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Retired religious honored

Posted By October 13, 2011 | 1:01 pm | Featured Article #1

There are many men and women religious living at the poverty level, according to Sister Paula A. Kelleher, diocesan vicar for religious. The national Retirement Fund for Religious was established to offer financial assistance to those religious institutes that need it to take care of those men and women who faithfully served the Church all of their lives.
Sister Paula, a Sister of St. Joseph, is also chairwoman of the Retirement Fund for Religious Appeal Committee in the Worcester Diocese. The committee gives out the annual Retired Religious Awards. This year two religious sisters and one moniales, member of a monastic religious community of women, received the awards, she said.
“The sole purpose is to keep the cause of the sick and frail religious in the forefront,” she said. And it is working. For several years now the committee has set a collection goal of $200,000 and it has been reached, she said. The Retirement Fund is an independent national collection that takes place each December. All the money goes to the National Religious Retirement Office in Washington. Religious institutes apply to the office for grants on a “needs basis,” she said. This year’s collection is Dec. 10-11.
On Sunday Bishop McManus  gave out the 12th annual Retired Religious Awards  in Our Lady of Providence Chapel at St. Vincent Hospital.

Sister Louise Marie Assad

By William T. Clew

HOLYOKE – Sister Louise Marie Assad, a Sister of St. Joseph, was a first-grade teacher for more than 50 years.
The formula for her success as a teacher? She attributes that to a good relationship with the Lord, a good family, the influence of her congregation, the Sisters of St. Joseph and the fact that she loves people, she loves children and she loved to teach.
She also said that she had the cooperation of the families of the children she taught.
She grew up in Worcester. She and her family belonged to Our Lady of Mercy, the Maronite parish, which recently   moved from Mulberry Street to St. Charles Borromeo Church at 341 June St.
She said her family provided a good home environment. They prayed together and went to church together.
She graduated from Commerce High School. She said she was not exactly sure when she decided she wanted to become a nun. But one day while having  dinner with her family, she said, she stood up and announced to them that that’s what she wanted to be.
Later her mother suggested that she join the Sisters of Mary. But she had already decided on the congregation. She said that as a youngster she was impressed by Sister Rita Vincent, a Sister of Saint Joseph and that was the congregation she wanted to join. So in July 1935, she went to the motherhouse in Springfield to begin her new life and life’s work.
She said she taught school and attended Our Lady of the Elms College at the same time. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English and, later, a master’s degree in sociology.
The elementary schools where she taught over the years include Sacred Heart in Holyoke, Holy Family in Springfield, Sacred Heart in Pawtucket, R.I.; St. Mary’s in Southbridge, and, for 32 years, St. Stephen’s in Worcester.
She said she learned a lot from the first grade children she taught. She said they have an innocence about them.
“You can see God in them,” she said.
She was a member of the Central Massachusetts Council of the International Reading Association. She once received a reading award from the council.
She retired in 1989 to St. Joseph Residence at Mont Marie where, she said, she is never idle. She said she knits, crochets and paints, makes ornamental pins and otherwise stays busy. The Sisters also make quilts which are given to homeless people, she said.
At 95 years old, Sister Louise said she thanks God “for all the years he has given me. I thank him for all he has given me.”


