Intercom S I S T E R S
C H A R I T Y
C I N C I N N AT I
Dear Sisters, Associates and Friends,
Contents FEATURES Creating a Path While Walking .................8 Sisters Marge Kloos and Mary Caroline Marchal begin their new ministry. Waking Up the World Through Prayer .....13 Community Hosts Day of Prayer for Year of Consecrated Life. A Timeless Tradition of Service................14 S. Helen Berson celebrates 60 years of community life and ministry. Life’s Mysteries ........................................18 Remembering Operation Babylift 40 Years Later. Care for Our Common Home ................24 Pope Francis’ encyclical affirms change is possible.
DEPARTMENTS Vocation/Formation ..................................7 The Canonical Novitiate Journey OPJCC ...................................................17 Advocating for All Celebrating Our Founder, Elizabeth Ann Seton ...............................................22 Elizabeth the Wife Timeless Treasures .....................................26 The key to “The Cradle” On the Cover: Monsignor Andrew P. Landi, a longtime official of Catholic Relief Services, visits the nursery where S. Kateri Maureen Koverman (right) ministered in Vietnam during the fall of 1973. To read more about Sister’s efforts and those connections that continue today, visit pages 18-20. Disclaimer: The information contained in Intercom is intended for general information and educational purposes only. Opinions expressed herein are the views of individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati.
ake up the world! With these words, Pope Francis has invited members of religious congregations across the globe to become a more visible sign of God’s incarnate love in our world. In this era of Pope Francis, a spirit of healing, reconciliation, and joy have become the hallmarks of his vision of a “Church-made-visible.” In a world that often rejects the power of authentic friendship, commitment, sufficiency, and compassion, “today, God asks this of us: to leave the nest which encloses us in order to be sent.” Not unlike Elizabeth Seton before us, being sent involves walking a path into our future that uniquely exposes the joy of the Gospel for a new era. In the words of Pope Francis, “living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience.” In this Intercom, we are challenged to see yet again the dangerous disregard for the environment that negatively impacts the quality of life for all creatures, and most especially for those living in poverty. We are certainly being “sent” to examine the root causes of these tendencies. Perhaps even more urgently, we are being sent to participate in explicit and ordinary practices of charity and mercy that nourish and sustain the lives of those most diminished by lack of sufficient housing, food, emotional and physical security and a rightful place at the table of life. The path along which we are being sent is walked with companions. Companioning one another, while not always easy or without heartache, is inspired by the precious and abiding tenderness of God’s handiwork, wholeness and communion. This reality is beautifully reflected in the articles about Elizabeth Seton, contemporary marriage, and the reunion of those who were airlifted out of Vietnam as babies. In these articles tangible encounters with relational grace are recounted, reminding us yet again that the path of authentic companionship gently invokes and celebrates God-with-us. At this year’s LCWR meeting in Houston, Texas, our SC Leadership Team gathered with about 800 other women religious. Emerging from Pope Francis’ face-to-face meeting with Conference leadership, there was heightened consciousness about entering more intentionally into communion with those living in poverty and those at the margins of society. A compelling aspect of walking into our future together acknowledges that “we lead congregations faithful to the call of the Gospel, attempting to bridge the tradition which grounds us and the future which calls us forward.” In so many ways, as you will read, the wisdom shared by our Jubilarians offers an exquisite glimpse into the many paths women religious continue to journey, waking up our world. In the rhythm of our living, God’s invitation is before us: “Hazard yet forward” into the life-stream of Spirit’s Grace.
S. Marge Kloos 2
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? 1883 – Sisters Blandina Segale, Pauline Leo, and Catherine Mallon rode in an open wagon, drawn by mules, to collect donations for their school, San Felipe, Albuquerque. They travelled through the Mojave Desert as far as the San Bernardino Mountains in California. April 2, 1912 – Sister Vincent O’Keefe, the first Sister of Charity of Cincinnati postulant, died on this date, the day of her 60th anniversary of her entrance into the Community. Her obituary in The Catholic Telegraph cited the fact that “the late Dr. P.S. O’Conner and other physicians pronounced her one of the best physicians in Cincinnati.”
S. Vincent O’Keefe
July 30, 1958 – Pope Pius XII gave his final audience to the boys of Villa Nazareth today. It had been cut short because the pope was not feeling well. However, he openly enjoyed the boys’ recitation of some of his favorite poems. He died nine days later.
1961 – S. Redempta Wittberg, RN, over the space of the preceding two and a half years, in cooperation with the Procter and Gamble Co., developed the first satisfactory, disposable diaper, Pampers. Sister, a nurse at St. Joseph Infant Home, worked with her 60 babies; she had studied, experimented, advised, and revised until P&G put them on the market.
In Memoriam Please visit “In Memoriam” at www.srcharitycinti.org for biographical information and reﬂections on the Sisters of Charity and Associates who have died. May our Sisters and Associates enjoy the fruits of their labor as well as peace with their God. S. Marian Hart September 22, 2015 S. Zoe St. James September 15, 2015
S. Redempta Wittberg was a pediatric nurse at hospitals throughout the country as well as director of a center for the care of students’ children at the College of Mount St. Joseph from 1979 until 1988.
Editor’s Note: This MemBits column will be the final in a series that has been printed in Intercom since May/June 2004. MemBits was initiated by S. Benedicta Mahoney and has been enjoyed and anticipated by our readers since its beginnings. S. Benedicta retired from the Archives in September 2015, and, fittingly, MemBits has also been retired. Thank you, S. Benedicta, for your talents, knowledge and love of our SC history! You will be greatly missed.
Into Our Future By S. Mary Caroline Marchal
t has become a custom of mine to spend the third week in January in one of the hermitages at the Sisters of Loretto Motherhouse in Nerinx, Kentucky. I pray for snow and cold weather and was once lucky enough to experience a 5-inch snowfall. I mention this because I sometimes question what I hope will happen when I go to the woods. Last January I was blessed to find Kentucky poet Wendell Berry’s poem. I’m sharing it here since I want to suggest that it is the perfect lens for us to use as we reflect on the experience of the August Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) annual assembly and the CDF mandate and what it has meant for us as individuals and as a Community.
This is a precious gift we have received and one that we have embraced over the years. When we “go among the trees and sit still” I truly believe there is nothing we can’t do together. As a new member of LCWR I was privileged to receive the reflections and sharing from the nine former and current presidents and executive directors. They were asked to share the sorrows and the joys that they experienced over the last few years. Their honesty and ability to share with us impressed me. I was not part of the discussions and experiences of the last three years except through the articles they shared and, of course, the media’s take on things. What a blessing to have gleaned their learnings and hold them tenderly.
In 1979 Berry wrote: I go among trees and sit still. All my stirring becomes quiet around me like circles on water. My tasks lie in their places where I left them, asleep like cattle. Then what is afraid of me comes and lives a while in my sight. What it fears in me leaves me, and the fear of me leaves it. It sings, and I hear its song. Then what I am afraid of comes. I live for a while in its sight. What I fear in it leaves it, and the fear of it leaves me. It sings, and I hear its song.
S. Mary Caroline Marchal (second from right) and the SC Leadership Team joined leaders from various congregations of Catholic women religious for the LCWR annual assembly in August.
