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Ecumenical Outreach During a long weekend towards the end of June, Sr. Laura Cathcart, Sr. Cecilia Nguyen, and Sr. Glorea Knaggs, participated in an ecumenical outreach in southeast Arkansas. It was Sr. Laura’s second time to make the trip to McGehee, Arkansas, with a group of teens and young adults from Our Lady of the Holy Souls Parish, Little Rock. The group made contact with an elderly couple of St. Mary’s Parish, who informed them as to what service that could be done in the Delta town. The group of Sisters, Mr. and Mrs. Conway, chaperones and students, comprising about 18 participants in all, worked from June 21-26 on refurbishing a wheelchair ramp, stairway, and a few window seals at the local Jewish place of worship, the Meir Chayim Temple. On the hot Saturday afternoon of their trip, the participants were guzzling water to keep from dehydration when a local resident drove up to the work site with a huge cooler in tow. She declared, “I am a Methodist, who attends a Baptist Bible Study. I asked the Mennonites to donate a watermelon for the Catholic kids working on the Jewish temple. Now if that’s not all God’s children I don’t know what is!”

July 4th Quasquicentennial Picnic On July 4, 2012, the Sisters of Holy Angels continued their celebration of the Quasquicentennial year with a picnic held in the Pavilion at Lake Frierson. The Sisters usually spend the Fourth of July at the Convent and have a simple celebration which may include a barbeque meal or an afternoon movie, but it was decided that a trip would be made to Lake Frierson, in honor of the Jubilee year. Lake Frierson, which is about 5 miles north of Holy Angels Convent, is well populated with Canadian geese and has beautiful walking trails. However the intense heat influenced most of the Sisters to enjoy the lovely view of the lake from inside the air conditioned Pavilion! Sister Deborah Coffey, Sr. Mary Beth Hackley, and Sr. Mary Clare Bezner

prepared the delicious meal, which included hamburgers, hot dogs, and other picnic favorites. Sr. Romana Rohmer provided some patriotic music and the Sisters also enjoyed card games and a visit from some pretty barn swallows that have a nest just outside the Pavilion. The day was a pleasant and joyful celebration, among many other grateful days of this Quasquicentennial year!

Benedictine oblates associate themselves with a Benedictine Community to strengthen Their Baptismal commitment and enrich their Christian way of life.



“Return Service Requested””

Anyone interested in joining the Oblate Program of Holy Angels Convent, please call Sr. Mary John Seyler at (870) 243-2440, or write to her at address listed for the convent On this page.




Holy Angels Echoes Olivetan Benedictine Sisters Volume 29 No. 3

Jonesboro, Arkansas 72403-1209 www

Neonatal Unit at St. Bernards Dr. Douglas Seglem, M.D. with Newborn.

COOKS FOR THE DAY: L to R: Sr. Mary Clare Bezner, Sr. Deborah Coffey & Sr. Mary Beth Hackley

Remainder of Quasquicentennial Events 2012 August 15 – Feast of Assumption of Mary – Mass at 11:00 a.m. Final Vow Day Mass and Luncheon, Special guests: Relatives of honoree. Afternoon reception open to all friends.

Curious Friendship This year on Mother’s Day, the good Lord had a special treat in store for the Sisters – the hatching of 4 pheasant eggs in the main courtyard! Sisters and employees had been watching over the Mother pheasant for several weeks as she lovingly sat on her nest. The little ones were welcomed with great delight. A few days prior, someone brought an apparently abandoned baby bunny to the Sisters. The tiny rabbit was placed in the courtyard which is really something of a sanctuary, as it is enclosed by convent walls. With great surprise, the Sisters soon found that the charming little bunny had taken to the new pheasant family and could be seen hopping around or resting beside them. Months later, they are still very quaint with one another and show us a precious example of harmonious community living in the midst of diversity!


Front Table L to R: Sr. Eileen Schneider, Sr. Henrietta Hockle, Sr. Romana Rohmer, Sr. Mary Anne Nuce & Sr. De Porres Polk.


