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Volume II, 2017




Sister Jackie Kowalski: A Sister To All






Greetings to our Sisters, Associates and friends,


ere we are in the midst of summer, and life is continuing at a quick pace. It is interesting to read in this issue about all the varieties of ministries our Sisters and Associates are part of. There is something exciting about feeling part of something bigger than yourself.

CONTENTS FEATURES Vacation – A Ministerial and Imaginative Perspective.............................................6 S. Victoria Anyanwu’s recent trip to Africa. A Sister to All ......................................12 S. Jackie Kowalski’s ministry at Resurrection School. Bringing Her Story to Life...................14 Actress Alma Sisneros discusses her latest role as S. Blandina Segale. A Loving Presence ...............................16 S. Marie Pauline Skalski ministers at St. Vincent Home for Children in Michigan. Helping Families Help Themselves ......18 Santa Maria Community Services turns 120 years old this year.

DEPARTMENTS Moments in Ministry ............................3 St. Vincent Hospital and Orphan Asylum Vocation/Formation ..............................9 Following the Way of Elizabeth Pathways to Prayer ..............................23 Centering Prayer OPJCC ...............................................24 Game-Changers Timeless Treasures ...............................27 Sister Rose Alexius Broderick On the Cover: S. Jackie Kowalski ministers at Resurrection School in Price Hill (Cincinnati, Ohio). Weekly she meets with children who have lost someone significant through death, and works with those children to ease the grieving process. Read more on Page 12. 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.


I haven’t been to Africa, nor to Haiti. I was not privileged to meet S. Blandina Segale, but I do know Sisters Marie Pauline Skalski and Jackie Kowalski. There is a strong connection, even today, with the call to be in mission which stretches us beyond our expectations, and calls us into the needs of the time as they present themselves today. Aren’t we all blessed to be part of something beyond just ourselves? Where one of us is present, we are all present! “Moments in Ministry” could really be the subtitle to this issue of Intercom. Each of these articles seems to capture a glimpse, ever so slightly, of the vast and varied impact we are making. The dedication of the window remembering S. Myra James and her years at Cincinnati Good Samaritan Hospital was a good time to hear the stories of her loving presence at all hours of the day and night, and how the employees appreciated her special interest to detail and personal relationships. Do you ever think about the legacy you will leave? It is worth the time to step back and explore a bit. I believe we would all say that we did the best we could with what we had. And that, hopefully, is more than enough! The legacy, the take away, is in God’s good hands. All we need to do is show up, be available and be generous in our response. I hope you enjoy each article in this edition and feel pride in all the many ways our Sisters and Associates are using their time and talent. We are proud of their stewardship and can respond in our own place and time. Blessings,

S. Mary Caroline Marchal IN MEMORIAM Please visit “In Memoriam” at 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. Associate Nancy DeLorenzo February 22, 2017

S. Barbara Huber June 18, 2017

S. Rose Martin Morand March 18, 2017

S. Jean Patrice Harrington July 1, 2017

S. Rosemary Clare Eagan March 24, 2017

S. Agnes Ann Gardt June 16, 2017


MOMENTS IN MINISTRY St. Vincent Hospital and Orphan Asylum, Santa Fe, New Mexico By S. Judith Metz


Sisters Vincent O’Keefe, Theodosia Farn, Pauline Leo, and Catherine Mallon opened St. Vincent’s Hospital and Orphan Asylum in a section of the adobe residence of Bishop John Lamy. It soon became a residence for old men as well.


S. Blandina Segale was assigned to build an Industrial School for Girls on the grounds. By the time it was completed in 1883, it became the main building of the hospital.


Due to a burgeoning population of “coughers” and “health seekers” moving to New Mexico, Seton Hall was built to expand the capacity of the hospital.


A new building was constructed for the more than 70 orphan girls.


Fire destroyed St. Vincent’s main building. The hospital continued using the remaining buildings on campus. S. Mary de Sales Leheney, who arrived in 1880, developed her nursing and surgical skills to the extent that she was awarded a medical license by the Medical Board of New Mexico Territory in 1901.


Marian Hall, a new three-story building, added 75 beds to the hospital. Two years later the first 17 cottages for tuberculosis patients were built.


St. Vincent’s School of Nursing opened. In 1941 it merged with St. Joseph’s nursing school in Albuquerque and became Regina School of Nursing.


The Santa Fe Clinic, later named Villa Therese Clinic, was opened.


A new four-story, 218-bed St. Vincent’s Hospital was opened.


The orphan asylum, renamed St. Vincent’s Home for Girls, moved from the hospital grounds to a home on the Old Pecos Trail. It closed in 1966.


The Sisters of Charity ceased to sponsor St. Vincent’s Hospital. Its assets were transferred to a local board of trustees.

St. Vincent’s Hospital and Orphan Asylum opened in 1865.

S. Blandina Segale built an industrial school on the hospital’s grounds in 1877.

St. Vincent Hospital in the 1930s.

A new four-story hospital opened in 1953.






or the past 70 years, Out of the devastation of the leaders of the Hurricane Katrina in 2005 Sisters of Charity came a dream by several Federation of North America Federation Sisters to have a have gathered to celebrate collaborative ministry setting and further our common in New Orleans, Louisiana, mission of charity. These where discerners and young annual assemblies are adults could visit, learn “family reunions” for the and help in the rebuilding Daughters and Sisters of efforts. The House of Charity in the United States Charity of New Orleans and Canada. The 69 leaders was established in 2010 as who met this year represented Sixty-nine leaders of the Sisters of Charity Federation of North America gathered a hospitality and service June 1-5, 2017, in Tarrytown, New York, for their annual meeting. 4,500 Federation Sisters and ministry. Associates who minister in 25 countries of the world – on Federation members proposed two new opportunities every continent except Antarctica! for collaborative ministries at our gathering in New York. We gathered June 1-5 in Tarrytown, New York, hosted by the Sisters of Charity of New York. The theme of our meeting, “Hazard Yet Forward: Futuring Charity Together,” comes from the 12th century family coat of arms of our founder, Elizabeth Ann Seton, which reads: In adversity, patience; in prosperity, benevolence; hazard yet forward. The motto challenges us as members of the Federation to go forward, at whatever risk, into our shared future in a spirit of contemplation and prophetic action. Our days were shaped by prayer, faith sharing, dialogue, music, shared meals, laughter, and hope. We affirmed a Futuring 2017 and Beyond document, which calls us, among other actions, to attend to the intercultural reality of the Federation; used Laudato Si’ (Pope Francis’ message on care for our common home) to speak with one voice; and planned for a Charity Federation Assembly of the Whole in summer 2019. Futuring 2017 and Beyond deepens our promise that we never do alone what we can better do together. Sister Teresa Kotturan, our Federation NGO representative to the UN, set an important context for the assembly with a presentation on Migrants, Refugees and Displaced Persons. According to the UN, 24 people are displaced every minute from their homes, whether due to war, famine, climate change or other circumstances. Children who are refugees or displaced persons are particularly vulnerable as they may lack a birth certificate or proof of nationality. Over the years, members of the Federation have engaged more frequently in shared ministries and living communities. 4

Daughter of Charity and social worker Mary Walz invited Federation members to join her in Durant, Mississippi, to continue the ministerial presence of Sister of Charity Paula Merrill and Franciscan Sister Margaret Held. Sisters Paula and Margaret, both nurse practitioners, were killed in their Durant home in August 2016. The needs are great in the rural community they served. The New Jersey Sisters of Charity asked us to consider short-term commitments in Haiti. Haiti is still reeling not just from the earthquake in 2010 but also from a cholera epidemic that killed 9,000 people, a long drought and last year’s Hurricane Matthew, the biggest storm to hit Haiti in 50 years. Among other outreach efforts, Federation Sisters in Haiti are involved with water and nutrition programs that are essential for the health of women and children. Our hosts, the New York Charities, were celebrating their 200th anniversary. In honor of the occasion, writer Turlough McConnell produced a multimedia play, How the Nuns of New York Tamed the Gangs of New York, celebrating two centuries of service by the Sisters to the people of New York. When we visited the home of the New York Charities, we were reminded of our shared history, including a visit to New York by Cincinnati founder Mother Margaret George. We bade farewell to each other with a renewed commitment to act as a whole. Impelled by the love of Christ and joined together in the mission of Charity, we will continue to respond to the cries of those who are poor and marginalized. I N T E RC O M


S. Joan Elizabeth Cook, SC president, received the honor on the Community’s behalf.

The Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati received the 2017 Make a Difference Award during the English Language Learning Foundation’s ninth annual recognition breakfast on Feb. 23. The breakfast invites donors, students, educators and friends from the community to gather to celebrate the accomplishments of bright ELL students battling adversities, and caring and dedicated educators, organizations that have made a significant difference in the community. Sisters of Charity President S. Joan Elizabeth Cook with MSJU President H. James Williams.