After days of labor, mute in my consternations, I hear my song at last, and I sing it. As we sing, the day turns, the trees move. The connection I am venturing to make is that it is in our “sitting still” with our fears and our courage in facing them that we have found our song and can listen to the songs of those we fear and really hear what they are trying to sing from their hearts, and from ours. So, I believe that LCWR’s commitment to do ALL things from a contemplative stance has left them and thereby ALL of us in a position to be open to the fears and failures we all experience. We can find within that quiet space the courage and the hope to continue to move into our future with compassion and trust. 4
The Gospel of Matthew presents us with a parable about the merchant in search of beautiful pearls, who when he found one, of great price, sold all he had and bought it (Matthew 13:45-46). This image of a pearl came to my mind as I was listening to one of the presenters refer to the experiences of the last three years as “irritants.” No pearl is created without some irritant inserted into the oyster. It is because of that irritant that the oyster can create something beautiful. I can imagine that it takes a while for it to grow. Beauty is always meant to be shared. We are being called to share what we have learned with all our sisters and brothers. They are watching us and learning from us. May we not disappoint them. As I reflect on how we could have responded I imagine that anger, disillusionment and fear would all have been possible responses … and understandably so. However, we and LCWR have chosen the high road and it has made all the difference. Intercom
FIRST HEARING HELD FOR
S. Blandina Segale By S. Victoria Marie Forde
“On behalf of Archbishop John Wester and myself I welcome you to the first session of the Diocesan Inquiry of the Cause of Canonization of the Servant of God, Sister Blandina Segale. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen. “On this 25th day of August, in this year of Our Lord 2015, the third year of the Pontificate of His Holiness Pope Francis, I call this first session to order.” Santos by S. Roberta Westrick, SC
ith these words Archbishop Emeritus Michael J. Sheehan, episcopal delegate, opened the First Session of the three to be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico. These are to prove on a diocesan level the heroic sanctity of Sister of Charity of Cincinnati Blandina Segale. This formal Vatican-scripted session began with the Archbishop seated on a stage with Chancellor Fr. John Cannon who swore in each person involved. At a table below, facing them, were Bishop Emeritus Ricardo Ramirez, postulator; Allen Sánchez, CEO of St. Joseph’s Children, petitioner; and Fr. Oscar Coelho, promoter of justice. Seated behind them were the historic commissioners: S. Joan Elizabeth Cook, S. Judith Metz, S. Victoria Marie Forde, and Peso Chavez, private investigator. Behind them historical commissioners, Sisters Pat Sabourin and Juanita Marie Gonzales, were seated with the St. Joseph’s Children board, the petitioners for the cause. On the side were the court recorder and the notary, Ms. Patricia Ramos, also sworn in. For further validation all proceedings were videotaped. Because this session was open to the press and the public, in the audience of interested people present, it was good to see Associates, former students, and friends of the Community. To begin, the Promoter of Justice Fr. Coelho, “as prescribed in Sanctorum Mater,” read the titles of the 11 collected documents of the first session into the Acts and handed them to the Archbishop. After he read the title At the End of the Santa Fe Trail, he asked Bishop Ramirez, postulator, if the theological censors had read and written an opinion of the book. The answer was “Yes, and I present their letters that remain secret.” Who these theological censors are is not known so as not to be influenced by others. Regarding The Santa Maria Institute, Bishop Ramirez responded, “No, the book was not written by the Servant of God and is entered into the Acts as documentation of her Fall 2015
good works and heroic virtue. Sanctorum only requires the writings of the Servant of God be examined by the theological censors.” Each of the commissioners was again sworn in and answered questions before and after presenting testimonials. These papers and notarized letters from the three Sisters of Charity and grandniece Rita Stagge, who knew S. Blandina, were also presented formally. These were locked in a leather case with the other material, including At the End of the Santa Fe Trail and The Santa Maria Institute. With her paper S. Joan Cook also entered the 50 responses from Sisters of Charity who prayed to S. Blandina. After investigating the lynching S. Blandina prevented, Mr. Peso Chavez presented convincing evidence of the usual speedy “justice” in Trinidad through newspaper articles of the time S. Blandina was there, prison records of the man she saved from lynching, and proof of his son John who came to her for help. He added that among the hundreds he has worked on, this was the most unusual case he has ever investigated. After these testimonials the Archbishop asked the promotor of justice and the notary to join him in signing the order to insert all these acts into the record. Finally, he solemnly announced, “The first session of the Archdiocesan Inquiry of the Cause of Canonization of the Servant of God, Sister Blandina Segale, is now ended. “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.” And the audience spontaneously applauded. We, Sisters of Charity, were humbled and elated that we could help move our sister, Blandina, one step closer to canonization. This report would not be complete without special thanks to Allen Sánchez, CEO, St. Joseph’s Children, who with his assistant Kathaleen Myers and staff spent numberless hours to make this First Session run so smoothly. 5
Charity Family The Singing Circle By S. Mary Bodde WELCOME NEW ASSOCIATES Congratulations to Destiny Sargeant and Christina DeSantos, who made their commitments as Associates in Mission in August. Destiny is from Juneau, Alaska, and a clinical psychologist. She has two children, a son, 18, and a daughter, 16, whom she adopted years ago as siblings from the Marshall Islands. Christina made her commitment as an Associate in Mission on Aug. 16 in Anthony, New Mexico. She is an OB/GYN at Lifesteps, and will be participating in the Collaborative Leadership Development Program. Welcome Destiny and Christina to the Family of Charity! CHILLIN’ AND GRILLIN’ Students from Mount St. Joseph University joined Sisters for dinner and conversation on Wednesday, Sept. 2 at Regina Hall. The annual Chillin’ and Grillin’ event is an opportunity for MSJU students to meet and learn more about the Sisters of Charity and their ministries. (From left) Associates Angela Smith, Eileen Casey, Destiny Sargeant, Mary Neary, Mary Henn-Bodine, Maria Rogers and S. Delia Sizler
Christina De Santos (center) made her commitment as an SC Associate in Mission in August with her husband, Daniel, and their five daughters along with her parents, Esther and Fernando, present.
FUTURE OF CHARITY IN NEW ORLEANS A group of 14 women from the Future of Charity came together Sept. 11-13 at the House of Charity in New Orleans, Louisiana. They spent the weekend having meaningful conversations; sharing spirited prayer; and deeply listening to learn more about each other’s journeys. The Future of Charity group is open to all women in the Sisters of Charity Federation who are in the initial stages of formation, up through 10 years postprofession of final vows. The purpose of this group is to deepen relationships among newer members across the Federation.
S. DOROTHY WILLIAM ENGLERT HONORED Congratulations to S. Dorothy William Englert, who was inducted into the Lehman Catholic High School (Sidney, Ohio) Alumni Hall of Fame on Aug. 1, 2015. Sister taught at the school from 1970 until 1977, and was Lehman’s first vice principal.
S. Annie Klapheke (front, left) spent six months in a volunteer ministry with S. Tricia Cruise and Healthy Moms & Babes in Cincinnati.
Novitiate Journey By S. Donna Steffen
Living in the Novitiate Community with Sisters Nancy Bramlage, Maureen Heverin, Carol Leveque and Terry Thorman provides S. Annie Klapheke (back, left) a place for deeper relationship.
Annie Klapheke is about three-quarters of her way through her first year of Novitiate, the Canonical Year, which concludes Jan. 12, 2016. I invite you to reflect on your experience of the Canonical Year as you read this.
particularly through participation in two Future of Charity yearly gatherings in the fall and spring. Newer members also engage in local and national gatherings of Giving Voice, with younger members of various women’s religious communities.
According to the Sisters of Charity plan for Novitiate, the Sister makes a directed retreat at the beginning and end of the year. These two retreats serve as “bookends,” with a primary thrust of relationship with God.
This fall there are five other women in the Greater Cincinnati area in formation, coming from the Divine Providence, Covington Notre Dame, Benedictine, and Precious Blood communities. Together with Annie, they are participating in an intercommunity program on Monday and Wednesday morning, held at our Motherhouse. The classes include: Sacraments, Liturgy, the Liturgy of the Hours, Vatican II, Catholic Social Teaching, Women in the First Thousand Years of Christianity, EcoSpirituality, Laudato Si’, and the Spirituality of NonViolence.
Our life as Sisters of Charity has three central components: prayer/spirituality, ministry/study, and community. All three of these areas comprise the Novitiate, with a large percentage of time given to prayer and reflection. The weekly schedule includes: Monday and Wednesday mornings given to theological education, Tuesday for volunteer ministry, Thursday morning study of our SC history and life, and Friday as a sabbath day, with open space and time for reflection and prayer. Several afternoons offer freedom for visits to Sisters in Mother Margaret Hall, conversations with Motherhouse Sisters, spiritual direction, reading, participating in Novitiate House community activities, and a weekly meeting with the novice director. Each novice also helps to create her own Novitiate in discerning her ministry. Annie also has initiated conversations with Sisters in sharing their transformative experiences, and in her nutrition/food presentations at Mother Margaret Hall. Living in the Novitiate Community with Sisters Nancy Bramlage, Maureen Heverin, Carol Leveque and Terry Thorman is a place for deeper relationship and provides a way of integrating experiences in the broader community, classes, ministry, and prayer into daily life. Annie, of course, also shares in our larger Sister of Charity community life with Sisters and Associates, in liturgical and other Motherhouse activities, and in many arenas of our lived experience. For women entering today, the involvement in community is extended to relationships in the Federation of Charity, Fall 2015
Rather than being a year of programs and activity, the Canonical Novitiate is primarily a time for a deepened inner journey. With enough open space and without ongoing responsibilities such as committee work or administration in ministry, the woman’s own inner journey is primary. Aspects of the self and questions for reflection arise. What do I see as the real values in this Community? How do I fit with these? Is God really calling me to live this life? If so, can I do it? Will God’s faithfulness be enough for me? What are my inner patterns when I encounter frustration or conflict? How do I discern in small and large questions? Am I happy? Am I growing into the woman I want to be? As the Canonical novice lives all the parts of the weekly schedule, there is adequate space for these questions to announce themselves and receive attention. And, importantly, there is time to bring all of this into her relationship with God. The deeper Canonical journey lives within the woman, and in her encounters with God, as she integrates her own personal experiences. With all of this going on, your prayers and support are counted on and appreciated more than you know. 7
Creating a Path While Walking By S. Regina Kusnir
“I had been looking at life one way, and things happened to destroy it — to change it, and in the midst of the changes, I remained faithful to God, I held on, and God created something new.” - St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, first American born saint, canonized 1975
lizabeth is a wise patroness as we venture into a future full of potential. Together we will create a path that will bring to life our 2015 Chapter Directive:
experiences as beneficial to their new role in Congregational Leadership. They both were engaged in education. S. Marge spent time on the faculty of Alter High School, in the SC Communications Office and served in various faculty roles at Mount St. Joseph University, including dean of arts and humanities. S. Mary Caroline was an elementary school principal, served on the faculty of St. Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology, and focused on adult faith formation in parish ministry.
