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Intercom S I S T E R S





Fall 2011

A Letter


our SISterS



Dear Sisters, Associates and friends,

T Contents FEATURES Jubilee 2011: We Are Made for Service.... 6 Sisters and Associates celebrate milestone anniversaries. The Love of Christ Urges Us ................. 10 Sisters of Charity ministering in elementary and secondary education. educating Tomorrow’s Leaders .............. 18 Seton High School’s commitment to the SC mission. Remembering Sept. 11, 2001 ................ 22 Sisters reflect on the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

DEPARTMENTS Vocation/Formation .............................. 17 Creating a Space for God Meet Our Sisters ................................... 20 S. Lucien Marie Davis OPJIC................................................... 21 The Wisdom of Forests Motherhouse/Mother Margaret Hall ..... 24 A Special Kind of Ministry Associates in Mission ............................. 25 Q&A with Associate Jacquie Jones

On the Cover: S. Julie Gatza is the principal of St. James Elementary School in Bay City, Mich. To read more about Sister’s ministry, and the education ministries of other Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, visit The Love of Christ Urges Us on Page 10. 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.

he season of fall has arrived with its array of colors. I hope your part of the world has the peak expression of the fall season overflowing – be it the golden Aspen or a multitude of bold, multicolored leaves on your walkway. May your experiences of this autumn season hold beauty for each of you. This past summer’s jubilee celebrations were once again a time of great joy for our Community of Charity and the Church. Anyone who attends one of our liturgical celebrations of the Golden, Diamond or Silver Jubilarians experiences much energy and passion and an affirmation of commitment. This summer was no exception! I found this quote of Pedro Arrupe, SJ, which I think holds true for all who are committed to saying “yes” to God’s many calls. “Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seized your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.” Congratulations to all our jubilarians! enjoy their stories in the pages of this Intercom. In addition, this fall issue focuses on education, specifically secondary and elementary education. education has a special place in my heart. As teacher and principal I held on to the knowledge and belief that a good education opened the world to my students and made all things possible. Wasn’t this where an array of possibilities were opened for you? For all our Sisters and Associates who were and still are in education, at whatever level, you know that education remains the core to changing the world. We see many current examples of this in the education of women in impoverished countries. With their new knowledge they know things can be different and they are making a difference by doing. What makes real education happen is the teacher. I have a deep love and appreciation for teachers. Teachers that I have known have been dedicated men and women in their ministry of teaching the whole child. I saw them as faith facilitators with the students as well as parents and colleagues. The time and energy that went into meeting the different learning styles and abilities of each of their students could be seen on the faces of the students as they worked on projects or were involved in using different problem-solving techniques. What I found so uplifting was how we all worked to make our school a community, a family – sharing in the pain and joy of each family and staff member. This is only a snapshot of the many teachers I have had the privilege to work with over the years. To all teachers - thank you and God bless! you will find many interesting articles included in these pages. May they open your eyes and heart to the array of opportunities to which Jesus calls us “to act justly, to build loving relationships, to share our resources with those in need, and to care for all creation.” (SC Mission Statement, 2011) Loving in Christ, S. Lois Jean Goettke Councilor



Mem-bits This column by S. Benedicta Mahoney offers brief glimpses of the past, tiny bits of memories. Do you remember? Were you there? Did you know? June 5, 1935 – Several Sisters of Charity who had just completed work for their college degrees took part in the commencement exercises along with the rest of the Class of 1935 of the College of Mount St. Joseph. It was the first time Sisters had done so. Sept. 11, 1948 – St. Albert the Great School in Dayton, Ohio, “almost” opened on this date. Instead, St. Albert’s pastor announced to the Sisters of Charity, standing by at Corpus Christi convent, that the school was not ready and would open one year hence. The “original” faculty left Dayton on other assignments. None returned for the official opening.

In Memoriam

St. Albert the Great School, Dayton, Ohio.

Dec. 26, 1959 – Mother Mary Zoe Farrell announced the Sisters of Charity would give their Fayetteville property to the Glenmary Sisters who would move their Novitiate there. Feb. 25, 1962 – St. Mary Church, Hyde Park, in Cincinnati, Ohio, was the scene of the Congregation’s second South American departure ceremony. Msgr. edward Freking presented mission crosses to the three Sisters chosen for the Lima, Peru, mission: Sisters Mary Barbara Philippart, Stephanie Lindsey and Mary Gerard Cheng.

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. Martha Farlow September 27, 2011 S. Jeanne Marie Zugelder September 2, 2011

Three South American missionaries, Sisters Mary Barbara Philippart, Mary Gerard Cheng and Stephanie Lindsey, process from the middle aisle of St. Mary Church, Hyde Park.

Oct. 31, 1962 – The bells of Mater Dei Chapel of the College of Mount St. Joseph rang for the first time from 9 a.m. to 9:10 a.m., joining with bells from around the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. At this time local television stations carried the ceremony of the opening of the Vatican Council II. The telecast was transmitted via Telstar.

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Mater Dei Chapel bell tower with its three bronze bells inscribed respectively: “Jesus,” “Mary,” “Joseph.”


M y st e r y U nfolding :

Religious Life for the World By S. Mary Bookser

(From left) Sisters Christine Marie Rody, Louise Lears, Lois Jean Goettke, Mary Bookser and Joan Elizabeth Cook represented the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati at the Annual Assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious Aug. 9-12, 2011.


together to bring healing and wholeness to our fractured world. This was powerful. It also led beautifully into the presentation by S. Maricarmen Bracamontes, OSB, the following morning.

Our speakers were excellent. Their themes, while diverse, held an underlying unity which enlightened the smaller group discussions. S. Barbara Reid spoke of a period of new birth in religious congregations. She showed that our God is not a punishing God who sent the Son to atone for our sins, but rather that from the account of creation in Genesis, through the death of Jesus in John’s Gospel, we see images of God birthing new life. Death in all forms is not an ending but a transition to a new way of being. Her emphasis on unity, and the equality of women and men, led to a reminder to work

S. Maricarmen was an intense and powerful speaker who told us (in Spanish, with translation devices available for all) that we share an intimate longing which attunes us to the birth pangs of a new creation. We await this as daughters of God. She spoke of the importance of Christian memory and asked us to consider how Jesus used power versus how our society uses it. In Jesus, the power of the divine wisdom rises so that all people and all creation may grow into the fullness of life. She noted U.S. Sisters, in our recent struggles, have been a model for our sisters in Latin America (and other places) where people live in cultures of dominance and submission, which impacts all areas of their lives. Looking at the “signs of the times” through our recent world events, she spoke of “signs of hope,” and mentioned Martha, the sister of Lazarus, as a model of that hope. Despite her misgivings, Martha affirmed her belief in Jesus and his decision to “roll away the stone” of Lazarus’ tomb, so that he could become a sign of resurrection and life. We, too, are called to allow Jesus to roll away the stones from our hearts which prevent us from surrendering to God’s call for new life. She noted that if we religious Sisters, who claim the Divine presence as the heart of

his year’s assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) was held in Garden Grove, Calif., Aug. 9-12, 2011.

The spirit of the assembly was expressed so beautifully in many of the songs written by Jan Novotka, our assembly liturgist. For the opening prayer of the assembly we asked God to “open our hearts that we might see, that we might be, something new.” Jan’s music reminded us of “Consciousness waking, Holy and Whole, Creation stirring, birthing anew. Now is the time, we are the space for the Holy to rise in our midst.” Later, fitting for the presentation by Dominican Sister Barbara Reid, Jan led us in song that we are filled by the “Breath of the One Life, Breath of All” which fills our hearts and souls and that the “Great Source of all that is, life deep within . . .” fills us all.*



our interior strength, are willing to allow Jesus to do this in our lives, we will have the strength to confront the evils and wounds of our world, and become the healing compassion of God. There were so many important moments, insights, shared times of prayer and liturgies. LCWR president S. Mary Hughes, OP, reminded us the journey is not always easy, noting “the less we carry, the better off we are.” She reminded us of the importance of forgiveness and laughter. We were deeply touched by stories of three women from Mexico who endured massive hardships and now work for immigrant rights and immigration reform. They encouraged us to work to pass the DReAM Act. As you may notice from our recent issues of Update, this is one of our educational/ justice foci, as well. Our small group sharing allowed us to sink into more intimate connection with words from our hearts and souls. We had time for feedback to the larger group and what we saw bubbling up from all areas is the need to recognize that many congregations are “dying” into new transitions and new births in a multitude of ways. And the Genesis story reminds us that this is part of creation from the chaos, and it is good. In all of this we recognize the call to stand rooted in a contemplative awareness that God is the center of our lives, and that we in LCWR are called to reach out to our sisters and brothers throughout our world to work together to help heal our fractured country, world and earth. * Note: Jan Novotka’s music may be purchased through or via phone (570) 347-2431. A reminder that we have DVDs and CDs of most of the assembly’s major presentations; these are available through Kathi Zeinner in the Leadership Offices.

