An end to their service
The Sisters of the Love of God say goodbye
By ALEXIS ESPINOZA
Saturday was bittersweet for the Sisters of the Love of God, or Religiosas del Amor de Dios (R.A.D.), who said goodbye to the City of Porterville after decades of service at St. Anne’s school during an outdoor bilingual ceremonial Mass at Holy Cross Church.
The Sisters last academic year to staff St. Anne’s school was 2019-2020 with the transfer of Sister Goretti, who was the last Sister faculty member. Sister Milagros, the Regional Superior of the R.A.D. Community, informed Msgr. Scott Daugherty, pastor of Saint Anne’s Parish, that their Community had insufficient personnel to staff the Porterville Catholic School. Saint Anne’s Parish and the Diocese of Fresno bid farewell to the Sisters on Saturday, concluding a presence of over 50 years in the Diocese of Fresno and over 40
years in Porterville.
On Saturday afternoon, a large crowd gathered on the church’s lawn to participate in the Mass and give their well wishes to the Sisters as they end their time in the community.
“We are here today to give thanks to God for the Sisters of the Love of God for their service to our community, for their loving presence and to say farewell,” said Father Zacharias Martinez. “This farewell isn’t a permanent farewell. We will always be related and together in the love of God and the Holy Spirit.”
The Mass was translated from Spanish to English, and frequently throughout the Mass the attendees would kneel on the ground in prayer. Towards the closing of the ceremony, those in attendance took part in communion, receiving small pieces of bread to consume.
“Today shouldn’t be a sad day,” said Deacon Gregorio Echeveste. “It should be a joy of knowing we got the opportunity to be with them and to know them, to understand and to work together. We wish the best to our Sisters in their mission, in their call, and they aren’t going far away, just a couple of miles. We will see each other again. Sisters, we love you so much and are going to miss you physically, but in our hearts are prayers for you and your mission. God bless you.”
As the ceremonial Mass came to a close, Father Martinez wished the Sisters a blessed farewell, before calling the Sisters to the front of the lawn for a private word and prayer. After Father Martinez spoke with the Sisters, the Mass concluded, and those in attendance gathered around the Sisters to give them their own personal goodbyes.
“We come to this farewell with saddened hearts, with heavy hearts,” said Father Martinez. “We also come knowing that you will continue on, and our vocation will continue, and that the love of God will always inspire and move us, and that is why we do what we do. Thank you Sisters for doing all that you do, every day, throughout the day, all of your lives, all for the love of God. May the Lord be with you.”