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SISTERS OF T H E H O LY FA M I LY O F NAZARETH / / VO L 1 1 / / // NO 3 // WINTER 2017



Best friends forever S TO RY O N PAG E 6


My family... A “HOLY” FAMILY? Dear Friends of Nazareth, The upcoming holiday season, beginning with Thanksgiving and ending with the Epiphany, is a season which is like no other as we celebrate “family.” Within this holiday season, we see many illustrations of the Holy Family, especially the birth of Jesus. These artworks depict such serenity and peacefulness.You might be thinking, “Not like my family!” Every family has the potential to be holy. What does God mean when scripture records, “Be holy, for I the Lord am holy”? The most basic meaning of holiness is to belong to God. This describes a relationship that God has established and desires with all people, especially families. Family is all about relationship and a holy family is one in which the relationship with God is important. How does a family cultivate this relationship? Like any relationship, our relationship with God takes time and practice. Relationship with God is cultivated by practices which I am sure you already do within your families. Let’s look at a few:

First, families prioritize their relationship with God through worship. Going to Mass as a family and attending spiritual opportunities

“Be holy, for I, the Lord, am holy.” (Leviticus 20:26) offered by parishes as a family creates real participation in the life of the parish. Second, families live out their faith at home by practicing devotion. For example, praying before mealtime and creating holiday traditions in your family contribute to a simple devotional life within the family. Devotion brings faith into everyday life where the work of authentic spirituality is begun. Third, families that live and work as a team lead each other to discipleship. Things such as celebrating birthdays, establishing Advent and Lenten rituals, and reading Bible stories together create an atmosphere of God-in-theordinary.

HOW ARE YOU C ALLED TO LOVE? We invite you to pray with us, to listen to God’s call with us and to love with us as we find God in ordinary experiences. Learn more about our community life, our ministries and our mission at nazarethcsfn.org/join-us. Or contact Sr. Emmanuela Le, CSFN, National Vocation Director, at 972-641-4496 x111 or vocations@nazarethcsfn.org. 2

In the end, family holiness is whatever enables you and your family to celebrate the love that comes from God’s own Heart. It helps you and your family discover all the ways that life is a gift and allows you to help each other become everything God created you to be. So is your family, my family, holy? You bet! No matter how your family is configured, striving to find God in the ordinary, like Jesus, Mary and Joseph in Nazareth, puts you on the road to holiness one step at a time. During this holy season, I want to assure you, dear Friends, of the prayers of all the Sisters in Holy Family Province for you and your families.You will all be remembered most especially during the Novena to the Holy Family. May you and your loved ones have a Blessed celebration of the Birth of Jesus and a happy and holy New Year! Lovingly in JMJ, Sister M. Barbara Jean Wojnicki Provincial Superior


VOLUME 11 // NUMBER 3 // WINTER 2017 Nazareth Connections is published three times a year by the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth in the USA.

8 10



4 An Extended Family: Holy Family Service Corps’ Volunteers REFLECTION

6 Sr. Marcella Binkowski, BFF VOC ATIONS

8 Testing the Waters: What is Discernment? 10 The Beginning of a Holy Family: A Vocation Story


12 English Around the World: Sharing Language with Sisters and Seminarians

Editor: Tammy Townsend Kise Proofreaders: Sr. Clare Marie Kozicki Sr. Jude Carroll Sr. Lucille Madura Editorial Board: Sr. Angela Szczawinska Sr. Barbara Frances Samp Sr. Carol Szott Sr. Jude Carroll Sr. Kathleen Ann Stadler Sr. Lucille Madura Sr. Marcelina Mikulska Sr. Marcella Louise Wallowicz Sr. Mary Louise Swift Sr. Teresilla Kolodziejczyk Katherine Barth Design/Print: McDaniels Marketing


16 Srs. M. Blanche (Stephanie) Zalewski, M. Eileen Drummy, M. Marcella (Eleonore) Falat, M. Monica (Olimpia) Mikutel DEVELOPMENT

19 Funding the Needs of Our Sisters

Questions, comments, suggestions? Please contact: Communications Department Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth 310 N. River Road, Des Plaines, IL 60016 847-298-6760, x144 ttownsend@nazarethcsfn.org nazarethcsfn.org FACEBOOK.COM/CSFN.USA

O N T H E C OV E R : S r. M a r c e l l a B i n k o w s k i , C S F N , D e a n o f S t u d e n t s a t H o l y F a m i l y U n i v e r s i t y, w i t h K a y l e e n H u t c h i n s o n , a s e n i o r a t t h e u n i v e r s i t y. NAZARETH CONNECTIONS // WINTER 2017





Sr. Gerri describes herself as a “pioneer” in this program, as she learns how to serve as a companion. “I take opportunities to text, e-mail, phone or visit with Mathew,” she said. “I have invited him for a few experiences within my diocesan ministry and have tried to introduce him to the lived experience of our CSFN charism in the everyday.”

