Many people look forward to retirement and relaxation after their work years have ended. For those who have been called to the ordained or consecrated life, retiring at 65 or 70 from service to Christ and his Church is not an option. Their vocations are lifelong commitments that are lovingly carried out.  

And indeed, for priests and religious — and for laity, for that matter — our mature years give us time to greater appreciate the lives that God has given. “Our long years of life afford us the opportunity to appreciate both the beauty of God’s greatest gift to us, the gift of life, as well as the fragility of the human spirit,” Pope Benedict XVI said in 2010. “Those of us who live many years are given a marvelous chance to deepen our awareness of the mystery of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”

On the pages that follow, Karen Callaway, photo editor of Catholic New World in the Archdiocese of Chicago, captures the images of older clergy and religious in the archdiocese who continue to serve Christ and the Church through their prayers, work and ministry.

Sister Rosemary Connelly

It would have been easy back in 1969 for Sister Rosemary Connelly, a Mercy nun, to allow the more than 130 infants and children with Down syndrome at Misericordia to remain in their beds day and night with no interaction whatsoever. But Sister Rosemary would not have it, thus her vision was born. She brought in educational methods such as speech, occupational and physical therapists to work with children, helping them improve in their daily lives. At 83, Sister Rosemary continues that ministry today, and under her leadership Misericordia has become a highly respected home, employing more than 1,200 people who care for 610 children and adults with developmental disabilities.  

About Misericordia 

Founded in 1921 as a maternity hospital, Misericordia now is a community operated by the Sisters of Mercy under the auspices of the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago that offers a wide variety of programs to serve people with developmental disabilities, with the goal of helping them gain independence and be a part of the larger community. 

It offers residential options on its 31-acre Chicago campus and in the community, including on-campus apartments, group homes and skilled-nursing residences.  

Misericordia currently serves more than 600 children and adults from diverse racial, religious and socio-economic backgrounds. 

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Bishop Timothy J. Lyne

Most Rev. Timothy J. Lyne, auxiliary bishop emeritus of the Archdiocese of Chicago, has given more than 68 years of service to the archdiocese as a parish priest, pastor, bishop, ecumenical leader and as an adviser and director to many priests and people of God. He was ordained a bishop in 1983 by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin and has been the vicar of senior priests since 1988. Bishop Lyne celebrates Mass daily in the cathedral.

During Bishop Lyne’s 23-year tenure as the pastor of Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago, he supervised an extensive restoration of the church, which was built in 1874. He has the unique distinction of serving for five cardinals in Chicago. In an interview with the archdiocesan newspaper on the 65th celebration of his priesthood and the 25th celebration of his ordination as a bishop he said, “I always liked being a priest and since I always liked being a priest, I was always happy.”

Rights of a Bishop Emeritus

Among other things, a bishop emeritus retains the right to do the following things: 

◗ Preach the Word and administer sacraments 

◗ Live within boundaries of diocese in which he served and receive sustenance from diocese

◗ Serve as a member of episcopal college and take part in an ecumenical council Source: Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops 

Brother Jerome Sysko

Augustinian Brother Jerome Sysko found his vocation while in high school through his friend, Chuck. Chuck was enrolled in seminary for the Augustinians in Oconomowoc, Wis., when Brother Jerome went to visit him. The Augustinian brothers there impressed young Jerome and, after prayer and discernment, he entered the community. That was 51 years ago. Today, Brother Jerome ministers to elderly Augustinian friars at Franciscan Village in Lemont, Ill. His assignments as a brother have been varied. He has served as a tailor, cook and barber and has worked in parishes and high schools. For almost 20 years, Brother Jerome was part of the community’s formation programs. For a time he served as a chaplain at the county jail in Flint, Mich. In the early 1990s, he was sent to Poland for four years to help reestablish the community’s Polish Province. Brother Jerome says he is grateful to God that Chuck crossed his path and led him to the Augustinians. “I thank God for the precious gift that the Lord has given to me to be a brother,” he said.  

About Augustinians

Augustinians trace their spiritual roots to St. Augustine of Hippo. Here are key elements to their spirituality: 

◗ Holy Scripture as a primary place of encountering God 

◗ Discovering God in community 

◗ Interiority 

◗ Promotion of justice, unity, harmony, peace and reconciliation 

◗ Apostolic service 


Sister Rosa Sandoval

Oblate of Jesus the Priest Sister Rosa Sandoval, originally from Mexico, has been a part of the congregation for 53 years. She can be found working daily at the rectory at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago. The sisters tend to the sacristy but their main mission is to pray for the priests and seminarians and for an increase in priestly and religious vocations. 

Sister Rosa had many examples of religious and priestly vocations to follow in her family. She also credits her mother’s aid to seminarians back home in Mexico for inspiring her call to religious life. Her goal, she says, is to imitate Mary of Nazareth. 

The order was founded in Mexico by a French priest, Father Felix de Jesus Rougier, in 1934, with the idea of supporting the priesthood by way of work and prayer. The sisters came to Illinois in September 1961, when they arrived at Niles College of Loyola Seminary, subsequently St. Joseph Seminary on the Lakeshore Campus of Loyola University Chicago. 

About Oblate Sisters of Jesus the Priest

The Oblate Sisters of Jesus the Priest was founded in 1934 by Venerable Father Félix de Jesús Rougier, a French Missionaries of the Holy Spirit priest living and serving in Mexico, and was accepted by the Catholic Church as a new religious community in 1937. The Oblates were the fourth order founded by Father Rougier, and they were inspired by the spirituality of Venerable Concepcion Cabrera de Armida, a Mexican spiritual writer and mystic. 

The sisters’ mission is to pray for priestly vocations and to support everything related to the priesthood, from working in seminaries and parishes to designing vestments. 

The Oblates have numerous houses throughout Mexico, as well as a house in Rome and four houses in the following U.S. cities: Menlo Park, Calif., Chicago, Ill., Mundelein, Ill., and New York City. Currently, their number totals 140 sisters, with several postulants and novices. 

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