IHM Sisters - On Mission Magazine - Summer 2024

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Mission On IHM Sisters

A publication of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Malvern, PA

Our Mission: to evangelize, to catechize, and to teach

Summer 2024 • Volume 23, No. 2
Artwork,“The Inclusive
All are Welcome in God's Family – The IHM Call for Social Justice
Feast,” by Sister Helen David Brancato, IHM

In This Issue


Do small things with great love


Social Justice – responding to the needs of our world through education, prayer, and action


Sister Edward William Quinn

At “home”in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Sister Agnes Marie Cummings

Combining a love of nursing and education at Penn State


Powerhouse of prayer and action for social justice


Uniting with the Sisters of St. Joseph, Mombasa in service and hospitality

“Who is my neighbor?” The Gospel mandate to love one another (John13:34-35) calls each of us to recognize that we are responsible to live out our baptismal call at the service of others. This responsibility has no limits when it comes to connecting our life of prayer and contemplation to our everyday actions of loving one another in imitation of Jesus.

With the seven principles of Catholic Social Teaching, the Church provides a powerful framework for us to address social, economic, and moral challenges through the lens of human dignity, solidarity, subsidiarity, and the common good.

Our IHM efforts to build a more just, compassionate, and equitable world direct our ministries and influence our decision making. To that end, Sister Joyce Bell, the IHM Social Justice Coordinator, in conjunction with a dedicated committee, works tirelessly to educate our sisters and lay colleagues on how to reach out to the marginalized and needy among us. This awareness reaches far beyond immediate needs to the underlying systemic structures that foster a disregard for the basic human rights of all of God’s people.

Sister Edward William Quinn believes firmly in the value of educating others to see the connection between a committed life of faith and how that faith serves as the foundation for witnessing to love of our neighbor. Her passion for educating and mentoring teachers has impacted countless students in living lives of service. Sister Agnes Cummings also embodies this desire to impact others for the betterment of the world. Her teaching and research at Penn State provides an additional forum for witnessing to the commonality of human experiences and responding to our neighbor with compassion and empathy.

The bedrock of our IHM Social Justice initiative lies within Camilla Hall, our Health Care Center and Convent Home. In addition to their life of prayer, our Camilla Hall sisters bring a lifetime of awareness and commitment to their present endeavors to advocate, educate and act to eradicate unfair structures and to promote systemic change.

It is our hope that you will be inspired by our sisters’ efforts to follow the tenets of Catholic Social Teaching and partner with us in creating a world that allows all people to know how much our Provident God loves them.

May you be blessed for seeking out your neighbor.

Sister Mary Ellen Tennity, IHM General Superior

Heritage Room JUBILARIANS 17 Celebrating the 2024 Jubilarians IHM SNAPSHOTS 18 Sharing what’s new DWELLING NOW 19 IN LIGHT In memoriam
to the IHM Cemetery and

Take the Word of God with You As You Go


“The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones.” This scripture passage from the Gospel of Luke 16:10 about the parable of the dishonest steward reminds me of a favorite melody.

For several years now, I have been a fan of the songs of contemplation and consolation composed and sung by contemporary musicians, Liam Lawton, Tony Alonso, and Chris de Silva. They have produced two albums, Castle of the Soul (2011) and Pilgrim – Wisdom on the Way (2014). Their lyrics have spoken so powerfully to me about God’s love, that I gave a guided retreat based on Castle to our sisters in the summer of 2022, and I have prepared one for our sisters on Pilgrims to use at Villa Maria by the Sea Retreat Center in Stone Harbor this summer.

Of all the music they offer on these albums, my favorite piece is “With Great Love” (“we can do only small things with great love” ) from their first album, Castle. This song became so meaningful to me during 2020 in the early days of COVID when we were isolated and literally working from home. In addition to the catchy melody, the message was so significant. It is true, there are only small things that we can do every day; the big things rarely land on our desks or in our kitchens. However, we are confronted with the choice to do these things either with great love, or routinely, without love.

The musical rendition was inspired by the life of St. Teresa of Calcutta. She once said that she could only help one person at a time when she found a person who was homeless and living on the streets in India. How true! People recognized her devoted spirit and wanted to make things easier for her by helping her accomplish more in less time. She gently said, “no thank you” and continually chose the opportunity to do small things with great love.

In the third verse of the song we hear, “Choose us as instruments, sacred vessels of your will, transform in us new hearts of God’s compassion, to live true lives of readiness to listen for your call.” This same message is found in each of the three verses. St. Teresa’s way of doing small things with great love is one that can help us to live the Gospel fully in service of love as we depend on God’s grace.

We could spend a whole retreat reflecting on how doing small things with great love is transformative. However, just playing one of the songs from these musical artists during our time of personal prayer can make a difference. Each of their songs holds a Gospel message that can speak to our spirits and make a difference in our lives.

If not me, then who?
S. Joyce Bell and the IHM Call for Social Justice

Through creating awareness of social justice issues, we hope to expand people’s hearts to reach out to those who are marginalized among us. We can all contribute to social justice efforts in our communities. Look around! Be aware! Act!

I give you a new commandment: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34-35) .

