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Spring 2016



Merciful like the Father









Dear Sisters, Associates and Friends,


ou become a merciful person by practicing acts of mercy.” This is a quote from Joan Chittister, OSB, and it seems so appropriate to describe all the activities of our contributors to this issue of Intercom.

Contents FEATURES Two Nations, One Faith .......................... 8 Sisters reflect on Pope Francis’ visit to Mexico. A Blessing to Others.................................. 11 S. Dorothy Ann Blatnica’s ministry with Cuyahoga Hills Juvenile Correctional Facility. Behind the Scenes ................................. 14 A closer look at the Motherhouse’s Immaculate Conception Chapel.

Practice makes perfect and so we are challenged by the example of these good people and know that, without a doubt, we are better for having this witness of their lives and service. Thanks to Pope Francis’ call for a Year of Mercy, I believe we are becoming aware of mercy in our lives in a whole new way. I find the potential for mercy hidden in areas where I never thought to look before. It seems that forgiveness is such a strong component of mercy … forgiving myself for not being perfect, forgiving others for not being who we wanted them to be. An attitude of mercy makes it all seem possible; where before I might have held a grudge, now I can open myself to something new. May you look for mercy in places you least expect to find it! May you be open to the surprise at finding it and begin to share that with those around you. There isn’t a doubt in my mind that you will be overwhelmed.

Three Times Blessed .............................. 20 Jenny Januszewski, an adoptee of the Vietnam Babylift, reflects 40 years later.


S. Mary Caroline Marchal, SC

Moments in Ministry .............................. 3 St. John’s/Good Samaritan Hospital OPJCC ................................................... 7 Standing in Solidarity Vocation/Formation .............................. 18 International Sisters in Our Midst Timeless Treasures ................................. 26 Mother Regina Mattingly’s lap desk

On the Cover: The stained-glass image of Jesus healing the lame is located in the Immaculate Conception Chapel at the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse. The artwork was funded by a gift from Glockner Sanitarium in Colorado Springs, Colorado. 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. Associate Gloria Cordova April 18, 2016 S. Mary Andrea Friedman April 18, 2016 S. Teresa Stadtmiller February 21, 2016


Moments in Ministry By S. Judith Metz

St. John’s/Good Samaritan Hospital, Cincinnati, Ohio Soon after the Sisters of Charity in Cincinnati became a diocesan community, Archbishop John Purcell purchased the 21-bed “Hôtel des Invalides” at Broadway and Franklin streets. Five Sisters took charge of St. John’s, the first Catholic hospital in the city. Constantly expanding services and enlarging facilities, the hospital has moved to four different locations and continues to serve thousands of patients each year. From its founding until 2004, hundreds of Sisters of Charity served in administration, nursing services, nursing education, laboratories, pharmacy, and every description of support services.

S. Henrietta Marie Lenegar (second from left) was one of the first graduates of the Good Samaritan Hospital School of Nursing.

In 1941, S. Eugene Marie Carpe directed a resident staff physician at Cincinnati Good Samaritan Hospital in performing the first exchange transfusion treatment in the area for newborn babies affected by the Rh factor.


St. John’s Hospital opened at Broadway and Franklin streets.


St. John’s moved to a 75-bed facility at Third and Plum streets where 10 Sisters served on the nursing staff. Patients were assessed $1 to cover the cost of medicines for a four-month stay. S. Anthony O’Connell joined the hospital staff in 1859.


Many Civil War casualties were cared for at St. John’s, and many of the Sister-nurses served on battlefields and in military hospitals during the war.


Joseph Butler and Louis Worthington purchased the 95-bed United States Marine Hospital at Sixth and Lock streets and presented the deed to S. Anthony O’Connell with the request that the name be changed to The Good Samaritan.


S. Anthony O’Connell opened St. Ann’s Home for Widows and Destitute Females on the hospital grounds. This was the precursor of St. Joseph’s Infant and Maternity Home.


The Good Samaritan Hospital School of Nursing opened under the leadership of S. Sebastian Shea. S. Henrietta Marie Lenegar, one of the first graduates, served as the first director of the school.


S. Victoria Fulwiler oversaw the building of a new Good Samaritan Hospital at Clifton and Dixmyth avenues in Clifton. More than 20,000 visitors toured the new facility when it opened its doors. Throughout the 20th century Sisters of Charity served as administrators, department heads, and head nurses as well as staff members in almost every department at Good Samaritan. The hospital continued to modernize and expand services in line with medical care developments.

1996 S. Grace Marie Hiltz administered at Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati from 1962-’79. SPRING 2016

Good Samaritan Hospital became part of the newly formed Catholic Health Initiatives at which time the Sisters of Charity ceased their sponsorship.


Religious Life Transforming for New Generations By S. Marge Kloos


eligious life is one of the most impactful intergenerational witnesses of discipleship in the modern world. Catholic Sisters shape the present by respecting the past and proclaiming the future as hopeful, according to Understanding U.S. Catholic Sisters Today, a study by University of Notre Dame researcher Kathleen Sprows Cummings. It has always been an intergenerational venture, encouraging cooperation and companionship between and among generations.

of social work. They no longer come for mission, as they did in previous generations. They come from mission, seeking a deeper commitment to spirituality and the blessings and challenges of community.”

“Women considering religious life are looking for an alternative way to live,” says S. Annie Klapheke, “and sharing life in community is the unique mark of religious life. Religious communities are unique because they are framed by the evangelical vows. Amy Hereford finds that Members of the Federation’s Future of Charity group met in women considering religious life St. Louis, Missouri, the weekend of April 8. Future of Charity In gathering perspectives from was formed to build relationships among the younger, newer today seek to live simply, justly members of the Sisters of Charity Federation. various other researchers, the and sustainably with others, under Cummings Report looks at the the same roof. And these house implications of younger women demonstrating a somewhat communities are places of ‘deliberate Gospel living; centers of unanticipated interest in entering religious life. According to witness to authentic Christianity and also centers from which the report, these women bring a much-needed generational members can go out in service, just as so many generations of perspective to contemporary religious life. With their easy religious have done before them.’” acceptance of diversity, they tend to include those not like Many Sisters who have the first contact with women themselves in their circles of relationship. They are almost discerning religious life are not themselves living in local always electronically networked across generations and communities, usually because of ministry. These Sisters have cultures. They are also less likely to pursue economic success been influenced by the clarion call of Vatican II to go to the or political power and tend toward being “engaged with what ends of the earth and serve as Christ served among the poorest is satisfying.” These women are attracted to Catholic Sisters, of the poor and the most marginalized of God’s people. often generations older than themselves, because of the values “I am aware that one of the main draws to religious life they share. in the last decade or so has been community,” says Affiliate Community: The Unique Difference Denise Morris. “However, my draw has been more to the Community is most often the stated reason for joining a ministries of the Community—specifically work with religious congregation today. In her book Religious Life at immigrants—and to the Community’s commitment to the Crossroads, Amy Hereford, CSJ, states, “Those coming literally be on the margins of the U.S./Mexico border. I to religious life in the twenty-first century are coming for sometimes ponder whether it would be a powerful witness to community. They acknowledge the centrality of ministry have several of us at one ministry such as the clinic in Anapra and spirituality in their lives, but the unique difference they … I realize the latter scenario may not honor the unique gifts, seek in religious life is community, and the particular form talents, and passions each woman brings to the community, of community that is framed by vowed life. Those coming to but I do believe there is powerful witness in groups, even if it religious life today often come from the ranks of lay ministers is small groups (two or three Sisters together).” in education, healthcare, pastoral care, or various forms 4


