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esponse R Holy Union Sisters

Called to be at the h e a r t o f t h e wo r l d reveal ing God’s l ove


125 Years

J oyfu lly Celebra ted




erine, ry Cath Srs. Maand Maryellen Paula,

Dear Friends, This summer Holy Union leadership and elected delegates from all areas of the congregation gathered in Dublin, Ireland for a Collegial Assembly, an event that takes place every six years. The sisters came together for three weeks to pray, to reflect, to set directions for the next six years of the life of the congregation and to elect new congregational leaders. The symbol chosen for the assembly was a stream of living water and the Scripture passage was from the Gospel of St. John: “I have come that you may have life.” During the second week, the delegates entered into a process of electing the new congregation leaders. The day of the elections began with Mass of the Holy Spirit and after prayer, discussion and discernment the new General Council was elected. Sr. Margaret O’Reilly from the AngloHibernian-Tanzanian Province is the superior general, and her council members are Srs. Theresa Horvath from the United States Province, Rebecca Sepepka from the Region of Cameroon and Una Burke from the Anglo-HibernianTanzanian Province. In the last days of the assembly, the delegates wrote a document with which the entire congregation will work for the next six years. It begins with a call to a deeper appreciation of creation and our responsibility to care for

“our beautiful but broken world”. To support its life and mission and in the light of our present reality, the congregation will restructure into mission areas. A second area of future work is to develop and implement plans that address concerns around present and future resources of membership, property and finance. The last point deals with the need for all areas of the congregation to look at their policies for safeguarding children, young people and vulnerable adults and update them to meet requirements to ensure that all God’s people will be respected and cared for with love. The document closes with this prayer that we invite you to pray with us. Loving God, You promised abundant life for all. Lead us from intention into action. Help us to commit ourselves anew to live the Gospel and share its message with all your people. Give us the vision and courage to find new ways to break open our charism that we may reveal your love in this our world and honor your presence in all creation. Sincerely,

, aRoche ula uline L and Pa Srs. Pa is u rq a e M Therese articipate in th p Im Marquis Prayer at Mary ls u o . S e c All en te Resid macula

ne Sr. Jean rnier, u o F d'Arc the s e c la p ts reques prayer e th before at The sisters ark m d Lan


d ction an e r r u s e ve he R ho belie “I am t w e s o h ill . T y die, w the life e h t f i es even who liv in me, e n o y r e ev live and es in me will e i v 6) and bel ” (John 11: 25-2 ie. never d

All Souls Prayer Remembrances In early November, Sr. Patricia Butler conducted All Souls Prayer Remembrance services with the Holy Union Sisters at The Landmark in Fall River and Mary Immaculate Residence in Lawrence. Throughout the month of November, the prayer requests submitted by family and friends of Holy Union were placed on the altar in the chapel at The Landmark and at Mary Immaculate they remained on the sisters prayer table. After the prayer service, the sisters listened with interest as Sr. Patricia updated them on the latest activities of the Mission Advancement Office.





Dear Friends in Mission, The Holy Union Sisters remain ever grateful for the many ways in which you contributed to the blessings of the 125th Anniversary year. The Anniversary Booklet, made available at each of the 125th events, contains a history of the wonderful work of education Mother Helena and her companions began. It also details how Holy Union ministry continues. Page 15 graphically illustrates how the ministry of education carries on in many and varied contexts. There is a great deal for us to continue celebrating. The Holy Union Sisters look toward the future as the Congregation stands at the threshold of a new year. This future will present new challenges and new possibilities. Sr. Carol Regan, in her reflection at the 125th final Liturgy, envisions the future in this way: “We welcome the future that lies before us, although we cannot know for certain what shape it will take. This we do know: in this our anniversary year and together with all our Sisters throughout the Congregation, we commit ourselves anew to share

Heritage House News

Jesus’ promise of abundant life and to work toward the realization of that promise ‘in our beautiful but broken world.’" (Collegial Assembly document). Your constant support is a blessing and encouragement for the Holy Union Sisters as they remain faithful to their heritage of revealing God’s love. The Holy Union Sisters recognize the many challenges each of you faces in your daily lives. Know that you remain in grateful prayer throughout Holy Union as the new year unfolds. Sincerely,

Patricia Butler, SNDdeN

The Holy Union Heritage House since its inauguration in June 2011 has welcomed a variety of visitors who have come to learn about the Holy Union Sisters past, present and future. Since its opening: Srs. Connie Gagnon and Jean Carpinelli admire a photo from Holy Union history.