Picking Blueberries

July 27-29 A Vocation Retreat was held at Holy Angels Convent for a group of young ladies from Louisiana and Texas.

October 2 – Afternoon Reception: & Tours – 2:00 p.m. Guests: Hospital Administration, Governing Board and Foundation Board.

October 12 – 38th Anniversary of Convent Dedication – 11:00 a.m. Mass and Luncheon. Guests: Diocesan Clergy, in

July 13-15 Sr. Mary Clare Bezner, Vocations Directress, participated in a Vocation Retreat sponsored by the Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas. July 20-22 Sr. Mary Clare Bezner, Sr. Ann Marie Ferricher, Formation Directress, Sr. Therese Johnson, Sr. Lisa O’Connell, Sr. Mary Clare Bezner, and Novice Jeanine Nicholson held a Vocation Retreat for young ladies in the Lindsay, Texas area.

October 2 – Feast of Holy Angels – Mass at 11:00 a.m., followed by luncheon: Guests: Oblates, Former Members, & immediate family members and those who provide transportation.

appreciation for their support over years

November 25 – Open House, Tours & Reception – Sr. Mary Beth Hackley During Sr. Mary John Seyler’s terms in office (1981-1987), she planted some blueberry bushes on the convent grounds. Now, in 2012, the Sisters are still enjoying blueberries during July from several remaining bushes. Several of the younger Sisters make regular trips out to harvest them for the community table. Thank you, Sisters !

2:00 p.m.: Guests: Parishioners, Hospital Employees, Medical Staff, Ministerial Alliance.

November 13 – Closing of Quasquicentennial Year – Community Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving for all the blessings received during these 125 years.

St. Bernards responds to the needs in northeast Arkansas by opening the region’s only Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. St. Bernards NICU is a 12-bed open intensive care unit developed in conjunction with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock to care of premature or seriously ill infants. It will provide care for infants born at 32 weeks of pregnancy and weighing approximately three and one-third pounds. The NICU will have an enormous impact on all facets of the lives of families with premature and sick infants, stressed Dr. Douglas E. Seglem, Neonatologist, who has joined St. Bernards staff as medical director of the NICU. Every year, up to 150 babies from this immediate area have been sent to Little Rock for delivery and / or care in the highly specialized intensive care nurseries at UAMS or Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH). Many families were not able to stay at home in northeast Arkansas for high risk deliveries and subsequent care of premature or seriously ill babies Sometimes, mothers were sent to

Little Rock weeks before their delivery date simply to be sure deliveries would take place in proximity of NICU services. The St. Bernards NICU is a big-time game changer in that regard. Now the majority of those babies can be cared for right here by a team of specially trained professionals led by Dr. Seglem, a physician with advanced training in the development and disorders of newborns. “At St. Bernards we provide complete care for healthy babies,” explains Dr. Seglem. Normal babies stay in rooms with their mothers, with nurses providing care for both in that setting. “However about one in nine babies need a high level of care,” he pointed out. “Typically those are preterm babies – born before 37 weeks of pregnancy – or those born with respiratory problems, infections, arrhythmias or heart defects. They represent about 13 percent of births. “St Bernards has developed this NICU to provide care for babies who have trouble with the transition from life in the womb to life in the outside world,” Dr. Seglem explains. “This NICU is going to have an impact well beyond the care that is delivered.”

Summer 2012

Retreat – 2012 Father Eugene Hensell, OSB, from St. Meinrad Abbey in Indiana, a noted Scripture Scholar, writer and speaker gave our 2012 Retreat. He based his reflections on the Gospel of St. Mark and emphasized “Discipleship,” as one of the major themes of this shortest gospel. There was no discernment involved by the first disciples when Jesus called them, but a total, wholehearted commitment to follow him. The early followers responded without reservation. In St. Mark’s Gospel, “discipleship is not intellectual, but a matter of the heart,” stated Fr. Eugene. Jesus emphasized, “The kingdom of God is at hand – the time is now” We are also all called to proclaim the good news now.