Sisters of Charity joined together with the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center to participate in the annual Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon on May 7. Sisters Sally Duffy, Annie Klapheke, Andrea Koverman, Louise Lears, Joyce Richter and Novice Romina Sapinoso partnered with other friends of religious communities to raise funds for IJPC.

Betty Hickle (left), executive director of Light of Hearts Villa, with S. Regina Kusnir. VOLUME II, 2017

The Mount St. Joseph University community celebrated the inauguration of H. James Williams, Ph.D. as the university’s president in April. The inauguration ceremony took place on April 28 with a formal procession of trustees, distinguished guests, faculty, staff and students, including many Sisters of Charity.



Sister Regina Kusnir was one of six recipients of awards from the Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging at its Annual Luncheon and Conference Day in April. Sister had been nominated for the award in Excellence in Service Provision recognizing her work in the creation of the Seton Safety Net, a program which serves seniors in need providing non-perishable food, gift cards and assistance with paying bills and house payments.

Congratulations to S. Montiel Rosenthal who was named one of Cincy Magazine’s “Best Doctors” in family medicine in the Tristate. According to the magazine, “To make this list, current Best Doctors are asked to nominate physicians they would personally refer a loved one to for care.”


Vacation —

A Ministerial and Imaginative Perspective By S. Regina Kusnir


magination is a powerful gift that unleashes creativity. It gives life to dreams; it is the source of innumerable inventions that have enhanced our lives. Imagination gives rise to saints, like Vincent De Paul and Elizabeth Ann Seton, who become prophetic as their practical outreach attracts others who also dream of ways to alleviate the burdens of the poor and oppressed. Sisters of Charity are rich in a tradition of charity where imagination retranslates itself according to the needs of the people most in need of a loving response. S. Victoria Anyanwu’s imagination is inspired by S. Victoria Anyanwu brought healing and hope to the people of a village in Nigeria, Africa, this past winter. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton who said, “Knowing as I do your Earlier this year she spent eight weeks of non-stop activity heart’s full desire to serve our Lord purely, I can say nothing in a typical African village community in her homeland. The to you, dearest soul, but to keep well to what you believe to village has 10 to 20 minutes of electricity every two to three be the grace of the moment. … Only do your best as you weeks. The roads are rough and dusty. Forests and bushes always have done, and leave the rest for our dear God.” dot the land. There is no refrigeration for the fresh foods Every two years S. Victoria vacations at “home.” Home is in Nigeria some 5,947 miles from Cincinnati. There she relishes time with her 102-year-old mother, family members and friends. She re-acclimates to the 99-plus temperatures and sets about diverse ministries expressive of the charism of the Sisters of Charity. One of six children, she grew up in a family that always had an “open door” for all in need. The wisdom and witness of her mother, “always put in extra – for you never know who may come,” took root in her heart. Perhaps, that is part of the reason that in her journey of life, she found herself a member of the Sisters of Charity. S. Victoria imagines her vacation trips. “My dream is to make a difference for people who are suffering from hunger, thirst for good water, who are less fortunate in life, especially village women and children.” 6

harvested from gardens and farms. Over 100 million of the approximately 190 million people in the country live on less than $1 per day. The plight of the people is heartbreaking to S. Victoria. Families lack food and clean drinking water. People are in a quandary over how to assist bedridden members. Broken families are burdened with unruly children. Young couples are struggling in a society where women are poorly treated. Conditions seem to grow dire and people are more frustrated because of the bad economy. S. Victoria took a week to assess the situation then set to work. Her mother’s home became the soup kitchen and food pantry. A town-crier informed women to come for a portion of the 10 bags of rice, beans, onions, salt, 10 boxes of tomato paste, and other diverse items. Christmas happened for those who came. I N T E RC O M

A health clinic was set up utilizing the services of three doctors, five nurses and a few young people to do registration. For $740 these remarkable people worked from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and saw 280 individuals. During that time, S. Victoria utilized her nursing degree to teach people how to improve their health, making small changes that can make a significant impact. “I rescued a 17-year-old girl from human trafficking. In Nigeria this is seen as a professional job,” she says. “Some of the girls do it to get school fees because their parents can’t afford to send them to school. But this girl was an orphan. I bought her some clothes and for the first time she wore new clothes. It took about four days for her to open up to tell me her life story. I cried with her as she shared her heart with me. I contacted one of the schools with a dorm so she can live there while she starts school and can be safe. I paid half of the school fee and promised the principal that I would seek a way to help her pay the fees which are $400 for tuition and personal needs a semester. “I share Christ’s love and the spirit of Elizabeth Seton with the people of Nigeria,” she continues. “I dream of bringing them healing and hope for their ongoing suffering and encouragement to face their present moment with no fear, to let go of the past that can block peace or light of the present. To focus on the now allows God to make a way where there is no way.”

While on a month-long trip to Nigeria, Africa, S. Victoria Anyanwu set up a temporary health clinic and utilized her RN degree to teach people how to improve their health.


And so I ask, S. Victoria, on your next vacation trip, what does your imagination envision? “First, I would like to help people gain access to good, drinkable water for the village,” she replies. “Second, I would include children in the health fair which I wasn’t able to do this time.” A blessing of being a Sister of Charity is that you are never alone during your endeavors. Wherever a Sister goes, the Community is there in support of them. The day before S. Victoria left on her ministerial vacation, the Sisters offered a special blessing in the Motherhouse chapel. On some days she was exhausted but was still empowered by remembering the blessing. In many ways the Congregation supported her as she took our blessings with her. S. Victoria, a food provider, health care minister, educator, evangelizer and bearer of hope, finds inspiration from St. Vincent de Paul: “Allow yourself to be led by the Lord. … Trust God and follow God’s example. Always act humbly, gently and in good faith and you will see everything will go well. … It is God who allows all this to happen, but believe that God will not leave a heavy burden on your back without sustaining you. God will be your strength as well as your reward for the extraordinary service you give God.” Editor’s Note: S. Victoria Anyanwu ministers at Good Samaritan Hospital and Hammington Hospice, both in Cincinnati.

During a recent trip to Nigeria, Africa, S. Victoria Anyanwu set up a soup kitchen and food pantry in her mother’s home for the people of the village.



he Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati celebrated National Catholic Sisters Week, March 8-14, 2017, by participating in the “Kindness: Get in the Habit” campaign, a comprehensive marketing campaign encouraging kindness among all people. “The Kindness campaign is inspired by our Christian call to treat one another as we would hope to be treated,” S. Georgia Kitt says. “Simple acts of kindness can change the world, one person at a time. We’ve never needed it more than we do right now.” Featured videos and articles calling attention to our Gospel values – feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger, practicing compassion – were posted throughout the week on the SC website. Those articles can still be accessed at news_events/NCSW.htm. In addition, employees and Sisters celebrated their relationship. Human Resources offered Sisters tokens of affection during lunch on March 8. And on the following Tuesday, Human Resources provided root beer floats during a social hour. Results of the Sister guessing game circulating during the week were revealed. Employees answering correctly were invited to join the participating Sisters for lunch the following week. National Catholic Sisters Week is always a fun time at the Motherhouse, and a great way to honor our Sisters and recognize all they have done for others. 8



WAY OF ELIZABETH By S. Donna Steffen


isters of Charity Federation were the result of answering novices and candidates God’s call. She put the needs participated in the “Way of of others before her own, often Elizabeth” pilgrimage May 17-25, acting on a determined or 2017. This Way of Elizabeth had practical spirit.” Romina felt several understandings of the word that Elizabeth and her Sisters “way.” We obviously visited places of Charity embodied “a warm where Elizabeth lived, professed simplicity and obedience borne her faith as a Roman Catholic, out of love. Elizabeth and began teaching, professed vows, her sisters were simply saying lived, taught, and died. Yet, the ‘yes!’ to God every step of the Way of Elizabeth also brought way, allowing themselves to be us into contact with the way instruments of God’s work by Elizabeth lived, attuned to the responding to whatever need call of God, often taking her in presented itself.” new directions, at times with While in Emmitsburg, great difficulty. And, the Way of Maryland, besides the privilege Sisters Regina Bechtle, SCNY, (third from left) and Judith Metz Elizabeth led us to some of the and blessing of staying four nights (right) facilitated the Way of Elizabeth pilgrimage for SC Federation many ways the life and spirit of in the White House, and visiting novices and candidates. Elizabeth continues through how all the main sites, including it is lived in several of the congregations in the Federation. Tom’s Creek and the well on what is now FEMA’s property, Our pilgrims were S. Romina Sapinoso and Whitney Schieltz of our Cincinnati congregation, S. Hyeon Lee from the Seton Hill SCs, and Victoria Hood from the SCs of Leavenworth. S. Judith Metz arranged much of the trip and was our outstanding tour guide. And in New York we were also facilitated by S. Regina Bechtle, SCNY. In Greensburg, Pennsylvania, we were hosted by S. Mary Ann Winters, and in Convent Station, New Jersey, by S. Maryanne Tracey. Though no Daughter was officially hosting us in Emmitsburg, S. Maureen kept alert to any needs we might have. They were all Sister to us, and their welcome and hospitality helped us feel that in our Federation we are all truly Sisters. In the places Elizabeth Seton lived and ministered, we wanted to sense her spirit and presence. Hyeon expressed that “one of the most precious gifts from the Way of Elizabeth is that I have realized the true beauty of Mother Seton’s absolute trust in God. Regardless of all her life’s turmoil, her constant love never failed to interweave a great story of Divine Providence.” Victoria reflects on the words “Humility, Simplicity, Charity” and her gratitude in learning about how Elizabeth embodies these words. She said, “Elizabeth’s accomplishments VOLUME II, 2017

