A MONTHLY NEWSLETTER PRODUCED EXCLUSIVELY FOR OUR SISTERS
NEWS & NOTES
Season of Creation - Sept. 1 - Oct. 4
SEPTEMBER NEWS Pope's Prayer Intention for September
An Environmentally Sustainable Lifestyle - We pray that we all will make courageous choices for a simple and environmentally sustainable lifestyle, rejoicing in our young people who are resolutely committed to this.
NEWLY PROFESSED “Our Lord Jesus Christ suffering in the persons of a multitude of sick and infirm of every kind, seeks relief at your hands.”
On August 14, 2021, Sisters Benedetta Kalekye Malindi, Juana Matías Tomás, and Sharon Apiyo Anam made their first profession of vows at Villa de Matel Chapel, in Houston, Texas. The Sisters gathered for the Holy Eucharist, presided over by Fr. Evaristus Chukwu, Missionary Society of St. Paul. Sr. Kevina Keating, our Congregational Leader, received their vows. - Sr. Helena Adaku Ogbuji
NEWS & NOTES
"We thank God for our gifts, and we ask that we may be God’s true brides, authentic teachers of faith, intrepid missionaries, spiritual mothers, and living models of Bishop Dubuis’ zeal, our three founding Sisters’ courage, and our Blessed Mother Mary’s silent pondering and fearless faith. "
NEWS & NOTES
NEWLY PROFESSED, CON'T
A Message from Sisters Benedetta, Juana and Sharon During the Mass, Fr. Evaristus reminded us that religious life is for those who are seeking God in order to abide in God’s holiness; it is a life of total surrender and prayer, rather than affluence, prestige, or wealth. The liturgy was very beautiful. As we pronounced our vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, we felt humbled to continue to be the healing hands of Jesus through the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word. Although we missed the physical presence of our family members and our loved ones, our spiritual oneness with them was felt throughout the celebration. Following the Mass, we gathered for a reception with all present enjoying delicious meals, cake, and entertainment. It was a joyful celebration, and we were filled with joy and gratitude. We thank God, who chose us to be His handmaids. We thank Sr. Kevina Keating and her Council for accepting us as members of this Congregation. We are grateful for all our formators from the time when we were discerning our vocation into this Congregation until now when we are making our first annual vows. We especially thank Sr. Helena for all the preparations she made for making our first profession so very meaningful. We thank our spiritual directors, prayer companions, our family members, friends, CCVI Sisters, all who have supported us on our journey, and those who have prayed for and with us. May God’s blessings be upon you all. God has chosen, dedicated, and appointed us to be true witnesses on behalf of the Congregation, the Church, the world, and all the people we will meet along the way. We thank God for our gifts, and we ask that we may be God’s true brides, authentic teachers of faith, intrepid missionaries, spiritual mothers, and living models of Bishop Dubuis’ zeal, our three founding Sisters’ courage, and our Blessed Mother Mary’s silent pondering and fearless faith. Your continuous prayer and support are most appreciated and welcomed. We love you all and we will pray for you too. Praised be the Incarnate Word. Forever! With sincere gratitude from your Sisters, Benedetta, Juana, and Sharon NEWS & NOTES
A JOYFILLED CELEBRATION
With Sr. Kevina Keating, CCVI, Congregation Leader, who received their vows. NEWS & NOTES
CONGRATULATIONS & BLESSINGS! TO SR. FRIDAH KIRITO MUNJURI WHO ENTERED THE NOVITIATE ON AUGUST 15, 2021
Photos: left to right, Sr. Elizabeth Ann Hayes, Sr. Fridah and Sr. Edith Bulubisi Wasike
“The purpose of the novitiate is initiation into religious life through the experience of communal and personal prayer, solitude and quiet; instruction in religious life and the vows, and in the spirit and mission of the congregation. Emphasis is also placed on the novice’s personal integration of her apostolic work and her life of prayer and community.” Article 64, CCVI Constitution.
NEWS & NOTES
“Only in love can I find You, my God. In Love the gates of my soul spring open, allowing me to breathe a new air of freedom and forget my own petty self. In love my whole being streams forth out of the rigid confines of narrowness and anxious self-assertion, which make me a prisoner of my own poverty and emptiness. In love all the powers of my soul flow out toward you, wanting never to return, but to lose themselves completely in you, since by your love you are the inmost center of my heart, closer to me than I am to myself. Amen Fr. Karl Rahner, S. J.