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus teaches what it means to be a “neighbor” – reaching out to those in need regardless of religion, politics, socio-economic class, race, or gender. In Pope Francis’s last encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, he uses the parable of the Good Samaritan to answer the question, Who is my neighbor? For whom should I be responsible?

The Gospel mandate to “love thy neighbor” is an essential element of our Catholic faith. It builds upon the Church’s belief in the sanctity and dignity of human life. This tenet of faith is embodied in the IHM Congregation’s commitment to social justice.

IHM Social Justice Coordinator, Sister Joyce Bell, was asked about the topic of social justice and how the IHMs are living out the call to “love

3. Rights and responsibilities (Everyone has a right to life; we have a responsibility to one another.)

How do you define “social justice?”

by acts of charity. Social justice challenges the systems that create inequality, reducing people to less than their God-given dignity and the rights they deserve. Social justice calls us to ask the question, “Does this action uplift human life or degrade human life?”

4. Option for the poor and vulnerable (The needs of the poor and vulnerable come first.)

5. The dignity of work and the rights of workers (The economy must serve the people.)

Social justice views life through the lens of Catholic Social Teaching, a doctrine of the Church which is concerned with human dignity and the common good in society. Central to Catholic Social Teaching is the belief that every human being is created in the image and likeness of God; every individual possesses an inherent dignity that makes each person’s life valuable and worthy of respect as a member of the human family. Therefore, social justice is rooted in the Gospel message to love one another and is accompanied

What are the principles of Catholic Social Teaching and why are they important?

There are seven principles of Catholic Social Teaching:

1. The right and dignity of the human person (All life is sacred.)

2. The call to family, community, and participation in society (People are social beings and have a right to participate in society; marriage and family must be supported and strengthened.)

6. Solidarity (We are one with our brothers and sisters on a global stage and work for their good.)

7. Care for God’s creation (Caring for the earth is a requirement of our faith.)

These principles are important because they carry out in concrete terms the Gospel mandate to love one another as we love ourselves. Catholic Social Teaching provides a treasury of wisdom on how to live a life of holiness amidst the challenges that exist in our modern-day society.

Members of the IHM Social Justice Committee (pictured back row from left to right): S. Joyce Bell, S. Mary Lydon, S. Mary Rose Yeager, S. Rosemary Davis, S. Catherine Nally, S. Mary Catherine Chamberlain; S. Mary Jo McDonald (front).

What social justice issues are most important at this time to the Church and the IHM Congregation?

Immigration, racism, poverty, climate change, gun safety, and life issues (pre-birth and after birth through end of life) are important as are all social justice issues. The IHM Congregation is a member of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), an association of congregational leaders of religious Catholic women in the U.S. As a member of LCWR, we are called to work together to tackle the issues of immigration, racism, and climate change which are essentially a part of the seven principles of Catholic Social Teaching.

What social justice initiatives has the IHM Congregation undertaken?

The principles of Catholic Social Teaching are interwoven with the social justice issues the IHM Congregation has addressed. The Congregation has undertaken many social justice issues.

• Racism has been one of the major issues we have sought to better understand. Advocating for legislation that will end unjust systems and working for equality with our sisters and brothers of color has been a part of our social justice legacy.

• Immigration is another major issue and is an extension of our charism to offer compassion to all of God’s people. Partnering with Catholic Relief Services, the IHM Social Justice Team has broadened our Congregation’s understanding of global needs.

• Many of our sisters served in South America which has equipped them to minister in parishes with a large Latino community and to extend a hand to immigrants through ESL (English as a Second Language) classes in literacy centers.

• Most recently, we have collaborated with our Monroe and Scranton IHM Sisters to serve immigrants at the Southern Border in McAllen, TX.

• Because our founder, Mother Theresa Maxis, was of Haitian descent, the IHM Congregation is committed to raising awareness of the needs of the Haitian people. We support sustainable projects, assist indigenous congregations, and communicate opportunities for advocacy on behalf of the Haitian people. We participate in Haiti outreach as an outgrowth of our charism to serve the most abandoned poor.

• In the last few years, our Congregation has supported asylum seekers coming into the city of Philadelphia by donating Target gift cards to make shopping a possibility for the new arrivals. We have also connected with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS) and their Hope for the Holidays campaign creating Christmas cards and sending donations used to purchase gifts for migrants coming to the U.S.

• We spearheaded the popular Bread for the World letter writing campaign in many parishes asking our legislators for greater financial help to countries suffering the effects of drought.

• Through Catholic Relief Services, we focused on stewardship of our planet through education about water scarcity in parts of the world and ways we could make

Sister Joyce attends the "Let Us Breathe" event hosted by the Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living (CRCQL), an advocacy group focusing on the care and cause of asthma.

ourselves water conservationists. With the emergence of Laudato Si’, Pope Francis’ encyclical on caring for the environment and all people, “care for our common home” has become a priority. We are completing year three of our commitment to the Laudato Si’ Action Platform focusing on ecological education and actions that follow.

What positive outcomes have you witnessed from these social justice initiatives and are there new initiatives planned?

