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Volume I, 2017




sister Blandina segale: A Sister To All






Dear sisters, Associates and Friends,

G Contents FEATURES sister to All..........................................11 Learn more about the life and ministry of S. Annette Muckerheide. At the end of the santa Fe trail...........12 The birth of Santa Maria Community Services.

erard manley Hopkins’ sonnet, “God’s Grandeur,” pictures a world infused by God with beauty and power. the grandeur of God is like an electric current, a brightness that can be seen with the human eye. this poem seems appropriate for the late winter time of year when, in the northern hemisphere, the earth awaits the bloom of spring. A line in the first stanza, “there lives the dearest freshness deep down things,” is one of the most beautiful in all of literature. For Hopkins, a Jesuit priest, the deepest down thing is love, the heart of reality, the Holy spirit who “over the bent World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.” in this issue of Intercom, we reflect on some of the ways that sisters of Charity and Associates experience the “deep down things” of our world. Among these is the fresh food, lovingly grown by gardeners at earthConnection, that nourishes clients at the Good samaritan Free Health Clinic in Cincinnati. Another is the witness of justice for immigrants by a group of sisters on the border of Arizona and mexico. still another is the presence of geothermal wells and solar panels that heat and cool the sisters’ houses across the street from the motherhouse.

Doers of Justice, seekers of Peace.........20 S. Andrea Koverman travels to the Holy Land.

the spirituality Center is offering opportunities to deepen and widen the experience of God’s magnificence through various ways of praying, including the contemplative form of taizé prayer. our Associates are seeking God’s grandeur in their relationships through a new model of leadership involving regional representatives. the motherhouse chapel was filled with electricity as our s. Annie Klapheke professed her First Vows in early December.

Who shall Find a Valiant Woman? ......22 S. Loretto Burke is the Community’s only living orchestral composer.

Gerard manley Hopkins’ celebratory poem proclaims that God has imbued nature with an eternal freshness that is able to withstand any burden. may we allow God’s love to shine through us and all that we do.

Looking to our Future........................16 S. Annie Klapheke professes First Vows.

DEPARTMENTS moments in ministry ............................3 St. Mary Academy/St. Joseph School

s. Louise Lears Gerard manley Hopkins, “God’s Grandeur,” Poems and Prose (Penguin Classics, 1985).

oPJCC ...............................................14 Bringing Joy to the DRC Pathways to Prayer ..............................18 Taizé timeless treasures ...............................26 Sister Mary de Sales Leheney On the Cover: The intrepid Sister Blandina Segale and her sister, Sister Justina Segale, founded and managed Santa Maria Institute, the first Catholic settlement house in the United States in 1897. To read more visit Pages 12-13. 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.


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. S. Rosemary Gornick october 14, 2016

S. Jeannine Selzer December 26, 2016

S. Joan Patrice Flynn January 14, 2017

Associate Kathryn Chantry Associate Robert Maxwell S. Imelda Cooper December 29, 2016 January 31, 2017 november 22, 2016 S. Ruth Hunt november 28, 2016

S. Rose Marita Arnold January 1, 2017

S. Rosina Panning February 5, 2017

S. Rose Patrice Beck December 22, 2016

S. Patricia Ann Dempsey January 7, 2017

S. Miriam Thomas Busch February 7, 2017 i n t e rC o m

moments in ministry St. Mary Academy/St. Joseph School, Dayton, Ohio By S. Judith Metz

St. Joseph Convent in Dayton, Ohio, served the Sisters of Charity through 1967.


On March 16, Sisters (later Mother) Regina Mattingly, Mary Cecilia Griffin, Mary Celestia Murray, and Pauline Leo left Cincinnati to open St. Mary Academy at the request of Rev. David Kelly, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Dayton. The Sisters converted an old Presbyterian church into a boarding school and convent.


St. Mary was opened to day students.


St. Mary Academy closed. The Sisters turned the school over to the parish and it reopened as St. Joseph School. The Marianist Brothers took over management of the boys’ division in 1881, but left in 1902.


The flooded Great Miami River inundated St. Joseph Church, convent and school. Sisters moved to the second floor of the convent and welcomed neighbors who joined them by building board bridges between buildings.


Fire destroyed much of the school’s third floor necessitating the construction of makeshift classrooms.


Sisters Helen Paul Cottman and Mary Rosaire Stadtmiller were sent to open St. Joseph Commercial High School for grades 11 and 12. Different from other commercial high schools, St. Joseph offered sufficient credits for a high school diploma. In 1958, the school expanded to include grade 10, and in 1966, grade 9.


St. Joseph Elementary School was closed due to declining enrollment.


A new convent was built for the Sisters who had been residing in a convent built in 1879.


Due to declining enrollment St. Joseph Commercial High School was closed.

Members of St. Joseph Commercial High School Glee Club neared 354 in the 1950s.

Bishop Edward McCarthy blessed the Sisters new convent on March 17, 1968.

Volume I, 2017


Solar panels were recently installed for Sister-residences on the corner of Delhi and Bender roads near the SC Motherhouse.

DeePeninG our

eCoLoGiCAL sPirituALity By Sisters Mary Bookser and Marge Kloos


his past september, Pope Francis proposed adding the care and protection of creation to the traditional list of corporal and spiritual works of mercy. He noted that pollution and global warming directly impact those who live in poverty, “As an integral ecology emphasizes, human beings are deeply connected with all of creation. When we mistreat nature, we also mistreat human beings” (Catholic news service, sept. 2016). in his encyclical Letter Laudato Si’, Pope Francis makes another compelling statement about our interconnectedness with God’s earth: “We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen. 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters” (2). He goes on to write: “the universe unfolds in God who fills it completely. Hence there is mystical meaning to be found in a leaf, a mountain trail, in a dewdrop, in a poor person’s face. … the ideal is … to discover God in all things” (233). sharing Pope Francis’ perspective, the sisters of Charity, in our 2015 Chapter Direction, called ourselves to look at the interconnection of all life. “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.’” As our Chapter model shows us, every step we take to care for God’s earth impacts everything else. We, like so many of our brothers and sisters living in poverty, have an increasing awareness of the deep interconnection and interdependence of all life. even more specifically, the Chapter calls us to “transform the motherhouse properties and designated intentional communities into models of ecological sustainability.” We recognize that we must educate ourselves, collaborating with diverse organizations whose expertise and resources make transforming our motherhouse properties possible. We also acknowledge that an ecological spirituality is necessary for grounding and transforming our actions as we respond to Divine mystery’s invitation to have and share resources that honor the dignity of all life. As a starting point, we enlisted the services of melink Corporation in Cincinnati. they helped us conduct an expansive energy assessment of our motherhouse property. With the collaboration of seth Parker, an engineer with melink, we strategized ways to reduce our Congregational carbon footprint on our motherhouse property and began implementing these strategies more than a year ago.

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LeD Light Bulb Project During the course of the study, we discovered that our light bulbs across the motherhouse facility have been annually emitting 512 metric tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent to the carbon sequestered by 420 acres of u.s. forest in one year or greenhouse gasses emitted from 108 passenger vehicles driven for a year. We also became more aware that our energy cost for 1,136,008 kwh per year has been roughly $94,300 per year. to address this, we are replacing approximately 10,500 light bulbs with LeD efficiency bulbs in our motherhouse building. With regard to reducing our carbon footprint, making this one change across our motherhouse facility will significantly reduce our carbon output as well as a cost savings of about $62,000 annually.

residential use of Geothermal and solar technology During the past year, we have installed a geothermal system for two of the sister-residences located on the corner of Delhi and Bender, adjacent to the motherhouse properties. What will the technology do to demonstrate our response to care for God’s good earth through wise energy choices? this foray into a small geothermal system results in an ecological savings equivalent to 20,592 miles driven by an average passenger vehicle per year, 9,290 pounds of coal burned per year or 222 tree seedlings per year. We have recently installed a solar array that will provide electricity for five to six sister-residences, including the

houses that are already utilizing geothermal technology. Also located on the corner of Delhi and Bender, these houses draw electricity from the same electric pole. All the sister-residences will likely operate at a “net zero” electrical usage each year. the financial savings will be notable. We anticipate ecological savings to be the equivalent to almost 120,000 miles driven by an average passenger vehicle each year, 54,000 pounds of coal burned per year or 1,291 tree seedlings per year. recently the Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper (Business section, sunday, January 8, 2017) had an article titled “solar power becoming cheapest.” reporters cited countries throughout the world from Chile to the united Arab emirates who are utilizing solar energy in place of coal power, at about half the average cost of coal. the business community is beginning to jump on board because of the financial savings. our solar and geothermal systems are quite durable, easily able to serve us for the next 25 to 40 years. more importantly for us, the large solar display makes a statement about sister of Charity values, and our commitment to help God’s earth through using sustainable energy sources to make significant reductions in our carbon footprint. the 13th century mechthild of magdeburg calls us to a new awareness of the interconnectedness of all life. she wrote “the day of my spiritual awakening was the day i saw – and knew i saw – all things in God and God in all things.” our Pope and our Chapter model call us to live this same truth. may what we have said together be how we choose to live together.