Called from the beginning of our foundation as Sisters of Charity to address the needs of our world, we move intentionally and creatively toward the vulnerabilities of our Earth and our sisters and brothers. Infused by a spirituality of union with the Divine Mystery within and around us, “we journey together toward wholeness.” Sisters Marge Kloos and Mary Caroline Marchal are enthusiastic about their new ministry on our Leadership Team and have dreams for the future that we will shape together.
S. Mary Caroline Marchal began her term with the Leadership Council on July 1, 2015.
S. Mary Caroline feels the Chapter Directive is the most wholistic of anything we have done in the past. “It’s impossible not to find a passion in it,” she said. She believes the components are not individual silos, but integrated parts of a whole. She feels a desire to help facilitate this broad and healthy vision. It allows for each Sister, Associate and those we are in relationship with an opportunity to participate. S. Marge believes collaboration will help shape the future. Many individuals and groups share in these same goals and directions. As we draw others together, we will grow in our understanding of collaboration itself. Our intergenerationality is a great resource as we engage in unfolding a future. The Community helps us to be vibrant and hopeful to each other and to those who see our commitment. 8
Sisters Marge and Mary Caroline see their prior ministry
S. Marge says she “had the good fortune of having three Sisters of Charity as ‘bosses’ in my first three ministries as a Sister. Each had a profound impact on my understanding of effective leadership. They’ve inspired me to see that real leadership flourishes in the midst of compassion.”
S. Mary Caroline finds that the Sisters at the Motherhouse are welcoming and gracious to newcomers, guests, visitors, employees and each other. In her mind, these characteristics bode well for the future. The Congregation has a true gift for happiness and hospitality that recognizes that we all have something to give to others. Joy in ministry is enhanced by the encouragement and witness of those who accompany us. Sisters Marge and Mary Caroline know that what they have done to this point has led them to dwell on the value of listening. The tremendous power of listening is cause for reflection. S. Mary Caroline knows that “the skills that you hone transfer to other dimensions of your life. Being in relationship with people requires you to be aware of your capacity to listen. So often, simply listening to the other allows them Intercom
In July, S. Marge Kloos (back, right) attended a gathering of SC Federation members entering religious life in 1970 or after.
to hear themselves and discover their ability to solve their own problems or fly with their dreams. I want to help others identify their passion and help them find a means of fulfilling it.” “I hope we will continue to be intentional about celebrating the present moment as one in which God is whispering … and we are listening,” says S. Marge. “I hope this is a period of good energy and patient waiting as we welcome our future. For a community of ‘doers,’ we are being drawn into the stillness that will make hearing God’s whisper possible. I hope we can allow ourselves to sink into the contemplative place where God’s whispers await us.” Forgiveness and compassion accompany listening. In the complexity of a fast moving world, there will be difficult situations that wound us. The Gospels are replete with Jesus healing, not just ill bodies, but spirits that are askew and in need of wholeness. Learning new dimensions of forgiveness and compassion will go far as we attempt to live into the Directional Statement. “Creatively and compassionately leading the day-to-day challenges and opportunities of our Congregation is new to me—but I would imagine that forgiveness will continue to be a dynamic in my leadership style” is a hope of S. Marge. S. Mary Caroline realizes that there is “always something new to do, to try, to bring to life. This dimension lies within Fall 2015
each person. Such creativity is rooted in the awareness that we all have something to give.” Leadership in the Sisters of Charity is called “Leadership of the Whole” and involves each and every member. Whether it is Congregational governance, directorship of an institution, tutoring, or praying from a bed of pain, each Sister possesses the treasures of wisdom, charity, fidelity to the Gospel and helps to set a common direction, a future full of hope. Hope is not just for us, but it is for all our brothers and sisters and our Earth. The horizon is rich in the colors of sunrise and sunset. Each Sister and Associate holds a paintbrush and a palette of colors that they continue to mix. The marginalized and the hopeless, the young and enthusiastic, the musician and the housewife, the laborer and the jobless await the SC splash of color. Sisters Mary Caroline and Marge bring their paintbrushes to Leadership. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton reminds us that “Cheerfulness prepares a glorious mind for all the noblest acts.” Each person reading this possesses that “glorious mind” and can find a way to join all Sisters of Charity as they paint the Directional Statement into life. There are sure to be divergent roads in the process. Just remember: “I had been looking at life one way, and things happened to destroy it—to change it, and in the midst of the changes, I remained faithful to God, I held on, and God created something new.” 9
Silver jubilarian S. Ramona Chisholm (back row, right) and golden jubilarians (back row, from left) Sisters Peggy Deneweth, Lynn Heper, (front row, from left) Rose Marie Burns, Kevin Patrice Daley, Pamela Jones, Barbara Busch, Delia Sizler, Franette Hyc, Cheryl Ann Grenier and (not pictured) Anne Darlene Wojtowicz, were honored Sunday, July 26 for their gift of commitment and valued presence throughout the years.
Celebrating Our Jubilarians
total of 26 Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati are celebrating their silver, golden and diamond jubilees this year. They represent 1,425 years of service in the Cincinnati area, in dioceses throughout the United States and in Guatemala, Mexico and the West Indies, caring for the least among us, and meeting the needs of the times. During this Year of Consecrated Life, Pope Francis has called on religious women and men to “Wake Up the World,” by showing others that there is a different, better, more radical and joy-filled way of thinking, acting and living. During their jubilee year, as they reflect on their many years of service and joy with the Sisters of Charity, we asked a few of our jubilarians to answer the following question: How have you experienced women religious waking up the world during your years as a Sister of Charity? Their responses follow: S. Elizabeth Cashman,
“In the few months I have lived at the Motherhouse, I am grateful to observe that many of our Sisters and Associates – of other Congregations as well as lay folk – collaborate in prayer and action, actively addressing primary problems of our time.” S. Martha Glockner,
“We have assessed our traditional ministries and discerned what to retain and what to cede to the laity. We have risked new ministries: foreign missions, ministries geared toward achieving social justice, deepening spiritual lives through retreat leadership and spiritual direction. Whatever we have retained or initiated, it has been an endeavor of response to the Spirit nudging us through the Church and/or individual conscience and the discernment of the Sisters of Charity in community.” 10
S. Ramona Chisholm,
“The Starfish Story has always held a special message for me in the quote: ‘You can’t save them all so what does it matter… without hesitation, the child picked up another starfish and tossed the starfish back into the water … It mattered to that one.’ That is what I have come to realize, that maybe I can’t save them all but I can make a difference one person at a time. I can tell you about love, mercy, compassion, but until I show you love, mercy, or compassion, you will never really understand.”
Additional Anniversaries 75 YEARS OF SERVICE S. Marjorie Farfsing S. Claire Foken S. Jean Patrice Harrington S. Bernardine Kandrac S. Mary Kormanec S. Mary Loyola Mathia S. Teresa Stadtmiller S. Jane Vogt
70 YEARS OF SERVICE
Family and friends gathered to celebrate S. Pam Jones’ (front row, second from left) golden jubilee. S. Roslyn Hafertepe,
“My gift of years as a Sister of Charity has graced my life. I have observed, experienced, and walked with a community of outstanding women on my journey – all who have been waking up the world in their quiet, selfless, zealous, compassionate, dedicated way as they lived the Gospel call. They used their gifts and talents to address the needs of the day. They faithfully ministered, they started new services, they designed and implemented new responses and often overcame what seemed to be insurmountable obstacles. They trusted it was God’s work and that God was walking with them and would lead the way. They did not seek recognition so rightly deserved. They were just dedicated, creative, tenacious women touching and changing lives and dealing with systemic issues. There is no doubt each Sister has left her footprint in the sands of time. What a beautiful and inspiring mosaic it is … and the dedicated, selfless services continue today.” S. Mary Loyola Mathia,
“I started in education, teaching grade school and high school. I had to be aware of what was going on in the world in order to teach them. ‘Hazard Yet Forward’ has been the theme of many of our congregational meetings, and we have always gone to where we are needed for service. “My ministry in Florida provided me with the opportunity to work with people who had become inactive Catholics from the Church. For 34 years I ministered in the RCIA program and as an advocate for those couples seeking to return to the Church through a petition for a Declaration of Nullity of Marriage. To assist me in my work in parish ministry, I had the support and special gift of more than 20 Associates in Mission of the Sisters of Charity.