In August, the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth (CSFN) and Holy Family Institute (HFI) welcomed Liz Fairchild, 27, of Fairfax, MN, and Mathew Jury, 23, of Conneaut, OH, as Holy Family Service Corps’ inaugural volunteers. The service corps program is designed to provide volunteers with a rich sense of service, community, faith and professional development. After a rigorous application and interview process, Liz and Mathew were chosen to live in community on Holy Family Institute’s Emsworth, PA campus and volunteer at various ministries in the Pittsburgh area, gaining hands-on experience. They were also each assigned a Sister Companion, a CSFN who volunteered to share this journey. The Sister Companion aspect of the program provides volunteers with opportunities to experience the warm, family-like hospitality of the Sisters while giving them a personal guide to assist with challenges that may arise during the year. “I admire these young people for taking a leap of faith to find out how God is calling them and to be open in faith, love and hope for the journey that lies before them and within them,” said Sr. Maria Kruszewski, who

serves as Liz’s Sister Companion. “I also enjoy their youth and spirit and how their eyes light up when they talk about their experiences.” Liz, who graduated with honors from Minnesota West Community and Technical College with an associate’s degree in child development, said, “It’s really nice to have a Sister Companion since I’m so far away from my family. Sr. Maria calls me every night to see how I’m doing. It’s reassuring to know that someone is there to help me.”

Following this inaugural year, CSFNs in collaboration with HFI and other sponsored ministries plan to continue growing the program with as many as 10 volunteers accepted annually. As part of the program, volunteers receive an opportunity to earn an education grant at the conclusion of their service. Reflecting on this new experience, Sr. Gerri said, “I enjoy the opportunity to learn from another generation of Catholics.” ***

Sr. Gerri Wodarczyk, who serves as Mathew’s Sister Companion, is helping him with what he calls his “informal discernment process.” In her role as Delegate for Religious in the Pittsburgh Diocese, she connected Mathew with a discernment retreat where he was able to meet other young people considering their vocations. “Ultimately, the Sisters in Pittsburgh and our Sister Companions have served as our new extended family during the service corps,” said Mathew, who graduated with a bachelor of science degree in criminalistics and forensic biology from Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA in May 2017.

For more information on the Holy Family Service Corps program, including information on how to apply, please contact Lynn Guerra, volunteer program director, at 412/766-9020 ext. 1304 or Guerra.lynn@hfi-pgh.org, or visit www.hfi-pgh.org/servicecorps.

Sr. Karen Kellereski, Mathew Jury, Liz Fairchild, Sr. Gerri Wodarczyk and Sr. Audrey Merski Liz and Mathew with Sr. Karen Kellereski Liz with her Sister Companion, Sr. Maria Kruszewski



REFLECTION how her day was going, what was on her schedule to do, etc. Sister is a very kind person and very easy to talk to, so I felt comfortable coming to her with problems I was having.

Sr. Marcella Binkowski, BFF BEST FRIEND FOREVER by Kayleen Hutchinson, Holy Family University student Coming from Scranton, I didn’t know anyone when I first arrived at Holy Family University [in Philadelphia]. One of the first friends I made was Ryan Keller, and he was the person who convinced me to go to an open Student Government Association (SGA) meeting, which led me to officially joining SGA and also meeting my BFF [best friend forever]: Sr. Marcella Binkowski, CSFN.

During this SGA meeting, I brought up some points during the open floor discussion. I remember Sister leaning over to me once I was done talking and saying all the points I made were very good. She was glad someone was finally bringing attention to them. After that first encounter with Sister, I found myself popping into her office to say hello every time I walked by. This eventually evolved into me going into her office a few days a week just to talk about school, work, home,

I also find it amazing how, with all she has to do as the Dean of Students that she still manages to find the time in her hectic schedule to sit with and get to know students, like me, on a personal basis. – Kayleen Hutchinson 6

One of the problems I had was affording my books. I went into Sister’s office and talked with her about how money is tight. With books being so expensive, I wasn’t sure how my family and I were going to be able to afford them. That’s when she offered to see if I would qualify for a Barnes and Noble scholarship that would help pay for the books I needed for my classes. Luckily, I did qualify, and thanks to Sister’s help, that scholarship has greatly helped my family and me financially by paying for my books. Without Sister, I would have never found out about the Barnes and Noble scholarship. I would probably be a lot worse off financially than I am today. Sr. Marcella has been a great influence on my life. I see every day how she handles completing all of her responsibilities and tasks in just a mere 24-hour day. If you have ever taken a glance at her calendar, you would swear someone spit a bunch of Skittles all over it with the different colors for the seemingly never-ending meetings she has day in and day out! I also find it amazing how, with all she has to do as the Dean of Students, that she still manages to find the time in her hectic schedule to sit with and get to know students, like me, on a

Sr. Marcella with HFU student Kayleen Hutchinson

personal basis. I always jump at the opportunity to tell anyone that will listen how great Sister is, and that she is my BFF. Having Sr. Marcella in my life has truly been a blessing, and I am very grateful for all that she has done and continues to do, not only for me, but for all the students here at Holy Family University. * * *

with HFU’s criminal justice Master’s program and hopes, eventually, to do social work with older adults. Sr. Marcella Binkowski entered the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth (CSFN) in September 1964 and currently serves as Dean of Students at HFU, a sponsored ministry of the CSFNs. She holds a doctorate in education from Vanderbilt University.

