Chris E. Barber This mission of St. Bernards will continue through the leadership of Chris B. Barber, who has worked at St. Bernards for the past 18 years. During this time, Mr. Barber has worked closely with Mr. Owens, has been involved with everyday proceedings and is well acquainted with administration of the enterprise. Born in Jonesboro at St. Bernards, Mr. Barber received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and a Master’s in Public Administration, from Arkansas State University. He and his wife Michelle (Hagman) Barber have three sons. Mr. Barber was first hired in 1992, as Quality Coordinator, then in 1997, advanced to Assistant Vice President, Clinical Information Services. In 2002, Barber was named Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer of St. Bernards Medical Center and in 2003 to present time, Barber was named Administrator of St. Bernards Medical Center. The Sisters offer our prayers and support to Mr. Barber, as he takes up his new position as Administrator and CEO of St. Bernards Health Care enterprise.
Ben Owens Retires (Continued from page 1) our regional community at large. Mr. Owens has guided St. Bernards from the good-sized community hospital he inherited in 1972, to become a worldclass medical center and health care enterprise to the present time. He is leaving St. Bernards in good hands by having an approved succession plan in place to continue the mission of the Sisters when they opened St. Bernards in 1900, “To provide Christ-like healing to the community through education, treatment and healthcare services.” Mr. Owens will continue to serve as consultant, as St. Bernards continues the delivery of Christ-like healthcare services in the 21st century. The Sisters express sincere gratitude to Mr. Owens for his dedicated service for these past 38 years. We ask God to grant His choicest blessings on him and his loved ones.
QUASQUICENTENNIAL 125TH ANNIVERSARY The Olivetan Benedictine Sisters of Holy Angels Convent will celebrate the 125th anniversary of our first Sisters arriving in Arkansas – 18872012. The 125th Anniversary Committee is planning activities to be celebrated throughout 2012, beginning on December 13, 2011. A commemorative Booklet, entitled “Memories and Milestones,” is being composed that will feature a brief history and numerous pictures depicting the Sister. The parishes, where our Sisters served for a period of time during these past 125 years, have been invited to list greetings in the booklet from their respective parish. We are also including a section in the commemorative book for FRIENDS OF HOLY ANGELS, to list their names for a $10 donation, which will help defray cost of publication. See special notice about this section on p.5
Quasquicentennial Committee Back Row: L to R: Sr. Mary Anne Nuce, Sr. Lisa O’Connell & Sr. Debora Coffey Front Row: Sr. Henrietta Hockle, Sr. Romana Rohmer & Sr. Dominica Wise.
FRIENDS OF HOLY ANGLES You are invited to join in celebrating our QUASQUICENTENNIAL - the 125th anniversary (1887-2012) of our first Sisters coming to Arkansas. By sending $10, your name will be listed in the commemorative booklet, “Memories and Milestones,” under the section, “Friends of Holy Angles.” The yearlong celebration will begin, December 13, 2011. Deadline for entering your name in the booklet is: December 1, 2010. If interested, please make a check for $10 to Olivetan Benedictine Sisters and how you want your name listed in the booklet. SEND TO: Olivetan Benedictine Sisters Attention: Sr. Henrietta Hockle P.O. Box 130 Jonesboro, AR 72403
WORKSHOP Father Vincent Tobin, OSB
L E AV E A L E G A C Y Six Ways to Leave a Legacy to Holy Angels Convent: • Remember Holy Angels Convent in your Will.
C S NDSMD M L
HOLY ANGELS CONVENT NEWSLETTER P.O. DRAWER 130 JONESBORO, ARKANSAS 72403-0130
“Return Service Requested”
• Name Holy Angels Convent as a beneficiary of your IRA or Pension Plan.
NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION U.S. POSTAGE
PA I D
PERMIT NO. 102 JONESBORO, AR
Olivetan Benedictine Oli O B di d i SSisters Si
• Purchase a Life Insurance Policy and name Holy Angels Convent as beneficiary.
Jonesboro, Arkansas 72403-0130
• Remember deceased loved ones with memorial gifts to Holy Angels Convent.
