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Intercom S i s t e r s

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C i n c i n n at i

Fall 2013

A Letter


Our Sister



Dear Sisters, Associates and Friends,

Contents Features Jubilee 2013...........................................6 Celebrating those Sisters reaching milestones this year. The Work of Elizabeth Seton’s Mustard Seed.......................................10 Leaving our legacy in the city of Denver, Colo. Navigating Many Paths........................15 S. Jackie Leech’s life and ministry in Denver. Through the Lens of the Camera..........16 An interview with Associate Brother Gary Sawyer. Pushing the Boundaries........................18 Diamond Jubilarian S. Fran Trampiets celebrates and reflects. Living in the Past.................................22 S. Benedicta Mahoney’s 70 years with the Sisters of Charity.

Departments Vocation/Formation...............................9 Canonical Novitiate Begins OPJIC..................................................21 Communication and Collaboration Motherhouse/Mother Margaret Hall . ...................................................24 A Caring Heart From the Archives................................26 S. Mary Janet Miller

On the Cover: Associate Brother Gary Sawyer and S. Jackie Leech are continuing the SC legacy in Denver, Colo. To read more, visit The Work of Elizabeth Seton’s Mustard Seed on Page 10. Omission: In the 2013 Gathering spread in the summer issue of Intercom, the names of the photographers during the four-day event were omitted. Thank you to Associate Debbie Weber and Sisters Margarita Brewer, Caroljean Willie and Marty Dermody for offering their time and talents to the Communications Office.


On the walls of the first-floor corridor of the Sisters of Charity Motherhouse are framed pictures of Sisters, Associates and others in various activities. Some of the pictures were originally photographs made into jigsaw puzzle pieces for a Community gathering. Remembering that each person, ministry and city is a vital piece of the Charity puzzle, I began thinking of the many cities in which the Community has served and expressions from Charity lore came to mind. One expression connected to the Sisters who served in the West, which I learned at the time of the merger of the Vincentian Sisters of Charity into the Cincinnati Sisters of Charity, was “up and down the line.” It was explained to me that the Sisters often took the train to get to where they needed to go and since the cities in which they served were on the train routes, and were, more or less, north to south, they were “up and down the line.” The focus of this issue of Intercom is the service rendered over the years in the city of Denver, Colo., one of those cities on the line. The Sisters of Charity have a substantial history in the Mile High City. You will read in these pages snippets of past activities and current service. There is an article about Denver native S. Mary Janet Miller, who in the 1950s and 1960s was an authority on secondary curriculum. There are also articles on S. Jackie Leech and Associate Brother Gary Sawyer who currently carry the SC legacy forward to meet today’s needs. Highlighted too in this issue are S. Fran Trampiets, a diamond jubilarian and an early seer of the value of media literacy education, and Rick Heis, director of maintenance at the Motherhouse, who has served with the Sisters for more than 30 years. Enjoy reading about the living of the SC charism past and present in Denver and elsewhere, knowing that you too are a piece of the puzzle without whom the picture would be incomplete.

Sister Christine Rody


Mem-bits This column by S. Benedicta Mahoney offers brief glimpses of the past, tiny bits of memories. Do you remember? Were you there? Did you know? July 20, 1872 – S. Loyola Feely, a Sister of Charity nurse, died while on duty at Good Samaritan Hospital. She was a victim of the cholera epidemic which raged in Cincinnati that summer. Sister had been in the Congregation only five years and was 23 years old. Sept. 1, 1887 – The original Springer Institute opened in Cincinnati as a tuition-free high school for Cathedral parish students. This phase of Springer continued until 1918. The name was revived in 1963 when Springer Institute for special students was opened in Mount Adams.

In Memoriam Please visit “In Memoriam” at for biographical information and reflections on the Sisters of Charity and Associates who have died.

Springer Institute in 1887.

Jan. 3, 1961 – This date marked the official opening of the Sisters of Charity Development Program, Inc. The projected goal of $1.5 million was to help finance the construction of a new campus of the College of Mount St. Joseph. With S. Mary Lea Mueller as director, offices were set up in Mother Margaret Hall, and meetings were held throughout the Congregation to organize collections from all Sisters of Charity contacts.

May our Sisters and Associates enjoy the fruits of their labor as well as peace with their God. S. Mary Rose Hovanec September 15, 2013 S. Mary Ann Raycher August 22, 2013

S. Mary Lea Mueller

March 9, 1962 – The Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati arrived in Huancane – to open their first mission in Peru. Over the next 34 years, there would be a total of 23 Sisters of Charity who would do missionary work in seven separate locations. Aug. 5, 1985 – Eldermount Adult Day Program opened its doors in its newly renovated quarters on the first floor of Marian Hall at the Motherhouse. Director and founder of the new facility was S. Phyllis Lambert. Marty Barone (left), a longtime volunteer at Eldermount Day program, entertains a member of the program. FA L L 2 0 1 3


Dialogue and Collaboration O ur E ver - W idening C ircle of

By S. Louise Lears


his past summer, the Leadership Team participated in two graced gatherings with other women’s religious congregations in North America.

In mid-June, we traveled to Leavenworth, Kansas, to meet with 50-plus elected leaders of the Sisters of Charity Federation. Each of the Federation congregations (nine in the United States and four in Atlantic Canada) traces its roots to Vincent de Paul, Louise de Marillac, or Elizabeth Seton. During this annual meeting, we considered actions to make our shared charism more visible in the world. Some of these will be implemented by our own Sister Caroljean Willie, the Federation’s NonGovernmental Organization (NGO) representative to the United Nations. The theme of the 2013 Federation meeting was “Courageous Charity – Deepening Collaboration.” We were inspired by the stories of Federation congregations to collaborate among themselves and with others in a number of countries to promote systemic change. The diverse perspectives of Sisters from India, Korea, Canada, Central America, and the United States were enriching and expansive. Guest speaker and Dominican Sister Donna Markham drew on the Pentecost story of the disciples hiding in the upper room after the death of Jesus to structure her reflections on “Religious Life FOR the Future.” She reminded us that the resurrected Jesus challenged the disciples to leave the safety of the locked room for the sake of his mission. She asked: What locks us in, personally and communally? What must we do to insure that our life in community is an expression of the mission of Jesus? Will we have the courage to go where no one else wants to go or can go? In mid-August, the Leadership Team gathered in Orlando, Florida, with elected leaders from women’s religious congregations in the United States for the annual meeting of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). Founded in 1956, LCWR assists its members to collaboratively carry out their service of leadership to further


In June leaders of the Sisters of Charity Federation traveled to Leavenworth, Kansas.

the mission of the Gospel in today’s world. LCWR represents more than 80 percent of the 57,000 women religious in the United States. The theme of the 2013 LCWR gathering was “Leadership Evolving: Graced, Grounded & Free.” We explored religious life at this critical juncture, recognizing the imperative of viewing religious life within the context of our faith, our world, and an evolutionary universe. Franciscan Sister Ilia Delio offered the keynote address, “Religious Life on the Edge of the Universe.” Ilia is a senior fellow at Woodstock Theological Center and director of the Catholic Studies Program at Georgetown University. She asked, “What is the relationship between Christ and cosmos? How does a consciousness of the physical universe shape our understanding of God?” Ilia explored these questions through the metaphor of the “Book of Nature,” as our ancestors read it and we are reading it today through the lenses of evolution and quantum physics. She highlighted aspects of the new cosmos story for the future of religious life. At the closing banquet, the members honored LCWR past president and Franciscan Sister Pat Farrell with the 2013 Outstanding Leadership Award. Pat has a long history of ministry with those living in poverty and on the margins, including two decades of accompanying people in Chile and El Salvador. She placed these life experiences, an unwavering dedication to Gospel values, and a deeply contemplative spirit at the service of LCWR during an exceptionally challenging time. Both the SC Federation and the LCWR gatherings were imbued with a commitment to contemplation, a prayerful silence that involves a long loving look at reality (of the other, of creation, of God) and that leads us more deeply into God. Intercom

Charity Family The Singing Circle By S. Mary Bodde Mary of Magdala Prayer service Sisters, Associates and friends of the Charity Family gathered Monday, July 22 for a prayer service honoring Mary of Magdala, known as “Apostle to the Apostles.” This year’s theme was The Women of Vatican II: Daughters of Mary of Magdala. Eileen O’Reilly, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church, was the presider, and the homilist was Jessie Thomas, D-Min. A reception followed the prayer service.

Greensburg scs visit motherhouse The Korean Province of the Sisters of Charity of Greensburg, Pa., made their annual visit to the Motherhouse on July 12, 2013. Director of Archives, S. Judith Metz (front, center), took them on a tour of the Motherhouse. The Greensburg Sisters consider the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati their ‘grandmothers,’ since their congregation was formed from original members of the Cincinnati Community in 1870.

CELEBRATING ELIZABETH SETON Sisters and employees in Mother Margaret Hall were treated to a musical performance on Aug. 28 – Elizabeth Seton’s birthday. Voices and instruments blended to create a joyful sound; it was a fitting combination for the special day.

END-OF-SUMMER PICNIC Sisters of Charity employees and their families enjoyed the Labor Day weekend with an employee picnic at Stricker’s Grove on Aug. 31 near Ross, Ohio. Each year the Congregation hosts the picnic to celebrate and thank employees for their dedicated service.

