Menard celebrating 50 years of ministry

PLATTSBURGH Sister Elizabeth Menard discovered her vocation early in life and this month she celebrates her 50th year of service with the Dominican Sisters of Hope. Menard has served in many capacities over the years and is currently the Plattsburgh Regional Director of Christian Formation for the Diocese of Ogdensburg. In this position, she works with catechetical leaders and teachers to bring Catholic education and programs to some 2,600 students in Clinton and Essex counties and the Tri-Lakes area. Menard, the daughter of Bernard and Adele Menard, grew up as a member of St. Annes Parish in Mooers Forks. Over the years, St. Annes has nurtured the religious faith of nine priests and four nuns, including Menards three brothers Gilbert, Clarence and Roland and a nephew, Bernard. When asked what the primary influences were in her faith formation she responded, Definitely my parents first and foremost and the close knit relationship of our family to church. Whenever there was a devotion, our family attended. Menard has been familiar with the Dominican Sisters of Hope all her life. The sisters taught religious instruction in St. Annes Parish. When Menard completed her sophomore year of high school in 1958, she thought she might have a calling to the sisterhood and decided to enter the Dominican congregations prep school in Fall River, Mass. When Christmas approached, she and two other ladies from this area boarded a train for home. On the train, a woman whom they did not know began conversing with them. After a few minutes of conversation, the woman looked at the three of them and then looking at Menard said, I dont know about the other two, but you have a vocation. If you dont think my mouth fell open ... because at the time I didnt know, said Menard. After Christmas and back at school I was praying and I said to the Lord, I dont know if you want me but you had better start telling me before you start telling other people. From that night on, I promised I would give it my best shot and do the best I could as long as I could. By the end of her junior year, Menard had made her decision to become a Sister of Hope. She took her final vows in 1964. Menard describes her congregations mission as being people of hope and preachers of Gods word in whatever they do. Sisters work in many ministries, especially in education. Menard taught elementary school for 14 years in New England and New York including four years at St. Peters School in Plattsburgh, from 1970-1974. She also served her congregation in several other capacities, including being its leader or prioress from 1986-1992. When her elderly parents health deteriorated in 1993, she asked to be transferred closer to home and was assigned to the Christian Formation program at St. Alphonsus and Holy Name Parish in Tupper Lake. Reflecting on the last half-century, Menard said her work in vocations was her most difficult, but it was also a period where she enjoyed the most personal growth. The position required speaking to parishes and to students. I didnt know if I would last a year, but I lasted eight, she said. I had so many opportunities that by the time it was over I knew I could perform almost any ministry they asked me to do. My years of religious life have been very happy years for me, she continued. I have never been in a ministry that I did not really enjoy and appreciate. I cant believe its already been 50 years! Menard is optimistic about the future of her church saying that faith is still very much alive out there. There are an awful lot of very good people, she said. I think the church of the future will demand more and more collaboration with the laity. Friends and family will be joining Menard at a golden jubilee mass to be celebrated at St. Augustines Church, 3035 Main St., Peru, this Sunday, June 29, beginning at 3 p.m. A potluck reception will follow in the parish center.

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