SISTERS OF MERCY •
WEST MIDWEST COMMUNITY •
Spiritual Directors Help People ‘Listen for God’ “ this all there is?” “What does it all mean?” “Is ““How do I draw closer to God?” If you have ever p pondered these questions, you, like many others, may h reached a point in your life when you seek a have d deeper relationship with God. Ready to help are spiritual d directors who have the extensive training, education a experience needed to facilitate your journey. and
T Sisters of Mercy have a long and rich history in The th area of faith formation. this
“When people come for spiritual direction, many times it’s because they’ve had an experience in life that they are trying to make sense of, especially in terms of God.”
T Sisters Mary Ann Scofield, Anne Pellegrino and Take M Ruth Broz for examples. While each of these Mary sisters may have taken different paths to this ministry, each has experienced the joy of helping hundreds of men and women from different faith traditions take their relationship with God to another level.
“When people come for spiritual direction, many times it’s because they’ve had an experience in life that they are trying to make sense of, especially in terms of God,” said Sister Mary Ann, who is retreat and spiritual director at Mercy Center in Burlingame, Calif., and internationally known for her work in this field. “I ask them, ‘what moved in you that brought Sister Mary Ann Scofield you here today?’” She sees her role as “listening for God” in a person’s life. “They have had a genuine experience of God and I help them get in touch with that experience,” she said. “When they do, it’s often life-changing.” Her education in theology and spiritual direction, and her years of experience, enable her to help people do the internal work it takes to see God working in their life and grow deeper in that relationship. “It is very holy work,” she said. “Spiritual direction is not advice-giving and it is not problem-solving. It is paying attention to God in the life of another person and helping him or her identify whenever and wherever this experience happens. I help them to live it, to own it.” (continued on page 6)
Sister Marie Angele is new Director of Development Page 3
Support for Single Moms-To-Be Page 4
Sisters Mary Oladimeji, left, and Charmaine Jayawardene after their vow ceremony.
Sisters of Mercy Celebrate as Two Members Profess Final Vows The Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Community rejoiced Saturday, June 4, as Sisters Mary Omolara Oladimeji of San Francisco, Calif., and Trinette Charmaine Jayawardene of Auburn, Calif., professed perpetual (final) vows in a special Mass held at 4 p.m. in Our Lady of Mercy Chapel located at the Community’s Auburn site. The two sisters took the final step in their journey to become Sisters of Mercy when they each publicly vowed to live, for the rest of their lives, lives of chastity, poverty, obedience and service to those in need, especially women and children. (continued on page 8)
Inspired to Help the Less Fortunate Page 9
Frids of Mercy
Welcome to Living Mercy, Summer 2011
On July 1, we celebrated our third year as the Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Community. These past three years have been filled with the challenges of combining six regional communities – each with its own culture and its own processes – and the blessings and energy that have come from meeting new people and learning about their ministries. In addition to developing new processes, we also established the infrastructure and engaged the people to support how we connect and make decisions across our new geography. During these first three years, we have experienced both joys and losses. We have rejoiced as we welcomed our newest candidates and novices and witnessed final vows for our newest members. We also have experienced sorrow from the loss of sisters, associates and staff who have died, among them the President of our Community, Sister Norita Cooney, and our Development Director, Sister Stella Neill. Both sisters were beloved and visionary leaders and are so missed.
It is only with your prayers, commitment and continuous support that individual lives will be mercifully touched.
As West Midwest Vice President, Sister Judith Frikker assumes the responsibilities of the president, while an election is underway for the president of the community. We have completed our search for the West Midwest Development Director and on August 1, 2011, Sister Marie Angele will join the development staff as director. For the next two years, our work in the West Midwest is to give serious discussion and discernment as to what we want our reality to be as Sisters of Mercy. Underway is a process for this important work called Transforming Mercy/Mercy Transforming. We have prepared retreats and other opportunities for our sisters to come together for deep discussion in preparation for two important meetings. The first is a gathering in June of 2012 and the next is our Assembly in 2013 during which we will set the direction for the next five years and elect our next leadership team. As you can tell, it is an exciting time to be a Sister of Mercy. We thank you for all of the support you give us each year. Your contributions, whether they are volunteer, financial or prayer, are very important to us and we hope this newsletter keeps you updated on the ministries and happenings throughout the West Midwest Community. Our gratitude is expressed in our prayers for you and remains in the memory of our hearts and minds.
Sister Sheila Megley, RSM For the West Midwest Community Leadership Team
Summer 2011 Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Community
Living Mercy • Summer 2011
Living Mercy is published by the Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Community Development Office 7262 Mercy Road • Omaha, NE 68124 • (402) 393-8225 • www.mercywestmidwest.org Director of Development • Sister Marie Angele, RSM West Midwest Development Team David Hohl, Burlingame • firstname.lastname@example.org Melissa Pence, CFRE, Cedar Rapids • email@example.com Catherine Pappas, Detroit • firstname.lastname@example.org Nancy Smith, Omaha • email@example.com West Midwest Communications Team Sandy Goetzinger-Comer, Director Patti Kantor and Elizabeth Dossa, Communications Managers
Contributing Writers • Molly Altorfer, Sandy Goetzinger-Comer, Liz Dossa, Patti Kantor Graphic Design • Pat Osborne Photography • Jamie Lynn Ferguson, 22nd Century Media newspapers, Sandy Goetzinger-Comer, Liz Dossa, Todd Hartman Copyright 2011 Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Community • Living Mercy articles may be reproduced with written permission from the Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Community Communications Office. Direct reprint requests to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sister Marie Angele Named Development Director Sister Marie Angele has been named Director of Development for the West Midwest Community and will assume her responsibilities on August 1, 2011. A member of the Community since 2003, Sister Marie has a background in education, theology and theatre arts. In May, Sister Marie graduated from Creighton University in Omaha with a MBA degree and she received the Graduate School Outstanding Service Award.
As Director of Development, Sister Marie will work with the development offices throughout the West Midwest Community and establish development offices in Chicago and Omaha. Her office will be located at the Central Administration Office in Omaha. Sister Sheila Megley notes the West Midwest Community “is blessed to have such a gifted individual assuming the leadership role for development and we are fortunate she has a passion for this work.” Sister Marie says she is passionate about our Mercy Charism and the vitality of our ministries. “I’m excited about this opportunity to serve the future of the West Midwest Community through this ministry of service to our donors and I look forward to creating meaningful partnerships that will help extend our mission of Mercy long into the future,” she said.