I believe all our sisters are more connected with the most vulnerable in our communities and around the world because of our social justice efforts. They genuinely have a desire to help and are looking for ways to engage in actions that will benefit the underserved. We are continuing our focus on immigration, Haiti, and the border. There are millions of displaced refugees and migrants on the move. We have a moral obligation to help them.

What do you hope to accomplish in creating awareness of social justice issues and what are some of the challenges?

We hope to expand people’s hearts to reach out to those who are marginalized among us. We can all contribute to social justice efforts in our communities. Look around! Be aware! Act! Advocating for social justice is a lifelong journey. There are many causes that vie for our attention, but we can never give up. The journey is worth the effort.

What led you to get involved in social justice and why has this become your passion?

I was professed at the time of Vatican II. In 1965, the Pastoral Constitution of the Church, Gaudium et Spes (Joy and Hope) was published. Considered a landmark of Catholic Social Teaching, it influenced my view of the Church in today’s world. When I learned that the IHM Social Justice Team, under the leadership of Sister Rosemary Davis, was recruiting new members, I was interested. Inspired by Sister Rosemary’s leadership and passion for promoting the dignity of every human being and raising awareness of issues surrounding the common good, I served on the team while living in Pennsylvania. When I transferred to Falls Church, Virginia, I had the good fortune of living with Sister Mary Jo McDonald who was also a part of the Social Justice Team. We both enrolled in a course called Just Faith that was offered in our parish. It covered every aspect of social justice in the Catholic Church. This experience only deepened my dedication to this work. During this time, Sister Rosemary invited me to participate in a workshop on healing racism. Little did I know that Sister would ask me to take her place on the OSP (Oblate Sisters of Providence)IHM Healing Racism Committee of which I have been a member for 20 years. When I returned to Pennsylvania, I rejoined the IHM Social Justice Committee. For five years, Sister Rosemary and I drove together to the social justice meetings. The conversations enroute and following the meetings led me to

consider accepting the position of Social Justice Coordinator when Sister Rosemary was ready to retire from that role. It has become my passion ever since. Whenever I meet a person who is in need but is not seen nor heard by those who bear responsibility for that person’s wellbeing and safety, I can’t just sit by and do nothing. If not me, then who?

Sister Joyce Bell has 23 years experience in elementary education, 25 years experience as Director of Religious Education, and for the past four years has served as the Social Justice Coordinator for the IHM Congregation. Sister has served in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Dioceses of Camden and Arlington. She is a member of many social justice committees including co-chair of the Laudato Si’ Committee for the Congregation, CeaseFire PA (an advocacy group to end gun violence), CRCQL (Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living), and an advocacy group for environmental justice for the residents of Chester, PA.

A member of CeaseFire PA, an advocacy group to end gun violence, Sister Joyce lobbies for safer communities.

Sister Spotlight

Sister Edward William Quinn

Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment

Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Philadelphia, PA

S“Faith is at the center of all we do in Catholic education.”

Sister Edward shares her expertise at a principals' meeting.

ister Edward Quinn has called the Archdiocese of Philadelphia “home” for most of her life. Born and raised in Manayunk, Sister attended St. John the Baptist School (K-12), and was a member of St. John’s last high school graduating class. Her passion for education led to a longstanding career as an archdiocesan elementary school teacher for over three decades and 17 years in her current role in the archdiocese as Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment. Sister Edward has touched the lives of countless students, teachers, and administrators through her commitment to Catholic education.


Sister’s “training” to be a teacher began at home with a large family of 15 children. “With 10 younger siblings, it was easy to play “teacher” and have my own class in the basement of our family home," says Sister Edward. During high school, Sister considered joining the Archdiocesan Cadet Teacher Program to become an elementary school teacher, but God had other plans. Everything changed in her senior year. “I was pulled out of class to become the third grade “substitute” when Sister Celeste became sick,” she recalls. “A classmate and I took turns teaching

the third-grade class while finishing up our senior year classes.” This experience shaped her future. “Working more closely with the sisters in school planted the seeds for an IHM vocation. This experience helped me to know the sisters better and to want to follow in their footsteps.”


After entering the IHM Congregation in 1964, Sister earned numerous degrees in education, religious studies, and administration. She taught elementary school in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Diocese of Camden and at Chestnut Hill College, Immaculata University, and in the Virgin Islands training teachers in underprivileged areas. Through these experiences, she says, “I encountered many Christ-like people who helped me along the way.” While teaching elementary school, Sister Edward became involved in professional development that included writing and designing instructional materials for teachers. This led to an invitation from Dr. Richard McCarron and then Superintendent of Schools, Mary Rochford, to move from a teaching position to an administrative role as Director of Elementary Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment and Related Professional Development for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. “I accepted the position with the


knowledge that I would be able to integrate faith values not just into the religion curriculum but into all areas of learning,” she adds.


Moving from teacher to administrator was challenging but the biggest obstacle Sister faced was a personal one. “I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and a benign brain tumor,” she shares. Since then, she has lived with the challenges of MS including coordination and balance issues.

“There are days when I can’t stand up straight or sign my name to a document,” she says. But through it all, her faith sustains her. “You can live your life with a disability, but faith is the strongest medicine for preventing the disability from disabling you.” Faith carried her through the loss of her brother (a priest and educator) to MS and her youngest brother two months later to a brain tumor. She acknowledges “There is a lot of truth to the statement, “I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.”