(From left) S. Mary Bookser; Seth Parker, Melink Corporation; S. Marge Kloos; Jim Franz, director of Plant Operations, Sisters of Charity; and Tim Moller, CFO, Sisters of Charity, make up the environmental team collaborating to transform the Motherhouse properties and designated intentional communities into models of ecological sustainability.

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(From left) S. Mary Ann Flannery, MSJU board member, S. Joan Cook, SC president, and Allen Sanchez, president and CEO of CHI St. Joseph’s Children, visit at the All Boards Retreat.

more than 100 members of the boards of sisters of Charity sponsored ministries and the sC ministry Foundation gathered at the motherhouse on oct. 26, 2016, along with sC leadership and sponsored ministry Ceos and presidents, for the biannual dinner and retreat. this year’s theme was “Carrying Forward the mission: Co-Creators of a new World order.” the guest speaker was Allen sanchez, petitioner of the cause of sainthood for s. Blandina segale.

JOURNEYING TOGETHER A Journey Together gathering was held at the motherhouse on sunday, Feb. 5. sisters of Charity participants took the day to share about “what we most care about at this time in our lives,” ministry as mission, and community life as it is emerging for us today.

S. Pat Wittberg took part in the 11th annual Nuns Build in New Orleans, Louisiana.

REBUILDING LIVES sisters from across the country, along with friends and family, gathered in new orleans, Louisiana, in november 2016 for the 11th annual nuns Build. sisters and Associates part of the sC Federation stayed at the House of Charity and took part in the effort to rebuild homes for families still struggling 11 years after Hurricane Katrina.


S. Mary Kathryn McFerrin with her artwork at the October MMH Art Show.


the fifth annual mother margaret Hall Art show, sharing the work of both sisters and employees, was exhibited in october 2016 in the mother margaret Hall Community room. Artwork included water color, photography, oil paintings and various other mediums.

STANDING UP FOR HUMAN DIGNITY, COMMON GOOD sisters of Charity participated in marches and rallies across the united states on saturday, Jan. 21 to show their support for women’s rights, and to express concern about policy changes in immigration, health care and education.

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imBueD WitH tHe CHArity CHArism: the 2017 st. elizabeth Ann seton Award recipients


he sisters of Charity Community came together on Jan. 8, 2017, to celebrate st. elizabeth Ann seton’s Jan. 4 Feast Day. During the liturgy, two very special people were honored with the elizabeth seton Award for their compelling urge to further the Community’s mission to act justly, build loving relationships, share resources with those in need, and care for creation. the 2017 recipients, John DiCola and Janet schelb, are imbued with the Charity charism. John DiCola was a treasured member of the sisters of Charity Health Care system, starting his association in 1987. John was instrumental in developing the concept known today as Catholic Health initiatives (CHi). He served on the original leadership team of CHi and shared his skills as a leader and innovator in furthering the ministry of Catholic health care in rapidly changing times. He understood the vision of the women religious founders of CHi and the call to create something new and sustainable. other ministries have also benefitted from John’s mission-driven skills and strategic thinking. He shared his insights in the early planning days of the Bayley campus and assisted st. Joseph Home in updating their long-range plan. in his combined 29 years of association with Catholic health care and various sisters of Charity ministries, John consistently integrated the values that reflect fidelity to our sisters of Charity heritage.

John DiCola and Janet Schelb (right) were presented with the Elizabeth Ann Seton Award from S. Joan Elizabeth Cook and the SC Community on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017 in the Motherhouse chapel.

Following in the footsteps of elizabeth seton, Janet Schelb was a primary school teacher in sisters of Charity/ Cincinnati schools for 40-plus years. she is currently active in the Bellarmine Chapel community and is a founding member of Bellarmine’s Dismantling racism team. For over 30 years, Janet and others from the Community of Hope have served

the elderly and shut-ins at CmHA’s marquette manor in english Woods. the Community of Hope provides grocery shopping, transportation to doctor’s offices, and visits when someone moves into a nursing home. For a number of years, Janet was the chairperson of the Board for Power inspires Progress (PiP), Venice on Vine. she remains on the Board, serving as the chairperson of the Development Committee. For many years, Janet was on the steering Committee for the annual Way of the Cross/Way of Justice Good Friday procession in downtown Cincinnati. Her care for the earth is evident in her passive solar home. Humility, simplicity and charity are hallmarks of Janet’s life.

Sisters of Charity and Associates nominating John DiCola for the Elizabeth Ann Seton Award gather for a picture following the Jan. 8 liturgy.

Elizabeth Ann Seton Award recipient, Janet Schelb (front, center), with her Sisters of Charity nominators.

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Presente! By S. Janet Gildea


n October 2016 the School of the Americas Watch (SOAW) moved its large annual vigil from Fort Benning, Georgia, to the U.S.-Mexico border in order to draw attention to the causes of migration and the abuse of human rights that has accompanied increased militarization of our southern border. When Giving Voice, the organization of younger women religious and discerners, decided to join forces with SOAW for the Convergence at the Border October 7-10, six of us knew that we had to be there! Sisters Andrea Koverman and Louise Lears traveled from Cincinnati, Ohio, with S. Tracy Kemme who was on the GV planning committee. Sisters Carol Wirtz, Affiliate Whitney Schieltz and I drove from the initial formation house in Anthony, New Mexico, and we converged on our destination in Nogales, Sonora at the U.S.-Mexico border. We received hospitality with our Seton Hill Sisters of Charity in Tucson, Arizona, who had plenty of space for us and three other Giving Voice members. The first site for the Convergence was the Eloy Federal Detention Center near Tucson. We heard testimony from women and men who had been incarcerated at the enormous for-profit facility and from area ministers and activists who visit the prison. Standing outside Eloy, keeping vigil with our candles and singing in the darkness, I realized a very personal connection. “This is where Yessenia’s husband, Boris, was imprisoned and where he was deported to El Salvador,” I said to my companions. Yessenia and Boris and their son, Chris, are our extended family at Casa Caridad in Anthony. Though Yessenia and Chris are citizens, they live in Anapra now, because Boris has a bar on entering the U.S. The story is long and complicated but the


bottom line is our immigration policy separates families, causing suffering and sacrifice to those we love. For these dear ones we were, “Presente!” For S. Tracy, too, the vigil at Eloy was a most impactful moment: “Our encounter with the people inside the detention center is forever etched in my heart. We gathered outside the center’s barbed wire fence chanting, ‘No están solos! You are not alone!’ to our sisters and brothers held inside. The wind carried our message of solidarity and they flicked the lights of their rooms off and on to show that they could hear and see us. What a profound and heartwrenching moment of unexpected human connection.” With three other Giving Voice members, we received hospitality with the Seton Hill Sisters of Charity in Tucson. On Saturday morning we caravanned the 30 miles from Tucson to Nogales. “We are so used to crossing the border to Anapra,” S. Carol commented, “but to experience walking across in a strange little town, not sure where we would go or how we would be received felt a bit uneasy. I guess that’s just a tiny bit of what migrants feel when they approach from the south!” But our group made the crossing easily and we found our way to the staging area that hugged the 18-foot-high wall on both sides of the border. We meandered along the steel fence, meeting friends and Sisters from all over while the microphones were tested and musicians were tuning. It had the feeling of a fiesta except for the serious subject that drew us together. The first site for the October Convergence at the Border was the Eloy Federal Detention Center where participants kept vigil with candles and singing.

