lillian Quadrella, RSM, 60 years; and Sister Paula Cockerham, RSM, 25 years—also provided an opportunity to inaugurate a new award for those in consecrated life.  


Sister Margaret Downing, RSM, diocesan delegate for consecrated life, noted that the Marian Award, symbolized by a small statue of Mary, the untier of knots, is a lifetime service award. 


“These qualities of quiet service, willingness to support others, prayerfulness, steadfastness, fidelity to commitments, and willingness to say yes, even when the way ahead is not perfectly clear: These are the qualities of the service of Mary, Mother of God,” Sister Downing said. “Today we honor several people for the way they serve:  that way is with the qualities of Mary.  For the first time we are presenting the Marian Award, a recognition of persons in consecrated life who have served the people of God in this diocese for many years, with simplicity and quiet virtue.  


The first recipients of the award were three individuals as well as a local religious community: Sister Virginia Ross, CSJ; Sister Camille Collini, CSJ; Sister Mary Faith McKean, RSM; and the local community of St. John the Evangelist Church in Valdosta: Sister Justine Ostini, CSJ; Sister Pauline Oetgen CSJ; Rebecca Campbell, CSJ and Therese Galarneau, PHJC .


“The Diocese of Savannah belongs to these places of worship, learning and healing, feeding and clothing God’s people,” Bishop Hartmayer said in his homily, after listing a number of parishes, organizations and religious orders that comprise the Diocese of Savannah and give it its identity. “And today we celebrate the way these places belong to you, our dear jubilarians and members of religious and consecrated life.”


He continued, “I stand before you with profound awe and gratitude as I consider the countless hours and energies your sisters, brothers and priests have lavished upon Christ’s church in the Diocese of Savannah. Perhaps you didn’t carry the bricks or mix the mortar or hoist the wood that built the churches to which this mission diocese belongs, but make no mistake about it. You have built the church as fundamentally and as lovingly as human hearts and hands can manage it. It is beyond my capacity to reward you adequately for all you have selflessly offered so much to our history, to our service, to our identity. 


My prayer of thanks is too small to measure the endless expanse of your goodness. Any gift I could give would be hopelessly inadequate in comparison with the beauty of the lives you have given for the Lord and for the service of his people. Nevertheless on behalf of the thousands of Catholics you have served and on behalf of the church you have built and loved so dearly, I offer three simple words as gifts, as feeble attempts to sum up what you mean to us and to reflect all we would like from the heart to say to you. These three words, I give to you, are obedience, generosity and gratitude.” 


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