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Falling in love – staying in love

By Sister Joyce Kolbet
Sister Joyce Kolbet

Just recently one of my lay coworkers emailed me, “Hey Joyce, it’s your 50th Jubilee this year. I really like that word ‘jubilee.’ Tell me more about it.” I have celebrated Jubilees with our sisters for 50 years – here at Our Lady of Good Counsel, Mankato, Minnesota, and throughout other areas of our Central Pacific and Atlantic-Midwest provinces. Often, I have been one of the planners for Jubilee liturgies and the singer and piano accompanist for the Jubilee Mass. But the request to “tell me more” prompted me to articulate just what Jubilee is all about.

The word Jubilee comes from the Hebrew word yobel, which means a “ram’s horn trumpet.” If any of us have celebrated the Jewish New Year, it is possible we have heard a ram’s horn played to mark the Jubilee. According to the Hebrew Scriptures, during the Year of Jubilee, “freedom and liberation were proclaimed for all, debts were forgiven, land would lie fallow, and the mercies of God would be particularly manifest.” Excerpts from Leviticus 25:8-12

We, School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND), sound brass trumpets rather than ram’s horns to celebrate how we have been part of God’s action to free and liberate others and ourselves through prayer, community life and mission. We intentionally make efforts to forgive any betrayals and past hurts, taking steps to reconcile differences. We allow time and space for our ’inner land’ to lie fallow – reflecting on relationships with our God, with others, with creation and with ourselves. We celebrate with family, community, friends and colleagues – those who have been part of the fabric of our lives for 80, 75, 70, 60, 50, 40 or 25 years. This is Jubilee.

Sister Joyce Kolbet, a 50-year Jubilarian, reflects on the meaning of Jubilee and asks all to reflect with her. This photo is of S. Joyce and her family at her brother and sistr-in-laws celebration of vow renewal.

Sharing what I feel as we sisters celebrate the fidelity of our Jubilarians and God’s faithfulness to us is more difficult to express. I am moved to tears when I focus on the impact these women have had on me, on our community, our church and world. Jubilee affects all of us. I had similar feelings when Mom and I joined my brother, sister-in-law, and their immediate family for Mass and renewal of marriage vows on their 40th anniversary this year. Or when I tap into the memories of a vacation my entire family took in 2004, celebrating m’s and dad’s 60th wedding anniversary. We intentionally chose to go to Wrigley Field in Chicago for a Cubs baseball game because that’s where mom and dad had gone on their honeymoon. I feel such joy and gratitude when I think about the witness, they were to us, through both good and difficult times. Every life commitment is sacred and needs to be celebrated. Every life commitment affects those who love us, the community in which we live and work, and our world.

As you read about what Jubilee means to me/us, I invite YOU to join us, your sisters, in reflecting on your own life commitment, whether through marriage, ordination, single or vowed life.

Sister Joyce Kolbet, a 50-year Jubilarian, reflects on the meaning of Jubilee and asks all to reflect with her. This photo is of S. Joyce and S. Maris a 70-year Jubilarian.
  • What have been your deepest joys, struggles and heartaches over the years?
  • How has God walked the journey with you?
  • Who and what supported and sustained you from day-to-day?
  • When did you feel alone and afraid?
  • Who do you need to forgive, or from whom do you need forgiveness?
  • What do your vows mean to you today?
  • What specifically are you doing to keep growing in your commitment?
  • Who have you invited to consider your life's vocation? Why?
  • How does your commitment impact your family, the community in which you live and work, creation and the world?

In 2022, the Central Pacific Province Jubilarians include: one sister-80 years; seven sisters-75 years; 18 sisters-70 years; 44 sisters-60 years; 26 sisters-50 years; three sisters-25 years. This represents a total of 5,880 years of vowed commitment in just one of our 10 provinces around the world.

All of us know that falling in love is not a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It is a daily choice. We know the blessings and the challenges of falling in love and staying in love. Happy Jubilee!

In closing, I wish to share a poem attributed to Father Pedro Arrupe, SJ (1907-1991)

Fall in Love

Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,

what seizes your imagination,

will affect everything.


It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read,
whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.

Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything. 

Learn more about our Jubilarians


Want to learn more?


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320 East Ripa Avenue

St. Louis, MO 63125

Phone: 314-561-4100



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