we learned that thousands of Civil War soldiers stayed on the Daughters’ property in Emmitsburg the nights before the Gettysburg Battle. In visiting the Gettysburg Battlefield and cemetery where President Lincoln gave his moving address, we discovered how many Daughters of Charity nursed and cared for the wounded soldiers, many of whom died there. Whitney shared, “Gettysburg stood out to me as a powerful example of the charism and history of the Sisters of Charity Federation. By responding to such a gruesome scene with courage and compassion, those early Sisters embodied the Hazard Yet Forward motto of Elizabeth. Seeing their words memorialized in a stained-glass window at the nearby Saint Francis Xavier Church made me feel honored to be a part of the Charity Family.” S. Regina led us in prayer in New York using a brief reflection on pilgrimage, from “With an Eagle’s Eye” by S. John Miriam Jones. “Pilgrimage disrupts habits, causes vulnerability and opens one to the new - to God’s invading presence - and forces one to rely on that God.” We are all filled with gratitude for the experience of being pilgrims on the Way of Elizabeth.




t was the late 1960s in Colorado Springs, Colorado, when a young nurse was named the first lay nursing supervisor of the surgical floors at Penrose Hospital. Up until that time only Sisters had been managers, but this young, driven nurse was called on when the number of women religious working in the hospital began to dwindle. Associate Mary Wall could never have known when she accepted the position that it would also be the beginning of a friendship that she would treasure for the rest of her life.

S. Myra James Bradley ministered at Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for 26 years.

Langstaff, started the first hospice bed in Colorado Springs on the 10th floor of Penrose Hospital, which eventually resulted in the opening of Pike’s Peak Hospice, the first hospice care organization in Colorado Springs. This sparked a passion in Mary, and following her retirement in 1996, she bought her own hospice company that she ran for many years before selling. In addition, she has helped reorganize and restructure Kauai Hospice in Hawaii, a place she and her husband live part of the year.

Mary first began to know Sister of On March 21, 2017, Good In March, Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation and Charity Myra James Bradley when she Samaritan Hospital Foundation and TriHealth dedicated a stained-glass memorial honoring started her role as nursing supervisor. TriHealth welcomed the leadership of the late S. Myra James Bradley. At the time, S. Myra James was the the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati administrator of the hospital, and respected by many in the to bless and dedicate the stained-glass memorial honoring community and hospital for her strong leadership skills. the late S. Myra James Bradley, a Cincinnati native. The memorial, funded by Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation, “She carried a presence about her,” says Mary. “When serves as an enduring reminder of S. Myra’s impact on Good she walked into a room, she controlled it. The businessmen Samaritan, TriHealth, and the Greater Cincinnati community. in Colorado Springs either loved or hated her, but they all The inscription next to the instillation reads: respected her. She had strong leadership skills; she was a visionary. … [Myra] was tall, stately, and she carried herself very confidently; yet, underneath there was a real woman with a heart of gold that a lot of people never saw because she was very careful about that. She was kind of guarded and protective but if she liked you she would do anything for you.” S. Myra James became a mentor to Mary in management, but more importantly, she became a surrogate mother. “She taught me to be the person I am today – to be strong, to be firm, but to also be kind and gentle. I will never forget that,” says Mary. As for serving as a mentor, she learned the sky is the limit, to always do your best, but to also never forget to pay it forward. Mary recalls that S. Myra James, and the late Associate Flo Carris, along with a woman named Susan 10

In honor of Sister Myra James Bradley, SC and her inspirational leadership and guidance while Chief Executive Officer of Good Samaritan Hospital from 1991-1998. She was a woman of God, a Sister of Charity, a trusted mentor, adoring daughter, attentive sister, beloved aunt and a compassionate friend to all. The lessons she taught us are treasured. To Mary, “I thought [the memorial] was absolutely beautiful and so well deserved. I think sometimes people didn’t understand Myra; yet, she did so much for so many people. She didn’t brag about it. I am so pleased that they’ve honored her, and I love her with my whole heart and always will. She has been a mother and a mentor to me, which really set my career to be the person I am today and to be able to do what I can do now.” I N T E RC O M




hen the Bishop of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, requested the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati to open a mission in his diocese in 1869, Mother Regina Mattingly knew she could not comply, as the requests for her Sisters already exceeded the number available. The bishop, however, resolved to move forward in establishing a diocesan community. A partnership was born when postulants from the Pittsburgh diocese joined the novitiate in Cincinnati for their religious formation. At the same time, Mother Regina agreed to send six Cincinnati Sisters to assist the establishment of the new community until its members were prepared to govern.

The Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill sponsored a bus trip to visit the SC Motherhouse in April. They toured the Motherhouse, took a bus tour of Cincinnati and visited Mother Margaret Hall nursing facility.

Both Mother Regina Mattingly and Mother Josephine Harvey, then assistant mother and novice director, were joyful to have the opportunity to plant seeds of Mother Seton’s charism in new fields. They also felt a deep responsibility to see the foundation solidly laid. In July 1870 the pioneers for this new venture were chosen. Two veterans, Sisters Aloysia Lowe and Blanche O’Keefe, and two novices, Sisters Maria Teresa O’Donnell and Maria Kavanagh, departed for Altoona, Pennsylvania, to open the first mission. Accompanied by Mother Josephine, the Sisters arrived at the depot in August where they were greeted by priests “with high hats and canes,” the Angelus bells announcing their arrival, and a lighted candle in every window of their new convent home. St. John’s School was opened the following month with about 300 pupils. In November 1870 Sisters Ann Regina Ennis and Loretta Corbett arrived from Cincinnati. At the same time the Cincinnati Council appointed S. Aloysia Lowe as Mother Superior, and S. Ann Regina Ennis as Mother Assistant. All began with just a few snags like regulating the temperature on an unfamiliar coal-fired stove and “all sizes of boys [coming] every day, claiming to be only 7 or 8 years old.” The new community opened a novitiate, grew rapidly, and soon began to open additional missions while the Cincinnati Sisters were recalled one by one at considerable intervals except for Sisters Aloysia Lowe and Ann Regina Ennis. The connection between Cincinnati and Pennsylvania remained close. Cincinnati Mother Josephine “who VOLUME II, 2017

was always deeply interested in the welfare” of the new community, seemed to regard it “as her own particular responsibility, watching over it with more than a maternal eye.” On one occasion the Sisters were late for Mass and “poor Mother Josephine, a model of exactness and punctuality, nearly died of shame.” Something of a martinet for discipline, she assured herself that no ‘innovations,’ such as curtains on the windows, were being introduced. Her periodic visits were not usually announced, and “were not an unmixed joy to the sometimes luckless recipients.” Efforts were made to keep her out of the kitchen, lest she observe some chaotic scene that was unfolding. Until the day of her death in 1895, Mother Josephine retained her connection with the Pennsylvania Sisters. The affection between the two communities, our common heritage rooted in Elizabeth Seton and Margaret George, stories shared, visits through the years, and relationships fostered have all been part of the passing years. When the Mother Seton Federation was formed we joined together for Elizabeth Seton’s canonization, and we have shared many experiences through Federation programs. Each year Sisters from the Korean Province of the Seton Hill Sisters of Charity make a pilgrimage to their “grandmothers’ house” to learn about their roots, and just recently Sisters from Seton Hill, Pennsylvania, were welcomed at Mount St. Joseph. May our shared history that has endured for nearly a century and a half continue to bless us all! 11