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New Associates WeLCOMe


ngela Smith, a resident of Juneau, Alaska, made her commitment as an Associate in Mission of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati on Aug. 11 in the presence of family and friends. The mother of seven and grandmother of four, Angela is active in her parish, teaching CCD and Vacation Bible School, and says she found a strong connection with elizabeth Seton and her love of children. “I absolutely love elizabeth Ann Seton,” she said in her discernment statement. “To become an Associate of the Sisters of Charity brings joy to my heart. I feel blessed to be a part of the Community that Mother Seton started. I feel honored to join the Sisters and Associates each day in prayer and spirituality. We are all following in the footsteps of Mother Seton. I feel the spiritual strength of their prayers in my ministry [homeschooling] children. The mission statement touched me deeply, especially the phrase, ‘to share our resources with those in need.’ The children of the world are God’s greatest creation. When I hold a child in my arms, I can feel graces permeate my entire body. The children are the poor and most vulnerable. I feel God’s call to love them and to let them know how very much God loves them.”

(Back row, left) Associates Mary Neary, Mary Jo Mersmann, Angela Smith, Eileen Casey, Colleen Jaeger, (front row, left) S. Delia Sizler, Connie Trollan and Maria Rogers gathered for a meal and fellowship on Aug. 12. Angela Smith (right), with companion Associate Eileen Casey, recently made her commitment as an Associate in Mission of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati.


JubILee 2011:

We Are Made for Service


total of 33 Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati are celebrating Diamond, Golden and Silver Jubilees this year. They represent 1,730 years of service in the Cincinnati area, in dioceses throughout the United States and in Guatemala, Mexico and the West Indies. As we celebrate and honor the women who have devoted decades to carrying out the Gospel of Jesus through service, we asked a few of those Sisters to reflect on their years in the Community and some of their greatest satisfactions in ministry.


“The most rewarding years were spent as a missioner in South America, where I had to learn how totally God is in charge.” - S. Mary Frances Boyle “My 36 years in elementary education – 28 as teacher and eight as principal – are years of very happy memories. The young are so refreshingly eager and alive with such great potential; to share in their years of formation was enjoyable, challenging and satisfying.” - S. Helen Julia Hahn “After my Novitiate, I was missioned to Margery Reed Day Nursery in Denver, Colo. The three years working at the nursery with S. Bernard Marie Fitzsimmons as my superior were some of my happiest years. I loved caring for the 2- to 5-year-olds.”

Sisters Helen Julia Hahn (left) and Marion Agnes Boedekker enjoy each other’s company at the reception following their Diamond Jubilee celebration.

- S. Janet Marie Wehmhoff

(Front row, left) Sisters Lucien Marie Davis, Marion Agnes Boeddeker, Jacqueline Riggio, Jeanne Roach, Kathryn Ann Connelly, Kathleen Houck, (back row, left) Mary Ann Donovan, Rita Maureen Schmidt, Marie Vincentia Roney, Mary Kathleen Pagac and Helen Julia Hahn celebrated their Diamond Jubilee with the Community on Aug. 28 – Elizabeth Seton’s birthday. Not pictured are Sisters Grace Catherine Aufderbeck, Mary Frances Boyle, Lorraine Delisle, Catherine Erger, Helen Fox, Janet Marie Wehmhoff and Marie Josetta Wethington.



Golden “I have happy memories of teacher training in the Diocese of Rockford, Ill. In the 1980s I was able to train several catechists to go to a place called Dixon II, an Illinois residence for the multi-handicapped hearing impaired. The catechists were beautiful people of faith. They treated the disabled people with respect and care.” - S. Mary Dugan “The greatest satisfaction occurred watching young people enter high school and seeing their intellectual, spiritual, social, emotional and leadership growth over their four years.” - S. Teresa Marie Laengle

Golden Jubilarian S. Teresa Marie Laengle.

“I spent 40 years of my religious life in the ministry of Catholic education, as teacher and mostly principal, and they were my most enjoyable and rewarding years in ministry. It was a privilege working with so many dedicated teachers and pastoral staff members in the parishes.” - S. Annette Marie Paveglio

Sisters, Associates, family and friends gathered on Saturday, July 30 in the Motherhouse chapel to celebrate the Community’s Golden Jubilarians (front row, left) Sisters Kateri Maureen Koverman, Mary Dugan, Jacqueline Leech, Karen Hawver, (back row, left) Judith Metz, Brenda Busch, Sheila Gallagher, Annette Muckerheide, Mary Ellen Roach, Annette Marie Paveglio and Teresa Marie Laengle. Sisters Mary Ellen Roach (left) and Karen Hawver reconnect during their celebration weekend.

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Visit the Web Biographies of our 2011 Diamond, Golden and Silver Jubilarians are posted on the Sisters of Charity Web site at


80 YEARS OF SERVICE S. Margaret Seton Williams

75 YEARS OF SERVICE S. Mary Rose Hovanec S. Mary Zinser

70 YEARS OF SERVICE S. Regina Mary Conley S. Ann Rose Frank S. Mary Andrea Friedman S. Mary eunice McGreevy S. Mary Schlanser S. Rita Schmutte S. Rose edward Simons S. Regina Tevis

65 YEARS OF SERVICE S. Anna Maria Ahl S. Margaret Marie Anthony S. Ruth Bockenstette S. Rose Cheng S. Helen Cranley S. Helen Margaret Cullen S. Jane Frances Diba S. Marie evelyn Dow S. Rosemary Clare eagan S. Mary egan S. Alice Glutz S. Gemma Glutz S. Joan Groff S. John Catherine Gumbert S. Ruth Hunt S. Rebecca Hurr S. Celestia Koebel S. Irene Luther S. Geraldine O’Hagan S. Loretta Saupe S. Mary Carol Wintzinger

(From left) Sisters Carol Wirtz, Monica Gundler, Marge Kloos and Montiel Rosenthal celebrated their Silver Jubilee on Saturday, Sept. 10 in the Motherhouse chapel.

Silver Jubilarian S. Montiel Rosenthal (center), along with S. Paula Mary Russell (left) and Nancy Bick Clarke, provided the music for the communion meditation during the jubilee celebration on Sept. 10.


“My work with young adults and my passion for the Charity charism of service to others have found a wonderful expression in the House of Charity in New Orleans, La. I live with a Sister of Charity of New york and a Daughter of Charity. We are an intentional community committed to hospitality and living our Charity charism by welcoming volunteers to join us for prayer, community and service to the poor.” - S. Monica Gundler

S. Margaret Seton Williams (front) celebrated 80 years as a Sister of Charity of Cincinnati in 2011.


“I love seeing the smiles on the faces of our mothers and the children as they tumble out of the van when they arrive at the [Santo Niño Project, a clinic that provides care for children with special needs and their families]. I love hearing their laughter and seeing the moms who have never had any formal schooling provide wonderful healing therapies to their own and other children.” - S. Carol Wirtz Intercom



ive Associates in Mission celebrated 25 years of commitment in 2011. Congratulations to Associates Helen Duffy, Viola elizondo, edith Hendrix, Karen McMichael and Anna Marie Pacheco for embracing the values and vision of the Sisters of Charity in their daily lives and ministries. Celebrations for Helen and Karen took place earlier this year; Viola, Anna Marie and edith were recognized during the Fall Congregational meeting in the West. Director of Associates Mary Jo Mersmann (left) recognizes Helen Duffy for 25 years as an Associate in Mission of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati during a prayer service Friday, May 13 in Spring Hill, Fla.

Associate Karen McMichael of North Bend, Ohio, (right) and S. Kateri Maureen Koverman celebrate Karen’s Silver Jubilee following a prayer service on June 26 at the Motherhouse chapel.

ASSocIAte VIoLA eLIZonDo offered the following as she reflected on her Silver Jubilee:


hough we are hundreds of miles apart – Cincinnati, Ohio, to South Texas – there is really no distance between us.