Father Eugene Hansel, OSB Father Eugene emphasized suffering and the cross, as the core themes of St. Mark’s gospel. By reflecting on this gospel, one can readily tell how important St. Mark considered the message of suffering for the early Christians communities who were going through difficult times during that period of their history. He wanted to encourage them by reflecting on Christ’s sufferings. He also emphasized that mental suffering can be more difficult to bear than physical suffering. Rejection is a major part of mental suffering and Jesus experienced that from the officials and most of the people of his time. According to St. Mark, Jesus handled suffering by fulfilling the path that God had set before him. Suffering is part of everyone’s life and Jesus showed us the way through difficult times. By reflecting on St. Mark’s gospel and the insights given by Fr. Eugene, we can be strengthened in our journey through life.

Message From The Prioress Sister Lillian Marie Reiter, OSB

Spring has come and gone and now we are working our way through a hot and dry summer, as we prepare to celebrate Jubilees for three Sisters on July 11. Two have lived Religious Life for sixty years, and one for fifty. (SEE article in this issue.) As we live our lives, “There must be love.” (Col. 3:14) To be truly human, our lives must have love; without it one is northing; our lives are incomplete. Love is the center of our lives. The core of our being is love. God is love and that is how we

are the image and likeness of God. When we love, we care, and if we care we are vulnerable. We are open to pain, to having our hearts broken at times. What is love? Love is service, love is intimacy, love is fidelity under testing, love does not give up, love is surrender and love is caring. These are facets of love which reflect the center of a person. When we live the facets of love, our human love is transformed into divine love. What is love? God is love. I pray that you have an enjoyable summer and grow in love in order to bring God to all you meet. God bless you!

Bible Institute Four Sisters participated in this year’s annual Little Rock Scripture Study Bible Institute, held at the St. John’s Center in Little Rock. Sr. Deporres Polk, Subprioress, Sr. Lisa O’Connell, Sr. Virginia Baltz, and Sr. Glorea Knaggs attended the conference featuring Abbot Gregory Polan, OSB of Conception Abbey, who presented, “The Psalms: Heartbeat of the Bible.” Throughout the weekend, Abbot Gregory shared background information and deep insight on the Revised Grail Psalter, as well as the spirit and role of the Psalms in the lives of Christians.

Abbot Gregory drew from his background in Biblical languages, as well as years of study and prayer with the Psalms in his own monastery. The Bible Institute was sold out and concluded with Mass Sunday morning. Sr. Deporres commented on the wonderful experience, “Abbot Gregory has such a knowledge of the Psalms. You could tell that he doesn’t just pray the Psalms, he lives them.”

Oblate Retreat The Oblate Retreat for this year was held on July 20-22, 2012. The theme this year, was on the history of our Benedictine community and the vows. On High Ground, history written by Sr. Henrietta Hockle was used as a base for discussions. This was used to help the Oblates understand and live their Benedictine commitment. A panel of Sisters presented a segment of the history and how a particular vow was practiced. Sr. Romana Rohmer, Sr. Mary Anne Nuce, Sr. Elaine Willett, Sr. Laura Cathcart and Sr. Mary John Seyler were participants on the panel. Sessions of the Retreat also focused on the following: sharing good books and on “Grandparents,” and how they influenced one’s life. During the social a “Silent Auction” was held. A master keyboard musician, Tom Reeves, presented a medley of old familiar songs and hymns as conclusion to the social hour. For information about our Oblate program, please contact Sr. Mary John Seyler, Directress at the same address as the one for the Motherhouse or call her on her line - at (870) 243-2440.

Anniversary Sale During 2012, we will have a SALE on the full-length history of the Jonesboro Benedictines, On High Ground, written by Sr. Henrietta Hockle, and published in 2004. Pick it up, or have someone else pick it up for you, for the SALE PRICE - $10.00. If you need to have it shipped, please include an additional $4 to cover cost of shipping and handling. Contact: Sr. Romana Rohmer, GIFT SHOP, P.O. Box 1209, Jonesboro, AR 72403-1209.

