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Jubilee, a time of gratitude and celebration

By Sister Adaire Lassonde

The word Jubilee comes from the Hebrew term for “ram,” referring to the ram’s horn used like a trumpet to proclaim Jubilee every 50 years. In the Old Testament world, the time of Jubilee was taken very seriously and with great joy. It was a time when the biblical principles of social justice and equal rights were practiced regarding the rightful owner of the land. “You shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan.” (Leviticus 25:8-11)

Today’s connotation of Jubilee comes from Latin meaning ‘to shout with joy’ and that is the reason for using this word in a manner of celebration or party. In many religious communities, Jubilee is celebrated on the 25, 40, 50, 60, 70, 75 and 80 plus years of profession in the community.

Sister Mary Ann Kuttner, a former SSND archivist, shared insight into the history of Jubilee. In the 1800s, when the congregation was rather young, many sisters died before they were 25 years professed. The first sister to reach 50 years (golden Jubilee) lived in Minnesota. Farmers brought a wagon load of food and supplies for the sisters as a gift. The first time SSND had sisters celebrating 75 years (diamond Jubilee) in the community was around 1913.

Sister Mary Ann also shared that during times of war or the Depression, the celebrations were scaled back out of respect for those in need. Often the Jubilarians were encouraged to spend extra time in prayer, reflecting on the blessings they had received.

This being my 60-year of profession, I have an abundance of joy and gratefulness for being a member of the School Sisters of Notre Dame. The graces I have been privileged to receive because of my affiliation has been endless. I am especially grateful for the care, support and love I feel from the sisters, they truly are my family.

I have been able to minister in areas that fit my skills and personality. These years of ministry have been a blessing to me as much as they may have been a blessing to others. I believe that celebrating my Jubilee needs to include all who have been faithful in their work, and in their relationships (as spouse, parent, friend, co-worker, relative, etc.). There is so much for all of us to celebrate in our lives and to give thanks to our generous God is so much a part of it. Every day we can utter a prayer of thanks. And there is always time for a party!

Learn more about our Jubilarians.

The 2020 Jubilee design is based on four gingko leaves arranged in a cross design symbolizing our paths to eternal life. The ginkgo connects us to our Japanese sisters, the four leaves hold the heart, and our hearts are connected to our God and to one another. The leaves radiate out from the core as being faithfully loved by God, and impels us to reach out in love to others. The colors hold their own symbolization; green is growth, blue for Mary our mother and magenta for receiving and giving love.

Jubilee 2020 - Embraced by God's Love

~This mandala was designed by Sister Fran (Frances) Dotta, 50-year Jubilarian.

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