In 25 years the experience of any Associate is vast. We have experienced struggles as well as many blessings. Before I met the Sisters of Charity, elizabeth Ann Seton had already made an impression on me. elizabeth was the first American-born saint, and that alone merited my attention. Her conversion to Catholicism (just like my mother), her yearning for the eucharist, and her intimate involvement with people were all admirable qualities that attracted me to her. The fact that my mother, who was an Associate herself until her death, was at elizabeth’s canonization in Rome, Italy, strengthened my connection to elizabeth. And, so, at a young age, I had already begun to live the lifestyle of elizabeth. When I first met S. Anne Darlene Wojtowicz, I fell further in love with elizabeth’s charism that S. Anne so naturally exemplifies. Hence, becoming an Associate was a very natural process for me. Twenty-five years later, I can surely quote a favorite poem of mine, “I Carry your Heart With Me” by e.e. Cummings: “…here is the deepest secret nobody knows (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide) and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart).” Associate Viola Elizondo (left) says S. Anne Darlene Wojtowicz naturally exemplifies Elizabeth Seton’s charism.

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The Love of Christ Urges Us “Women religious are all over the place; in hard places; have long histories (in hard places); don’t leave when the going gets tough; do a lot with a little; and come to the table about issues that are not about us (women religious).” – S. Carol Zinn, SSJ


n 2011 Intercom takes a closer look at the ministries of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. We will learn more about where our Sisters are ministering; their challenges and triumphs; their dedication to the people they serve; and their determination to meet the needs of our Church and world. This issue spotlights the field of elementary and secondary education. To read full articles and additional ministry stories, including S. Sheila Gallagher, visit and click on “Ministry” then “Ministry Locations.” S. Annette Frey Albuquerque, New Mexico When we think of Elizabeth Seton the teacher, many call to mind Elizabeth in the one-room schoolroom of the White House in Emmitsburg, Md., where she educated poor, young girls. Two centuries later, S. Annette Frey finds inspiration from Elizabeth in her current ministry as a pre-kindergarten and kindergarten teacher at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary School in Albuquerque, N.M. S. Annette explains when she arrived at the school in 2003 she was under the impression that the school would build upon its classrooms. Nine years later, the pre-kindergarten/ kindergarten classroom remains the only one in the building. “[Elizabeth] served the people, and it was a need at that time,” Sister said. “This too was a need for the people in our area.”

This year Sister has 14 students in her class, arriving at 8 a.m. in the morning and departing around 3 p.m. While her classroom structure remains the same, her teaching style has changed over the 54 years she has been in education to accommodate the needs of her students today. She follows the workshop method under the philosophy that children are free to make mistakes and to learn by themselves, all the while emphasizing that learning is fun. This “discovery learning” enables students to have the freedom and ability to figure out problems and acquire knowledge on their own. The class is structured to include morning prayer and a math lesson – from learning about the date, month, days of the week, months of the year to counting. Next, various groups are split up for reading and working on activities on the computers. The afternoon includes group activities, like a printing lesson, religion or singing, and of course, nap time. Growing up the oldest in a large family, S. Annette says she has always been around and cared for children; therefore, ministering to the youngest of learners was the perfect fit for her. “People say, ‘how do you do it?’” she said. “I guess God’s gifted me with patience. The children are so fun and so honest. They say it like it is.”

S. Annette Frey is a pre-kindergarten and kindergarten teacher at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary School in Albuquerque, N.M.



S. Mary Marcel DeJonckheere Cincinnati, Ohio “Since I was in the first grade I knew that I wanted to teach grade school,” S. Marcel DeJonckheere said of her 31 years in elementary education. Originally, however, her Community had other plans, and S. Marcel served in a variety of ministries outside of education, including dietetics and as the Congregation’s director of affiliates. Eventually, in 1982, Sister found herself teaching elementary age students at St. Dominic in Cincinnati, Ohio. Thirty-one years later, she remains in education, teaching at Holy Family School in Price Hill (Cincinnati, Ohio) since 1998. Currently Sister teaches seventh grade religion and science, as well as religion, reading, English and social studies to the eighth grade. In addition, she and another teacher conduct a homework club after school, which allows students to have a quiet, organized place to work with resources – along with the extra help. Many of Holy Family’s children come from extremely trying family situations – poverty, divorce, neglect, abuse. In addition, many are coming to the class at below grade level, which makes it that more difficult for Sister to motivate them to work hard to catch up. In that, S. Marcel remembers Elizabeth and her great love for disadvantaged children. Each morning, she says, she sits in her car before going into school and asks Elizabeth to walk with her and help her throughout the day.

Among her many responsibilities at Holy Family School in Price Hill (Cincinnati), S. Marcel DeJonckheere teaches eighth grade religion, reading, English and social studies.

As Sister explains Holy Family School is among the oldest of SC ministries with a continuous Charity presence. “In 1864, the first Sisters, who lived at Cedar Grove (now Seton High School), came to school in a Conestoga wagon. Because of the small beginning enrollment, the children often enjoyed field trips. The pastor arranged for transportation in a brewery wagon! Through the years there have been as many as 20 Sisters living at one time in the convent on the parish grounds,” she said. fall 2 0 1 1

Today, there are currently two Sisters ministering at the school. And S. Marcel is proud to be among those sharing the Charity charism with the students. “To me, Holy Family is the clean place, the safe place, the respectful place, the learning place, and the God-centered place in our children’s lives,” she said. “What brings me the most pleasure and inspiration is to see students take pride in their achievements and believe in their futures.”


S. Julie Gatza Bay City, Michigan On Aug. 24, 1873, the Sisters of Charity stepped off a train in Bay City, Mich., to open a school – grades one through 12 – for St. James parish. They planned for 200 and by October had 400 students. More than one century later, the Sisters of Charity continue to educate the students at St. James Elementary School, assisting in the education and development of concerned, caring Christians. In 1996, St. James became a part of the Bay Area Catholic Schools. At the same time, S. Maureen Donovan was retiring as principal of the school. “Her position was offered to me,” S. Julie Gatza, who had been ministering at the school since 1966, recalls, “and I told them the Lord would send them the person He wanted for the position, and I would keep this in prayer. “After six months of searching and interviewing, the Bay Area Catholic Schools administrator approached me and said, ‘The Lord has chosen you! Your prayers have been answered.’ So, with the help of the good Lord, I said yes! I have been the principal at St. James since 2002.” S. Julie said she always wanted to be a teacher, and although the transition to principal was difficult at first, she knows that she is still teaching – but her classroom is expanded. In her current role Sister says she is first and foremost the faith formation leader for her staff, the children, and many times, the parents and guardians of the children who attend St. James. In (From left) S. Julie Gatza, with students Chelsea, Decklyn and Questin, is in her 10th year as principal at addition, she ensures the students receive the St. James Elementary School in Bay City, Mich. best education that can be offered while also “A great education is provided for them,” S. Julie said. exposing the St. James family to moral and ethical behaviors “They are assisted in many ways by meeting their family that they will carry with them to their ‘other worlds.’ needs with no fanfare or acknowledgment.” With 50 percent of our school’s children living below the considered poverty threshold, S. Julie has been fortunate to secure grant money through SC Ministry Foundation, a public grant-making organization that supports the mission and ministry of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. The funding has provided support to families in need of clothing, food, shelter, counseling and many other basic needs.


Sister says the children and their faith are her greatest joy in ministry. “They, in their simplicity, have deepened my faith. They have a depth of concern for other people. I have learned that so many have such compassion. They give me courage, hope and the reasons to continue,” she concluded.


S. Marie Irene Schneider Cincinnati, Ohio

This year she will be teaching reading skills to freshmen who scored low on their incoming eighth grade tests.

Because of her long career at Seton High School, S. Marie Irene Schneider could be considered the school’s matriarch. S. Marie Irene has been ministering at Seton, a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, for the last four decades. After 43 years, the Language Arts teacher is now educating the children of her former students.

S. Marie Irene says what she enjoys most about teaching is being in the classroom with the students. She describes the ‘ah-ha’ moments that the students have; when all of a sudden they say, ‘oh, now I know what you mean.’