A religious community potentially impacts the world by its inherent call to practice what it preaches, employing solutions to everyday life that address the complex problems of our world. The ministry of witness is part of every local community. For instance, “because of the universal threat of climate change and its impact on other global problems,” reflects Affiliate Whitney Schieltz, “the cause of sustainability is one of the most in need of the SCs presence today. In addition to educating others and encouraging political action, Sisters lead by example, incorporating sustainability into our concept of living simply. By doing what we can to practice ‘green living,’ even encouraging our family and friends to join us, we can advance the movement to reduce wastefulness and destruction of our common home.”

(From left) Sisters Andrea Koverman, Tracy Kemme and Annie Klapheke support each other as newer women religious.

“As a lay person, I have been able to do active and valuable ministry in the church/parish I belonged to as well as in my work as a teacher,” says Affiliate Romina Sapinoso. “I was able to be with the poor in missions with other lay people. … Experiencing the love and challenges of living in community gives me a glimpse of the possibility that our hopes for the world – sustainability, peace, cooperation – are definitely not just dreams but a very possible reality… The intention and openness of Christ-centered women who come from different social and economic backgrounds, cultures, and languages to live together gives real hope to the larger community that is our world.” Practically, as the Cummings Report states, generations need one another “to live the Gospel in a special way” that honors the continuity that has shaped the community since its inception. “The need to adapt religious life to a changing culture, for example, exists across time and place,” writes Cummings. This legacy of adaptation has historically brought about spiritual innovation, ministerial attending, and psychological explorations into human development that have been utterly transformative for Sisters. Admittedly, new members need to hear the stories and share life with the women who have lived this commitment. “I have found hope in discovering the early roots of our congregation,” says S. Tracy Kemme. “The Way of Elizabeth pilgrimage and our subsequent community history classes with S. Judy Metz made the SC spirit come alive. We heard about the adversity overcome and the changes lived through by our Sisters who have gone before us. I especially found hope encountering the legacy of the original group of SCs in Cincinnati. They were a small group of women, and often they had no idea what they were doing. But somehow, God worked through them to accomplish goodness, love, and justice. I know God will always do the same, through us and through all Sisters and Associates to come.” Members are always discerning aspects of our vowed life, relying on one another for wisdom, honesty, courage, SPRING 2016

inspiration, and joy. The many years of fruitful, prayerful engagement with one’s vocation is lifelong … and this engagement leads to significant insights that when shared across generations produces much grace. Intergenerational exchange about the quality and purpose of our life together is a gift that transcends so many of the myths about generations working together for the sake of the common good. S. Andrea Koverman cites an example of how potent the dynamic of prayerful intergenerational discernment can be. “One experience in which I recognized the Spirit being very alive and active was during our recent Chapter of Affairs ... as a Community, we opened our hearts to being led by God rather than by our own wills, and now we have a concrete plan for moving into the future in partnership and cooperation with the divine Creator. And it fills me with energy, enthusiasm and motivation to live out what we have said together as fully as I am able.” Finally, but perhaps most significantly, “intercongregational collaboration is the hallmark of contemporary women’s religious life and is essential for its future,” according to the report. Sisters from different communities living together is not new but it will be even more vital in coming years. With fewer and fewer members from every religious community able to live in local groups with their own Sisters, this new generation have become initiators and animators of small group community living that will likely include those who are not vowed members of their own community. The monolithic composition of previous house communities will no doubt expand, welcoming Associates and other laity drawn to the charism. “Encounters with other younger, newer women religious have been essential to me feeling at home in this life choice,” says S. Tracy Kemme. Hearing each other’s stories, laughing together, and supporting one another, I feel like I have found my ‘people.’ I know that I do not walk this path alone. I am re-energized by our shared vision. … This gives me hope!” 5

Charity Family The Singing Circle By S. Mary Bodde HAPPY BIRTHDAY S. ANNINA Sisters, Associates, family and friends gathered at the Motherhouse at the beginning of March to celebrate the 100th birthday of S. Annina Morgan. Born on March 9, 1916, S. Annina entered the Sisters of Charity in 1933. She ministered in education for 33 years – as teacher and principal – and is well loved and treasured by many of her former students, as well as S. Betty Finn (left) and S. Mary Bookser her SC Community. Sisters and employees (right) with S. Annina Morgan. at the Motherhouse and Mother Margaret Hall had the opportunity to wish Sister well and enjoy a piece of cake during a celebration on March 9.

ASSOCIATES HOST SPRING FLING Sisters, Associates and Associate candidates in the Greater Cincinnati area gathered on Sunday, March 20 for the annual Spring Fling. The event, hosted by the Associates, began with prayer followed by lunch and discussion using the reflection (From left) Associates Maggi Yocis, Maureen Nieman, Christa Bauke and Mary Ann Vennemeyer at the booklet “Living the Question, Discernment Guide on the Evolution Spring Fling. of the Associate Way of Life.”

(Back row, from left) S. Sandy Howe; S. Janet Gildea; S. Nancy Murphy, DC; S. Catherine Brown, DC; S. Mary Kay Neff, SC-Seton Hill; Christina De Santos, Associate; S. Victoria Anyanwu; (front row, from left) S. Alice Ann O’Neill; S. Cheryl Ann Hillig, DC; Julie Burdick, Associate; S. Rachel Blais, SC-Seton Hill


CLDP MEMBERS GATHER IN ST. LOUIS Sisters of Charity Federation members participating in the 18-month Collaborative Leadership Development Program met in St. Louis, Missouri, in March. The program is designed to prepare women religious, Associates and co-members with the skills, knowledge and confidence to assume leadership positions in community and ministry.

WEBSITE HIGHLIGHTS YEAR OF MERCY During this Year of Mercy, the Sisters of Charity website will be hosting a landing page with resources and examples of mercy. To view the page, visit news_events/YoM.htm.