Volume 27 No. 3
• Remember Holy Angels Convent with planned gifts. During the week of June 28 to July 2, Fr. Vincent Tobin, OSB, from St. Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana conducted a workshop on the Rule of St. Benedict. He is ably qualified, due to his long experience in living the Rule at St. Meinrad’s and his 19 years of teaching experience at the Benedictine Headquarters at St. Anselmo in Rome. To open the workshop, Fr. Vincent gave an overview of the origins of Monasticism from the earliest times, beginning with the Desert Fathers. A reaction to the laxity of Christian life, the early desert Fathers based their response on four basic fundamental principles. The four principles are as follows: (1) Unremitted attention to the teaching of the Apostles; (2) Building up of strong, mutual loving relationships with others; (3) Breaking of the Bread; and (4) Prayer, both communal and individual. By his wisdom, vision and humanity, Benedict adapted some of the early monastic rules, into one of 73 chapters for living the cenobitic life in community. Fr. Vincent explained that the rule is heavily based on Scripture and passages are interspersed throughout the text. The first admonition in the Rule is ”LISTEN,” which is fundamental to learning how to live. He then outlined five basic elements that comprise the Rule of St. Benedict: 1) Enclosure and Silence – There has to be a certain place. 2) Prayer- based on Scripture – Opus Dei and Lectio Divina. 3) Asceticism – a concerted effort for spiritual discipline and building spirituality. 4) Common life – bending one’s will to that of another – superior - saying “yes.” 5) Work – serve each other – inspired by God – sustaining one’s livelihood. Fr. Vincent stressed that the fundamental principle of living in community is “forgiveness.” Without forgiveness, we can have no peace. Peace is the “hallmark” of Benedictine Life. Throughout the week, Fr. Vincent shared many helpful insights on interpreting the Rule and gave practical ideas about living in a community.
Holy Angels Echoes Summer 2010
Health & Wellness Institue
• Establish a Charitable Remainder Trust with Holy Angels Convent as the charity. Contact your attorney for correct procedure.
Sr. Mary Clare Bezner and Sr. Glorea Knaggs attended the State Youth Conference in Little Rock on the weekend of May 7. They participated in the activities that weekend, set up a Vocation booth and responded to inquiries about religious life. Several women have visited Holy Angels this year to see our way of life. During their stay, they had the opportunity to join us for prayer and experience our various ministries. One of our latest visitors was Jenny Lynn Pelzel, from Pilot Point, Texas, who has been serving as youth minister in Muenster, Texas. Our Sisters have served many years at Sacred Heart School in Muenster and we always look forward to the eighth grade girls’ annual visit to Holy Angels in the fall. Please join us in prayer that many more young women will be called by God to serve Jesus as an Olivetan Benedictine Sisters of Holy Angels.
OBLATE RETREAT The annual retreat for Oblates was held on July 16-18. The theme this year was “The Guidance of the Holy Rule in Daily Life.” Oblate Bernadette Ponton presented a program on “Finding the Holy Rule in Daily Life.” She highlighted practical ways in which the Rule can be incorporated into one’s daily life. Sr. Mary John Seyler, Director of Oblates for Holy Angels presented Don Curtsinger from Mayfield, Kentucky, who made his Oblation, and David Coe, from Jonesboro to be enrolled in the program. The weekend concluded Sunday after the noon meal.
Activities Meetings May 5 – Third grade from St. Paul School in Pocahontas visited Holy Angels and enjoyed a tour of the convent. May 9 – 15 – Hospital Week – Different activities were held all week to commemorate this annual event. On Tuesday of that week (May 11), two different groups of administrators came to the convent to do indoor and outdoor spring clean-up. May 17 – Fifth and Sixth grade students of Blessed Sacrament School in Jonesboro visited Holy Angels Convent and enjoyed a tour of our facilities.
June 11 - A number of Sisters attended St. Bernards Annual picnic on the grounds of the Earl Bell center. In addition to the picnic fare served, attendees enjoyed games with prizes and swimming in the pool. June 12-13 – St. Bernards held its 3rd Annual “Threads of Life” quilt show in the auditorium. The 2010 show had largest number to date of displays of quilts and vendors with quilting supplies.
May 22 – A number of Sisters from Holy Angels attended the Ordination ceremony in Little Rock for four new priests.