S. Mary Bodde S. Elizabeth Cashman S. Michael Mary Eagan S. Rosemary Gornick S. Pierre Habel S. Irene Hrosky S. Florence Sliva S. Therese Sliva
65 YEARS OF SERVICE S. Mary Alicia Bomya S. Maria Dolorata Felix S. Joan Patrice Flynn S. Mary Grafe S. Roslyn Hafertepe S. Rose William Herzog S. Barbara Huber S. Ann Christopher Joseph S. Michael Clare Mauntel S. Carol Joan McCarthy S. Dolores Maureen McDonald S. Mary Laura Miceli S. Therese Marie Moledor S. Mary Corrine Schmidt S. JoAnne Termini S. Sue Verbiscus S. Vincent Marie Willman
(From left) Diamond jubilarian S. Betty Finn and golden jubilarian S. Barbara Busch at the celebration following the liturgy on Sept. 6.
“As ministers of the Gospel, our ‘quiet whispers’ must penetrate the minds of a seeking people, inspire them and bring them safely to the harbor of salvation in Christ Jesus Our Lord.” Fall 2015
S. Anne Darlene Wojtowicz,
“A reading from the Book of Micah in the Bible (offered during our Final Vows liturgy) has stayed with me throughout my 50 years as a Sister of Charity; I feel it is most appropriate and does show how women of the Church, myself included, live and breathe and move forward. It says, ‘This is what the Lord asks of you, and only this. It is to act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with your God.’ This is what I believe, and how I try every day to live. This is how I believe women of the Church, not just vowed women, choose to live and to walk with our God.”
(From left) Sisters Jane Vogt, Mary Loyola Mathia and Marge Farfsing celebrated 75 years with the Community in 2015.
Diamond jubilarians (front row, from left) Sisters Kay Tardiff, Ann Elizabeth Von Hagel, Paula Mary Russell, Ann David Wojtylka, Rosaleen Simpleman, Helen Berson (back row, from left) Helen Attenweiler, Carol Brenner, Annette Frey, Cathy Cahur, Pat Sabourin, Martha Glockner, Bernadette Schmitt, Betty Finn and (not pictured) Mary Doherty, were honored Sunday, Sept. 6 for their 60 years of service as Sisters of Charity.
Sisters Mary Bodde (front, left) and Elizabeth Cashman (front, right) were among the Sisters celebrating 70 years with the SC Community.
Waking Up the World Through Prayer
riends of the Community joined Sisters on Sunday, Sept. 13 in lifting up their hearts. The Day of Prayer began with a celebratory Mass; afternoon prayer experiences followed. In addition a display celebrating Sisters of Charity founder Elizabeth Seton (on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of her canonization) was exhibited. The Prayer Day was part of a year-long celebration for the “Year of Consecrated Life,” as declared by Pope Francis, and the last of the three Days with Religious opportunities planned by the SC Community. Susan Haumesser performed the one-woman monologue “St. Elizabeth Seton, Woman of Faith”.
(From left) Associate candidate Nancy Bick Clark and S. Montiel Rosenthal played a unique instrumental selection of reflective and prayerful harp.
(From left) Sisters Juana Mendez, Brenda Busch and Mary Catherine Faller volunteered during the afternoon prayer experiences.
(From left) S. Marty Dermody, Noah Kaffenberger and S. Cookie Crowley enjoyed S. Karen Hawver’s prayerful song in the Motherhouse chapel.
S. Joyce Richter and Associate Liz Maxwell guided Lectio Divina in the Emmaus Room. Fall 2015
An exhibit celebrating Elizabeth Seton, founder of the Sisters of Charity, was on display in the Cedars Auditorium. 13
A Timeless Tradition of Service By Josh Zeller, Communications intern
But I was told at the end of our Novitiate that I was going to go to the University of Cincinnati’s College of Pharmacy.”
This is the advice that S. Helen Berson gives to discerning women; she remembers her own mentor and Latin teacher, S. Mary Consolata Schmidt. “It seems to me that it would be very difficult to make an informed decision if you didn’t have some kind of relationship with someone who is already in the community.”
Throughout her ministry as a pharmacist, she was missioned to many locations and institutions, including Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati. The hospital eventually asked her to create and implement what would become the “decentralized pharmacy system,” which made pharmacy into a “24/7 operation.” She remembers the process as the greatest challenge of her career.
ou really have to get to know somebody who’s already involved in the religious life: to know how the life works, how their life is played out, what they do.”
S. Helen Berson ministered more than 30 years as a It is more difficult for women Upon reflecting on the call of the pharmacist in many locations and institutions throughout to develop relationships with Sisters SC charism, the challenges of serving the country. today, who are no longer found in Whitesburg, Kentucky, in the early in schools in so great a number. 1970s come to mind for S. Helen, Therefore, Sisters have to raise awareness of religious where she dared to risk a caring response. Whitesburg is a vocations in different ways, to—as Pope Francis has said— part of Appalachia, and when she was not working in a small “Wake up the World” to all that they accomplish during this hospital there, she would go with the visiting nurses to the Year of Consecrated Life. homes of patients. “Sometimes the patient would not come into the hospital, so they would take the professionals out Growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, S. Helen remembers to them to be sure that they were doing what they needed how she herself got to know the Sisters of Charity when to do, and weren’t doing anything to cause more injury to she attended Seton High School. She had been considering themselves. That’s definitely a Sister of Charity trait: to go religious life since grade school, when she was taught by the where you’re needed.” Sisters of Mercy at St. Teresa of Avila in Cincinnati.
“Around junior year in high school I got pretty serious thinking about it,” remembers S. Helen. “Late senior year, I took an entrance test at Our Lady of Cincinnati College— and on the way home I was with a friend of mine, when I said, ‘This is really crazy, but I don’t want to go to that college! I’m going to go to the Sisters of Charity!’ It was just that clear, that fast.” It was S. Mary Consolata who was there for her when the call came: “I told her how I knew the feeling and that this was definitely what I was supposed to do, and she helped me from there on.” What Sister did not expect, however, was the pharmaceutical career that the Mother General had in mind for her after she entered in 1955. “I was shocked!” S. Helen says of her unexpected ministry. “I was always very good in mathematics and fully expected to be teaching mathematics at some point in time. 14
She had developed this mentality earlier at the Free Clinic, an institution in Cincinnati that was run entirely by volunteer professionals for individuals who don’t have the means to afford medical care. “People would just come in and present themselves and say, ‘I have nothing and I can’t pay for anything, and this is my problem,’” S. Helen says of the patients there. “Then they were able to go to whoever was needed to help figure out the situation.” The last place she ministered as a pharmacist was at the Pauline Warfield Lewis Center, a Cincinnati psychiatric hospital. She spent over 10 years here, working much more directly with her patients than she had before: “We were on the floors, and at their care meetings, so we were out and about among the patients there.” She was thoroughly worn out by the time she decided that she was ready to accept an offer S. Roslyn Hafertepe had given her three years prior Intercom
she relates. “Seventy-five is old enough! There were a few things I wanted to do myself, with my spiritual life. I was still willing to help out, but at that point I preferred not to be in a nine-to-five job.” She trained S. Thelma Schlomer to take her place, just as S. Grace Murphy had done with her years before, and left in 2012.
S. Helen Berson is well-known as a cantor in the Congregation’s choir.
to her retirement. This was when she transitioned from pharmacy to a distinctly different field. In coming to the Finance Office at the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse in 1998, she remembers how she had to get “acclimated” to the way things were run. “I had to learn how to use a computer. We used computers for dispensing [in pharmacy], but not for paperwork and that sort of thing. One of the big things that was going to be put in my jurisdiction was the Sisters’ personal taxes, which I had never really dealt with. So, we had a three-year plan that S. Grace Murphy had set up for me to gradually learn.” S. Helen stayed in the Finance Office for over 14 years before she decided that it was time to retire. “I was ready,”
Sister continues to serve the Congregation in various ways, including music ministry; she sings for the Congregation and provides music for Mass at Mother Margaret Hall. She is also administrator for the Sisters of Charity Charitable Trust, and still works with the Community Finance Committee. “Once in a great while I’ll help out in an emergency at the Front Desk. I may get into more of that, it just depends on how things go. But there are so many things you can get into to help out for an hour or two,” says S. Helen, who lives at the Motherhouse. S. Helen’s great capacity for service began long before Pope Francis’ call for religious to “Wake Up the World.” Of the Pope’s decree, Sister says, “In the last half of my profession, I worked in places that were not run by the Community. In my early years I was missioned to Community hospitals, but the times when I was working outside of Community institutions, without really even trying, I influenced a lot of people’s opinions of Sisters. A lot of times you get into a place like Appalachia or at a mental hospital, and people say, ‘You’re so easy to talk to! You’re not like what I thought Sisters were like!’ People have their opinions changed, or enlightened, just by you being there and through how you interact with them.”
