Ursulines of Jesus celebrating milestone anniversaries are, from left to right, Elsie Herle (60 years), Marjorie Dylke (60 Years), Gabrielle Tellier (80 years, in wheelchair), Anne Christine Coster (50 years), and Anne Sheridan (65 years).
EDMONTON – One of nine children in her family and growing up on a farm near Daysland, Marjorie Dylke developed an awareness that "we are God's work of art.
"It didn't matter what church you attended, you were part of the community," recalls Sister Marjorie, an Ursuline of Jesus for the past 60 years.
"A lot of them, their roots go back to when they had to depend on one another because times were hard, especially in the farming area where we helped each other and became very close," said Dylke. Today's attitude to community differs greatly. Wherever she goes, community spirit has been lost, and people are more individualized. Today's attitude is "my land, not ours."
Dylke is one of five Ursulines, all of them called to the novitiate in different ways and serving in various ministries, who recently celebrated milestone anniversaries.
God entrusted to her many gifts, including music, creativity and poetry. She had tremendous pastoral, organizational and archival skills, all of which she has continued using in various ministries during her 60 years with the Ursulines of Jesus.
Music has always been the main thrust of her work. She was also a high school librarian for nine years in Sherwood Park.
As with the other older sisters, she is neither assigned to work anywhere nor is she obliged to serve a certain ministry. Now the sisters can choose for themselves where they wish to fit in.
Still in great health and full of energy, Dylke, 79, has been volunteering at the Edmonton Food Bank for nine years.
"The food bank is not Catholic, but the work we do is certainly Christian."
The Ursulines of Jesus have a strong connection with St. Edmund's Parish and St. Edmund's School, both of which marked their centennials with a Mass and reception Oct. 23.
Dylke was only there a short time, serving as music coordinator around 1992. As other needs arose elsewhere, the sisters gradually left to serve other parts of the city and in other ministries.
Sister Gabrielle Tellier, 98, devoted herself to teaching for 40 years, with 19 of those years at St. Edmund's School.
After leaving her birthplace of Morinville, Tellier moved to Edmonton and boarded with the sisters while attending Mount Carmel School. During that time she felt called to serve God and announce the mystery of the Incarnation.
A sister for 80 years, has been welcomed into the infirmary at Providence Renewal Centre.
Sister Anne Sheridan also taught at St. Edmund's School for 14 years and was the sacristan during those years too. Born in Morley, England, she travelled at the age of five with her parents to Lacombe. She put up strong resistance to the whole notion of becoming a sister.
"One thing I knew I wasn't going to be was a nun," said Sheridan, laughing. But "God just called and I had to answer."
Attending university in Edmonton, she felt drawn to the Ursulines, and they gave her a place to stay. She joined the novitiate at age 21, and this year marks her 65th year as a sister.
She started teaching in Heisler, and then in Edmonton at Mount Carmel and St. Edmund's Schools.
"The biggest reward is getting to know the students," said Sheridan.
Now retired from full-time ministry, she lives at Dwelling Place.
Another Ursuline marking a milestone year is Sister Elsie Herle, celebrating 60 years. Born in Denzil, Sask., Herle was an excellent educator. She was a classroom teacher, served at Stillpoint House of Prayer, did parish ministry in Edmonton and Prince George, and was also active in congregational leadership.
Sister Ann Christine Coster celebrates 50 years with the Ursulines. Tracing her roots to England, at age 11 she boarded with the sisters in Liverpool. She taught 17 years in Edinburgh and Berwick-upon-Tweed. In 1986, what was supposed to be a sabbatical year, she came to Canada. She has remained here ever since.
Coster has served in the classroom and in parishes. She has been in Edmonton since 1992, and is especially attentive to the elderly and infirm sisters.