June 18-20 – Sr. Eileen Schneider and Sr. Jeanette Bayer attended the 2010 Bible Institute at St. John’s Center in Little Rock. The theme this year was “Catholics Consider Creation.” Pauline Viviano, PhD, presented five sessions exploring the Genesis accounts, their message today, and how the Catholic faith understands.
May 23 – The Community enjoyed the Spring Picnic that was held at Lake Frierson State Park The Members of the Novitiate prepared the hamburgers and all the trimmings.
June 25-27 - Sr. Mary Clare Bezner, Vocation Directress, attended the diocesan-wide High School Search Retreat held at John’s Pastoral Center in Little Rock.
May 25 – The Sage Meadows Garden Club came for a tour of the convent and enjoyed lunch with the Sisters.
July 4-17 – Sr. Deborah Coffey attended a “Classical Drawing Workshop,” at Thomas Moore College, Merrimack, NH. Instructor: David Clayton.
May 29 – The West Memphis Sisters invited the Novitiate Members to come for a special Vietnamese meal prepared by Sr. Cecilia. June 6 - A special Musical Presentation was given at Holy Angels by three accomplished musicians on the staff at ASU, Dr. Dan Ross, played the Oboe; Dr. Dale Clark played the piano, and Dr. Lauren Schack Clark played the piano.
Prayers and Sympathy
July 15 – Arkansas State University presented the ASU Ringers (handbell choir) under the direction of Dr. M. Ellis Julien. Concert was held at the Holy Angel Convent.
Ben E. Owens
Sr. Mary John Seyler, Vice-president of Mission Effectiveness and Head of Pastoral Care Dept. offered the prayer and assisted in the dedication ceremonies. St. Bernards Medical Center is opening a new era in wellness throughout our community. Formal groundbreaking ceremonies were held on June 15, for the new Health and Wellness Institute. The spacious twolevel facility will be a one-of-a-kind complex that integrates a wide variety of medically based fitness, treatment and preventive services under a single roof. It will blend a state-of-the-art fitness center with several clinical departments that promote health improvement, lifestyle modification and rehabilitation. The center itself will include an indoor aquatics center, an indoor walking track, studio classrooms and cardio and weightlifting equipment. It will be staffed by
specially trained exercise instructors, fitness specialists, exercise physiologists and personal trainers to provide guidance and support for members. In addition, several clinical departments will be located within the Institute such as Diabetes Management and the Center for Weight Loss. Plans are being finalized for programs and pricing structure for membership and services. According to plans, the new Institute will open in the fall of 2011. The local construction company of Nabholz provided the lowest bid and will be in charge of erecting the facility. The convenient, well-designed complex will be located at Lakeshore Drive and Logan Avenue, just off Matthews Street.
We extend sincere sympathy and an assurance of our prayers to the following who lost a loved one. • Sr. Therese Johnson, on the death of her sister-in-law, Sonia L. Figueroa, who died on July 4. • Pam Humble (Oblate) and Family on the death of husband Steve Humble (Oblate), who died on July 4.
Ben Owens Retires
Architect’s rendering of new Health and Wellness Institue.
After 38 years of visionary leadership at the helm of St. Bernards Medical Center and Health Care, Mr. Ben E. Owens, M.H.A., FACHE, is retiring at the end of July. Hired by Sister Benedicta Boeckmann in 1972, at first, as Administrator, then in 1999, he was named President and Chief Operating Officer of St. Bernards. Sr. Benedicta was succeeded in office, as Prioress, and Mr. Owens continued to serve with the following six Prioresses: Sister Julia Pruss, from1975-81; Sister Mary John Seyler, from 1981-87; Sister Cabrini Arami, from 1987-93; Sister Henrietta Hockle, from 1993-1999; Sister Eileen Schneider from 1999 to 2005; and Sister Mary Anne Nuce from 2005 until the present time, 2010. Ben E. Owens, born in Alicia, Arkansas, graduated from Arkansas College (now Lyons College) in Batesville and did advanced graduate work in Hospital Administration at Columbia University and St. Louis University. He married Dixie Lucille Sutton and they have two adult children and two grandchildren. In recognition of Owens’ outstanding contributions to health care in northeast Arkansas, St. Bernards dedicated the cancer treatment center, the Ben. E. Owens Cancer Treatment Center in 1991. All the numerous recognitions and awards for his contributions to health care throughout Arkansas, and for his involvement in the civic community of Jonesboro, would fill a small book by themselves. And yet, none of them can do justice in reflecting the visionary leadership in health care that Mr. Owens has delivered, not only to St. Bernards, but to (Continued on page 5)
Message From The Prioress Many communities and families are swamped with what we call “begging letters.” When money is sent to an organization, your name seems to spread to other places. In our community, the Council has a list of places to which we give and we budget for these donations. So many of the letters are asking for money to feed starving children. When one sees the look on the face of these starving children, it is difficult to pass them by. The other day, I received a photo from the Catholic Relief Services showing a picture of the father, the only breadwinner of the family. “Fear,” he says, “is when you have doubts. But this lack of food is a sure thing. We are already in a desperate situation. Now it’s how we get past it.”