Remembering Sister Norita Cooney and Sister Stella Marie Neill The West Midwest Community pays tribute to two of its leaders who were among the sisters (see page 10) called to eternal life this past year: Sister Norita Cooney, who was the first president of the West Midwest Community, and Sister Stella Marie Neill, who was the Community’s first development director. Sister Norita Cooney, RSM • Age 71 September 21, 1939 - March 7, 2011 Sister Norita Cooney was a Sister of Mercy for 53 years. After graduating from Mercy High School in Omaha, Neb., in 1957, she entered the Sisters of Mercy and began her ministry in education in 1962. During the next 12 years, she advanced from teaching in high school to chairing the Sociology department at College of St. Mary in Omaha. Sister Norita then headed the Pastoral Development Office of the Archdiocese of Omaha. In 1976 Sister Norita served the first of her terms in leadership, first as councilor and then as provincial for the regional community of Omaha. In 1986 the world of healthcare beckoned and she was named chief executive officer of Bergan Mercy Health System where she served until Alegent Health was formed in 1995. At that time, she was named chair of the board of directors for the Alegent Health System. In 2002, Sister Norita became vicepresident of mission services and community affairs for Alegent and served on the boards of several organizations including the Health Systems of the Sisters of Mercy in St. Louis, Mo. In March 2008, Sister Norita was elected as the first president of the newly formed West Midwest Community. A woman of vision, compassion, inspiration, charisma and commitment, Sister Norita believed in the power of institutions for good and gave her time, energy and wisdom to governance in both the health and housing ministries of the Sisters of Mercy.
Sister Stella Marie Neill, RSM • Age 68 November 11, 1942 - December 7, 2010 Sister Stella Marie was cared for by the Sisters of Mercy as a child at St. James Orphanage in Omaha, Neb., and was inspired by them as a student in elementary and high school. In 1960 she entered the Sisters of Mercy and began her ministry in education several years later. Though a teacher, her real love was social work. She was a visionary woman with the ability to see needs and find the funding to serve those needs. In the early 1970s, Sister Stella founded the McAuley Bergan Center to provide outreach services to the elderly. As the director, she arranged transportation, home visits, hot meals and opened an adult day care center. In the 1980s, she was director of planning and pastoral councils for the Diocese of Des Moines, Iowa, and identified a need for affordable housing. She is best remembered for her work as founder and executive director of Anawim Housing. She was a legend in the Des Moines area for her work in building housing for people with limited income. Even with her busy schedule, Sister Stella found time to serve on the Extended Leadership Team for the former Omaha Regional Community for 10 years. After 22 years as executive director of Anawim, she took time to discern her next ministry. At the time of her death, she was settling into her new job as West Midwest Development Director. She is remembered as a mission-focused, proactive leader who brought gifts of critical analysis and insight to every ministry. Living Mercy • Summer 2011
Courage Helps ensure g d art for
Chicago single moms-to-be
Having a baby is supposed to be an exciting event. For young women who are single and pregnant, or for single, new moms, the time can be filled with stress. For the past 31 years, a Chicago parish-based program called Courage has offered single moms and moms-to-be support, assistance and a “home” as they start life as a new parent. Sister Nancy Swanson, who has served as executive director for the past five years, has worked hard to continue the legacy began by Maureen Shields who founded the program in 1981. Maureen identified young single moms as a vulnerable population who needed support for their decisions to keep their babies. Maureen saw this work as an important component to being Pro-Life. “She started Courage with $500 in her pocket and two volunteers,” Sister Nancy said. “For the first eight to nine years she operated the program out of a bedroom.” Maureen spoke at high schools and talked to young women. She set up free counseling, parenting classes, helped with rent and schooling. “She helped them get on their feet,” Sister Nancy said. Over the years, services provided include a vision and a dental program through generosity of a local dentist and eye doctor. “When the baby is born, the mom receives a layette worth $250 to help her get started,” Sister Nancy said. And, through the generosity of volunteers and donors, they also receive diapers, food, clothing and education assistance. In 1990, the program was invited to move to St. Germaine Parish Center when the parish relocated their administrative offices to a convent that had been vacated. “We have been blessed with the support of our wonderful pastors,” she said. “They trusted Maureen and they trust me.” Since its founding, Courage has helped 10,000 women and children. Today there are an average of 250 participants in the program at any one time.
Living Mercy • Summer 2011
Sister Nancy Swanson relies on the support of the parish and generous volunteers to make the program a success. According to Sister Nancy, the name “Courage” was chosen for the program because it reflects the strength needed “to do the right thing in the face of adversity.” These women have chosen to have their children and Courage provides the critical emotional support that they need. The program also helps educate these women so they make better decisions in the future for themselves and their children. “Many of these women become pregnant because of low self esteem,” Sister Nancy said. “Having a child gives them a sense of purpose, a sense of identity.” Surprisingly, some of the women have a second child. “The women tell me they don’t want their child to be an only child. They want families. Often they think the second man really loves them. And then it doesn’t happen.”
Courage puts a lot of value on education. You cannot stay in Courage if you drop out of school or college.
“Courage is a matter of the heart. There is no such thing as deserving or undeserving. They are just people struggling.” Sister Nancy Swanson
for this support was cut off. The program is still available on the college campus and Courage now pays bus fare and books for those who want to attend. “Often we will pay for the test when they are ready to take it,” she said.
Most of the women flourish because of the Courage program. “One young woman came to us from a drug rehabilitation program,” Sister Nancy said. “She became pregnant. We saw great potential in her and helped her get her associate's degree. She went to college and is now in law school and in international studies at De Paul University. She has done well. In fact, one of the papers she wrote was so good, a professor is including it in a textbook he has written.
With a nursing and social work background, Sister Nancy feels her past experiences have prepared her well to lead the Courage program. “My ministerial experiences have included a variety of roles in healthcare, counseling and education. She served as dean of freshman for three years at Mother McAuley High School. At that time, the school’s enrollment was 2,000. She left for two years and came back to be the full-time school nurse.
Another woman was engaged and she became pregnant. She had twins. “We helped her a lot, particularly with schooling,” Sister Nancy said. “She studied nursing at Saint Xavier University.” In this case, the couple did marry and are doing fine, she said. Courage puts a lot of value on education. “You cannot stay in Courage if you drop out of school or college,” she said. For 19 years, they had a GED program that was taught at St. Germaine’s by a faculty member from Moraine Valley Community College. When the economy tanked, the funding
But her work is only a small part of the Courage family. She is joined by a number of committed and generous volunteers, some of whom have been with the program since the beginning. “The program wouldn’t be successful without the tremendous volunteer support we receive,” she said. “I understand so well that it is God’s work, and that it takes a diversity of gifts and the contributions of many individuals for the success of this ministry. “We are invested in seeing that these young women are good parents and become productive members of society. We all benefit when that happens.”