• Holy Union Sisters and friends toured with curator, Sr. Gert Pare. • Sr. Rita Beaudoin, Holy Union Archivist, gave a tour to enthusiastic upper grade students of the Country Day School of the Holy Union. In preparation some students had visited and viewed the photo gallery from the Heritage House opening. • Sr. Joan Guertin hosted a gathering for new associates from Ayer and Shirley as part of their orientation to the Holy Union Sisters. Sr. Joan also gave a presentation on Holy Union core values.

Sr. Rita Beaudoin explains artifacts to students from the Country Day School of the Holy Union as they visit the Heritage House.

In order to share the Holy Union history with a wider audience, a Holy Union Pilgrimage will take place in early spring. This pilgrimage will include prayer, reflection, a tour of the Heritage House, celebration of the Eucharist and close with a light supper. There is a place on the enclosed envelope for you to indicate your interest in participating in this Holy Union Pilgrimage. Further details will be coming soon. We hope you will be able to join us.




Joyfulleylebrating C


Henry McAvoy of St. William Parish,Tewksbury wrote, “My wife Maria and I were pleased to share in the Holy Union Sisters celebration of 125 years in the U.S. The Mass impressed and touched us. The liturgy and music were amazing. The reception was well done with the picture display detailing the history of the sisters and their role as educators. It was very nice to receive the prayer cards and the Holy Union Sisters Souvenir Booklet, with the great overview and history of their mission in the U.S. We enjoyed the testimonials by speakers associated with the sisters. We enjoyed being present at this wonderful celebration.�

Karen Sangmeister, a graduate of Sacred Heart School, Mt. Ephraim, NJ lives about 400 miles from where she grew up. She says " I made the trip back last year because it afforded me a priceless opportunity - to say, "Thank you!" to the committed, thoughtful, hardworking sisters who helped to educate me. It was great fun to see them, and even more fun to realize that they all still had their sense of humor! I am a school administrator and adjunct professor and realize even more as an adult in the same profession how you modeled habits of thought and reflection for us when we were squirrelly preteens. You patiently and persistently insisted that we work hard, read a lot, achieve a high standard, and spend our time productively. Thank you!"

Coming Full Circle The story of each sister's vocation is unique. Sr. Therese Marquis' story, while one of constant fidelity to her call, took a long and circuitous path. Therese entered Holy Union in 1944, and like most Holy Union Sisters taught in parish schools, a ministry that continued for almost twenty years. When her mother became seriously ill, she was needed at home to care for her. She received permission to do this, but her mother's illness extended for several years and she had to make a most difficult decision: to return to the convent or be dispensed from her vows. Although she lived at home and cared for her parents and other family members, Therese maintained strong ties with Holy Union. She often spent weekends in the Lowell community with her sister, Sr. Paula Marquis. She was very much at home and entered into all the sisters' activities and spirit of community. After the deaths of all those for whom she had cared, she thought seriously of returning to Holy Union, but it was not quite the




Donald Davey, Sr. Eileen Davey's brother, traveled from Portland Oregon to attend the celebration in Astoria. Don wrote, "It was wonderful visiting with Sr. John Alicia / Kathleen Gibney, my 8th grade teacher and seeing that she had lost none of her enthusiasm or humor over the years. I also enjoyed the old photos that were posted in the hall. It was wonderful for my sister Eileen and brother Andy to attend the celebration together as alumni of Immaculate Conception School." Mrs. Irene Gadziala has been the secretary at St. Louis School, Clarksville, MD since 1976. When her two daughters attended the school, Sr. Mary Catherine Duerr was principal and Sr. Marilyn Spellman was assistant principal. Irene feels "very blessed to have the sisters in her life" and has continued to be in touch with them through the years. She was happy to meet other friends of the sisters at the reception that followed the Mass at the Basilica of the Assumption in Baltimore on September 25, 2011. Reminiscing about the reunion of the Sisters of the Holy Union at St. Anthony Parish in Shirley brought back pleasant memories for Mary Jane Pauley." She recalled: "The years when the sisters were stationed in Lawrence where I lived as a youngster and also their years in Shirley where Sisters Lorraine and Jeanette taught our children and where I formed a happy friendship with them both. I was happy to see so many of the sisters in attendance at the 125 celebration."

right time. When the Lowell house closed and many of the sisters moved to Mary Immaculate Residence in Lawrence, Therese decided to move there too. At Mary Immaculate, she continued to share in the prayer and social activities of the sisters. Therese expressed to each member of the Mission Team that she had always been a Holy Union Sister in her heart and desired to return to the congregation. She formally asked the General Council for readmittance, and when they approved her request, began a process of reintegration. Sr. Marilyn Gignac, a trained spiritual director, accompanied Therese to help her understand more clearly how religious life is lived today. On September 25,2011, surrounded by her Holy Union Sisters, Therese pronounced once again her vows of chastity, poverty and obedience at St. William Church, Tewksbury. Her years of fidelity to God could now be lived out within her Holy Union family, which she believed she had never left.





