2018 Jubilee Celebrations
Every year, our community celebrates jubilees, special celebrations designating an anniversary year. This year, we have sisters celebrating 50, 60, 75 and 80 years of religious life.
Sister Matthew, daughter of the late John F. and Anna Mahoney Cunningham, was born in Albert Lea, Minnesota, but lived most of her life in Clare, Iowa. Currently of Dubuque, Sister Matthew serves in community prayer and service at the Presentation Motherhouse, Mount Loretto. For over 50 years, she taught piano, organ and instrumental music in Catholic elementary and high schools in Ryan, Fairbank, Farley, Charles City, Storm Lake, Waukon, Mason City, Algona and Whittemore, all in Iowa. She also served as a parish organist.
Sister Matthew has possessed a passion for music since childhood. She shared her talents when she retired in 1995, and for several years, accompanied the sisters for Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours. Putting new words to familiar melodies, she would compose parodies for special occasions. With changes in her health, Sister Matthew continues to appreciate the music provided by other sisters and associates.
Reflecting on her 80 years of religious life, Sister Matthew states, “My religious vocation is a great blessing for me and always has been. I rely heavily on God’s generous gifts of grace. This jubilee celebrates a life that brings me closer to God and more able to do God’s will. I pray for vocations to spread and teach Gospel values and the mission of Nano Nagle.”
Sister Damian, originally from Ryan, Iowa, is the daughter of the late Dr. William S. and Mrs. Bernice Tumey O’Brien. Currently of Dubuque, Sister Damian serves in community prayer and service at Mount Loretto. She volunteers in the Office of Archives at the Archdiocese of Dubuque.
For 26 years, Sister Damian taught piano, organ, vocal and instrumental/band music at Catholic elementary schools in Dubuque, Dougherty, Lawler, Osage and Mason City, all in Iowa. She served in congregational leadership, formation and administration for the Presentation community, as well as, a choir director, administrator of a home for retired priest and member of the Dubuque Archdiocese Deacon Formation Team. She also served as pastoral minister at parishes in Charles City and Castle Grove-Coggon-Prairieburg cluster, all in Iowa, and in St. Paul, Minnesota. During her years in parish ministry, Sister Damian accompanied at parish liturgies.
Celebrating this jubilee moment and the meaning of her religious vocation, Sister Damian reflects, “After 80 years as a religious, I think it is the best decision I’ve ever made. I have always aimed to serve and to be of help to others. I thank the Lord for being so good to me. The life and work of our Presentation foundress, Nano Nagle, is so inspiring and inviting. Nano’s service seems so easy despite the hardships she endured; and yet she persevered. She has been a great model for me. And her lantern still lights the way.”
On April 26, Sister Marie Therese Coleman celebrated her 75th jubilee, remembering God’s love and faithfulness with gratitude for a life of service as a Sister of the Presentation.
Celebrating her jubilee on the anniversary of Nano Nagle’s entrance to heaven, Sister Marie Therese chose Scriptures that reflected a deep reliance on the Eucharist as central to a life dedicated to service and care for the poor (Acts 2:42-47) and recalled with joy the command of Jesus to love one another (John 15:12).
“Through all the ups and downs of life, God has been and continues to be there for me,” states Sister Marie Therese, the seventh of nine children of John Regis and Gertrude Mary Paul Coleman. Born Rose Mary, Sister Marie Therese began life in Racola, Missouri. When seven years old, she moved with the Coleman clan to Algona, Iowa. It was there that she met the Sisters of the Presentation, her teachers through St. Cecelia grade and high school.
“I always wanted to be a sister. Both Sisters Davidica Henrich
and Evangelista Carr were significant voices in my vocation. They each asked me about my vocation and what was I doing about it,” she recalls. “I attended daily Mass, prayed the rosary and Stations of the Cross. I loved the saints, especially St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Joseph and Mary the Mother of Jesus.”
After graduating from high school, Sister Marie Therese entered the Dubuque Sisters of the Presentation in 1943. “My Presentation community has helped me to be faithful to my religious vocation.”
The spiritual life of her youth has grown and nurtured Sister Marie Therese throughout her life. As with Nano Nagle, her devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has been a source of experiencing God’s steadfast love. This took Sister Marie Therese through her journey of religious life from initial formation, to college and teacher education with many years of service in Catholic elementary schools. “Nano believed in Jesus’s promise of love and she passed it on to us when she died speaking His words, ‘This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.’”