A S I S T E R TO A L L –

S. JACKIE KOWALSKI How would you describe your ministry and your role? At Resurrection School in Price Hill (Cincinnati, Ohio), I meet weekly with children who have lost someone significant through death. My role is to facilitate the grieving process in children who don’t readily understand death nor do they have the coping skills to deal with it. The children experience this loss in their family in many different ways; some through natural death, but also through violence and addictions. One girl in the group lost six family members in the last 18 months! She told me that she can’t talk about this at home because it makes her mother cry. Another phenomena which occurs is when children try to talk about death to their peers, the peers don’t know how to respond and frequently pull away. I provide a safe environment with discussions, rituals and games in which children can productively engage in the grieving process. You are an SC. How would you characterize SC values? Working with children and families has been my life’s work. In every ministry in which I have served the goal has been to strengthen family relationships. Resurrection School is a CISE School (Catholic Inner-city Schools Education) in which there is a high level of poverty with its concomitant problems – hunger, drug abuse, domestic violence, homelessness. As Sisters of Charity we dedicate our resources, both human and financial, to help those who are poor, the underserved. The ministry at Resurrection School certainly fits that criteria. What does it feel like to experience joy? In my first year of teaching I had a child in my fourth grade class named Bernie. We had huge classes, mine had 65 children. Bernie did not catch on to learning quickly. I was teaching long division and he struggled with it. He kept working at the board while I moved on to other subjects. After about 15 minutes he turned around and smiled and said, “I got it!” That “aha” moment became a touchstone for me, giving me great joy whenever it occurred, whether in teaching, counseling or facilitating groups. One student in my present grief group 12

S. Jackie Kowalski ministers at Resurrection School in Price Hill where she meets weekly with children who have lost someone significant through death, and works with those children to ease the grieving process.

explained this type of “aha” moment this way: “I don’t have bad dreams anymore. Coming here has helped me not feel sad about [my uncle’s] death.” What drew you to become a Sister? How did your family respond? The call to a religious vocation is an enigma … it is hard for me to pinpoint the moment or the momentum of being called. I just knew that God was operating in my life! In fact, the call was so strong and my resistance so great, I prayed weekly at our Lady of Perpetual Help devotions my entire senior year that God would NOT keep calling. God didn’t listen and I am forever grateful! When I became a religious, there were not many roles for women in the church but I loved being Catholic and wanted to serve God’s people and becoming a Sister gave me that opportunity. My family had mixed reactions. My father was OK with my decision, my mother was not so comfortable. She believed I was throwing my life away. After I became a novice, she quickly became an “expert” on religious life. She once told me that I was the only one of their four children that she did not have to worry about. When my father passed away we found a poem in his wallet titled “I Am the Daddy of a Nun,” which expressed his pride in me. What would you say to young Catholic women who are curious about what it would be like to be a Sister? Many stereotypes still exist about religious life and there are many more roles for women in the Catholic Church. However, the spiritual companionship and sharing of Sisterhood and freedom to serve the people of God in varied ways make a religious vocation a very meaningful choice. I would tell the young women: Come and see. Walk with us for a while and pray to discern if God is calling. I N T E RC O M

Bringing Compassionate Care to Haiti By S. Pat Hayden

sion trip to Haiti, On a recent medical mis of volunteers m tea a S. Pat Hayden and ning materials trai of nds pou 250 t brough ts and their pan tici par 50 n for more tha ablish learning est ld facilities, so they cou centers.


n March 2017, I had the privilege to make a mission trip to Haiti, a two-day training program called “Helping Babies Survive” for birth attendants, nurses and doctors in medically underserved rural areas of Haiti, to reduce the incidence of intrapartum and peripartum deaths and still births. We brought 250 pounds of training materials for more than 50 participants and their facilities, so they could establish learning centers. Upon our arrival in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, we were met by Bourdeau, our driver and translator, and one of the key instructors, Dr. Jacklin Sime, who recently graduated from medical school. On our way out of town, we stopped at the memorial outside of Port-au-Prince for the victims of the 2010 earthquake where 300,000 people lost their lives. Bourdeau shared that he lost his daughter in the earthquake. He was severely injured and was taken to the U.S. hospital ship where he said they saved his life. Our first stop was St. Marc. The participants were so excited, engaged and eager to learn the techniques to take back to their facilities. Even though I didn’t know the language, I participated at a table where a nurse knew a little English. It was hot and the electricity would come on and off intermittently, due to city power rationing. The next day we headed to Gros Morne, Haiti. The last 30 minutes on the road to this town consists of large rocks. While sitting in the van my Fitbit thought I climbed 56 flights of stairs and walked over 16,000 steps! It is a rough stretch of road that often floods and creates hardship for the people trying to get around. VOLUME II, 2017

When we arrived in Gros Morne, I stayed at the convent with S. Jackie of the Congregation of the Religious of Jesus and Mary. Six months ago S. Isabel – a 51-year member of the same congregation – was murdered on the streets of Port-au-Prince, which was extremely difficult on their community. S. Jackie showed me around their different ministries over the next two days. For the past five years, we have sent teams to support S. Jackie and her work at Hospital Alma Mater in Gros Morne. I first met S. Jackie when she came to St. Anthony North Health Campus (Westminster, Colorado) to review equipment she could use at Hospital Alma Mater. With the help of Project Cure, we have sent many shipments of much-needed equipment to her hospital. S. Jackie and her team of volunteers are doing wonderful work in Gros Morne. Besides the ministry at the hospital they also run a school and a shelter for abandoned seniors. The school tuition is $100 per year, but most can only pay $17, and some can’t even pay that. There is no hot water and many people do not even have water at all. Children take containers to a water pump on the street to get their water. They do not have electricity in most of the small houses, so they go to the market each day for food. I have been to other developing countries before, but the poverty in Haiti is overwhelming. Trash is piled up in the street, and at night goats and dogs scavenge through it for food. One day I saw a 3-year-old child sitting in the trash looking for food. Reflecting on my trip, we take so much for granted in our country. Most of us have a place to sleep, food on our table, running water – even hot water – and lights to turn on. Let us all remember we are truly an abundant, blessed nation with opportunities to share our resources with our fellow brothers and sisters – both at home and in developing nations around the world. I am very glad that through Centura Global Health Initiatives we were able to bring our mission of compassionate care to Haiti. 13

Bringing her story to life:

Actress Alma Sisneros discusses her latest role as S. Blandina Segale By Erin Reder


n March, filming for the pilot of “At the End of the Santa Fe Trail,” a television series based on the life of Sister of Charity of Cincinnati S. Blandina Segale, concluded. For many, the timing of the television series in conjunction with the Vatican’s examination into Sister’s cause for canonization seems more than coincidental. It appears something greater is at work.

outlaws, championing for justice, and building schools and hospitals in the rugged Southwest. “Being there with the women, hearing their stories of their time in the Southwest, their love for New Mexico and teaching, and their love of S. Blandina, it put me at ease to portray her. I left with a sense of peace and a greater understanding of what these women did their entire lives. I came home feeling calm, relaxed, and centered.”

The Spirit most certainly is at work in the actress portraying S. Blandina. From her home – a Even though S. Blandina lived 14,000-acre working buffalo ranch and ministered decades ago, her life in central New Mexico – Alma and her stories are still relatable in Sisneros begins the interview today’s world. And Alma, as well as In February Alma Sisneros, the actress portraying S. Blandina speaking about the similarities the entire production crew, feel there Segale in the television series based on Sister’s life, visited she sees in her and the tenacious is a need for her story to be told. with S. Annina Morgan to research her character. S. Blandina, who has captured the “When it comes to entertainment hearts of the cast and crew working to tell her story. today,” she says, “and what people are seeing on television and in movie theaters there’s not a lot of clean, family-oriented The daughter and granddaughter of strong, Catholic shows that the whole family can watch and enjoy. I think women, Alma grew up in a small New Mexico town, this will be something anyone of any age can get something coincidentally a town that S. Blandina herself traveled to positive and beneficial from.” The actress also sees S. Blandina while ministering in the Southwest. Both teachers, they as a positive role model for young girls and for women in shared other parallels as well. “She shared my passion for children and for the underdog,” says Alma. “Like S. Blandina, general: “To have a strong, intelligent, aggressive, go-getter like S. Blandina, I think it’s important for young girls and women I have always gravitated toward people that need help. I’m to know that anyone can make a change in the most difficult of not afraid to get my hands dirty, and strive to be a part of times. That’s what S. Blandina did.” something that needs to be done for the greater good.” As Alma describes her first audition for the role, she says that she didn’t know much about the woman she would soon come to admire. However, after she was booked for the part, she began to research S. Blandina and that’s when the inspiration came. That preparation included a visit to the Sisters of Charity Motherhouse in February. “I had the best time,” Alma says as her voice breaks. “It was really such a beautiful experience, the hospitality and happiness that I felt there. I didn’t want to leave to be honest with you.” She met with Sisters Loretto Burke and Annina Morgan to talk with the only two living Sisters who knew S. Blandina personally in her later years, and she also spoke with many Sisters who lived and ministered in the Southwest – where S. Blandina spent 22 years and is widely known for her compassion for 14

It is important to the producers – and the Sisters of Charity – that the series stays true to the book and the stories S. Blandina herself told. First step in production was the filming of the pilot, which concluded in March. For her part, Alma said she began reading “At the End of the Santa Fe Trail,” the book containing S. Blandina’s letters to her sister, Justina, also a Sister of Charity. “I stopped reading the book up to the point that I knew the script ended for the pilot episode,” she explained, “because I purposely didn’t want to know anything about Blandina after that point. I wanted to be very specific to who she was at that time in her life – in 1872, leaving on her first mission. I finished reading the book after filming the pilot. Of course my idea of her, and my thoughts and perceptions, have changed slightly because she has changed in 10 years.” I N T E RC O M