Living Mercy • Summer 2011
Spiritual Directors Help People ‘Listen for God’ (continued from page 1) Sister Mary Ann was a director of formation for the Sisters of Mercy from 1964 to 1974. In 1970, a Jesuit priest invited her to be one of 20 women religious to be prepared to direct Ignatian Retreats. Previously these retreats, which are based on a process and principles inspired by St. Ignatius of Loyola, were directed only by Jesuits. As she began directing these retreats, she felt the need for more preparation. So, in addition to her bachelor’s degree in history from the University of San Francisco and master’s (1963) and doctorate in theology (1964) from St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind. Sister Mary Ann went back to school in 1980 for a master’s degree in spiritual direction from Weston School of Theology, Cambridge. “That gave me a solid intellectual underpinning, as well as the practicum for seminars and spiritual direction,” she said. At that time, she was on staff at Mercy Center in Burlingame and gave retreats and did spiritual direction. Later, she began training spiritual directors and then training those who supervised them. According to Sister Mary Ann, spiritual direction has been part of cultures and faith traditions for centuries, and has been part of spiritual formation work in religious communities since the 1960s but, at that time, there wasn’t a name for it. Spiritual direction for lay men and women emerged in the 1970s and the interest often flowed out of weeklong retreats being held at Catholic universities. The men and women attending enjoyed their experiences and yearned for something deeper. In the 1990s, Sister Mary Ann and a small group of spiritual directors met to pray and discern whether the field could be helped by creating an organization of spiritual directors. “After a long national process, the need for such an organization emerged,” she said. That was the start of Spiritual Directors International and she served as its first executive director. “We had to have money to start this group and Sister Mary Waskowiak (at that time president of the Burlingame Regional Community) gave the okay and the financial support to begin. “And, we paid it all back!,” Sister Mary Ann said. Four hundred members from seven continents responded to the first letter of invitation. Today the organization has more than 7,000 members on every continent and has celebrated its 21st anniversary. Recognized as a leader in this field, Sister Mary Ann has been invited by many countries to train and mentor spiritual directors, including Singapore, Thailand, Kenya, Ireland, Alaska and Australia. “I’m having such a great life,” she said. 6
Living Mercy • Summer 2011
“Spiritual directors help people grow in their relationship with God. We ask them ‘How aware are you of God acting in your life? If not, what gets in the way of that?’”
Sister Anne Pellegrino’s ministry in spiritual direction has spanned the past 30 years. She entered religious life in 1962 with the Servants of Mary and transferred to the Sisters of Mercy in 1994. After 15 years as a teacher, she became interested in spiritual direction and completed the spiritual direction program offered by the Jesuits at Colombiere Center in Flint, Mich. During those years, she served in spiritual direction at the Servite Renewal Center in Omaha, in campus ministry at Creighton University, in private practice for several years and did programming and retreat work occasionally at Knowles Mercy Spirituality Center just outside of Omaha, Neb.
Her directees, as they are called, come largely through word of mouth and from all faith traditions. There was a time when spiritual direction was seen as only for the “holy people.” Today, more people are recognizing that it is for the everyday person. “There has been a growing interest in spirituality and spiritual direction is a piece of it,” she said. “We all need to develop our relationship with God. That is important for everyone.” But, she acknowledged, the person has to be ready for it. “One woman told me she carried my name around for three years before calling me,” Sister Anne said. Sister Anne Pellegrino
The gift that spiritual directors bring is the ability to help people grow in their relationship with God. “We help people reflect on their lives and see where God is in the midst of what is happening. We help them learn how to be more attentive to their feelings and experiences of life. We ask them ‘How aware are you of God acting in your life? If not, what gets in the way of that?’” Sister Anne finds it is rewarding to see people change during this spiritual journey. “They tell me they recognize a richness that they had not seen in the past.” With spiritual direction, individuals learn that a relationship grounded in God often enables them to better cope with what life sends their way. “Our relationship with God doesn’t change the reality of life, but how we are in the midst of that reality,” she said. The current downturn in the economy may also be prompting individuals to seek a deeper spiritual life. “Many are yearning to be more reflective around what really matters and are ready to look at priorities and values. Spiritual direction is an
“Spiritual direction gives people a safe place and the freedom to talk about things without being judged. They are able to unburden themselves and express anger and hurt.” Sister Mary Ruth Broz invitation to be more reflective and to make better choices.” For Sister Anne, her work in spiritual direction is personally rewarding. “When people are faithful to their inner work, they do change, they do grow. It is a privilege to witness that and be part of it,” she said. For Sister Mary Ruth Broz, her ministry in spiritual direction flowed from her work in the 1970s as director of formation for the Sisters of Mercy Chicago Regional Community. In that role, she guided the spiritual life of the women who were becoming sisters. Intrigued by her work, she went on to get her Master of Divinity in 1979 from the Jesuit School of Theology and a Doctor of Ministry in 1989 from University of St. Mary of the Lake Mundelein Seminary. With a growing desire to delve more deeply into the ministry of spiritual direction, she was led to an internship program at the Jesuit Renewal Center in Milford, Ohio. There she learned that so much of the preparation needed to companion another is related to the person’s own journey in the spiritual life. “I came to the awareness that God is in the darkness as well as in the light; that life itself is one's teacher; that all is sacred; and that we each have our own best answers,” she said. “It was all part of my own personal transformation that began then and continues to be what I believe are some of the greatest resources I bring with me today,” she said. Since that time, Sister Mary Ruth founded and served as co-director of the Wellstreams Center of Feminine Spirituality in Chicago from 1991 to 2006. She also has trained others in the ministry of spiritual direction as part of the faculty of the Institute of Spiritual Companionship in Chicago for almost 20 years. It is a ministry she believes is so needed in the Church and the world today, and wants to see it continue among the laity and among all faith traditions. Since 2008, she has been the spiritual director and program coordinator for Portiuncula Center for Prayer in Frankfort, Ill. She currently sees about 40 people a month for spiritual direction and feels blessed to see the power of the spirit working in people’s lives. “People come to the point in life when they are not sure which way to turn,” she said. “They want to slow down. They want to focus on what is important in life. They don’t realize they have their own answers. It takes mindfulness and listening to recognize the spirit working within them.” Spiritual direction gives people a safe place and the freedom to talk about things without being judged. They are able to unburden themselves and express anger and hurt, she said.