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WORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOR THE CARE OF CREATION SEPT 1, 2021
THE SEASON OF CREATION Each year, particularly since the publication of the Encyclical Laudato Si’ (LS, 24 May 2015), the first day of September is celebrated by the Christian family as the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation and the beginning of the Season of Creation, which concludes on the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi on the fourth of October. During this period, Christians worldwide renew their faith in the God of creation and join in prayer and work for the care of our common home. The theme for this year's celebration is Renewing the Oikos of God. The word Oikos comes from ancient Greek and can be attributed to two meanings: “house” or “family." In this way, both concepts are integrated in a very meaningful way for us since the word house refers to the physical inhabited place, our common home, the planet Earth, and the family are those who inhabit the home, all the species that inhabit our common home. Our family is made up of the whole of humanity and each of the species that inhabit this planet forms our home, our common home, a home for all. Our home is in danger, the climate crisis causes the loss of habitats and ecosystems that are home to millions of species, this also includes us, humans, our home is endangered by climate disasters and conflicts, so it needs to be renewed. Our baptismal call urges us to renew the whole Earth, so that life can flourish. Source: SeasonofCreation.org
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WHAT CAN YOU DO THIS SEASON? Last year, the Ignatian Solidarity Network created a Season of Creation challenge, encouraging people to start simple with one new daily habit for a healthy planet. Step one: Choose ONE daily action to repeat each day throughout the 34 days that will renew your relationship with creation or that will allow you to explore a radical new way of living with creation. Step two: Take the pledge to commit to ONE action repeated daily throughout the 34 days of the Season of Creation to build a new environmental habit you’ve been meaning to get around to but haven’t made time for. Need ideas? The Ignatian Solidarity Network has 100s. Click here for more, but see some ideas below. Walk in a park once a week. Take shorter showers. (time yourself!) Don't buy anything new for a month. Avoid sodas, to-go coffees, bottled water and snacks that produce waste. Pray that those who are most vulnerable find sustainability through the earth. Take items out of the dryer early and hang some directly from the washer. Eat meat only once a day. Abstain from meat one or more days a week. Eat everything on your plate. Compost table scraps and vegetable cuttings Turn the water off when you brush your teeth. Turn off lights each time you leave a room. Take an extra-long walk outside. Pick up litter you see in public places. Reread Laudato Si' Pray the Rosary outside. Weed the flower beds. Spread the word about environmental webinars and lectures. Avoid single-use plastics for a whole day. Learn about environmental racism NEWS & NOTES
NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER - EARTH BEAT, STORIES OF CLIMATE CRISIS, FAITH AND ACTION. The below article appeared in the National Catholic Review on August 27, 2021, and features comments by Sr. Ricca Dimalibot. Note: One of Sr. Ricca's comments was misinterpreted regarding her treating Guatemalan patients at Point of Light Clinic. Sr. Ricca was speaking about other Congregational outreach efforts to vulnerable groups in Houston.
AS TEMPERATURES RISE WITH CLIMATE CHANGE, HOW CAN HOUSTON BEAT THE HEAT? AUG 27, 2021 BY NUSHIN HUQ
HOUSTON — Hot and humid is the norm for a Houston summer, and air conditioning and staying inside during peak heat are necessities. But many Houstonians can’t take refuge from the heat and are prone to severe heat-related illnesses. Sr. Ricca Dimalibot, a physician and member of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, attends to patients suffering from effects of extreme heat. Dimalibot is medical director of the CHRISTUS Point of Light Clinic, which provides health care to uninsured and underserved in the Greater Houston area. Her patients include workers with outdoor jobs, elderly people and families that live in large family units. Patients often come into her office with flushed faces because they don't have air conditioning in their cars. "Many of our patients are the ones who are doing yard work, construction or working in the kitchen, which is also very hot," Dimalibot said. "We’ve had so many suffer from heat strokes. The effects of the heat encompass all the organs of the body, and we've had patients who were really in total system breakdown. Most of them are those who had been working outside in the heat." TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE, CLICK HERE.