SC MINISTRY FOUNDATION PILGRIMAGE TO EMMITSBURG On March 22 and 23, 2016, members of the SC Ministry Foundation staff and board of directors shared a pilgrimage to visit the sites of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s early ministries in Baltimore and Emmitsburg, Maryland. S. Judith Metz provided ongoing commentary on the history of the U.S. Catholic Church and Elizabeth’s life. The pilgrimage included visits to the Mother Seton House on Paca Street in Baltimore, St. Mary’s Mountain and the National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, and the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. I N T E RC O M

Standing in Solidarity By Debbie Weber, OPJCC director We, Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, support the pastoral letter of Catholic Bishops of Mexico and the United States, Strangers Together on the Journey, which acknowledges that the current immigration system cries out for change. We recognize the rights of all our immigrant/refugee sisters and brothers. We believe the resolution of immigration/refugee issues must be viewed through the lens of economic analysis. Therefore, we call for change in unjust immigration policies and unfair trade agreements by our nation, and we will continue our direct outreach to immigrants and refugees. Congregational Stand, May 2007


OPJCC Director Debbie Weber with donated items for welcome baskets for area refugee families.

tarting on the World Day of Migrants The latest figures available from the UN and Refugees in January and continuing show that the number of refugees in midthrough June 2016, the Office of Peace, 2015 reached an estimated 15.1 million, the Justice and Care for Creation (OPJCC) highest level in 20 years. Refugees most often is partnering with Catholic Charities of live in designated camps in adjacent countries. Southwestern Ohio (CCSWO) to provide Some refugees are repatriated (returned home); area refugee families with Welcome Baskets others are nationalized (accepted as citizens and and Bins that contain bedding, cleaning residents in the nation of their camps); but most supplies and other household items. Our remain refugees. Less than 1 percent of them are SC family and friends are welcoming resettled to an assigned country. Pope Francis, Migrants and Refugees Challenge Us: Cincinnati area refugee families with these Those who are assigned to the U.S. are The Response of the Gospel much needed items. Small groups, work areas, resettled in communities throughout the nation. In of Mercy. prayer communities, households, Motherhouse the Cincinnati area, CCSWO is the only agency living areas, parishes, and the Zion United that has a resettlement program for refugees. Church of Christ have been assembling these CCSWO resettles approximately 200 refugees a year in Cincinnati Welcome Baskets and dropping them off at OPJCC to be and has resettled more than 12,000 refugees in this community later picked up by CCSWO. since 1980.

“Welcoming others is welcoming God in person!”

The number of refugee families coming to the Cincinnati area is expected to double from last year. These families will come to the U.S. screened by the United Nations (UN), U.S. Department of Homeland Security and finally the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops if they have been assigned to live in the Cincinnati area. CCSWO will assist the refugee families that resettle in our area by providing a wide-range of services with the goal of each family becoming self-sufficient and acculturated into U.S. society. Our refugee sisters and brothers faced violence, religious and political persecution, natural disaster and/or extreme poverty in their homelands. Most did not have a chance to pack their belongings, including clothing, or to say goodbye to their friends and families. They had little idea about where they were going because they were running away, not running to anywhere. Many refugees experienced severe trauma or torture, and have had no opportunity to prepare themselves physically or psychologically for their new life in another country. SPRING 2016

In this Year of Mercy, SC family and friends are showing their love and compassion toward refugees who come to our city, most without personal belongings. Welcoming them with a “Bedroom Basket,” a “Cleaning Bin,” a “Home Basket” or miscellaneous items such as storage bins, rice cookers or gently used microwave ovens is a wonderful way we are standing in solidarity with our new neighbors. Let us work and pray for those who flee their homelands to escape violence, religious or political persecution, natural disaster, and/or extreme poverty. Whether they have “legal” refugee status or not, they are our sisters and brothers. For more information about the Catholic Charities of Southwestern Ohio Resettlement Program, go online to: Sources: Catholic Charities of Southwestern Ohio, Refugee Resettlement Services United Nations Refugee Agency 7

Two Nations, One Faith: We Were “Presente!” By Denise Morris, Affiliate

“As a native El Pasoan, I never in my entire life even had a minor suspicion that a Holy Father would come to us. And what I think is significant at this time is that he said he’s not just coming to Juarez. He said ‘I want to go to the border.’ The border has two sides, and so he’s coming to see us as well.” ~ Helen Santamaria, Sister of Loretto and founder of Villa Maria Home for Women On Feb. 17, 2016, Pope Francis ended his historic six-day trip to Mexico with Mass in Ciudad Juarez, a povertyplagued city just 300 feet from the heavily militarized U.S. border that less than 10 years ago was dubbed “the murder capital of the world.” But you never would have suspected such a brutal recent history from the peaceful joy emanating from the estimated 250,000 people in attendance.

friendly. It felt like a community … like ‘The town is here.’”

Romina agreed that the experience of just getting to the Mass was one of the highlights for her. “When Tania and Sofia stopped the bus to pick up other people who were on their way to the Mass, I felt part of a much larger community of believers that weren’t there just to spectate, but to celebrate our S. Carol Wirtz, Affiliates Whitney (From left) S. Helen Santamaria, Sister of Loretto; connection with each other and Columban Father Bill Morton; Affiliate Denise Morris; and Schieltz and Romina Sapinoso, and the pope’s visit,” she said. “People S. Peggy Deneweth were in attendance for the pope’s former AVE volunteer Julia Brice greeted each other on the streets and historic Mass near the U.S.-Mexico border in February. were among those who had tickets helped those who were having trouble to the Mass, which was held at the walking the distance. They took turns Juarez fairgrounds. holding up blankets so the elderly standing with us in the heat could have relief, and they also shared food and drink During the weeks leading up to the event, reports of open with strangers. How appropriate that during a gathering for and closed access points as well as anticipated traffic flow the pope, the people of Juarez were exemplifying the pope’s seemed to change daily, so they decided to spend the night before at Proyecto Santo Niño, which is the clinic for children message of unity, mercy, and love for one’s neighbor.” with special needs that the Sisters founded in Anapra, Mexico, on the outskirts of Juarez in 2001. At 6 a.m. on the morning of the Mass, Sofia (one of the mothers from Santo Niño) drove the four of them and several friends to the event using the clinic’s bus. On the way, they noticed several people walking toward the fairgrounds, so Tania (another mother from the clinic) stuck her head out the window of the bus and asked, “Are you going to see the pope?” When several of the people responded “Yes!”, Tania told them to hop in!

On the U.S. side of the border, separated from Massgoers by the Rio Grande River, a barbed fence, and a cement canal, S. Peggy Deneweth and I were part of a 500-person delegation that accompanied a group known as the “Francis VIPs”. Approximately 100 of the VIPs were unaccompanied minors who at the time of the Mass lived in three shelters in El Paso. The rest were U.S. bishops, religious, lawyers, social workers, advocates, and citizens whose work is devoted to helping migrants and the poor in El Paso.