Newsbriefs Sr. Ramona Elena Ponce, SUSC, known to all as Sr. Neco, has been a Holy Union Sister for twenty years. In her native Argentina, she ministered mainly among immigrants from Bolivia, Paraguay, Peru and Chile as well as other Argentinean provinces. Her studies in social psychology aided Sr. Neco in ministering to these people. She worked in the areas of communication and conflict resolution in families, schools and in the workplace.

the U.S. After a long and complicated visa process, she arrived in Monticello last April. Srs. Ann Kernan, SUSC and Una Davey, SUSC warmly welcomed her.

Sr. Neco now visits Hispanic Her pastoral ministry was with teenagers, Although she sees much families and coordinating catechism classes and participoverty where she is prepares their children for First pating in women's Bible Study groups. She now minister ing, Sr. Neco Communion. She led a retreat for people of the accompanied the immigrant people in their believes that Monticello is area and helped develop a workshop on the meanreligious celebrations of popular devotion. She rich in solidarity; the way ing of Advent. Her main interest is listening to the supported families in times of sorrow and at people help each other and people, their joys and sorrows, and encouraging the death of loved ones. the number of volunteers their strong hope and faith. When the request came for a sister from the who assist the poor. One of the similarities Sr. Neco has noticed Argentinean Province to minister in Monticello, between her ministries in Argentina and Kentucky is the pheKY, Sr. Neco discerned with her local community. She believed nomenon of migration. People leave their families and their that her background and experience was a good fit for the homeland in the hope of building a better life. needs of the Hispanic community in Kentucky. She knew that The basic needs of healthcare, housing, clothing, food and she could communicate with them in their own language and education are the same in both Argentina and the United accompany them in their religious celebrations. She also States. A third similarity is people’s faith in God. They believe wanted to know more about the life of Holy Union Sisters in Continued on page 6


Sr. Theresa Horvath, newly elected General Councillor

The past few months have been a time of transition within the Holy Union Congregation. At the Collegial Assembly, the delegates elected Sr. Theresa "Tess" Horvath from the US Province to the General Council. Sr. Tess, a Baltimore native, entered Holy Union in 1960. For several years, she taught junior and senior high school. She was an elementary school principal, coordinator of a parish religious education program and served as Director of Pastoral Care at Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore.

She served as coordinator of personnel for the former Fall River Province, was provincial for three years and a member of the first Mission Team of the newly formed U.S. Province. For the past seven years, she has been Vice-President for Mission at St. Mary’s Hospital, a sponsored ministry of the Bon Secours Sisters in Richmond, VA. Sr. Tess believes that as a member of the General Council, they can journey together with hope into “the congregation we are becoming.”

Sr. Carol Regan, a member of the U.S. Province, has completed twelve years as congregation leader. She was a member of international teams that included sisters from Argentina, Belgium, Ireland, and the U.S. During her two terms, Sr. Carol has witnessed many changes within the congregation. The two former provinces of France and Belgium have merged into the Franco-Belge Province. In Cameroon and Tanzania, there have been many new vocations to Holy Sr. Carol Regan at the 125th anniversary Union. The congregation established a final liturgy Trust to facilitate a more equitable sharing of its’ financial resources and joined UNANIMA, a coalition of smaller women's congregations at the United Nations. In addition to her service to Holy Union, Sr. Carol served on groups with other congregation leaders in Rome. As part of this work, she attended international meetings of women religious in Bangalore, India, and Warsaw, Poland. In February, she will begin a year long sabbatical with a three-month program at the Centre for Biblical Formation in Jerusalem. The sisters in the U.S. Province look forward to welcoming Sr. Carol back in May.