Sister Mary Ruth Broz
As an example, she said she sat with a woman whose daughter was killed in a car accident. Through their work together, the woman began to see how God was moving in her life and she became more in touch with a God who didn’t leave her. “The woman described how she brought a Columbine plant to a field only to discover it was filled with Columbines, her daughter’s favorite flower. Those moments are really tender,” Sister Mary Ruth said. She said spiritual direction also appeals to people who are caught up in the corporate life. They want to find a balance and be able to talk out some of the conflicts they experience. She recalled a young woman who sought spiritual direction after she lost her younger brother with whom she was very close. When she returned to work “fingers were snapping and deadlines loomed,” Sister May Ruth said. While her co-workers expressed sympathy for the young woman’s loss, she was expected to get back on track. She was devastated and needed somewhere to turn. “Spiritual direction provided that safe place for her to work things out.” Sister Mary Ruth encourages her directees to take 10 minutes a day for reflection, prayer or meditation. “It’s rewarding to help people right in the midst of ordinary life make a small change and see where that takes them,” she said. “It’s exciting to see the changes that just 10 minutes a day can bring.” While some people seek spiritual direction for a few months to get on a good spiritual path, others have built it into their lives. “They get used to the kind of conversation spiritual direction offers. It helps them stay centered.” Living Mercy • Summer 2011
Sisters of Mercy Celebrate as Two Members Profess Final Vows (continued from page 1) Attending the ceremony and the reception that followed were more than 250 family members, Sisters of Mercy, Mercy Associates, other women religious and clergy. They were joined spiritually through prayer by the 750 Sisters of Mercy, 500 Mercy Associates and nine Companions in Mercy who are part of the West Midwest Community, one of six communities that form the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. "Following the ceremony I felt a sense of indescribable joy, then relief, then a feeling of finally being ‘anchored,’ if you will," said Sister Mary. “Making final vows for me has been a dream come true and God’s affirmation of my call to religious life through my permanent membership in the Institute of Mercy. In the last week I have been overwhelmed with gratitude and humbled by God's faithfulness and love in the countless encounters with people who have been the face of God in my life.” “It is a most wondrous thing to be a Sister of Mercy,” said Sister Charmaine. “I am filled with gratitude to God who, through the Sisters of Mercy, has made my deepest desire a reality. I was so moved at the prostration that when I stood up I felt like I was on wings. I am still basking in the love of God which was manifest at our consecration.” “We feel so blessed to have these women as Sisters of Mercy,” said Sister Judith Frikker, RSM, interim president of the West Midwest Community. “They truly have the love of God and the passion for serving those who suffer from poverty, sickness and a lack of education.” Delivering the reflection was Sister Michelle Gorman, a member of the West Midwest Community leadership team and the sister who has accompanied the two women in every step of their journey to become Sisters of Mercy. “When Charmaine and Mary entered the Mercy community in 2004, they took their life experiences, their tremendous gifts and talents, and tossed their lot with the Sisters of Mercy,” Sister Michelle said. “Chairmaine began her life in Sri Lanka, approximately 9,000 miles from here. Mary began her life in Lagos, Nigeria, approximately 8,000 miles from here. Their silhouettes have passed over many lands and occupations. Charmaine has been a radio announcer, a banker, mother, grandmother, spiritual director, contemplative, a tender of those addicted and pregnant. Mary, a proud Yoruba, has been a catechist, teacher, youth minister, justice organizer, student. Their lives have intersected here, in the hill country of Auburn, California,” Sister Michelle said. 8
Living Mercy • Summer 2011
Rev. John Boll blesses the rings that each sister wears to symbolize their commitment. With Rev. Boll are, from left: Sisters Mary, Judith Frikker, Patricia McDermott and Charmaine.
“We feel so blessed to have these women as Sisters of Mercy. They truly have the love of God and the passion for serving those who suffer from poverty, sickness and a lack of education.” Sister Judith Frikker
“We thank you, Charmaine and Mary, for traversing the open skies, and for landing today to seal your covenant with your loving God. We are grateful that you are willing to follow in the footsteps of so many women of Mercy, both living and dead, and that you are willing to commit the rest of your lives to the charism of Mercy - Misericordia - your hearts moved to compassion by the misery of the world and by your own experience of God’s mercy.” The Rite of Profession took place following the Gospel and included a “Call to Profession,” by Sister Judith Frikker and “Questioning” by Vice President Sister Patricia McDermott, representing the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. Then, symbolic of giving themselves to God, both Mary and Charmaine lay prostrate in front of the altar during the Litany of The Saints. The sisters then publicly professed the vows that each had written and then signed them. The vows were, in turn, signed by Sisters of Mercy leadership and the presiding priest, Rev. John Boll. As a symbol of this commitment, each sister was presented a ring engraved with the motto she had chosen. Sister Charmaine chose: “Lord, my love, I am yours.” Mary chose: “Be Not Afraid/Mase Beru.” The sisters were then affirmed in song and welcomed by the Sisters of Mercy in attendance.
Associate Kim Thornhill Inspired to Help the Less Fortunate “All will be well.” That’s the message you hear on Kim Thornhill’s answering machine. It’s a message she picked up from Mother Julian who tended to the injured during the 100 year war. Mother Julian witnessed killing, disease and the ravages of war, but was sustained by her own efforts to help others. Those words have sustained Kim, who in a way has lived with her own ravages of war, one fought against the colon cancer that she has battled since April 2009. Following two operations and numerous procedures, she learned that the cancer had metastasized. A Mercy Associate from Walnut Creek, Calif., Kim hasn’t let the diagnosis stop her. In fact, after much reflection, she feels it has brought her closer to God. “Thank God and Bless God for cancer, it’s a bridge to him,” she said. A teacher for 31 years, Kim continued to teach throughout her treatment. Only this past April, two years from her diagnosis, did she feel the need to retire. Because her treatment consists of cocktails of medicine that drain her energy, she felt she couldn’t give teaching her all.
“I don’t count the days I have left, I make the days count.”
In the Spirit of Catherine McAuley, foundress Kim Thornhill of the Sisters of Mercy, though, she has a new fervor for helping the less fortunate. That is her focus. “Reading about the life of Catherine McAuley and her devotion to working with the poor in Dublin has inspired me to look for opportunities in this area,” she said. In January, she hosted a fund-raiser for Open Heart Kitchen. Based in Livermore, Calif., Open Heart Kitchen is dedicated to supplying two weekend box lunches to low-income children in the Tri-Valley schools. On June 25, she and friend Rhonda Wofford hosted a purse party, also a fundraiser for Open Heart Kitchen.
“Hunger doesn't ‘go on vacation’ and many of the people going to bed hungry are children,” Kim said. “The need is more acute than ever, especially with the economy continuing to struggle. I believe that having these fundraisers will help Open Heart Kitchen to continue serving the children of the Tri-Valley area.” Kim’s work with Open Heart Kitchen has inspired others.
