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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Sister Geneva Berns, Sister Claudia Romero, Sister Phyllis Sellner, Sister Patricia Haire

As we celebrate World Day for Consecrated Life this month, we recognize jubilarians in the Diocese and read the stories of their vocation and their calling to religious life.

Sister Geneva Berns (Rochester Franciscan) – 60 years

Born in Iowa in a German-Catholic home, I learned early that faith and hard work were significant in living on the family farm. We lived off the land, worked together and trusted God would provide for our needs. Only later I recognized how this experience helped me in my ministry choices.

After high school I moved to Rochester, Minnesota. There I took a job in a Catholic hospital and met the Rochester Franciscan religious sisters. Their spirit of joy and love tapped into my inner calling. Yes, joining the Franciscans was a choice that impacted my life and continues to give me meaning.

The past 60 years gave me multiple opportunities for sharing in community, studying and working together with other sisters.

My ministry consisted of elementary education, religious education and pastoral care (chaplain) for chemically dependent persons. In each position I felt my life was blessed as I received abundance back from those for whom I worked. This is not to say my ministry was without challenges. At times this called me to speak “truth to power,” which is never easy but at times it was necessary and the just thing to do – to be a voice for the voiceless.

My retirement provides time for prayer and relaxation, travel and time with my Franciscan Sisters, siblings and friends.

Jubilee is a time to celebrate all that was and will be. One of my favorite scripture passages is. “This is what God asks: to act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with your God.”

Sister Phyllis Sellner (Rochester Franciscan) – 60 years

I grew up on a farm in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota with eight brothers and five sisters. My discernment for the religious life was nurtured through many years of thought, reflection and prayer.

As a Franciscan Sister I was blessed with a life of adventure and opportunities, to live and pray with very dedicated women, learn the charism and spirit of St. Francis of Assisi and see the world. My classmates who entered with me were very creative and loved to travel together. This gave me the chance to visit Assisi, Italy several times, experience retreats in many beautiful locations and gather yearly for sharing and fun.

My years of teaching ministry led me to teach in Nebraska, Ohio, Illinois and Minnesota. In 1982 the Spirit inspired me to seek a different ministry of mental health counseling with focus on chemical dependency. In the next 27 years I ministered in chemical dependency, first as a chaplain, then as a manager and supervisor of two halfway houses in Indianapolis, Indiana.

In my retirement years I continue to minister in the Coachella Valley through volunteer work with Catholic Charities Citizenship Classes and Eucharistic ministry to a nursing home.

My favorite words of St. Francis are “Preach the Gospel always and use words if necessary,” and my favorite Bible verses are Psalm 139, verses 13-15.

Sister Claudia Romero (Order of the Company of Mary Our Lady) – 50 years

Our roots originate in Bordeaux, France where our Foundress, St. Jeanne de Lestonnac, founded an active contemplative order in 1607. The Order of the Company of Mary Our Lady was founded to educate in the Catholic faith.

I am the second of ten children from Los Angeles, California where I was born. I currently reside in Temecula, California.

The Maryknoll Sisters prepared us to receive the Sacraments of Reconciliation and First Communion. During this time, I became aware of my desire to follow the Lord. I met the Order of the Company of Mary volunteering at my parish in Corcoran, California and was admitted into the Order in 1968. Education has been my ministry in Southern California, in schools as well as when I served in detention ministry for 14 years, where I shared God’s love with our youth. Most recently, I taught English in Medellin, Colombia.

We are an international Order and part of the Province of the Pacific with Colombia and Peru. Community life and my love for God and His people have brought me through these past 50 years. A favorite verse from Scripture: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” - Proverbs 3:5.

Sister Patricia Haire (Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet) – 75 years

Diamond jubilarian Sr. Patricia Haire, CSJ, has lived in the Diocese for 51 years, sharing the cup of her life in parish and pastoral ministry, membership on the Council for Religious, counseling and prison ministry and chaplaincy to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. Everyone was her “dear neighbor” through these years; her table of hospitality was always made bigger to welcome all, encountering and helping those who might be oppressed or excluded from the system.

Sr. Patricia says that she “loves this diocese, its people, its vision, missionary spirit, and its outreach and is so grateful.” This month, Sr. Pat will leave San Bernardino to continue her retirement in St. John of God Retirement Center, Los Angeles. She, with two companions, will celebrate her Jubilee, on the Feast of St. Joseph, March 19.