Since retiring to Mount Loretto in 1984, Sister Marie Therese continued to carry out the mission of Nano Nagle through private tutoring and assisting in teaching English as a second language. In the community, she did many behind-the-scene jobs such as preparing the early morning coffee and passing out the morning papers for the house. She also served as sacristan several times a week. Loving and caring for nature, she looked after beloved birds, dogs and cats. She discovered the beauty of the city by biking or walking many miles throughout Dubuque.
Sister Marie Therese now enjoys the benefits of a more contemplative life, whether in her neatly kept room in Nagle Center, praying and attending liturgy in Sacred Heart Chapel or enjoying many places around the Mount Loretto campus. “I love to pray my rosary and to look at the sanctuary on closed circuit TV, to hear the music and singing during Mass and to just be in God’s presence,” she says.
Sister Marie Therese is very fond of Psalm 139. “It reminds me of God’s presence and love throughout my life, even before I was born – God’s hand is always on me. That is very consoling,” she declares. Most heartened by the words of Bernadette Farrell’s version of that psalm, Sister Marie Therese sings and prays, “You are with me beyond my understanding: God of my present, my past and future, too.”
Sister Therese, originally from Fairbank, Iowa, daughter of the late J. C. and Margaret Staebell Corkery, entered the Presentation community in 1958 and professed final vows in 1966.
Since 2013, Sister Therese is serving a second assignment as a missionary in Bolivia. In Entre Ríos, she currently works with adults on sacramental preparation classes, coordinates the baptism and marriage preparation teams and works with ongoing formation in the parish. In the city of Tarija, Sister Therese coordinates the use of Casa Betania, a gathering area for retreats, for university students to work on group projects and a space for meetings. She also volunteers at CEEBA, a school for the differently-abled, and at VIDA DIGNA, a home for teenagers who experienced sexual, physical, mental or psychological abuse.
Sister Therese’s earliest ministry was as classroom teacher of home economics, food and nutrition in Catholic high schools in Mason City, Dubuque and Waterloo, all in Iowa. She was also Home Economics Head at Clarke College in Dubuque. She first journeyed as a missionary to Bolivia in 1972, serving as director of the Academia de la Presentacíon in Entre Ríos from 1973 to 1987. Returning to the U.S. in 1987, Sister Therese was co-director of La Posada del Valle, a foster home for differently-abled and medically-needy children in San Juan, Texas. For 11 years, she was a caregiver at Comfort House in McAllen, Texas, and at Aurora House in Weslaco, Texas, a non-profit residence for the terminally ill.
What wisdom has Sister Therese received throughout her years as a Presentation Sister? “Religious life is a call to continue to follow the Gospel message professed by my parents and godparents at my baptism,” she states. “As a Presentation Sister, this call continues to lead me to be in solidarity with those made poor.”
Sister Carrie, originally from Waukon, Iowa, daughter of the late Elmer and Eleanor Ernster Link, entered the Sisters of the Presentation in 1958 and professed final vows in 1966.
Currently of Monticello, Minnesota, Sister Carrie is liturgist at Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Mound, Minnesota, and Christian initiation director and spiritual director at the Church of St. Henry in Monticello since 1990.
Previously she taught and was principal in Catholic schools from 1963 to 1983 in Lawler, Farley, Sheldon and Dubuque, all in Iowa, and in Oregon, Illinois. She also served as pastoral minister from 1983 to 1990 in Knoxville and Nevada, Iowa.
As an artist trained in classical realism, Sister Carrie uses her artistic abilities for many projects including colored pencil paintings and iconography. Her portrait of Presentation foundress, Nano Nagle, is popular across the Presentation world. Her artistry is also evident in various facets of her liturgical ministry.
Celebrating the wisdom of life and vocation, Sister Carrie reflects, “Wisdom has made herself known throughout the winding lanes of my religious life. As a 17-year-old, I would never have imagined all that would encompass my journey: the joys, challenges and times of deep gratitude. Today, as with the ways of wisdom, I have the long view of my life. All comes together in the mystery of God’s grace.
Sister Cecelia Marie, originally from Monona, Iowa, daughter of the late George and Leona McGill Auterman, entered the Sisters of the Presentation in 1958 and professed final vows in 1967.