Kayleen will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and with a minor in sociology from Holy Family University (HFU) in Philadelphia in December 2017. She plans to continue

Is there a Sister of the Holy Family of Nazareth who inspires you? Tell us your stor y, in 500 words or less, and we may share it with other friends of Nazareth in upcoming publications. Submit your Sister Stor y to Tammy Townsend Kise, Communications Director, ttownsend@ nazarethcsfn.org. (All stories will be reviewed and edited. Publication is not guaranteed.)

Pray the Holy Family Novena with the Sisters The Feast of the Holy Family is celebrated on the Sunday between Christmas and January 1. This year, the Feast falls on December 31. Since 1989, friends of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth have joined us in praying the special Holy Family Novena, written by Sr. Cathy Fedewa, CSFN, for the nine days leading up to this feast. We invite you to join in spirit with this worldwide time of prayer and to use this Novena at any time of the year. To order copies of the Novena, available in English, Spanish and Polish, please use the form on page 19 or visit nazarethcsfn.org/about-us/nazarethprayers. NAZARETH CONNECTIONS // WINTER 2017



Testing the waters


by Sr. Michele Vincent Fisher, Provincial Councilor Several years ago, I purchased a painting at a Nazareth Academy High School Art Fair. Not only did I want to support the student artists, but I was deeply drawn by the image in the painting. It was an image of a young woman taking a walk on the beach. Her gaze seemed to be both outward into the distance and at the same time, downward, at her feet, as she temptingly dangled one foot out into the water, as if to be testing it.


At the time, I was serving as the province Vocation Director, and I immediately saw in this painting a perfect tool to start a conversation with those who would come to me to discern their life’s direction. I hung the painting in a prominent spot in the hallway outside my office so that everyone who passed by could get a glimpse of it. When I moved to Chicago in 2013, the painting came along with me and still sits in my office, inviting me into its story. It speaks to me about discernment and faith and dreams and possibilities. It invites me in my everyday choices and decisions to dare to go deeper, to risk the unknown and to “test the waters” of promise and possibility.

This journey we call “life” is like the ocean, ebbing and flowing, drawing us out into the depths and back again to the safety of the shore – a rhythm that echoes the rhythm of our own breathing and pulse. – Sr. Michele Vincent Fisher This journey we call “life” is like the ocean, ebbing and flowing, drawing us out into the depths and back again to the safety of the shore – a rhythm that echoes the rhythm of our own breathing and pulse. Discernment is like the boat that takes us from one point to the next, following the tides and the winds. Genuine discernment helps us to really embrace life’s adventures, to get the most out of every experience, even the ones that at first seem insignificant. It is up to us how much we are willing to engage in this art of discernment as we go through life. Many people have heard the word “discernment” and consider it as a basic means of decision making in which one carefully weighs the costs and benefits or the pros and cons of a particular decision or invitation and then makes the most advantageous choice. While this is certainly one part of discernment, it basically comes down to a question of “What’s in it for me?” For us as Christians, discernment is not just about what is good or bad, advantageous or disadvantageous, but it is about what is transformational.

Discernment begets the question not of “what’s in it for me?” but “how will this transform the world around me?” Discernment seeks the good of the other as well as the common good. Discernment searches for the affirmation that the happiness I seek is the happiness that comes from aligning my dreams with the dreams God has for me, without falling into the trap of thinking that God has only one plan for my life and He’s not telling me what it is! God wants us to test the waters! If Saint Peter didn’t have the courage to step out of the boat and tread on the sea, he never would have felt the saving grasp of Jesus’ arm, nor experienced the power of his own faith. Testing the waters doesn’t mean that I have to fully immerse myself into every possibility that comes my way or treat life like a buffet where I pile my plate high and end up overstuffed. Testing the waters through good discernment means losing my fear of the “what if’s” or “should haves” that keep me from experiencing the fullness of life. It means looking both ways before I cross the street, but also taking the next right step, aware of the signs of life all around me and being

attuned to the internal stirrings within me. Testing the waters through a good discernment process gives me the time I need to hold the experience and the courage I need to let it go when I no longer need it. Good discernment helps me to understand that I am not only in this world to shine my light, but to shine it together with others and for others. As I cooperate with the action of grace in my life, am I able to feel the sand shift beneath my feet, ready to risk the waves, willing to test the waters? Sr. Michele entered the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth in June 1989. She currently serves as a provincial councilor in Des Plaines, IL.

LEFT: Rebecca Gutherman and her fiance Joseph Conte, Read their discernment story on page 10. Photo by Mary Gutherman and Mary Kate Gasiewski ABOVE: Sr. Michele at Ocean City, NJ beach with young women of CREW, a week-long service and community opportunity.