“A dear friend of mine, has been inspired to garner support for the program and refer needy students from the school.” When Kim thinks about the Mercy charism, it brings to mind three points for her: provide, advocate and protect. “Provide not only food but the means by which we can empower people to help themselves. This is what Mother McAuley and the first sisters did when they provided job training, as well as housing to poor women. Advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves, which Mercy is doing in the areas of healthcare, immigration reform and on behalf of those who are being ‘trafficked.’ And finally, protect those who are the most vulnerable among us: the disabled, children, the homeless, those who are abused and anyone who may not have a voice.” Kim was introduced to Catherine McAuley and the Mercy Associates five years ago when she met an Associate while on a retreat at Mercy Center in Burlingame. She was drawn to the opportunity to meet others who shared a commitment to helping others and she liked the idea of supporting the sisters in their work. When she was invited to become a Mercy Associate, she said, “yes.” She feels it has been “a great fit.” As a result of her longtime connection with the Sisters of Mercy, she has decided to make Sisters of Mercy one of the beneficiaries of her estate. She wants to give back to the sisters who have given a lot to others. “The sisters have always had to support themselves. It’s up to the laity to step up and help. They did a lot for us, now I can do something for them,” she said. In the meantime, Kim feels that God has opened the door for her to this new opportunity to be of service. “I don’t count the days I have left, I make the days count,” she said. “Faith has to have action.” She has no idea how long she has in this life, but thanks God for her time here. “Every morning I say, ‘Thank you God for bringing me through the night. Thank you for giving me another day.’ If God calls me, I’m at peace with that.” Living Mercy • Summer 2010
Called to New L ife
“I am yours for time and eternity.” Catherine McAuley
West Midwest Sisters’ Remembrances August 1, 2010 – June 30, 2011
CALIFORNIA Sister Mary Jean Meier, RSM • Age 86 May 25, 1925 - August 8, 2010 Sister Mary Jean was a dynamo with financial acumen, a remarkable memory and a compassionate heart. She entered in 1943 and began ministry as a teacher in several California high schools and as principal at Mercy High School in Burlingame. Later, she became coordinator of school finance for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Calif., and next director of development at Mercy Retirement and Care Center in Oakland, Calif. In 1986, she was called to be development director for the Archdiocese and later Cardinal Mahoney’s Director of Special Services where she served until her death. Sister Mary Clotilde Cena, RSM • Age 82 January 10, 1928 - October 10, 2010 Sister Mary Clotilde loved people and approached life with vigor whether she was teaching, ministering to parishioners or creating a piece of art. She grew up in California and attended Mercy Academy in Red Bluff, where she met the Sisters of Mercy. She entered the former regional community of Omaha in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and for 59 years devoted her life to being a Sister of Mercy, a teacher for 20 years, religious education for 12 and parish ministry for 16 years. Sister Jane Golden, RSM • Age 74 July 28, 1936 - November 30, 2010 A native of County Cork, Ireland, Sister Jane entered in Auburn, Calif., in 1952. Formerly Sister Mary Luke, she spent 48 years in education as an elementary and secondary teacher, vice principal and principal. She served on the Auburn Regional Community Leadership Team from 1986-1990 and also was director of the Family Learning Center for the Sacramento Food Bank in Oak Park from 1995-1998. After retiring from school administration in 2007, she represented the Sisters of Mercy on the boards for Mercy Education Resource Center and Cristo Rey High School in Sacramento. Sister Cecilia Dolores Conant, RSM • Age 94 August 30, 1916 - December 11, 2010 Sister Cecilia Dolores grew up on her family's 100-acre farm in Modesto, Calif. She entered in 1935 in Burlingame and in 1937 began a 50-year ministry as a primary grade 10
Living Mercy • Summer 2011
school teacher in San Francisco, Oakland, Burlingame, Bakersfield, San Diego, Whittier and Los Angeles schools. She was known as Sister Mary Urban. In 1987, she worked at Mercy Terrace in San Francisco, an apartment building for low-income seniors, for eight years. She retired in 1996 and volunteered at Mercy Terrace until she moved to Marian Care Center in Burlingame in 2003. Sister Mary Magdalen Hoey, RSM • Age 79 May 2, 1931 - February 18, 2011 Sister Mary Magdalen felt destined to be a Sister of Mercy because the signature of Sister Mary Thomasine Kelly was on her birth certificate and later on her vows. She entered in 1950 in Burlingame, Calif., a year after enrolling at St. Mary’s College of Nursing in San Francisco. She taught primary grades at schools from San Francisco to San Diego and then became sacristan at the motherhouse. Next, she assisted the Holt program meeting infants arriving at the San Francisco airport. She retired in 2000 at Marian Oaks in Burlingame. Sister Barbara Henry, RSM • Age 64 September 23, 1946 - February 21, 2011 Sister Barbara entered in 1964 in Burlingame, Calif. She completed the nursing program at the University of San Francisco in 1972. After her nursing internship at St. Joseph Hospital in Phoenix, Ariz., Sister Barbara returned to St. Mary’s Hospital in San Francisco where she ministered in obstetrics, oncology and nursing services. Earning a nursing administration degree in 1981, she returned to serve as director of nurses. Sister Barbara served for 39 years in healthcare ministry despite a heart condition. Sister Rena Ricci, RSM • Age 90 June 16, 1920 - March 4, 2011 A San Francisco native, Sister Rena Ricci, known for many years as Sister Mary Emilian, entered in 1941 in Burlingame, Calif. Sister Rena spent 60 years in hospital ministry as floor supervisor, director of nurses, superior and administrator, assistant to the director of development, public relations and patient relations in several of the community’s hospitals. Her generosity and attentiveness helped ease the burdens of families of those who were ill or dying. She had a special love for her Italian heritage and the San Francisco Italian community.
Visit the Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Community website to view obituaries in their entirety, as well as remembrances about sisters who passed away prior to August 1, 2010. http://www.mercywestmidwest.org/media & resources/remembrances
Sister Mary Regina Sutton, RSM • Age 84 November 12, 1926 - March 15, 2011 Born in Arizona, Sister Mary Regina entered in 1944 in Burlingame, Calif. She earned a master’s degree in mathematics from Notre Dame University and, for 22 years, taught math at St. Peter's and Mercy high schools in San Francisco and at Mercy High School in Burlingame. Sister Regina then became a media specialist, receiving certificates in electronics from the De Vry Institute of Technology and from the National Radio Institute, and was a certified locksmith. Her ability to diagnose and repair electronics and deal with keying systems earned her the title of “Sister Fix-it." Sister Mary Georgina Maher, RSM • Age 94 September 18, 1916 - March 24, 2011 Sister Mary Georgina entered in 1934 in Burlingame, Calif. In 1937, she began a 57-year ministry in elementary education in San Francisco. In 1948, she was assigned to the founding faculty at St. Gabriel School and ministered for 37 years in the Sunset District. She served as superior of the newly established Marian Care retirement home for four years before returning to Holy Name School where she was librarian, tutor and parish visitor for 10 years. She was among the last to leave the parish in 2005. Sister Mary Rose Christy, RSM • Age 88 February 1, 1923 - April 25, 2011 Sister Mary Rose entered the Sisters of Mercy in Burlingame, Calif., in 1947. After a back injury ended a 14-year nursing career, she moved to Arizona where she worked for the poor and underserved as director of community services at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix. Her triumphs took place in Romania where she revolutionized the lives of the mentally and physically handicapped. With friends in the film and television industry, she drew attention to people in pain. She continued to travel to Romania until 2003 and then lived at the Huger Living Center in Phoenix. Sister Mary Carmen Sugiyama, RSM • Age 92 March 16, 1919 - June 19, 2011 Sister Mary Carmen was born in San Francisco, Calif., to Japanese immigrants. She was visiting relatives in Japan in December of 1941 and was not allowed to return to the United States until the end of the war. Those years were painful for her. Upon her return
to San Francisco, she enrolled in St. Mary’s College of Nursing and met Sisters of Mercy. She entered in 1952 in Burlingame and spent 22 years in nursing; nine at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Phoenix, Ariz., and 13 at Mercy Medical Center, San Diego. Later she found she had a talent for art and volunteered as an art therapist for 12 years.