“For a city that so many people are afraid to set foot in, it felt like we were just going to the park,” said Whitney. “Yes, there were armed guards at the event entrance, but they smiled and said ‘Good morning’ to us, and the volunteers were super

One of the Francis VIPs shared that the pope’s visit was a personal affirmation of her decision to risk everything to come to the United States with her three young daughters. Mari, a 35-year-old woman from El Salvador, left her country



S. Peggy Deneweth and Affiliate Denise Morris sat on the levee with the Francis VIPs during Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S.-Mexico border in February. The altar for his Mass was located through the fence on the right side of the border.

last fall and spent three months traveling through the desert with just her daughters. They made the harrowing trek alone without help from coyotes, which are guides who migrants often pay thousands of dollars to help get them to their destination—though safety and arrival are never guaranteed. Mari explained that she and the girls faced many dangers, including hunger, lack of shelter, and the risk of being sexually and/or physically assaulted. But she saw the pope’s visit as a confirmation from God. “It’s a sign that God is with me, and has always been with me,” she said. “There are so many people that wanted to be here, but can’t be.” Just minutes before Mass began, Pope Francis made a special stop at a sloped platform on the Juarez side of the border, about a football field’s length from the VIPs. There, he ascended the nearly 100-foot-long structure to VIP shouts of “¡Se ve! ¡Se siente! ¡El Papa está presente!” (“You can see it! You can feel it! The pope is here!”) At the top stood a large cross with worn and tattered shoes at its base, representing the 6,000-plus migrants who have lost their lives attempting to cross the desert and make it to the United States in search of a better life. After laying a bouquet of flowers at the foot of the cross, he blessed three smaller crosses representing the dioceses of El Paso, Juarez, and Las Cruces. He concluded with several moments of silence and then turned toward the levee and extended a special blessing to the VIPs. His simple gesture lasted only three minutes. But without uttering a word—as is so characteristic of Pope Francis and his ministry of mercy— he demonstrated with whom he stood. Just like Jesus. “The more I reflect on the pope’s visit to Mexico, the more I feel that his clearest message was in his actions, not his words,” said S. Janet Gildea. “The fact that he began his pilgrimage at the feet of Our Lady of Guadalupe, sitting in silent contemplation, gave an exquisite example of how we need to be grounded in her message of compassion, reconciliation, and advocacy. His itinerary along the SPRING 2016

Getting ready for the cross-border Mass with Pope Francis in February were (from left) Affiliate Romina Sapinoso, S. Carol Wirtz, AVE participant Julia Brice and Affiliate Whitney Schieltz, along with many more El Paso border community friends.

immigrant trail through the most dangerous parts of the country showed that we should not fear to put ourselves in solidarity on that path. And finally, the moment when he stood in silence looking across the U.S.-Mexico border at the immigrants and refugees who awaited his blessing on the other side captured the experience of separation and longing that is the effect of our immigration policy. Indeed, actions speak louder than words.” Rev. Mark Seitz, Bishop of the Diocese of El Paso, agreed that Pope Francis’ itinerary—the places he chose to visit and the order in which he visited them—were not happenstance. When the pope was preparing to visit the United States in September 2015, he wanted to enter through Juarez like a migrant. But federal security concerns prevented him from doing so. Again, during the planning for this trip to Mexico, it was reported that the pope’s wish was to have the platform extended across the river into the United States, but high security concerns thwarted his dream … just like those of the migrants. And so it leaves many wondering and asking, if not even the pope is allowed to cross the border, what does that say about our policies? Our priorities? Our lived faith? Our fear? “The pope has the plight of migrants so much on his mind and in his heart that he really symbolically wanted to enter into their experience and their suffering in some way they could understand and be with them in that,” Bishop Seitz said. “His visit was a challenge to me personally to continue to try to raise up the issue and help not only the people of the Diocese of El Paso, but those beyond so that they begin to hear there’s another way to look at this issue in the light of faith. It meant a lot to know that what we experience here is not forgotten and that it can be seen in a different way than it’s so often portrayed in the media and by politicians. It gave us an opportunity to speak that different vision and for people to see a different way of being at the border. So it was just priceless.” 9

Making It Happen By S. Victoria Marie Forde and Jennifer Raabe


hen asked about her 92nd birthday celebration, S. John Miriam Jones gave it her highest praise: “It was a true Notre Dame event!” On Feb. 21, 2016, more than 30 members of the Notre Dame Club of Greater Cincinnati community honored the woman who led Notre Dame into coeducation with an elegant brunch in a room festooned with blue and gold balloons and warmed by good cheer. Generations of grads, from the 1940s to the 2000s, joined in the celebration—women, men, longtime friends and those who simply wanted to meet her. What they held in common was a profound sense of gratitude and admiration for the guest of honor. Hand-selected by Fr. Ted Hesburgh, S. John served Notre Dame from 1972 to 1989, as assistant and then associate provost, playing the principal role in Notre Dame’s integration of women undergraduates into the University. As the saying goes, “Father Ted opened up Notre Dame to women; S. John made it happen.” While enjoying a fine post-brunch chocolate birthday cake (her favorite), each guest stood, one by one, to share special memories and words of thanks for S. John. All agreed that the transition to coeducation had had its moments, as both women and men relayed fun-filled anecdotes of the high and low points of their personal experiences. Carole Adlard talked about folks who assumed she had graduated from St. Mary’s College, while women who graduated more recently credited S. John for nurturing an environment that made them feel it was completely natural to be a female undergrad at Notre Dame.

S. John Miriam Jones looks through the scrapbook given to her to celebrate Sister’s 92nd birthday and the 40th anniversary of the first class of four-year women students graduating from Notre Dame.

S. Victoria Marie had a chance to thank S. John for supporting her in two big, grace-filled adventures: helping her prepare for full-time graduate study in just two weeks’ time, and later, on a football weekend, arranging an interview with Arts and Letters Dean Robert Burns, which resulted in S. Victoria being hired for a position in Notre Dame’s first Study Abroad Program in London. Friends and fans unable to make it to Cincinnati sent in scores of special messages, letters, cards and photos from across the country and overseas—Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins and President Emeritus Fr. Monk Malloy among them. Included in the thick binder of written memories is a note from 13 ND women, juniors currently studying in Spain, as well as one from more than 20 ND women from the class of 2019. Clearly, S. John’s efforts to bring coeducation to Notre Dame 40-plus years ago endure. S. John was Notre Dame’s first high-level female administrator. Among her many other responsibilities during her time at ND, she also served as assistant professor of microbiology. Following her years at Notre Dame, she went on to serve as Academic Dean at the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati from 1997 until 2001. In October 1999, 10 years after her departure, S. John became one of the inaugural initiates into Notre Dame’s Wall of Honor. What is cast in bronze perhaps says it best: “In 1972 the University underwent a historic change from an allmale to a coeducational institution of higher learning. Sister Jones directed that transition with an impressive blend of imagination, grace and humor.”

