Presentation Sisters celebrate 60 years of religious life

DUBUQUE — Choosing the theme, “We are Called to be Companions on the Journey,” three Dubuque Presentation Sisters, formerly teachers in the Archdiocese of Dubuque, celebrated their 60-year jubilee. Sisters Kay Cota, Janice Hancock and Jeanette McCarthy observed 60 years of religious life on April 19, in Sacred Heart Chapel, Presentation Sisters Mount Loretto. The celebration began with a liturgy of the Eucharist and was followed by brunch with the Presentation community. In the evening the jubilarians gathered again with the community for an evening meal and sharing of video memories.

The three jubilarians entered the Presentation congregation in 1957 and professed final vows in 1965. Currently, all three sisters reside in Dubuque and minister in community prayer and service.

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Sister Kay Cota served for 24 years as a teacher in Catholic elementary schools in South Dakota, Illinois and Iowa. She was also an administrative assistant in rehabilitation services for the State of Minnesota for 19 years which was followed by two years as an on-call dispatcher and receptionist for the graduate program at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Sister Kay is a driver for the sisters and uses her contemplative eye photographing nature. She enjoys spending time with and learning from senior sisters at meals and weekly sing-a-longs. Kay also enjoys working on family ancestry. With others who are passionate about Earth care, she advocates for education and promotion of responsible use of resources, reusing and recycling, and change of harmful habits of consumption. She also engages in environmental political action networks and ecological citizenship.

“On the specially chosen day of our 60th jubilee, I could gratefully say, ‘this is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice in it.’ It was very special to absorb the spiritual meaning of the liturgy and to be a recipient of all the selfless giving in prayers, gifts, talents and time from all who celebrated with us. These have been blessed years.”

Sister Janice Hancock taught for over 30 years in Catholic elementary schools in Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota as a primary and religious education teacher and coached girls’ volleyball and softball. She was also a photo editor at the Wm. C. Brown, Times Mirror and McGraw-Hill Publishers; a receptionist at Mercy Medi­cal Center and Mount Loretto motherhouse, all in Dubuque. Sister Janice served for 10 years as administrative assistant for Catholic Charities at the Archdiocese Pastoral Center, Dubuque, until retiring in 2015.

In her zest for life, her love for people and her desire to be of service wherever and whenever there is a need, Sister Janice continues to be an active member of Lantern Lights, a Presentation Associates and Sisters group. In 2004, Sister Janice co-founded the Annual Benefit Garage and Bake Sale at Sisters of the Presentation and worked the sale for 11 years. With her group members and co-workers, Janice dedicated many hours annually to the garage sale.

“I value being a member of the Presentation community, and I cherish my sisters in community. I am grateful for the many opportunities I have been offered to grow personally, mentally, emotionally and spiritually,” comments Sister Janice. “I appreciate my wonderful family and value the relationships formed with my sisters and with the many children, parents and people with whom I have worked in education and as an administrative assistant.”

Sister Jeanette McCarthy taught in Catholic elementary and secondary schools in Iowa. While teaching in Heelan High School Sioux City, Iowa, she began Hispanic ministry as a volunteer for Sunday choir and teaching English to women. She served for three years as a Hispanic minister in Port Arthur, Texas. Most recently she was director of the Hispanic Ministry Office in Dubuque where she served for 13 years at St. Patrick Parish until retiring in 2013.

Sister Jeanette has been blessed with an enthusiasm for life and people. Despite changes in her health, Jeannette is committed to staying positive and involved in life. She has continued to keep connected with extended family and friends. Her many interests and hobbies still include playing guitar, sewing, scrapbooking, and keeping up with the McCarthy family.

“There are eight out of us sixteen siblings living. I look forward to our annual family reunion in Dubuque this June,” she states joyfully. “I feel that I have had a wonderful life with fulfilling experiences. I am grateful to my family, community and friends for their love and support and to have had good health during my years as a teacher and as a Hispanic minister. I celebrate many wonderful years as a Presentation Sister.”

This article was contributed by Sister Beth Kress, PBVM.

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