Chicagoland

Celebrating a century in age, and 75 years in vows

By Michelle Martin
July 25, 2016

Celebrating a century in age, and 75 years in vows

Sisters of St. Casimir Margaret Zalot (top left), Immacula Wendt, Theresa Dabulis and Regina Dubickas give presents to fellow Sister Delphine Grigas at Our Lady of Victory Convent in Lemont on June 20. It was Sister Delphine's 100th birthday. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)
Sister Delphine Grigas blows out candles for her 100th birthday. (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)

Walk into the room of Sister of St. Casimir Delphine Grigas, 100, at Our Lady of Victory Convent in Lemont, and on the desk you’ll find a slim volume of contemplative prayers for meditation and a thick paperback blazoned with “10,000 Silly Jokes.”

Sister Delphine, on this day, was preparing for a 100th birthday party, and was getting jokes ready to warm up the crowd.

“There’s one about the young student who goes to his teacher and says, ‘You told us about how the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea and escaped slavery in Egypt, and the children of Israel fought the Philistines and brought down the walls of Jericho. What I want to know,’ the student asked, ‘is where were the adults of Israel?’”

For Sister Delphine, this year marks a double milestone: a century in age, and 75 years in vows. Sister Delphine ministered as an educator and pastoral minister in health care settings. She also self-published a book of inspirational quotes, including some from Mother Maria Kaupas, the congregation’s founder.

As to her own story, Sister Delphine said that she can see the hand of God leading her along the way.

“When I needed it, he led,” she said. “But I didn’t realize it. That’s all in hindsight.”

She entered the order from Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, where she grew up, after her parents died and her brothers were grown.

“I was 22 years old, so I knew what I was getting into,” Sister Delphine said.

The Sisters of St. Casimir first assigned her to teach, and over 35 years, she had experience with teaching everything from kindergarten to eighth grade. She taught fifth through eighth grades in one room in a school in Volo, and served as principal there.

By the 1970s, though, “I felt that life was preparing me for something different,” she said. “I decided to go into pastoral ministry. At that time, it was becoming quite the new ministry in hospitals.”

She served as a pastoral minister at Holy Cross Hospital. “I was supporting families, being with the dying, supporting patients and staff. I found that ministry challenging, but very rewarding. It was a ministry where I felt more than ever I was living out my baptismal commitment.”

She was retired and volunteering in a religious education program in Holland, Pennsylvania, when the director suggested she put together a book of sayings; when a friend from Holy Cross Hospital died and left a modest bequest to the sisters, she persuaded her superiors to let her use the money to publish “A Calendar of Heavenly Sense to Ponder” in 1999.

Today, she has a single copy of the 2,000 originally printed left in her possession.

If someone asks her advice, she tells them to not think too much. “That’s when you get into trouble,” she said.

Instead, she said, let God lead, even if it’s difficult.

One thing she had a hard time with was reconciling with two people against whom she was carrying a grudge, she said.

“But following that leap of faith, I got one insight after another, even months later,” she said. “That’s God’s gift. I had to learn that.”

She also advises people to focus on gratitude.

“I am grateful and I thank God for all my blessings,” she said, including the opportunity to travel throughout the United States, to the Holy Land and to Rome and Assisi in Italy. “Even when something that happens that is not to my liking, I still thank God and call it a blessing.”

Topics:

  • religious life
  • our lady of victory
  • sisters of st. casimir

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