The beginning of a holy family A VOC ATION STORY by Tammy Townsend Kise, Communications Director Joseph (Joe) Conte and Rebecca (Becca) Gutherman first met at Immaculata University’s Welcome Week in Malvern, PA during a “graffiti dance,” an icebreaker activity sponsored by the school. At the event, each participant received a white t-shirt and a marker. They were asked to introduce themselves by writing their names on each other’s shirts. Sometime during the event, neither remembers the exact moment, Joe Conte’s name appeared on the left shoulder of Becca’s shirt, a discovery she didn’t make until several years later when she came across the shirt. As education majors, Joe and Becca shared many of the same classes and worked on projects together. “But, what really brought us together,” said Becca, “was our involvement in school activities.” They became good friends, serving together in student government and as orientation leaders at the university. With a budding friendship and common interests, it would seem only natural a romance might blossom. But, this relationship was different. While a student at Nazareth Academy High School in Philadelphia, Becca began to express a desire to enter religious life. She spent the next eight years praying for “little God winks,” 10

discerning with two communities of Catholic sisters, including the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth (CSFN). “For so many years, she was known as the girl who was going to become a nun,” said Joe, who admits it was intimidating for both of them to consider dating. “This wasn’t like dating another young person in college. I knew if I was going to go down this road, I had to be sure. There could be no doubt.” Raised in what he describes as “a traditional Catholic family,” Joe, the middle of three children, turned to prayer. For almost a year, he had many conversations with God about Becca. “There were so many times I spent in prayer asking, ‘Are you sure about this? Maybe I’m doing the wrong thing.’ It really put my faith and especially my trust in God to the test.” Surrounded by words of hesitancy and doubt from so many people, Joe knew he was going against the grain. “I always believed when I found the person I wanted to marry, I would know,” he said. “If I were to give a moment to it, I would say Friday, September 12, 2013 at the intersection of Cheyney and Glen Mills Road in Glen Mills, PA. It was 5:42, a warm evening with a red sky.

They had just cut the corn in the field at the corner. I stopped at the fourway stop. I was the only car, and as I pulled forward, I knew. I just knew with absolute certainty this was the woman I was going to marry and spend forever with.” For Becca, the oldest of three girls, the process was a little longer. At the time Joe came into her life, she was considering the pros and cons of which religious community to join. “My heart was being torn,” she said about deciding which community to enter.

“Our senior year [at Immaculata University], I was still pretty set on entering religious life,” recalls Becca. “Joe and I prayed together as friends and when we were away [separately] during our weeks of service and pilgrimage, I realized that I missed being with him. I missed his friendship, the conversation and spending time together. There was a feeling of safety I had when he hugged me. It was almost as if we were finally home where we belong.” While they dated, Becca, who is a campus minister and theology teacher at Mt. St. Joseph Academy in Flourtown, PA, continued the discernment process, staying open to all the possibilities God might have for her life. The summer of Becca and Joe’s second year together, she spent a week with the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth near Chicago,


“building community, praying together and having fun.” The desire for that sense of community she experienced with the CSFNs was so strong that, on returning home, she thought it was time to break up with Joe. Once again, both Joe and Becca turned to prayer. They prayed about the need for community in their lives. “God kept sending me God-winks pointing me to Joe,” Becca remembers. “Joe seemed to be the answer to many of my prayers.” She also noted that Joe’s initials are JC and he is a carpenter. On May 9, Becca’s 25th birthday, she was scheduled to volunteer at the soup kitchen after school with some of her students, but the woman who runs the kitchen called to let her know they would be closed that day. “My evening freed up, so I called Joe and asked if he might want to get a small dinner and celebrate quietly,” Becca said. They decided on a picnic on Back Campus, the quad behind Immaculata University’s main buildings. While Becca laid out a picnic blanket and brought out the tacos, her favorite meal, Joe knelt down on one knee in the place where many years earlier Becca told him she wouldn’t date him. “My heart exploded,” she said. In December, Joe and Becca will profess marriage vows to each other, slightly different vows than

the ones Becca thought she would be saying. “Joe is my best friend,” she said. “Religious life or married life, he’d always be my best friend. For me, marriage is such an important vocation in the Church. There’s no question that wherever we are, we will be involved in furthering the mission of the Church.” And what do they look forward to in their new journey together? “I can’t wait to grade papers while he reads the newspaper. And maybe take walks together. And, of course, raising a family,” said Becca. As a CSFN told her, the world needs holy families, too. * * * A version of this story first appeared in our July 2017 e-newsletter Nazareth Encounters. Becca continues to serve as a volunteer at various events for the CSFNs and remains close to the Sisters who helped guide her. Becca has also written about her discernment process since 2011 on her blog “Road Less Traveled” (roadlesstraveled92.blogspot.com)

Becca and Joe will profess their marriage vows on December 8, 2017 on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Photo by Mary Gutherman and Mary Kate Gasiewski Sr. Michele Vincent Fisher, CSFN, with Becca in 2010.





Following the XXIV General Chapter of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth (CSFN) in Rome in 2015, delegates agreed that CSFNs in initial formation would learn Polish or English, depending on their native language. In response to a May 2016 letter from Sr. Barbara Jean Wojnicki, provincial superior, asking for U.S. Sisters willing to go to Poland to help Sisters learn English, both Srs. Mary Ellen Gemmel and Angela Cresswell answered the call.