Members of the Notre Dame Club of Greater Cincinnati celebrate S. John Miriam Jones on her 92nd birthday. 10

To that we would all agree—cue another hearty round of “Thank you, S. John!” I N T E RC O M

A Blessing to Others

S. Dorothy Ann Blatnica (center) with Donna Stepka (left) and Aimee Convery from Church of the Resurrection parish in Solon, Ohio. The women are three of the parish members who volunteer at Cuyahoga Hills Juvenile Correctional Facility regularly.

By Josh Zeller, Communications Office intern


uyahoga Hills Juvenile Correctional Facility (CHJCF) has a friend in Church of the Resurrection parish in Solon, Ohio, which began hosting Sunday evening Mass onsite several years ago. Over time, a small group of youth began to attend regularly, but the parish found that extra help was needed, to bolster and support the Congregation they were trying to build. That’s when 12 parish volunteers were called in, including S. Dorothy Ann Blatnica, who has been volunteering at the facility for over four years. “I was motivated to volunteer at CHJCF when I left fulltime teaching at Ursuline College…,” S. Dorothy Ann remembers. “Having taught Religious Studies for over 40 years, I felt that I had something to offer the young men at the facility who might want to learn more about the Catholic religion.” Sister goes to Mass at the facility every other Sunday, alternating her time there with teaching a Saturday morning Catholic Information class. Most of her students are not Catholic, but the class is not for the purpose of conversion; she is just there to inform, starting with the motions and mysteries of Mass. “I taught at both the high school and college levels in my career and the young men seemed a natural fit for me,” says S. Dorothy Ann. “I am drawn to young people who have their lives ahead of them and need the influence of people who care about them.” This care is an important aspect of Sister’s ministry, which includes a fellowship hour following Mass, when she can spend more time with the seven young men who regularly attend. She and the other volunteers bring goodies, as well as open ears. They can’t touch on deeply personal topics, but S. Dorothy Ann feels that it is helpful for them just having someone to listen. Many of them never had this benefit growing up because they grew up in unstable home environments; this, Sister relates, makes it difficult for them to form stable relationships. But it is the goal of the SPRING 2016

institution in general to provide some much needed stability in the lives of these young men. “I have met quite a few of the Youth Specialists (guards) who take a genuine interest in their lives and form some quality relationships with them,” she said. S. Dorothy Ann takes a similar interest in her students, treating them as she would want to be treated: “I knew they were coming from backgrounds very different from the students I was accustomed to teaching. However, I learned that they, like most people, appreciated the respect and interest I offered them, perhaps even more than the Catholic information. For some of them, this is a rare experience.” She currently is working with a young man who has attended her classes for two years now. She is not allowed the time to get to know any one youth truly well, so she hopes the growing interest in her class, as well as in the Mass, is a sign that she and her fellow parish volunteers have made some sort of internal impact. Early on in this Year of Mercy, Sister says that there has been a major focus at her parish church on its aims, of which her time at the CHJCF is a part. “… [W]e have emphasized the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy for this year as a parish community. We have a large number of outreach programs in our parish, and [our juvenile correctional] ministry is one of many that have been ongoing for years.” “I have personally experienced God’s goodness and compassion more times than I can count in my own life,” S. Dorothy Ann shares. Her experiences surrounding mercy have always been essential, foundational experiences, and have formed her rationale for giving her time to the young men in the correctional facility, and to whomever she encounters. “I have been greatly blessed in many, many ways that this compels me to want to be a blessing to others who need to experience God's love. This is my whole reason for being a Sister of Charity.” 11

Meet a Sister. Be Inspired. National Catholic Sisters Week March 8-14, 2016


id you know that one of our Sisters of Charity competed in the Junior Olympics in balance beam, and the horizontal and parallel bars? Or that another chased away a pack of wild dogs in Africa?

The answers to these puzzling questions, and many more, were part of a friendly guessing game involving Sisters either living or ministering at the Motherhouse and Mother Margaret Hall during National Catholic Sisters Week (NCSW). NCSW was celebrated throughout the country March 8-14, 2016. The annual celebration honors women religious through a series of events that instruct, enlighten and bring greater focus to their lives. At Mount St. Joseph, the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati celebrated with written articles for the website and on social media, Sister Shout Outs, and as mentioned above, an employee guessing game. It was a chance to involve as many individuals as possible to say thank you to the Sisters they have come to know and love, and in many ways, an opportunity to get to know SCs, past and present, more intimately. To view additional photos and articles from National Catholic Sisters Week, please visit the landing page on the SC website at NCSW.htm.

(From left) Sisters Kateri Maureen Koverman and Marty Dermody enjoy their root beer floats during the National Catholic Sisters Week social on March 14.

(From left) S. Joyce Brehm and Ellen Dillon, MMH social worker, had an opportunity to get to know each other better during lunch on March 16. Ellen participated in the SC guessing game distributed during National Catholic Sisters Week.

S. Mary Dolores Schneider and Allison Bayer, food service specialist, prepare to hear the results of the employee guessing game during the March 14 celebration.

S. Barbara Huber with Kweli Marion, STNA, during the root beer float social on Monday, March 14. Employees had the opportunity to socialize with the Sisters before the answers to the Sisters guessing game were revealed. (Back, from left) Sisters Cookie Crowley, Timothy Ann Schroeder, Mary Ellen Murphy, Annette Frey, Jo Ann Martini, Mary Kathleen Pagac, Mary Barbara Philippart, (front row, from left) Joyce Brehm, Marjorie Farfsing, Pat Saul and (not pictured) Margaret Marie Anthony and Julia Mary Deiters were part of the Sisters guessing game circulating throughout the Motherhouse and Mother Margaret Hall.



Each day during National Catholic Sisters Week the Sisters of Charity Communications Office asked a Sister in a different stage of her SC community life to consider the following question: How do you see religious life reflecting the goodness and compassion of God into the future? The responses offered a glimpse into their understanding of God’s mercy at work. One of the reflections is featured below.

T Bayley Gift Shop volunteers sent in their Sister Shout Out during National Catholic Sisters Week describing Sisters as “priceless.”