Sister says her call to both religious life and teaching came as a child growing up in Detroit, Mich. In the 10th grade, her former teacher and mentor, Sister of Charity Mary Maud Potvin, died. “I kept thinking who is going to teach these kids; who is going to do what Sister did?” she said. “I thought, ‘I can do that.’ It just kept nagging at me.” S. Marie Irene was first missioned to Carroll High School in Dayton, Ohio. She spent the next six years there and met another Sister of Charity mentor and friend, S. Eugene Fox. “She taught me everything I know about being a teacher,” Sister said. “She taught me patience, and how to teach each unit or section. She is the one who taught me how to teach students who have a difficult time learning or don’t want to learn. Her theory was that patience, drill and clever assignments help them. For 50 years now I have been teaching students who need additional assistance, all grades, nine through 12.” Throughout the years S. Marie Irene has filled many roles at Seton, including department chair, moderator of classes, tutor, assistant principal and English and reading teacher. In addition, she has mentored her own group of student teachers from the College of Mount St. Joseph. “I owe everything to S. Eugene, and I want to pass [what she taught me] on to young teachers, too,” Sister said.

“Those moments are worth a million dollars!” Sister exclaimed. “It’s why I get up in the morning, and why I keep going back every year.” Being in education for 50 years, S. Marie Irene has seen many changes in the students; many of those changes present new challenges, as well. “The students’ interests have changed along with their behaviors,” she said. “I like to blame the television shows that teach them subliminally how to be sassy, bossy, and now they are so into technology that they are distracted because they want everything fast. “They aren’t willing to do homework because that might take 20 minutes and take away from their technology. That change is very challenging,” Sister continued. “The use of a computer for me as a teacher has its place. However, maybe I’m hanging on to being the one who helps the students learn, not the computer, but I find it a great challenge to meet them halfway. Whenever we study the literature, stories, poems, plays, I emphasize people and relationships.” Serving at a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Charity, S. Marie Irene observes how the lay administration promotes the SC spirit, and honors its founders. And in the classroom, she, too, has the opportunity to teach the students about Elizabeth Seton, her legacy and the legacy of the Sisters of Charity. “I’m not afraid to pray, to say holy things,” she said. “I’m always telling them about Elizabeth Seton. I have different pictures of her around the room, and I try to show them that I am who I am because of her – and because they belong to Seton they can be like that, too.”

S. Marie Irene Schneider has been ministering at Seton High School for more than 40 years.

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S. Helen Attenweiler Cincinnati, Ohio “I am ever mindful of Elizabeth Seton’s often mention of the ‘grace of the moment,’” S. Helen Attenweiler said as she discussed her current ministry at St. William School in Cincinnati, Ohio. “It is a daily experience to realize this grace when seemingly from nowhere just the right thing I say or do lights up a child’s mind.” An educator for 54 years, S. Helen currently ministers parttime helping the youngest of St. William’s children who exhibit difficulties in the areas of reading. She works with small groups of five or six, from kindergarten to second grade, for 30 minutes each day. Those children will remain part of a small group for the year, a quarter or a month or less, depending on his or her need.

children are much more needy, in many ways,” Sister said. “They need to learn, to be fed, to be loved, to be listened to and cared for in every way. They cry out for acceptance, attention, encouragement and guidance. That cries out for a lot more understanding and patience on my part.” Since the opening of St. William School 100 years ago, the Sisters of Charity have been a vital part of the school staff and the parish. Sisters Helen and Joan Patrice Flynn are the last in a long line of SC involvement. She says parents and grandparents ask and talk about the Sisters of Charity with love and respect, and S. Helen has left her own impression on the school’s students and families after more than three decades.

“Mother Seton asked the angels to ‘Help us to use well the grace of the moment in the care and instruction of the little ones under our charge. Watch over them with us,’” Sister concluded. “This ministry has been a real blessing – and such a challenge!” “And I add – help me to teach with love and to teach the children Sister said. “Some of the children make lots of progress and others to love God.” will probably be with me again next year. It is welcoming and rewarding when a child seemingly ‘catches’ up with the regular S. Mary Alice Haithcoat class or improves – however slightly.” Piqua, Ohio S. Helen has been teaching at the primary level for 52 years, 35 years at St. William. Originally she had hoped to become a social worker. Instead, she was missioned to Guardian Angels in Detroit, Mich. It was during that first year teaching that Sister said she fell in love with the ministry and with the children. “Isn’t it singular how the Holy Spirit knows what’s best whether we think we do or not?” she said. “Teaching in our schools has been a joy and a challenge to say the least. Not all times have been successful but all have been blessings. There is no pretense in these young children. Their nature is open, loving, perceptive and trusting. It is such a joy to see a child’s face when he or she succeeds.” Broken homes, one-parent families, working arrangements, increasing needs and poverty create plenty of challenges. “The

“My greatest joy is working with children. Their enthusiasm fills me with energy,” S. Mary Alice Haithcoat said of her 40 years in Catholic education. The current principal of Piqua Catholic School, a kindergarten through eighth grade consolidated school in Piqua, Ohio, S. Mary Alice continued by saying that watching the students “form friendships, excel intellectually and grow spiritually is an awesome experience.” Sister has been ministering at the school since August 1993. She began as assistant principal and part-time teacher; in 2009, she became principal. Among her many roles, S. Mary Alice is responsible for the students in two buildings, as well as faculty and staff consisting of 25 adults. “I have a wonderful group of dedicated teachers and many supportive parents,” she said.

S. Helen Attenweiler currently ministers part-time at St. William School in Price Hill (Cincinnati).



Sister explains her responsibilities vary from level to level, teaching students in kindergarten and the first, second, fourth and eighth grades. “This past year [I worked with] first graders for drill of basic sound and spelling vocabulary; fourth graders and eighth graders, mostly immigrants, with basic English; second graders with their challenges and on having patience; and with advanced kindergarteners in an attempt to excite and satisfy their yearning to learn.”

At this particular time in our country, the challenges in the field of education are certainly there. Sister explains over the years she has seen many changes in family life and curriculum. And while technology is exciting and has brought many benefits to the classroom, it also has brought about its challenges, requiring patience and a willingness to change. In addition, the downfall of the economy forces S. Mary Alice’s parishes, school board and staff to develop creative ways to raise money in order for the school to continue as a successful place for learning.

For the teacher, Sister says the challenges are exhilarating. “Satisfaction comes when the ‘lights go on’ in young minds,” she said.

The joys far outweigh the Principal S. Mary Alice Haithcoat greets Carly Caulfield, a fifth hardships, however, as Sister sees her grade student at Piqua Catholic School, in the school’s halls. students grow in their relationship Her inspiration comes from with God. “I feel like a proud parent the many Sister teachers before her. “The SC presence is totally as I watch the second graders receive their First Reconciliation intermingled in my experience,” S. Catherine continued. “As and their First Communion, or the eighth graders receive their I come to learn more of Elizabeth Seton, Blandina Segale and Confirmation and graduate from grade school,” she said. “The Louise de Marillac by encountering them in their histories, I smiles on their faces fill me with happiness. I am grateful to God am in wonder at their genius and holiness. Of course, God had for giving me the opportunity to share my energy, my love for life everything to do with all of it… and my faith with the young people of Piqua.” “Elizabeth’s courage, her intelligence, her love of God and His Approximately 90 miles from the Mount St. Joseph people must imbue the life of a Sister of Charity,” she concluded. Motherhouse, S. Mary Alice has found community in Piqua “Her love of children, her care to educate them, her grace-filled with two other Sisters of Charity – Sisters Ginny Scherer and love of her Sisters, her family Joan Clare Stewart. The three Sisters enjoy walking through and her Church impel her the neighborhood and on Piqua’s bike/walking trail, and the followers to do the same.” community has come to know them well. “We have three Sisters that touch the lives of people in our parishes at three stages of life: elementary, secondary and adult formation,” S. Mary Alice said. S. Catherine Erger Denver, Colorado

S. Catherine Erger currently ministers at St. Francis de Sales Elementary School in inner-city Denver, Colo.

Having spent 58 years in Catholic education, S. Catherine Erger says she has never thought of teaching as a ministry. “Teaching came to me combined with a calling to religious life,” S. Catherine said, “and is inextricably interwoven with the calling.” S. Catherine ministered 52 years in secondary education in schools in Ohio and Colorado, but in 2005, she found herself in unfamiliar territory, ministering at St. Francis de Sales Elementary School in inner-city Denver. “Having taught English language and literature, foreign language and journalism to high school students, I’ve come late to the process that prepares elementary students for the rigors of high school,” S. Catherine said.

