Sister Teresita of the Holy Face and her Parents John and Ruth Flynn
Two years before my golden jubilee, celebrated in June of 2011, my father started talking about a double jubilee
. My parents, John and Ruth Flynn, were married in 1941 and I took the Carmelite religious habit in 1961. It had not occurred to me that my 50th
and their 70th
would be the same year! When my Dad started talking about all this he was already 90 and had had a major heart attack and triple bypass. My Mom and I agreed with him that it was a great idea but we each thought to ourselves: God willing, we would all still be alive in two years!
Right from the start my Dad invited our Bishop to celebrate the jubilee Mass and had arranged with a good friend to do the catering. His friend said “sure” but had also secretly thought: God willing!
The two years were going by pretty fast when I began to realize that maybe a double celebration was actually going to happen after all! Then Dad had a stroke about 9 months before the jubilee date! He insisted that we keep moving forward with jubilee plans! With parents 94 and 95 anything can happen at any time!
The “great day” dawned a bit overcast (a frequent occurrence here on the coast) the food was ready, the reception tables were set up on the front lawn, the flowers all prepared. By the time Mass was over the weather was “just right” – not too sunny and not too cloudy! We had put out all the chairs in the Chapel and every seat was taken. Relatives from Chicago, Minnesota, Washington, Oregon and Canada came to celebrate with us. Imagine, even one of my mother’s high school class mates came! Several of my high school class mates came too – a couple I had not seen in 50 years!
We are blessed with a wonderful Bishop, Richard Garcia and many priest friends, nine of whom were able to concelebrate the jubilee Mass with the Bishop. The highlight of a jubilee ceremony is the renewal of vows. After the homily, the prioress and I left the cloister to enter the sanctuary in order for me to publically renew my vows, receive a floral crown, jubilee candle and receive the Bishops blessing. Then my parents stepped forward to renew their vows with the Bishop. I cannot even begin to expr
ess my happiness and how proud I was of them! After exchanging vows the Bishop invited my Dad to “kiss the bride” and I spontaneously gave each of them a congratulatory kiss and hug. You can see from the pictures how joyous it was! The Bishop then gave them an apostolic blessing and presented them with an elegantly framed papal blessing from Pope John Paul II, now, Saint John Paul II.
It was such a special grace to have both my parents alive and well on my golden jubilee. They were radiant! How many people have the privilege celebrating such a joyous event? Our double jubilee really made history, in a small way, in our family, in the Carmelite Order and in our local Church. The Second Vatican Council emphasized the universal call of every person to strive for holiness in their vocation, whether it is to marriage, priesthood, religious life or the single state. Our jubilee was a powerful and wonderful witness to this universal call to holiness. Our perseverance is a testimony to the Grace of God that gives each of us the strength and courage to follow to our vocations. That doesn’t mean we are saints yet, but we haven’t stopped trying! We chose this quotation from St. Therese of Liseux for the jubilee invitation because it says it very well:
Love includes all vocations;
love is all, and reaches out
through all time and space,
because love is eternal.
As I write this account four years later my parents are still going pretty strong, both of them alert and active, except that Dad does all the driving now that Mom gave up her driver’s license because of macular degeneration in both eyes. My Dad at 96 is now saying: “our 75th is coming up, we should do something.” Each day is a gift from God and we are most grateful!