Seton High School president Kathy Ciarla and principal Karen White called the Sisters “inspirational” in their Sister Shout Out for National Catholic Sisters Week.

he spirit of mercy profoundly touches the lives of women religious, whom we are recognizing during National Catholic Sisters Week. S. Pat Wittberg, who celebrates her Golden Jubilee this year, feels that she is experiencing this goodness and compassion of God currently through research she is doing for the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA). S. Pat’s research involves Millennial Catholics, and trying to bring them back to the Church. Her forwardthinking writings anticipate just one of the ways women religious will help raise awareness of the Church, and help to carry God’s mercy into the future. Personally, Sister believes the foundations of religious life rest on the fact that a conscientious person was “distressed by some difficulty in the People of God.” In going ahead, the conscientious action of Sisters across the nation will be more necessary than ever before. “My understanding … is that Christianity and Jesus himself taught that his kingdom ‘was not of this world,’” says S. Pat. “And that means, basically, that there will always be poverty, injustice, environmental mess, whatever. We’re not going to have a perfect society, a perfect country … in this life.”

(From left) S. Mary Kay Bush, Karen Tisi, RN, supervisor, S. Margaret Marie Anthony and Janet Dwyer, LPN, enjoyed lunch together on March 16. By participating in the SC guessing game, the two women were invited to dine with a Sister. Working the night shift, the employees made a special trip into the Motherhouse for the lunch. SPRING 2016

In reflecting on her religious life overall, Sister believes that it was God’s mercy that brought her and other Sisters to religious life. She says that there is an essential realization women and men religious alike have: “…you suddenly realize how much God loves you.” The goodness and compassion of God stems from the love of God, and it is fitting that we honor our nation’s Sisters, who channel this love into all that they do. Article written by Josh Zeller, Communications intern




Behind the Scenes:

A Closer Look at the Breathtaking Motherhouse Chapel


he Immaculate Conception Chapel at the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse is a magnificent place of worship. For those who have visited the Sisters of Charity Motherhouse and had the opportunity to take a peek through the chapel doors or sit in its pews, the awe-inspiring view and its rich history bring about the most peaceful of feelings. It also makes one wonder how the chapel was built, and what is the significance behind each of the chosen pieces within its walls.

would be beneficial to all. Sisters were asked to test the lighting level to make sure it was appropriate, others were asked to sit in different styles of chairs and vote on the one that was most comfortable and easy to access, and a number of shades of paint were tested before the perfect one was chosen to brighten the walls.

Through the Years

S. Barb has many fond memories of the renovation months. The opportunity to be part of the decision-making process and be behind the scenes for unique discoveries will stay with her throughout the years. She offered a few renovation surprises:

The Sisters of Charity began construction on the main wing of the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse in 1892. Their plans included a magnificent four-story chapel, but as work progressed, the cost of completing the interior of the chapel was prohibitive, and thus was delayed for several years. A fundraising effort begun in 1898, which included hundreds of 10-cent donations by family, friends and acquaintances, provided the means for the Community to complete the centerpiece of their new home. The chapel was dedicated Aug. 15, 1901, and consecrated Feb. 22, 1905. Dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Immaculate Conception, the chapel is built in the shape of a Latin cross. Polished columns of dark creole marble form the hallway entrance. The chapel is a blend of Romanesque and Renaissance architecture, which forms a central dome with a vaulted ceiling, arches, and rounded windows. The nave measures 147 feet by 74 feet with the transept widening to 90 feet. It is separated from the side aisles by 10 rounded arches supported by pink Georgian marble columns. In 2000 a major renovation of the chapel was completed. A circular peninsula extended the worship space, allowing the assembly to gather on three sides. A new octagonal altar, fashioned with cherry wood and incorporating marble columns taken from the St. Joseph altar, is now almost directly under the central dome. A new baptismal font as well as the pedestal on which the tabernacle rests are composed of decorative marble pieces from the original basilica altar. The ambo is also beautifully crafted of cherry wood and incorporates four small alabaster columns from the St. Joseph altar. At the time of this renovation new lighting and a climate-control system were added. S. Barbara Hagedorn, who was a Congregational councilor at the time, was directly involved in the renovation. She says that with each decision made, the committee consulted with others to make sure that the renovations SPRING 2016

“[The renovation process] was truly a wonderful experience,” S. Barb said in reflection, “it changed the way we are able to have liturgical celebrations in the chapel.”

“We found out there was a weak beam in the floor in the center aisle by the steps up to the altar. This caused the Dining Room renovation, but we had to do it because the floor support was very weak.” In addition S. Barb explained that in a past renovation, the angels in the mural above the altar had been painted out resulting in very definitive edges around the outer part of the painting. When the company came to paint the chapel, they offered to soften it around the edges, which resulted in the many clouds that are part of the mural now. Another find came as they prepared to put new tile down in the sunporch; when the old tile was taken up they found beautiful wooden floor, and so it was refinished instead. A few Community myths were able to be discredited during the renovation process as well. There was a story in the Community that the broach around Mary’s neck and 21the stones in the angels’ shields were real jewels. Following the work, and having an up-close look herself, S. Barb can without a doubt confirm that instead they are painted foil! Director of Archives, S. Judith Metz, has given hundreds of chapel tours through the years. She shared, “One of the overall concerns about the renovation was that it would change the ‘feel’ of the chapel. When the work was completed, everyone was delighted with the changes but also with the fact that it was basically still the chapel we had all grown to love throughout our Community lives. “When I give tours of the chapel, the first reaction of those who have never been there before is to gasp in awe at its beauty. Visitors are high in their praise and remark that it is one of the most beautiful churches they have ever seen. Some admire the murals, some the architecture. Many comment on the peacefulness and harmonious aura that it seems to exude.” 15


A Closer Look Each window, statue, aspect of the Motherhouse chapel was carefully crafted and thought-out. These exquisite features are further detailed to explain their individual significance.

Murals The central dome contains murals by Richard Bachman. A painting depicting the Blessed Sacrament is surrounded by four medallions of Doctors of the Church noted for their devotion to the Eucharist: St. Thomas Aquinas (pictured) is reading his treatise on the doctrine of the Holy Eucharist; St. Bonaventure is crumbling up his essay as he listens to that of St. Thomas. St. John Chrysostom and St. Ambrose are shown in the two medallions toward the back. William Lamprecht’s mural in the sanctuary dome is of Mary Immaculate. It depicts the Book of Revelations 12:1, “a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” Above the Virgin’s head is God the Father and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. On either side are the angels Gabriel and Michael. The angel at the base of the mural carries a scroll on which is written In umbra manus suae protexit me (In the shadow of his hand he has protected me). The painting, which took eight months to complete, is double-curved like the inside of a bell. The mural rises 65 feet above the wainscoting with the main figure measuring 15 feet from the top of her head to the bottom of her mantle.