COLORADO Sister Regina Selenke, RSM • Age 79 May 12, 1931 - December 18, 2010 Born in Grainfield, Kan., Sister Regina entered in 1953 in Council Bluffs, Iowa, following two years at Mercy Hospital in Denver, Colo. She ministered in food-related services at College of Saint Mary, Omaha, Neb.; St. Catherine's Home, North Bend, Ore.; Bishop Drumm, Johnston, Iowa; Mercy Hospital, Des Moines, Iowa; and Nutritional Service and Maryhaven Care Home, in Denver. Diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in the mid-1980s, Sister Regina focused on the care of others with Parkinson’s, working at the Parkinson Association of the Rockies, Denver, and upon her return to Omaha, volunteering with the American Parkinson Disease Association for more than 10 years. Sister Mary Charlotte Gates, RSM • Age 90 November 17, 1920 - May 4, 2011 Sister Charlotte had a zest for life and a love of people and that was how she approached her 41-year ministry of teaching, pastoral care and hospital admissions in Nebraska, Missouri, North Dakota, Iowa, New Mexico and Colorado. She entered in 1939 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Early in her life, she experienced vision problems and was one the first corneal transplant recipients in Denver, Colo. Though she spent the last years of her life with limited sight, she is remembered as a deeply prayerful woman who never let anything stop her from enjoying life.
ILLINOIS Sister Jamesina Prendergast, RSM • Age 91 November 28, 1919 - September 12, 2010 Sister Jamesina was motivated by a great love for the poor and underprivileged. After completing her education at Saint Xavier University, she entered in 1942 in Chicago. She taught for 28 years in elementary schools in the Chicago area. Then she became an LPN and for 13 years nursed at several hospitals Living Mercy • Summer 2011
in Chicago and Davenport, Iowa. In later years, she was a volunteer in elementary schools and worked on projects, such as sending food and clothing to Haiti and Jamaica. Sister Mary Jeremy Doyle • Age 84 March 12, 1926 - December 13, 2010 Sister Mary Jeremy came to know the Sisters of Mercy in Milwaukee, Wis., where she was a boarder at Mercy High. She remembered those years as “wonderful.” She entered in 1943, earned her degree at Saint Xavier College in Chicago and taught for 40 years in elementary schools in the Chicago area and in Madison, Wis. After teaching she worked at McAuley Convent and Manor in Aurora, Ill., for 18 years. Sister Madeleva Deegan, RSM • Age 84 April 16, 1926 - December 18, 2010 Born in Chicago, Sister Madeleva entered there in 1944. She received her bachelor’s degree in education in 1958 from Saint Xavier University and her master’s degree in elementary education from Northern Illinois University in 1973. She spent 42 years as a teacher, administrator and principal in Catholic elementary schools mostly in the Chicago area and in Janesville, Wis. In 1989, Sister Madeleva became a pastoral associate at St. Edmund Parish in Oak Park and served there for 12 years. During that time, she received several advanced certificates in pastoral studies. She retired in 2001 and volunteered in archives in Chicago. Sister Mary Assumpta Buckley, RSM • Age 95 July 2, 1915 - February 5, 2011 Sister Mary Assumpta entered in 1936 in Aurora, Ill. She studied nursing, graduating from Saint Xavier College and St. Louis University. She served in healthcare for 28 years as a nurse and hospital administrator in several Illinois hospitals. She spent four years on the provincial council of the Chicago Regional Community and served on the boards of several hospitals in Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin. She spent 34 years in pastoral care at Mercy Medical Center in Aurora until she retired in 2006. Sister Roselina McKillop, RSM • Age 85 October 11, 1927 - May 11, 2011 Sister Roselina entered the Sisters of Mercy in Chicago in 1944, joining her sister, Sister Lucille McKillop who entered in 1924. As a child, Roselina and her two sisters studied Irish step-dancing with famed instructor Pat Roche. The McKillop sisters were the first to compete in national competitions and won a national championship. For 33 years, Sister Roselina dedicated her life to teaching and school administration in Catholic schools in Illinois and Newport, R.I. She served as director of information and computer services at Salve Regina University in Newport and then as dean of admissions for 12 years. 12
Living Mercy • Summer 2011
Sister Mary Rita Meagher, RSM • Age 78 February 11, 1923 - May 14, 2011 Born in Chicago, Ill., Sister Rita Meagher entered in 1944. She taught for four years at schools in Chicago and in Davenport, Iowa. With a bachelor’s in nursing and a master’s in hospital administration, she served in Mercy hospitals in Chicago until moving to Aurora, Ill., in 1967. While CEO at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, she oversaw the building of the new general hospital. She also facilitated the merger of Mercyville Institute of Mental Health and Mercy Medical Center and served as CEO of the new entity, Mercy Center for Health Care Services in Aurora. Sister Rita became the planned giving officer for Mercy Center and then was a volunteer at Provena Mercy Medical Center and Provena McAuley Manor in Aurora until 2004.
IOWA Sister Mary Dorothy LaVigne, RSM • Age 77 June 26, 1933 - August 9, 2010 Born in Wisconsin, Sister Mary Dorothy entered in 1953 in Cedar Rapids. She earned her degree in history, education and home economics and taught for 17 years in Iowa schools. In 1985, she moved to Sacred Heart Convent in Cedar Rapids where she assisted with convent duties and worked on the Mount Mercy College campus. In retirement, she volunteered at Mercy Medical Center, baking bread, canning vegetables and making desserts. At holiday time, she would prepare food baskets for those in need. Sister Mary Ellen Flaherty, RSM • Age 87 August 1, 1923 - September 12, 2010 Sister Mary Ellen was born in Anamosa, Iowa, and entered in 1945. She became an R.N. in 1945, earned her nursing degree in 1950 and spent 45 years ministering in Iowa hospitals and later in volunteer ministries. She served as nursing supervisor at Mercy Hospitals in Cedar Rapids and Oelwein and administrator at Anamosa Community Hospital. She retired in 1990, but continued to volunteer at Mercy Medical Center and the Catherine McAuley Center in Cedar Rapids. She also started child care in private homes, a ministry she continued for many years. Sister Mary Clementine Cashman, RSM Age 96 February 16, 1914 - October 22, 2010 Born in St. Cecilia, Iowa, Sister Mary Clementine entered in 1932. With a bachelor’s degree in music, she spent 47 years as a music teacher in numerous Iowa schools and as principal at four of them. She also taught music in Kalispell, Mont. Sister Mary Clementine continued her ministry at Sacred Heart Convent, Mount Mercy College and Mercy
Medical Center. In 1998, she was inducted into the Mount Mercy Athletic Hall of Fame for her continued support of the college’s athletic programs. Sister Jane Ehrhardt, RSM • Age 82 November 27, 1928 - June 5, 2011 Sister Jane entered in 1947 in Marion, Iowa, and began her teaching ministry in 1950 at Immaculate Conception School in Charles City, Iowa. She loved working with children and went on to teach in numerous elementary schools in Iowa and Minnesota for the next 40 years. During the last 23 years, she served as school librarian at St. Joseph's School in Marion. In addition to a quality education, she taught students to believe in themselves. She retired in 2003 and moved to Sacred Heart Convent where she volunteered in addition to her prayer ministry.
