DEWY ROSE ON A SUMMER MORNING PHOTO BY SR. MARGARET BULMER, CCVI
JULY NEWS Pope's Prayer Social Friendship - We pray that, in social, Intention economic and political situations of conflict, we for July may be courageous and passionate architects of
dialogue and friendship..
A bridge through the pandemic
VIRUTAL LEARNING AT ST. AUSTIN LITERACY CENTER BY NADINE MOUSER, DIRECTOR, ST. AUSTIN LITERACY CENTER
In January of 2020, we excitedly moved into the renovated St. Austin Literacy Center. The students enjoyed and appreciated the new spaces with large fully equipped classrooms and a relaxing gathering space with a coffee bar. This was short lived! We had a mere eight weeks of in-person instruction when classes were suspended in March 2020, due to the COVID pandemic and the shutdown of Houston in general. Little did we know we would not resume classes until the Fall of 2020. Facing the prospect of virtual instruction for the ESL (English as a Second Language) and the Citizenship students, we sought information from certified teachers who were experienced with this type of instruction. It soon became evident that three important elements were necessary to have a successful program: computers with internal cameras, software to host virtual classes, and training for the instructors. Within a week a decision was made to use Google Classroom to host the virtual classes.
Summer Orientation given by Cinthya Sanchez
Beth Strausser teaching Level 2
Irene Schwartz and in-person Level 1
The first week of virtual instruction was full of errors and problems; logging in, setting up computer screens to best see the students and the materials being presented, microphone failures, and student devices not working properly. The second week went more smoothly; the instructors had mastered Google classroom and Google meet. They presented instruction using multiple cameras, embedded videos into slide presentations and wrote content on small white boards placed under document cameras.
NEWS & NOTES
ST. AUSTIN LITERACY CENTER, CON'T.
One problem we did not immediately anticipate was the amount of time it would take to instruct the students how to access the virtual classes with the device they would use. These devices varied; there were iphones, laptops, ipads, computers, with various generational settings (e.g. iphone7 or 10). Students more familiar with the device they were using could be on board in ten or fifteen minutes; for Paul Winslow teaching Level 3
sometimes took an hour or two.
With our first foray into the Virtual world of instruction in Fall 2020, we were happy to register 40 students for ESL and Citizenship classes. The Spring 2021 semester, we doubled our numbers and registered 80 students. Each semester, we offered our clientele, two Level 1, two Level 2, one Level 3 and two citizenship classes. Since January 2020 to June 2021 sixteen students have become citizens in spite of suspended classes from the end of March 2020 to September of 2021. As we ended the second semester with virtual instruction, the staff of the Literacy Center spent some time reflecting on the pros and cons of virtual instruction for our clientele. The pros were that the virtual classes were available to many who would not be able to attend in-person classes because of home obligations; students who traveled out of state, were able to take the class with them; in some instances, instructors were teaching internationally; some students were able to participate while at their work place. There were many more cons. Students and instructors missed the strong sense of community they formed among themselves and with the instructors; it was difficult to know if the students were fully engaged, and if they fully understood the concepts being presented; practicing pronunciation and conversation was very limited; individual help from the instructor was not possible. Lastly, the students missed their prayer sessions with Sr. Mary McHale, CCVI and their small class sessions with Sr. Heloise Cruzat, OP, Sr. Ernestine Mulvey, CCVI, Sr. Mary O’Duffy, CVI and the informative speakers Sr. Margaret Bulmer, CCVI graciously found for the students each month. As we look forward to the Fall sessions, we are hopeful in-person classes will be possible and the halls of St. Austin Literacy Center will be filled with adults eager to learn and happy to be part of a community that prays together, learns together, and celebrates together.
NEWS & NOTES
ST. AUSTIN LITERACY CENTER, CON'T.
Recent R Re e New Citizens
NEWS & NOTES
ELIZABETH PLACE IN A TIME OF PANDEMIC
"YOU AND I, WHO STRIVE TO EMBODY THE LOVE OF THE INCARNATE WORD, WHAT DID WE DO TO HELP? " BY SR. BENEDICTA CHIDINMA OHAERI, CCVI
During these very difficult times, CCVI has played a huge role in the lives of the vulnerable and underserved people in our locality. The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic were overwhelming as it posed a very difficult situation to many families. People lost jobs, while violence and abuse increased. Families starved as the global community experienced lockdown. Students lost hope in education, the rate of hunger increased, and deaths were uncontrollable. Men and women prayed and longed for an end to the crisis. Like the psalmist, humanity asked: "Where would our help come from?" Where is the God of heaven and earth? In the midst of that global trauma, the believing people of the world knew that our help would come from the Lord who made heaven and earth. You and I, who strive to embody the love of the Incarnate Word, what did we do to help? We kept them in our prayers. They had our shoulders to lean on. We listened to them. We offered consoling words: GOD IS ALIVE! Don’t give up! Our scholarship program is a way of contributing to the plight of the multitude that suffer want and lack in our society, and it gives us joy to know that our beneficiaries are relieved of the burden of funds towards their education. Our scholarship beneficiaries have our shoulders to lean on; they felt the support, love, and care of their sponsor. None of the students lacked funds for their school fees or for books and living expenses while they studied. They were well sensitized on how to safeguard and protect themselves while in school in order to not contract the coronavirus. NEWS & NOTES
ELIZABETH PLACE, CONT.