OUR HUMAN JOURNEY by Sr. Mary Ellen Gemmel, CSFN “We are not human beings on a spiritual journey. We are spiritual beings on a human journey.� These words of Stephen Covey, well-known speaker, author and educator, come to my mind as I reflect on my recent experience of going to Poland to help our Sisters with the English language. After months of preparation, on May 29, I set out to see what I could do. Equipped with prayer books given to me by Fr. Paul Kennedy, pastor of 12

St. Katherine of Siena Parish, Philadelphia and having practiced some helpful expressions in Polish, prepared lessons and collected our community brochures, I arrived in Krakow and spent one night before the Sisters from Kielce, two and half hours from Krakow, came to pick me up and take me to our convent. Questions about where I would begin crossed my mind as I took time to rest after the long journey across the Atlantic. My questions were not answered right away. I was also concerned that time was short, but trusted in the Lord and the joy of meeting our Sisters despite limited

ability to use language to communicate. Daily conversation revealed that we, as Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, have the same concerns about family ministry. We make many of the same efforts in promoting vocations and we experience the same journeys in helping our Sisters, young and old, enthusiastic or struggling. From May 30th to June 30th, ours was a human journey, graced by our unity in Blessed Mary of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, fueled by a desire to do what we can to get to know one another and to share what we have for the good of all. By listening

attentively and faithfully, by sharing our thoughts on community, prayer, ministry, vocation promotion, current events, Catholic education, our history, our hopes and dreams for Nazareth, we were able to experience God in the everyday events of our lives. I can only place myself before the Lord and repeat with the psalmist, “What return can I give to the Lord for all He has given me?” on this human journey that has enlivened my spirit.

AT HOME IN NAZARETH by Sr. Angela Cresswell, CSFN The country and birthplace of Blessed Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd (Frances Siedliska) has attracted me since I entered Nazareth. In the days of my initial formation, I was drawn to the mystery of our Foundress and the story of her life and experiences in Poland. Fifty years ago, it was much more common to hear Polish spoken daily by native Polish Sisters as well as our American Polish Sisters. Because I have always been a lover of foreign languages, I longed to learn that complicated language punctuated by the ‘sh’ and ‘ch’ sounds. My two attempts to study Polish formally at Holy Family College (now Holy Family University) fueled my dream to speak fluently. But alas, what you do not use, you lose, and I resigned myself to a solo study of materials. Over the years, more sisters from Poland became part of our American Nazareth and I assisted a few in learning English. With this experience, my desire to visit Poland increased, along with that of teaching English to our Sisters there.

I accepted the invitation to teach English during the summer. I think I responded in the affirmative before Sr. Barbara Jean Wojnicki finished her question. In Poland, the most pervasive and exhilarating feeling was being ‘at home in Nazareth’ despite the differences in language and culture. I was as much a student as any of the Sisters. I admit that at least a half-hour of each class period was spent laughing with my Sisters. My short stay in Poland leaves me deeply grateful – especially for our Foundress’ vision of a Nazareth with no borders – for thus we have become. I hope I have left my Sisters with a sense of that same gratitude.

LEFT: Sr. Angela with her Sister students in Poland. ABOVE: CSFNs in Poland sharing language and laughter with Sr. Angela. ABOVE: Sr. Mary Ellen sharing a love of learning with her Sister students.



In 2011, Holy Family University in Philadelphia, with support from the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, began a program to teach English to seminarians in Vietnam. In 2015, the Vietnamese government officially gave permission to open the Catholic University and the Holy See approved the establishment of the Catholic Theological Institute, the first universitylevel Catholic theological institute in Vietnam.The opening of the Institute and University came after a nearly 40-year ban on Catholic schools by the Vietnamese government.This year, our Sisters returned to Vietnam to continue their work helping future priests.

HELPING THOSE WHO HELP OTHERS by Sr. Julianna Tran, CSFN, Director of the English Program for Vietnam at Holy Family University At the beginning of our Congregation’s mission in Vietnam in 2010, I believe the intention was to learn more about Vietnamese culture and traditions with the hope that, in the future, we could extend our mission efforts. In January 2010, I had the privilege of accompanying Sr. Janice Fulmer, then CSFN Superior General, and Sr. Jana Zawieja, then CSFN Secretary General, on a visit to Vietnam. For political reasons, the Congregation was unable to establish a CSFN community in Vietnam at that time. However, to honor the request from Bishop Dominic Nguyen Chu Trinh of the Xuân Loc Diocese, Sr. Janice invited Sr. Francesca Onley, then President of Holy Family


University, to provide English language instruction at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Vietnam. I was also invited to join Holy Family University in carrying out the Congregation’s mission. My dream of becoming a nun to serve the poor and vulnerable had been ingrained in my mind since I was seven years old. Although teaching English is not directly aimed at serving the poor, my hope is that, if the seminarians become good priests, they will have a great influence on thousands of souls who may be living in material or spiritual poverty. The English language students we work with have the utmost respect and admiration for their teachers, and they are always enthusiastic and polite, allowing the teachers to create a fun and exciting environment. It is rewarding for us to observe the impact of our efforts almost immediately, as students improve from the first week to the end of the course. The students’ efforts

have been absolutely inspiring, and they give us a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment. It is a privilege to take part in training future priests for Vietnam and also for the Church. The presence of the Sisters has had an impact on the seminarians not only helping them learn the English language, but also encouraging them to look forward to serving the Mission of the Church. Since 2011, the English Summer program has served more than 600 seminarians. In July 2017, Srs. Michele Collins, Madeleine Rybicki,Valerie Powidzki (Holy Spirit Province in Australia), myself and two lay volunteer teachers were privileged to attend the ordination ceremony of 18 seminarians at Cathedral of Xuan Loc. Those candidates are the first group among the 50 students who studied English in summer 2011.