MICHIGAN Sister Michaeleen Burns, RSM • Age 85 June 6, 1925 - August 8, 2010 Sister Michaeleen was a highly respected educator. She entered in 1944 in Detroit and for almost 50 years, she taught and/or served as principal in numerous Michigan schools in the Detroit area, Bay City, Lansing, Manistee and Saginaw. In 1993 she began a ministry in pastoral care at Abbey Mercy Living Center in St. Clair Shores. There, she enjoyed visiting the sick and with her sister, Sister Mary Burns, OP. After her sister’s illness, Sister Michaeleen retired at McAuley Center in Farmington Hills. Sister Gretchen Elliott • Age 69 June 4, 1941 - October 3, 2010 A Sister of Mercy for 51 years, Sister Gretchen was a graduate of Mercy schools with advanced degrees in painting, graphic layout and architecture. She taught art to students in Michigan Catholic schools. Next, she served in several leadership positions for Sisters of Mercy including Sister Formation, six years on the Institute Leadership Team, and eight years as president of the former regional community of Detroit. In 1998 Gretchen joined Mercy Health Services as vice president for Mission Services and was instrumental in guiding the formation of Trinity Health’s identity and first mission statement. She also implemented palliative care with the hospitals in the Trinity system. Sister Mary Cecelia Begin • Age 91 August 28, 1919 - November 21, 2010 Sister Cecelia entered in Dubuque, Iowa, in 1940. She spent the first 30 years in elementary education where she served as teacher and/or principal in schools in Michigan and in Independence, Iowa. In 1972, she spent 20
years in parish ministry at Madonna Parish in Detroit, first in religious education and then as associate pastor. In 1992, she began volunteer work including five years at the Detroit Regional Community office. She also was an accomplished seamstress. Sister Mary Carmen Brown • Age 99 October 26, 1911 - December 8, 2010 Sister Mary Carmen entered in 1930 in Grand Rapids, Mich. She served in elementary and secondary education for 52 years as a teacher, counselor and librarian. As a teacher and counselor, she guided students in seven schools around the state of Michigan. She also served as dean of girls at Mercy High School in Farmington Hills. In retirement, Sister Carmen discovered her artistic abilities. Sister Mary Blanche Lysaght • Age 89 February 25, 1921 - December 10, 2010 Born in Ohio, Sister Mary Blanche entered in Detroit, Mich., in 1942. She was a student at St. Mary’s School of Nursing in Grand Rapids and her first assignment as a registered nurse was clinical supervisor of orthopedics. She served as a nurse, teacher, administrator and pastoral associate in Michigan for 51 years. In 1981, she became a pastoral caregiver at Leila Hospital in Battle Creek. The next 15 years were filled with opportunities to be of personal assistance to hospitalized patients. Sister Teresa Margaret VanTassel • Age 92 May 11, 1918 - February 22, 2011 Sister Theresa Margaret entered at the age of 15 in Rochester, N.Y., where she was born. For more than 35 years, she taught in Catholic elementary schools in Rochester, serving as principal for 10 years. In 1969, she moved to Michigan and enrolled in milieu therapy, which dealt with treatment of older patients. This opened a new life for her and she moved to clinical pastoral ministry in a variety of settings in Michigan and Iowa. She retired in 1988 at McAuley Center in Farmington Hills. Sister Mary Charlene Curl • Age 95 October 28, 1915 - March 15, 2011 Sister Mary Charlene entered in 1940 in Dubuque, Iowa. Her ministry in nursing was distinguished by her skills in patient care and as an administrator and supervisor in Michigan hospitals, including 17 years as administrator of Leila Hospital in Battle Creek. In 1965, she and Sister Mary Aloysius Warnock were commissioned by leadership to join other religious and clergy from many faiths in a non-violent action for civil rights. For five days they were part of a major wave of protest against racial discrimination. Sister Charlene wrote an account of their experiences. Living Mercy • Summer 2011
Sister Mary Josephine Koschatzki, RSM Age 96 • July 30, 1914 - March 20, 2011 A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Sister Mary Josephine entered in Grand Rapids, Mich., in 1928. She spent 83 years in the Mercy community serving in ministries of education, sewing and prayer. In 1931, she began what would be a 53-year ministry teaching in elementary schools, all but 10 of these in Michigan. She once estimated that she had taught over 2,000 children. At the age of 66, Sister Josephine began teaching art. She then moved to McAuley Center in Farmington Hills and served as the diversional activities director.
MISSOURI Sister Mary Ernest LaForge, RSM • Age 99 February 21, 1911 - February 18, 2011 Sister Mary Ernest entered the Sisters of Mercy in 1930 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. She began her teaching career in parish elementary schools in Kansas City, Mo. One of her students was William Baum, later to become Cardinal William Baum. She spent 48 years teaching English, Latin and history in Missouri, Nebraska and California schools. She retired and volunteered in the laundry area at St. John Medical Center in Joplin, Mo. It wasn’t long before she was asked to visit patients and so began her second career in pastoral care for the next 19 years. Sister Joan Marie Martin, RSM • Age 75 September 21, 1935 - May 10, 2011 Born in Marshall, Mo., Sister Joan Marie entered in 1954 in Council Bluffs. Her life had three phases: teaching, housing and chaplaincy work. Her teaching phase began in 1959 and spanned the next 23 years serving in schools in Nebraska and Missouri. In 1980, she was asked to join a task force to plan Mercy Housing. She was involved in housing ministry in Missouri and Idaho for 11 years. Her third phase, chaplaincy, covered 14 years. She valiantly battled cancer for many years and spent her final year at Mercy Villa in Omaha among caring sisters and staff.
NEBRASKA Sister Joan Martin • Age 78 August 14, 1932 - December 15, 2010 Sister Joan entered in 1953. A 1957 graduate of St. Catherine’s Hospital School of Nursing in Omaha, Neb., she served in several hospitals in Nebraska and Iowa before receiving a master’s degree in hospital administration in 1968. Sister Joan was administrator at hospitals in Iowa, Oregon and Missouri, and president of Mercy Management Services in Boise and Denver. She then served on the Omaha Regional Community Leadership Team from 1990-1998. From 2003 on, she was assistant to the president of Mercy High School in Omaha. 14
Living Mercy • Summer 2011
Sister Catherine Marie Franey, RSM Age 99 May 15, 1911 - January 3, 2011 On her 99th birthday, Sister Catherine Marie was serenaded by the Mercy High (Omaha) Alumnae Choir, which she formed in 1980 and directed until 2005. The choir sang at her funeral, honoring her 70-year ministry of music that inspired thousands to love music and life. She entered in 1933 in Council Bluffs, Iowa, then taught for 24 years at St. Mary’s High School, 12 years at College of Saint Mary and 34 years at Mercy High School. A gift from her family established the Franey Fine Arts Center at Mercy High. Sister Mary Sparks Lavey, RSM • Age 77 April 2, 1933 - January 15, 2011 Sister Mary Sparks entered in 1952 in Omaha. She shaped the lives of hundreds of students she taught during her 36 years as an art teacher in Omaha, Colorado and Missouri schools and as a faculty member at Adams State College in Alamosa, Colo. After teaching, she devoted full time to her art. She opened Earthworks Studio and remained in Alamosa until 2006 when Alzheimer's disease necessitated her move to Mercy Villa in Omaha. Her talents included a thoughtful analysis and commitment to social issues especially women, peace and ecology. Her artwork is on display in many galleries.