S. Helen Berson ministered in the Community’s Finance Office for over 14 years before working with S. Thelma Schlomer (left) to take her place in 2012.
Fa l l 2 0 1 5
Q & A W I T H A S S O C I AT E
Patty Broughton By Josh Zeller, Communications intern
Where do you currently live? I live in Price Hill, in Cincinnati. I’m from St. William parish; we live in the same home that I grew up in since I turned 9 years old. It’s my mom’s home, and we take care of her; she’s 94.
Are you currently employed? If so, please describe your responsibilities and how long you have been there. No, I’m retired—happily retired! I volunteer with two of my classmates from grade school and high school: Associates Kathy Vogelpohl and Irene Diesel. When we started planning our anniversaries for grade school and high school, we got back together. Now we volunteer in the [Motherhouse] library every Wednesday.
Former Seton classmates (from left) Associates Patty Broughton, Kathy Vogelpohl and Irene Diesel volunteer in the Motherhouse library every Wednesday together.
I read for pleasure, and I walk my dog. His name is Seamus. He’s a ball of fire! And then we take care of my mom, who has Alzheimer’s disease. Our main goal—my husband Lew and I—is to make sure that she’s surrounded by peacefulness, calm, and love. I wouldn’t be able to work here if my husband didn’t take care of my mom. He’s really wonderful—he’s supported me in this Associate ministry.
our graduation anniversary. We got reacquainted, and I was invited to lunch one day at the Motherhouse. Afterwards, S. Joyce said, “I want to show you some of the artifacts we have around the Motherhouse,” so Kathy, S. Joyce and I came up to the second floor. On our way back down the hall, S. Joyce goes, “Mary Jo [Mersmann’s] office is right here, let’s stop in and see Mary Jo.” We walked in, and Mary Jo handed me an [Associate] application! Kathy and S. Joyce were my Associate companions. Sandy Rizzo and Mary Hirsch were also with me on my journey.
How did you become acquainted with the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati?
Do you see yourself touching others’ lives as many Associates have touched yours?
I had 12 years of the Sisters of Charity teaching me: grade school at St. William (eight years), and then four years at Seton High School.
I hope so! I just try to be myself, and be open to people. I get hugs, so I guess that’s good feedback! I’m doing something right!
How long have you been an Associate?
In what ways do you feel you carry out the spirit of Elizabeth Seton in your daily life?
Tell us a little about yourself, including your hobbies, interests.
I became an Associate on June 27, 2013. I just had my twoyear anniversary. Working here is one of my sanity-savers because it keeps me grounded, and it gives me a little bit of a break.
What compelled you to become an Associate of the Community? It was S. Joyce Brehm’s influence. She [a former Seton High School classmate] and I were working on a committee for 16
By taking care of my mom, I am showing love and compassion to her. She deserves the respect that her disease is taking away from her. I give my time—in the family or outside the family—and I make a deliberate decision to listen to people. I pray the rosary daily; there’s a lot of comfort in the rosary. I also try to be the best daughter that I can, and the best wife that I can.
Advocating for All By Debbie Weber, OPJCC director
“Individual Christians who are shareholders and those responsible within Church institutions that own stocks in U.S. corporations must see to it that the invested funds are used responsibly. Although it is a moral and legal fiduciary responsibility of the trustees to ensure an adequate return on investment for the support of the work of the Church, their stewardship embraces broader moral concerns.” - U.S. Catholic Bishops Pastoral Letter, Economic Justice For All (354)
hile divesting from companies that have unethical policies is a legitimate action an individual or organization may take, the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati implemented a second tactic in 1997. The Mother Margaret George Fund was established as a corporate responsibility portfolio and the Sisters of Charity Corporate Responsibility Committee (SC-CRC) was founded. Continuing to be active, the SC-CRC carries out three strategies to address moral, social and environmental consequences of the actions of companies: 1) to use the role as a stockholder for social stewardship; 2) to avoid participation in harmful activities; 3) and to promote the common good. SC-CRC members monitor existing investments and stay current on socially responsible topics, integrating their judgment for the investment activities of the Mother Margaret George Fund. There are two primary actions the committee members take regarding stocks. First, as an alternative to divesting from stocks that were purchased based on sound investment yet have activities or policies contrary to the Church’s moral and social teachings, SC-CRC uses the role as stockholder to act for the promotion of justice by raising objections to the particular company activity or policy. Raising objections can happen in several ways. SC-CRC has been involved in face-to-face or telephone dialogues with corporate management. The committee has filed shareholder resolutions; proposals submitted by shareholders for a vote at the company’s annual meeting. The committee has also supported shareholder resolutions filed by other religious organizations working for corporate responsibility. When a specific issue is brought to their attention, committee members may write letters or sign on to an investor statement to corporate executives and board members advocating specific steps or raising objections to a company’s activities or policies. Second, committee members seek out and choose to invest in companies that promote the values of Catholic moral and social teaching while earning a reasonable rate of return. SC-CRC is a member of two coalitions that work for the promotion of corporate social responsibility: Interfaith Center Fall 2015
on Corporate Responsibility whose mission is to build a more just and sustainable world by integrating social values into corporate and investor actions and Region VI Coalition for Responsible Investment whose mission is to encourage shareholders in business corporation to speak to the problems of social justice and to contribute to their resolution by concrete action. As faith-based investors and consumers, we have an obligation to engage with companies in which we own stock and those whose products and services we buy. This is one way we can participate in moral, social and environmental stewardship. This is one way we can advocate for all of God’s creation.
“It is important that ethics once again play its due part in the world of finance and that markets serve the interests of peoples and the common good of humanity. It is increasingly intolerable that financial markets are shaping the destiny of peoples rather than serving their needs, or that the few derive immense wealth from financial speculation while the many are deeply burdened by the consequences.”
- Pope Francis, June 16, 2014
Additional Resources: Better World Shopper: Providing people with a comprehensive, upto-date, reliable account of the social and environmental responsibility of every company on the planet. www.betterworldshopper.org Green America/Responsible Shopper: Reporting on global research and campaign information regarding the impact of major corporations on human rights, social justice, environmental sustainability and more. http://www.greenamerica.org Social Accountability International: Advancing the human rights of workers around the world. http://www.sa-intl.org U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Socially Responsible Investment Guidelines, November 12, 2003. www.usccb.org/about/ financial-reporting/socially-responsible-investment-guidelines.cfm 17
Life’s Mysteries Remembering Operation Babylift 40 Years Later “Life is more a mystery to be reverenced than a problem to be solved.” - Flannery O’Connor
n July 2015 a special group of individuals united at the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse to remember and reflect. The group were Amerasian [Vietnamese-born] adults and a few of their parents directly involved in the 1975 Operation Babylift mission, the mass evacuation of children (ranging from babies to young children) from South Vietnam to the United States. Sister of Charity of Cincinnati Kateri Maureen Koverman brought the group together. Sister coordinated the evacuation of the Vietnamese children through Catholic Relief Services. The gathering comes 40 years after the initial mission, and offered prayer, reflection and insight for those attending. The stories of all those involved are compelling. Intercom will feature many of them in upcoming issues of the publication. 18
S. Kateri Maureen Koverman (front, second from left) united a group of Amerasian adults and some of their parents directly involved in the 1975 Operation Babylift Mission at the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse in July to remember and reflect.
