Sister of Charity celebrates her 95th birthday
By CECILE SAN AGUSTIN
WAYNE - Cruising through time, Sister of Charity Margaret Amelia Costello's life has been filled with so many historic moments in her 95 years on earth.
In fact during the year she was born in 1913 - Grand Central Station Terminal became the largest train station. The 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was created to collect income tax. Ford Motor Company introduced the first assembly line.
Father Peter Clarke, chaplain at DePaul Catholic High School here, recalled these moments at a Mass in recognition for Sister Costello's birthday, which was celebrated Jan. 15 with the students, staff and faculty joining together in the school's gym to remember a life lived that God couldn't have planned better.
While all these great events in history have happened, Father Clarke said of all the things Sister Costello has seen in her life, "I can pretty much guarantee that the most amazing thing she has seen are countless Catholic school children getting an education, learning about their faith and growing closer to God. I promise you that is the thing she's most proud of in her life."
On the occasion of her 95th birthday and celebrating at DePaul, Sister Costello said, "I feel very good being here at DePaul. I describe this place as my home. Everybody is a family here and the students are lovely."
Sister Costello, who came to DePaul as a "young" 75-year-old 20 years ago when she retired from "active" ministry, has been serving in the guidance office in charge of enrollment records for incoming freshmen.
Born in Paterson, she was graduated from St. George School and the former Benedictine Academy there. Sister Costello entered the Sisters of Charity on March 25, 1938 as one of the first young women to enter religious life in the newly established Paterson Diocese. She holds a bachelor's degree from the College of St. Elizabeth, Convent Station, and a master's degree in guidance along with additional graduate credits from Seton Hall University, South Orange.
Her life as a religious began with nine years as a teacher in St. Joseph School, Jersey City, followed by seven at Assumption School there. She served for 20 years at Marylawn High School of the Oranges and 12 years as head of the guidance department at St. Mary High School, Elizabeth.
According to Sister Costello, "Being a religious sister has been the happiest time of my life."
The celebration of Sister Costello's birthday couldn't have come at a better time. DePaul also marked Vocation Awareness Week. Her 70 years commitment shines as a great example of what a vocation means.
In his homily, Father Clarke said, "She did what God asked her to do in life and that's why we come here today to celebrate 95 years of life - which is a milestone in itself - but 70 years in religious life is just as miraculous. She has chosen to live her life in service of God and in service to all of you."
At the end of Mass, Sister Costello received special congratulations from Wayne Township Mayor Scott Rumana through a letter he sent to be read. She also received special birthday wishes and blessings from Rome, Italy, via email from Father Geno Silva, who served at DePaul as chaplain and president.
Sister Costello, who attends daily Mass at the school's chapel at 7:05 a.m., will also be remembered every time Mass is celebrated there. The school bought a new set of Lectionaries and each of the covers has inscribed in them: "In recognition for Sister Margaret Costello for her life long dedication for the children of God."
The school also "retired" the number 70 on a football jersey to hang on the walls of the school.
Sister of Charity Rosemary Smith attended the Mass on behalf of her order, at which she said: "In the name of the Sisters of Charity, I add my congratulations for Sister Costello's 70 years of service as a sister and for 20 years at DePaul. You are precious to our sight and I also would like to thank Sister Margaret for her membership to our congregation, it is a gift to all of us."
On behalf of the school's office, Frank Petruccelli, superintendent, and Society of Sister of the Church Dorothy Banashak, assistant superintendent, also attended the Mass. "It is important to take time to celebrate and acknowledge the life and dedicated service Sister Margaret brings to her religious community, the DePaul family and to the entire Church - to be called by God is to experience a deep and personal spirit in one's soul," said Petruccelli. "All who believe in the mercy and power of Jesus Christ, all who are baptized and all who are called to serve on their journey to the Lord, this is an open invitation to all to answer that call - a call that Sister Margaret responded to 70 years ago with an open heart and a generous spirit and a yes to God."
Said Sister Costello about the longevity and success of her life as a religious: "I don't have a secret on living long. Maybe I'm not finished with my work yet. That's what they tell you anyway, you're here on earth till you are finished with your work."