Friars Commemorate SMIC Sisters’ 100th Anniversary

Rebecca Doel In the Headlines

PATERSON, N.J. — The Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception commemorated their centennial on Sept. 25 with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Arthur Serratelli. Joseph Nangle, OFM, of Washington, D.C., was homilist.

The Province’s St. Bonaventure Church hosted the 100th anniversary celebration of the order devoted to the Blessed Mother, founded by five religious women in Brazil. The SMIC sisters — who now serve in Africa, Asia, Europe, South and North America — arrived in Paterson in 1923.

“One could sense from the reaction of the crowd at the Mass that the sisters are loved and respected for the great ministry they do in the United States and in foreign countries,” said Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, who attended the celebration.

Paterson friars Christian Camadella, OFM, Daniel Grigassy, OFM, pastor, and Christopher VanHaight, OFM, also joined in the celebration.

In his homily, Joseph spoke of his personal experiences witnessing the work of the missionary sisters and expressed gratitude on behalf of the Province. “Holy Name Province acknowledges an immense debt of gratitude to the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God,” he said. “Generations of our men remember your tireless and often overlooked work with us and for us. I know I speak for all of us when I tell you publicly that our Province offers to each of you a heartfelt and prayerful word of deep thanks.”

smic-rJoe encountered SMIC sisters at a variety of ministry sites throughout his more than 50 years as a Franciscan. He ministered with them in Bolivia, and in 1994, as executive director of the Franciscan Mission Service, Joe said he “came to know the SMIC community much more closely and to appreciate the enormous influence their community had on the FMS lay mission program from its beginning in 1990.”

In addition, beginning in 2008, Joe visited every SMIC province in the world to offer the sisters a course in missiology as they prepared for their May 2010 general chapter. “That opportunity gave me a new understanding of this remarkable congregation.”

Last month’s centennial Mass was followed by a reception in the parish’s Bishop Manning Hall.

Holy Name Province’s connection to the missionary sisters goes back quite far. “Like all Holy Name friars of my generation,” Joe said, “I had the benefit of the sisters’ ministry during my years of study at the old Holy Name College in Washington, D.C.” There, the friars affectionately nicknamed the sisters the “Blue Socks.”

The SMICs hold a passion in their hearts “for mission rooted in Christ with Franciscan spirituality and devotion to the Blessed Mother,” according to an article about the celebration that appeared in the Sept. 30 issue of The Beacon, newspaper of the Paterson Diocese.

The two-page story described the ministries where missionary sisters of the Immaculate Conception serve — education, health care, parishes and social services — and mentions St. Bonaventure Church where Sr. Jean Amore, SMIC, has been based for several years.

— Rebecca Doel is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.