What can viewers look forward to from the series and S. Blandina? Alma says her character is appealing and intriguing on many levels. In the year 1872 viewers are greeted with this young, petite female immigrant, who was penniless and sent – alone – to a lawless territory in the Southwest. She displayed faith, courage, perseverance, honesty and hard work. “I feel like people today and always will be moved by her spunk, tenacity, and dedication to better the lives of others,” says Alma. “People love those kinds of stories and gravitate towards people like that. I’m at the very end of her book now, and every day that I read I keep finding more and more surprises. I shouldn’t be surprised – but I am! She was just an amazing woman; she found a way – through God – to get the job done without hurting anyone. “As I read the book, I envisioned the episodes,” she continues. “I envisioned being in the habit, jumping over the archbishop’s wall to steal vegetables from his garden to give to the poor. I envisioned at the top of a building knocking down adobe to build the school, tending to the sick. People who had tuberculosis and small pox, she did not fear. I think of these episodes and playing these stories. She was there and present. I see why this [series] could go on for many,

many episodes; there’s so much storytelling – not just her life in the Southwest but her work in Cincinnati with Italian immigrants, prostitutes and the poor. The love she had for human life was amazing. Her story needs to be told. There’s not enough of these female leadership roles being told in the media. She is a beautiful place to start.” In Alma’s eyes, the role of S. Blandina was meant for her. “I think that all the things in my life have led up to this point and I feel like I’m meant to tell her story,” she said. “I can’t get her out of my head. I think of her every day. I talk to her. Since this has all happened everything around me is better, and I think it’s because of her. I think she’s with us in this process. … “This whole experience has re-grounded me,” Alma continues. “I have always thought I was a very observant, compassionate person but this has taken things to another level, my thoughtfulness, my observations of human life around me; it makes me want to be a kinder, nicer, calmer person – but still strong like Blandina. … She has reinvigorated my love for God, my upbringing and everything I did know and learn as I was growing up. This is so much more for me, it’s personal.” If the success of the pilot hinges on the commitment and passion of the actors, actresses and crew, then a series and its success are imminent. They have embraced S. Blandina’s spirit, and by doing so are bringing Blandina’s story and her legacy to life.

S. Carol Marie Power had the opportunity to visit the set of the pilot and meet with cast and crew members in March.


Filming for the pilot of “At the End of the Santa Fe Trail” took place in Colorado and New Mexico.


S. Marie Pauline Skalski has volunteered with St. Vincent Home for Children in Okemos, Michigan, for the past six years.



even years after entering the Sisters of Charity on Sept. 8, 1960, S. Marie Pauline Skalski was missioned to St. Joseph Infant Home in Cincinnati, Ohio, to teach elementary age students. It was at that time that S. Marie Pauline realized she connected easily with troubled children. However, four short years later, she transitioned to the classroom and spent the next 40 years ministering as either teacher, assistant principal or principal. So upon retirement in 2011, when the opportunity was presented to Sister to minister at St. Vincent Home for Children in Okemos, Michigan, the memories took S. Marie Pauline back to her days at the orphanage in Cincinnati. “I thought, I recognize these kids from what I experienced earlier. And I remembered that I connect easily with children. I can be a calming influence,” Sister said. For the past six years S. Marie Pauline has volunteered at St. Vincent. “Education isn’t my primary focus, however,” she says, “it’s to be a loving presence to the children. The children have been neglected, abused and abandoned. I look at them with love and acceptance – and that is my primary job! I want to reflect back to them that they are indeed special children of God. Their beautiful faces are clouded with fear, confusion and anger. The staff and I try to make each day the very best day because the children do not know what their future will be.” Sister is in a classroom where the children range in grade level from kindergarten to seventh grade; every child’s work is individualized. There are approximately 12-15 children in the classroom, and when a child gets upset, is uncooperative, or has a meltdown, the teacher, teacher aide or S. Marie Pauline work sensitively with them. 16

Through the stories she tells, it is evident that her presence is valuable and puts the children at ease. “I teach children how to solve the Rubik’s cube,” she says. “There was a 12-year-old boy, who came in the middle of September – belligerent, didn’t want anyone telling him what to do. I would often go over and sit by him. He didn’t want to have anything to do with me, until he found out I teach children the cube. His desire to learn the cube was especially strong, so strong he was willing to do his school work so he could have time to spend with me learning the cube. This boy was reading at a third-grade level, and seemed to have low ability. I was very concerned because I didn’t want him to have his hopes dashed if he could not learn the very complicated process. The very first step is the hardest, and takes the longest – and he got it right away! I was astounded! He kept earning his Rubik’s time and kept learning quickly every step in the solution. During Christmas break they sent him to a long-term institution. I never saw him again. I’m hoping he took with him something that will have other people look at him with respect and amazement. I would love to know how he’s handling that, if he’s using that in a positive way that reinforces his self-worth and belief that he can learn anything.” S. Marie Pauline’s face lights up as she recounts the many children and stories she has. She concludes, “There is a quote from S. Joan Chittister, O.S.B. that I often refer to, “to use the gifts you have been given is a godly act.” I believe that it is also a path to a loving and fulfilled life. So that no matter what I’ve personally given, I’ve reaped 100 times as much as a person. When you love greatly, you don’t run out.” I N T E RC O M

DEBORAH ROSE-MILAVEC: National Leader of Future Church and Associate of the Sisters of Charity By S. Mary Ann Flannery


nly a short distance from the shores of Lake Erie, in Lakewood, Ohio, in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, is the international headquarters of Future Church where Deborah RoseMilavec directs a staff in research, program design, advocacy, workshops, parish assistance on ecclesiastical matters, and international support of individual communities seeking leverage and ways to assist the Church in making the Eucharist available to everyone. A mother of six and grandmother of 13, Rose-Milavec came to her position through mega doses of determination and a well-rounded education, both formal and practical. She earned a degree in International Studies from Wright State University in Dayton and a master’s in theology from United Theological Seminary (Dayton) after which she became executive director of New Choices Domestic Violence Prevention Agency and Shelter in Shelby County, Ohio. Later she became program director for the American Friends Service Committee and then vice president and project director of Catherine of Siena Virtual College, where she developed courses for women in Third World countries and which were accredited and accepted by standard universities. “I traveled to Africa, China, the Philippines, India, South Africa while working for the university and I met premier women leaders of the Catholic Church in India who developed a ‘Gender Policy of the Catholic Church in India.’” She lowers her eyes and then looks thoughtfully at the wall facing us and tells the story of a Muslim woman beaten by her brother for what he considered her disrespectful behavior against the faith. “Incidents like this inspired practical course development in areas such as domestic violence and safety of women in addition to theology.” Rose-Milavec points to a brochure with the Mission Statement of Future Church which states the organization “seeks changes that will provide all Roman Catholics the opportunity to participate fully in Church life and leadership.” That means, collaborative structures for worship, organization, and governance; a return to the early tradition of married and celibate priests; the recognizing of male and female leaders of faith communities; and regular participation


in Eucharist for all Catholics, according to its Vision Statement. “I am heartened,” she adds, “by the models now emerging from courageous leaders in the faith like Fr. Helmut Schuller of Austria and retired Bishop Fritz Lobinger of South Africa who are developing models of ministry that include intentional communities and the ordination of elders, men and women, and in some cases ‘groups’ to serve as clerics in these communities. Traditionally structured communities in religious life and in the clergy are diminishing while younger Catholics are looking for ways to live a faith enlivened by more inclusive participation. I see this commitment among the young when I go places.” Rose-Milavec points to the Association of United States Catholic Priests (AUSCP) whose membership of 1,200 is growing steadily and has made a formal relationship with Future Church. They plan on holding listening sessions for women in parishes throughout the U.S. Pope Francis also gives her hope. “He said, ‘Go where they are,’ meaning the unaffiliated, the estranged, the disengaged.” Under the Pope, a discussion has been opened to explore the possibility of ordaining women to the deaconate. He allowed S. Carmen Sammut of the Union of International Superiors General to be the first woman to attend the Synod of Bishops in Rome. Under the guidance of S. Louise Akers, Rose-Milavec became an Associate member in Cincinnati, a natural outgrowth of her work in Women Speaking Justice, an advocacy group in the city. She takes strength and inspiration from the charism of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, foundress of the Sisters of Charity whose sense of an emerging American Church in the 19th century led her to encourage her Sisters of be “Daughters of the Church,” leaders in serving through education, social work, and nursing. At the same time, Elizabeth’s central focus was on the Eucharist, probably the singular reason for her conversion to Catholicism. No wonder she is a model for Deborah Rose-Milavec whose efforts to provide and expand the availability of Eucharist for all is a ministry so needed in today’s Church. 17