Visit Us on Facebook! The Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati are now on Facebook. Visit us at sistersofcharityofcincinnati.

Motherhouse environmental services technician Mark Evans and his daughter Anna enjoy the fun at Stricker’s Grove on Aug. 31. FA L L 2 0 1 3


Jubilee 2013


n September, Sisters, Associates, friends of the Community and family gathered to celebrate those Sisters reaching milestones in 2013. Silver jubilarians, marking 25 years, were honored at a Mass on Sunday, Sept. 1. Diamond jubilarians, celebrating 60 years of commitment, were honored on Sunday, Sept. 8. In addition those Sisters who have been in the Community more than 50 years were also celebrated on Sept. 8.

(From left) S. Mary Kay Bush visits with Sisters Helen Susalla, SSJ, and Rita Jeanne Ferrante, SSJ, attending the silver jubilee celebration from Sterling Heights, Mich. Sisters Mary Kay Bush (left) and Margarita Brewer (right) are congratulated by SC President S. Joan Elizabeth Cook following a Mass to celebrate their silver jubilee.

(From left) Sisters Imelda Cooper (70 years), Dolores Johnson (65 years) and Joan Crocker (70 years) celebrated milestones this year.

The Congregation blesses S. Margarita Brewer.



80 Years of Service S. Miriam Thomas Busch S. Annina Morgan

75 Years of Service S. Mary Michael Chizmar

70 Years of Service

Diamond Jubilarians are (front row) Sisters Paula González, (center row, left) Florence (Rose) Izzo, Frances Maureen Trampiets, (back row, left) Rita Cocquyt, Joan Carole Schaffner and Jane Bernadette Leo. Not pictured is S. Marilyn Joseph Czarnecki.

S. Joseph Maria Bensman S. Martha Ann Conley S. Imelda Cooper S. Joan Crocker S. Patricia Ann Dempsey S. Maureen Donovan S. Jane Grosheider S. John Miriam Jones S. Ann Koebel S. Benedicta Mahoney S. Marie Alice Moran S. Theresa Ann Moran S. Mary Paula Renne S. Bernadette Marie Shumate

65 Years of Service

S. Marie Patrice Joyce, who celebrated 65 years with the Community, enjoyed the day with her niece, Anne Zupan.

S. Paula González’s brother, Larry, traveled from New Mexico to celebrate the day with his sister.

S. Agnes Ann Gardt S. Grace Ann Gratsch S. Dolores Johnson S. Marie Patrice Joyce S. Ann Lehman S. Edith Louise Merhar S. Irene Mraz S. Barbara Muth S. Edward Rielage S. Helen Therese Scasny S. Mary Pauline Tsai

50 Years of Service S. Kathleen Daly

S. Annina Morgan (second from left), who celebrated 80 years as a Sister of Charity, receives well wishes from Sisters Maureen Heverin (left), Associate Cathy Colque, and S. Andrea Koverman (right). FA L L 2 0 1 3


Sister Spotlight By Megan Moore, Communications summer intern


Mary Gallagher has ministered in the Commonwealth of Dominica in the West Indies for almost three years, serving the diocese as coordinator of religious education and faith formation for teachers in the Catholic grade and high schools.

In addition S. Mary obtains the materials for the teachers and works with the schools to see how the themes fit with their needs and interests. She also puts together a two-page newsletter each month on a topic of faith development specifically for those involved in the ministry of education.

Knowing her background in Catechetics when working in St. Lucia back in the 1980s, Bishop Gabriel Malzaire (who is from St. Lucia) asked if S. Mary would coordinate the ministry of teacher education.

While completing all of these tasks, it is important that S. Mary clearly communicates with those around her because, as she said, “Communication with and between the schools is a big piece!”

“Religious education and faith formation have always been the heart of my ministry for many years,” Sister said, “so this request was happily accepted!” Her responsibilities include working with the principals of the five grade schools and the four high schools on the Island, designing a program of monthly sessions centering on a particular theme for the year. She takes it from there, coordinating the dates, times, and speakers/facilitators for each school.

When asked what she enjoys most about her ministry, S. Mary said, “Speaking with teachers, parents/godparents, or the homebound about faith and Scripture; sharing stories of finding God’s presence in our lives; and seeing faces light up with greater understanding or confirmation of their own life experiences.” S. Mary says her ministry still comes with its own set of challenges, though. “For one, the official language of Dominica is English,” she explained, “but there are different phrases and words used in British/Caribbean English that are pronounced differently or that are not used in American English. However, people are very patient and help me along; my American twang is not always easy for them to grasp, as well.” Sister explained that sometimes planning can also be a challenge. “Our inner timetables are different,” she said. “Something can happen ‘any time,’ not necessarily the time given on a schedule. Planning and preparation are not given heavy priority whether in businesses or parishes, school systems, or the governance of the country. The challenge I face is to be well prepared in what I do, so that those with whom I work can tell the difference!” No matter what the challenges the day may bring, S. Mary does her best to accept them the way Elizabeth Seton herself would. “Elizabeth Seton was open to meeting her grace each day in a spirit of humility, simplicity and charity, finding God through all her relationships,” she said. “This is the spirit I pray to continue in Dominica as I step outside my door in the mornings and greet the light of a new day.”

S. Mary Gallagher presents books and other school items to students in Dominica. The supplies were donated from S. Mary Caroline Marchal’s parish, Our Lady of Lourdes, in Louisville, Ky.


Editor’s Note: The SC website has spotlighted one Sister of Charity throughout the year on its home page. S. Mary Gallagher was October’s Sister Spotlight. To read more articles, please visit Intercom

Canonical Novitiate Begins By S. Donna Steffen “I believe that we have no access to who we really are except in God. Only when we rest in God can we find the safety, the spaciousness, and the scary freedom to be who we are, all that we are, and less than we are.” - Carl Jung


ur SC description of the Novitiate states: “The canonical year is one in which prayer, solitude, and the deepening awareness of the living God manifested in the person of Jesus predominates.” What is primary is that God is living and active today, and experienced in personal ways. Carl Jung describes that this is not only a “fuzzy, warm” experience of God. Rather, as one comes to know God more and more, the depth of the person is engaged including questions, fears, or any ways one is challenged to change, to let go of old beliefs or control, and to find oneself anew. George Aschenbrenner, SJ, wrote more than 30 years ago that Novitiate is not a time of education, one exciting experience after another, or learning about spirituality. He states that the Novitiate is a time of “radical reorienting of the whole person in Faith deep down to the affective roots of her consciousness. Nothing is left out. Nothing goes untouched.” At some deep level, I believe this. Part of me wants to say, “Wow, this is huge!” Another part questions, “How does this happen?” I sense the answer is simply through God’s grace, through day-to-day living, and through continual paying attention, noticing and being honest and transparent about what is going on inside the Novices, the Novice director, and the Community. The framework for the Novices, Andrea and Tracy, is daily living in the Novitiate community with Sisters Nancy Bramlage, Maureen Heverin, Carol Leveque and Terry Thorman, real Sisters living the charism of charity. And, this happens through coming to be aware of the ministries of the Sisters of Charity, both in times past and in the present, and to know the lives of Sisters in Mother Margaret Hall, at the Motherhouse, and in active ministry, as well as the lives and ministries of the SC Associates. All Sisters and Associates of Charity are part of the Novitiate in prayer, sharing, relationship, as the Novices come to know and appreciate more fully the life of the Community of Charity. With

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(From left) Sisters Andrea Koverman and Tracy Kemme entered the Canonical Novitiate on June 26, 2013.

great generosity and willingness, Sisters and Associates are also presenting and leading various sessions, and sharing their personal reflections on dimensions of our Sister of Charity life and charism. After making a directed retreat, Andrea and Tracy had the opportunity to become more acquainted with the spirit of Elizabeth Ann Seton. Under the guidance of Sisters Judith Metz and Regina Bechtle, SC, we visited places where Elizabeth lived and worshiped in New York and in Emmitsburg and Baltimore, Md. An important hallmark of Elizabeth seemed to be her ability and willingness to respond to God as new and unknown challenges presented themselves. Her discernment and trust of God in embracing Catholicism, moving to Baltimore, and then to Emmitsburg and beginning a school were so apparent. In the unfolding of her life Elizabeth exuded faithfulness and dedication to God. Additionally, we had time to become acquainted with some New York Sisters of Charity, New Jersey Sisters of Charity, and some Daughters of Charity. As we begin a more “ordinary time” of life in Cincinnati, the ongoing “work” of the Novitiate involves weekly reflection on topics of spirituality and prayer; SC charism, history, and life; volunteer ministry; and time of solitude, prayer, and reflection. Through the year topics of theology covered will include Vatican II, Catholic Social Teaching, liturgy, Catholicism, Scripture, and Church history. Andrea and Tracy will also participate with other Novices in the Cincinnati area for some joint sessions and study. Through all of these experiences and their reflection, prayer, sharing, and relationships, Andrea and Tracy will be coming to know in new ways the living God, in whom they can become more fully who they are. They are blessed. We are blessed. (From left) Sisters Carol Leveque, Tracy Kemme, Nancy Bramlage, Terry Thorman, Andrea Koverman and Maureen Heverin are living in community together.