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Whitney noticed the impressive use of art to express the suffering and the faith of the borderland, especially against the backdrop of the stark border wall. “While some works were colorful and evoked joy, others served as memorials to the many lives lost. the pieces that moved me the most were images that inserted the likenesses of modern migrants into Biblical scenes.” We walked to the feeding station of the Kino Border initiative for an afternoon workshop organized by tracy and Giving Voice. under a mural of a migrant’s Last supper we were conscious of how many thousands had sat on the benches where we gathered to discuss how women religious can network in service to these sisters and brothers in Christ. Later we walked to nearby apartment buildings where missionary Dominican sisters provide shelter, safety, counseling and community to women who have been victimized by drug cartels and human traffickers. “one of the most moving moments of the weekend was when i looked beyond the seemingly endless stretch of border fence in front of me and noticed a young mexican boy pressing his face as far as he could through the bars and into the space designated as the u.s.A.,” s. Andrea said. “it was a poignant reminder of the artificiality of lines and borders and of the enormous pain they have caused by dividing us and pitting us against one another – tearing apart the whole human family.” Just a few weeks in advance of the u.s. presidential election when the nightly news frequently featured the chant, “Build the Wall!” the days we spent walking along that very structure made us wonder how people could be unaware of its existence.

S. Tracy Kemme was one of the organizers of an afterno on workshop for Catholic Sisters presented by Giving Voice.

my body in the places where people suffer and struggle. i would tell anyone who has an opinion about ‘the wall’ to go to the border first. touch it and walk on either side. talk with folks on both sides. Feel the pain and the hope. then, and only then, decide how you feel about what and who should be on the border.” those of us who made the journey for the Convergence at the Border have read, studied and advocated for reform of our immigration system. We have the privilege to know and offer direct service to people in migration. We needed to be at the soAW Convergence not just because this issue is so important but also because we ourselves needed an experience of solidarity. We needed to know, like those people held in the detention center, that we are not alone.

s. Louise added, “the encounter at the border helped me to understand in a deeper way the importance of putting

Art displayed against the border wall was used

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to express the suffering and the faith of the borde

A young Mexican boy pressin g his face through the bars at the border fence.


S i s t e r to all ca m pa i g n h i ghl i gh t s

Work of women religious


n September 2016, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation announced the results of a market research study that showed that Catholic Sisters, while highly respected, remain a mystery to most Americans. The survey revealed that Catholic Sisters are trusted by a significant majority of Americans (73 percent), and even more said their work is important (83 percent). However, the research also showed that perceptions of Catholic Sisters are somewhat dated, shaped primarily by fictional stories and the media versus interpersonal encounters. For example, 42 percent of respondents indicated the majority of Catholic Sisters today wear habits, 21 percent believe they live in seclusion, and 37 percent thought their work has little or no impact on nonCatholics. While those living or ministering amongst the Sisters of Charity know that those perceptions are inaccurate, it does influence communicators for women’s religious communities to better educate the public about the powerful work of

Catholic Sisters. In response, the Hilton Foundation launched the Sister To All public awareness campaign to increase visibility and public understanding – and in 2017, the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati will be participating as well. Key research data findings, along with profiles of featured Sisters, will be shared on our website, in social media and our newsletters and magazines. See video of our Sisters’ sharing their ministry stories; read in-depth interviews about their call to religious life and the gift it has been to each of them; witness to their shared sense of purpose and unwavering commitment. “‘Sister to All’ gives us an opportunity to reveal the positive impact of Catholic Sisters in the United States, breaking stereotypes and clarifying misconceptions,” said S. Rosemarie Nassif, SSND, Ph.D., director, Catholic Sisters Strategic Initiative at the Hilton Foundation. “Conrad Hilton realized that wherever good things are happening for the marginalized and disadvantaged, there are likely to be Sisters not just involved, but making a tremendous positive difference. We hope all who see this campaign will be encouraged to learn more and help us further promote the lives and works of Sisters.” We look forward to bringing you these articles and information, and hope they inspire you to share the stories of our Sisters and their valuable contributions that continue today throughout the world.

S. Pat Dittmeier was featured in the ‘Sister to All’ campaign in February. To view a short video of Sister’s ministry, or to read an interview with her, please visit 10

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A s i s t e r to A L L –

s. Annette muCKerHeiDe How would you describe your ministry and your role? After i retired from over 40 years of teaching in high school and in college, i discerned a call to a very different ministry. As a volunteer, i now direct an after-school program at Working in neighborhoods in the south Cumminsville area of Cincinnati. i work four afternoons a week helping kids from the neighborhood with their homework, tutoring, listening and conversing with them, playing games, and doing crafts with them. In your opinion, what happens when we neglect the needs of those who are less fortunate? Poverty begets poverty, and results in despair, frustration, terrible suffering and often anger and eventually crime. Children especially suffer, and often are taken away from their parents. even worse, neglecting others’ needs makes us out of touch with our own humanity, forgetting who we really are as humans - irrevocably connected, linked to every other human being, to our environment, to all creation. And that forgetting, of course, means being disconnected from God who is the very source and life for everyone and everything. to neglect the needs of those less fortunate is to neglect our own souls, our own integrity, our own humanity. Could you describe a time when you provided spiritual guidance, and you felt you made a real difference? it is really difficult to separate “spiritual” from any other kind of guidance. From my viewpoint, every human-human interaction is at its core spiritual. What happens on the surface in a conversation, in the classroom, in an office, on the street, is just an “excuse” for meeting another person at the level of our connection with them in the one who is love, who is life, who is all. What does it mean to you to be part of the Sisterhood? What is it like to have a spiritual bond with other Sisters?

important to be a part of something larger than just me – wherever one of us is, we all are. many of my sisters do things i could never do - but i am in a very real way there when they serve in foreign missions, walk in demonstrations, nurse the dying, teach, counsel, and so much more. What do you wish people knew about religious life? How happy we are! that we are normal human beings, struggling with our humanity, desperately wanting to help people in any way God calls us to, and we are, to use s. Joan Cook’s phrase, “outrageously happy”! As a Catholic Sister, one might say that you are always giving of yourself. What would you say you receive? i meet God every day in my sisters, and in everyone i meet, especially now in the children i work with, but also with strangers. i am privileged to be a liturgical minister at a local parish and when offering Communion to people and saying “mary (or John), the Body of Christ,” they Are Christ for me and i pray that they somehow realize it. that same thing is true with my kiddos at Win – the connection we establish is the presence of God. one day, i was leaving Win after a particularly trying day, a matriarch of the neighborhood and a greatgrandmother said to me: “those kids just pull out all the love that’s in you, don’t they?” there were tears in my eyes as i realized the truth of her remark, and also the truth that it isn’t my love but God’s love that i am privileged to share with them. And God’s love comes to me – even as it first did from my family – now wrapped in my sisters in community. S. Annette Muckerheide ministers at Working in Neighborhoods in the South Cumminsville area of Cincinnati.

i couldn’t live without it! that spiritual bond is so special that it defies description. my sisters have taught me to pray, constantly, and not just “saying” prayers or “words”, encouraged me when things got rough in ministry and personally, stood by me in hard, difficult times, taught me humility when i needed it, kept me honest, challenged me and loved me. But also it is so VoLume i, 2017


The Birth of Santa Maria Community Services At t H e e n D o F t H e s A n tA F e t r A i L :