Helping Families Help Themselves ...Since 1897 By Associate Vicki Welsh

Known as Santa Maria Neighborhood House from 1966-1972, the building was relocated from its downtown location to Price Hill on the west side of Cincinnati.


anta Maria Community Services is 120 years old this year! There are so many stories to share, so many services to tell you about, so many people in service, and even more people served! There have been books written and S. Blandina Segale (one of SMCS’ founders) is on her way to sainthood. So how can we hope to share all that Santa Maria has been, is and hopes to be in the future? In the last issue of Intercom, we shared with you the bare beginnings. As always, the Sisters of Charity identified a specific need, visioned the way best to meet that need, and acted to put into place the ‘nuts and bolts’ of a solution plan. The Sisters did not flinch when the first plan seemed to falter, and worked quickly to regroup and start again. The main goal of those early years was to address the needs of the Italian immigrants in the City of Cincinnati. That meant assistance for jobs, education, housing, language, health, and spiritual needs of the youngest to the oldest. There was no need too great or any need too insignificant for the Sisters to seek workable solutions. Many Sisters of Charity have ministered at Santa Maria down through the years. Besides Sisters Blandina and Justina Segale, over 70 Sisters have served. Twelve have been directors, while others served as teachers, nurses, social workers, housekeepers, and trustees. Here are five of the Sisters and a little of their interesting story.


S. Carmela Cassano (pictured left)

was one of two orphans that S. Blandina took in residence. Both were raised at Santa Maria and entered religious life. S. Carmela returned to Santa Maria Institute in the 1930s and contributed greatly to the organization’s newsletter and other programs.

S. Euphrasia Hartman served at

Santa Maria for 30 years (1917-1947). Sister helped with the founding and operation of San Antonio Church, located on Queen City Avenue. Today you can still see portraits of Sisters Blandina and Euphrasia at the church.

S. Martina Marie Poirier was director of Santa Maria in the late 1950s-early 1960s. Much that we know about Santa Maria during those years is thanks to her own personal journals. These journals are archived with S. Justina’s journals in the Santa Maria Collection. I N T E RC O M

Today’s Santa Maria Community Services, Inc. is “a catalyst and advocate for Greater Price Hill families to attain their educational, financial and health goals,” according to SMCS trustee S. Patmarie Bernard. To provide these services, Santa Maria facilities are located throughout the Price Hill area in western Cincinnati.

S. Jane Ellen Shappelle (above left) was director

of Santa Maria from 1973-1986. During this time the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati ceased its sponsorship, but S. Jane continued as its director.

While Santa Maria no longer focuses solely on serving the Italian immigrant community in downtown Cincinnati, you are likely to meet people of all ages from any one of the 27 countries represented in their programs today! Their services include a range of educational needs from kindergarten readiness to GED preparation. In the financial arena, Santa Maria provides programs in budgeting and banking, Medicaid and Food Stamp assistance, and tax preparation. Santa Maria offers employment assistance in the form of job interview/ resume/application training, employment workshops and childcare provider training. On the health and wellness front, health screenings include eye and hearing exams, mental health services, prescription resources, and housing assistance. The International Welcome Center offers language classes and support groups. In the youth development front, programs to support the physical, social, and emotional needs of children and their families are addressed with the aid of many, many volunteer hours. In fact, none of these programs would be possible without the tireless efforts and altruistic support of a legion of staff and volunteers. Santa Maria will continue into the future to Help Families Help Themselves. To volunteer or request more information, please visit or call 513-557-2700.

S. Mary Rita Vieson (above center) served as director from 1968-1970. She led Santa Maria in the changes following Vatican II during the Renewal Chapters. In 1969, Sister oversaw the opening of Santa Maria’s first Price Hill office. This ushered in an altering mission focus. Santa Maria has been identified by various names over the years. Sisters Blandina and Justina led the Santa Maria Italian Educational and Industrial Home, called in those years the Santa Maria Institute, until 1966; the building was located in downtown Cincinnati. The name Santa Maria Neighborhood House was used from 1966-1972, and was relocated into the Price Hill westside neighborhood of Cincinnati. From 1972 until the present, it has been known as Santa Maria Community Services, and provides services at multiple sites in Price Hill. VOLUME II, 2017

Numerous programs are offered to children and guardians through Santa Maria’s early childhood services programs. 19


CHARISM WITHIN US By Associate Mary Jo Mersmann


n Pentecost, the apostles “were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.” Acts 2:4 The apostles had a newfound confidence in the message they were to preach and they did not have a need to look over their shoulder to Jesus to ask, “Am I doing it right?” They had the Spirit within each of them and they spread the good news of Jesus far and wide.

Rewards of the Associate-Religious Relationship What do you find most rewarding about the Associate-religious relationship?

Associates • Friendships with religious and other Associates (40%) • Deepening spirituality and faith through charism and mission (36%) • Social connections, retreats, meetings, prayer gatherings, and events (23%) • Association with a faith-filled community (18%) • Partners in ministry, community service, and social justice (13%)

Vowed Religious • Advancement of the institute’s charism and mission by the Associates (33%) • Friendships developed with the Associates (31%) • The opportunity to pray together and share a deeper spirituality (29%) • New experiences, enthusiasm, and ideas Associates generate (17%)

As Associates, we often “look back over our shoulder” to the Sisters to ask, “Am I doing it right?” Of course the example of the Sisters is a joy to view – and we definitely need to look back at the lives of these role models and never forget. However, it is necessary for each Associate to recognize that within her- or himself, the Spirit and the gift of the Charity charism lies within.

We are called by God to proclaim the good news of the Scriptures through our charism of love. In the CARA Report 2016, three in four of the directors and eight in 10 Associates and vowed religious agree that “Associates have a role in interpreting that charism.” One of the greatest rewards of being an Associate reads, “The sharing of our spirituality and our shared responsibility for the continuation of the founding charism in our world today.” How can Associates recognize our own spiritual gifts and “own” the charism within us? Continuing beyond initial formation by reading and learning about the Community and its members is something we all can do. Meeting in small groups and discussing the articles and reflections given to us to share is another with obvious benefits for all involved. We keep connected through participation in Congregational Days, retreats and even by the live-streaming of these offerings on the website.


In her book, Enter the Story, Fran Ferder describes Pentecost as a “radical plunge which we often need again and again, if Pentecost passion is to remain alive in us and in our relationships. Some people call it conversion, others, renewal. Luke called it Pentecost.” “They [Associates] can all carry on the charism of the community in the world and become a valuable asset to the community with their participation at meetings and reflecting the issues of the world to us, as well as assisting in areas of their expertise,” was the comment of a vowed member in the CARA Report. We can “look back over our shoulders” with eyes of love and we can look ahead together with hearts filled with the Holy Spirit, passion and charism of charity and invite others to hear the story of the Sisters and Associates of Charity and join us, just as the apostles did on Pentecost long ago.


Planting the Seed:

Connecting Archives to CommunitySponsored Ministries By Veronica Buchanan, SC archivist

Archivist Veronica Buchanan has worked with DPCR freshman Bre’Ale with her project on the website


hen I began my journey with the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati last May, I was hoping that one of my initial endeavors as archivist would be to coordinate a collaboration with DePaul Cristo Rey High School’s Corporate Work Study (CWSP) program. In my previous position, I first encountered the program and was fortunate enough to provide partial supervision and projects for a work study student in the 2015-2016 school year. From that experience, I was inspired by the program’s commitment to bringing real-world job experience to students, affording them the opportunity of leaving high school with a stronger resume than most college graduates! Thankfully, things fell into place and we were able to commit to having two students in the Archives with the full support of the SC Leadership Council and much-needed guidance and support by DPCR work study program director Travis Rowley. In assessing possible collaborative archival opportunities for the students, my primary criteria were finding projects that would support the mission of the Community and empower the students by fostering a sense of pride and ownership in their work along with the cultivation of strong computer-based skill sets. With that in mind, the projects that held the most potential were updating records for Sisters buried at Mount Saint Joseph cemetery on the website and uploading finding aids for the Community’s vast mission collections to Ohiolink’s digital repository. With the plan in place, the week of Aug. 29, 2016, we welcomed Freshman Bre’Ale Jackson and Junior Jordi Vasquez Laynez to the Motherhouse campus for the school year! VOLUME II, 2017