Our Legacy: T he W ork of E li z abeth S eton ’ s M ustard S eed


ounded in 1858, Denver, Colo., initially attracted fortuneseekers following the region-changing discovery of gold. While this early discovery did not produce huge results, the frontier town offered mild, year-round climate, favorable for curing respiratory diseases, and settlers began growing the city as a trade center. The beauty of the West was a fuel for American idealism.

Just two years later, in June 1860, Bishop John Baptist Miege, Bishop of Messenia and Vicar Apostolic of the territory east of the Rocky Mountains, came from Leavenworth, Kan., to visit Denver and offer Mass. He received a donation of land on what is now 15th and Stout streets, and urged the Catholics to build a church – the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Plans, committees and encouraging prospects moved the project forward; Bishop Miege left the locals to continue the work while he tried to provide a priest for the new district. Bishop Lamy of Santa Fe, N.M., was being visited by his friend Father Joseph Machebeuf when he received Bishop Miege’s request. Deciding his friend’s presence was the Providence of God he sent Father Machebeuf to Denver, companioned by Father John Baptist Raverdy. The two found little more than a foundation completed because the committee had reached the end of their funds and were discouraged after the long wait for a priest. Father Machebeuf added his own little fund to what he would gather from the people and the work resumed. In the meantime he was saying Mass in the halls and in private homes until Christmas 1860 when the first Mass was said in the 30-foot by 64-foot structure. It was not plastered and windows were not in, but canvas helped to keep out the cold; Midnight Mass the following Christmas marked the completion of the church.

the number of adults brought back to the faith was notable. By 1898, in the basement chapel, diplomas were conferred by Bishop Matz on Margaret O’Donnell and Louis Hagus, both of whom entered religious life. Margaret became a Sister of Charity, taking the name Mary Aquinata. The need for a new, more suitable Cathedral began to be a prime interest by the beginning of the century. A location was secured on the corner of Colfax and Logan streets; poor investments postponed the building and completion until 1912. John Cardinal Farley of New York came to dedicate the edifice which now compared favorably with the finest in the country; twenty-thousand attended the rites. Early in 1920, due to the growing high school enrollment, the erection of a high school and convent at 19th and Grant streets was undertaken. Both were dedicated in the fall 1921. Immediately the former Sisters’ quarters were converted into necessary high school classrooms. In 1923 the high school was accredited with the North Central Association, and the first in the West to be fully accredited by the National Catholic Education Association. Through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Malo, a gymnasium facing Logan Street was completed in 1928. By 1931 zeal for Catholic education continued to manifest itself in the increased efficiency and enrollment of the Denver schools; this was helped by the presence of newly named Bishop of Denver Urban Vehr. He had been administrating Catholic schools in the Cincinnati Diocese for six previous years and was

The young parish grew rapidly with a school opening in 1863 staffed by the Sisters of Loretto; they relocated to Logan Street, but the Mother Superior withdrew them by 1890 and the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati came to take charge, sent by Mother Mary Blanche Davis. S. Francesca Cannon was the first principal of the school; she was joined by five others and 200 pupils. The school was on the first and second floors, the chapel in the basement and the Sisters’ convent was in the attic. They remained there for 31 uncomplaining years. Since many Catholic children were attending public schools the Sisters visited parishioners in order to gather all Catholic children who were not in the Sisters’ school. In addition to the children gained for Catholic education, The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Denver, Colo., in 1958.



S. Lynn Heper went to Cathedral in 1961 when there were 23 SCs on the faculty. “The Sisters seemed to always have fun and I was really taken by their commitment,” S. Lynn recalls. Sister’s mother served as the secretary to the principal, S. Jean Patrice Harrington. S. Lynn used to drive the Sisters to Camp St. Malo for the annual cleaning of the chapel and cabin which her uncle, Msgr. Hiester, ran. Being quick, experienced cleaners the SCs left time to enjoy the mountains. The Sisters managed to ride the horses at the camp in full habit. The talent shows, put on twice a year by the Sisters and priests, also vividly stand out in S. Lynn’s memory; they always received a standing ovation. S. Jane Grosheider (front, center) was just a child when she met the Sisters of Charity at Denver Cathedral through her aunt, S. Maria Amadea Day.

very familiar with the excellence expected in schools run by the Sisters of Charity. In the 10 years following, both the Cathedral grade and high schools reached scholastic heights, topped by none in the state or nation. In November 1955, a fire was discovered in the Logan Street school building; before it was brought under control the 60-year-old building was destroyed causing the estimated damage of $200,000. Improvised classrooms in at least five locations got the Cathedral students back in class within two days after the fire with S. Rose Clare Church as principal. One year later the new annex to Cathedral High School and the rebuilt Cathedral Grade School were dedicated by Archbishop Vehr; the annex was given the name “Marian Hall.” By 1960 it became necessary to close three rooms of the grade school and use them for high school classes. By now enrollment topped 700 with S. Jean Patrice Harrington at the helm. The mission-minded students of Catholic Student Mission Crusade (CSMC) distributed baskets of food annually to poor families while the Sisters visited the elderly and ill members of the parish taking them a plate of homemade decorated cookies for Christmas. The thoughtful, personal touch was representative of the relationships the Sisters shared with the families and the neighborhood.

During the latter half of the 1960s and the 1970s, Sisters Eleanor Marie Salm, Vincent de Paul Grilliot and Patricia Underhill served as principals. In 1972 Archbishop Casey announced that three of the five Denver archdiocesan high schools, including Cathedral, would be consolidated into one. The new name chosen was Central Catholic High and the location was at the former Cathedral site. This ended 85 years of Sisters of Charity having charge of Cathedral High School. By

A fire destroyed the 60-year-old Cathedral School building on Logan Street in November 1955.

The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception faculty in Denver, Colo., in 1961. fall 2 0 1 3


1973 there were 900 students enrolled at Central Catholic; S. Patricia Underhill served as principal with five religious communities represented on staff. S. Patricia, the last SC there, left in 1976. The Archdiocese closed the school in 1982 due to declining enrollment and unsuccessful fundraising efforts.

the graduate who had made their mark in the world, I never knew any of them to make the presence or absence of such achievement a criteria of the worth of the school, Hallett said. The young people in their care were to them souls to be reared for heavenly citizenship, and whatever else followed was incidental.”

Sacred Heart is the oldest church In July 1938, a request came from the structure in continuous use in Denver. Sacred Heart-Loyola parish for two SCs Located at 2760 Larimer, and now part to staff two classrooms at Loyola in the of the Denver Archdiocese after 109 years fall; Loyola had functioned from 1920 to of having Jesuit pastors, Bishop Joseph 1943 as a Jesuit mission of Sacred Heart Machebeuf also founded Sacred Heart and was growing. Mother Mary Regina Parish at the end of the 1870s when the Russell sent Sisters Alice Therese Mengel railroads were just beginning. Many of the and Ann Genevieve Ostrowsky. The Heart is the oldest church structure in immigrants who came to Denver were Irish Sacred school opened in the basement, struggling continuous use in Denver. and Italian Catholics; because the young through the Depression. In 1952 the first diocese was too poor to support the new parish of 40 families floor of the new school was completed to accommodate some the Bishop himself asked the Jesuits to run it. of the grades; by 1954 the second floor was completed. The faculty and students became well known throughout the area for A new two-story church was completed in 1880 with the their all-school musicals with S. Jean Patrice Harrington guiding basement partitioned into classrooms for the free school. By them from 1945 to 1953; they served as great spirit-builders and 1882 Mother Regina Mattingly sent seven Sisters, naming motivators. S. Mary Ellen Roach was the last principal to serve S. Pelagia Schraeder as principal. It was the second Catholic Loyola (1988-2011); with Sisters Janet Marie Wehmhoff and school opened in Denver. Rapid growth caused the Bishop to Susan Verbiscus these women each gave more than 40 years of borrow money from friends in Europe to build a convent and ministry to Loyola. The closing of Loyola School in 2011 ended school next door to the church; 1892 saw the first Catholic high school graduation – eight students. By 1922 there were 15 Sisters 73 years of ministry by the SCs in this parish. of Charity teaching there with an enrollment of 625 pupils. In the 1940s and 1950s the parish declined with many changes to the neighborhood, including gang wars. The Sisters still endeavored to give students a Christian education, making them better parents and better citizens. In 1964 renovations to the church and school were paid for in part by the school children and Sisters selling Christmas cards and candy. Declining subsidy from the Archdiocese and fewer students caused the school to close in 1980 with Sisters Marie Virginia Lovato and Patricia Hayden as co-principals. The two stayed in the parish to work in pastoral ministry and religious education. A graduate of Sacred Heart from 1930, Paul Hallett, was a writer for the Denver Register. He saw the smallness of the school favoring a peculiar closeness; the sturdy old edifice was a symbol for him of a school that had character and built character into its students. “Great teachers must be few in any student’s experience. In my 14 years of formal learning S. Ellen Marie Jagger, who taught Latin and Spanish, stood out above them all. For me, she epitomizes all that is great in a teaching nun, and all that was best in ole Sacred Heart, where she taught between 1924 and 1939 and of which she was the last principal… “Although the Sisters of Charity naturally took pride in 12

(From left) Sisters Mary Ellen Roach, Janet Marie Wehmhoff and Susan Verbiscus each ministered at Loyola School for 40 years.

