By MICHAEL WOJCIK, News Editor
CLIFTON It took Salesian Sister Guerline Joseph three takes. Through it all, the Haitian-born religious sister never got nervous. She just looked straight into the front lens of a video camera and talked about her joy in serving the Paterson Diocese and the history and work of her religious community.
Sister Guerline, who serves at the Sacred Heart Spirituality Center, Newton, could not contain her youthful enthusiasm, during a session last week at the John Paul II Pastoral Center here to tape one of the first in a continuing series of short videos by men and women in consecrated life who serve in the diocese. The series will be posted on the homepage of the new diocesan web site, www.rcdoop.org. Sister Guerline shouted her first line with immense joy, proclaiming the theme of the Year of Consecrated Life (YCL), now being celebrated throughout the universal Church: “Wake Up the World!”
“St. John Bocso [the Salesians’ founder]…said to the young, ‘For you I study, for you I work, for you I live, for you I am ready to give my very life.’ The sisters try to be and do the same for young people today,” said Sister Guerline, who also mentioned a few places where the sisters currently minister in the diocese: Mary Help of Christians Academy, North Haledon; Camp Auxilium, Newton; and St. Anthony School, Hawthorne.
Sister Guerline and three other religious sisters from various congregations that serve the Church of Paterson lent their voices — and their likenesses — to the series of two-minute videos designed to help “wake up” the local Church. They talked about the fulfillment that they feel serving people; reflected on the Year of Consecrated Life; and explored the histories, charisms, and local ministries of their respective communities. They also invited viewers to consider a religious vocation, and in some instances, to visit the web sites of their congregations.
“This initiative — the video series — is one of the ways in which we hope to acquaint our people with the richness and diversity of charisms present here in the diocese,” said Sister of Christian Charity Mary Edward Spohrer, diocesan chancellor and delegate for religious.
The diocese plans to post these videos throughout the Year of Consecrated Life. All of the institutes of consecrated life in the diocese will be featured: active apostolic, monastic, cloistered, eremitical and emerging forms. The videos are being produced by Father Edward Lambro, director of development and communications for diocesan Catholic Charities, in his studio in the pastoral center.
The website’s home page currently features Sister Ellen Dauwer, a Sister of Charity of St. Elizabeth, who was videotaped at the College of St. Elizabeth, Convent Station. Over time, both the webpage for Consecrated Life and the Consecrated Life blog will display links to the websites of the featured institutes and additional relevant materials, Father Lambro said.
Father Lambro recorded the four religious sisters, surrounded by a forest of video and lighting equipment and standing in front of a “green screen.” Later, the priest will make the videos more visually arresting by adding photos related to the history and ministries of each sister’s community on the screen. Sister Guerline had no problem standing in front of the video camera and reading the script that she wrote and rehearsed from a teleprompter. Early in the session Father Lambro praised her, as he did the others, saying, “You are fabulous. You’ve got a career [in show business].”
“I was not nervous, because I used to compete in pageants,” Sister Guerline said afterward. “It was an honor to represent the Salesian Sisters. I’m grateful to promote my congregation.”
Later, Sister Mary Irene Sorber, provincial councilor of the Sisters of Christian Charity in Mendham, talked on camera about her religious order’s history, including its founding in Paderborn, Germany in 1849 by Mother Pauline von Mallinckrodt and three companions. She also spoke about her community’s ministries in the diocese, which include Assumption College for Sisters, the Quellen Retreat Center and Villa Pauline, all in Mendham, and the Neighborhood Center for Women in Passaic. “We are women of Christ-like love who strive to live and make visible the love of Christ in the world,” said Sister Mary Irene, who told The Beacon after the taping, “This was a chance for us to talk about ourselves—which we don’t do a lot.”
Sister Ascenza Tizzano, provincial superior of the Religious Teachers Filippini in Morristown, also spoke on camera about her order’s educational ministry in the diocese at Villa Walsh Academy, Morristown; St. Gerard Magella School, Paterson; Holy Spirit School, Pequannock; and Mount St. Joseph Children’s Center, Totowa. Cardinal Barbarigo and St. Lucy Filippini founded the order in Italy more than 400 years ago, she said.
“I hope that young women [who are exploring a vocation] watch these videos, realizing that consecrated life is exciting and seeing their potential in it,” said Sister Ascenza. Sister Malia Makalita of the Little Sisters of the Poor, spoke on camera about the founding of her order in 1839 by St. Jeanne Jugan in France and their mission at St. Joseph Home for the Elderly in Totowa.
“This [video series] lets people know that we [the Little Sisters] are in the diocese and we are working together with Bishop Serratelli,” the Tongan-born Sister Malia said.
The videos and the many other events planned to celebrate the Year of Consecrated Life in the diocese [which The Beacon will feature] will highlight the prophetic presence of consecrated life in the Church, Sister Mary Edward said.
“The many and varied gifts, which men and women in consecrated life bring to our local church, reflect the beauty of the work of the Holy Spirit among us! The men and women of the 45 different institutes who live and serve here are a singular blessing. They reflect the joy and hope of the Gospel in a life, totally given to God,” Sister Mary Edward said.