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The Singing Circle Charity Family By S. Mary Bodde Sisters in Dominica

Sisters Honored

In July, Sisters Marie Pauline Skalski (back, left) and Marie Tessmer along with lay woman Joan Hilton traveled to the Island of Dominica in the West Indies to experience the people and culture with S. Mary Gallagher, who has been ministering there since January. The group ran a two-week Vacation Bible School for the children of the villages of Soufriere and Scott’s Head, and visited the Infirmary for the Aged in Roseau, the capital city. To view pictures, and to read reflections from the Sisters, visit our Web site at features.htm.

S. Kateri Maureen Koverman received the 2011 Sister Mary Lea Human Service Award from the College of Mount St. Joseph. The award “is given to an alum who has lived out the mission of the college through a life of service to others.” Sister has ministered around the world, serving in Vietnam, ethiopia and el Salvador during war. She founded the Joseph House, a residential treatment facility for homeless veterans diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and is currently director of Them Bones Veteran Community, an organization she founded that helps veterans reconnect with others while trying to work through PTSD.

Mary of Magdala Prayer Service Held at Motherhouse A crowd gathered on July 22 in the Cedars auditorium at the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse for the Mary of Magdala Prayer Service. Mary Jo Blankemeyer, M.A., was the reflector during the celebration recognizing Mary’s feast day.

DePaul Cristo Rey Students Begin School Year

Associate and Front Desk receptionist Joan Axt (left) works with DePaul Cristo Rey High School student Robin Hampton through the Corporate Work Study program.


DePaul Cristo Rey High School, the newest sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Charity, officially opened in August with classes getting underway. The school offers underserved students in the region the opportunity for a strong college preparatory education in a Catholic setting. In addition, students participate in a Corporate Work Study program, which enables them to gain realworld job experience, grow in self-confidence, realize the relevance of their education, and contribute to the cost of their education. The Sisters of Charity is one of the school’s corporate partners with two students working at the Motherhouse and Mother Margaret Hall this year, serving part-time at the Front Desk and in the Communications Office, Medical Records and Activities/Social Services.

S. Annette Muckerheide received the College of Mount St. Joseph’s 2011 Cooperative education Faculty Coordinator of the year Award for her commitment to the college’s co-op program. S. Annette, who retired from the college in June 2011, was “an enthusiastic supporter of co-op and consistently served as a faculty coordinator for science majors.” She is a former chair of the Biology Department and professor of biology. S. Marianne Van Vurst was honored at the annual dinner of the St. Michael’s Knights of Columbus held at the Valley Vineyards in Morrow, Ohio, on July 15. She was recognized with a plaque as the St. Michael Council “Religious of the year.”


Space for God C R E AT I N G A

By S. Patricia Dittmeier


here to begin? Have you ever found yourself asking this question? eager to share the love we have for God, and the love God has for us, with potential new members, we can feel at a loss for how to go about it. In addition, the stressors we face can leave us feeling drained. At those times we may tend to think that the task of inviting is meant only for a few dedicated souls. This view, however, does not take into account that it is really God who invites individuals to religious life, and fails to recognize that the gift of invitation comes naturally from an open and joyful spirit. So the question of creating a space where potential new members can hear God becomes a question of nurturing our relationship with God in such a way that we cultivate a joyful, open spirit that becomes naturally contagious. A happy, joyful Catholic who loves God, knows that God loves them deeply, and believes that serving others is a wonderful way to spend their life is the best witness to vowed and Associate membership.

How do you and I nourish our spirit and cultivate a relationship with God that is inviting? What follows are only suggestions; they come from wisdom shared by many. So, if you have already found a way that nourishes your spirit and leaves you feeling joyful, peaceful, attentive and open – go do it. If there are days, however, when your spirit seems to droop a little, please read on. First, reduce stress. If what others see is overworked, stressed-out individuals, they are not going to want to join us in anything. Stress is rampant in our society, and no one appears to be completely immune to it. Stress also is one of the most soul-deadening realities I can think of. Wellintentioned but overly committed individuals run the risk of spiritual burnout if they are not careful. So, want a vibrant spirit? Make time to de-stress. How? Try these: make an appointment with yourself to spend time engaged in your favorite hobby; go to lunch with good friends; get some exercise; eat healthy; and seek support. Second, spend time falling in love with God every day, and letting God love you. God loves you totally; God also likes you. So, make time for God. As my friends with children are apt to remind me, this isn’t always easy. So, here are a few suggestions they have shared. Talk to God on your way to work. Pray while you are in the tub – a shower or bath can also reduce stress. Let God go to the gym or for a walk with you. enjoy God’s creation. Pray over a cup of coffee in the morning, letting God speak of God’s love in the quiet before your day begins.

S. Katharine Pinto spends time enjoying God’s creation as she walks the Motherhouse grounds.

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Third, allow others to get to know you. If others are going to accept an invitation to consider religious life in the 21st century, we who are connected to religious life have to be willing guides to a world that many have never experienced. Few of today’s young adults have ever had a Sister or a Brother as a teacher. Fewer still have any knowledge of communal life as lived by vowed religious. So, if we want to be inviting to the next generation of Sisters and Associates we will have to risk some transparency in our life. Cultivate a wide range of relationships. you may inspire someone to become the next Sister or Associate without even knowing it.



Tomorrow's Leaders By Erin Grady, public relations and marketing coordinator, Seton High School


estled in the historic Price Hill neighborhood in Cincinnati, Ohio, Seton High School sits as a proud member of the Sisters of Charity family. Since its doors first opened in 1927, Seton High School has educated more than 14,000 young women. We take seriously our connection to the Sisters of Charity and our commitment to carrying out their mission.

(From left) Seton High School students Anne Pace, Lauren Tepe, Jourdan Lyons, Olivia Dulle, Melissa Schenkel and math teacher Clare Harris participated in a mission trip to Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota this summer. Photo courtesy of Anne Pace, Seton High School

In everything Seton’s teachers, staff and students do, we are reminded of St. elizabeth Ann Seton and her life lived as an educator. In this spirit, Seton High School students are encouraged to embrace the Catholic Christian values of servant leadership, to become critical thinkers, and to transform into tomorrow’s strong leaders.

their faith through leadership. While each student is touched by campus ministry, many choose to take a more active role in shaping their faith experience. Students are able to lead Thursday morning prayer services, participate in school Masses, raise funds through charity drives and serve as eucharistic ministers, cantors, lectors and musicians.

Educating in the Spirit of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton We owe a lot to our patroness! elizabeth Seton is not only credited with the development of the Catholic school system, she lived a life of compassion and humility, and we hope to educate students in her spirit, as well as in the academic challenges of the day. In all we do, from the classroom to the stage to the basketball court, we are guided by her charge of wishing to “fit you for the world in which you are destined to live.”

each student is encouraged to think about the role God plays in her life. Annually, students gather with their peers for a dedicated day of reflection, which can include service projects, written reflections and group discussions of faith. Students also are afforded the opportunity to take part in various Kairos retreats. Kairos, a nationally recognized Catholic Christian retreat program for high school students, allows them to bond with God, Seton teachers and staff, and each other.

Seton is blessed to be a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Charity. Our unique connection with the organization gives our students a better understanding of our patroness and what it means to live a life for God. Six members of the Sisters of Charity, Sisters Mary Kay Bush, Teresa Dutcher, Jeanine Marie Holthouse, Sandy Howe, Marie Irene Schneider and Mary Dolores Schneider, work within Seton’s walls; these Sisters not only teach our students Latin, religion and other core classes, they provide the strongest of faith role models.

Seton students have the opportunity to live what they learn through community service. Our students take a commitment to service leadership seriously and complete more than 85 hours of service before graduation. While students are only required to complete approximately 85 hours of service, many choose to take part in additional hours after finding a service project that truly touches their heart.