At the age of 30, fresh off the With Saigon under attack and being completion of her master’s thesis in social shelled, on April 3, 1975, President work and approaching final vows, Gerald Ford announced that the U.S. S. Kateri Maureen Koverman found government would begin evacuating herself longing to go to Vietnam. “I felt orphans from Saigon on a series of certain God was calling me to Southeast 30 planned flights. The urgency and Asia,” she said in an interview in 2005. volume of children caused a change in It was then Bishop Edward Swanstrom, the organization of the process. who headed up Catholic Charities in “At first, we had children who New York, that helped her dream come were adopted; we had a real birth true. He wrote Mother Mary Omer certificate for them. And the parent or Downing and requested permission for grandparent who had the child wrote S. Kateri to serve as contractor for the and gave them up to the orphanage, the U.S. military, and so, after completing orphanage gave them to us and we had her graduate work, Sister headed to another legal document for that; not all Vietnam to minister to the homeless, Golden Jubilarian S. Anne Darlene Wojtowicz children, but children they had concern elderly and orphans in 1970 and from came to Vietnam to minister in 1974. about – mostly Amerasian children. 1973-1975, and eventually at the time As things continued, there was no of the fall of Saigon in April 1975. organization. You had to have the same thing whether you went “I was compelled to go,” she said, “and just do what I was asked. I felt it would make sense, but I didn’t understand it. The Lord was behind it all.” It was while she was working for the Vietnamese government’s repatriation program, as the war intensified, that she became aware of the large numbers of children appearing in hospital maternity wards and along the main roads and rivers. Their parents were either killed or had left them where they could be found and taken in. “When things became very bad, around September of 1974, there was a hint that there might be an international adoption. So Catholic Relief Services, since in the country for so long, was one of the places that was given the approval/ license for international adoptions,” she remembered. “They didn’t have anybody but me. I was the trained person, so I was taken from the social welfare part and brought over to international adoption.”
out in 1974 or in April 1975. To get those documents in 1975 [I did what I could]. If the government found out, I didn’t know what they’d do at that point, but it was the only choice I had to keep the adoptions moving.” As director of the Adoption Program for Catholic Relief Services, S. Kateri coordinated eight babylifts out of Saigon in April 1975. She saw the safe passage of 350 Vietnamese babies (most were less than three months old). One of those adoptions developed into a special relationship between S. Kateri and the family. During her time in Vietnam, the director of migration/refugee services asked Sister to briefly return to the United States to talk with prospective adoptive families about the Amerasian children they were trying to find homes for. “I went to many cities and talked to people and explained to them that [the children] were not well, they weren’t the best, but they needed help,” she recalled. It was during this visit that S. Kateri met the Yaley family. Bill, a former Marine lieutenant in Vietnam, and his wife, Arlene, had three biological sons and were hoping to adopt a girl, and as S. Kateri says, she knew they would give a child a good home. She told the Yaleys she would mark a child for them, and kept her promise. “Kateri [as she was eventually named by Bill and Arlene] came along, and I knew she was somebody that could get their love,” said Sister. “Some kids could get fat and they’d smile, she was not that. She was just there. She seemed to have been exposed to something before we got her that was very terrifying. I figured if anybody was going to be able to do something for her, it was them.” (An interview with Bill Yaley will be included in the winter issue of Intercom.)
S. Rose Cheng (left) joined S. Kateri Maureen Koverman in 1974. Fall 2015
Upon her return to the United States, S. Kateri said, “[The Community] put me in retreat and I cried the whole time. I called my professor at The Catholic University and 19
asked what was wrong with me; she said you’re crying for the death of a country. That helped me because it was overwhelming. Catholic Relief Services reassigned me to Africa, and it sounded like a great idea. I went and left Vietnam and all that over there and I concentrated on Africa.”
while trying to work through their PTSD. Her years in Vietnam have enabled her to relate to the struggling veterans, and help them to feel comfortable sharing with her. Two additional gatherings at Mount St. Joseph and a second trip back to Vietnam, this time with veterans, followed before the most recent gathering in July. Participants arrived at the Motherhouse for a weekend that S. Kateri Maureen Koverman (left) with Jenny Januszewski included prayer, reflection, listening and during the July gathering at Mount St. Joseph. connections being made.
In August 1989, S. Kateri started to think about the adopted children she helped, and that they should be going through adolescence; she felt the additional questions and concerns about knowing who they were might be difficult on them. She, her mother and two sisters tried to locate as many families as possible to have a gathering at the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse. The result: 56 people from 14 families living in six states responded to her invitation. They had a chance to meet each other for the first time and to share common concerns and questions. “It was during this gathering that one of the families – mother, father and son – asked me if I would go back to Vietnam with the son,” she recounted. “He was Amerasian, had been in and out of psychiatric wards and they felt it would be beneficial for him to return and help him find his roots.” S. Kateri asked the Community and was initially told no. “My heart was getting strong that I wanted to go back and to do this,” she said. Eventually, with much persistence, she returned in 1992 with the young man.
In an interview in 1992, S. Kateri recalled the journey, “We walked on blood-stained, chemically destroyed land where the poor struggle in hope despite the continued economic devastations wrought by the U.S. embargo… My young traveling companion still does not know his Vietnamese mother nor his GI father. However, now he has a memory bank of a wonderful and indomitable culture and people against which he can bounce off his questions of identity and purpose. I am left with new levels of inner healing, compassion, and renewed conviction to work against all forms of oppression, be they drugs or any form of sinful social structure which denies us our solidarity as people of God.” S. Kateri was awakened to something else at that time as well. “I knew I had little signs of PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder],” she recounted, “but when we landed at the air force base in Ho Chi Minh City, it just came flooding in. So when I got back I realized I needed some help. I sought that help and got it over a long period of time.” That help she has also been providing to veterans since 1993. S. Kateri founded the Joseph House, a residential treatment facility for homeless veterans diagnosed with PTSD, and then Them Bones Veterans Community, an organization that helps veterans reconnect with others 20
“I knew we wouldn’t get everything in their lives settled,” S. Kateri said, “and I have such a dream for their potential and what they can do, so my first meeting with them I gave them Flannery O’Connor’s quote: ‘Life is more a mystery to be reverenced than a problem to be solved.’” S. Kateri explained that as they have grown up, the former orphans have a hunger for learning more about their Vietnamese roots – and even more so now that they have children of their own. The time together allowed the adoptees to talk about what it means to be transracially adopted; to learn more about who they are; and to get to know each other. They realized the connection they had – they were all in the same place, and were with the same people who took care of them. “Maybe they don’t have a birth certificate but they have some other people who are from the same setting,” Sister said. “So that’s what we were about.” S. Kateri said she left the nights for them. They were involved in serious talks, and they hoped to stay in touch after leaving the Mount and to eventually return for another gathering. As she reflected on where they have all come in the 40 years since leaving Vietnam, Sister says, “It was just a joy to sit and watch them talking. Back then I didn’t have any idea where the next 40 years would take us. It was day-to-day; you just prayed for that next day. I didn’t think about the future. To see them around the table together, talking and enjoying themselves, it was so good.” “When I think about all the staff people, when I look at each of them, I don’t think about me; I just think God did all this. It’s beautiful to see that you are part of something that is so much bigger – but you had to do your part. Sometimes God did it totally. The night we were supposed to leave first, and the other agency paid under the table to be the first one out, the plane went down and we thought it was sabotage. I said to the director, a former Marine who eventually became a priest, ‘I don’t know about tomorrow.’ I don’t know if I want to send them out. He smacked me hard across the face and said, ‘You have to, you can do it.’ It was something that I needed. It’s all a mystery.” Intercom
In Service to Others
An interview with Mother Margaret Hall STNA Nellie Derrenkamp By S. Georgia Kitt
How long have you been employed by the Sisters of Charity? Tell us about your position, responsibilities, etc. I have been with the Sisters of Charity since June 2007. I was a student at Cincinnati State and had my interning experiences at Mother Margaret Hall. I liked being with the Sisters so much I asked my instructor if they were hiring; when she said ‘yes’ I went directly to Human Resources and filled out an application. I am currently a State Tested Nursing Assistant (STNA). My responsibilities include feeding, bathing, and dressing the Sister residents, serving meals, making beds and keeping the rooms clean. I answer calls for assistance and observe changes in a Sister’s condition and behavior. My top priority is always to provide quality care for the Sisters.
What do you enjoy most about your work? To me, caring for the Sisters and helping them with their activities on a daily basis provides some of the greatest rewards any profession could offer.
How are you enriched by the Sisters of Charity and their mission? I grew up in the Catholic tradition, so, up to now, I have really tried to practice the Catholic faith and to be a good influence for my daughter, too. I strive to follow Jesus’ teachings, recognize the importance of service to others, believing that Jesus came to serve and not to be served. I try my best to live my life centered on God’s words and to live for others. The Sisters are a great example for me; they encourage me.
Tell us about your coming to the United States, what brought you here? I am from the Philippines; I met my husband there through a family friend in 1998. I came to the U.S. in March 2001; we were married in May 2001. Looking back it was really hard - I left everything behind, but it was all for my family. For me, it was my only way of helping my parents and siblings to have a better life. My parents struggled, but they sent me to college and as the oldest it was my responsibility to then earn money to help my siblings get an education; this was part of our tradition in my country. It has all been worth it! I am forever grateful to my husband for bringing me to this side of the earth. Fall 2015
In this past year you became an American citizen. What did you learn from the process? Honestly I was happy being a Filipino with a green card which allowed me to stay in the U.S. legally. As the time for renewing it was approaching, my husband and I discussed it; at Christmas he surprised me with a check to pay the initial fee and to start the process. I was excited, but also challenged to show myself and others that I could do it. I had to appear at the Federal Building downtown for biometric fingerprinting first; then, after a few weeks, I received a date for the interview. I studied American history, American government, and the Constitution. The questions were hard, but I got them all right. Now I can proudly say that I am one of you!
