By Jill Kruse
Witness Editorial Assistant
DUBUQUE — The Serra Club of Dubuque hosted a summer picnic for religious sisters on June 14 at Eagle Point Park. Nearly 180 sisters from various religious communities in the Dubuque area came together to enjoy the food and each other’s company at this annual event.
“It’s almost like a homecoming,” said Sister Mary Klisart of the Sisters of St. Francis of Dubuque. “You get to meet people and also visit with old friends. It’s a delight.”
Sister Mary said she was glad the picnic offered her the chance to catch up with women of other religious orders, including a former roommate of hers, Sister Marilou Irons of the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
“It’s like we have a mixed marriage,” joked the Presentation sister of her friendship with the Franciscan.
“I think this is a wonderful event,” Sister Marilou continued. “The best part is that it is meant to be a ‘thank you.’ That’s so nice.”
Pat O’Neill, the president of the Serra Club of Dubuque, emphasized that the primary purpose for the picnic each year is indeed to thank the religious sisters of the area.
“I think the sisters are probably the most underappreciated element in the Catholic Church,” he said. “We want them to know we recognize their impact and are grateful for their contributions.”
As the sisters mingled prior to dinner, they were entertained by a local band, The Lads of Dubuque, which continued to play a variety of Irish tunes throughout the evening. Many of the sisters commented that they liked the music; some tapped their feet along to the catchy tunes.
The picnic was briefly interrupted by a thunderstorm, but the passing severe weather only set the stage for a beautiful rainbow that graced the sky overlooking the Mississippi River after it was over.
The Serra Club of Dubuque is the local archdiocesan chapter of Serra International, a global lay organization whose primary mission is the promotion of religious vocations to the Catholic Church. The organization also works to show appreciation to those who are already actively engaged in ministry in the church through a religious vocation.
In addition to the June picnic for religious sisters, the Serra Club of Dubuque will also host a similar event for priests at the Mines of Spain, a state park near Dubuque, on July 26. Religious brothers, deacons and their wives, and seminarians will also be invited to attend.
Nearly 180 religious sisters from various religious orders gathered recently for an annual picnic sponsored by the Serra Club, an organization named for St. Junipero Serra that supports vocations to religious life and the priesthood. (Photo by Jill Kruse/The Witness)