Fostering an Attitude of Servant Leadership Seton understands a young woman’s education goes beyond math, english and social studies. For this reason, we help ground each student’s life in the Catholic faith and offer a variety of opportunities for students to strengthen their walks with God. Seton’s campus ministry program allows students to develop 18

Students have a variety of opportunities to fulfill their required service hours. young women who enjoy working with children can “adopt” younger classmates at elementary schools across the west side of Cincinnati. Meanwhile, girls who like to work with their hands can contribute to Seton’s third Habitat for Humanity project in Westwood. Additionally, some students choose to serve meals at the Ronald McDonald House or meal centers across Greater Cincinnati. Mission trips are a popular way students engage in Intercom

community service. During the summer of 2011, students worked with children and repaired homes on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. Seton senior Anne Pace was one of 14 students who participated in the mission trip: “This awesome experience helped me to think about what I want to do when I am older,” she said. Later in the summer, other students visited Guatemala to complete hands-on service projects. Mission trips give students the unique opportunity to take the lessons learned at Seton and share them with people around the world. encouraging our students to step out of their comfort zone and try challenging activities is an essential part of the mission trip experience. Whether students choose to complete service hours through trips to the meal center or trips to Guatemala, Seton is confident each student carries the service experience with her well past graduation. Creating a Learning Culture Teachers at Seton High School are challenged to help students become life-long learners who take charge of their educational experiences. As we continue with our commitment to making students better learners, we are excited to announce a new initiative – the Senior Project. The Senior Project seamlessly combines these charges and empowers students to challenge themselves to learn new skills. “The active learning process is extremely powerful,” said Senior Project coordinator and english teacher Anna Downey. “Seton is taking learning to a whole new level by allowing students to become the teacher, and the teachers to become the coaches.” The project includes four components – a proposal, a paper, a presentation and a portfolio. At the beginning of a student’s senior year, she will create a proposal for her project. The topic of the project is completely up to the student, and can be anything from learning a new language to building a car to writing a novel. The only stipulation is that the student must demonstrate some kind of “learning stretch” or show how this project will create a new challenge for her. After the proposal is presented to a board of educators and approved, students find an academic angle to the project and use that angle as a topic for their papers. For example, if a student chooses to learn French, she could write a paper about how French culture influences American society. When the paper is finished, the student will complete her project and chronicle the journey in a portfolio. The portfolio will

include documentation of the time spent on the project – with a minimum of 30 hours – as well as photos, journal entries and anything else the student finds helpful to telling the story of her experience. On the final day of the project, the student will stand before a group of three adult judges – two of which will come from outside Seton’s walls – and present what she learned. “The presentation is key,” Downey said. “Once they complete the presentation portion of the project, it feels like they are truly taking part in a real world experience.” The Senior Project will develop a student’s critical thinking skills when she chooses her project and paper topic. It will encourage her to take chances because the project must be something that pushes her past her current bounds of learning and into a new situation. It will test her public speaking skills and her ability to cope with new educational experiences. Finally, and most importantly, evaluation for the Senior Project is not the same as other academic measurement tools, such as a standardized test. Students from diverse backgrounds and with diverse learning needs can achieve the same benefit, as the project allows each student to stretch herself to her own unique abilities. Preparing a New Generation for Success Being a young woman can be difficult, and today’s students face challenges women just a generation before could not have even imagined! From cyberbullying and texting to social media woes, today’s teens need emotional support and a strong grounding in faith more than ever. Seton understands young girls and women need to find support well before they begin high school, and for that reason, we kicked off the first-ever GiRL POWeR camp in the summer of 2011. The brainchild of Seton’s Recruitment Director Leslie Chasteen, GiRL POWeR brought together more than 170 students from across Cincinnati for days filled with physical activities, fun craft projects and faith-based experiences. Girls from fifth through eighth grades were invited to spend one week at Seton to learn more about themselves, make new friends and experience the positive, empowering message that comes with a Seton education. “young girls face a variety of challenges,” Chasteen said. “But it’s always better with a friend at your side. I want GiRL POWeR participants to know that they can be who they are!” The lessons taught at GiRL POWeR were not new to Seton students or Chasteen. “Seton is committed to equipping young women with the skills they need to succeed,” she said. “And that is exactly what they do. The values I taught at GiRL POWeR are ones that were enriched during my time at Seton. Among these are leadership, faith, service, confidence and compassion.” Plans are already in the works for GiRL POWeR reunions throughout the fall and winter, which will bring the students back to Seton to visit their newfound friends.

S. Teresa Dutcher is one of six Sisters of Charity ministering at Seton High School. FA L L 2 0 1 1

With the 2011-2012 school year well underway, please keep Seton’s faculty, staff and students in your prayers. We are excited to face the challenges and successes that the new year will inevitably bring – all through the strength and peace that comes from Jesus Christ.



S. Lucien Marie Davis By S. Mary Bodde


rowing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, S. Lucien Marie Davis became acquainted with the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati while attending Holy Family School in Price Hill and Immaculata High School in Mount Adams. It was their influence that led Sister to enter the Community 60 years ago. As a Sister of Charity, S. Lucien Marie has served in education for more than 50 years – teaching different grades in a variety of schools then serving as an administrator for 23 years. “I have fond memories of teaching,” she said, “and hope to be in a school-related position when I am able.” Currently, due to recent back surgery, Sister is a resident of Mother Margaret Hall, the Sisters of Charity nursing facility at the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse. She hopes to return to her Motherhouse room soon. We took the opportunity to learn more about this Sister of Charity, educator and Diamond Jubilarian.

S. Lucien Marie Davis (far right) ministered in education for more than 50 years, including 16 years at Resurrection School in Cincinnati.

What do you enjoy most about being a Sister of Charity? “From my youth (in Price Hill, Cincinnati) and through grade and high school I was always connected with the Sisters of Charity,” S. Lucien Marie recalled. “I always appreciated, respected and enjoyed them. The title Sister of Charity – and also my ministry of education with them – is rewarding.” What is the best thing about Community life? “The idea of having other Sisters of Charity who share being together in loving support with me, and I with them, is one of the best things about Community life,” S. Lucien Marie observed. “We can call on each other; we enjoy being in each other’s company. It’s a joy and support. But praying together is fundamental in our lives,” she added. What do you do for fun? “At this stage I’m a bit inhibited,” she admits. “But I am an avid Cincinnati Reds fan, watching all their games on


television. And I take every opportunity to go out with family and friends – even to a game! With my family of eight brothers, life is never dull.” What is your favorite way to connect with God? Sister says her favorite way of connecting with God is through regular prayer life and daily Mass. “But,” she adds, “unplanned prayer time, when prayer just comes out of you as conversation with God – that’s part of being aware that God is present.” What would people be surprised to learn about you? “Having one sister and eight brothers,” she admits, “but also that I was into athletics all my life, especially baseball. In our neighborhood all the children played together across the street from our house – and any position.” Additional interviews with Diamond Jubilarians Sisters Kathryn Ann Connelly and Mary Kathleen Pagac can be found by visiting our Web site at


The Wisdom of Forests By S. Jean Miller


n a hot day, have you ever sat in the shade of an old tree enjoying the cool breeze while drinking lemonade? The gift of just one tree is phenomenal. However, if you have ever walked in the woods or a forest, you’ve known “a little bit of heaven.” There you can walk amidst beauty and listen to the concert of the birds, insects and wild animals, while you breathe fresh air and experience the interconnection and interdependence of all creatures. This year we are celebrating the International year of the Forest. We can ponder this marvelous gift, grieve the terrible loss of some species, and help to restore this model of a diverse, interdependent community. yes, community because every part of the forest is essential for every other part. Some of the trees are 500 years old, and a few, like Methuselah in California, are 5,000 years old. Obviously, the wisdom of the forest is deep, plentiful, mysterious and sustainable. To reflect on this wisdom we can still walk in primary or old growth forests, which are wooded areas with limited access that have never been impacted by humankind and deforestation. These forests show us a magnificent biodiversity that continues to produce new species as we walk the trails. A scientist has reflected that you can get up in the morning and say, “what new species are here today?” Two-thirds of all living species are in the forest. The Indonesian tropical forest has 11 percent of all known plant species, 10 percent of all mammal species and 16 percent of all known bird species. Comparable statistics are found in the 36 percent of all forests that are primary or old growth forests. What a community worth preserving! Besides beauty, reflection and variety, the forest provides an abundance of resources for many creatures. A variety of edible and healing plants are found there. Resources for building, heating, protecting and writing provide an economy that if used sustainably can strengthen the bonds of an interdependent human community.