Another letter from the Christian Appalachian Project states, “For many boys and girls in Appalachia, their excitement is tempered by hunger pangs that remain long after the snow is gone.” Then, I ask the question, “Why do these children suffer when I am around people who have an abundance of nourishing food?” Then I remember when a couple of our Sisters visited a third world country, they came back saying, “In spite of the poverty of these children, they and their families were a happy people. Here I think of the Psalm 40: “Though, I am afflicted and poor, the Lord keeps me in mind.” (Psalm 40:18). Perhaps, we are the ones starving, not for food, but for finding God in our lives in the many little things that come across each day. Sister Mary Anne Nuce
Sixty Years Ago
RETREAT – 2010 Father Pius X Harding, OSB
Father Pius X Harding, OSB from Mount Angel Abbey, Oregon was the Retreat Master for the June 13-18, 2010, Retreat at Holy Angels. To open the retreat, Fr. Pius stated that the theme could be called, “What I love about being a Benedictine.” Some of the highlights from the Retreat were as follows: In the beginning of the Rule, St. Benedict tells his followers to LISTEN. He further admonishes them to “Listen with the ear of your heart.” This admonition permeates the Rule, which is based on the Scriptures. Listening to the Scriptures is essential in the life of a Benedictine. Fr. Pius also stressed that Charity is the thread that should be interwoven throughout one’s life in a monastery or convent. When Christ appeared to His apostles after his resurrection, He said, “PEACE, I give to you,” which is also His gift to us. Christ brought us together in this community to live in peace. He breaks down barriers of hostility so the bond of charity can grow in each member. Each Benedictine monastery should be like a city of peace. Living in charity, one should be concerned about “all together” going to heaven. Fr. Pius emphasized that the Vows, the Sacraments, the Liturgy of the Hours and Lectio Divina (Spiritual Reading), help us to stay “rooted” in our quest for God. Obedience to the Father was Christ’s glory; it is also ours. Suffering helps to align ourselves more with Christ. Armed with obedience, we are ready to do battle for Christ, our King. Holy Angels is a place where you can enter into the right relationship with God. Throughout the week, Fr. Pius gave useful pointers to help enhance our spiritual life, as we journey to eternity. The Retreat closed with the Apostolic Blessing and the solemn renewal of Vows.
HOLY ANGELS CONVENT Echoes published quarterly by the Olivetan Benedictine Sisters Sister Henrietta Hockle – Editor Sister Monica Swirczynski – Proof Reader Sister Marilyn Doss & Sister Miriam Burns – Photos Sister Thèrése Johnson & Sister Virginia Baltz – Circulation
Sixty years ago, five Sisters professed their First Vows. Pictured from left Right: Mother Pepetua Reinart with: Sr. Monica Swirczynski, Sr. Dominica Wise, Sister Denis Dougherty (deceased) and Sr. Mary Anne Nuce. SEE articles p. 3 & 4.