By Associate Vicki Welsh


he journal entries that help of some italian sisters would be a eventually led to At the End great service. He traveled to new york of the Santa Fe Trail were to make just such a request from an written by s. Blandina segale in the italian order of sisters located there. hopes that she could remember all of this problem of uniting the her adventures in the southwest and italian immigrants was also discussed later share them with her sister, with mother mary Blanche Davis, s. Justina. many people have read superior of the sisters of Charity of this book since s. Blandina’s Cincinnati. she realized that sisters canonization process began. i Justina segale and Blandina segale was interested in what direction were the perfect pair for the task. s. Blandina’s life took after she was not only were these blood sisters called back to ohio. i found the italian immigrants from the region answer in the book, The Story of the of Genoa, but their skills in problem Santa Maria Institute, written in solving, community organizing, and 1922 by Anna minogue (see inset). education had been well honed. once i, myself, had become acquainted all the parties were in agreement the Sisters Blandina and Justina Segale were called on to with santa maria Community sisters set to their new mission work unite the Italian immigrants in Cincinnati in the late 1800s. services in the late 1980s as i in Cincinnati. worked in the Westside neighborhoods looking at early their first task was to make home visits to familiarize Childhood Centers. it wasn’t until many years later that i themselves with the neighborhoods and families. they began came to understand that santa maria had a direct historical to gather families together in neighboring shops to recite connection to the sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. For the rosary. sisters Justina and Blandina would encourage those of us living in the Cincinnati area, this connection is mass attendance and offer short Church teachings. As the a fascinating way to learn about s. Blandina and her sister sisters continued to make connections throughout the s. Justina after their western experiences. neighborhoods, it was decided they should begin a school. Anna minogue writes, “The Story of the Santa Maria” was But where should it be? written because it has a message to convey. In every large city of the Very reverend mJ o’Connor, sJ, rector of st. Xavier the United States, the various sects are making strenuous efforts to College, offered them the basement of st. thomas Church. alienate foreigners, especially Italians, from the Catholic Church, But it was felt that the school would be better placed in the and often they are successful.” west side of the city. the Very reverend John mackey, rector in Cincinnati in the late 1890s, these foreigners were of the Cathedral, offered a nicely furnished school room in the italian immigrants. these immigrants where mainly from basement of the springer institute at 8th and Plum streets. Genoa, in northern italy, and sicily, southern italy. While it is at this point that i digress a bit from Anna minogue’s they were all roman Catholic, their language and culture text to insert my own interpretation of the events that follow. could not have been more different. the archbishop at i believe minogue means to infer that sisters Justina and this time was the most reverend Henry moeller, DD. Blandina had come to know the immigrant families well and Archbishop moeller had managed the building of the true through their home visits and personal connections they Church of the sacro Cuore di Gesu’, appointed an italian had made. evidence of this seems clear when, on the day the priest and charged him with building a congregation. this school was to open, not a single solitary child showed up! our became an impossible task because besides their other differences, they had chosen to live in community in separate two intrepid sisters did not seem the least surprised. in fact, when no child had come by 10 a.m., they shut off the lights sections of the city. the priest was having a difficult time and left! uniting the two communities, and it was decided that the


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Santa Maria Italian Educational and Industrial Home was established under the auspices of the Sisters of Charity in 1897. The first home was located at 3rd and Lytle streets.

of our services,” says H.A. musser, president and Ceo.

to pick up with minogue’s story, the absence of children had been noticed by Father mackey and he was awaiting the sisters arrival to make their report. He fully anticipated that the sisters would be leaving to return to their convent at mount st. Joseph. much to his surprise, s Blandina replied most emphatically, “Don’t you believe it, Father Mackey!” they returned to making home visits as if to reinforce what they already knew to be true. the segment of this immigrant community that needed the help was the adults! the sisters knew that the children had not come to their new school because their parents were a proud people who would not be seen taking free that for which others could pay. What this community needed was a “neighborhood house” where adults could go for advice on language and customs, work skills and housing, in short every manner of information to aide their navigation in this strange new land. there were many more steps to come before santa maria would be established. Anna minogue speaks of location discussions, the hunt for benefactors, approval from the Archdiocese, and countless hours of devotion to the cause of earning the confidence of the italian immigrants. “The meeting for the purpose of organization was held September 27, 1897, at the Good Samaritan Hospital … After deliberation the following officers were unanimously elected: Sister Justina Segale, president, Sister Blandina Segale, secretary and treasurer, Mother Mary Blanche Davis, vice president … The organization was incorporated on December 8, 1897, under the name of The Santa Maria Italian Educational and Industrial Home.” santa maria continued to serve immigrant groups as they arrived in Cincinnati. in the 1950s it was the influx of Appalachian citizens, later African-Americans. today many of the clients are Hispanic/Latino immigrants. “santa maria continues to help any individual or family in need VoLume i, 2017

the establishment of santa maria is a true grit tale of two sisters and their limitless amount of “compassion, commitment, collaboration, leadership, motivation, perseverance, and fierce determination” (s Patmarie Bernard, sC PowerPoint History). since that December day in 1897, santa maria Community services has been known by several different names, under 16 directors, offering services in nearly a dozen different locations, served by countless volunteers including 73 sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. the sisters of Charity sponsorship formally ended 45 years ago (1972), and santa maria is now operated as an independent not-for-profit organization but with a continuing close relationship with the sisters of Charity. one-hundred twenty years later, santa maria is a catalyst and advocate for families to attain their educational, financial, and health goals. “Santa Maria’s vision is for Greater Price Hill to be a vibrant, thriving, and self-sustaining community” (s. Patmarie). santa maria is well staffed, located and purposed to be of service to those in need for many more years to come. Credits and thanks go to Anna Minogue, author, The Story of the Santa Maria Institute; S. Patmarie Bernard, SMCS Board Member; H.A. Musser, CEO/president of SMCS; and Jim Holmstrom, youth development program director for SMCS

ANNA CATHERINE MINOGUE (1874-1958) Anna minogue was born and raised in Kentucky. she went to college in nazareth, Kentucky, and lived most of her adult life in Covington, Kentucky (right across the ohio river from Cincinnati). Anna worked as a journalist, writing for the Cincinnati Catholic Telegraph published by the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. The Story of the Santa Maria Institute (1922) was one of many fiction and historical books she authored.


BrinGinG Joy By Associates Rita Wesseling and Debbie Weber The Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati and Associates commit ourselves to be informed about the human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and call on our government to do everything in its power to end the violent conflicts there. - SC Congregational Stand, September 2010


ver the past several years, sisters of Charity (sCs) and Associates have nurtured wonderful relationships with several Cincinnati neighbors who are from the Democratic republic of the Congo (DrC). many have been guest presenters at the motherhouse, informing us about what is currently happening in the DrC. one friend in particular is Claver Pashi, Ph.D. He, like our other Congolese friends, works for various justice issues here in the united states as well as in the DrC. the sCs have sponsored Dr. Pashi’s efforts in the DrC for several years. Below is an interview with Dr. Pashi conducted by our sC Associate, rita Wesseling. RW: Dr. Pashi, you travel to the DrC every winter to teach at a university, correct? What subject(s) do you teach? Dr. Pashi: i travel each year to Kinshasa in the DrC to teach at the universite Pedagogique nationale (national Pedagogical university). i teach approximately 300 students in three classes: Project Design and management, Governance, and Administrative Law. they are intensive classes that meet seven days a week for two months. RW: What difficulties do your students typically face regarding school? Dr. Pashi: the students face many difficulties in trying to get their degree. tuition is $400 a year and if the

Students at the National Pedagogical University in the Democratic Republic of the Congo take a look at their new syllabus, donated by the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati.

parents have a job, they only earn $70 a month. none of the students own cars, so transportation to and from the university is difficult. they walk or take buses and often are late for early classes due to traffic problems. RW: Do your students have the money to buy textbooks? Dr. Pashi: most do not have money for books. to assist the students, i create a syllabus that contains all the information taught in my course. i do this for all three of my courses. the students can also use the syllabus to review for tests and exams. the “book” fee per class for the syllabus is $15. this is much more affordable than buying textbooks, but is often impossible for some students to purchase. RW: the sisters of Charity of Cincinnati have supported your efforts to provide a syllabus to your students who cannot afford it. How do your students react to this gift? Dr. Pashi: there is always a joyous outburst of applause when i announce the gift of free “books.” it is, for many, the first time that these students are experiencing such generosity and they are excited to receive such assistance. RW: What can we do to help the people of the DrC? Dr. Pashi: We must keep the DrC in prayer during these uncertain times. Contact your representatives, senators and new president to help with the problems in the DrC. RW: is there anything else you would like to add? Dr. Pashi: i would like to thank the sisters and Associates for their monetary donations and their prayers. i appreciate your support of this mission to assist the students in the DrC.

