Fifty years ago, when Sister Judette Gallares professed her initial vows as a member of the Congregation of Our Lady of the Retreat in the Cenacle (Cenacle Sisters), she made what she considered to be a permanent commitment. In the half-century since then, the Filipina missionary Sister has seen many changes in the Catholic Church, in her religious congregation, and in society, but she has never thought of taking back her promise.
On Sunday September 13, 2020 Sister Judette made her commitment once again to God during the Mass celebrated as a thanksgiving for her jubilee. It was a simple celebration, a gathering of friends. It was highlighted with her family joining her online via Zoom and a number of her Cenacle Sisters from other parts of the world. At the end of the Mass, with heartfelt joy, she said: “I was deeply honored to have shared my Golden Jubilee with my Sisters, my friends and family, all of whom have touched my life in some unique and blessed way.”
In the religious life every community has a charism, a hallmark, the most important part of their lives, their ministry to the people of God and the Church. For the Cenacle Sisters, their mission is threefold: prayer, community, and ministry. Their ministry is always focused on faith, whether it be retreats, spiritual direction, adult faith formation, or another form of spiritual ministry. Thus, Sister Judette is primarily involved in the ministry of retreats/spiritual direction and religious formation. She went to Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, Fordham University in New York and Oxford University in England for her graduate and post-graduate studies. She is a professor of the Theology of Consecrated Life at the Institute for Consecrated Life in Asia in the Philippines. In the Diocese of Macau, she teaches Theological Anthropology and Aesthetic Theology at St Joseph Seminary. She has authored several books and articles on theology, biblical spirituality, religious formation, and consecrated life. Among her books are Images of Faith, Images of Courage, Fire Within, and Journeys of the Heart.
Celebrating a Golden Jubilee in religious life is not celebrating an accomplishment. It is not saying, “Look what I have done! I’ve lasted 50 years!” For Sister Judette celebrating a Golden Jubilee is an act of gratitude for the gift that has been given to her: 50 years living as a Cenacle Sister.
For Sister Judette, you have created golden memories through your service to God and your commitment of love and service to the Diocese of Macau. Our wish for you is that you have more years to enjoy the love of God as you continue your service to the Church as a Cenacle Sister. Happy 50th Anniversary Sister!