In the 1955 population boom a request came from St. Rose of Lima parish for Sisters to staff a school. Sisters Jean Patrice Harrington, Jean Evelyn Durbin, Rita Patrick and Kathryn Ann Connelly were sent by Mother Mary Romana Dodd in the fall 1955 with 1,511 students in four grades. A two-story building was completed in 1959. A noteworthy event occurred in the summer 1965 when the South Platte River overflowed its banks, severely damaging the new church, school and convent. Sisters from other Denver missions generously donated many hours to Intercom

Mahrt. She wished to assure the Nursery’s perpetuation beyond the lifetimes of those active in its direction then. From its beginning in 1926, the Nursery, established as a day center for the children of working mothers, was operated by a board of dedicated, benevolent women and under the care of Episcopalian Sisters. S. Salome Mahrt was named the first director by Mother Mary Zoe Farrell; she was well-prepared, bringing her postgraduate background in nutrition. The Nursery, the first under Catholic auspices in Colorado, accepted children of all faiths, providing care and making efforts to raise childrens’ home standards. From an enrollment of 42 in 1945, the Nursery grew to 130 by 1950. Sisters Bernard Marie Fitzsimmons (center) and Jean Patrice Harrington (right) ministered at St. Rose of Lima in Denver.

the clean-up process. The school opened on time in September and the church was re-dedicated and formally opened in October. In 1972 S. Pat Hayden made her final vows as a Sister of Charity with the parish community there. The last two Sisters of Charity to serve St. Rose were Sisters Catherine Mary Cohara and Jacqueline Riggio, leaving in 1975. In 1960 both St. Pius X in Aurora and Holy Cross in Thornton had SCs ministering in their parish schools, but in neither place did the Community minister for more than 30 years. Mother Mary Omer Downing sent Sisters Rosemary Gornick and Joan Groff to St. Pius X and Mary Gonzaga Cuni and Anthony Ann Forner to Holy Cross. With St. Pius’ strong emphasis on liturgical reform the school became one of the first in 1964 to adopt the trend of putting the responsibility of preparing children for their first Holy Communion into the hands of the parents rather than having a formal reception as a class. The last SC principal at St. Pius was S. Zita Burke who left the school in 1975. S. Pat Hayden was the last to work in the parish as director of religious education from 1982 until 1990. In Thornton, S. Monica Marie Ehnie was the last SC principal, leaving there in 1969; Sisters Juanita Garcia, Rita Patrick and Janet Marie Wehmhoff remained teaching there until 1971. From 1944 until 1975 the Sisters of Charity served in social services, taking over the operation of the Margery Reed Mayo Day Nursery in Denver. The offer of this gift was made by Mrs. Verner Reed in the fall 1943 through Archbishop Vehr; it was endowed with a trust fund to ensure its operation until 1980. Mrs. Reed was known to the SC community through her financing of the Margery Reed Memorial Home for Nurses; she had accomplished untold good with her philanthropies throughout Colorado. Through her deceased daughter Margery, Mrs. Reed had become a friend to S. Cyril fall 2 0 1 3

In 1980 the Archdiocese of Denver purchased the Nursery and it continues under Catholic Charities today. The last SC administrator was S. Joan Crocker who left in 1975. Other living Sisters of Charity serving there include Sisters Joseph Ellen Noppenberger (1951-’54), Carolyn Ann Siebert (1966-’68), Katrinka Gunn (1971-’72), Janet Marie Wehmhoff (1953-’56), and Cheryl Ann Grenier (1973-’75). Those sharing fond memories of their ministry at Margery Reed include Sisters Joan Crocker and Maria Dolorata Felix along with former day center attendee Mary Leech Thompson. S. Joan Crocker came to Margery Reed in 1962 thinking, “‘I don’t even know how to cook oatmeal for the little ones so how can I direct this effort?’ It surely proved to be a time when I put my trust in God and we reaped rewards of all kinds.” The nursery setting held a great deal of appeal to parents and children; the sinks and toilets were down low. Miniature furniture was solid oak, child-size, serving the 2½ to 4-year-olds; 5- and 6-year-olds had kindergarten classes there with costs to attend on a sliding scale. Normal hours were 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., accommodating the working mothers’ schedules. S. Joan recalls one mid-morning when a 3-year-old boy sobbed uncontrollably. As she attempted to calm him he repeatedly exclaimed, “Daddy didn’t give me my sugar.” Calling the boy’s father for an explanation it required the father to return to the Nursery to give his son his morning kiss. S. Joan warmly remembers the expanded SC family members who became familiar faces at Margery Reed. One was S. Jane Grosheider’s mother, Agnes, who became known as ‘Gracie’ during her 34 years of volunteering in the business office. She came to S. Salome early on to assist as an office substitute. She loved it so much, she didn’t want to leave. Another was S. Maria Dolorata’s mother who prepared wonderful hot meals for the children, always balanced and healthy.

S. Joan Crocker was the last SC administrator at Margery Reed Day Nursery (1962-’71, 1972-’75).

S. Dolorata prides herself in being the only Sisters of Charity vocation from Margery Reed Nursery; it happened to be located in her parish neighborhood. When the Nursery cook had to 13

Sisters of Charity ministered at the Margery Reed Mayo Day Nursery in Denver from 1944 until 1975.

retire suddenly, S. Salome asked the high school graduate, who was looking for a job to finance her way through nursing school, if she would be available to fill the cook’s position. She accepted and the ‘rest is history,’ so to speak. “I cooked and baked for 100 children and 25 staff members, including the Sisters, and after two years I entered the SC Community in Cincinnati,” S. Dolorata said. “Ten years after I entered my mother took the same job I had working with S. Joan. During my employment there I became a friend of Mrs. Reed and Julie Penrose. Both of these women were our most faithful and generous SC benefactors. I was also privileged to care for Julie Penrose as a nurse when she was dying.” Mary Leech Thompson, S. Jackie Leech’s youngest sister, attended Margery Reed Nursery for two years following the sudden death of her mother; Mary was 4 at the time. “S. Dorothy Michael (Shirley Dietrich) was always at the front desk with a little flashlight,” Mary remembered. “She would shine it in our eyes, ears and mouth every morning to be sure we were well. She was such a sweet lady offering a very loving environment.” With their father traveling for his work, the Leech girls were left to do many things by themselves. Luckily the Sisters at Margery Reed were always there to help, even cutting Mary’s hair when there was no one else to do so. Mary clearly remembers S. Mary Philip (Joan Crocker) standing at the top of the stairs at the playground with scissors in her hand calling to come to get her bangs trimmed. Mary and her husband belong to an organization, History Colorado, which gives tours of the historical sites that Colorado has to offer. Recently, during one of the tours, the group passed Margery Reed Nursery and Mary excitedly told them that she attended the Nursery as a child. The tour guide insisted that she come to the front of the bus and share a bit about this special place in her childhood; she happily obliged. “They were made to be happy days in spite of me missing my mother,” she said. 14

What about today? The Sisters of Charity continue to provide a valued presence in the Greater Denver area. S. Nancy Hoffman, after retiring from Centura Health, is serving on a retreat team offering retreats for women and men five times a year; the program is entitled “One Simple Voice.” S. Pat Hayden has ministered for the past 22 years as vice president of mission integration for St. Anthony North Hospital in Westminster; she serves on their Health Foundation Board and also on the SET Board of Colorado. S. Catherine Erger continues to tutor young children at St. Francis de Sales School while S. Marie Virginia Lovato serves in the pastoral care department of St. Anthony North Hospital two days per week, giving more than 8,000 hours of service throughout 15 years. S. Jacqueline Leech coordinates the pastoral care services at The Gardens at St. Elizabeth, having served as chaplain there for the past 18 years. S. Virginia Bohnert volunteers at The Gathering Place, a daily shelter for women near downtown Denver. Sisters Mary Ellen Roach, Janet Marie Wehmhoff and Sue Verbiscus have recently moved from the Loyola Convent. S. Mary Ellen serves as the assistant principal at the new Julia Greeley Academy where S. Janet teaches religion and S. Sue provides administrative assistance. The Denver Sisters and SC Associates remain neighbors, fellow-parishioners, mentors, ministry associates, and friends to the many persons with whom they walk. They will guide and inspire just as the efforts of our early Sisters have directed so many. The work of Elizabeth Seton’s mustard seed continues. The Sisters have fostered many vocations to religious life throughout the 153 years of ministry there. Visit the SC website at to hear from the many native vocations coming from the Denver parishes where the SCs have served, including Sisters Mary Frances Boyle, Catherine Erger, Jane Grosheider, Jean Patrice Harrington, John Miriam Jones, Carol Power and Jeanne Roach. They continue to listen, console, pray-with, and reach out on a daily basis, with an ever-steady commitment to the Gospel. Intercom

Navigating Many Paths By S. Regina Kusnir


ove bubbles over as S. Jackie Leech encounters the residents and staff at The Gardens at St. Elizabeth in Denver, Colo. As chaplain to the 220 residents and 100-member staff of this long-term care facility, S. Jackie knows that this is her “niche.” For 18 years she has joyfully navigated many paths at the Gardens. The Daily Path consists of walking the spiritual journey with the residents and staff, each a unique gift of God. As the only chaplain, S. Jackie coordinates spiritual activities to meet each person’s needs. She has a well-trained ear for listening to the inspiring stories of life and an ability to counsel those whom she meets. Serving on the leadership team at the Gardens, S. Jackie works with others to help assure quality care and growth continue. The Inspiring Path nurtures S. Jackie’s love for this ministry. She often reflects on the interconnectedness of her ministry with that of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. In her office you will find a statue of Elizabeth and a charcoal sketch of her done by a resident. They stand as witness to Elizabeth’s life attitude of loving acceptance of what is. “Elizabeth experienced so many gains and losses with such grace and that focuses me,” S. Jackie said. “She was a woman of thanksgiving and a great pray-er. S. Jackie Leech with Monsignor James Rasby, a current resident at The Gardens at St. Elizabeth in Denver, Colo. Monsignor Rasby served as rector of Denver’s Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception from 1969-1989 and worked closely with the SCs ministering there.