Dr. Claver Pashi with his students at the National Pedagogical University in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 14

Dr. Pashi teaches at the National Pedagogy University to help pay back what he received from his university education in the DRC. He works to train future DRC leaders to be good stewards of the people when they are in a position of authority. To view a short video of Dr. Pashi’s students receiving the SC gifts of “free books,” visit i n t e rC o m

o u r m o t H e r m A rG A r e t H A L L s i s t e r s –

Faith, Hope and Love Among us

VoLume i, 2017


Looking to our future S. Annie Klapheke professes First Vows.


nce a month, on a late Thursday afternoon, there’s a small table in the employee dining room at the Motherhouse that receives some added attention. Laughter travels through the air and causes heads to turn and peek over to ask the questions what in the world is going on, or who could possibly be having so much fun?

The small group that is gathered around the table includes Associates Marti Barnes, Maureen Maxfield, Barry and Mary Jo Mersmann, Sisters Caroljean Willie, Joyce Brehm, Mary Ann Humbert and Annie Klapheke. Their joy is contagious and their welcoming presence made this writer feel at home instantly. The reason for today’s visit was to learn more about one of their newest small group members – S. Annie Klapheke. It was two years ago that – at the invitation of the group – Annie became a member. S. Joyce recalls: “Annie was going to be moving to Cincinnati and I said to the group, ‘What if we invite Annie?’ … it was unanimous. The most memorable piece for me, though, was Annie’s response – she said it felt like she was being invited to the prom! She was so excited to be invited.” As a newer, younger member to the Community and the small group, one might wonder what gifts Annie has brought to them. “She has this aura of positive energy about her,” says Marti. “She brings fresh ideas, a youthful perspective – we all strive for that but it doesn’t always happen. It’s refreshing, and as young as she is, the level of wisdom is amazing.” “I am so touched by her depth of sharing,” added Maureen. “She looks at the everyday through the lens of God, and that has brought something different to us.” “She has a certain youthful interpretation of everyday experiences,” said Barry. “Her experiences in Guatemala were so insightful. I don’t know that I would have picked up on those myself if I were in the same position. The topics we 16

On Dec. 10, 2016, S. Annie Klapheke (front, fourth from right) pronounced First Vows surrounded my Sisters, Associates, family and friends, including other women in discernment with SC Federation congregations.

discuss, as varied as they may be, she brings that youthful interpretation that we don’t quite have. Her presence and perspective sometimes takes us in a different direction.” While Annie’s childhood experiences, and historical perspective, may be different from others in the small group, it seems to only add depth to the relationship. “With some of our discussion, we find similarities like in relationships, and struggles and challenges,” says S. Mary Ann. “Ours may be different but what helps is that we find a commonality.” “She listens,” adds S. Joyce. “She tends to be on the quiet side but I appreciate the risk she takes in a response. Because she listens, she is able to help us look at the positive piece or to look at the topic differently. She weighs what she is going to say.” Annie’s ability to bring new conversations to the group has certainly been appreciated. Numerous mentions were made to a conversation they had regarding the Body of Christ. After listening to S. Simone Campbell speak and discuss how she considered herself the digestive juices in the Body of Christ, Annie brought this topic to the group. It led to a discussion about what part of the Body of Christ each small group member would be. Their recollection of the discussion was still vivid in their minds and continued to bring about great conversation and laughter. Like proud parents they each discussed Annie’s growth throughout the past two years. “She might feel a little freer, now that she’s gotten a feel for us,” says S. Mary Ann Humbert. “She kind of knows that anything goes,” she laughs. I n t e rc o m

Adds s. Caroljean, “i’ve been a part of the group for six months – it’s been fun to watch her. When we did the workshop at earthConnection on dance, she was a marvelous teacher. For someone who tends to be quiet, she came alive and everybody was engaged!” “When she was preparing to lead the retreat for homeless women through the ignatian spirituality Project, she talked about being nervous, but then she came back and told us how wonderful it was,” remembers mary Jo. “it’s so genuine and sincere; what she talks about is from her heart.” When asked if each group member could describe Annie in one or two words, their honest and immediate responses give you a clear glimpse into the person she is: grounded and mature, sincere, enthusiastic, alive, graceful and wise, inviting and true, and holy. Described as an excellent listener, with a good sense of humor, Annie holds a master’s degree in nutrition and dietetics. During the past year, as an Apostolic novice, she spent 10 weeks in Antigua, Guatemala, in language immersion and currently ministers as a full-time employee at the Good samaritan Free Health Center in Price Hill (Cincinnati) as a nutrition counselor/registered dietitian. “When i hear her talk about her work at the clinic,” says mary Jo, “i can hear her love for the patients she works with, and the people she works with.” “And her desire that they be healthy,” adds s. mary Ann. says Barry, “she’s deeply empathetic, and i’ve thought on occasion, if she were my daughter i’d be very, very proud.” on Dec. 10, 2016, s. Annie Klapheke pronounced First Vows in the motherhouse chapel surrounded my sisters, Associates, family and friends. the celebration was filled with joy and love as the Community and friends came together. “our future is in good hands!” says s. Caroljean. “i think i see that with all our young people. they have had to make a choice far more difficult than we made because there were others doing it when we did. they are making it in a world that doesn’t really value that. i think that’s why they are at a deeper level than perhaps i was at that same age.”

While in Guatemala in 2016, S. Annie Klapheke Skyped with members of her small group back home in Cincinnati.

them to know that we are here to support them in whatever way we can,” adds mary Jo. “they are very positive and upbeat, and i find that brings out the better part of us. it feeds each other,” said s. Joyce. says marti, “When i look at pictures of these younger sisters, i look at them and feel they are in many ways like mother margaret George [founder of the sisters of Charity of Cincinnati]. they are pioneers; they are moving into a totally new, different future.” While Annie came a little late to our dinner discussion, it was touching to see her expressions and gratefulness to the kind words and sentiments expressed. When asked how important this small group relationship is to her, she responded: “this is one of my most valuable sets of relationships in the Community. it’s been such a life-giving group for me. i look forward to these meetings every month; i go home feeling energized; we laugh so much, share so honestly. the wider congregation has taught me a lot about listening to one another, being honest, being real in conversation. i feel like this is a very safe space to share with one another, and i’m very grateful for that. i feel so supported.”

“[she] makes me want to be stronger in my commitment to her and to this Community because of who she is and who our ancestors are. i don’t want to let them down. i want S. Annie Klapheke (front row, second from right) with her small group members. VoLume i, 2017


PAtHWAys to PrAyer - tAiZÉ


rayer is first learned when we are children and is practiced, following the style of our parents or teachers, using a script that becomes familiar. When we are adults we discover that there are many possible ways of communicating with God; today, 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 individual’s explanations. the first in this series is taizé.

By s. marty Dermody “Right at the depth of the human condition, lies the longing for a presence, the silent desire for a communion. Let us never forget that this simple desire for God is already the beginning of faith.” this quote from Brother Alois from the taizé Community website speaks to a deeper calling for the silence that all of us seek. We are in need of prayer and as we deepen our faith lives, day by day, there is always that striving for something that is different; something to hold on to in the course of the day that helps an individual to be encouraged and blessed in the work he or she is involved. Brother roger schütz, a reformed Protestant, began taizé prayer in the 1940s in taizé, France. the brothers in taizé take vows of celibacy and are committed to a lifetime of service, simplicity and community. their community offers to others the chance to come together as a group to pray with one another. the prayer style of taizé is now offered for all denominations of faith life; its purpose is to foster reconciliation and peace among all people. it is contemplative and involves song and chanted prayers, quiet meditation, a period of silence, icons, and liturgical readings. it differs from Centering Prayer in that it is directed and focused. 18

the following is an example of a taizé Prayer service: in the church the lights are dimmed. on the altar table, floor and steps surrounding it, dozens of candles flicker; an icon or two may be placed among the candles. Participants sit in silence, each holding candles, viewing small flames like a sunburst in shadowy darkness. there is no preaching or teaching; the service normally lasts a total of 45 minutes. to begin the group gathered calls on the Holy spirit to be present among them, Veni sancte spiritus (often the opening song). together all respond singing a simple chant that is slowly repeated over and over. A short reading follows before silent meditation lasting eight to 15 minutes. intercessions from the participants are then voiced, a response is sung and concluded with the Lord’s Prayer. the group sings a familiar closing song together and all depart in silence. taizé prayer is just one style of prayer that can help us to seek God. the mixture of music, readings, silence and meditation provide something for all ages as we seek to grow in deeper relationship with God. it is surprising, but this type of prayer has brought together young people – teens to 30-somethings world-wide; it is popular across college campuses. taizé prayer provides a calming, quieting break from the craziness of life’s daily demands; it is transporting, almost otherworldly. As relational beings this prayer style holds value, helping us to go out and live lives with a deepened purpose. For those living in the immediate Cincinnati area taizé prayer services are held monthly at Bellarmine parish (Xavier university campus), st. John in Harrison, ohio, and Holy Family, Price Hill (Cincinnati). As we strive to find the form of prayer that fits our own lives, taizé might be that style that speaks to you. i n t e rC o m