In her present ministry as Superintendent for Elementary Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment for the archdiocese, Sister oversees the development of curriculum and assessments for early childhood and elementary school students; assists schools with Middle States Accreditations and Blue Ribbon applications; oversees standardized testing programs and assists schools in utilizing their data; provides professional development, and assists with the Residency Program for new and transitioning teachers. Her goal is to “infuse the values of the faith into every aspect of curriculum and instructional practices in the Catholic schools.” While that may be challenging, she says,“If we are teaching our students to be responsible members of society and to be prepared for their future, our curriculum and instructional strategies need to go beyond the secular, always mindful of who we are as Catholic Christians so we can teach accordingly.”


Always looking for ways to integrate faith values into teaching and

learning, Sister Edward is involved in the archdiocesan annual STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, and Math) Expo highlighting the academic and fine arts accomplishments of teachers and students in Catholic schools from preschool through college. As opposed to traditional STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programs offered at other schools, the archdiocese incorporated religion into their STREAM program because “faith is at the center of all we do in Catholic education.” The arts were included because "the fine arts represent the left brain and right brain working together.” In nature, every stream has a source. “The source of all learning is our faith in God,” Sister says.

Sister also found a clever way to integrate the faith into an Early Childhood meeting focused on Internet resources. She taught teachers how to turn the endless task of creating Internet passwords into a prayer. “I suggested they list people they are praying for each day, beginning with a capital letter for each name, a numeral for the number of people they are praying for, and ending the password with an exclamation point as a prayer of thanks to God.” It’s a method Sister uses when she logs onto her computer. It's not only a way to create unique and secure Internet passwords but a way to offer intercessory prayers throughout the day.


Outside of Catholic education, Sister enjoys “down time” listening to audio books and playing word

games on the computer. Her most favorite pastime is getting ready for Christmas. “I enjoy looking for Christmas bargains all year long, making Christmas decorations, celebrating “Christmas in July” and surprising others on St. Nicholas Day. Celebrating the spirit of Christmas all year long is one of my favorite things to do!” Another “hobby” is spending time with her family including 47 nieces and nephews, 97 grandnieces and grandnephews, and three great grandnieces and grandnephews – 147 in total!

“Coming from such a large family, it is a challenge to remember all the names of my nieces and nephews. At family gatherings, I often need to ask, “Who belongs to who?” When asked how I keep track of them all, my response is – a spreadsheet!”


Sister says, “What keeps me going is the wonderful group of sisters I live with who understand my health needs and who are always willing to be of assistance.” She is also thankful for her ministry in Catholic education. “I have always loved what I have done. I have taught at almost every grade level from pre-K through graduate school and have been asked what my favorite grade was. My response has always been “the grade I was in at the time.” The opportunity to influence young minds and to help prepare others to do the same is very rewarding. Teaching and working as a Catholic educator is one of the most rewarding positions one can have.”

Sister Edward gathers with participants of the Residency Program as she assists new and transitioning teachers.

Sister Agnes Marie Cummings, IHM

Assistant Professor of Nursing and Researcher

Penn State University

University Park, PA

Undergraduate nursing students at The Pennsylvania State University may have been a bit curious when they met their professor on the first day of class. Instead of a layperson, students were greeted by Sister Agnes Marie Cummings, the only religious sister teaching at Penn State. In 2022, Sister joined the Penn State community as an Assistant Professor of Nursing in the Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing and as a researcher at the SAFE-T Research Center, a grant-supported program within the nursing college that offers care for sexual abuse survivors.


“Working at Penn State has been an incredibly enriching experience for me,” says Sister Agnes. Having found a community of students, faculty, and nursing administrators who share the Catholic faith, Sister says, “I feel valued and appreciated by everyone in Happy Valley no matter what faith they profess.” Penn State marks the third time Sister Agnes has moved from teaching in a Catholic-based institution, such as Immaculata University, to a secular one. She previously taught at the Pennsylvania College of Health

Sciences and had a nursing practice position at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. “These transitions have taught me that regardless of religious affiliation, individuals share common traits and needs. I've learned the value of embracing diversity, fostering understanding across different belief systems, and finding common ground in our shared humanity.” Although only at Penn State a short time, Sister says, “Teaching these students has been more than a job, it has been a source of true joy! Their enthusiasm and energy inspire and motivate me.” In gauging the impact of her religious presence on campus, Sister says students perceive her as both “a curiosity and a trusted confidant.” As for the Penn State faculty, they have become like family. “I'm privileged to work in an environment where my values align closely with my colleagues, where there’s a shared commitment to excellence making a difference in the field of nursing.”


learning experience but fosters camaraderie and connection among students.” Creating an environment where students thrive and realize their full potential is her primary goal. “Ultimately, I hope to inspire and empower students to become lifelong learners equipped to make a positive impact in their communities and beyond.”