Master Print Group • Jonesboro, AR – Printing
Jubilee Celebration at Holy Angels Diamond Jubilee Jubilee bells rang at Holy Angels on July l1, 2010, to celebrate 315 years of vowed life. Five Sisters celebrated their diamond Jubilees on July 11, 2010. Sister Helen Swirczynski celebrated (75) years of vowed life. Sr. Monica Swirczynski, Sr. Dominica Wise, Sister
Romana Rohmer and Sister Mary Anne Nuce celebrated (60) years of vowed life. Rev. Bishop Anthony B. Taylor, DD, the principal celebrant of the Mass, was assisted by Deacon David England. Abbot Jerome Kodell, OSB, Fr. Vincednt Udo, chaplain, and Fr. Leanard Wangler, OSB, concelebrated. Sister Celestine Pond, Community Liturgist, accompanied the Sisters’ choir on the organ.
Sherri Fincher Caraway played the trumpet. A luncheon preceded the 2:00 p.m. service, at which time, Sister Laura Cathcart was the emcee for a program to “toast” the Jubilarians which was enjoyed by the Sisters, family members and invited guests. A reception open to the public followed the afternoon liturgical celebration.
Years 60 Sister Dominica Wise “Jesus, You are all that I desire in life.”
Years 75 Sister Helen Swirczynski “My Jesus, for Thy sake have I entered religion and I wish to live and die in it at your feet.” Sister Helen Swirczynski was born in Muenster, Texas to Joseph and Margaret Swirczynski on July 13, 1918, the eighth child in a family of fifteen. – eleven boys and four girls. She was given the name Dorothy in baptism. Dorothy was attracted to religious life at an early age, by the Sisters, and especially, Sr. Patricia, who taught at Sacred Heart School in Muenster. After graduating from elementary school, Dorothy entered Holy Angels Convent at age 14 and made first vows August 15, 1935. She received the name, Sister Helen. From her earliest days, Sr. Helen was assigned to the culinary department. Sister Helen worked in the convent kitchen and dietary department of the hospital. She also worked at various Arkansas missions, including St. John’s Seminary, Blytheville, Pocahontas, Benedictine Manor in Hot Springs, and also Muenster, Texas. She was in charge of the convent kitchen from 1975 to 1994, and was in
charge of cooking when the convent was re-located from in town to the present location. During all this time, the sisters never missed a meal. After cooking for a total of 54 years, she is now retired and living in the infirmary. Sister Helen has a great love for the outdoors. She especially enjoys the birds, who come to eat at the feeder outside her window. She also enjoys the beautiful flowers that Shelia England, (master gardener) tends outside the visiting area in the infirmary. Although, confined to a wheelchair and on constant oxygen, Sr. Helen always has a cheerful smile and pleasant greeting for all who come to visit her.
Years 60 Sister Monica Swirczynski “Our hearts are restless Until they rest in Thee, O Lord.” St. Augustine Celebrating sixty (60) years of vowed life, Sister Monica was born in Muenster, Texas and was baptized in Sacred Heart Church the same day, receiving the name of Josephine Antonette (better known as
Joan). She is the oldest of eight: five brothers (Max, Cliff, John, Virgil and Rick) and two sisters (Edna and Mary). She states, “I do not recall of any particular Sister who influenced me in my vocation, but in the eighth grade, I felt that God was calling me to religious life. Also, I had two Aunts, who were Benedictines in the Jonesboro Community, and that is probably what attracted me to Holy Angels.” Joan attended Sacred Heart School in Muenster, entered the Juniorate in Jonesboro and graduated from Holy Angels Academy. She entered the convent in 1948 and professed First Vows in 1950, receiving the name of Sister Monica. She received a BA degree from Mount St. Scholastica College in Atchison, Kansas and pursued other studies at Arkansas State University. Sr. Monica taught upper elementary grades in Catholic schools in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. After forty eight years in the field of education, Sr. Monica was appointed Secretary for the Corporation of Holy Angels Convent, a position she presently holds. In addition to serving as Secretary for Holy Angels Convent, she also serves as Secretary on two different boards for St. Bernards Health Care and Medical Center. She was appointed Subprioress in 2009, while retaining her position as Secretary. Sr. Monica enjoys listening to music, crocheting, and playing table games. She has a fondness for animals, especially for cats. Sr. Monica’s good sense of humor has highlighted her activities throughout these sixty years. She states, “I thank God for all His blessings throughout my life.”