Sanctuary The four basilica columns surrounding the tabernacle are breccia marble with paneled marble supports. The octagonal baldachin is inlaid with triangles of red, green and yellow marble. It is inscribed with the words Dei Parae Immaculatae (Immaculate Parent of God). The tabernacle is white marble inlaid with various colors. The door contains pieces of lapis lazuli (blue) and fior de persico (peachblossom) marble.

liturgical renewal of the Catholic Church in the 1960s, however, this altar was reconfigured. While the tabernacle remained under the octagonal baldachin, the main altar was moved forward in the sanctuary to allow the Mass to be celebrated facing the congregation. S. Augusta Zimmer, who planned and oversaw this project, also designed and directed the execution of a new standard placed behind the tabernacle.

The Rose Window Located high above the organ pipes, the Rose Window and the stained glass windows were imported from Munich, Germany, with one exception. “Christ Blessing the Little Children” window was made in Cincinnati.

St. Joseph’s Side Altar This altar was donated by Reuben Springer in the 1880s to be the main altar in the first St. Joseph’s Motherhouse, which burned in 1885. When the present chapel was built it became a side altar.

Statues The statues of “St. Joseph and Child” and “Madonna with the Lilies” were created by Cincinnati sculptor Clement Barnhorn and were part of the original chapel furnishings. The statues of St. Vincent and the Sacred Heart were purchased when the chapel was originally furnished.

Stations of the Cross The Stations of the Cross are imitation ivory, set in frames of stucco sunk into the wall.

Organ The pipe organ was manufactured by the Austin Organ Company of Massachusetts and installed at the time the chapel was furnished. It was a sample of the company’s finest craft, introduced into this part of the country as an advertisement on the condition that patrons could see and try it anytime.

Originally a basilica altar designed in Italy was in this location and supported the tabernacle. In response to the 16


Always the Seeker By Vicki Welsh, Associate


magine an idyllic river scene. Not the Ohio River that most of us have spied out the Motherhouse windows. The Delaware River begins in the Catskill Mountains and winds southerly, sometimes east and sometimes west, for over 400 miles. As the flow twists and turns it courses through New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware. Finally it becomes Delaware Bay where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean at Cape May. On the way down river you will come to a tiny river town in Pennsylvania, of just over 1,000 people. The one riding a bicycle into town is our own Associate Pat Branch! The town is Milford, Pennsylvania. Pat has only lived in Milford for a couple of years. She grew up in Jackson, Michigan, in a large close-knit Roman Catholic extended family. A family that included S. Marie Pauline Skalski, her blood sister! Pat was inspired and influenced by many people along her way. S. Mary Ancilla Courtney, from her high school, St. Mary, was the first Sister of Charity who made her mark. Memorable also was theologian, Father Bernard Cook, SJ of Marquette University, where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English and Research Psychology, respectively. Always the seeker, she worked in research at Harvard and Duke, adding to her understanding of the effects of spirituality on health and aging. In fact, Christ’s own words in the Gospel of John guide her persistence to expand that knowledge and attain the proper tools, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you will ask what you desire and it shall be done for you.” She began her work with expectant mothers, walking with them through their journey of labor and childbirth. At that time, fathers did not play an active role in the birthing process. She began training couples in the Lamaze method of childbirth. In fact, her husband was the first father in the delivery room at Evanston, Illinois General Hospital on Nov. 17, 1969! Her overarching belief was that you could reduce individual fears of the unknown through gently imparting the knowledge and tools they needed to give them confidence to face the event. For 16 years, Pat worked in private practice. The greatest gift was in assisting and witnessing hundreds of births. Pat’s Lamaze ministry was at a time of great change in many areas of our society in the 1970s and 1980s. We had a delightful conversation about the role different personalities play in the progress of ‘change.’ Pat made the point that


Associate Pat Branch enjoys riding her bicycle into the small river tow n of Milford, Pennsylvania.

there is definitely a place for the “loud voices,” the “rabble rousers.” These voices bring the topics to the public square and stimulate a public dialogue. [This is NOT Pat!] Then, as the conversations continue to spread, it is important to have those low-key folks who can speak in soft tones; voices that can give and take, pushing the change gently to the point that new ways can be tolerated in an acceptable manner. [This IS Pat!] Always the seeker, Pat began to look for a new direction; a new arena ‘for God to be known.’ She has felt the strength of her gifts in family ministry, working to keep families together and functioning at their best. Her sister gave her the most perfect advice, “let the ministry find you!” The ministry that has revealed itself is hospice care. This is her current concentration, to sit in contemplative prayer helping the client to know the God inside … and perhaps watching the Delaware River flow by.


International Sisters in Our Midst By S. Patricia Wittberg


n the 19th century, many religious communities of Sisters came to the U.S. from other countries. In the Cincinnati area, Franciscans and Benedictines arrived from Germany, Notre Dame Sisters from Belgium, Sisters of Mercy from Ireland, Ursulines and Little Sisters of the Poor from France. Many came specifically to minister to the Catholics from their own homelands, to preserve their Catholic culture in the New World. As the first indigenous American community, the Sisters of Charity were unique in having our origin in this country, but we have had numerous Sisters with Irish, German, Latina, Italian, Slovenian and Polish ancestry throughout our history. We have also welcomed – and continue to welcome – Sisters into our Community from a variety of countries: China, Panama, Nigeria, and Canada, for example. Today, there are Sisters in the United States who come from scores of different countries. A recent survey of these Sisters has located over 1,000 of them. Some have come as individuals, sent by their home congregation to study in the U.S. and then return. Our community has housed several of these Sisters: S. Rustica Kayombo, OSB, from Tanzania, East Africa, is the most recent example. Others have come as part of a group of five, 10, or more, sent by their superior as missionaries to America’s more secular society. Still others are members of international congregations, sent from another province to minister or study with their Sisters here – or, as was the case with our Sisters Rose Cheng and Mary Pauline Tsai, because of persecutions in their home country. And, finally, some came to this country as lay women and then entered communities here: our Sisters Victoria Anyanwu, Margarita Brewer, Josetta Marie Chu, and Alice Ann O’Neill, for example.

openness and friendliness of Americans and of the American Sisters who welcomed and helped them. Still, several noted, cultural adaptation should not be a one-way street. As one respondent said, while the Sister coming here needs to know and adapt to U.S. culture, the American Sisters have to be aware of the struggle she is having. “Because sometimes we think that the Sister only needs to adjust, but no – everybody should.” In the process, they said, we greatly enrich each other. But only if we are willing to be changed. Several of the international Sisters said that they had been changed by their sojourn in the United States: they were no longer totally comfortable in the culture of their homelands. The same would be – or should be – true for the American communities that have welcomed them into their midst. Are we willing to be changed in accepting the gift of ethnic diversity in religious life?