You are also a college student? Yes, I am studying to become a registered nurse and hope to graduate in May 2016 from Mount St. Joseph University. I am doing my intern hours in patient care at Children’s Hospital as part of the requirement, 36 hours over six weeks. I continue to work at MMH two to three days a week and have classes four days a week. Besides that we are parents of a teenage daughter. We are keeping the lines of communication open; as long as we have respect for one another we will get through these challenging years. We encourage her to take advantage of new opportunities; she is discovering she likes art.
What values do you see in the Sisters of Charity that you value in your family life? I would say to love God above all else and to love others, practice forgiveness, and to care for one another. I value the importance of prayer; prayer strengthens and defines my relationship with God.
MMH employee Nellie Derrenkamp (with S. Rosina Panning) says working with the Sisters of Charity has provided a wonderful example for her. 21
Elizabeth the Wife By S. Judith Metz
responsibility for her husband’s dependent brothers and sisters when their father died. In fact, she nurtured her young Seton charges so lovingly that they formed strong bonds that lasted for the rest of Elizabeth’s life.
or better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health.” These solemn vows professed between spouses at wedding ceremonies both inspire and challenge. In Elizabeth Bayley Seton’s case, they proved to be entirely prophetic of what her marriage to William Magee Seton would hold. From its onset, the couple’s relationship was built on strong, affectionate love and firm friendship. Their notes and letters to each other speak of warmth and enthusiasm in their relationship. They are tender and endearing, as when Elizabeth addressed William as “my dearest treasure,” and he finished one of his letters with: “Adieu my darling and believe me ever your fond and affectionate husband.” On one of his business trips, Elizabeth enclosed a portrait of herself in William’s shaving case, to which he expressed his surprise, Drawing of Elizabeth and William Seton by S. Ruth Jonas. but avowed that she had “never been a moment from [his] thoughts.” The “richer,” “better,” and “healthier” part of their marriage of nearly 10 years occurred in the early years. The couple enjoyed a lovely home in one of the most fashionable neighborhoods of New York; they enjoyed prosperity, and good health; and they enjoyed a rich social life and secure home environment. Sharing reading, conversation, music, and time with their much-loved children, Elizabeth’s descriptions of their family time together express her great joy and happiness in her home life. Four years into this happy marriage, circumstances began to change. Added family responsibilities, business problems ultimately leading to bankruptcy, and William’s deteriorating health all combined to create difficult conditions for the Seton family. Elizabeth cheerfully accepted most of the 22
As business and health problems plagued her beloved William, Elizabeth rallied her own courageous spirit to support him in every way she could. Serving as her husband’s clerk, they labored on business accounts late into the nights. Elizabeth bravely received the Commissioner of Bankruptcy when he came to their door, while nursing her ailing and depressed husband as his strength was drained by the events swirling around him. William referred to his devoted wife as his “old knot of oak” as she worked to keep her family on an even keel through that turmoil that engulfed them. Buoyed by her faith and trust in God as well as the support of family and friends, Elizabeth proved her mettle.
Hoping against hope that a sea voyage could salvage William’s health, Elizabeth decided on a trip to Italy. After seven weeks at sea, they arrived in Livorno only to be quarantined in damp and stark quarters known as the lazaretto. If there could ever be any doubt of Elizabeth’s love and devotion to her husband, the testimony of their weeks of confinement recorded in her Italian Journal prove the extent of her commitment to her dying William. The tender care, the spiritual companionship and the spousal concern she rendered are poignantly portrayed on every page. With selfless dedication, Elizabeth poured herself out, rendering every service as William lived out his final days and was laid to rest. “For better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, ‘til death do us part.” INTERCOM
Learning Into Love By Associate Vicki Welsh
Vicki, take you Larry to be my lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward. For better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness or in health; forsaking all others, until death do us part.” June 12, 1976, St. Joseph Catholic Church When I took those vows I didn’t know – I couldn’t have known – the meaning of those words! None of us married folk do. Marriage is not for the faint of heart! Marriage is such an intimate human relationship. It’s the roommate that never moves out. It’s the toothpaste squeezed in the middle, every day. The fun and enjoyment that attracted you to each other is dulled by the dailiness of each habitual day. Children crying, laundry piling, bills, taxes, parents aging, and house repairs. Job losses, death, broken down cars, disability, foreclosure, bankruptcy. Amidst it all, in those rare moments of solitude, you ask yourself; where is the better … the richer … the health? Larry and I found that our basic personalities were vastly different, while our value system and our faith in God as a third personage in this marriage were important common elements that were to form a strong bond between us. As time marched on many good things occurred to lighten our days. First jobs, first house, first pet, first child … all these “firsts” were wonderful. During these good times, I believe that our love developed and deepened. The good times and the strengths that resulted were stored in a kind of “savings account” in our hearts and our psyche. It was this “savings account” that we drew strength from during those unfortunate events; that held us and supported us. So we did not give up, hide or run, but stood in place, weathered the storm, for and with each other.
Associate Vicki Welsh and her husband, Larry, were married in 1976.
Larry retired in June. The time we now have together is sweet and precious. Our life is one tempered in the embers of all shared experiences of our years together. A phrase I heard the other day is most apt: “We have learned into love.” A far deeper and abiding love than that expressed as two starry eyed lovers in 1976. And now I have to go and get ready for our Friday date night!
Care for Our Common Home: Pope's Encyclical Affirms Change is Possible
By S. Caroljean Willie
would like to enter into dialogue with all people about our common home” (3). With these words Pope Francis enters new territory for an encyclical which is usually written only for members of the Catholic Church. He underlines the importance of “a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversion which includes everyone,” he writes, “since the environmental challenge we are undergoing and its human roots, concern and affect us all” (14). The title of the encyclical, Laudato Si’ (Praised Be to You), is taken from the famous “Canticle of the Sun” by St. Francis of Assisi. The subtitle “On Care for Our Common Home” expresses his deep understanding of both Earth as oikos, which is the Greek root of the word “ecology” and means “home,” as well as the importance of caring, a significant element in the liberation theology of Latin America. He begins the encyclical by quoting from earlier popes as well as St. Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, on the environment. He also recognizes United Nations (UN) and civil environmental initiatives, mentioning specifically the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro (S. Paula Gonzalez attended), the Earth Charter and the Rio+20 Earth Summit in 2012 (S. Caroljean Willie attended). Pope Francis spent more than a year writing Laudato Si’. The final document reflects not only his own understanding of scientific concepts, but also represents input from many theologians, philosophers, and scientists from throughout the world. He timed the release to influence three major world events: the international Financing for Development Conference in Ethiopia in July 2015, the ratification of the Sustainable Development Goals by the UN General Assembly in September 2015 and the Conference of the Parties, a gathering of world leaders on the climate issue, in Paris in December 2015.