Sister Mary Herbert

By William T. Clew

PETERSHAM – Sister Mary Herbert, of the Order of St. Benedict, was born Mary Lucille Walsh on Oct. 31, 1915 in Alpine, Indiana.
She was one of six children. A book, aptly titled “God Calls the Walsh Family,” and compiled from letters from their mother to all the children and with additions from Sister Mary Herbert, tells the story of a hard-working family who loved God and each other, took care of one another and went, one after the other, into religious life. According to the book, Sister Mary Herbert’s family called her Lucille while she was growing up and she had a bit of mischief in her.
“We had a happy, holy home,” she said. The family prayed the rosary and went to Mass together. And when each of the brothers and sisters decided to follow a religious vocation, their parents supported and helped them.
Her three brothers became priests, all of them members of the Order of St. Benedict. She and her two sisters also became members of the Order of St. Benedict.
Sister Mary Herbert said that when her sister, Esther, told her parents that she wanted  to become a nun, they enrolled her in a Benedictine boarding school in Ferdinand, Ind., 200 miles from home, the place Esther had chosen.
The family drove the 200 miles in their second-hand Buick which, she said, didn’t go faster than 35 miles an hour. The trip took a couple of days over the roads available in 1925. The three girls slept on padded boards laid out on the tops of the car seats. The boys slept underneath on the seats. Their parents slept in a tent outside the car. They cooked their meals on a portable stove.
Lucille entered the same boarding school in 1929, but had not yet discerned her vocation. Her brothers, Edward and Paul, who had decided to be priests, were in a nearby school. Her youngest brother, Charles, enrolled with his brothers in that school in 1930. The next summer the two older brothers decided to enroll in the Benedictine monastery, which meant that, according to the rules of that time, they could not come home again.
Members of her family cried when they said goodbye to the two boys. Lucille told them not to cry because she would be entering the convent the next year. It was the first time she had said that and it surprised her family. It surprised her a little, too, because she hadn’t planned  to tell them in that way.
When Lucille joined the Benedictines she took the name Sister Mary Herbert, Herbert being her father’s name. She took temporary vows in 1933 and permanent vows in 1936. Her sister Esther was now Sister Mary Virginia, her brother Edward now was Father Joachim and her brother Paul was now Father Frederick. Later, her brother Charles became Father Marion, and her sister Margaret Rose became Sister Mary Marion.
Sister Mary Herbert finished high school and two years of college in Ferdinand. Later she attended classes at Incarnate Word College in Texas, The Catholic University in Washington, D.C. and Indiana State College in Terre Haute, Ind. She earned a master’s degree in education, primary and secondary teaching licenses and principal’s and supervisor’s licenses.
She taught at several primary and secondary schools in Indiana, was a principal and supervisor and also taught college courses. In 1971 she was named sub-prioress of the Ferdinand convent. She continued in that position until 1974, when she left the convent in Indiana to begin a contemplative life in a Benedictine monastery in Durham, N.C.
When the Benedictines built Our Lady Queen Monastery in Tickfaw, La., it was a Walsh family project. Sister Marion was involved in buying the land and Sister Mary Herbert and her brother, Father Frederick, were involved  in the planning for the building. In September 1984, the Sisters moved in. Sister Virginia, who had served as mother superior of the Durham monastery since 1970, continued in Tickfaw until 1985, when her term of office ended. Sister Mary Herbert was appointed to succeed her. She held that office until her term expired in 2003.
Sister Mary Herbert is  the only member of her family still alive. In 2007 the Sisters left Tickfaw and moved to St. Scholastica Priory in Petersham. Though her hearing and eyesight is not what it once was, and she uses a powered wheelchair to get around, Sister Mary Herbert is an active member of the community of 13.
“They include me  in everything,” she said. “I love it.”
Mother Mary Elizabeth Kloss, superior at St. Scholastica, said Sister Mary Herbert  sometimes was called “Mother” after she had retired, though she said she wanted to be called “Sister.”
“Actually, the only title she said she wants is ‘Spouse of Christ,’” Mother Mary Elizabeth said. “She advises us and she inspires us.”
At that compliment, Sister Mary Herbert smiled and said to a visitor, “After you leave I’m going to have to pay her.”
Sister Mary Rose Zaccari

By William T. Clew

LEOMINSTER – Sister Mary Rose Zaccari, who was provincial of the Religious Venerini Sisters in the United States from 1977 to 1982 and again from 2001 to 2009, was 26 years old when she entered that religious congregation.
She was born Dec. 4, 1930, in Pittsfield, one of three children of Marty and Isabelle Zaccari. She went to public schools and graduated from Pittsfield High School.
She was a member of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish in Pittsfield and was active in parish life. After graduating from Pittsfield High School she worked in the local office of the state Welfare Department. But she left to join the Venerini Sisters in 1956 and professed permanent vows in 1959.
“I had the feeling that this was where I belonged,” she said.
She began a teaching ministry in schools and in parishes that has continued for much of her life. From 1959 to 1963 she taught in St. Ann School in Leominster. She then moved to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School in Watervliet, N.Y. and taught there for a year. From 1964 to 1965 she taught in St. Anthony School in Schenectady, N.Y.
After that she taught from 1965 to 1967 at Venerini Academy in Worcester, from 1967 to 1976 at Marian Central Catholic High School in Worcester and another year there after it merged with St. Peter’s to become St. Peter-Marian Central Catholic Junior/Senior High School. She taught history and economics to junior high and high school students.
Along the way she earned a bachelor’s degree in history and political science at the College of St. Rose in Albany, N.Y. in 1970; a master’s degree in U.S. History at Assumption College in 1974 and a certificate of advanced graduate study from Assumption in 1986.
She also won several academic scholarships to summer institutes. They included studies in international justice in Los Angeles, Calif.; society and science in Colorado, economics at Assumption College and religious education at Fordham University in New York City.
In 1979 she became religious education coordinator at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Worcester, a position she held until 1981.
She was associate director of religious education for the Worcester Diocese from 1983 to 1993. During that time she gave talks and classes in parishes throughout the diocese and trained catechists.
Elizabeth A. Marcil,  director of the diocesan Office of Religious Education, said Sister Mary Rose was very competent, with a care and concern for those to whom she ministered.
She led retreats and evenings of recollection in parishes throughout the diocese. She also loved to travel and traveled across the country, Ms. Marcil said.
Sister Mary Rose helped design the Loreto model for religious education, a summer religious teaching program for children. It was developed at Our Lady of Loreto Parish in 1995 and is still in use in several dioceses in the United States.
In 1998, in Washington, D.C., she received the Outstanding Religious Educators’ Award from the National Center for Pastoral Leadership, She was one of only two teachers East of the Mississippi River to be honored  that year.
Sister Mary Rose led retreats, including Day of Prayer for Women gatherings throughout the diocese. She was a member of the retreat team ministries for the Venerini Associates, the Newman Clubs at Worcester State and Fitchburg State colleges and retreats for separated and divorced Catholics in the Worcester, Fall River and Providence dioceses.
When she left the Office of Religious Education in 1993, her co-workers wrote: “Her vibrant teacher training sessions, her stories about junior high students, her down-to-earth talks to parents in sacramental sessions, have made Sister Mary Rose Zaccari a household name in parish religious education programs.”