OGDEN — Holy Cross Sister Joseph Cecile Voelker, who is retiring after 54 years of active ministry, was celebrated with a very emotional goodbye party at Saint Joseph Parish in Ogden.
At a July 15 reception, friends, parish ministry members, priests and fellow women religious expressed their gratefulness and love to Sr. Joseph Cecile for her 12 years of service in Utah.
Father Kenneth Vialpando, St. Joseph pastor, was the first to present his gratitude to Sister J.C., as she is lovely called.
"For 12 years Sister Joseph Cecile was always there," said Fr. Vialpando. "She was the one that was guiding the ministry. As priests, we get the credit but the sisters are there working all the time."
Fr. Vialpando also referred to all the work that Sister Joseph Cecile had done, with a quote from Blessed Basil Anthony Moreau, founder of the Congregation of the Holy Cross: ‘Holy Cross will grow like a mighty tree and constantly shoot forth new limbs and new branches which will be nourished by the same sap and endowed with the same life.’
"Sister Joseph Cecile was constantly building new branches: We have several people that will be speaking of these new leaves and these new branches that Sister Joseph Cecile created here in Ogden," said Fr. Vialpando.
Diana Hanebrink, the parish’s RCA representative, extended her gratitude to Sister Joseph Cecile.
"We are so glad that you have been with us this time. Thank you. And we thank God for have given you to us this time," said Hanebrink.
"We are truly grateful for all that you have done for us, our families, our friends, our entire community; you have been a great teacher, counselor, mentor, and friend. You have taught us to really look into God’s creations and in a totally new way," said Wanda Spell, director of religious education of Saint Joseph Catholic Parish. "I will always remember you and say a prayer. You have really taught us to not take things for granted, you have taught us to look for Christ in everyone."
Sr. Joseph Cecile’s first assignment was at St. Didacus School in San Diego, where she taught second grade. She moved on to teach middle school for 10 years, then became a principal. In 1970 she was assigned to the Diocese of Salt Lake City, where she worked as supervisor of the Catholic elementary schools. She also earned a doctoral degree in education administration from the University of Utah. In 1976 she was reassigned to Seattle. After Seattle she worked in two different dioceses in California, then took a leadership position in her order. When that term was up in 2000, she returned to Utah and took a position at St. Joseph Parish, where she stayed until this year.