ONE IN THE FAMILY OF GOD by Sr. Michele Collins, CSFN While serving the congregation as a member of the general administration in 2010, there was a strong desire to open a mission in Vietnam in order to extend our outreach to families in a country where some of our sisters in the U.S. already had cultural roots. Although I was well aware of the beginning dreams for such a mission, I did not become acutely interested in teaching English in Vietnam until 2014 when there was a call for Sister volunteers to help teach English to the seminarians at Xuan Loc. The Holy Spirit planted a strong conviction within me that I had to volunteer. I thought if I was accepted, it was God’s will; and, if not, then teaching English to seminarians was not meant to be the way I would do missionary work. I remember how wonderful it was my first year to be a part of the dedicated volunteer staff of Holy Family University and to enjoy the good will and gratitude of the students. The opportunity provided a unique way to share values and beliefs inherent in the Vietnamese and American cultures, as well as build diverse relationships within the Church and the Holy Family University family. Since 2014, I have returned each summer to teach English at the seminary. This past summer I was also blessed to teach English to the first class of priests and religious brothers at the Catholic Institute in Ho Chi Minh City. The experience not only enriched my life, but most importantly it also helped enable the students to further enrich their study of theology and sacred scripture.

I have had many rewarding moments during the past four summers in Vietnam. Each one is unique to that particular year and class. Each summer there is always a new class of students, new volunteers and changes within the seminary community. Through the years, seminarians become priests, some priests become bishops or a bishop retires, and the volunteers build new relationships and find new native landscapes to explore on our free weekends. All these moments form the whole which makes us one in the family of God.

express my delight, joy and gratitude I experienced in those three months. I hoped that the time would never end. Then, in 2015, Sr. Julianna Tran, CSFN, asked me to join the others in Vietnam teaching English to seminarians. My heart skipped a beat as I answered “yes” without hesitation.


The Vietnam experience is a chance to give back the gift of generosity that I received from my family and the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth. My mom and dad taught me to always help wherever I can, just as they did. In 1969, I fell down a cliff to railroad tracks at Holy Family Institute while trying to help a child who had fallen. As I fell, I asked Jesus to help me as I began my Act of Contrition. He heard my prayer. I consider it a miracle that I am alive and can do what I do. That experience has allowed me to have empathy, love and the willingness to help others. God willing, I will continue to share my talents, skills and life experience with and for others for several years to come.

by Sr. Madeleine Rybicki, CSFN My missionary call began in the third grade. Sr.Virginia, CSFN, was preparing us to receive our First Holy Communion. She said that when we make our First Holy Communion, we fall in love with Jesus and we help others by praying for them, contributing to the pagan babies and to the poor, and helping missionaries by selling Christmas cards. By doing what we could do and praying for them, we were missionaries. In fourth grade, I used my fifty-cent allowance to buy books about the lives of saints. That is when I fell in love with Father Damien, whose missionary work led him to work with lepers. As a young Sister, I discovered that missionary work does not necessarily mean leaving the country.

My first year in Vietnam was like being at a thirty-day renewal program. At Mass, hearing the seminarians singing in their language as well as in English was glorious.

Sr. Michele Collins working with seminarian students in Vietnam. Sr. Julianna Tran in Vietnam.

My out-of-country missionary work opportunity came when Sr. Janice Fulmer was elected Superior General of the Congregation. Sister asked me to go to the Philippines to provide training for the Sisters working with young boys in the group home and other places. Words are inadequate to

Sr. Madeleine Rybicki among her students in Vietnam.



In Memoriam Sr. M. Blanche (Stephanie) Zalewski January 14, 1925 July 27, 2017 Stephanie Zalewski was born in Chicago to Walter and Casmira (Matyskiel) Zalewski, the seventh of eight children. She attended Holy Trinity Grade School and Holy Family Academy in Chicago, both administered by the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth (CSFN). One day, 18-year-old Stephanie was flipping through a Catholic Digest when she saw an inch-square picture of a sister with the caption, “Why don’t you become a nun?” She smiled and put the magazine away, but continued to be bothered by the question. She consulted her former teacher, Sr. Canisia, who said she thought Stephanie had a vocation. Stephanie’s response was, “What do I do with it?” Stephanie entered the CSFNs on February 2, 1943, became a novice on August 18, 1943 and received 16

the name Sr. Blanche. She professed first vows on August 2, 1945 and perpetual vows on September 1, 1951. For 43 years, Sr. Blanche taught not only in the Chicago area, but also in Marayong, Australia, Texas and North Dakota. She received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education from De Lourdes College in Des Plaines, IL. She completed the Clinical Pastoral Education Program at Loyola University and earned a Master’s degree in Spirituality at Mundelein College, both in Chicago. From 1988 until 2009, she ministered in pastoral care at St. Mary of Nazareth Hospital in Chicago, sharing her gentle and loving presence with many. When Sr. Blanche was a patient at Mayo Clinic, she heard a little boy sobbing in the room next to her. His giraffe was missing an eye. Sr. Blanche cut two buttons from the bottom of her habit and sewed them on the stuffed animal for eyes, calming the small boy. Later, when Sr. Blanche inquired about the boy, she learned that he had died on the operating