“Our residents have such wisdom and acceptance,” she continued. “Their deep faith and spirituality inspire me. I get far more from them than I ever give them. They go with the flow and their genuine goodness has helped them through so much.” The Walking Path begins with stories of the decades. She hears history first hand. “Many residents recall chasing coal cars and trains to gather what fell off in order to take the coal home for a bit of heat in cold winters,” S. Jackie said. “They lit Christmas trees with candles and came from good families.” These stories are often entry to the mirror image of long life and letting go. “The hardest part of my ministry is watching someone I’ve come close to diminish and die,” she said. “Another is when a family member asks me to accompany them to tell mom/dad that one of their children has unexpectedly gone to the Lord. These are costs of deep relationships, but the rewards of seeing others live out their faith to the end is a gift.” The Meandering Path to this ministry is a story unto itself. S. Jackie grew up in Colorado and has spent her ministerial life there. She holds a B.A. in English and a M.A. in theology. She taught in Pueblo, Colo., and Albuquerque, N.M., before being invited in 1972 by S. Pat Underhill to teach at Cathedral High School in Denver. She spent time as vocation director for the Archdiocese and as a pastoral associate before feeling the call to work with older adults whom she came to love. After CPE training and residency she found her place at the Gardens. The Police Chaplaincy Path occupies some of S. Jackie’s free time. Imagine this gentle woman sitting in the front seat of a police cruiser, wearing a bulletproof vest, and speeding in response to a call. Yes, this too is part of her ministry. It is high stress and involves some danger as she listens, counsels and is a second set of eyes and ears to the police officers. For 17 years she has served in this capacity and has been highly trained to take care of herself, which includes knowing what to do and what not to do in situations. The scary part is “responding to a code 10 where lights and sirens are engaged and travel is against traffic.” The extraordinary experience? “Once on a call, I delivered a baby, learning on the spot,” she said. The Sustaining Path is the Sisters of Charity Community. “Here the life-giving love and faith of my life find an ongoing source of joy and nurturing,” S. Jackie said. “Coming together with my Sisters in the West and in Cincinnati are life-giving times. I love the Sisters of Charity Community.”

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T H R O U G H T H E L E N S of T H E C A M E R A ,

Life Takes on Special Meaning

Photo taken by Clement Aka.

Few of us know Brother Gary Sawyer, Associate, without a camera in his hand! You have to look quickly because Gary moves swiftly throughout a room to capture those special moments that give life to an event long after it is passed. Gary was given five quotes by renowned photographers and asked to reflect on the loves and lessons he has gleaned from this hobby of his.


As I look back, in assessment of my life journey, it is clear that photography has been the main mode of creativity for me. In my middle childhood development years, I remember being very curious and extremely fascinated with cameras and picture taking. I quickly became the family historian, always arriving at events and gatherings with camera in hand. Now, as an obsessive enthusiast of photography, I have come to understand that I was searching for the essence of my subjects with the split-second click of the camera, and seeing the capture of these moments in time as a gift of deeper spiritual connection with God’s creation.


1. “The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality and eventually in one’s own,” as stated by Susan Sontag, brings me to a place where familiarity with my subjects becomes clear. Sontag further actualizes this familiarity in another quote, “To photograph is to appropriate the thing photographed. It means putting oneself into a certain relation to the world that feels like knowledge.” I feel a strong sense of knowing something behind the camera that I might have never known before and more intimately about what I am shooting. 2. “The virtue of the camera is not the power it has to transform the photographer into an artist, but the impulse it gives him to keep looking.” Brooks Atkinson This quote by Brooks Atkinson brings to mind the many opportunities I have had to photograph the dance of children through my years of teaching young children at Loyola School in Denver, Colo., and my current work as an early childhood educator at the Community College of Denver. I feel the impulse to keep looking for the presence of God in their play and their work. I find this same feeling reoccurring when photographing the Sisters and Associates. God’s presence is always there. 3. “What the human eye observes causally and incuriously, the eye of the camera notes with relentless fidelity.” Bernice Abbott Bernice Abbott’s work with black-and-white photography inspires a sense of artistry that reaches beyond the boundaries of everyday picture taking. A black-and-white image takes my desire to capture a true embodiment of a subject to deeper understanding of the natural. For me, such images speak of a true realism and tell the bare-bones story of what is untainted and perhaps even more refined. 4. “Photography is a major force in explaining man to man.” Edward Steichen I am most impressed with Edward Steichen’s driven force to use photography to bring his sketches and paintings to a new level of aliveness. His experimentation with color photography led to an expression of fashion photography and greater insights to cultures and the commonality that we have “man to man.” This quote sparks my interest in

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photographing costuming and the impressions of historical value that bring us from the past to present. Fashion and costuming is how I connect with and learn about history. 5. “Indeed the camera frequently enables us to look at people whom we would never otherwise see at all.” David Chandler David Chandler’s quote brings my enthusiasm with photography to the present. To capture the human emotion lends to the very passion of existence. Images of people in love, in prayer, in joy and tribulation convey what is so, and is caught so often in a single photograph. Capturing such images reach beyond who we know to a place where what we feel is God’s presence. The Sisters of Charity have been a part of nearly all of my life. I was born and raised in Denver and attended Sacred Heart School, Loyola School and Cathedral High School. It was through the Sisters that I came to know what Brothers were all about. I got to know the Brothers of the Poor St. Francis and their work at Mount Alverno in Cincinnati. I entered the Brothers in 1984, and was part of the intercommunity novitiate program at Mount St. Joseph. I was with the Brothers for a while when I felt there was something else I was looking for in religious life, and I transferred to the newly developed community of Brothers out of New Jersey; the Emmaus Community of St Augustine. The community was very small and consisted of men who were looking for a different expression of religious life – the way I was. Our community was an external strand of the Augustinian Recollects, and was under the auspices of the Archdiocese of Newark. Our community has declined in membership severely over the past years, and has dissolved. I have been an Associate with the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati for 11 years and thank God every day for the Community and family that has so generously received me. My association with the SC Community, particularly those in Denver, has given me reason to continue to live a vowed life … living in mission and charity. This is the 26th year of my commitment to the consecrated life as a Brother. Written by Brother Gary Sawyer, Associate, with assistance from Associate Vicki Welsh.


Pushing the Boundaries


ong before Facebook and Twitter, Google and smartphones, S. Frances Maureen Trampiets was advocating for media literacy and the use of electronic media as part of the learning environment. The Sister of Charity, who celebrates 60 years with the Community in 2013, was a pioneer, pushing the boundaries during the 1980s and 1990s. The call to communications was in her from the very beginning. S. Fran was the editor of her school newspaper at Immaculata High School in Chicago, Ill., and had planned to study journalism at Marquette University when the call to religious life changed the course of her studies. She received her bachelor’s degree in education from the College of Mount St. Joseph in 1963 and taught at every level – elementary, junior high and high school.

the country, interview them, take pictures of their ministry, and tell the stories of how so many Sisters, in quiet, unassuming ways, were having a wonderful impact.” When discerning her next ministry, Sister said she told herself she would stay in communications only if it would be a truly pastoral ministry. She came to the University of Dayton’s Center for Religious Telecommunications in 1985 and was there for 16 years as program director. “Our mission was to assist dioceses in adapting modern communication technology to accomplish their mission and ministry,” she said.

She established a summer Pastoral Communication Institute to train those in Diamond Jubilarian S. Fran Trampiets has spent more than 30 years pastoral ministry and religious of ministry in the field of communications. education, as well as diocesan communication personnel, to use technology for catechesis and pastoral outreach. She In 1977 S. Fran found her ministry taking a new but also was active with the National Council of Churches’ familiar direction. A pastoral associate at St. Stephen in communication office, and served on several of their Cincinnati at the time, she had been asked by S. Catherine committees and on the board of the North American Kirby, executive secretary of the Community, to establish Broadcast Section of the World Association for Christian a Communications Office for the SC Community. Sister Communication. said she felt the person establishing the office should have In the early 1990s S. Fran began to focus on the need professional training. She received a Master of Science in for media literacy education, emphasizing film, television Mass Communication from Boston University’s School of and advertising – how they are produced, how the industries Public Communication and took on the role of the Sisters of operate, what impact these media can have on the audience Charity director of communications in 1979. and, most importantly, how to use them wisely. She taught “One of the most satisfying and gratifying things I’ve ever done in ministries was the Community newspaper that I published,” S. Fran said of her five years in the office. “It was an eight- to 12-page tabloid-size monthly paper. It was a tremendous amount of work, but a wonderful vehicle for telling the Sisters what was happening throughout the Community and what wonderful contributions SCs were making to the Church and world. I would visit Sisters around 18

Media, Faith and Values courses at the University of Dayton, and joined a team of media literacy specialists doing training workshops for the Center for Media Literacy in Los Angeles, Calif. They trained teachers and catechists around the country and pushed to integrate media literacy into the curriculum of Catholic schools throughout the United States. “Becoming media literate gives teens the tools to understand the media in its business context,” she said at Intercom

Consider, for example, the amount of time spent by an average person on an average day looking at a screen – television, computer, iPad, smart phone, etc. “Compare that to the amount of time spent actually in the presence of a friend, or time spent outdoors, or reading, reflecting, praying. Time is so precious! How we use it shapes who we are. How we use social media shapes who we are becoming.”