In the classroom, Sister provides a “safe space” for students to become the best version of themselves. Participation is encouraged, learning is embraced, and mistakes are welcome. “I see mistakes as invaluable learning opportunities for students to grow and develop.” Humor is key in her approach to teaching. “Laughter not only enhances the overall

Sister accompanies her students to a local hospital offering handson training that goes beyond the classroom. “In the hospital setting, vulnerability is heightened. Patients frequently seek solace and reassurance and turn to me for conversation, seeking a sense of peace and well-being. It’s not uncommon for patients or students to approach me for prayer and even for baptism in two extenuating circumstances. These moments are deeply significant to me highlighting the universality of human experiences and the importance of compassion and empathy regardless of religious differences.”


In addition to teaching, Sister Agnes conducts research at the SAFE-T (Sexual Assault Forensic Examination and Training) Research Center in State College. Dr. J.G. Noll and a collaborative team at Penn State University's Translational Center for Child Maltreatment Studies (TCCMS) have been granted $7,716,839 by the NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health

Sister Agnes is in her "happy place" in Happy Valley – spending time in the classroom with her nursing students.

and Human Development. This grant-funded program (2017 – 2028) within Penn State’s College of Nursing offers telehealth technology available 24/7 to remotely connect partner hospitals with expert nurses who assist during sexual assault examinations. Sister Agnes is among a team of experts in this field of examination and care.


“Journeys involve deliberate movement, not just sitting around waiting for things to happen,” Sister Agnes says. Her call to religious life began in early childhood when she visited her Aunt Nellie (Sister Mary Regina), a Dominican Sister. “It opened my eyes to a new world. I was overwhelmed with a sense of joy and wonder and a feeling of home. I felt a strong connection with God and a new idea of a life as a religious sister.” After graduating from high school, Sister worked at a law firm until receiving a call from Sister Mary Rosina Burns offering her a position at Camilla Hall, a decision that changed her life. “Working as a nurse’s aide provided me with invaluable insights teaching me how to attend to the sisters' healthcare needs and offering a glimpse into the rich lives led by retired and infirm sisters.” At Camilla, she was influenced by Mother Maria Pacis, former General Superior of the IHM Congregation, who visited the resident sisters daily. “I witnessed Mother Pacis’ humble spirit which connected with each sister leaving them uplifted after their interactions. She exemplified the peace-filled lifestyle that I hoped to replicate.” It was at the bedside of Mother Pacis at the time of her passing that Sister Agnes says, “I knew for sure that I would become an IHM.”


After entering religious life in 1987, Sister Agnes pursued her passion for nursing. As a nursing student, she discovered a fascination with the complexities of the human body and also the transformative power of compassionate care. The

turning point came when she taught medical interns at the Penn State College of Medicine and mentored new nurses in the Neuroscience Unit at Hershey Medical Center. “Seeing their personal and professional growth filled me with a profound sense of fulfillment. I then realized my true calling – to nurture and empower aspiring nurses to thrive in their practice.” This led to a career in nursing education, blending her love of nursing with her passion for inspiring and educating others. It’s a calling she lives out today.


When not in the classroom or conducting research, Sister gives back to the State College community. She is a lector and Eucharistic minister at the Suzanne Paterno Catholic Center on campus. She’s also involved with the Diocese of Altoona/Johnstown where she has participated in an elementary school program on All Saints Day and talked to high school students about vocations. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, taking walks on the beach, baking, and reading mystery novels. What brings her the most joy is the time spent with her nursing students, fulfilling the desire God placed on her heart to “cultivate a legacy of compassionate and competent caregivers for years to come.”

“Teaching these students has been more than a job, it has been a source of true joy! Their enthusiasm and energy inspire and motivate me.”
Sister Agnes provides her nursing students with hands-on training at a local hospital.

Powerhouse Presence CAMILLA HALL

Powerhouse of Prayer and Action


Camilla Hall, the Health Care Center and Convent Home of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, is accurately known as the Powerhouse of Prayer. Prayer intentions sent via phone, note, or the Camilla website are held in the prayers of the sisters as a sacred ministry. But did you know that the sisters in Camilla are active supporters and participants in many issues and avenues of social justice not only with prayer but also with advocacy, education, and charity?

Every IHM local community has a social justice representative and

Sister Mary Lydon serves in that role at Camilla. She works with a team of sisters who meet monthly to focus on one topic of local or world-wide need. They decide what means of action and/or charity they will suggest to the sisters. One of their first steps is devising simple and clear ways to educate the sisters on the issue or need. This may be posters on bulletin boards, explanations on closed circuit TV, or even trifolds of information on the dining room tables.

Sister Mary Lydon is clear that being involved in promoting Catholic social justice is not new to the sisters who served in various ministries for years before coming to reside in

Camilla. As Sister Mary says, “All ministries done in the Gospel spirit of love for all people is a ministry of social justice.” Freed from full-time ministry, the sisters can now devote extra attention and time to become more aware and engaged.


