Special to The Hays Daily News

This year, the Dominican Sisters of Peace (formerly the Great Bend Dominicans) celebrate a year of jubilee, commemorating significant profession anniversaries of 70 golden and diamond jubilarians. Two of these golden jubilarians are Hays natives who made their original professions of vows in Great Bend.

When she entered the convent from St. Joseph Parish in Hays in 1962, Sister Kathy Goetz could not have imagined the blessings religious life had in store for her. In her early years, Goetz taught at various schools in Kansas, including St. Magdalen in Wichita, St. Joseph in Scott City, and St. Dominic in Garden City.

At 30, Goetz was made motherhouse coordinator and later was named novice director. Earning a certificate in theological studies from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, Calif., in 1980, Goetz began a ministry in accompanying individuals on their spiritual journeys, which she has continued.

She served in Canton, Okla., ministering to the pastoral needs of Cheyenne and Arapaho American Indians, then ministered for seven years as pastoral care director at Mount Joseph Senior Care Center in Concordia. She went on to serve in spiritual direction at the House of Contemplation in Liebenthal, in pastoral ministry at St. John Evangelist Parish in Hoisington and as director of associates for her congregation.

When the Great Bend Dominicans united with six other congregations to form the Dominican Sisters of Peace in 2009, Goetz moved to St. Catharine, Ky., where she served until recently as pastoral minister to her elderly and infirm sisters at Sansbury Care Center. In August, she will assume the role of hospitality coordinator at Heartland Center of Spirituality in Great Bend.

Growing up on a farm in Hays, Sister Cecilia Ann Stremel was surrounded by strong examples of faith and commitment, with numerous aunts, uncles and cousins who had entered religious life or the priesthood. As she celebrates 50 years as a Dominican Sister, she proclaims her great-aunt Mother Mary Clare had the greatest influence on her.

"She was such a gentle, kind, holy person," she said. "I truly believe that her prayer, example and love were the reason I became a religious."

Stremel was a teacher from the time she graduated from Newman University, Wichita, in 1965 until 1987, ministering at schools throughout Kansas and at times even serving at two schools simultaneously.

Her assignments included St. Rose in Great Bend (1965-66, 1980-87), St. Mary in Garden City (1965, 1969-80), Sacred Heart in Cunningham (1966-67) and St. Boniface in Sharon (1967-69). Following a sabbatical year in 1988, Stremel embarked on a new ministerial direction in health care, which has proved to be a great blessing ever since.

She feels privileged, she said, to be part of healing in the lives of people of all ages, nationalities and afflictions at the Heartland Center for Wholistic Health in Great Bend.