NEWS & NOTES
MARY'S TIMELESS PRAYER BY SR. FRANCESCA KEARNS, CCVI
Mary’s joyful proclamation of the goodness of God in all of creation reverberates for all time. The Magnificat opens with Mary’s expression of her gladness, rejoicing that God has regarded her lowly state. Her words echo those of the Hebrew Scriptures and announce the liberation of the Incarnation. Mary’s is a revolutionary prayer, the song of a faith-filled young woman conscious of her limits yet confident of God’s mercy. She gives thanks to God for looking upon her lowliness and for the work of Salvation that he has brought about for the people, the poor and the humble. Faith is at the heart of Mary’s entire story. Mary presents us with an inspiration and a challenge. She inspires us to listen to God and challenges us to be instruments of carrying his mercy to the poor. Mary’s words spring from her trust that God is always on the side of the poor, the anawim. Mary addresses God as Holy One, Mighty One, and Savior. God acts in history to bring all to the reign of justice, closing the gap between the powerful and the powerless, the proud and the humble. The reign of God breaks into human history and will prevail because God is totally faithful to the end of time. Through the ages nations and powers have feared the proclamation of the freedom of the poor and their loss of control of the masses. Hence, the Magnificent has been outlawed in many lands and cultures when it brings to light God’s call to distribute his gifts for the common good and the service of all, including the unborn child, the poor and the immigrant. Mary introduces herself as one in whom God has done great things because of his goodness. She proclaims boldly that our greatest glory and gift lies in God choosing us and making us the instruments of his salvation. Our fundamental dignity lies in God’s choice of us. Thus we are freed from any dependence on earthly powers. The glorious news is that our dignity is from above and can never be captured by external earthly powers. In Hebrew Scriptures when one receives a blessing it is to be shared with the whole community. Thus Mary as a poor one speaks from the community of the poor and for them.
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The hymn is uttered in a major transitional time from Hebrew Scriptures to the living Word of the One that has been promised for the liberation of his people. The hymn sets the tone for Luke’s gospel, introducing the journey of Mary and Jesus. Mary speaks as a person certain of God’s everlasting covenant. God has solemnly promised to hold the people as his own. Mary knows that by God’s gracious mystery she carries within her the fulfillment of that promise; she is the new ark of the covenant. According to Pope Benedict, the Virgin Mary is conscious that she has a mission to fulfill for humanity and that her life is framed in the history of salvation. Thus she can say: "His mercy is from age to age on those who fear him”. With this praise to the Lord, the Virgin gives voice to all creatures redeemed after her "fiat," who in the figure of Jesus, born of the Virgin, find the mercy of God. Mary’s words assure us that God’s covenant is from generation to generation. She also shows us how we might incarnate God’s dream for us. When she visits her cousin Elizabeth she honors the mysterious work of God in both of them.The scene of the Visitation is one of joyful recognition of the mighty deeds of the Lord. Far from false humility, Mary praises, and even prophesies that all generations will call her blessed. However, all praise goes to God her savior. Mary comes into Elizabeth’s presence respectful that she is also called to carry out the covenant God. Both are united in the recognition of the gracious presence of God in their lives. The example of Mary and Elizabeth calls us to focus on the gracious mystery of God’s work in each of our lives. With her faith, her keen gaze and her words, Elizabeth helps the Virgin to understand more fully the greatness of what God is accomplishing in her and the mission that he has entrusted to her. Ronald Rolheiser, O.M.I. encourages us to take the example of respect and interdependence of the Visitation as a guide for responding in our own times of polarization in religion, politics and culture. We need each other to understand the full revelation of the incarnation. It is only with trust that the Spirit still groans in all of creation that we can bring creation to the fullness that God desires for us. The Visitation and the words of the Magnificat mirror the encounter that Pope Francis is inviting religious to live in the work of synodality. Mary waits for Elizabeth to speak first and her hymn of praise responds to this initiative. The Visitation reminds us that without recognizing that the other carries the divine, none of us will ever pray the Eucharist for the many. In recent months Pope Francis reminds religious, in communion with the Church, to seek God's will and to transform it into life that can awaken the world, to sing a New Magnificat. NEWS & NOTES
Remembering September 8th As an aid in nurturing our heritage as Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, we commemorate with devotion September 8th, Birth of Mary and the commemoration of the Great Storm in 1900.
Mosaic of the 1900 Galveston Storm, St. Ann Convent, Villa de Matel, Houston, TX
NEWS & NOTES
The St. Mary’s Orphans’ Home Tragedy in the 1900 Galveston Hurricane May 17, 2020 Al Befeld - Angleton, Texas The year 1900 and the island and the St. Mary’s Orphans’ Home 3 miles from the city of Galveston. It stood by the beach, all alone. 10 Sisters of Charity had the orphans in their care. There were 2 large homes made of wood with 94 boys and girls living there. Then came the 8th of September and the rapidly rising wind and sea. The Sisters knew that the girls’ home was the stronger place for everyone to be. They led the boys to the girls’ home. And the storm would come with fiercer might. They led all the children to the second floor while the sea kept surging to greater height. The Sisters and the children sang the old French hymn that was called “Queen of the Waves”. And the storm surge would soon strike harder, and the peril became more grave. Each Sister had many children with her, for fear the children would be swept away. And the mighty storm raged on and the home soon fell that terrible day. The Sisters gave everything they had. All the precious children they tried to save, but only 3 children would survive while all the Sisters, their lives they gave. The Sisters gave everything they had. All the precious children they tried to save, but only 3 children would survive while all the Sisters, their lives they gave. The Sisters and the children, their spirits in Heaven. Together in the Heaven of love. The Sisters and the children, their spirits in Heaven. Together in the Heaven of love.