S. Fran Trampiets says one of the most satisfying things she accomplished in her ministries was publishing the first-ever SC Community newspaper.

the time. “Once they realize what advertisers are trying to get their audiences to do, teens aren’t so susceptible to manipulation.” Even years before the boom of social media, Sister realized the culture was changing and it was important for schools and the Church to embrace this new form of communication. “The Internet opens up all kinds of possibilities for children – good and bad,” she once said. “Teachers must know how to use multimedia because the rate of change in education is phenomenal. The electronic media are so much a part of their world; it has to be part of their learning environment.” Her insight identified her as one of the major consultants in media literacy in the United States – for Catholic and religious educators. Retiring from the University of Dayton in 2001, S. Fran remained involved in the field serving as communications director for St. Mary Development Corporation on a half-time basis until 2006. Currently she assists the SC Communications Office as a member of its Advisory Board and as a writer of its quarterly magazine, Intercom.

Looking back on her 60 years as a Sister of Charity, S. Fran said she has been enriched throughout her life by being “first and foremost a Sister of Charity.” Growing up in Chicago she was taught by the Sisters of Charity at St. Sebastian School. During her high school years at Immaculata she would visit the Sisters at St. Sebastian and enjoy their warmth and friendliness. She has fond memories of S. Rose Clare Church, principal of St. Sebastian, and how instrumental Sister was in leading her to the College of Mount St. Joseph. She helped S. Fran earn a scholarship to the College, and although she also had a scholarship to Mundelein College in Chicago, prayer led her to enter the Community. “If you felt God was calling you to religious life, you didn’t say, ‘wait ‘till I’m ready,’ you said, ‘yes,’” S. Fran said. Her life has been rich in ministry and in relationship. Sister says her 60 years have brought many close friendships in and out of the Community. “To me the SC Community means sharing my life with women who share my beliefs and values and who allow individual expression of one’s beliefs and values,” she said. “There’s great freedom to be and to grow as contemplative women committed to loving service.” S. Fran Trampiets (front) is congratulated by friends (back, from left) Tom and Healy Jackson, Judith Dunlap and Cheri Bissett at the celebration of her diamond jubilee on Sept. 8, 2013.

She has seen many changes in the field of communications since 1977. “Today we are immersed in social media,” she said. “They provide so many new possibilities; their benefits are limitless and exciting. They profoundly influence us personally and as a world community, which is why we need to use them with great awareness and intentionality. “It’s a challenge to keep up with the latest products and the newest apps,” S. Fran continued. “We not only need to learn how to use them, but to recognize the impact they’re having on us, on our perceptions, attitudes and lifestyles. fall 2 0 1 3


All in the Family


or Director of Maintenance Rick Heis, the SC family has been part of his own for as long as he can remember. The Cincinnati native attended St. William School in Price Hill and fondly remembers being taught by many Sisters of Charity. Following graduation from Elder High School in 1973, Rick found employment with the Sisters of Charity in Maintenance, caring for the pool and assisting in the kitchen. His first full-time position was in Purchasing. Coming to the Sisters of Charity was a natural fit. Rick’s mother had worked at Mother Margaret Hall as a nursing aide for many years. He recalls how happy she was during the more than 20 years she was there, building many friendships with the Sisters living and working at the Mount. S. Maria Dolorata Felix, who was the director of nursing at Mother Margaret Hall during that time, remembers Mary Heis as an excellent nursing aide. “She worked on the memory impaired floor, night shift, and was acutely aware of every patient’s needs,” Sister said. “If she heard a noise, she knew exactly which patient’s room it was coming from. She had a quiet demeanor about her, which kept the disturbed patients calm since she didn’t get excited herself. I don’t remember that Mary ever took time off. Rick is a lot like her.” Four years after he was hired, Rick enlisted in the Air Force, serving four years before returning to Cincinnati – and the Sisters of Charity. He has been employed by the Community ever since, saying the people he has worked for the last three decades – and their caring and compassionate approach – make it worth every moment. In his position, Rick is responsible for scheduling security for the entire campus, assisting contractors on projects, and working with other maintenance employees to answer Sisters’ and employees’ calls and requests – which is no small task considering the expanse and age of the Mount St. Joseph buildings. Those requests can range anywhere from painting, plumbing and plastering to electrical, carpentry, mechanical and HVAC repairs and cover the Motherhouse, Mother Margaret Hall, five SC homes across the street on Bender Road as well as three apartment buildings in Cincinnati and two houses at Lake Lorelei near Fayetteville, Ohio. “I have worked with Rick for 12-plus years now and I cannot recall a time when he did not respond to a customer’s request in a positive manner,” said Jim Franz, senior director


Director of Maintenance Rick Heis answers Sisters' and employees' calls and requests throughout the Mount St. Joseph campus.

of Plant Operations. “Rick is a pleasure to talk to and to work with. He is very respectful of others and his dedication to the Sisters and staff is supreme. Several times a year he receives phone calls in the middle of the night for emergencies here on the Motherhouse campus and always responds promptly and with a positive attitude.” While there are challenges – like keeping security schedules operating efficiently with three shifts running 24 hours a day, seven days week – Rick says there is rarely a hiccup. And being in a relaxed and welcoming environment, he plans to remain with the Sisters of Charity until retirement. As an employee for the last 30-plus years, Rick has gained an extended family. So much so that his own family has come to feel that way as well. Rick’s wife of 14 years, Sharon, is close to many Sisters, including S. Shirley Le Blanc. The two met during a gathering at Mount St. Joseph and have remained close even after S. Shirley moved to New Orleans more than a year ago. Building relationships with the Sisters and seeing them build relationships with his family makes Rick ever more grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Charity Family. Not many people can say they began their career in one place and ended it there as well. It speaks volumes to the person and employee Rick Heis is. Intercom

Communication and Collaboration By Debbie Weber, OPJIC director


he Office of Peace, Justice and Integrity of Creation (OPJIC) is actively involved in a Sisters of Charity (SC) Federation collaboration. The SC Federation Strategic Plan calls to “affect systemic change by addressing issues of social justice for those living in poverty.” The plan calls for communication and collaboration among peace and justice representatives of the US congregations “to speak with one voice regarding issues of social justice.” I was chosen, and happily accepted, the task of facilitating this collaboration. As we, the social justice representatives, began to identify issues we hold close to our hearts, the topic of climate change kept surfacing. We agreed that climate change and poverty, refugees/migrants, food, health, water, housing and trafficking, to name a few, are interconnected. Our first collaborative action was to create a Climate Change Statement; a statement that we would take back to our communities. It would be a reminder to us as peace and justice representatives that climate change and the issues that are important to each of us, along with our Catholic spirituality, are interconnected. The social justice representatives for the US and Canadian congregations of the Sisters of Charity Federation of North America invite us all to respond to the crisis of global climate change as one of the central ethical issues of our time. Vincent de Paul challenged us to see persons living in poverty as the presence of Christ. Faithfulness to our charism challenges us: • To efficacious compassion toward the brokenness of Earth and its life systems; • To recognize that persons living in poverty and on the margins suffer first from the effects of global climate change; • To learn to discern and celebrate the presence of God in Earth; • To evaluate our lifestyle choices; • To integrate this heightened awareness in our consciousness, congregational documents and actions. fall 2 0 1 3

I am pleased to write that the national SC Federation peace and justice representatives are now collaborating with the national Vincentian Family social justice representatives. To affect systemic change, the Vincentian Family Leadership requested that the social justice coordinators of each branch identify a collaborative initiative for the Vincentian Family to jointly pursue. The Sisters of Charity Federation would convene the group; I was asked to be the facilitator. As of the writing of this article, our “VinFam/SC Fed” collaboration has begun a Take a Legislator to Prayer initiative where each collaboration representative will adopt and adapt this powerful prayer advocacy action for their organization. OPJIC has adapted the initiative so that all Sisters, Associates and friends of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati have an opportunity to be advocates for justice through the power of prayer. Those who sign up for Take a Legislator to Prayer will be given a photo and brief biography of a random US Senator or House Representative along with a letter to send to the legislator, letting her/him know that a Sister, Associate or friend of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati is offering them prayerful support and encouragement as they make significant legislative decisions that uphold the inherent dignity in all people and build up the common good. For more information, go to


Living in the Past By Megan Moore, Communications summer intern


ne of the most frequently visited offices on the first floor of the Motherhouse’s Seton Hall is that of S. Benedicta Mahoney. The long-time member of the SC Archives is the ‘go-to’ for many questions pertaining to the Community and its history. S. Benedicta, who celebrates 70 years with the Sisters of Charity in 2013, is known for her ability to quickly – and accurately – answer any history-related question without hesitation. I had the privilege to sit down with S. Benedicta and learn more about her life and ministry and her great appreciation for the SC history.

ministered in the field for more than 50 years, teaching every grade level at schools in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio and New Mexico. Many people know S. Benedicta as a journalism-savvy educator, having been in charge of yearbook and journalism at two different high schools for a total of 25 years. Though she is very knowledgeable about written publications, the way she gained this knowledge was rather unexpected.