table. Her kind gesture may have been one of the last he experienced. Sr. Blanche once said, “If I had my life to live over, I would have chosen to discipline myself sooner, to hope for the best, expect nothing and accept whatever is. It seems to me that would be a means of conforming my will to the Will of God.” She died peacefully on July 27, 2017. A Mass of Resurrection was celebrated July 29 at the Provincialate Chapel in Des Plaines, IL. Interment was at All Saints’ Cemetery. Sr. M. Eileen Drummy August 8, 1948 August 11, 2017 Born in Philadelphia, Eileen was the third child of James and Virginia Drummy. In December 1963, during her first year at Nazareth Academy High School in Philadelphia, the tragic death of her sister, Maureen, had a traumatic impact on Eileen. The love and concern of the Sisters of

the Holy Family of Nazareth became a healing balm that she would later share with others. After graduating high school in 1966, Eileen continued her studies at Holy Family College (now Holy Family University) in Philadelphia, where Sr. Lillian Budny, CSFN, became a defining influence on her life and vocation. After completing a B.A. in History in 1970, Eileen remained close to the Sisters, taking a position in medical records at Nazareth Hospital. Responding to God’s call, she became a postulant on September 7, 1975 and a novice on August 14, 1976. She professed her first vows on August 12, 1978. After her final vows on January 19, 1985, Sr. Eileen returned to the medical records department at Nazareth Hospital. She earned an Associate Degree in Health Records at Gwyndd-Mercy College (now University) in 1985 and using her gifted intelligence and savvy technological skills, she ministered in healthcare as a coder for more than 30 years. Sr. Eileen was inspired by scientific and medical discoveries, fascinated with mechanical and technical systems, and explored the cultural and historical opportunities in the Philadelphia area. An avid reader, she enjoyed crossword puzzles, and the works of Thomas Merton, J.K. Rowling, C.S. Lewis, Charles Schulz and others. She was a fan of NPR, Public Television, the Philadelphia Phillies, cooking shows, the DIY Network and was a reliable source for the horses in the running to win the Triple Crown. Through her struggles and ill health, she remained a bona fide original who

understood that the value of wellness lies in wholeness. Her sense of humor, quick wit and unassuming nature enriched her family and sustained lifelong relationships with faithful friends who were blessed to know her. With this final illness, Sr. Eileen was calm and peaceful, knowing she had the companionship of her loved ones on this final journey. She quietly passed away on August 11, 2017. The Mass of Resurrection was held August 17, 2017 at Mount Nazareth Chapel in Philadelphia. Interment was at the community cemetery. Sr. M. Marcella (Eleonore) Falat March 18, 1924 September 15, 2017 Eleonore was born in Chicago on March 18, 1924 to Stanley and Catherine (Moskwa) Falat. The youngest of seven children, she attended St. Michael School and transferred to Holy Family Academy in Chicago for her junior and senior years. Following graduation, she began working at Catholic Charities of Chicago with Bishop Wycislo. During World War II, Eleonore’s brother Walter was killed in Germany. Although she had wanted to enter the convent earlier, her mother would not allow her until another brother, Raymond, returned home from the Army. With her mother’s permission, the 22-year-old Eleonore entered the Congregation on January 12, 1946. She professed first vows on June 27, 1948 and perpetual vows on August 14, 1954.

Sr. Marcella received a Bachelor of Science in Education from Loyola University and later a Master’s in Education and Supervision from Sienna Heights College. From 1948-2008, she served as teacher and principal at schools in the Chicago area, including Holy Trinity, Immaculate Heart of Mary, St. Patricia, St. Ladislaus, St. Emily, St. John the Baptist and Mary of Nazareth. She also spent three years at St. Andrew the Apostle School in Texas. Additionally, she served as a Provincial Councilor and Director of Ministry. One of her former students, who later became a Benedictine priest, described Sr. Marcella’s serenity and unobtrusive goodness when he wrote, “I think often of your kindness and encouragement to me as a young boy.You are a wonderful example of a religious – dedicated, supportive, a great teacher and above all a leader...” Sr. Marcella retired in 2008, serving as a receptionist at the Provincialate. She was eager to stay involved in the rhythm of community life and was a wonderful example of how to age with grace and dignity. She once wrote, “I hope and pray that when my mission on earth is complete, I can hear these words: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.’” On the evening of September 15, Sr. Marcella was called home to God. Her funeral liturgy was celebrated on September 19 at the Provincialate Chapel in Des Plaines, IL. Interment was at All Saints Cemetery.




Sr. M. Monica (Olimpia) Mikutel August 8, 1915September 29, 2017 Olimpia Mikutel was born to Stanislaus and Maryann (Butrym) Mikutlel on August 8, 1915 in Norwich, Connecticut, joining siblings Malvina, Monica and William. In eighth grade, at St. Joseph School, Olimpia felt strongly that God was calling her. Her older sister Malvina was then in a religious formation program with the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth. Prayerfully considering her own vocation, Olimpia discussed her future with her parents and the next phase of her spiritual journey began to unfold. After high school, Olimpia became a postulant. On August 13, 1933, she received the white veil of a novice and the name Sr. Monica. On August 16, 1935, she made her first profession

of vows. Six years later, on August 12, 1941, Sr. Monica professed her final vows. Sr. Monica spent her 62 years in ministry at Nazareth Hospital in Philadelphia, except for one year in 1947, when a nurse was needed at St. Christopher Home for Children at Sea Cliff, Long Island, NY. She received her nursing certification at St. Mary of Nazareth Hospital in Chicago in 1938 and a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing at Villanova University in 1958. At Nazareth Hospital, Sr. Monica served as supervisor of nursing floors, director of nursing services, assistant nursing supervisor and patient representative. In September 2002, Sr. Monica began her retirement at Mount Nazareth in Philadelphia. With increasing age, health problems necessitated that she move to the infirmary floor, where she experienced the loving care that she had extended to others for so many years.