E m p ow e r i n g


Associate Regional


By Mary Jo Mersmann, director of Associates


n the CARA Report that was just released in 2016, one-third of the responding Associate directors and one in six Associates said that the most serious challenge their community faces concerning the sustainability of the Associatereligious relationship is “a scarcity of Associate leadership.” This is one of the four major topics that NACAR has identified that needs discussion and effort as we move into the future. Have leadership opportunities been available for Associates in all communities? Have Associates been willing to accept them? Do Associates need further skill development in leadership? Four Associates in our congregation were given the opportunity to participate in the Collaborative Leadership Development Program (CLDP) over the past six years. These women participated with vowed religious and other Associates in this comprehensive leadership program so that they could develop their own leadership skills for our Community. Other Associates have shared their leadership skills by serving on boards for sponsored ministries, advisory committees and in other capacities. Many of our Associates have honed these skills in their ministry, their business, their family setting and in other life situations. A new way that Associates are being invited to be leaders is as regional representatives. With the help of the Associate Advisory Committee, we have sectioned the country into six regions – Cincinnati (East and West), Southeast, Southwest, Northeast and Northwest. An Associate (or two) Volume I, 2017

in each of those regions has been asked to help stay in touch, provide leadership for and build relationships with Associates in their region. Destiny Sargeant, Carla Rush, Chanin Wilson, Carmen Ferguson, Pam Korte, Debbie Garland and Linda Trenn have enthusiastically agreed to volunteer their time to get to know the Associates in their areas and to meet every other month with the Associate director and Leadership Liaison through Zoom (an online meeting connection). This does NOT replace the relationship Associates have with the director, the Sisters or the Leadership Council. This new structure is support for Associates. This is another person who can get to know each person, her or his needs and also to find out how each Associate wants to be a part of the community.

Debbie Garland

Chanin Wilson

Southeast – Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Southern Kentucky

Southwest – Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Kansas, California

Carla Rush

Destiny Sargeant

Northeast – Ohio (outside of Cincinnati), Michigan, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, Illinois, Maryland

Northwest – Alaska, Washington

Pam Korte

Carmen Ferguson

Eastern Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky

Western Cincinnati and Indiana

Why is such a structure being put in place now? What has changed to make this representation important in the Community? In 2002, there were less than 120 Associates and there were Sisters in most of the areas to build relationships with Associates and among the groups in the areas. Times have changed over these 15 years – the number of Associates has almost doubled and the number of Sisters has dwindled. So a new structure had to be created and developed. It is hoped that through this relationship, stories, hopes and dreams will be shared, needs will be met and deeper friendships will form. We are grateful to these seven women who have dared to risk a caring response.

Linda Trenn Western Cincinnati and Indiana


doers of justice,

seekers of peace By S. Andrea Koverman

Sisters of Charity Doers of Justice Weavers of Peace


think it was S. Ann Hunt who brought this framed cross-stitched motto and hung it on the front door of the newly established Visitation House community. It absolutely delighted me the first time I saw it because it rang so true and my newly professed heart zealously responded ‘Yes!’ That call to seek peace and do justice is what helped me discern to accompany an old friend back to the Holy Land. We traveled at the same time as a group of educators in twinning relationships with Catholic schools in Jordan and Palestine, but we had a different mission: I would address the injustice of not having safe water to drink and be a builder of peace by connecting with the children suffering the effects of war.

Two young girls from the refugee evening school in Jordan receive and play with their peace dolls.

I was well aware that having clean drinking water is a critical issue for the Palestinians, and that our community could provide filters that could make a difference. Our OPJCC Director Debbie Weber had trained me in how to assemble and flush Sawyer Water Filters, and these simple portable filters are able to filter hundreds of gallons of water a day for up to 10 years. I was introduced to peace dolls in October. A wonderful organization called Knitting4Peace gathers little knit dolls from volunteer knitters all over the country and supplies them upon request. “Ambassadors” agree to deliver a message of peace along with each doll explaining that every person is connected to one another by the Creator of us all, and by receiving a doll, they become a part of a special bond of love and peace. We spent our first few days in Jordan visiting a refugee center established by Fr. Khalil Jaar. As the pastor of Our Lady Mother of the Church Parish, he was concerned about the hundreds of Syrian and Iraqi refugees that had poured into the area surrounding Amman. He told us there were around 400 families that he tries to minister to in addition to his own congregation. Though they have been given legal refugee status, it does not allow them to work and so they cannot support their families without help. Fr. K said he is honored to help these modern-day saints who left 20

everything behind rather than to denounce their Catholic faith upon threat from ISIS. He opened a building on the church compound to house five families with 13 children by partitioning sections for each with sheets hung from clotheslines. As soon as I showed him how to put the water filter together and explained what it was capable of, he couldn’t wait to take it to his “family.” They all gathered around as he explained it, and water was immediately poured in the bucket and filtered. When we were leaving, he said, “I tell the people that God sends us angels, but not to look for feathery wings – our angel looks like you!” I don’t think I’ve ever felt more proud to be a Sister of Charity! We were shown around the regular day school for the Jordanian students, and later that evening, visited the evening school for refugee children. It is staffed by volunteers from the day school and can only provide minimal instruction, but they are very grateful for it. We handed out the peace dolls to the children, and even the boys seemed to love them. The girls immediately started playing with them and acting out conversations with each other. One of the teachers who was interpreting for us asked a beautiful little doe-eyed girl what she dreamed of. First she had her peace doll answer for her and said, “Sandia” (watermelon). Then she looked at her teacher solemnly and said, “I want all the children in all the countries to be happy, to have peace.” I n t e rc o m

the next day we met with the school’s administrators and shared the materials we brought for helping young children struggling with the affects of trauma. they described the difficulties of trying to meet the needs of so many children, but were so impressive in their creativity and ingenuity in doing so. one of the teachers gave us a tour of the day school, and we were introduced to class after class of children. the most delightful of our acquaintances was a sixth grade girl named nancy. she is a refugee who fled from Bagdad, iraq with her family. she is so bright that she was given a place in the day school rather than only attending the evening program. she bubbled with enthusiasm and chattered away in amazingly good english that she taught herself by watching videos on her father’s computer and reading books in english. Her faith was even more astounding and told us that even though she had seen things no child, no person should ever see, she also knew God had plans for her, good plans. she was pretty sure that we were part of those plans. she said, “this is so good; now we are friends! it shows no matter who you are or where you are from, we are all just people and we can be friends! i will never forget you!” i think about Little nancy nearly every day, and pray that she and her family are safe. From Jordan, we traveled into Palestine and spent the next two days visiting the Lajee Center in the Aida refugee Camp in Bethlehem, a kindergarten for the children of Aida run by a community of Franciscan sisters, and Hogar ninos Dios, a residential school for abandoned children with special needs run by italian sisters. the people from Aida are Palestinian refugees within their own country, surrounded by what they call the Wall of separation. they have been in the camp for almost 60 years now, ever since they were forced from their homes during the ‘nakba (catastrophe) of 1948.’ they were promised the right to return to their homes by un resolution 194 and took their house keys with them, but so far that has not happened. though they have moved from tents and containers set up by unrWA and into homes they have built, they refuse to leave as an act of resistance, and believe that if there are no Palestinian refugees, they will lose all hope of regaining the homes that they lost. the director of the center shared stories of the types of harassment and intimidation they are subjected to on a regular basis, and how it is affecting the children, who make up over 50 percent of the camp’s population. He wanted us to meet one of the young people and had a 15-year-old boy come to talk with us. He shared how he witnessed his 16-year-old brother and then his best friend arrested in the street as they were playing soccer. We were told that Palestinian children are regularly arrested with charges of rock throwing and taken without the accompaniment of their parents. they are held indefinitely and not provided with due process. the boy we spoke with lives in fear and refuses to go to school or play outside anymore. He will only leave his house to come to the VoLume i, 2017