S. Joyce Brehm works with DPCR junior Jordi as he works to add finding aids to the OhioLink EAD Finding Aid Repository.

Bre’Ale was very enthusiastic from the start and jumped at the chance to meet and interact with Sisters around the campus. Through her project on the website, she has corrected existing records on the site for more than 200 Sisters, most of which now include photographs of the Sister and grave marker thanks to her collaborations with Sisters Pat McQuinn and Joyce Brehm. Jordi impressed everyone right off the bat with his attention to detail and overall commitment to the position. Over the past year, he has excelled in the extensive initial training of the steps required to format and finalize each finding aid for submission. In the last year, he has been able to add more than 70 finding aids to the OhioLink EAD Finding Aid Repository, a feat he was proud to learn was never matched by college-level students at my previous position! Both students have grown tremendously through the past year both professionally and personally; Jordi has become more socially interactive with the Archives team and other Sisters, and Bre’ale has developed a stronger focus in her work and continues to find additional opportunities to learn about the rich history of the Sisters and Community. S. Joyce and I have been consistently in awe of how successful and enriching the process has been not only for us, but also for all of the Sister volunteers in the Archives. It has been an excellent example of a way in which we can support our sponsored ministries in furthering both their mission and the charism of the Community; the charism is definitely urging us to continue this collaboration and we look forward to seeing how our future students will learn and grow from their experience! 21

FEELS LIKE HOME By S. Georgia Kitt


miling broadly they greet Cathy wholeheartedly one another at the change agreed, “This is especially of shift, nurse Cathy, true in times of their death, finishing, and nurse Mary accompanying them through Beth, beginning. Together they the last hurdle, as they pass make the familiar walk past through that last door. You the Sisters’ rooms to exchange almost feel cheated when you the current conditions of each are not on duty when they Sister resident’s health and go. It is not sad; it’s a spiritual well-being. I recently had the experience. You have suffered privilege of interviewing them with them and now are in Mother Margaret Hall relieved; is a very holy time as (MMH), the Sisters of Charity they go to their new life.” nursing facility; two women Passing on stories from the who are representative of the earlier shift brought smiles many nurses, aides and staff from both Mary Beth and members we are fortunate to Cathy. They share funny (From left) Mary Beth Michel and Cathy Reichert have worked as nurses have serving and caring for for the Sisters of Charity since the 1990s. things or a compliment that our Sisters. Together, these two a Sister may have said to nurses represent close to 50 years them. Happy and funny stories are worth sharing as are tricks of professional service to Sisters in MMH. they may have figured out that will help a particular Sister to Cathy Reichert has been employed with the Sisters of Charity for 27 years, being the first PRN hired for MMH in 1990. In 1993 she moved to 12-hour shifts in Assisted Living, and after 17 years she returned to full-time nursing care. Mary Beth Michel has worked for the Sisters of Charity for 22 years, the first eight as a nurse at Bayley before coming across the street in 1993. Daily they bring a compassionate and healing presence to those in their care. When asked what they most enjoy about their work, they nodded in agreement that it is a rewarding place to be. Cathy stated, “I’ve grown up here, literally. My son was 5 years old when I started; it’s family. You can’t walk away from your family.” Mary Beth added, “In getting to know the Sisters, we have been able to help them through difficult times, beyond the physical, to holistic care. Even in times of confusion they know your voice, your face, your touch; they brighten up when you walk in their room. We are like family to them; it makes it very rewarding because you are able to truly care.” When considering how they are enriched by their contact with the Sister residents and the SC Mission, Mary Beth expressed, “Their kindness, purpose and spirituality rub off on you. It makes you feel grateful for what you have and feel rewarded for what you’ve done because you see that in them. We can feel their holiness and their gratefulness. You are different and better when you leave.”


overcome a difficulty; the nurses offer input back and forth. Things can get quite stressful on particular days, so past happy memories or serving up a favorite snack for the Sisters on the floor can brighten the day. Values they have experienced in the Sisters are definitely values both nurses have tried to carry forward in their family lives. The Sisters willingness to help others, their grace and their kindness stand out; they have tried to instill these qualities in their children (now adults) and in their grandchildren. They admire the generous spirit of the Sisters. Cathy said, “We need a lot more of that in our world. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 39 with young children I was overwhelmed. I never would have gotten through without the Sisters of Charity praying for me – their phone calls, their smiles, the daily cards – they had my back. I came back bald, but welcomed and loved. I will always be grateful for the Sisters support and caring.” As Mary Beth moves to retirement she shared, “The Sisters of Charity have been an important part of my life; my son was 8 when I came. One-third of my life has been spent here and I can’t think of any other place I would have wanted to work. I have enjoyed it. I want to thank everybody I’ve worked with over the years, especially the Sisters, for allowing me to be here. It’s been a privilege.” I N T E RC O M

Members of a weekly centering prayer group at the Sisters of Charity Motherhouse appreciate the bond that exists between them.




oday, across our globe, people pray in a variety of ways. Prayer offers us a connection to a life beyond the daily, the routine, and the immediate elements of our lives. In this series we hope to acquaint you with some of the ways of encountering Divine Mystery (God) through a brief description and samples, photos or individuals’ explanations. The second in this series is Centering Prayer. “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10 To learn more about centering prayer, we interviewed S. Joyce Richter and Associate Liz Maxwell. Both women have been practicing Centering Prayer for years, and are part of Centering Prayer groups that meet weekly at the Sisters of Charity Motherhouse. In Liz’s words, “Centering Prayer comes out of the desire to reclaim and recover the Christian contemplative tradition of prayer for our modern times. In this type of prayer, as we cultivate interior silence, we develop a deep relationship with God. We move beyond internal noises, to stillness and to consenting to God. We move to the center of our being and rest in God. S. Joyce explains, “For a long time I was looking for a type of prayer that seemed right for me. Formal prayer no longer was appealing, and once I started Centering Prayer, I was able to be with God in wordless silence. I knew this form of prayer was right for me – it is a way of deepening my relationship with God by showing up and letting God work within me. “At first, though, Centering Prayer guidelines seemed too restrictive – twice a day, 20-minute periods, sit still, let go of thoughts, etc. I didn’t want to be boxed in; yet, I yearned for a way of communing with my God. Slowly, though, this became my way of praying, and the structure is a help for my faithfulness.” During the prayer the individual should avoid analyzing or judging the experience. “Once I asked a monk how long it would take for me to quiet my mind,” says Liz, “and he said VOLUME II, 2017

about 40 years! It never will happen where you can completely clear your mind. The point is to be fully present, to allow what is, to be open. Each time you are aware of a thought you let it go, in an act of love for God.” While Centering Prayer is just one way/method of prayer, Liz and S. Joyce believe it is important to have that balance between contemplation and action. “My sense is if we are contemplative, we will feel the charity of Christ urging us, we will be filled with the love that drives us to action,” says Liz. “So there’s a balance between action and contemplation. I think everyone is called to contemplation, and Centering Prayer is one way.” Joining a weekly Centering Prayer group encourages its members to persevere in their individual practices. Besides a period of quiet Centering Prayer, the group reflects and discusses written material about prayer. “Our Centering Prayer groups are important for each member, some of whom travel a distance to attend,” says S. Joyce. “There’s a bond that exists among us.” All prayer pathways lead to God. May you find the pathway that is right for you! For those interested in learning more about Centering Prayer, visit

Centering Prayer Guidelines 1) Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within. 2) Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce the sacred word. 3) When engaged with thoughts, return ever-so-gently to the sacred word. 4) At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes. Typically a person will have a 20-minute prayer period in the morning and one later in the day.


GAME-CHANGERS By Debbie Weber, OPJCC director

“Women are game-changers in building more resilient, peaceful, inclusive and prosperous countries.” - Lakshmi Puri, deputy executive director of UN Women


treaty, CEDAW needs to be voted on by the full Senate, where it requires a two-thirds majority of support. The House of Representatives has no formal role regarding CEDAW.

hen women With CEDAW ratification participate in efforts stalled in the U.S. political, economic Senate, local activists and and social life, they promote the public officials around health, well-being, prosperity the country are joining and security of their families, Sisters of Charity participated in marches and rallies across the United together in the Cities for communities and ultimately States on Saturday, Jan. 21 to show their support for women’s rights. CEDAW campaign. The U.S. their countries. In order for Conference of Mayors adopted women and girls to contribute fully toward the creation of a a resolution in 2014 in support of the campaign. better world, it is necessary for them to live a life free from The aim of the Cities for CEDAW campaign is to “Make violence and discrimination, to be educated, to work, to be the Global Local” and to protect the rights of U.S. women healthy, and to participate in public life. and girls by passing legislation establishing the principles of In 1979, the United Nations (UN) adopted CEDAW in cities and towns across the nation. The campaign the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of uses CEDAW as an overarching framework for advancing Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). It is an political and economic equality for women in the U.S. at international standard for protecting and promoting women’s the local level, while at the same time lifting up the necessity human rights and is often referred to as the “International Bill to ratify the treaty on the international level. The campaign of Rights for Women.” underscores the importance of implementing gender This landmark international agreement continues to responsive policies in cities nationwide. offer a practical blueprint that promotes human rights and Forty-eight cities have, or have begun the process of, a provides opportunities for women and girls in all areas of non-binding CEDAW resolution affirming support for the society. CEDAW calls on each ratifying country to overcome principles of the campaign. Seven cities in the U.S. have a barriers to discrimination in the political, social, economic, CEDAW ordinance, or law. On May 10, 2017, the City and cultural fields. This includes addressing issues of domestic of Cincinnati, Ohio, unanimously passed two CEDAW violence, human trafficking, affordable health care and ordinances! Cincinnati is the first city in Ohio to pass childcare, economic security, pay inequities, paid family leave, CEDAW law. and educational and vocational opportunities. U.S. women enjoy opportunities and status not available CEDAW requires regular progress reports from ratifying to many of the world’s women, yet more progress is needed. countries, which are countries that have officially validated CEDAW provides an opportunity for dialogue on how to and accepted the treaty. It does not impose any changes in address persistent gaps in women’s full equality, particularly existing laws and policies or require new laws of countries. regarding closing the pay gap, reducing domestic violence, It lays out models for achieving equality but contains no ending human trafficking, and increasing the number of enforcement authority. women in senior work-force positions and as legislators. As of this writing, 187 out of 193 UN Member States Sources: have ratified CEDAW. The U.S. along with Iran, Sudan, Cities for CEDAW Somalia, Palau and Tonga have not. Despite past U.S. International Center for Research on Women administrations’ efforts to ratify CEDAW, it has never made Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights it to the Senate floor for a vote. To ratify this international Zonta Club of Cincinnati






