Sisters are ‘a true blessing for our diocese’


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SAN DIEGO — Cardinal Robert W. McElroy will honor five religious sisters who are celebrating milestone anniversaries (jubilees) of consecrated life this year.

This will take place during the 23rd Annual Sisters Appreciation and Jubilee Celebration, which will be held Feb. 18 at the diocesan Pastoral Center. The annual event, which includes a Mass and luncheon, recognizes the presence and ministry of the more than 180 consecrated women  living in the Diocese of San Diego.

“We are delighted to celebrate our 2023 sister jubilarians … They are a true blessing for our diocese,” said Sister Kathy Warren, OSF, diocesan Vicar for Religious Women. “May God continue to bless them with fervor, peace and joy!”

The following are this year’s jubilarians.

75 Years

Sister Joyce Anne Thomas was born in Jamestown, N.Y., in 1930.

She first encountered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange during her freshman year at Cathedral Girls High School in San Diego. By the end of her sophomore year, she was already determined to join them after high school.

In June of 1948, she graduated from St. Anthony’s High School in Long Beach and, on July 5, entered the convent as a postulant. She made her final vows in 1956.

“I happily embraced the mission to ‘serve the Dear Neighbor, without distinction,’” Sister Joyce said, referencing the charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph.

She taught for 27 years in Catholic schools in California. After San Diego’s Rosary High School closed in 1977, she went on to teach for 25 years at a local public school.

Among the highlights of her teaching career, Sister Joyce recalls an eighth-grade student named Edward Clark, whom she taught at a Buena Park school. After graduating from high school, he entered the seminary and was ordained to the priesthood. He later served as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for two decades until his retirement early last year.

“We have kept in touch all these years,” Sister Joyce said of her former pupil.

She currently lives in the North Park area with her cat, Cuddles, and is a member of the folk group at St. Patrick Parish’s 9:30 a.m. Sunday Mass.

60 Years

Sister Elizabeth Ann Waldron-Felix, a Franciscan Missionary of the Immaculate Conception, is celebrating 60 years in religious life. Her biography and photo were unavailable at press time.

50 Years

Sister Susan DeGuide describes herself as “99% San Diegan.”

Born in Chicago, her family relocated to San Diego in 1951, when she was only 2 years old.

She attended the since-closed Holy Spirit School, which was administered by the Sisters of Mercy from Sligo, Ireland, and it was there that seeds were planted for a religious vocation.

She entered the Sisters of Mercy on Oct. 11, 1970, and made her first profession of vows on Sept. 9, 1973, in Sligo.

Over the past 50 years, Sister Susan’s ministry generally has fallen into three categories: education, pastoral work and leadership.

She served as teacher and administrator in the dioceses of San Diego and San Bernardino at both elementary and high schools. For four years, she traveled throughout the country giving workshops to high school religion teachers for the Veritas Credo program.

Pastorally, she served in a parish in Lima, Peru, working as part of a team of Mercy Sisters and Columban Fathers. It was there that she learned the value of Small Christian Communities.

She also served as a chaplain at Scripps Mercy Hospital, Chula Vista.

Over the last 22 years, Sister Susan has been a member of provincial and regional leadership teams for the Mercy Sisters in the USA and served on the congregational leadership team in Dublin. She serves as assistant to the regional superior and as regional treasurer.

“My profession motto is ‘I rejoice in God my Savior,’ and my life has been about the many joys and challenges that I have had … and how God always comes through,” said Sister Susan, who is a member of Mission San Diego Parish. “Aging is its own challenge. I thank people from so many cultures who have enriched my life and helped me to grow and experience the Divine Presence among us.”

40 Years

Sister M. Tukuza Mpangara was born in the Ruvuma Region of Tanzania, which is now located in the Mbinga Diocese.

She joined the African Benedictine Sisters of St. Agnes of Chipole in 1977 and made her first vows in 1983, followed by final vows in 1992.

From 2000 to 2005, Sister Tukuza served as chief accountant and in administration for the motherhouse in Chipole.

In 2005, she came to the United States, where her ministry was in the healthcare field. For six years, she served in Florida with the Sisters of St. Agnes, then continued that ministry in Indiana for the next six years.

In 2017, Sister Tukuza moved to California, where she cares for patients in the memory care unit in a care center in Vista and is a member of nearby St. Francis of Assisi Parish.

“It is a special joy for me to see the face of Jesus Christ when helping the people I care for – both spiritually and physically,” she said. “My ministry/job is my call.”

25 Years

“My family taught me strong values and faith about the importance of Jesus in our lives,” recalled Sister Maria de Lourdes Barboza Camarena, who was born in Mexicali and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Those values and faith ultimately led her to the Religious of the Incarnate Word. She entered the congregation’s convent in Mexico City in 1995, making her first vows in 1998 and perpetual vows on Aug. 30, 2013.

Her years in ministry have sent her to different missions in Mexico, Argentina and the United States, where she has ministered in education and evangelization at various schools and parishes.

“I have tried to follow and serve Jesus, the Incarnate Word,” said Sister Maria de Lourdes, who this year celebrates the 25th anniversary of her profession of first vows.

“My heart is deeply grateful for His fidelity, love and tenderness that have been great toward me in every moment of my life.”

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