The entrance to Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem.

center and runs to it from his home. He shyly told us how he is unable to sleep at night because he’s afraid the soldiers will raid his home. As we drove through the streets, we passed a park that was built so the children of the camp would have a place to play. A structure had been put up surrounding and covering it with mesh fencing. the top was littered with empty teargas canisters that had been fired at them. it is a surreal experience to stand in the holiest of places, the very spot that Christ willingly subjected himself to brutal suffering and death in order to teach us how to be selfless and loving while acts of terrorism and oppression are the daily reality for both the descendants of the religion he practiced, and the community members he lived with. everywhere i went, i saw people fervently praying: Christians, muslims and Jews, and i have to believe that they are praying for many of the same things, most especially for peace. How can so many people all wanting the same thing not be able to attain it? i left with a renewed sense of being called to bear witness to what i’ve seen to encourage people to reject arguments that war is necessary and peace in the middle east is impossible. i went to speak with s. Joan Cook about my plans, and we marveled together at the surprising places and calls to action that our vocation takes us. she ended the conversation by saying, “Hazard yet forward! elizabeth seton could have had no idea of where that motto would lead her daughters in the future!” How true, but i have a feeling she would approve! 21


A VALiAnt WomAn? By Carolyn Kesterman, Communications intern


ne night in the spring of 1964, an audience at marian High school in Cincinnati, ohio, was left stunned as students, backed by an orchestra, performed the debut of a new composition paying tribute to the life of saint elizabeth Ann seton. the piece was called A Valiant Woman, and was a work of love composed by the talented s. Loretto Burke, the Community’s only living orchestral composer. Born in ripley, West Virginia, on may 23, 1922, s. Loretto’s gift of music became clear when she was only 5 years old. Her mother, a musician herself, enrolled sister’s older sister rosemarie in piano lessons, and s. Loretto would sit in the room after her first grade classes to wait while rosemarie had her lesson. “one day when i came home, i went to the piano and started picking out what she had played,” s. Loretto remembers. “she got so mad at me that my mother said she would let me take piano lessons if i promised never to play rosemarie’s pieces again.” the span of her musical abilities continued to unfold as she grew up, and when she took lessons from the talented s. Agnes eppley at the College of mount st. Joseph after entering the Community in 1939, she felt inspired to pursue music education. “in her and her music i saw music as a way of doing good,” s. Loretto says. “i learned that doing good was also doing what you loved doing.” After a few years of teaching music, s. Loretto was encouraged to attend the Catholic university of America in Washington, D.C. to 22

pursue a master’s degree in musical education. there, the dean of the school scheduled her in a fugue class taught by Conrad Bernier (1904-1988), a French-Canadian organist, teacher, and composer who was taught at the sorbonne in France. in her first class, s. Loretto sat overwhelmed and confused as Bernier spoke in broken english on a subject she knew little about. this feeling only increased the next day when Bernier started the class by asking her for the resume of the previous day’s learnings. “i didn’t know what else to do,” s. Loretto says. “i just looked at him and said, ‘mr. Bernier, i don’t know a word you said yesterday.’” He told her to see him after class, where he spoke slowly and explained the material better for her, beginning their friendship. At the end of the course, he said to her one day, “you work in music education?” s. Loretto nodded and he said, “no. you should be writing.” that planted a seed in s. Loretto’s mind that wouldn’t go away. “We were writing these fugues and i said well, i would like that. so i came back here to the mount and i went in to see mother mary Zoe [Farrell] and told her that this professor said i should be writing and that i really enjoyed it. she said, ‘if you want to write, you write.’ so i became mr. Bernier’s protégé.” to master in composition, students had to write a composition of good proportions, and since elizabeth seton had just been beatified and was up for canonization at that time, she found her inspiration there. she began to write a cantata that would not be just another retelling of her life, i n t e rC o m

but a look at key moments, at feelings that were integral in her journey with God. right away, when thinking of how to proceed, the passage “Who shall find a valiant woman?” from Proverbs 31:10 stood out to her, and she decided to make that a recurring theme. she visited the sisters of Charity archives in emmitsburg, maryland, and spent time with elizabeth seton’s original letters, gaining a better idea of the woman and her internal emotions. soon, the beginnings of s. Loretto’s composition started to take shape into something that Bernier recognized as greatly special, and one day, he advised her to set the composition aside for a little while, explaining that if she handed it in as her master’s composition, the copyright would belong to the university. not wanting that to happen, s. Loretto took his advice and started on a new composition, a symphonic dance suite. the national symphony played the piece during a reading day. “[But] that was the end of that. i came back here and i finished my tribute to mother seton,” she said. Finding time to compose in between teaching in Cincinnati, s. Loretto’s composition came to the forefront

of her mind again. When asked about her writing process, she says that for her, the words usually came before the music, or occasionally at the same time. “i remember when i thought of the lazaretto [in italy where elizabeth seton’s husband died], and all of a sudden i’m thinking ‘out of the depths i have cried to you, o Lord,’ [Psalm 130:1] and it just came to me how i wanted to sing it,” s. Loretto remembers. the haunting section inspired by the lazaretto was the final piece she wrote for the composition, though its place in the work is towards the middle. “it was very beautiful; i loved it,” she says. “i don’t know; it just came out. music has to come, like all art, from the heart.” “i got it all finished and i thought, i need to hear this,” she says. “i’ve done all this work and i think it’s going to sound pretty good. i was teaching at marian High school and i thought, i’ll get the girls to sing it.” Among the students who performed the piece were several women who would later enter the sisters of Charity. one such woman is s. Patricia Wittberg, who says that she still remembers three of the songs in the cantata and could sing two of them easily, adding that the Alleluia section at the end still to this day gets stuck in her head often. “there was also a section in the middle with the words ‘the Lord is my shepherd,’ and i remember that it was haunting,” she says of the lazaretto section. s. Winnie Brubach is another sister who was a student then, and she remembers the performance well. “We all wanted to do our very best,” she says. “it was a new kind of music to us as high school students; it was difficult and challenging. the words of the intro were especially powerful.” s. Loretto confirms that wholeheartedly. “my greatest thrill was to direct and hear what i’d heard in my head and my heart,” she says.

A novice here, S. Winnie Brubach (left) has remained close with S. Loretto Burke after singing in the Marian High School performance of A Valiant Woman, owing her life’s direction to the Sister.

VoLume i, 2017

the next performance of A Valiant Woman took place in 1977 at a Community Congress held at the College of mount st. Joseph. “i just put out a call for whoever wanted to sing,” s. Loretto recalls. “they knew about the composition and they just showed up. it was unbelievable; it was so nice.” the response to the performance was glowing. John nartker, a prolific artist who had been an influential professor at the college, said after hearing the composition, “Loretto, that’s poetry and music wed,” one of s. Loretto’s favorite responses she ever received about the piece.


come like that,” she says. Come with Me was played at her Golden Jubilee, Diamond Jubilee, and by another jubilee group in 1995. it is a very dear composition to s. Loretto, and she has requested that it be played at her funeral someday.