Holy Union Jubilarians 2011

75 years Sr. Rita LaPrade

75 YEARS Sr. Rita LaPrade Sr. Irene Rita Fontaine

70 years Standing: Sr. Dorothy Cotterell, Seated: Srs. Celine Teresa Rainville and Shirley Deyo

(Sr. Louise Dolores) (RIP) August 6, 2010

70 YEARS Sr. Dorothy Cotterell (Sr. Stephen Dolores) Sr. Shirley Deyo (Sr. Miriam Joseph) Sr. Celine Teresa Rainville 65 YEARS Sr. Rita Beaudoin (Sr. Ruth Elizabeth) Sr. Beatrice Gerard Bouvier Sr. Marie Pauline Collette Sr. Ruth Curry (Sr. Marie Thomas) (RIP) February 3, 2011 Sr. Lucille Richard (Sr. Albert Joseph) Sr. Mary Zavacky (Sr. Edward Mary) 60 YEARS Sr. Louise Gabrielle Bourget Sr. Hannah Collins (Sr. Nora William) Sr. Mary Ellen Donohue (Sr. Catherine Michael) Sr. Patricia Mulryan (Sr. Bernadette Patrick) Sr. Marilyn Spellman (Sr. Maureen Joseph) Sr. Marcelle Theriault (Sr. Marie Marcelle) Sr. Therese Theroux (Sr. Beatrice Therese) Sr. Barbara Walsh (Sr. Barbara Thomas)

60 years Standing: Srs. Patricia Mulryan, Mary Ellen Donohue, Hannah Collins, Marilyn Spellman, Barbara Walsh Seated: Srs. Louise Gabrielle Bourget, Therese Theroux, Marcelle Theriault

Newsbriefs, continued from page 5 co Sr. Ne First s d r a aw union Comm te to a ic Certif . t n e d u st

50 YEARS Sr. Eileen Davey Sr. Christine Lacroix Sr. Sandra Marcoux

(Sr. Helen Patrick) (Sr. Christine Marie) (Sr. Joseph Catherine)


65 years Standing: Sr. Rita Beaudoin Seated: Srs. Beatrice Gerard Bouvier, Marie Pauline Collette Left Corner: Sr. Lucille Richard Right Corner: Sr. Mary Zavacky

50 years Sr. Eileen Davey, Sr. Sandra Marcoux, Sr. Christine Lacroix

in God's promises and have a strong devotion to the Virgin of Guadalupe. The last similarity Sr. Neco noted are the challenges of HIV aids, violence, child abuse, hunger, drugs, and new ways of exclusion. She finds three basic differences between life in Argentina and the United States. In Argentina people can enter and leave the country without any difficulty but many immigrants have difficulty entering the U.S. Another difference is the cost of health care. Here it is largely unaffordable for the poor, but Argentina has public hospitals that people without money can access for free. Lastly, she states: "In Argentina I discovered a church on the side of the poor, attentive to their needs, a church that received all without distinction. In Monticello, there is only one Catholic Church but many Evangelical churches. This confuses the people who are drawn to the Evangelical churches because they offer them work." Although she sees much poverty in Kentucky, Sr. Neco believes that Monticello is rich in solidarity: the way people help each other and the number of volunteers who assist the poor.





What’s Happening in Vocation Ministry Sisters Marilyn Gignac and Jane Newcomb, who form the US Province Vocation-Formation Team, have been busy over the past few months. In August, Sr. Marilyn, along with Sr. Nancy Stiles and Sr. Emerentia Tange from Cameroon attended World Youth Day in Madrid. The six-day event, Srs. Marilyn and Nancy with attended by thousands of young participants from the Philippines people from all over the world, included prayer, educational events and a healthy dose of local culture. A highlight of the event was the final mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI at Cuatro Vientos, Spain's oldest airport. For the Holy Union Sisters, the event offered an opportunity to meet many committed young Catholics from all over the world. In November, Srs. Marilyn and Jane, along with Sr. Barbara Kirkman, attended the Religious Formation Congress in

Kansas City, MO. The congress theme was“ Prophetic Religious Life: If Not Now…When?" Participants, who included women and men religious from the United States and beyond, heard wellqualified keynote speakers and workshop facilitators address this theme. Sr. Barbara Reid, OP, a Scripture Professor at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, challenged her listeners with these words: “All religious are given the gift of prophecy. Srs. Jane, Barbara and Marilyn chat The mission of the prophet with speaker, Fr. Anthony Gittins, CSSp is not always a happy one. A prophetic community does not walk into the future precipitously…but…if not now, when?! God seems to choose very ordinary people to do extraordinary things.” The Holy Union participants purchased videos of some of the speakers which they will share with those interested.