During the Religious Jubilarian Mass on September 24, 2017, at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia, Sr. Monica was honored for her 85 years of religious life, topping the list of 283 other sisters, brothers and priests who also celebrated milestone anniversaries in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Five days later, in the early evening of September 29, 2017, Sr. Monica was welcomed to her heavenly home. Her wake and Mass was held on Thursday, October 5 at Mount Nazareth Chapel in Philadelphia. Interment was at the community cemetery.

Donations in memor y of a deceased sister may be mailed to Development Office, Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, 310 N. River Rd., Des Plaines, IL 60016. Please include a note with the name of the Sister you are giving in memor y of. Donations may also be made online at nazarethcsfn.org/ support-us/donate-now/.

ORDER OPLATKI FOR YOUR CHRISTMAS EVE CELEBRATION We are once again pleased to offer our friends and family oplatki for the Christmas season. "For the uninitiated, oplatki ('oplatek' is the singular form) are paper-thin wafers of unleavened bread, embossed with symbols from the Christmas story," explained Sr. Carol Mockus, Philanthropic Gift Advisor, Mid-Atlantic area. Our oplatki (2 x 4 inches) are baked by our Sisters in Nowogrodek, Belarus. Oplatki are shared on Christmas Eve with the head of the table saying a prayer, thanking God for the family's blessings and asking forgiveness of anyone he or she has injured. A piece of oplatek is broken off, shared; the oplatek is passed on and the ritual repeats itself. This symbol of unity is made available to you with the sincere prayer that you will be find peace of mind and heart as you recall the sacred mystery of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, born of the Blessed Virgin Mary. You can order these special wafers using the form on page 19 or at nazarethcsfn.org/support-us/oplatki. 18


Funding the needs of our sisters by Kathi Barth, National Development Director Over the years of working in the CSFN Development Office, I have many times heard people say, “Why should I give money to support that? It just goes to Chicago.” That is true, all donations do go to our provincialate offices in Des Plaines, IL, near Chicago. But I’d like to take a minute to explain a bit of how religious life and our province works. Consider the Acts of the Apostles, Ch. 2: 42-47 which is considered the basis for religious community life: “All who believed were together and

had all things in common; they would sell their property and possessions and divide them among all according to each one’s need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes.” “Each one’s needs” – that’s the key phrase here.Yes, all income goes to our province office – donations, Sisters’ salaries, Social Security. But from this income, all the bills of the Sisters are paid – their living expenses and their medical expenses.

All the Sisters’ needs are met.You never have to worry that one of the Sisters you care about is not getting what she needs. The Sisters each took a vow of poverty when they entered the Congregation. They very consciously make the effort to live simply and not waste money. I’ve seen examples of this over and over in the ten years I have worked for the Sisters. They trust that all of their needs will be met. And I hope you can, too.

Even the cost for the Sisters who live in nursing facilities are paid by the province.

I would like to sponsor a Sister. My choice is Sister________________. (If you do not choose a Sister to sponsor, we will choose a Sister for you.) Enclosed is my yearly gift of $_______. Minimum suggested gift is $120 per Sister you would like to sponsor.

Please send me the Holy Family Novena booklet. How many? ____English ____Polish ____Spanish Please send me oplatki (size: 2” x 4”). Quantity: ____ Enclosed is my total gift of $_______________. Please make checks payable to the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth. Name: _________________________________________________________ Address: _________________________________________________________ City:_________________ State: ____________________Zip:__________________ Phone: ____________________E-mail: _______________________________________ Please complete this form and return it to: CSFN Development Office, 310 N. River Road, Des Plaines, IL 60016-1211 NAZARETH CONNECTIONS // WINTER 2017


Non-profit Organization U.S. Postage Paid Des Plaines, IL Permit No. 340

310 N River Rd Des Plaines, IL 60016 www.nazarethcsfn.org

One-to-one WITH A NAZARETH NUN Did you know we have a program which allows you to become personally involved with one of our sisters? One-to-One with a Nazareth Nun is primarily a prayer relationship, yet once you are part of the program, the extent of your interaction with the Sister is up to you and the Sister you sponsor. Sister will remember you daily in prayer and send cards for special

occasions, while sponsors are asked to support their special Sister with a suggested minimum gift of $120, renewable annually. If you have a particular Sister you would like to sponsor, let us know. Or, we can choose a Sister for you. To sponsor a Sister, please complete the form on page 19 and mail it to our development office.

We, the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, are called to extend the Kingdom of God’s love among ourselves and others by living the spirit of Jesus, Mary and Joseph whose lives were centered in the love of God and one another. We witness to this love through dedicated service to the Church, especially in ministry to the family.

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Nazareth Connections - Winter 2017  

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