NORTH DAKOTA Sister Mary Camille Prodzinski, RSM • Age 89 June 28, 1921 - December 20, 2010 Sister Camille was born in North Dakota and welcomed every opportunity to live and minister there. She entered in 1938 in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and served for 48 years in healthcare roles, including nurse, supervisor and administrator, at numerous Mercy hospitals in North Dakota and briefly at an Omaha hospital. After retiring in 1991, she continued as a volunteer in pastoral care until 2006 when she moved to Mercy Villa in Omaha.
WISCONSIN Sister Germaine Scheifen, RSM • Age 90 August 3, 1920 - November 15, 2010 Formerly known as Sister Mary Baptist, Sister Germaine was born in Wisconsin and entered in 1941. She spent her early years in ministry caring for the retired sisters in the former Chicago Regional Community at their infirmary. She then taught in parish schools in Milwaukee, Madison and Chicago for the next 49 years. When she retired, she taught students in the cultural arts program at Saint Xavier University. She is remembered as a friendly person with a kind smile who always greeted anyone she met.
Mercy Matters Sisters of Mercy Host Public Witness on Immigration At a public witness held June 25 at Saint Xavier University in Chicago, more than 400 Sisters of Mercy, Mercy Associates, and Mercy co-ministers from across North, South and Central America, along with representatives from local and state justice organizations, urged others to join in their efforts to stop deportations of immigrants in the United States. “The Sisters of Mercy came to this country as immigrants from Ireland and for more than 150 years we have ministered to immigrants in schools, hospitals, parishes and social service centers. This is who we are. This is what we do,” said Sister Mary Waskowiak, president of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. This public witness hosted by the Sisters of Mercy featured personal testimonies from families who have been ripped apart by deportations. The Sisters of Mercy carried silhouettes of men and women facing deportation, as a sign
Members of the Mercy community carried signs and silhouettes of men and women facing deportation as part of the public witness held in Chicago. of their solidarity with those who have been deported leaving families behind. They also signed letters to President Obama urging him to stop deportations.
Sisters of Mercy Elect New Institute Leadership Team The Sisters of Mercy have elected a new leadership team for the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, headquartered in Silver Spring, MD. Pictured to the right are: President Sister Patricia McDermott, RSM (West Midwest, Omaha, Neb.). Vice president is Sister Eileen Campbell, RSM (Mid-Atlantic, Philadelphia, Pa.); and councilors are Sisters Anne Curtis, RSM (NyPPaw, Rochester, N.Y.); Mary Pat Garvin (Mid-Atlantic, Philadelphia, Pa.) and Deborah Troillett (South Central, Little Rock, Ark.). Their term begins August 1. Nearly 300 Sisters of Mercy from across North, South and Central America, the Caribbean and the Pacific gathered at Saint Xavier University in Chicago, Ill., June 20-30, to pray, discern a direction for the next six years – including electing a new leadership team - and organize a public witness to call attention to the need for comprehensive immigration reform.
This meeting of the largest order of women religious in the United States was the Fifth Institute Chapter of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. On July 20, members will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, which is comprised of six communities with more than 3,800 sisters who serve in North, South and Central America, the Caribbean, Guam and the Philippines.
Living Mercy • Summer 2011
NON PROFIT ORG. U.S. POSTAGE
SISTERS OF MERCY OF THE AMERICAS WEST MIDWEST COMMUNITY, INC.
7262 Mercy Road Omaha, NE 68124-2389
Mercy Embraces ‘Awakening the Dreamer’ What can one person do to save the Earth? A lot, and the Sisters of Mercy are doing their part. More than a year ago, members of the West Midwest Justice Team attended an international symposium called “Awakening the Dreamer (ATD), Changing the Dream.” They were so moved by its message that they brought it to leadership who agreed it needed to be shared with the whole Mercy Community and beyond. The symposium was created by Bill and Lynn Twist of Pachamama, a San Francisco Bay area non-profit organization formed in conjunction with Ecuador’s native rain-forest people. It presents a powerful picture of the urgent crisis the Earth and its inhabitants are facing and offers a bold vision for an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling and socially just human presence on Earth. In the past year, the Sisters of Mercy Community has spent tremendous energy and time promoting, presenting and participating in this symposium in an effort to wake others up to the crisis at hand and create a critical mass of people committed to making changes in their lives and their communities. Sister Kathleen Erickson, a member of the West Midwest Justice Team, was the first to be trained as a facilitator. Since then, 15 others have been trained as facilitators and well over 1,000 sisters, associates, high school and college students and faculty, office staff members, as well as other colleagues and friends, have participated in the symposium. Awakening The Dreamer symposiums have been held in Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Colorado, Arizona, California, Oregon and most recently in Belize, Central America. More are being planned. Throughout the West Midwest Community, sisters, associates, companions and staff are working to make the world a better place by starting in their own “backyards.” Some of their efforts
in include: organizing community ggardens to encourage organic aand fresh produce; changing lilight bulbs to lower energy bulbs, rreducing the use of plastic bottles, aadding recycle bins, planting new ttrees and beginning a compost p program using their own kitchen sscraps. Employees on the C Community’s Burlingame, C Calif., campus were shocked to le learn that food waste is the la largest single source of waste in Regina Gomez from the the state, with over 6,000,000 Burlingame campus takes part in the 2011 Earth Day ceremony. tons dumped into landfills each year. A geographically dispersed Community, the West Midwest also has encouraged electronic meetings as an alternative to travel. Awareness is one of the greatest tools to fight environmental destruction. At Mercy Center in Burlingame, Catherine Regan infuses conscious awareness of the environment into everyday prayer, spiritual direction and retreat. “I remind them that we are embedded in Earth and interconnected with all.” Combining the issues of social justice, sustainability and spirituality is being called “eco-spirituality” and is resonating with the public. So, what can you, one person, do to save the Earth? Take simple steps like recycling and using less power. Educate yourself and your neighbors on these topics. Contact the Sisters of Mercy to attend or host an Awakening the Dreamer symposium in your city and help this message spread. If interested in experiencing an Awakening the Dream symposium, visit: www.mercywestmidwest.org/dreamer for a list of facilitators and areas where the symposium is being held. You can also visit www.awakeningthedreamer.org for more information and additional dates and locations.