Reflecting back on my sixty years, as an Olivetan Benedictine Sisters, I am most grateful to Sr. Celine Truebenbach for her encouragement and guidance which led me to Holy Angels Juniorate and on to the Convent. I entered the Convent on August 28, 1948, and received the habit on August 14, 1949, and on the day of days, made First Vows on August 15, 1950. As a young sister, I had the privilege to work in the culinary department at Holy Angels Convent and the special diet kitchen of St. Bernard’s Hospital. I also worked in the culinary department at St. John Seminary and on several missions staffed by our sisters both in Arkansas and in Texas. In 1963, when I was assigned to assist at St. Andrews Day Care, and the following year was appointed director, a new direction in life began. I attended workshops to gain continuing education credits. In 1976, the Day Care was moved to Auxor Road in Southwest Little Rock and re-named “Little Angels.” I enrolled at UALR for classes in the spring of 1977 and earned a Degree in Early Childhood Education in 1981. Having contracted Guillian-Barre syndrome, I can only thank God for the gift of recovery. The prayers of my sisters, friends and family helped to pull me through. Since retiring from Child Care in 2004, I have been busy helping with different jobs here at the Motherhouse and enjoying time to crochet, embroidery, to watch the birds and work in the flower bed, but especially for the extra time to pray in chapel.
Sister Romana Rohmer
Sister Mary Ann Nuce
“The light of Christ has come into the world.”
“I have called you by name; you are mine.” ISAIAH 43:1
The painful but very beautiful, motivating memory of our front porch light burning has never faded from my memory. I still see that front porch light burning as I departed from my home in Muenster, Texas sixty years ago, as my mother and youngest brother waved a strong, but tearful goodbye. I kept my eye on that light until I disappeared into the darkness, over the hill, to begin my faith journey as an Olivetan Benedictine Sister. The strong Faith foundation that my parents and family gave me at home continues and develops my living the Benedictine Way of Life. I am grateful to my Benedictine Community for the opportunity to earn degrees in Education and in Theology. These have served well in my ministries. I taught 26 years in the Catholic School classrooms, and CCD classes in parishes and missions; 7 of those years, I served as principal, and 31 years as a DRE in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. I am grateful that the Lord has called me to serve His people for 60 years. Many of God’s people – Sisters – relatives and students – have touched my life; they have been Christ-like genuine source of countless blessings. Since my retirement from active parish ministry, I enjoy living and working with the Sisters, and helping with many daily tasks around the convent, such as: being in charge of the convent gift shop, A.V. room, receptionist at front desk, and writing Community thank-you notes. In addition, I also volunteer at the local Hospice House, as a receptionist several hours each week. To sum up the past 60 years, I’ve never lost sight of that long-ago front porch light, burning the Way for me to see to follow Jesus, my light. For my motto, I choose:
When I was in the eighth grade, I began thinking about being a Religious. I admired my teacher, Sr. Aloysia for having given her life as a Religious to teach. Our pastor often talked about the missions in foreign countries; this inspired me to want to be a missionary. During my junior year in high school, my teacher, Sr. Patricia told me that we needed missionaries in Arkansas so I decided to enter Holy Angels Convent. During these sixty years, I have devoted my life to teaching elementary school, junior high students and served as principal. In addition to teaching, I worked with the deaf, taught private piano lessons and classroom music. My studies include a bachelor of Science in Education and a Master’s degree from Arkansas State University. After retirement from teaching, my superior asked me to work in pastoral care at St. Bernards Behavioral Health and at St. Bernards Medical Center. Later, I was appointed Subprioress and after six years, was elected prioress of our community. I am still serving in that capacity. On my journey to God, I have been filled with much peace and happiness, as well as hardships. Complete trust in God has helped me through hard times. Also, my love for Scripture has helped me grow closer to the Lord. My parents had a deep faith and I am grateful for them, my three sisters, friends and my community, who have supported me in my vocation. As I grow older, I realize how many blessings have been a part of my life. I have great peace, knowing the Lord has called me by name and I belong to Him. For all my blessings, I am filled with gratitude.
“Praise Jesus, the Living Word.” John 14:6 – as Jesus lives in me and around me.