Sr. Roberta Desjardins’ Reflections on a Long and Diverse Vocation After living 53 years out of the country, getting back into the America Mode has not been as easy as one might believe. I have made many trips back to the U.S. over those years away, initially every 6 years then 4 years and then irregularly depending on the opportunity. I was thankfully able to keep up with developments in the U.S. and though home leaves were short, they helped me to be aware of the evolution of Holy Union as well as developing technology. I spent my first years away in Africa in different services in our Cameroon Region. When youth was still brazen and foolhardy, I managed a dispensary and helped the sister RN who had arrived before me to dispense medicines, give intravenous injections, and care for phagedenic leg ulcers, which were quite awesome. The experience at the health center also gave me an opportunity to learn Pidgin English, which proved very useful during all my years in Africa. Another ministry was as head of a primary school of some 400 children. This was in the French section of Cameroon and

my French background proved invaluable in dealing with teachers, parents and children – though Pidgin was the language of most people. Teachers in the bush areas at that time had very little training and my own teacher training, though rudimentary, served us all well. At that time too, a political upheaval in the country became quite serious and terrorist groups started attacking villages and missions. The orphanage, where I was stationed while ministering in the dispensary and school, was in need of a new directrice and the lot fell to me. After some years, A vocation of service and ministry we left that ministry to in Holy Union is possible at any a medically oriented age and wherever one is; Congregation of sisters. being at the heart of the world... Over the years, serving we have countless opportunities as a translator was anto reveal God’s Love – and that other duty I added. is what Holy Union is all about. Later I worked in the tropical forest area of Cameroon with people of the Baka tribe. Village work entailed coordinating various development programs, building bush schools, clearing forest paths, digging wells, promoting beekeeping and sewing as part of a self-help project funded by continued on back cover

Sr. Roberta Desjardins’ Reflections: continued from page 7

the Dutch government. These were challenging and exhilarating years. But where did Christian ministry and catechesis fit in? Our Holy Union communities in Africa as elsewhere are international, very united, prayerful and steadfast. Survival in the ‘50s and ‘60s, indeed in any era, depends on all of these qualities. Cameroon was a wonderful milieu for introducing Christian ethics and witnessing as a religious community. Parish ministries are always part of life in a mission setting. Through it all, Pidgin English and Baka, besides my own French and English served me well; indeed, they still do.

VISIT to see photos of Sr. Therese’s profession and Sr. Neco’s ministry in Kentucky.

Along the way, between 1957 and 2010, were stints in Italy where various ministries over a total of fifteen years seemed to fit skills I had and introduced me to the Italian language.


It was from my last Italian ministry that I returned to the U.S. where I now am retired and live with eight other Holy Union Sisters at Mary Immaculate Residence in Lawrence, MA. We mingle with more than five hundred residents and get to know them and their families quite well. I now have time to visit the public library, take Art courses and join in activities organized by the administration of MI. We also meet regularly as a Holy Union community. In reflecting on my life, I know that a vocation of service and ministry in Holy Union is possible at any age and wherever one is. Being at the heart of the world here in our MI complex, we have countless opportunities to reveal God’s Love – and that is what Holy Union is all about. – ROBERTA DESJARDINS, SUSC

Sister Patricia Butler, SNDdeN Holy Union Sisters U.S. Province Mission Advancement Director PO Box 410, Milton, MA 02186-0006 (617) 696-8765 ext 19 Fax: (617) 696-8571 Sister Mary Lou Simcoe, SUSC Communications Director 550 Rock Street, Fall River, MA 02720-3436 (508) 674-0909 Designer: Anne Martens Plymouth, MA 02360 508-224-2648

Photo credits: Michael Kinnane Sister Mary Lou Simcoe, SUSC Sister Nancy Stiles, SUSC Sister Jon Julie Sullivan, SNDdeN

Online Donations Please visit the Holy Union Sisters website,, the Mission Advancement page, in order to: • Learn about an Invitation to Partnership that outlines some specific Holy Union ministry needs • Make an on-line donation • Begin estate planning that would benefit the Holy Union Sisters • Learn about the Memorial Program.

Remembering Holy Union in Your Will As you provide for loved ones in your will, you can leave an additional amount for your charitable interests. You can name a specific amount, a percentage of your estate, or any remaining assets for the Holy Union Sisters. If you would like more specific information, please contact: the Mission Advancement Office at 617-696-8765 ext 19 or

Response is published twice a year by the Mission Advancement and Communications Offices for friends and families of the Holy Union Sisters.

Visit us on the web at

2011-- Fall/Winter  

Mission Advancement Fall 2011 Newsletter

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