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For example, a resource from the forest “lines” in our midst is the fantastic wooden beams, doors and mantles in our own Motherhouse built in the late 1800s. A reflection on the age, creative ability and beauty of this wood awakens awe and gratitude. In a time of deforestation, climate change and species loss it is necessary that we reassess our values and attitudes toward the valuable resources in the global forests, and preserve this model of diverse community. We can start this important work right here in our own backyard. Walking through the 64 acres behind the Motherhouse cemetery, which is a part of our 135 acres of undeveloped land, we can experience the beauty, wisdom and mystery that must be preserved and passed on to future generations. Watching the changes in the species located there, experiencing the animals inhabiting or passing through the woods, photographing, drawing, writing about or painting the 100-year-old trees, is an important step in valuing our forest community. Working to eliminate invasive species such as honeysuckle, garlic mustard or winter creep will keep these invasive species from inching into the wonderful 16-20 acres of the old growth forest. This part of our forest contains 121 species from 55 families that local botanist Daniel Boone noted in his survey. Many religious congregations are looking for more permanent ways to make certain that the wonderful lands we’ve enjoyed continue to thrive. They are doing this by placing portions of their land in conservation, agricultural or historic easements and land trusts. This assures future generations that these forests continue to provide the wisdom that is deep, mysterious, plentiful and sustainable. What better time than International year of the Forest to consider such strategies! Editor’s Note: Statistics used in this article come from “Forests and People” by Yann Arthus-Bertrand Good Planet Foundation in collaboration with UNEP.


Remembering September 11, 2001


n Sept. 11, 2001, Americans watched in shock and horror as terrorists hijacked four commercial jet airliners and intentionally crashed them. Two of the planes struck the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, N.Y., killing everyone on board and thousands working in the buildings. In March 2002, during Holy Week, four Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati traveled to Ground Zero to minister. Ten years later, following the death of Osama bin Laden earlier this year, Intercom asked those Sisters to reflect on their time at Ground Zero and to offer their thoughts today. S. Ramona Chisholm It’s only human to want to repay pain for pain … a life for a life. But unlike us, Jesus didn’t confuse the sinner with the sin, the wicked and their wickedness. Christ went much deeper, telling us that only love can overcome evil.

even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your friends, are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” At the death of Osama bin Laden many celebrated thinking that the world would be a better place. I can say that I did not mourn his death. I can’t celebrate the death of any person as all life is sacred. Gandhi when asked about his solution to evil replied, “There are many causes that I am prepared to die for but no causes that I am prepared to kill for.” Perhaps hate, revenge and killing can be replaced by truth, justice and mercy and then truly the world will be a better place for all.

For even in these dwells an immortal soul barred from the daylight. God loves us and then waits for our answer. Perhaps this is what God is asking of us … That we repay evil with good and wait for the answer. The end never justifies the means. The solution to hate is not hate. The solution is to respect human worth and dignity through love.

S. Mary Frances Davisson There are many memories that linger in my mind and heart from our Holy Week experience in March 2002. During the massages some of the rescue workers or family members would talk and share their stories while others would go into a quiet, reflective space. Dennis had not said anything during his massage, but as he left he turned to S. Martha Walsh and me and asked, “Do you recognize me?” (Unfortunately we didn’t.) He went on to explain that he was one of the fire chiefs in the lobby (shown during one of the documentaries on television) trying to decide how to proceed. I remember mentioning to him how calm and focused all of them seemed to be. He responded by saying, “If you could have seen our faces, you would have seen fear. I was terrified.” I believe God’s presence was there in the lobby with them helping them remain calm and focused in order to think, plan and respond. Dennis turned several times to leave, but returned to share more of what he was feeling and experiencing. I pray he found us listening with compassionate hearts that day.

As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind,” and Jesus taught in his sermon on the Mount, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He lets His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not

On Sept. 11, 2002, S. Mary Lou Knapke, Rena Slater (a lay woman) and I were privileged to walk and stand with the members of POPPA (Police Organization Providing Peer Assistance) during the memorial service on the first anniversary of Sept. 11. The quiet, solemn procession of family members, fire and police personnel, first responders, metal workers and emergency personnel from other countries touched the heart and soul of many. As the name of each person killed was read,

The only way to overcome darkness is with light. The only way to overcome evil is with good. Jesus on the cross was bidden to manifest Himself and he answered by remaining on the cross. He loved us to the point of hoping that we would love Him like that, and that we would always be able to see Him in the poor, the outcasts – those who have wasted their lives, the evil ones, the wicked and the heartless of our world.



I found myself quietly praying “rest in peace.” I felt as if I were standing on holy ground.

I realize again now, what a privilege it was to be standing there with my Sisters providing Cincinnati Sisters of Charity witness.

Even though Osama bin Laden caused much pain and suffering, I wish he would have been captured and imprisoned for life instead of being killed. I don’t believe we have the right to take another person’s life. Going in and killing him did not bring about a peaceful resolution to anything, but instead seems to have stirred up more hatred and animosity toward us as a nation. Killing bin Laden did not put an end to his plotting and plans of destruction against the U.S.; it just transferred them to other leaders.

Then within the sealed-off large white tent, along with my Sisters, I ministered to exhausted workers who stood in line quietly waiting for this care – before leaving for home only to return the next morning to exactly the same conveyer belt and the same exact task of sorting and hoping for human remains.

It would be wonderful if there were an easy way to bring peace and harmony to the entire world. Unfortunately, there isn’t. I believe if there is to be peace and justice in the world everyone needs to be willing to sit down and communicate with one another, which means truly listening and hearing what each other is saying. We must be willing to work together for the good of all, sharing resources so that everyone has adequate food, water, clothing and shelter. S. Mary Lou Knapke As I think about a New York City Sept. 11, 2001, memory, I again realize the entire experience was very large for me. By this I mean, I continue to hold what happened there within prayer and reflection 10 years after my being there. Perhaps what I most want to share is not being taken in a golf cart down into Ground Zero pit with it all burning around me – that was an awesome thing in itself – but my standing on Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island where massive amounts of debris removed from Ground Zero over the days, weeks and months was taken. I touch again the feelings of standing on the landfill as early mist came over the debris and human beings dressed in white hazmat suits moved slowly and deliberately into place at the conveyor belt where the sorting of remains was taking place. Carefully and respectfully these human beings touched moving pieces hoping to find anything human. If some human remains were found a bell was rung. The belt stopped and all of us stood at perfect attention as the piece was taken off the belt and in procession sacramentally carried to the on-site morgue. The entire scene was thick, white and grey – mysteriously silent but holding such reality of Incarnation for me. I realized then, and

S. Martha Walsh After going through screening at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, I found a group of people around a television. In a matter of minutes we witnessed the plane crashing into the second of the twin towers. My first thought, “We had better get out of here. This place may be next.” But as I thought a bit more, it occurred to me that they are not interested in the UN. It was not insignificant that the World Trade Towers were targeted. After all, much of the world benefits little or not at all from world trade, either in importing or exporting. The rules are set by the more powerful nations, in favor of the more powerful nations. Of course, immediately my thoughts were of retaliation, to get even. If I were solely governed by my head then that is probably where I would have stayed – in my head. However, my heart and soul told me that was not the response of a Christian. Of course, the feelings were real and natural enough, but I had to move beyond that. At the risk of appearing naive, I was reminded of Jesus’ admonition to turn the other cheek and to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us. This challenged me to turn to prayer for both the victims and the perpetrators. I could offer nothing more at the time. Now, 10 years later, and 10 years of war in Afghanistan, Iraq and Afghanistan again, I can only think how things might be different if we had turned the other cheek and loved our enemies. As individuals we cannot always impact the actions of our government as we would like, but I can decide how I will respond to circumstances in my own life where my thoughts can turn to disgust at another’s actions. We are on the cusp of local, state and national elections. Can I stay in fruitful dialogue about the issues and the candidates without becoming judgmental? This is not a weak response. It is appropriate to criticize, but not to judge. I know enough about myself to know how hard this will be, but extend an invitation to all of us to monitor our language during this intense political environment in which we live. Jesus asks nothing less of us.

(From left) Sisters Martha Walsh, Mary Frances Davisson, Mary Lou Knapke and Ramona Chisholm ministered at Ground Zero in March 2002.

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By S. Mary Bodde


otherhouse chapel attendees prior to Mass may see sacristans Sisters Dolores Johnson and Vincent Marie Willman placing the sacred vessels on a table near the altar and lighting candles, but that’s not even half the story. In addition, S. Dolores lists cleaning up after “washing dishes and linens (corporals, purificators, towels and altar clothes) and ironing them, as well as cleaning both sacristies, Madonna Chapel and the sanctuary. environmental Services vacuums the main chapel weekly and does major housecleaning once a year.

Sisters Dolores Johnson (left) and Vincent Marie Willman serve as the sacristans of the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse chapel.

“The plants and flowers are our responsibility,” S. Dolores said. “We order flowers for Christmas, easter and Congregational celebrations, but during these economic times we have cut back. Sometimes the Sisters give us donations or send their gift flowers to the chapel.”