Currently of Dubuque, Sister Cecelia Marie is receptionist at the Presentation Motherhouse, Mount Loretto. She taught for 27 years in Catholic schools in Whittemore, Farley, Dubuque, Key West and Cedar Rapids, all in Iowa. Most of that time, she taught reading and math to small groups of students in grades first through eighth. For nine years she served as a teacher at Sylvan Learning Center in Dubuque. She was attendance secretary at Regis High School in Cedar Rapids for three years.
Sister Cecelia’s skills also abound in the art of baking. She provides sweet treats for shut-ins, for Mount Loretto festivities, for bake sales and for friends and family, especially for the sisters on the assisted living floor. When pie is on the menu at the motherhouse, she makes the pie crusts. Sister Cecelia’s math and reading skills shine in her avid pursuit of a game of Scrabble or other card games. Dedicated to integrated wellness, she walks almost daily and always has a good novel to read.
Reflecting on her years of religious life, Sister Cecelia states, “These 60 years have passed rather quickly, it seems. My varied experiences have been enriching. I have been greatly blessed as a member of this community.”
Sister Beth is the eldest daughter of the late Jerry and Alverna Driscoll-Marreel of Osage, Iowa, and sister to Mark Driscoll, Tom Driscoll and Cindy McCarthy. Currently she is living in Omaha, Nebraska, “walking the lanes” in the spirit of Nano Nagle, meeting people and searching out the needs and possibilities for ministry in the city.
“On this 50th Jubilee, I give thanks to my parents, brothers and sister and their families, whose goodness, generosity and concern for others provides daily encouragement,” comments Sister Beth. “I am deeply grateful to God for calling me to live my vocation as a member of the Sisters of the Presentation; for the gift of community life and for the privilege of serving in a variety of ministries over these 50 years. The presence of former students, colleagues, parishioners and faith-sharing friends has blessed my life in ways I could not have imagined.”
From 2008 to 2018, Sister Beth served in congregational leadership and as liturgy coordinator for Mount Loretto. Her former ministries include serving as a team member of Lantern Light, Inc. in New Orleans, Louisiana, a collaborative ministry among the Presentation Sisters in North America; formation coordinator for her Presentation congregation; music teacher in various parishes and Catholic schools in Dubuque and Mason City, Iowa; Timber Lake, South Dakota; and Oak Lawn, Illinois.
“In these challenging times for the church and the world, it is more urgent than ever to ‘offer hope and love to our broken world,’ as stated in the mission statement of the Sisters of the Presentation,” reflects Sister Beth. “May this celebration of jubilee be an occasion for us, individually and collectively, to renew our commitment to act with justice, to love tenderly, to serve one another and to walk humbly with our God.”
Sister Marilou, daughter of the late Bob and Catherin (Baxter) Irons of Waukon, Iowa, entered the Sisters of the Presentation, Dubuque, Iowa, in 1968, and professed perpetual vows in 1976.
“The theme of our jubilee celebration expresses how, as a Presentation Sister during the past 50 years, I have grown in sharing hope and my love with all those I have encountered whether they be former students, a co-worker, family, friend or current resident,” states Sister Marilou. “I hope I continue to share a smile and a word of encourage with all I meet in the years ahead.”
Currently of Dubuque, Iowa, Sister Marilou is resident manager at Applewood I and II Apartments in Dubuque. She also serves on the Board of Trustees of Presentation Lantern Center, Dubuque, and is a member of the Tri-State Coalition Against Human Trafficking.
Her former ministries have included serving as principal and teacher in Catholic elementary schools and parishes in the Archdiocese of Dubuque at Oelwein, Cedar Falls, Manchester, Dubuque, Osage, Mason City and Farley-Bankston. She also served on the Board of Directors of Helping Services of Northeast Iowa and as secretary for several area principals’ groups. While in Oelwein Sister Marilou was Faith Formation Director and Confirmation Coordinator. For many years she was an active member of local chapters of Catholic Daughters of America in Manchester, Oelwein and Cedar Falls.
“I enjoyed meeting people who were so dedicated to Catholic education,” comments Sister Marilou on her role in education. “When I remember teachers and catechist with whom I have worked, I am still impressed with how they balanced family life and all the hours they gave to being prepared to teach the young to be community builders, problem solvers, complex thinkers and persons kind in word and deed. These folks spur me on to do my best in whatever was the new program or local need.”