HOLY ANGELS CONVENT Echoes published quarterly by the Olivetan Benedictine Sisters Sister Henrietta Hockle – Editor Sister Glorea Knaggs – Associate Editor Sister Monica Swirczynski – Proof Reader Sister Marilyn Doss & Sister Miriam Burns – Photos Sister Thèrése Johnson,Sister Virginia Baltz & Sr. Mary Anne Nuce – Circulation

Master Print Group • Jonesboro, AR – Printing

Jubilees at Holy Angels On July 11, 2012, Jubilee bells rang out at Holy Angels to commemorate 170 years of vowed life. Two Sisters commemorated their Diamond Jubilee of 60 years of vowed life. Sr. Christopher Flowers and Sr. Celestine Pond both commemorated their diamond jubilee of 60 years. Sr. Cordis Kim, commemorated her Golden Jubilee of 50 years of vowed life. Rev. Bishop Anthony B. Taylor, DD was the principal celebrant at the Mass was assisted by Deacon David England. Fr. Vincent Udo, chaplain, concelebrated, along with other

visiting clergy. Sr. Mary Anne Nuce played an organ prelude, before the opening of the Mass, and Kelly Powers, nephew of Sr. Celestine, accompanied the Sisters choir on the organ for the singing during the service. A luncheon preceded the 2:00 p.m. service, at which time, Sr. Mary John Seyler was the emcee for a program to “toast” the jubilarians. The program was enjoyed by Sisters, family members and invited guests. A reception open to the public followed the afternoon liturgical celebration.

60 YEARS Sr. Christopher Flowers “Here I am Lord, Send me.” Asiaha 6 Sister Christopher was born in Ripley, Oklahoma to Samuel and Ruth Flowers. She was named Rachael after the poet Rachael Filed. She grew up with six younger siblings, three brothers and three sisters. The family moved to Hulbert, Arkansas when Rachael was in the third grade and the children attended St. Michael School in West Memphis. Three years later, the family converted to Catholicism, and Rachael was baptized when she was in the sixth grade. The Dominican Sisters were teaching in the school and Rachael was attracted to their way of life. Fr. Louis Janesko, pastor at the time encouraged her to meet the Benedictine Sisters at Holy Angels Convent. After graduating from the eighth grade, Rachael attended the academy and entered the Juniorate, as a preliminary step in joining the convent. Soon after that, the family moved to Michigan, but Rachael remained in the convent in Jonesboro. Rachael received the name of Christopher when she became a Novice and made First Vows in 1952. Her first assignment was to teach in St. Andrew Cathedral School in Little Rock. During the summer months, along with other young Sisters, she attended Arkansas State University and received a BSE degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s degree as a Reading Specialist. Throughout these 60 years, Sr. Christopher has taught in Catholic schools throughout Arkansas and in Muenster and Rhineland, Texas. She is noted for her excellence in teaching reading. Although she retired from classroom teaching in 2006, she assists students in the library at St. Michael’s School, teaches Latin to the 4th,, 5th and 6th grade students tutores children, who need an “extra boost” to keep up their grades. During the summer months Sr. Christopher also substituted at Benedictine Manor for twenty five years. Sr. Christopher is noted for her beautiful voice, and at one of the community parties, she impersonated Kate Smith. As interests, she likes to read Scripture, biographies, and human interest stories. As hobbies, she enjoys continue on page 4


Sr. Celestine Ponds “God is Love.”

Sr. Cordis Kim “Sacred Heart of Jesus, I will love you and praise you forever.”