How does all this happen? Let us count at least some of the ways…

1. The prayer powerhouse burns bright as sisters participate in prayerful reflections on the world’s needs. Director of Spiritual Enrichment in Camilla, Sister Mary Chamberlain, often provides aspects of social justice during times of evening prayer with awareness of specific needs. During March, Women’s History Month, the sisters gathered for a special service interceding with Mother Theresa Maxis, a co-founder of our IHM Congregation, for the realization of respect for equity, equality, and diversity for all people. Each Friday during Lent, the sisters joined together to pray the Stations of the Cross. At each station, the current suffering of God’s people was joined with the suffering of the Lord. For example, at the eleventh station when Jesus is nailed to the cross, the sisters prayed, “Do we mourn

The Camilla Hall Social Justice Committee (pictured from left to right): S. Mary Lydon, S. Rosemary Davis, S. Therese Paull, S. Christine Mary Remington, S. Janice Therese Urbanec, and S. Alma Marie Walls.

for those nailed to the cross of poverty and homelessness as if they were our own [family members]?”

2. In conjunction with the IHM commitment to Pope Francis’ plea in his encyclical, Laudato Si’, to care for the earth, our common home, the sisters consciously conserve water and recycle to help provide a bountiful earth for future generations.

3. Advocating for justice is done by contacting county, state and federal policymakers through letter writing and phone calls. The sisters are a proud part of the Alliance to End Human Trafficking which is founded and supported by U.S. Catholic Sisters. Other issues in which they have gathered with pen or phone in hand are climate control, reduction in gun violence, pro-life issues, funding for agricultural education in poor countries, and the humane treatment of immigrants at the border.

4. In charity they share their limited funds, supporting

• IHM sisters in Peru to help with the construction of a new school;

• IHM Literacy Center sites to prepare immigrants and their families to integrate into American life and move toward citizenship;

• Sisters at the border who offer gentle and helpful care for transient immigrants;

• Catholic Relief Services* Rice Bowl Initiative during Lent and one other crisis issue during the year to help CRS meet world-wide needs caused by poverty, strife in areas of conflict, or natural disasters.

5. In addition to monetary support, the sisters lend their hearts and hands four nights a week to make meals for the homebound, supplying over 18,000 meals in the past eight years. At Christmas, they write cards to the people being cared for at Mother of Mercy Center in Kensington assuring each one that they are remembered and loved. In February, Black History Month, sisters wrote notes to the 8th grade students at The Gesu School in Philadelphia celebrating with them and

encouraging them to continue to grow in Christian values. In return, Gesu students came to Camilla and serenaded the sisters with great musical notes!

Pope Paul VI said, “If you want peace, work for justice.” How grateful we are for our Camilla sisters, shining examples of those who desire peace so dearly. They work wholeheartedly, IHM heartedly, for justice!

*Due to their continued and generous participation in Rice Bowl and other CRS initiatives, Camilla Hall is now recognized as a chapter of CRS. Former Regional Director of CRS, Maureen McCullough, formally presented a Certificate of Appreciation on January 30, 2024. CRS is the official arm of the U.S. Bishops to those suffering oversees and is committed to prayer and action for world-wide needs.


Camilla residents write letters to policymakers advocating for adaptive farming methods for poor farmers oversees.

A Journey of Hospitality and Service

In the 1990s, an unexpected encounter between the IHMs and an African religious congregation led to a journey of sisterhood, hospitality, and service that still exists today. It all began when the IHMs crossed paths with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Mombasa, Kenya, a congregation founded in 1938 with ministries in education, health care, pastoral care, and social work.


The connection between the IHM Congregation and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Mombasa originated when several sisters from the African Congregation were invited to serve in Williamsburg, Virginia. Those sisters eventually moved to Virginia Beach where they met sisters from the IHM Congregation. In search of a place to live, the IHM sisters welcomed the Sisters of St. Joseph

with open arms. They invited the African sisters to join them in their convent home at St. Gregory the Great Parish in Virginia Beach. The rest they say is “history.”


The relationship between the two Congregations grew in the early 2000s when former Superior General, Sister Ursula Lyimo, SSJ and former local Superior, Sister Helene Joseph Kollar, IHM, met at St. Gregory the Great Convent in Virginia where the IHM sisters’ offer of hospitality began. After their meeting, Sister Helene invited Sister Ursula to visit Camilla Hall, the retirement and nursing home of the IHM sisters in Malvern, PA. Sister Ursula made the journey to Camilla and met with former Camilla Hall Administrator, Sister Margaret Gradl, marking the beginning of

a partnership between the two Congregations. An agreement was formed offering two sisters from the African Congregation the opportunity to reside and work at Camilla Hall as nursing assistants for a five-year period. In exchange, the sisters would receive a stipend to help support their Congregation in Mombasa.


In the early 2000s, the first two sisters from the Sisters of St. Joseph of Mombasa arrived at Camilla Hall. Two more sisters joined them to work at Camilla while studying at Immaculata University.

“We came to the U.S. to share our missionary work with the people we live and interact with including different religious communities,” says Sister Elizabeth Kithuva, SSJ. “The sisters receive an education, work to support our missionary efforts in Africa, and continue to witness the evangelizing and saving mission of Christ in the United States and in other nations.”

Sister Anne Veronica, former Treasurer of the IHM Congregation and former Camilla Hall Administrator adds, “The presence of the Sisters of Saint Joseph is so much more than providing employment for Camilla Hall. They have opened the eyes and hearts of the IHM Congregation to the needs of the church in Africa.”