NEWS & NOTES
Sr. Catarina and Sr. Madeleva's recent visit to the site of St. Mary's Orphan Asylum
Quote: By an unknown Native American
CHRISTUS ST. MARY'S CLINIC AND ST. AUSTIN CENTER WELCOME GUESTS IN CELEBRATION OF THE CLINIC'S 10TH ANNIVERSARY BY MONICA HATCHER, SOCIAL CONCERNS DIRECTOR
A fter a y ear of s tri n gen t COVI D-1 9 p recauti on s , s taff at the n ewl y ren ovated CHRI ST U S St. Mary Cl i n i c an d St. A us ti n 's Cen ter were fi n al l y abl e to throw op en the d oors an d s how off s p arkl i n g n ew d i gs to ben efactors an d other gues ts at an op en hous e an d recep ti on on A ug. 1 1. Rep res en tati ves from Val ero, CHRI ST U S Foun d ati on for Heal thCare an d CCVI Si s ters al on g wi th fri en d s ol d an d n ew took s taggered tours of the bui l d i n g an d en joy ed refres hmen ts i n a muted cel ebrati on , s ti l l mi n d ful of s oci al d i s tan ci n g ami d the Del ta vari an t. A formal chri s ten i n g an d ri bbon -cutti n g for the bui l d i n g was can cel ed i n 20 20 becaus e of the p an d emi c. T he n ewl y refurbi s hed cen ter, l ocated at 20 02 S. Way s i d e i n Hous ton , was ren ovated al mos t two y ears ago to al l ow for a better fl ow of offi ces an d cl as s rooms . Bri ght n ew p ai n t, fl oori n g an d furn i s hi n gs were chos en to make a wel comi n g en vi ron men t for the bui l d i n g's s ervi ce organ i zati on s an d thei r con s ti tuen ts . A n chori n g the cen ter i s the n ew CHRI ST U S St. Mary 's Cl i n i c, whi ch treats s ome 2 0,000 p ati en ts an n ual l y . Wi th 30,00 0 s quare feet of exp an d ed offi ce s p ace, St. Mary 's i s p os i ti on ed to s erve the growi n g heal th n eed s of the commun i ty as i t embarks on an other d ecad e of mi n i s try to the un d ers erved . " St. Mary 's Cl i n i c an d St. A us ti n 's Cen ter are cl ear i n d i cati on s that the mi s s i on of the Si s ters of Chari ty of the I n carn ate Word to " care for the p oor an d s i ck of every ki n d ..." con ti n ues , " s ai d Sr. Ros an n e P op p , CCVI , a d octor an d the cl i n i c's med i cal d i rector. NEWS & NOTES
" A n d a s from the be gi n n i n g of the mi n i s try i n Ga l ve s ton , our mi n i s try i s s uc c e s s ful be c a us e of the ge n e ros i ty of ma n y d on ors a n d c ol l a bora tors . W e a re s o p roud tha t we ha ve be e n a bl e to grow the c l i n i c from a s ma l l c l i n i c p rovi d i n g me d i c a l s e rvi c e s to a fe w to a Ce n te r to s e rve the c ommun i ty wi th a va ri e ty of s e rvi c e s to i mp rove the ove ra l l he a l th of the c ommun i ty ," Sr. Ros a n n e s a i d . St. A us ti n Ce n te r a l s o hous e s the Con gre ga ti on ' s St. A us ti n Li te ra c y Ce n te r, whi c h offe rs robus t E n gl i s h l a n gua ge a n d c i ti ze n s hi p c l a s s e s to a d ul ts ; LI FE Hous ton , a food ba n k for ba bi e s ; U n i te d A ga i n s t Huma n T ra ffi c k i n g; K ri s t Sa ma ri ta n Coun s e l i n g; a n d offi c e s for the E a s t E n d Commun i ti e s Col l a bora ti ve a n d Chi c a n os P or La Ca us a . CCVI ' s Rua h Sp i ri tua l i ty Ce n te r ha s a s ma l l c ha p e l a n d a n offi c e for s p i ri tua l d i re c ti on . T he Con gre ga ti on ' s Soc i a l Con c e rn s Mi n i s try re l oc a te d to the c e n te r i n e a rl y 2 0 2 0 . " W e we re s o p l e a s e d to fi n a l l y be a bl e to s ha re thi s won d e rful n e w s p a c e wi th a l l thos e whos e s up p ort he l p e d ma k e thi s re n ova ti on a n d e xp a n s i on p os s i bl e . W e ' re n ow re a d y to c on ti n ue d e l i ve ri n g on our mi s s i on to re s i d e n ts i n the E a s t E n d a n d be y on d " s a i d Sr. Chri s ti n a Murp hy , CCVI , d i re c tor of St. A us ti n Ce n te r.