Sr. Celestine was born in St. Mary’s Hospital, Galveston, Texas to Captain Henry and Anna Gertrude Pond. In Baptism, she received the name of Elizabeth Ann. During World War II, the family moved from Texas to Bellefonte, Arkansas. Elizabeth Ann first learned about religious life from the Olivetan Benedictine Sisters who taught vacation Bible School in Harrison, where the family attended Mass. After graduating from the eighth grade, she entered the Juniorate and attended classes at Holy Angels Academy. Elizabeth Ann received the name of Celestine when she was invested as a Novice on August 15, 1951. She made First Vows on August 15, 1952. Sr. Celestine’s first teaching assignment was at Blessed Sacrament School in Jonesboro, where she taught third and fourth grades for two years. She went on to Holy Souls in Little Rock, where she was full-time music teacher for eight years. The superiors recognized her talent in music, so after profession Sr. Celestine was sent to De Paul University in Chicago to further her studies. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Liturgy and her Master’s Degree in organ. Sr. Celestine was named Subprioress by Mother Benedicta in 1969 and served until 1975. While serving the community in many different roles, she also taught music and was church organist, both at Holy Souls Parish in Little Rock and at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Jonesboro. In addition to serving as the community liturgist and organist at the Motherhouse, Sr. Celestine continues to teach private music lessons to interested students in the area. When not preparing liturgy or teaching,

Sr. Cordis Kim was born in Seoul, South Korea. She was raised in a fervent Baptist family and attended college in Korea where she earned the degree of Medical Doctor. During her last year of college, she befriended a Religious Sister with whom she studied. Around the time of her graduation, Sr. Cordis visited her friend’s convent of the Olivetan Benedictine Sisters of Busan, South Korea and was fascinated by the community’s lifestyle. It was during this visit that she felt very attracted to religious life and knew that this would be her future life. She turned aside a medical residency to begin the process of becoming a Catholic, and eventually, to enter the Olivetan Benedictine Sisters of Busan in 1957. In 1962, Sister Cordis made first vows. She spent several years of formation in the Benedictine way of life in Switzerland before returning to Busan to become a Postulant Mistress to 65 Postulants! After 5 years in this position, Sister was sent to one of the community mission houses in Los Angeles, California. At the time, she and three other Sisters operated a small clinic and served the many Koreans in the area. A desire to learn English compelled Sr. Cordis to obtain permission to spend time at Holy Angels Convent in 1975, where many Sisters spoke Sr. Cordis’ second language, German. Sr. Cordis recalled, “I never dreamed of moving anywhere.” But the beautiful liturgical prayer and the kindness of the Mother Superior, Mother Julia Pruss, strongly influenced her desire to stay in Arkansas. She obtained the necessary permission from her Motherhouse in Busan, and began working as an LPN at St. Bernard’s hospital. Sr. Cordis enjoyed nursing on the Obstetrics and Oncology Units, but was urged by Sr. Benedicta to consider working in Pastoral Care. Sr. Cordis protested, “but my English is poor!” Sr. Benedicta persuaded

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Remembering the Past

by Sr. Romana Rohmer

My love for Scripture and reading God’s Word, drew me closer to God. I attended various Scripture classes and fell in love with learning and exploring God’s Word. It caused me to move from classroom teaching of reading, writing and arithmetic to emphasizing God’s Word in my everyday experiences. Sister Geraldine Homer was my inspiration and helped me along the way. She recommended me to be her successor as Director of Parish Religious Education (PRE) at St. Paul’s Parish in Pocahontas. When she was ready to retire from where she had a successful program for many years. It was evident that she had laid the ground work and had organized the Catechetical program from kindergarten through high school. Her personality displayed a “Sister young at heart.” Sister was gifted and had

New Publication This year, the Olivetan Benedictine Sisters of Jonesboro are celebrating the 125th Anniversary of their first Sisters coming from Switzerland to Arkansas (1887-2012). An Anniversary booklet, written by Sister Henrietta Hockle, was published to commemorate this milestone. Those, who sent in $10 to be listed as “Friend of Holy Angels” were eligible to receive a complimentary copy. If your name is not listed in the book, and you are interested in receiving a copy, please send in name and address, along with a donation to cover the cost of printing and shipping, and you will receive a copy. SEND: Attention: Sr. Romana Rohmer, Gift Shop, Holy Angels Convent, P.O. Box 1209, Jonesboro, AR 72403-1209.

an interest for youth. A number of youth were signed up to attend “Search,” a program for high school juniors and seniors. She encouraged me to attend and experience this program with them since I would be working with the youth. It was an honor and privilege to work with my former high school teacher. Sister Geraldine was a superb teacher, who was well read and open to new ideas. At my invitation, she came back to St. Paul Parish to teach a Confirmation class and facilitate a weekend for the Catechists. When students asked for an explanation about the Trinity, she always told them, “It is a mystery to be lived, not to be solved.” This is just one example of Sister’s wisdom of the Spirit.