t’s been more than a year since Sisters, Associates and visitors to the SC Motherhouse have been greeted along the front avenue by the life-size statue of Mother Margaret George, founder of the Cincinnati Community. On May 3, 2017, Margaret returned to her prominent spot. Throughout the years that the statue has been situated along the front avenue, those living at or visiting the Motherhouse have found the benches resting near her a treasured place to pray, relax and take in the beauty that surrounds her. As Margaret returns to her dedicated spot, it piques interest in the statue itself and the significance of its creation. The statue was commissioned in 1997 in anticipation of the 150th anniversary of the Sisters of Charity congregation in 2002. The late S. Peggy Beaudette, SCNY, was asked to sculpt Mother Margaret – the driving force behind the endeavor to create a new community of SCs dedicated to carrying on the charism and works of Elizabeth Seton. The sculpture of Margaret is fiberglass with a bonded bronze finish. She is holding a book, signifying that she was an educator and greatly loved by her students. Margaret’s outstretched hand pointing west symbolizes that when she arrived in Cincinnati, it was considered “the west” and our Motherhouse is the furthest west of all the Seton communities. Alan Wittich, Motherhouse grounds manager, conceived and supervised the building of the fountain on which the statue rests. On March 18, 2001, the day of the dedication, hundreds of Sisters and friends came together to honor Margaret and celebrate. Following liturgy, those attending processed to the statue carrying white roses and recalling Margaret’s poem, “Flowers.” Sisters Mary Ellen Murphy, SC president at the time, and Peggy Beaudette, sculptor, led the prayers and blessed the statue. After more than a decade of braving the outdoor elements, it was determined that the statue was in need of some care. Margaret’s presence along the front avenue was greatly missed and the statue’s reinstallation in May was anticipated by many in the Motherhouse. This prayerful woman - who lived the deep connection between her love of God and her love of others – draws people to her and the peaceful spot on the Motherhouse grounds where she can be visited. As mentioned in the dedication prayer in 2001: “May all who look upon this statue be blessed by you, our loving God.” VOLUME II, 2017



Sally Duffy was honored on May 10, 2017, by the YWCA as one of Cincinnati’s top career women. She was recognized along with seven other executives, entrepreneurs and educators for their outstanding leadership, vision, exceptional community contributions and renowned professional success. S. Sally recently retired as president and executive director of SC Ministry Foundation, a position she has held since 2004. The YWCA Career Women of Achievement Luncheon was established in 1980 to increase community awareness and appreciation of the diverse contributions of women in the work force and in the community. According to Sister’s YWCA profile: “Few people know that S. Sally began her career as an Olympic-caliber basketball player and women’s coach at the University of Notre Dame. Keeping her eye on the ball enabled her to be laser-focused on every future endeavor. As a Sister of Charity, she is dedicated to serving Cincinnati’s most vulnerable, marginalized and needy. Blend her degrees in political science, education, counseling, divinity and healthcare administration and you have one of Cincinnati’s foremost authorities on non-profits. Her involvement extends to such critical areas as comprehensive immigration reform, Medicaid expansion, ending the death penalty and social justice for the underserved. … Sister Sally is a joyful servant leader with dozens of accolades and awards that attest to her tenacious spirit of good will.” Congratulations, S. Sally!



A NEW CHAPTER By S. Louise Lears


ifteen years ago, Mary Jo Mersmann walked into our hearts as director of Associates and we could not have imagined the ways she would gift us, befriend us, stretch us – all the while embracing the charism of Charity. Over these years, she helped to deepen and broaden the Sister-Associate relationship. She accompanied candidates, sent hundreds of cards, made even more phone calls, and implemented Lifetime Commitment as an option for long-time Associates – all for the sake of mission. Mary Jo brought us together for picnics and ice cream socials as well as significant reflections on the spirituality of Association and pilgrimages to sacred places. She offered the fruits of her involvement with Tri-State directors, Federation directors and NACAR. Her work on the CARA study, the first research study of the Religious-Association relationship in 15 years, was amazing. Mary Jo might be retiring but she is not walking out of our hearts. As a Lifetime Associate, Mary Jo will continue to be present and active in promoting the mission of the Sisters of Charity. We send prayers, love and gratitude to Mary Jo as she transitions to the next chapter of her life.




TREASURES By S. Judith Metz


Rose Alexius Broderick was singled out by the Catholic Hospital Association (CHA) to receive The Distinguished Service Cross on the occasion of the organization’s 25th anniversary. Awarded in 1940, S. Rose was cited for “rendering noteworthy service to Catholic hospital work” over the history of CHA. Described as “a real Sister of Charity with a heart for the poor and the afflicted,” S. Rose joined the Community in 1887. While in Trinidad, Colorado, in 1900, she received instructions to go to Colorado Springs, Colorado, to complete the sale of Glockner Sanatorium. Negotiations were underway when the Bishop of Denver intervened, and S. Rose was directed to take charge.

Intercom Staff S. Rose Alexius Broderick

Inexperienced as she was, she set about acquiring friends for Glockner, and within a short time her lady-like ways and pleasing manners made such an impression that many of the ‘best people’ in Colorado Springs enrolled as patrons of the sanatorium. Patients began to arrive so quickly that the original 40-room facility was inadequate. Canvas tents were improvised until a new building was erected. Soon a training school for nurses was opened and acute care services were added to the hospital’s offerings. S. Rose was widely respected, and among the businessmen she was referred to as “the best businessman in the state of Colorado.” The people loved and respected her, and depended on her judgment. She reached out to the most needy, including abandoned babies. When the cost of a nursery was beyond the means of the hospital, S. Rose assured the public that the hospital would continue to care for these children if contributions were made to cover the cost of the nursery. S. Rose was almost entirely responsible for the growth and success of Glockner Hospital that had grown from being able to handle only a few patients to one of the largest and best equipped hospitals in the region. When she was reassigned in 1919, and the public learned of her transfer, physicians, businessmen, and friends of the hospital protested the change and made efforts to “rescind the order.” The popular administrator went on to serve in similar positions at Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati, St. Joseph Hospital in Albuquerque, and Mount San Rafael Hospital in Trinidad. She died on Dec. 9, 1939. A friend remembered her as “a woman of sublime faith in God and a corresponding hope in His Divine Providence. She was a woman of queenly dignity, endowed by nature with splendid qualities of heart and head.” Truly a woman worthy to receive the CHA Distinguished Service Cross. The Distinguished Service Cross was awarded to S. Rose Alexius Broderick in 1940 for “rendering noteworthy service to Catholic hospital work.”


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 290 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 23 U.S. dioceses and in two foreign countries. They also sponsor institutions to address education, health care and social service needs, with particular concern for direct service to the poor.

Editor Erin Reder Graphic Design/Layout Michelle Bley Director of Communications S. Georgia Kitt Executive Council Liaison S. Mary Bookser Advisory Board Members: Barb Beimesch Veronica Buchanon S. Mary Ann Flannery S. Tracy Kemme Mary Jo Mersmann S. Joyce Richter Debbie Weber 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

5900 Delhi Road Mount Saint Joseph, OH 45051 sistersofcharityofcincinnati 27

5900 Delhi Road Mount Saint Joseph, OH 45051

9 Sisters of Charity Federation novices and candidates participated in the “Way of Elizabeth” pilgrimage May 17-25, 2017.

13 Sister of Charity Pat Hayden and a team of volunteers recently took part in a medical mission trip to Haiti.


Sisters of Charity Archivist Veronica Buchanan worked with DPCR freshman Bre’Ale (pictured) and junior Jordi during the 2016-2017 school year through the school’s Corporate Work Study program.

Intercom Volume II, 2017  

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