"GOD IS ALIVE! DON’T GIVE UP!" Sr. Lucy Mueni gives a Covid-19 sensitization training to primary school students.
Knitting practical exam at St. Elizabeth Place
It was indeed a thing of joy for the Elizabeth Place Outreach Ministry (EPOM) family to see all our students back from school at the end of the second term. We felt happy and fulfilled that none of our students were infected with COVID-19. We pray, as they have gone back to school for the third term, that the Incarnate Word may continue to protect them. We are grateful to God that, despite the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been able to graduate our January-June trainees. This group started their sixmonths training in January 2020 and was not able to complete it due to the prolonged COVID-19 lockdown in Kenya, which took nine months. The majority of the trainees relocated to their rural area as chances of survival in Nairobi city were minimal. To the glory of God, out of 74 trainees, 20 could complete their training and had a beautiful thanksgiving celebration. During the graduation/thanksgiving ceremony, the trainees expressed their gratitude to CCVI as they were not expecting to be called back to complete their training. Out of the benevolence of CCVI, their dream of acquiring a life skill was actualized. Praised be the Incarnate Word! On behalf of our beneficiaries, I say a big thank you to the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word for the smile you have always put on the faces of the needy. Your love by sharing is really appreciated.
N EHigh W S &school N O T E Sstudents
following a workshop
Hair dressing practical exam
ELIZABETH PLACE, CONT.
THANKS BE TO GOD On May 28, 2021, Elizabeth Place Outreach Ministry (EPOM) had a graduation ceremony, which was done with a thanksgiving Mass. EPOM fraternity was grateful to CCVI for the love and care given to the less privileged. At the ceremony, the trainees expressed their joy and shared their testimonies on how their lives have changed through the love they have received from CCVI through EPOM. Out of 20 trainees that completed their training, 16 of them have been able to secure jobs in their different fields of training.
Trainees were commissioned to go and be a light in their homes.
Fr. Kanja celebrates a Thanksgiving Mass
NEWS & NOTES
Fr. Kanja encourages trainees. who are holding candles, not to lose the value of the light and skills they have received
BY SR. CATARINA OSORIO IXCOTEYAC
On Friday afternoon, June 11, 2021, the Annually Professed Sisters held an event at the Dubuis Conference Center at Villa de Matel called Live, Love and Laugh. It was beautiful to get to know and share about each other’s cultures, which is one of the great blessings of our Congregation. It was a sharing of our international richness where there were present Sisters from El Salvador, Guatemala,
Philippines, Vietnam, and the U. S. It was a wonderful, cozy, community event, where there were lots of laughs, games and activities that were carried out by Sisters Symphonie, Kim Nguyen, Catarina and Cecilia. We were able to feel the joy, availability, positive emotions, and the participation of each Sister. We enjoyed ourselves with a delicious dinner, especially the Vietnamese food, while sharing and living the moment. It was an opportunity to create unity, fraternity, and to get to know different cultures in such a way that led to passion in the contagion for spreading joy, love, and laughter which generated a positive impact on each of the sisters: “Long Live Life! Long Live Love! Long Live Laughter!" We appreciated the support and love we received which assisted us in making this a wonderful event.
S NEWS & NOTES
ry P r. Ma
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“We should not want to see or do anything that could not be done in the presence of God… and we shall thus imagine that we are always in God’s presence.” St. Ignatius Loyola
NEWS & NOTES
Ukarimu Retreat Centre "WE MAKE OURSELVES AVAILABLE TO LISTEN TO PEOPLE WHO COME WITH DIFFERENT NEEDS AND TO ASSIST THEM IN ANY WAY POSSIBLE."
BY SR JENNIFER CHINELO OKWUAKA, CCVI
Above left, Sr. Christine Naswa Barasa checks the temperature of Esther one of our kitchen Staff as she reports to work. Above in the middle, Esther sanitizes herself as she enters the Centre. Above right, Sr. Christine sanitizes herself as she enters the Chapel.