“When the number of Sisters decreased and the LifeLearn program began at the College of Mount St. Joseph, the hours for exposition were shortened so the Sisters could attend. After Mass until 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. are the times now.” S. Dolores takes care of the morning hours, and S. Vincent Marie is responsible for setting up and reposing the Blessed Sacrament in the afternoon.

S. Dolores remembers former sacristans. “Sisters Anita Francis Rennekamp and Louise Ann Halter were sacristans for several years before Vatican II. Mass was at 6:30 a.m. After Vatican II, when night funerals were in vogue, the two sacristans resigned. S. Maryanna Coyle, then president, advertised the sacristan ministry to the Congregation, and S. Rita Agnes Bauer was the only one to answer. So when she became ill in 1983, she asked me to fill in, since I had helped her with the jubilees.

Sacristans have additional tasks for funerals: setting and lighting the Paschal Candle on the floor in front of the main altar; putting the plate of altar breads and the bottle of altar wine on a small table at the halfway division in the Congregation for family or Sisters to bring up for the Offertory; ironing the pall to be placed on the casket before it is brought up to the main altar; putting holy water nearby for sprinkling the casket; and preparing and lighting incense in the thurible in time for its use at the end of Mass.

“When S. Vincent Marie came in 2007, she took over the computer work for the list of Mass intentions, which is posted on the chapel doors, as well as the weekly music programs for the liturgy. S. Mary Dolores Schneider and her sister, S. Marie Irene, help move furniture; other Sisters return books and articles to the sacristy. S. Shirley Dix dusts the body of the chapel every two weeks.

“Vestments and other supplies must be ordered, and the budget is a limiting factor, but we have managed to stay within our budget,” S. Dolores said. “Luckily we no longer have to burn 14 candles for exposition; we use the same number as for the eucharistic Liturgy, which is two.

“In 1937, the three ‘F’s’ occurred: flood, fire and financial crisis,” S. Dolores noted. “The Sisters of Charity were given permission by Archbishop Moeller to have exposition of the Blessed Sacrament every day after Mass until Benediction at 5 p.m. We were to pray that Cincinnati would not have another 80-foot flood; that there would not be another fire at the Motherhouse; and that we would be financially stable. There have not been any ‘F’s’ since,” she said. 24

“Most priests bring their own albs, so the laundry is less. If a priest is traveling from a distance, we have enough albs on hand so he doesn’t have to pack his own. We hang the vestments for the day in a cupboard near the desk; we have a digital portable microphone for celebrants to wear. “Serving as sacristans is a very special kind of ministry, and time consuming, but the Lord is worth it, and also the spiritual life of the Sisters is worth it,” S. Dolores concluded. Intercom


Associate Jacquie Jones Where do you work? I work at Keystone Montessori School in el Cerrito, Calif. el Cerrito is located next to Berkeley in the east Bay of the San Francisco area. What do you teach? Although I have taught high school english, high school Spanish, and adults learning english as another language, I am currently head teacher of the 4- and 5-year-old class. This class serves as the kindergarten year for some of the students. How does Elizabeth Seton/the Sisters of Charity inspire the work that you do? When I moved to the Bay Area in Associate Jacquie Jones (back, second from left) teaches 4- and 5-year-olds at Keystone Montessori 2007, I didn’t plan to teach in a School in El Cerrito, Calif. Montessori school. However, through a series of unforeseen and surprising program daily; they know the importance of saving water events, I took the job as head teacher, and since, I have been when washing their hands; they gain an appreciation for all blessed and challenged to “meet my grace” daily. elizabeth plant and animal life and learn how we are all interconnected; Seton serves as an inspiration to me because she was a teacher, they begin to see how we fit in with the other planets; they she founded schools, and she persevered through all of the have memorized the “Peace Poem” written by Gandhi’s difficulties, turmoil and conflicts that came her way. Her faith nephew; and they practice being “peacekeepers” with each and profound trust in God saw her through. other and discover peaceful ways to resolve conflicts. The Sisters of Charity have provided me with a model A couple of years ago when I attended a meeting of the of my mission as a teacher. I was greatly inspired when I Western Network in Colorado Springs, Colo., I learned of attended the Sacred Web of Creation retreat in 2009. I knew a CD by Sharon Burch. The “theme song” for my children at that time that I would try to foster an awareness in my (mostly in english but partially in Navajo) is from that CD young students of our interconnectedness with each other and and it’s called “We Are Here.” To me, it expresses the spirit with all creation. Since then I have developed a foundation of elizabeth Seton and the Sisters of Charity. Its final line is: that reflects what was stated in the Sisters of Charity Belief “We are here to love each other, to love our surroundings, to Statement Regarding the earth: “We are called: In humility love ourselves, to love, to love, to love.” to reverence the beauty and gifts of earth, In simplicity to I close in gratitude to the Sisters of Charity for how deeply recognize our kinship with earth, In charity to sustainably they have affected and changed my life, helping me to grow protect and restore the integrity of earth’s ecological systems.” spiritually and to meet my grace in my daily work. My students care for an organic garden which they planted; they practice a multi-step recycling and composting

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Athenaeum professor honored


Betty Jane Lillie, professor of biblical studies at The Athenaeum of Ohio/ Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio, was honored with the Founders’ Medallion by the Union for Reform Judaism at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati during May graduation ceremonies. S. Betty Jane, a graduate studies alumna of Hebrew Union College, earned the award for her “work to maintain vibrant religious life in (her) community and for bringing its tenets into the lives of so many,” said Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism. “It is a distinct honor to receive the medallion,” S. Betty Jane said. “I am thrilled, very grateful and overwhelmed.”


Photo courtesy of Hebrew Union College

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iscounted prices on gift and twoyear subscriptions to Intercom, the quarterly magazine of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, are now available for the 2012 calendar year. Subscriptions will begin with the Winter 2012 installment and cover five issues. Please be sure to carefully read the form for additional information. To send in your subscription information, simply fill out the form and mail to: Sisters of Charity Communications Office, 5900 Delhi Road, Mount St. Joseph, OH 45051. Please make checks payable to Sisters of Charity. Thank you for your support.

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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 390 Sisters are joined in their mission by 191 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 32 U.S. dioceses and in Guatemala, Mexico and the West Indies. They also sponsor institutions to address education, health care and social service needs, with particular concern for direct service to the poor.

Intercom Staff Editor Erin Reder Graphic Design/Layout Michelle Bley Photographer S. Marty Dermody Director of Communications Donata Glassmeyer Executive Council Liaison S. Mary Bookser

Embraced by the People


Mary Ann Humbert was one of four Sisters of Charity and two SC Associates traveling to Guatemala in July to experience the culture and to participate in the ministry of health and education through the Daniel Comboni Community Clinic in Mixco where S. Sarah Mulligan ministers. “The second day we were in Guatemala I jotted the words ‘embraced by the people’ in my journal,” S. Mary Ann reflected. “I was so taken back by the hugs and kisses we were greeted with by the people we met. One morning after a women’s group session, a young woman came up to me, embraced me, and began praying a blessing in my ear. I didn’t need to translate the words to know the prolonged and profound blessing she offered me. I was moved to tears. I was repeatedly humbled by the faith and gratitude to God we heard so frequently expressed by those living in such poverty, illness, unemployment and lack of resources. I pray to have such gratitude for the luxuries I take for granted.” For more reflections and photographs, visit our Web site at

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Advisory Board Members: S. Mary Ann Flannery Donata Glassmeyer S. Georgia Kitt Mary Jo Mersmann S. Emily Anne Phelan S. Therese Ann Reis S. Joyce Richter S. Frances Maureen Trampiets 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 E-mail: Subscriptions: $15 per year

5900 Delhi Road Mount St. Joseph, OH 45051


5900 Delhi Road Mount Saint Joseph, OH 45051

Jubilee 2011: We Are Made for Service: Sisters, Associates, family and friends gathered this summer at the Motherhouse to celebrate the 2011 jubilarians.

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Educating Tomorrow’s Leaders: Sisters Marie Irene Schneider (back, left) and Mary Dolores Schneider (back, right) are two of six Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati educating students at Cincinnati’s Seton High School.

The Love of Christ Urges Us: S. Mary Marcel DeJonckheere is one of many Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati ministering in elementary and secondary education.

Intercom Fall 2011  

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

Intercom Fall 2011  

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