Prayers and Sympathy We extend sincere sympathy and prayers to the following who have lost a loved one recently:

Sister Angeline Massery and the Massery Family on the death of her niece, Kathy, who died on May 4, 2012.

Sister Monica Swirczynski and families on death of brother-in law, W. L. Smith, who died on June 2, 2012.

Sister Theresa Marie Kintzley and families on death of her Aunt Alice Bogard, who died on June 19, 2012.

Sr. Cecilia Nguyen and the Vu families on the death of her Uncle Peter Quang Vu, who died on June 6, 2012.

Sr. Virginia Baltz, and family of death of her Aunt Ann Baltz Miles, who died on July 20, 2012.

Activities Meetings June 8 – Welcome Home party for the mission Sisters returning to the Motherhouse from the missions. June 9 – Community Corporation Meetings. June 10 - 15 – Retreat conducted by Fr. Eugene Hensell, OSB from St. Meinrad Abbey in Indiana. June 19 – St. Bernards held their annual Health Screening for all the Sisters. June 20 – Bishop offered the opening Mass and held Visitation June 21. General Chapter opened – Committee members were: Sr. Mary John Seyler Chair, Sr. Eileen Schneider, Sr. Romana Rohmer, Sr. Therese Johnson and Sr. Lisa O’Connell. June 17 - Blessed Sacrament School hosted a regional workshop for teachers on Teaching Writing. This was sponsored by the Arkansas Non-public School Accrediting Association ( ANSAA.) June 24 - Knights of Columbus prepared and served their annual barbeque supper for all the Sisters in the community dining room. June 28 - July 31 - Sr. De Porres, Polk, Sr. Lisa O’Connell, Sr. Virginia Baltz, and Sr. Glorea Knaggs attended the annual Bible Institute held at the Pastoral Center in Little Rock. July 4– Quasquicentennial Picnic was enjoyed by all the Sisters at Lake Frierson State Park north of Jonesboro, (article p.5). July 11 – Feast of St. Benedict – Jubilee celebration of Sr. Christopher Flowers, Sr. Celestine Pond, (both celebrating 60 years), and Sr. Cordis Kim celebrated 50 years of Vowed Life as a religious. July 21 - 22 – Oblate Retreat was held with the topic this year on the community history, as reported in On High Ground. ( article page 5)

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crocheting and has made many beautiful Afghans for the convent gift shop. She also writes poetry which she shares occasionally. She is a frequent adorer of the Blessed Sacrament and when at the Motherhouse, you will often find her praying quietly. In 2002, Sr. Christopher was nominated by one of her former students to be included in “Who’s Who in American Teachers.” Sr. Christopher states, “I’ve been blessed, especially as a Sister; I’ve been able to do a lot more for a lot more people because they trusted me.”

Sr. Celestine enjoys playing the piano and reading. Philosophy, Hymnology, and Music History are her favorite topics. She delights in flowers and cares for the many roses around the music department as much as she is able. She enjoys feeding the humming birds that feast outside the music department. Winter is Sr. Celestine’s favorite time of the year, because then, she anticipates SNOW.

her that the language did not matter, but rather, the heart. Once Sister began to work in Pastoral Care in 1978, she did not desire any other apostolate. She worked at St. Bernard’s for 33 years, up until a few months ago when an illness caused her to spend more time at the Motherhouse to rest and recuperate. Of her 50 years in religious life, Sr. Cordis says she has no regrets and has always been happy. She loves to read the Bible and pray, especially her favorite motto: “Sacred Heart of Jesus, I love you, praise you and thank you; never allow me to stray from you.”

2012 Summer