“When I applied to Elizabeth Seton High School in South Holland, Ill., I S. Benedicta Mahoney (front, left) with her talked to the principal by phone and she When S. Benedicta entered the Sisters siblings (back, left) Jack, Terry, Ed and said, ‘We’re losing an English teacher, of Charity of Cincinnati from Springfield, S. Mary Ann. and we would love to have you come. Ohio, 70 years ago, the world was immersed in World War II. She was responsible for yearbook and newspaper and taught Sister had three brothers serving in the war, which made it journalism, but we are getting someone else for that; you will difficult for her to tell her parents that she would be leaving, just be in charge of teaching English.’ When I arrived, I was too. “I had made my decision to become a Sister of Charity responsible for journalism, English, newspaper, and yearbook. before my junior year of high school [at Catholic Central I learned as I went.” in Springfield],” she said. “My parents, with their strong Though she did not plan on taking on such Catholic faith, accepted the fact as one more sacrifice ‘the responsibilities at Elizabeth Seton, and later at Seton High good Lord’ asked of them …” School in Cincinnati, she thoroughly enjoyed teaching and “It wasn’t easy leaving home, but when you had to go, running the newspaper and yearbook at both schools. you had to go,” she said. “When the Lord calls, you listen.” As a Communications intern, I recognize S. Benedicta’s Though her parents had no way of knowing, they didn’t name from something that I find myself using almost on a need to be too concerned with the absence of four of their daily basis, a brown hardcover book titled We Are Many… A children; the war ended the day S. Benedicta made first vows History of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati 1898-1971. – August 1945. All three of her brothers returned home safely. “In 1978, executive secretary of the Community, S. Benedicta told me, “During World War II, on V-E S. Catherine Kirby, asked to see me,” she explained. “She told Day, May 8, 1945, our bell rang and the announcement came me, ‘I want you to write the history of our Community.’ I just that the war was over in Europe. We all left wherever we were, laughed at her because, of course, we were friends from way back. and went to chapel to sing the Te Deum. We had practiced it She said, ‘No, seriously.’ Our history up until 1898 was written and when it came time to truly sing it the voices were all so in three volumes and she wanted that to continue so our history beautiful ...” would not be lost. … Well, I had never written a book! Shortly after making first vows, Sister was “missioned” “I spent the next year in Archives reading and researching to teach third grade at Guardian Angels School in Detroit, and that was when I started the book…” she said. “I did such Mich. “With the patient help of an excellent principal and a good job that I was invited back the following summer. experienced teachers, I not only got through my first year, Afterwards I went to Elizabeth Seton High School in South but I realized that I loved the profession,” she said. She Holland and continued with English and journalism and 22


newspaper … I volunteered my time in Archives every summer. Finally I was told that when I came to live at the Mount to just come straight to Archives.”

S. Benedicta Mahoney entered the Sisters of Charity on Feb. 2, 1944.

One of S. Benedicta’s chief responsibilities since joining the Archives in 2002 is giving tours of the Motherhouse, specifically the chapel and the Art Room and the halls along the way.

“These tours may be for a group of senior citizens or for classrooms from elementary schools or high schools,” she said. “Each tour is different. I cater to what that group of people wants to hear about.”

“The spirit and the Community itself make me stop and look at these pieces of history and think, ‘I wonder what Mother so-and-so would say about this,’” she said. “They were all such wonderful women and had great decisions to make. Their spirit and the way they handled things was so admirable. Of course, they had the Holy Spirit to rely on in making decisions.” During my interview with S. Benedicta, she mentioned that she lives in the past and laughed at herself after she said it, as if it were a bad thing. The history of the Community is something that needs to be preserved and shared. If S. Benedicta did not live in the past we would be missing a fount of priceless information about the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, which is why I am grateful that she lives in the past and hope that she doesn’t mind staying there a little while longer.

Another part of her ministry is answering requests for information about the Sisters. “For example, we will get emails from someone asking about a Sister who taught her chemistry in high school and inspired her to become a chemical engineer,” Sister explained. “They may ask for the Sister’s name and a way to contact her to thank her. This has happened more and more since email.” As you may expect, S. Benedicta has a deep appreciation for both the amazing artifacts that she comes across in Archives as well as the past and present members of the Community who collected or made them, or simply paved the way for future Sisters of Charity.

Members of the Band of 1943 (from left) Sisters Martha Ann Conley, John Miriam Jones, Benedicta Mahoney and Bernadette Marie Shumate celebrated 70 years with the Community in 2013.

S. Benedicta Mahoney taught at Elizabeth Seton High School in South Holland, Ill., from 1970-’79 and 1980-’83.

FA L L 2 0 1 3


A Caring Heart


n 1996 S. Bernadette people bring in donations Kambeitz received the because they know me.” St. Elizabeth Seton Tony Viviano has been Mission Achievement Award on the Board of Trustees from St. Joseph Hospital at St. Joseph Hospital for in Mount Clemens, Mich. many years and remembers When presented to her, it sending S. Bernadette on was explained the award (a one of her first “calls.” He crystal heart) symbolizes said she went for $100 and “care which knows no came back with $2,000. bounds.” To what extent “If I had a big contributor that phrase refers can only I would pick up the phone be explained by the many and have her go visit them,” people S. Bernadette came to (From left) Zeina, Chady, S. Bernadette Kambeitz, Joe, Randa and Ghassan Viviano said. “She didn’t love and care for while living Haurani together at the Haurani home. mind going; taking care of in the Michigan area for more people, that was her No. 1 than 30 years. priority. She always knew how to comfort and relate to people S. Bernadette first came to St. Joseph Hospital in 1973 after teaching high school physics, chemistry and math at schools in Ohio, Michigan and New Mexico. She ministered in the hospital lab as a clinical chemist for 15 years. It was there that she met Denise Donahue. The pair quickly became close friends, and as Donahue explains S. Bernadette was close with all of the med-techs in the lab, the matriarch of the group. “She was a friend to everyone,” Donahue said. “If you were down at the cafeteria, she would sit down and start talking … She was involved in everybody’s life – in a good way. She treated us like family, and we did the same to her.” Donahue called S. Bernadette the eternal optimist, having a positive attitude and always finding the good in any situation. That part of her personality is what attracted people to her and how she became acquainted with so many in the community. “She knew so many people,” Donahue said, “so many doctors, so many leaders in the community. She was the perfect person to cultivate donors for the hospital; that was her real gift.”

and how to get them to be charitable.” Judy Schefke, who currently lives in Santa Monica, Calif., worked with S. Bernadette for a year and a half in development. The two instantly “clicked” during that time. Schefke remembers “Bernie” as upbeat, fun, and never having an unkind word to say about others. Schefke left the hospital in May 1993 for California. That Thanksgiving she invited S. Bernadette out to celebrate the holiday with her son, Matthew, and daughter, Emily. It became a tradition for the next 15 years. During her visits, the group would enjoy going to the movies, seeing the sites of the area and absorbing the beauty of the coast. Schefke and her children particularly remember S. Bernadette’s daily walks, something she continues today at the Motherhouse.

In 1989 S. Bernadette transitioned from the hospital chemistry lab to philanthropic service. As the major donor coordinator, S. Bernadette became the hospital’s secret resource.

While her professional relationship with S. Bernadette may have only lasted a little more than one year, the Schefke’s personal relationship with her is life-long. Schefke says her children have always loved Sister as a grandmother. “They got a kick out of her,” she said, “the different things she would say and do. They were always happy when she visited … She has always been so sweet; you can talk to her about anything. She listens, and is just so sensible.”

She once described her ministry, “I do a lot of cultivation of relationships, making myself present in the community. I was with the people so they would understand that the hospital is still Catholic. When I’m with them I always try to keep our religious and core values visible. My contacts with

Through the hospital S. Bernadette built close relationships with many other staff members and their families, as well. So much so that she became a permanent fixture in their lives. The Penna and Haurani families are no exception.



