Resurrection sisters in Howell celebrate foundress, renew vows
By Lois Rogers | Correspondent
For most people, photographs of Blessed Celine Borzecka, who founded the Sisters of the Resurrection, may not be as familiar as those of some holy women who have earned that heavenly title. But in Howell, where Blessed Celine’s contemporary religious daughters arrived in 1965 to open St. Veronica School, that is not the case.
There, where women like Resurrection Sister Cherree Power, principal, still serve the school, images of the beloved foundress shine in every classroom and greet all visitors at the door. All are acquainted not only with Blessed Celine’s face, but also with the story of how this daughter, wife, mother and grandmother was called along with her daughter, Hedwig, to co-found the Sisters of the Resurrection.
Photo Gallery: St. Veronica Parish, Howell
On Oct. 26, the night before the 110th anniversary of the arrival in New Jersey of the community properly known as the Sisters of the Resurrection of the Lord and the 10th anniversary of Blessed Celine’s beatification in Rome’s Basilica of St. John Lateran, the St. Veronica School family made the most of an opportunity to share her gifts with a memorable, threefold celebration.
Guests, including staff, members of the PTA and folks from the community at-large, watched a biographical play of Blessed Celine’s life performed by students, participated in a liturgy during which the sisters renewed their vows and members of their lay association of women renewed their promises, and gathered for a social in the parish hall, hosted by the PTA.
During his homily, Father Vincent T. Euk, pastor in St. Veronica Parish, spoke of his own recognition of Blessed Celine’s gifts as a role model for all people as a wife, mother, single parent and religious who cared devotedly for her husband throughout his illness and had to bury two children before beginning her life as a religious.
In a piece written by Sister Cherree, she shared how the sisters, invited to the Trenton Diocese in 1965, accepted with joy. “Their desire was to give glory to God who is love and who first loved us, and commissioned us to proclaim to the children and those to whom and with whom they ministered the truth of God’s love for every person.”
That call was answered by Sister Cherree, who entered the order from St. Veronica Parish in 1967 and continues to share the witness of Blessed Celine, spreading the word of her “admirable example, deserving the attention of the faithful,” since in every state of life she always strove for perfection.
Created at first to serve the needs of young girls and women in 19th century Europe, then moving toward modernity, the Sisters of the Resurrection community was destined to lead women to be contemplatives in action for the transformation of society around the world.
During the celebration, Father Euk spoke to the children, who delighted those in attendance as they acted out the many challenges faced by Blessed Celine on her journey “to the Cross and death, to Resurrection and glory,” a refrain she would proclaim throughout her earthly pilgrimage.
Surveying the gathering of children, including many girls costumed to look like the sisters, Father Euk said it would be wonderful if some would follow the example of Blessed Celine and consider a vocation. “If you did,” he said, “we could open another school!”
Fifth-graders Andrew Ossowski, who portrayed Pope Benedict XVI, and Elena LaMastra, who appeared as Blessed Celine’s daughter, Hedwig, shared that while it was a lot of fun to prepare for the play, it was also a good learning experience about Blessed Celine’s life.
Fourth graders Hazel Garroute, who played Blessed Celine in one phase of her life, and Kevin Madeira, who played her husband, said they appreciated their roles, though Kevin added that he was “very nervous because I’m not used to being in a crowd.”
Sister Cherree spoke of her own joy in taking part in the Beatification in Rome in 2007.
“There were three of us who went to Rome – there were sisters from all over the world,” said Sister Cherree, who recalled being moved to serve as a Reader during the Mass in St. John Lateran.
Back home in St. Veronica School, the Beatification remains what it has been from the beginning, a source of pride, an expression of faith, and an all-around “very big deal.”