Above: Sisters Therésine Gildea, C.D.P. (left) and Maxine Tancraitor, C.D.P. (right) celebrate World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life and Sister Maxine’s 75th jubilee Feb. 4 with Bishop Luis Rafael Zarama in Clinton.
CLINTON – Globally, it was the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life, which honored thousands in the Church. Locally, it was red-and-white flowers, gold balloons and a community celebrating the vocation of one – Sister Maxine Tancraitor, C.D.P., a Pittsburgh native who serves at Immaculate Conception Parish.
Pope John Paul II instituted this specific day of prayer in 1997 to honor men, such as brothers, and women, such as sisters, in religious life.
Sister Maxine, who celebrated her 75th jubilee, or anniversary of vocation, Feb. 4, had been serving for 49 years at that point. In fact, it was about that time she first came to North Carolina, specifically the Diocese of Charlotte, after working in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Puerto Rico. She came to Immaculate Conception in the Diocese of Raleigh in 2001.
Since then she has been an example of love, mercy and leadership to the community. The mayor, Lew Starling, attended her jubilee celebration and proclaimed Feb. 4th as Sister Maxine Day in the town.
The celebration was two-fold. First, a Mass was held in the church and, later, a lunch in the hall next door. At Mass Bishop Luis Rafael Zarama shared a bilingual homily that focused on seeing something new each day. It’s a challenge, he added, because human beings are often more comfortable with what they are used to.
“Our love is imperfect. His love is perfect. His love is always new and rich,” the bishop said. “The challenge is to take the risk every day to discover something new. When there’s something new in our relationship with God, there is something new in our own lives.”
Bishop Luis turned toward Sister Maxine, who was seated with her fellow women religious, and said, “You did that for 75 years. And the challenge is still there … there will be something new tomorrow.”
He thanked her for all the compassion she showed to those around her during her time at the parish, and her years as an educator in other places. During Mass the consecrated religious who were present gathered by the altar for a Renewal of Commitment.
Sister Maxine’s pastor, Father Joseph Dionne, C.Ss.R., was also present for the Mass. The celebration featured music from a cantor, seven acoustic guitar players, a piano player and a musician playing an upright bass.
The altar was complemented with vases that included red roses, green bells of Ireland, white and yellow New York aster, lilies, and daisies. The tables at lunch were also decorated with flowers arranged and given by a friend.
Sister Mary Ann Czaja, C.S.A. shared a reflection about Sister Maxine in English. And Minerva Baños shared one in Spanish.
“The world is a better place because of your ability to serve,” said Sister Mary Ann. “What we do and how we do it speaks loudly of who we are. The Church and society are influenced … you see others as part of your family.”
During the lunch where she was honored, Sister Maxine listened to a funny story by Father Joseph and prayed and enjoyed a meal with those gathered. She said to her friends, “Twenty years here seems like two! I know you pray with us and for us … thanks again from the bottom of my heart.”