Ukarimu Retreat Centre is a ministry owned and administered by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, Houston, Texas. Ukarimu in Kiswahili means Hospitality. It was begun by Sr. Gabrielle Duane in the year 1987. It is the second ministry of CCVI to be established at Baraka, Molo, Kenya, after St. Peter the Apostle, Early Years of Education. We have a mission to make God’s presence real in our world today and a vision to create a living centre of prayer where people deepen their relationship with God and renew their commitment to serving God and humanity. For Ukarimu Retreat Centre to achieve its mission and vision, the Sisters over the years have kept the focus of creating a conducive environment for prayer and contemplation, in renovated and beautifully landscaped grounds. Our target groups are the religious men and women, the clergy, catechists and lay people desiring to deepen their relationship with God through retreats, days of recollection, workshops and seminars among others. We also welcome groups like NonGovernmental Organizations (NGOs) and those who work for Peace, Justice, along with reconciliation workshops, meetings, etc. NEWS & NOTES
We also welcome people who focus on ecology and general service to humanity in Kenya and beyond, especially when we don’t have retreatants. Basically, the Centre is greatly affected as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Some of our co-ministers were asked to stay home in 2020 for a short period; many bookings have been cancelled but we still have some people who come for retreats and workshops. We still have our monthly recollection on the last Saturday of every month. It has been a privilege for us to have daily Mass even during lockdown.
Above left, Sr. Jennifer listens to Irene, an orphan and student in need. Above right, is our former Chaplain, Fr. Erick Ogolla, CP, in a session with Sr. Memory and Sr. Josephine of the Franciscan Missionaries for Africa during their retreat.
Above left, part of the tree-tomato plantation in our farm, and above right, the Way of the Cross that is easily accessible.
NEWS & NOTES
Meanwhile, we are being careful in taking all precautions against COVID by checking temperature, wearing face masks, washing hands regularly, keeping social distance, leaving the entrance door to the centre open, using automatic hand sanitizers and cleaning the place regularly. We have enhanced our farming by planting variety of crops, vegetables and fruits such as corn, potatoes, peas, local vegetables, avocado, tree tomatoes etc. We also moved the Way of the Cross that used to be in our forest to a more airy and open place. We make ourselves available to listen to people who come with different needs and to assist them in any way possible. With this current pandemic, we now have a deeper understanding of our vulnerability and our connectedness as God’s creation. We feel called to continue to depend on God, to live in the present and to remain hopeful. We are also called to share what we have with others as we continue holding each other in prayer. Finally, we would like to express our appreciation to Sister Kevina Keating and her Council for their immense support which enables us to keep the Centre running. We pray that God may continue to bless them with good health and strength as they continue to serve God and humanity.
PRAISED BE THE INCARNATE WORD, FOREVER!
NEWS & NOTES
Why We Celebrate the 4th of July BY SR. DEENAN HUBBARD, CCVI
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America….” The beginning of this document declares the basic reasons why the first thirteen colonies of what later grew into the fifty United States declared and established their new nation and independence from England or any other foreign government from controlling it. The Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776. We celebrate that day as Independence Day. The US culture usually celebrates with red, blue and white decorations in yards and family picnics, and barbeques in the afternoons and big concerts and fireworks in the evenings. I remember my brothers and I waving sparklers around on the driveway and writing our names in the sky with them…ah, magic! It is a day of families everywhere celebrating our freedoms, our rights, our unity, our diversities, and responsibilities as a citizen. It is also a day of appreciating all who fight to help us preserve our freedoms, both in times past and currently, times like the attack on Pearl Harbor or 9/11 or government officials who do not work for the welfare of the good for all. These events remind us of how quickly our freedom could be lost. It takes vigilance to keep our freedom.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable hts, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” - Preamble to the Declaration of Independence NEWS & NOTES
Rest, Recreation, Sharing at the Lake After a year of virtual Bimonthly meetings through the zoom, the Sisters in annual vows - Srs. Catarina, Cecilia, Kim-Xuan, and Symphonie, with Sister Helena, our director, gathered at the Lake House for an in-person Bimonthly meeting. This was after entertaining the Sisters at the Villa which we entitled: “Live, Love and Laugh.” During our gathering at the Lake House, we had deep, prayerful, and insightful sharing around the emotional healing of anger, grief, anxiety, and fear. We had ample time to get in touch with our losses during this pandemic and talked about them. We did not only pray, but we also had fun. We shared meals together, we went fishing, and we enjoyed ice cream together, told jokes, shared stories, and played Uno. It was surely a wonderful time together again! Praised be the Incarnate Word. Forever!
NEWS & NOTES
Ground Broken for New CHRISTUS Corporate Office Up to now, CHRISTUS Health has been leasing office space in Irving, Texas. On June 3, 2021, a groundbreaking ceremony was held at the site where the new corporate office will be built in Las Colinas, a suburb of Irving, Texas. Pictured from left to right are: Sister Teresa Maya, CCVI, San Antonio, CHRISTUS Member, Sister Kevina Keating, CCVI, Houston, CHRISTUS Member, Mr. Ernie Sadau, CHRISTUS Health President/CEO, Most Rev. Edward J. Burns of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas, Sister Kathleen Coughlin, CCVI., San Antonio, CHRISTUS Member Sister Edyta Krawczyk, CSFN, representing Sister Kathleen Maciej, CSFN.