S. Loretto Burke is the Community’s only living orchestral composer.

the composition was performed in its entirety at least four more times: at seton High school for the seton-elder series at eight in 1978; by the seton High school Juniorsenior Chorus in the Basilica at the national shrine of saint elizabeth Ann seton in emmitsburg, maryland, also in 1978; by the College of mount st. Joseph glee club for the college’s 60th anniversary in 1980; and at the motherhouse’s immaculate Conception Chapel for the motherhouse centennial in 1984, which was taped and has been preserved by the Archives department. s. Annette muckerheide, one of the sisters who sang in the choir for that performance, says she could write a book about s. Loretto and the time she spent with her music. “it was always a joy and a privilege to make music under Loretto’s direction,” she says. “she was an amazing conductor who knew just how to push a choir to perform to the maximum, but always with gentleness and respect. We wanted to do the best we could for her, to do justice to her glorious composition for the honor of mother seton. there was a lot of love, respect, and prayer going on, both in the rehearsals and in the performance.” s. Loretto has composed other pieces of music through the years. But the dearest to her besides A Valiant Woman is a composition called Come with Me that she wrote for her entrance group on their Golden Jubilee in 1989. she had been approached by one of the other sisters in her Jubilee group to write a piece for the mass, but she couldn’t think of any direction to go with it. one day at a mass during a meeting at Good samaritan Hospital, though, some words in the sermon struck her and she pulled out a piece of paper to make some notes. “i went home and i couldn’t get it all together, but then in the middle of the night, i got this idea and i got up and wrote the whole song. sometimes things just


A Valiant Woman remains her biggest claim to fame, though, and the praise of the composition led to the cantata being featured in the 1983 edition of the Anthology of Large Choral Works by American Composers, as well as being a factor in her induction into the Cincinnati macDowell society which is affiliated with the national organization known as the macDowell Colony that recognizes talented artists, musicians, and writers. Adding to her acceptance into the society was her music education ministry that she dedicated herself to alongside composing. s. Loretto spent 52 years teaching music in some capacity, spreading a passion for music and creativity to countless individuals. Her studies with Bernier stayed with her as she also directed extracurricular student orchestras and bands at these institutions, and the lessons taught remain at the forefront of many minds still today. old students frequently send cards or even visit her at mother margaret Hall nursing facility to let her know how she inspired them, some even telling her of vocational choices she impacted. But no matter the degree of the impact, whether it has been a vocational choice or a song that plays in the mind from time to time, s. Loretto’s talents and love have deeply touched all who have had the privilege to know her. Associate Patrice Harty, a former sister of Charity and another performer in the marian performance, has glowing words about her memories with s. Loretto. “i remember that the music had so much energy and variation. she was so talented, but more than that, very down-to-earth and easy to talk to. she listened to us and was genuinely interested in what we thought and what we had to say, inspiring us to want to do well. she taught me how to play the flute, which i still do, and she got me ready for the Community. to this day i enjoy visiting and talking with her. in my mind, she is also ‘a valiant woman.’” s. Loretto is full of thankfulness for how her music has touched the lives of others as surely as her own. “i’ve gotten a lot of happiness out of what i’ve done. it’s been a great ride,” she says. “i will thank God until my dying day for my music.”

i n t e rC o m

pa rt n e r i n g f o r

healthy living By S. Barbara Hagedorn

Vegetables grown and donated to the Free Health Center included eggplant, zucchini, squash, peppers, chard, onions, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, okra, garlic, peas, cabbage, cucumbers, and green beans.

S. Winnie Brubach delivers produce to the Good Samaritan Free Health Center in Price Hill.


ecause of the ideas and collaboration of several Sisters of Charity and co-workers, clients at the Good Samaritan Free Health Center in Price Hill (Cincinnati) were able to enjoy fresh produce throughout the summer and early fall. In addition to the vegetables, recipes and nutrition information were provided for food preparation.

The idea was suggested by S. Caroljean Willie when she was touring the Free Health Center on a winter day. As her tour guide, S. Barbara Hagedorn was enthusiastically telling her all of the services the center provides and the holistic approach that is central to the care patients receive. One service is providing fresh produce in the summer. The vegetables were purchased through a share from a local co-op. S. Caroljean suggested the idea of partnering with EarthConnection and get the vegetables from their garden. S. Winnie Brubach and the other EC gardeners were on board immediately and the idea began to take shape. Sisters Winnie and Barb met to discuss what kinds of foods the clients preferred. The seeds were ordered and the vegetables planted. Once the harvest began, vegetables were delivered to the Free Health Center every week, often with a beautiful bouquet of flowers to accompany them. The garden at EarthConnection provided a total of 922.75 pounds of produce for the patients. The vegetables were washed and bagged and prepared for distribution. The waiting room was full of take-home bags for individuals and families. And the price was right – FREE! Volume I, 2017

Since a number of the clients are not able to afford fresh vegetables, this offer of free food was a great help to them. It did not take long for the veggie-filled bags to find their way to the homes of the Free Health Center clients. S. Annie Klapheke, the nutritionist at the Center, provided recipes for food preparation. She also met with individuals to help them with menu planning and healthy eating tips. A number of the patients are diabetic so healthy eating is a plus in helping them manage their disease. Plans are in the works for continuing the collaboration again this coming summer. The planting begins in March in the EC SunSpace greenhouse. This project is one more piece in providing a holistic model for helping patients at the Free Health Center get healthy and stay healthy. Patients also have access to primary care doctors, specialists, dentists, physical therapists, eye exams, smoking cessation, counseling, psychologists and psychiatrists. All of this is provided under one roof. If a person needs a referral for further testing or surgery, those services are scheduled for them by the Community Health worker who is a staff member. Many people work together to offer opportunities for the patients to live healthier, happier lives. Having delicious, fresh produce is an important piece in making life better for the patients. The Good Samaritan Free Health Center staff and the gardeners at EarthConnection believed in joining their efforts to make life a little healthier for many people. The collaboration was a win-win for all! 25

Timeless Treasures By S. Judith Metz “[I]n 1884 Sister Mary de Sales picked this rock out of a Prospector’s eye. It had buried itself in the eye socket and was covered over with flesh. It was pulled out with a small pen knife and point of seisson [forceps].”


his note, written on a small envelope in S. Mary de Sales Leheney’s file, symbolizes the amazing career in health care that this Sister of Charity experienced. Being awarded a medical license by the Medical Board of New Mexico Territory in 1901 was a recognition of the skills she had acquired over the first 20 years of her tenure at St. Vincent Hospital in Santa Fe. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Irish parents in 1856, Lizzie, as she was then known, completed an eighth grade education before finding work in a shoe factory. She joined the Sisters of Charity in 1880 and was missioned to Santa Fe the following year. She spent the remainder of her life (54 years) in that city. S. Mary de Sales was quickly inaugurated into her new duties. At the time, operations were performed in patients’ rooms where the doctors showed Sister how to assist them. As her skills increased, her responsibilities grew. She began serving as first assistant surgeon, learning important skills, and becoming an excellent diagnostician. When a doctor was not available, she often took the case in hand herself. In one instance, a prospector came in with small stones imbedded all over his face and hands. While applying an eyewash, S. Mary de Sales touched something hard. It was then that she discovered and extracted the stone from his eye. Soon her skills as a surgeon became legendary.


In 1896 St. Vincent was struck by a tragic fire. While firemen were at work, panic-stricken patients rushed from the building; others were carried out by the 19 Sisters on duty. S. Mary de Sales seemed to be everywhere at once, calming the frightened and directing the removal of all who could walk or be helped out of the building. Although no patient was injured, Sister injured her back during these efforts and gradually became very bent over and crippled. In later years this veteran caregiver took charge of the old folks’ home at St. Vincent where she had her desk in the second floor hall so she could always be available. One visitor described her room as “a treasure house for the poor who lived along the corridor. Out of the meager resources which are Mother de Sales’ she always manages somehow to have a little store of tobacco on hand for those who come to beg a pipe full.” Characteristically, she died while fetching a hot drink for one of her charges. Going between buildings, she slipped on ice and was later found lying helpless with a broken hip. She died soon after. The newspapers payed great tribute to the “Lady of Old Santa Fe,” outdoing each other in recounting stories of her exploits and accomplishments. Doctors and prominent men of the city served as pall bearers, but probably more significant to her, her “old men” from the home, the orphans, friends, and the Sisters followed close behind, paying grateful tribute to this selfless Sister of Charity.

I n t e rc o m

Intercom Subscriptions Available! Gift and individual subscriptions to Intercom, the magazine of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, are available through the Communications Office for $15. r Yes, I would like to receive a personal copy of Intercom. Enclosed is the $15 subscription fee for the publication. Name: ___________________________________________________________________________ Home/personal address: _____________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________

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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

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Volume I, 2017

5900 Delhi Road Mount Saint Joseph, OH 45051 sistersofcharityofcincinnati 27

5900 Delhi Road Mount Saint Joseph, OH 45051


16 S. Annie Klapheke (center) pronounced First Vows on Dec. 10, 2016, in the Motherhouse chapel.

Sisters of Charity were present for the October 2016 Convergence at the Border organized to draw attention to the causes of migration and the abuse of human rights that has accompanied increased militarization of our southern border. S. Andrea Koverman recently visited the Holy Land to address the injustice of not having safe water to drink and to connect with the children suffering the effects of war.


Intercom Vol I, 2017  

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

Intercom Vol I, 2017  

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