as a moral issue stating, “Authentic human development has a moral character” and that “it presumes full respect for the human person, but must also be concerned for the world around us” (5). He states very clearly that “a very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system … accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level … an increase of extreme weather events …” and that “a number of scientific studies indicate that global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases released mainly as a result of human activity” (8). Quoting from the Bolivian Bishops’ Conference he states, “Both everyday experience and scientific research show that the gravest effects of all attacks on the environment are suffered by the poorest” (26). The connection made between climate change and poverty is reiterated throughout the document and supports the findings of the United Nations Panel on Climate Change (UN IPCC) report of 2014 which also clearly articulates the connection between climate change and poverty with these words “… those who are ‘socially, economically, culturally, politically, institutionally or otherwise marginalized’ will be most affected by drastic changes in the climate.” The IPCC continues, “Climate change produces more extreme weather. And when horrible storms hit, poor communities are affected worse than rich ones.” Another theme which surfaces repeatedly is the concept of the common good as illustrated in the following passages:
The thread which ties the key concepts of the encyclical together is Francis’ continued repetition that everything is connected; that we are interdependent and the actions of one individual or one country affects the whole. He continually emphasizes that the problems facing humanity are not isolated but integrally connected. In his own words: “The human environment and the natural environment deteriorate together; we cannot adequately combat environmental degradation unless we attend to causes related to human and social degradation” (48). He sees addressing both environmental and social crises 24
“Human ecology is inseparable from the notion of the common good, a central and unifying principle of social ethics” (156). “… the common good calls for social peace, the stability and security provided by a certain order which cannot be achieved without particular concern for distributive justice” (157). “The climate is a common good belonging to all and meant for all” (23). He challenges politicians not to allow themselves to be subject to the economy nor “the economy subject to the dictates of an efficiency-driven paradigm of technocracy” (169). He minces no words when he states that “Politics itself is responsible for the disrepute in which it is held on account of corruption and the failure to enact sound public policies.” He states clearly that “What is needed is a politics which is far-sighted and capable of a new, integral and interdisciplinary approach to handling the different aspects of the crisis … if politics shows itself incapable of breaking such a perverse logic, and remains caught up in inconsequential discussions, we will continue to avoid facing the major problems of humanity” (197). On the role of technology he cautions that every advance must not be viewed simply in terms of its economic benefits without concern for the potentially negative impact on society. He further cautions against an overreliance on technology to solve environmental and social problems without recognizing the “mysterious network of relations between things” lest one problem is solved only to create others. He advocates not returning to the “Stone Age, but to slow down and look at reality in a different way, to appropriate the positive and sustainable progress which has been made, but also to recover the values and the great goals swept away by our unrestrained delusions of grandeur” (114). Fall 2015
Pope Francis criticizes a consumer culture which prioritizes short-term gain and private interest over the common good. “Environmental protection cannot be assured solely on the basis of financial calculations of costs and benefits. The environment is one of those goods that cannot be adequately safeguarded or promoted by market forces,” he wrote (190). In an economy where profits alone count he notes that “biodiversity is considered at most a deposit of economic resources available for exploitation, with no serious thought for the real value of things, their significance for persons and cultures, or the concerns and needs of the poor” (190). He also mentions a number of times the importance of everyone being at the table. Today’s problems cannot be solved by a few, nor can people in one place assume they know what is good for people in another. Everyone needs to have a voice. People need to participate in their own development. The term “integral ecology” is used throughout the document and continually emphasizes the need to view societal problems today through multiple lenses simultaneously: environmental, social, economic, cultural, and political. He calls for a serious and prayerful examination of personal lifestyles and both the importance and urgency of critiquing commonly held “myths of modernity grounded in a utilitarian mindset” such as individualism, unlimited progress, competition, consumerism, and the free market. Though he presents the enormous challenges facing humanity today which can appear overwhelming, he affirms that change is possible; that humanity can change course. He invites all people to a change of heart and encourages a “culture of care.” The encyclical is written for all people, but he reminds Christians in a special way that “The ecological crisis is a summons to a profound interior conversion … an ecological conversion whereby the effects of our encounter with Jesus Christ becomes evident in our relationship with the world around us” (217). 25
Timeless Treasures By S. Benedicta Mahoney
mong the smaller artifacts in the Sisters of Charity collection is an old, blackened key, six and threequarter inches long. It opened the front door to a large house in Cincinnati, located about three miles from the center of town. In its long history, from the early 1840s to early 1957, the home and its extensive property had only two owners: Judge Aldersen and the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati.
This century-old key opened the front door to what used to be known as “The Cradle,” home of the former Motherhouse and Mount St. Vincent Academy.
already begun. By the end of the following year, the new building was ready for occupancy. “The Cradle” at Cedar Grove, now the site of Seton High School. Original owner, Judge Aldersen Sisters who lived and worked at (Alderson) from England, had chosen the site for his new home the Motherhouse resided on the fourth floor; boarders of the on a high meadow off Plank Road (Glenway Avenue) and Locust Academy, on the third floor; offices and classrooms, on the second Avenue (Beech Street), in Cincinnati. His family named the estate and first floors. Mother Margaret still handled the big key and “The Cedars.” Although we know little about the judge himself, remained as director over all. It seemed that The Cradle might we do know about this property, chiefly from a novel by his sister- become just an empty landmark, but not for long. A school always in-law, Mary Howitt, an English author. She and her children needs extra rooms. Soon, the Music Department began to use visited the Aldersens in 1845; the novel, which she attested to the old building for practice rooms, piano lessons, instrumental be “absolutely true,” was published in England in 1849. “Our groups, and rehearsals. Organizations and various clubs found Cousins in Ohio” describes the property around the home and space for their activities. Even when the chapel building was narrates every adventure enjoyed by the visiting children. erected in 1874, both the Academy and the Motherhouse still used The Cradle. The year-long visit to “The Cedars” ended for the English cousins, and not many years passed before Judge Aldersen died. His lonely widow and family decided to sell their cherished home and return to England. In 1857, the next owner, the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, arrived. They would use the key for the next 100 years. The large front door would open to many new faces, to many happy, historic events The Sisters’ Community had been founded just five years before; now the prospect of rapid increase in numbers, indicated by the seven original members now numbering 60. Mother Margaret George and her Council decided that their Motherhouse on Lehman Road would soon be inadequate. When the Aldersen property was put up for sale, the Sisters decided to trade their two pieces of property, at Mt. Harrison and at Sixth and Park, for “The Cedars.” Papers were signed March 3, 1857, and before the end of that year, the Sisters moved in. The Cedars became Cedar Grove. The house itself was dubbed by the Sisters as “The Cradle,” home of the initial steps in the development of the Community. The Cradle, now the Motherhouse and Mount St. Vincent Academy, became the center for Community business. Meanwhile, construction on a four-story, solid building had 26
After 1883, the entire property became Cedar Grove Academy, admitting “ladylike” boarders and day students. Progress brought on several changes, and Cedar Grove eventually became Seton High School as part of Archbishop John T. McNicholas’ plan to improve the secondary education program in the Cincinnati schools. As Seton’s pursuit of academic excellence continued while its enrollment increased, so, too, did the ever-increasing need for improvement in the physical plant and the updating of facilities. One such project was fulfilled in 1957 when all of the oldest buildings were razed to be replaced by a new look for the school. What about The Cradle? Would it have to fall? The architect’s plans said yes. It stood on the future site of Seton’s chapel. The Sisters still had deep regard for its history and meaning. Practically speaking, moving the building was out of the question, financially and logistically. The overall condition vetoed the eventual move and the few miles to Mount St. Joseph grounds would not guarantee a safe trip. So, The Cradle did fall. But we still have the key to its front door.
On the Web For full articles, please visit the News/Events section of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati website at www.srcharitycinti.org, and click on “Feature Articles.” ELIZABETH ANN SETON: 40 YEARS A SAINT In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the canonization of Elizabeth Seton, Sisters look back to 1975 and the excitement surrounding the monumental event.
Elizabeth Seton’s canonization banner in Rome.
CELEBRATING 150 YEARS IN THE WEST On Aug. 21, 1865, four Sisters of Charity headed West to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to open St. Vincent’s, the first hospital in the New Mexico Territory. Read more about the grueling 25-day journey and the many hardships and obstacles they faced upon arrival.
Intercom Staff Editor Erin Reder Graphic Design/Layout Michelle Bley Director of Communications S. Georgia Kitt
WAKING UP THE WORLD AT EARTHCONNECTION Sisters Winnie Brubach and Caroljean Willie discuss the Days of Mission and Service held at EarthConnection in June. SHARING HOPE Kathy Kelly and her daughter Maggie took part in one of the many service opportunities available during the SC Community’s Days of Mission and Service in June.
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 320 Sisters are joined in their mission by 206 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 26 U.S. 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.
Executive Council Liaison S. Mary Bookser
(From left) Kathy Kelly and her daughter Maggie helped make cards for trafficking victims and women and children in detention centers.
OUR CITY, OUR SISTERS OF CHARITY: A TOUR OF CINCINNATI Staff of the SC Archives and Communications offices enjoyed a tour of the city of Cincinnati in May. Learn more about the tour and the many Cincinnati sites with significant ties to the Community.
Advisory Board Members: 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: firstname.lastname@example.org Subscriptions: $15 per year
(From left) Sisters Sheila Gallagher and Patrice Vales
CLOSING THE CIRCLE In April, Associate and former member Mary Ellen Williams joined former member Mary Klecan and their friend Michael Mary Hubner for a visit. Learn more about their relationship from their days at St. Vincent Academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico. THE CALL Sisters Paula Gonzalez and Georgia Kitt look back to their decisions to enter the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. Fall 2015
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Silver and golden jubilarians enter the Motherhouse chapel at the start of their Mass and celebration on July 26, 2015.
7 During the first year of Novitiate, S. Annie Klapheke (center) traveled to Emmitsburg, Maryland, with Sisters Donna Steffen (right) and Judith Metz to follow the Way of Elizabeth.
S. Karen Hawver led guests in prayerful song during the Communityâ€™s Day of Prayer at the Motherhouse on Sept. 13.