Sisters of St. Joseph, Mombasa, pictured from left to right: S. Terry Oyiera, S. Gladys Ochego, S. Eunice Kadogo, and S. Lydia Yala.


Under the current agreement, the IHMs extend hospitality to four sisters from the SSJ Mombasa Congregation who arrive with a specific mission – to provide healthcare services at Camilla and to receive an education at Immaculata University. When their work or studies are completed, some sisters return to Africa while keeping in touch with the IHM sisters who have become like family; others apply for a permanent residency to remain in the U.S.

Today, there continues to be four sisters from the Sisters of St. Joseph who reside at Camilla Hall. Sister Gladys Ochego and Sister Eunice Kadogo, graduates of Immaculata University, are working full time as registered nurses at Camilla. Sister Terry (Therese) Oyiera also works at Camilla while completing her nursing degree at Immaculata. Sister Lydia Yala works at Camilla and is also a part-time student taking prerequisite classes at Delaware County Community College in preparation for pursuing a degree in nursing.

“I thank the IHM Sisters for inviting us to the United States,” says Sister Gladys. “It has been a good experience coming here and

learning how to work and interact in a new culture.” Sister Eunice shares her sentiments, “Camilla is a nice place to live and work. I am thankful for the scholarship to study at Immaculata and get my nursing degree. I have learned to be grateful for the small things in life. I feel at home here. The IHM sisters include us in many activities. I feel like I am one of them.”

Sister Terry couldn’t agree more. “The IHM sisters have been supporting our sisters by providing us with a comfortable home environment. They have provided for all our needs and consider us a part of their community. We celebrate together and enjoy each other’s company. The IHMs have been a blessing to us by providing us with a home away from home.”

Sister Lydia says that despite the distance from her family and her congregation, she doesn’t feel homesick. “Being here has been a source of inspiration. It is a home away from home. I am grateful for the sisters who have helped me get my green card. I am who I am because of them.”


In gratitude for the gift of hospitality and the ongoing partnership between the two Congregations, Sister Elizabeth says, “Words cannot

express the great work done by the IHM sisters. They are a role model in the evangelizing and saving mission of Christ. Their hospitality is second to none. They welcome us in their home, feed us, clothe us, give us shelter, and make the impossible possible. Thank you, Sisters!”

When not working at Camilla Hall, Sister Terry (left) and Sister Lydia (right) are busy with their nursing studies. Sister Eunice reviews important patient information. Sister Gladys puts a smile on the face of Camilla resident, Sister Mary Jane McDonnell.

Companions in Prayer and Ministry

IHM COMPANION "Happenings"

Pilgrimage to IHM Cemetery

Each November, as the people of God pray for the souls who have passed on to their eternal reward, there is a special group of IHM Companions who make their way as pilgrims to the IHM cemetery at Camilla to pray for the deceased IHM sisters as well as their departed loved ones.

Sister Rosemary DePaul and IHM Companions from St. Patrick Parish, Norristown, PA journeyed to the IHM cemetery to pray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary moving from section to section as they prayed and sang. Upon conclusion of the rosary, they prayed a beautiful litany to our Blessed Mother for all the holy souls.

Their hymns, prayerful procession and companionship with the Congregation is a sight to behold and a treasure of grace and love. Notice the smiles of the 21 pilgrims pictured above who participated in November of 2023.

Field Trip to Heritage Room

In December, several IHM Companion groups visited Villa Maria House of Studies to experience the new Heritage Room under the direction of Sister Helene Thomas. The Heritage Room showcases the history of the IHM Congregation through technology displays and artifacts. Companions from SS. Simon and Jude Parish, along with Sisters Mary Agnes Ryan and Barbara Jude Gentry, took a guided tour of the Heritage Room to learn more about the Congregation’s humble beginnings. Our Mother of Perpetual Help Companions, along with Sister Anne Philip from Camilla Hall, and the Villa Maria Companions led by Sister Francis Helen, also toured the Heritage Room this past December. Following the tour, the Companions had the opportunity to ask questions and share their experiences of how IHM sisters have influenced their faith journey. For a tour of the IHM Heritage Room showcasing the Congregation’s history, artifacts, and present-day ministries, contact Sister Helene Thomas at 610-647-2160, Ext. 1922.

For more information about Companions in Prayer and Ministry contact S. Francis Helen Murphy, IHM 1 Our Lady Circle, Malvern, PA 19355 • 610-647-2160, Ext. 1925 • ihmcompanions@gmail.com



Sister Mary P. McKinley

Sister Incarnata Maria DiPilla


Sister Virginia Assumpta McNabb

Sister Rita Marie Martin

Sister Marian Anne Smith

Sister Bernadette M. Lyons

Sister Regina Anthony Kane

Sister M. Claire Sullivan

C ongratulations 2024 J ubilarians!