NEWS & NOTES
"THE REALM OF TRANSFORMATION: CREATING SPACE FOR THE FUTURE" - A RESPONSE Sr. Ricca Dimalibot was one of three sisters invited to prepare a response to the keynote address of LCWR's annual gathering, which ran from Aug. 11-13. More than 1,100 people were registered for this virtual event. The keynote talk was given by Sr. Mercedes Leticia Casas Sánchez, FSpS, immediate past president of CLAR. Sr. Ricca's pre-taped response followed. The text in blue are quotations from Sr. Mercedes' address. To read her full talk, click here. BY SR. RICCA DIMALIBOT, CCVI
Mercedes' words reminded me whose shoulders I am standing on when she talked about the unbroken bond that connects us to the courage and faith of our foremothers, the cloud of witnesses who cut the deep grooves that paved the way for us today. In continuing the legacy of our founders, she encourages us to find spaces where we allow religious life to be recreated and renewed through our charisms as we respond to the world's needs. Mercedes proposes several paths of contemplation to create spaces for the future. First and foremost is for us to be women of the Spirit, moved by the law of freedom. The Spirit moves freely and blows where it will; it is uncontainable and unstoppable. When I think about creating space, what it means for me is that I am given the freedom to be authentic, vulnerable but fearless to search the origins of my longing, because I am free to explore and to grow in that space as I discover who I am in God. Creating space would seem untenable because human beings have the natural tendency for togetherness and relationship. It’s not a mystery why social distancing brought an immense psychological toll during this pandemic. But I think what Mercedes has in mind is space as a container of grace and sacredness because it is our meeting place with God. Making our religious communities places of encounter with God and with our brothers and sisters would allow us to feel the closeness we are aching for. Placing God’s grace in a box is the exact opposite of creating space. There is no realm of transformation when there are walls that stop the influx of grace. We built walls and boundaries, believing that they would solve all our problems. We say, "Let's just invent another law to rein in peace and order." The walls that we build around us only make us prisoners of our insecurities. NEWS & NOTES
- A RESPONSE TO SR. MERCEDES LETICIA CASAS SÁNCHEZ, FSPS What I find more distressing are my personal, invisible walls of fear, lack of imagination, paralysis to take risks. My vocation dictates that I need to increase my trust in Jesus' free flow of love, justice, and peace that works through my weaknesses. I am compelled to ask the following questions. Are we as religious women complicit with the institutional church in walling off the movement of grace even in situations where love abounds? Am I as a religious sister acting like I have the switch that turns grace off and on to dictate where God's grace should go? With so many people suffering because of antiquated laws, have I become a conduit of oppression instead of an agent of love and grace? Thankfully, as religious women, we could also create spaces for hope, as Mercedes tells us. There is freedom in acknowledging that the future of religious life is beyond our vision and comprehension. Yet, is anything too marvelous for God (Genesis 18:14)? As a sister in congregational leadership, I must believe that what I have dedicated my life for still has something to say to the world. Elise's and Mercedes' words are proof of that. I am dangling at the realm of transformation, the growing edges of conversion, the place where God is most actively seeking me, and where I could intensely "feel the feelings of God"(Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel). Lastly, Mercedes prompts us to revisit the signs that tell the world who we are, not by institutionalizing our ministries but by purifying our purpose and giving new meaning to our prayer, community life, vows, and ministries. Revisiting the signs means becoming more mystical and less professional, stripped of all the nonessentials guided by whatever it takes to follow our charism. My trust in the Incarnate Word leads me to believe that religious life could be that mystical place, the space where people find God and where the realm of transformation takes place.
NEWS & NOTES
The Annually Professed Sisters in Kenya went for a day of prayer in Subukia, Nakuru. They really enjoyed the reflective prayer time together.