Chady admires Sister’s “absolute selflessness. It has never been about her, never about her desires or priorities,” he said. “It is always about everyone else. Without hesitation we knew she was always there for us.” “She is such an intelligent and worldy woman,” Zeina added. “She has such a calming spirit. She always made you feel that whatever you said was of the utmost importance … She is a woman I have always looked up to. She has made me want to be a better person and have a better connection with my spirituality just by being with her.” Tony Penna and his family also had the gift of calling S. Bernadette family. The Penna’s own a (Back row from left) Mira Haurani, Nina Haurani, Nadeem Haurani, Lydia Haurani, (front row restaurant and a banquet hall in Sterling Heights, from left) Greta (sister of the late Nina Haurani), S. Bernadette Kambeitz, Zavier Sterling and Sierra Haurani visit together at the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse in the summer 2013. Mich., and became close to S. Bernadette when she started watching their children from time to time. “My wife always helped in the kitchen and during Chady Haurani says he can’t remember a time when banquets,” Penna said. “Bernie would watch the kids. She “Sister B” wasn’t in his life. Chady and his siblings Zeina, didn’t charge for it; we were friends.” Randa and Joe came to meet S. Bernadette through their Penna called S. Bernadette a role model for his three late parents, Ghassan and Nina. Their father was a vascular children: Catherine, Anthony and Angela. Catherine would surgeon at St. Joseph Hospital and through that professional volunteer any time S. Bernadette needed an extra hand for a relationship something much more meaningful developed. fundraising event. Chady and Zeina said they also thought of S. Bernadette Like the Haurani’s and Schefke’s, S. Bernadette became as a grandmother, and became accustomed to her being part of the Penna family; she was invited to family dinners with the family during holidays and whenever their parents and special occasions. In fact, the last time she was with the were out of town. After the death of their parents in 1996, family was about a year ago when Anthony was married. the relationship with Sister B only grew stronger. “She took it upon herself to keep an eye on us,” “She is such a wonderful lady,” said Chady said. “She was always there for all Penna. “So many people respected her. of our big events. She never forgot a single She didn’t have to go to a place to ask birthday and was always there for holidays. for money, she would show up and they Anything that came up she would have the would give. Bernie knew everyone, and whole Motherhouse praying for us.” everybody loved her.” Zeina remembers how comfortable Throughout her 90-plus years, Sister B made everyone feel. “I was in S. Bernadette has selflessly given her college, driving in the first car I ever heart to those she has met in life and in owned, and I went to park the car,” Zeina ministry. Her care and her love “know said. “I remember swearing in the car with no bounds” as she lives a life of Charity, her; I was so embarrassed. She just looked “sharing fellowship with people of all at me and said, ‘Oh dear, I didn’t hear ages and all walks of life.” They are anything.’” captured by Sister’s humor and spunk, her spirituality and her absolute care Sister B was known for her brownies, and concern for all those she meets and the two recalled. “Every birthday, without walks with. While she may no longer fail, she’d make a giant batch of brownies,” live in the Michigan area, one thing Chady explained. “Even after high school, S. Bernadette Kambeitz (back, left) met Judy is for certain, Sister B has earned a in college, I would get a FedEx package Schefke while working in development at permanent place at the table in each of Sister B’s brownies to share. She was St. Joseph Hospital. After leaving in 1993 of their homes. amazing.” S. Bernadette would visit Schefke and her children Matthew and Emily every year at Thanksgiving. F all 2 0 1 3


S. Mary Janet Miller from the archives –


rom her file in the Archives, S. Mary Janet Miller was described as innovative, well-respected, an authority on secondary curriculum, a prophet. With all that praise, she also was criticized by many in the Community for her progressive-thinking. Born in Goodland, Kan., on Sept. 11, 1897, S. Mary Janet and her family moved to Colorado when she was a young age. Eventually they arrived in Denver where Sister attended Sacred Heart School. It was in Denver that she entered the SC Community on Sept. 17, 1917. S. Mary Janet Miller An educator, Sister began her ministry teaching at the elementary level, including Denver’s Sacred Heart School for eight years (19201928). While in Denver, she studied for a Master of Arts degree from Colorado State College of Education. When she was appointed principal at Denver’s Cathedral High School in the fall 1939, she had the opportunity to implement some of her innovative ideas on education. She introduced new courses to the school in order to ‘Catholicize’ the curriculum, such as Liturgical Latin, Christian Citizenship, Civics and Catholic Literature.

In the summer 1945, Sister was instructed to enroll at The Catholic University in Washington, D.C. as a candidate for a doctoral degree. She was thrilled; the university was placing emphasis on the need for social action in the Church. The Commission on American Citizenship was in action by the time S. Mary Janet arrived, and she worked with them, being given the task of developing a basic curriculum for Catholic secondary schools. S. Mary Janet’s first project was the study of the Survey of Secondary Schools, which had been conducted by the Department of Education at the National Catholic Welfare Conference. Her findings were published in 1949 and encouraged further study and planning. She also stressed the urgent need to educate all Catholic students for citizenship in this world as well as the next. 26

The study was only the first of a number of publications she would author in her 13 years at The Catholic University. She was building a reputation nationally as one of the foremost authorities on secondary curriculum in the Catholic schools and beyond. S. Mary Janet, who was elected to SC leadership from 1959 until 1971, was in the forefront of the movement for change following the Second Vatican Council. The primary was the adoption of the Divine Office to replace the traditional prayer manual. As one well-versed in things liturgical, S. Mary Janet traveled around the Community instructing Sisters in the proper recitation of the official prayer of the Church. She advocated new and innovative ideas, and urged the Sisters, both young and old, to accept them. She had long been interested in civic responsibility, and felt that the Sisters should take a more active role in social issues. One manifestation was her involvement in the Catholic Interracial Council. It was she who urged the Sisters to take an interest in such organizations as The League of Women Voters, the Archdiocesan Social Action Commission and the Archdiocesan Commission on Human Relations. Well loved by many for her sparkle and passion, S. Mary Janet was way ahead of her time and though an inspiration she most certainly felt resistance and animosity. Regardless she met everyone with charm and warmth and continued to push forward, seeing the need to progress well before her time. As S. Rose Michael Weber once said: “She tried to push the Community and this was much resented by people who eventually came around to many of her ideas but they just felt like she was going too fast and too far. She had a lot of criticism by many of us in the Community who did not know half as much as she did and did not see the future of religious life as perhaps she did.” Article taken from SC Archives documents, including a presentation by S. Judith Metz. Intercom

On the Web For full articles, please visit the News/Events section of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati website at, and click on “Feature Articles.” Listening with Hands and Heart S. Mary Fran Davisson, a nationally certified massage therapist, currently ministers through the Sisters of Charity Spirituality Center at the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse. Feeding Independence After ministering 30 years as a registered dietitian in hospitals, intermediate care and long-term care settings, S. Mary Catherine Faller is currently the nutrition services manager for Warren County Community Services, a nonprofit agency in Lebanon, Ohio. Above and Beyond S. Katharine Pinto ministers at Resurrection School in Price Hill (Cincinnati), a school that has had the presence of the Sisters of Charity since 1919.

Holiday Gift Idea emember a loved one this holiday season with a subscription to Intercom, the quarterly magazine of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. Discounted prices on gift ($10) and two-year subscriptions ($25) are currently available. Individual renewals are $15. Subscriptions begin with the Winter 2014 installment and cover five issues. To purchase simply mail your payment to Sisters of Charity Communications Office, 5900 Delhi Road, Mount St. Joseph, OH 45051 or call S. Marty Dermody at 513-347-5764. Please be sure to include the mailing information of the recipient; checks should be made payable to Sisters of Charity.

Thank you for your support.

Intercom Subscription o Yes, I would like to receive a personal copy of Intercom. Enclosed is the $15 subscription fee for the publication. Name: Home/personal address: o Yes, I would like to send a subscription of Intercom as a gift. Enclosed is the $10 subscription fee for the publication. Recipient’s name:

Intercom is the quarterly magazine of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. This apostolic Catholic women’s religious community exists to carry out the Gospel of Jesus Christ through service and prayer in the world. Approximately 350 Sisters are joined in their mission by 199 Associates (lay women and men). Sisters, using their professional talents as ministers of education, health care, social services and environmental justice, live and minister in 29 US dioceses and in Guatemala, Mexico and the West Indies. They also sponsor institutions to address education, health care and social service needs, with particular concern for direct service to the poor.

Intercom Staff Editor Erin Reder Graphic Design/Layout Michelle Bley Photographer S. Marty Dermody Director of Communications S. Georgia Kitt Executive Council Liaison S. Mary Bookser Advisory Board Members: S. Mary Bodde S. Mary Ann Flannery S. Karen Hawver Mary Jo Mersmann S. Joyce Richter S. Frances Maureen Trampiets Vicki Welsh Letters to the editor, articles and photos are welcome. The staff reserves the right to edit for space and readability. Make submissions to: Communications Office 5900 Delhi Road Mount St. Joseph, OH 45051 Phone: 513-347-5447 Fax: 513-347-5467 Email: Subscriptions: $15 per year

Recipient’s home/personal address: Name of individual giving gift subscription: (Gift subscriptions will be acknowledged to the recipient.) o Yes, I would like to purchase a two-year subscription to Intercom. Enclosed is the $25 subscription fee for the next 10 issues of the publication. Name: Home/personal address: FA L L 2 0 1 3

5900 Delhi Road Mount Saint Joseph, OH 45051 sistersofcharityofcincinnati


5900 Delhi Road Mount Saint Joseph, OH 45051

9 (From left) Novice Director S. Donna Steffen accompanied Sisters Andrea Koverman and Tracy Kemme to New York, Baltimore and Emmitsburg, Md., in August to visit where Elizabeth Seton lived and worshiped as they become more acquainted with her spirit.

24 S. Bernadette Kambeitz (back, center) has built close relationships with many of the people she lived and worked with while ministering at St. Joseph Hospital in Mount Clemens, Mich., including Judy Schefke and her children Matthew and Emily.


S. John Michael Geis (left) congratulates S. Jane Bernadette Leo, who celebrated her diamond jubilee on Sept. 8, 2013, at the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse.

Fall 2013 Intercom  

Intercom is the quarterly magazine of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati.

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