Sister M. Jamesina Silvano

Sister Rosemary Davis

Sister M. Josephine McDonald

Sister Anne Marie Loftus

Sister Norine Mary Quinn

Sister M. Rose McHugh

Sister Joan Maureen Martin


Sister Marian Bernadette Chuk

Sister M. Teresa Vincent Kozlowski

Sister M. Julia Ann Walsh

Sister M. Margaret Patrice Reinking

Sister Mariann Guiniven

Sister Kathleen M. Looby

Sister M. Judith Ann Trumbore

Sister Margaret M. Shields

Sister M. Helen David Brancato

Sister Mary Rita Logue

Sister M. Ellen Thomas Ertel

Sister M. Anne Edward Dalton

Sister M. Kathryn Donze

Sister Jeannine Marie O’Kane

Sister Marie Renee Murphy

Sister M. Arleen McCann

Sister M. Patricia Anne McGuigan

Sister M. Agnes Andrew Logan

Sister Rose Lawrence Harlan

Sister Maureen Agnes Eggert


Sister M. Hannah Miller

Sister M. Brenda Anne Query

Sister M. Diane Frances Licordare

Sister Virginia Paschall

Sister Mary Ellen Diehl

Recognize a name? Would you like to send a congratulatory note? Send your message to IHM Mission Advancement + 230 IHM Drive + Malvern, PA 19355 or missionadv@ihmimm.org


Villa Maria House of Studies Has Fun at Work!

Who says work can’t be fun? On January 23, Villa Maria House of Studies celebrated "National Have Fun at Work Day." The sisters and staff enjoyed a carnival-themed luncheon complete with chicken fingers, corn dogs, soft pretzels, and funnel cakes. Everyone participated in some friendly competition with indoor games of cornhole, checkers, Jenga, and mini-golf. Many also won some great door prizes. What a blessing it was to have the opportunity to relax and enjoy some fellowship and fun with one another. A great time was had by all!

Planting New Seeds

The IHM Congregation is growing… vegetables, herbs, and fruit that is! Plans are underway to expand the current vegetable garden, which consists of one raised garden bed, and replace it with five new beds. The beds for the garden will be sourced locally and will be constructed from wood taken from the Eastern Hemlock tree – the “official” tree of Pennsylvania. Rain basins will be used to collect water to help the garden grow. The expanded garden will offer the kitchen staff at Villa Maria House of Studies the opportunity to promote sustainability by providing “farm to table” food to the resident sisters. It’s also a way for the sisters to heed Pope Francis’ call to “care for our common home.”

Stay tuned for the next issue of IHM Sisters On Mission to see how the garden has grown!

Explore the IHM Spirituality Center

Did you know that the IHM Spirituality Center on the grounds of Villa Maria House of Studies (IHM Motherhouse) in Malvern, PA has space for both personal and group retreats? The center can accommodate groups of up to 38 people for overnight retreats and up to 100 people for days of retreat or reflection. A newly renovated and enhanced state-of-the art Presentation Room with theater seating is available on-site along with two chapels, dining facilities, and a variety of gathering rooms. The Spirituality Center is surrounded by beautiful grounds for walking and praying. For more information, visit ihmimmaculata.org and click the Prayer/Retreat Opportunities menu at the top of the page or contact Sister Anne Marie Stegmaier, Director of Programs at the IHM Spirituality Center, at ihmspcenter@gmail.com or 610-647-4136.

Guests will enjoy the newly renovated state-of-the-art Presentation Room at the Spirituality Center.

The original garden bed pictured above will be replaced by five new beds containing a variety of vegetables and herbs.

Dwelling now in light, yet ever near

S. Rosa Maria Arenas 12.22.23 S. Marie Jeannine Dawson 12.25.23 S. Mary Cuthberta Dick 1.2.24 S. Marie Geraldine Timlin 2.5.24 S. Miriam George Kelly 2.13.24 Sister Mary Hickey (Sister Joseph Regina) 4.29.24 S. M. Catarin P. Conjar (S. Regina Carol) 3.16.24 Sister Roberta Marie Mattox 4.29.24

Congregation of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Office of Mission Advancement

230 IHM Drive

Malvern, PA 19355 (610) 647-2160 Ext. 1926

missionadv@ihmimm.org www.ihmimmaculata.org


Mission Statement

Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Immaculata, Pennsylvania, proclaim the Gospel message in the spirit of Jesus the Redeemer.

Strengthened by a life of vowed consecration, nurtured by prayer and the Eucharist, and sustained by community living, we radiate joyful service and promote Gospel values, offering compassion to all God’s people through our mission to evangelize, to catechize, and to teach.

Camilla Hall Oktoberfest

Rain or Shine

A day of food, fun, festivities

Mark your calendar for Saturday, October 5, 2024

IHM Sisters – On Mission Magazine

Development & Content Specialist

Suzanne Misciagna


Sister Carolyn M. Dimick

Sister Jeannine M. Norton

Be a member of the Alphonsus Liguori Legacy Society through a future gift to the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

To request a brochure, contact missionadv@ihmimm.org

Go Green

– Go Online

. . . type in the url address: www.ihmimmaculata.org CLICK . . . the DONATE button (top of homepage)

THAT EASY! and thank you for your contribution!

Our database was developed internally from relatives, friends, former students and associates of the IHM Congregation. The office neither buys nor sells lists of names; however, we are always happy to receive new names from you, our readers. Please feel free to send us the names of those who might enjoy receiving our publications three times a year.

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