In the future, it is likely that the number of international Sisters in American religious life will increase. In fact, while 94 percent of perpetually vowed women religious in this country are non-Hispanic whites, only 58 percent of the women in formation are. The rest are Latina (21 percent), Asian or Pacific Islander (14 percent), and African/AfricanAmerican (6 percent). The study found that international Sisters have a unique perspective on U.S. culture, mentioning their surprise at Americans’ individualism, reluctance to learn a foreign language, and lack of knowledge about other countries. While the Sisters often found it difficult to adapt to the language and customs in the United States, they praised 18

S. Rustica Kayombo, OSB, from Tanzania, East Africa, is living at the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse while attending Mount St. Joseph University. Also pictured S. Marie Irene Schneider. I N T E RC O M

Associate Membership — A Matter of Good News By S. Regina Kusnir


ood news is hard to contain! Our technological age makes it easy to share good news. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs and everevolving forms of communication allow us to let one another know, in print and picture, our messages of joy.

Associate Lynnessa Gallagher (front) with S. Linda Chavez at the Caritas Convocation in 2012.

Pat was seeking something deeper in her life when she met Joy is a hallmark of the Charity Mary Jo Mersmann, Associate way of life that relies not on media, but director, at a Christ Renews His on lived expression of joy that makes a Parish weekend in her parish. difference in the lives of others. Since A spark ignited. S. Barbara Brother Gary Sawyer with S. Jean Miller at the reception 1973 the Sisters of Charity have welcomed following his Associate Lifetime Commitment ceremony Huber helped her to open up in June 2015. men and women to share in their mission the scriptures and become aware and spirit in a formal way. Today Associates of spiritual direction. This mother of five, grandmother of number 206. They undertake a period of formation with 10 and great-grandmother of 15 overflows with joy as she a Sister or Associate companion before signing an annual speaks of her volunteer efforts at Mother Margaret Hall, the agreement to continue their growth in spirituality and numerous friends she has made with Sisters and Associates expressing it wherever they find themselves. The joy of being over the years and the hope that others will continue to bring an Associate led Associates to request Lifetime Commitment, their faith, hope and charity to life through both vowed and and in 2013 the Leadership Council granted that request. Associate membership. Today there are 14 living Associates who have made this Lynnessa feels that “being an Associate is a deep honor commitment, which is open to those who have already been and an enrichment of my spiritual life.” She continues Associates for 10 or more years. to be impressed with the Sisters, whom she has worked Lynnessa Gallagher, Brother Gary Sawyer and Pat with over the years. For her, the compassion, intelligence, Schloemer are three who have made Lifetime Commitments. commitment and sense of humor in the competitive health They live in New Mexico, Colorado and Cincinnati, became care marketplace draws her to continue seeking deeper Associates in 1986, 2002, and 1979, and made Lifetime connections. Her life is enriched by “the friendships with Commitment in 2013, 2015 and 2013 respectively. A Sisters and other Associates, the spiritual practices and events common thread to their attraction to the Charity charism is that I can be part of.” the witness of the Sisters. Brother Gary became an Associate under the direction of S. Vincent de Paul Grilliot, his high school principal and dear friend. He is a lifelong friend of many Sisters and “needed a different expression of religious life, one spawned out of pure love, blessing and kindness.” S. Jackie Leech tells him that his male presence “rounds us out” as the Denver SC community. Brother Gary discerned Lifetime Commitment in order to continue a spiritual development that “aligns with the charism and works of Elizabeth Ann Seton.”

Associate Pat Schloemer (right), with S. Irene Luther, says that one of her favorite things about volunteering at Mother Margaret Hall is greeting the Sisters entering chapel before Mass. SPRING 2016

Joy and Good News go hand-in-hand. If you, or someone you know, are seeking that something deeper, encourage them to consider becoming an Associate. The Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati website contains information about Associate Membership at 19

Jenny with her father, Nick Januszewski.

Jenny Januszewski was 6 months old when she arrived in the United States.

Three Times Blessed By S. Georgia Kitt


n July 2015, S. Kateri Maureen Koverman hosted a reunion at the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse for the survivors of the Vietnam Operation Babylift – the 1975 mass evacuation of children from South Vietnam to the United States. S. Kateri coordinated the evacuation of the Vietnamese children through Catholic Relief Services. This is the third article in a series related to the event. Two of the survivors – Jenny Januszewski and Tim Ray – who attended the weekend agreed to be interviewed so as to assure us that this significant piece of history would not be lost. Neither Jenny nor Tim had met S. Kateri before the weekend. It has taken 40 years for these physical meetings to occur; it promises that this connection among the survivors will continue in the years to come. As a result of Operation Babylift, 2,500 lives were given a chance to flourish in a new country. Those who reach out beyond themselves are often three times blessed; this endeavor is no exception. Jenny’s interview follows.

When attending the weekend was it difficult to comprehend your beginnings in Vietnam, now hearing about it as a survivor? I guess I have never thought of myself as a “survivor” but, moreover, just a very lucky baby. Seeing photos of the orphanage (or halfway house) and hearing the stories of the days and months leading up to our American arrival wasn’t “difficult” per se. It was more fascinating; perhaps, like when a biological parent tells a child about the day they were born or all of the planning leading up to it. It’s something that’s my “normal.” It was normal for me to know I came from a war and came from an orphanage. It’s how I got here and was 20

“born” to the United States. Those months before I got here are what led up to all of the opportunity I’ve had and my wonderful family. There is no doubt, however, that hearing [S. Kateri’s] first-hand account gave me an even deeper appreciation for what people went through (and continually go through due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) to help us. There were two veterans that also spoke that weekend (South Vietnamese and American). They helped me better understand the scope of their personal journeys and that they didn’t just risk themselves and suffer for us at that time in history. It is continual for some and we (as a society) need to appreciate that the war never ended for some people.



You were part of this international, historic, adoptive event as a young child. Looking back do you have any memory of your early days, years? Or as told to you by your adoptive parents?

“Doonesbury”) implied the same – that people were adopting orphans for money or because it was the “in” thing to do. Mom wrote quite a letter to him and he handwrote a letter of apology back that, now, is framed on my wall.

You have roots in a wonderful culture. What have you come to most appreciate about your Vietnamese roots? How are they manifested in your life today? How do you plan to share them with your own family going forward?

I remember my parents telling me that my dad was taking a bath when my mom ran in and told him that S. Darlene had a baby for them and that she needed to know right away if they wanted it. For some reason, my parents thought I would be a 3-year-old boy. But, to their surprise, there I was … a 6-month-old girl. I was swimming in the clothing Operation Babylift adoptee Jenny Januszewski with they brought for me. By the time her husband, Jason Mendoza. I’m going to address this question they got me home, they realized with the idea of two cultures ... that there was green oozing out the Vietnamese culture and the adopted culture. of my ear from an infection. The doctor told them that, had When it comes to the Vietnamese culture, I’m probably I not gotten out of Vietnam, the infection would have gone the black sheep of the group as I identify more with my towards my brain. Eventually, I had an operation to restore my eardrum. I was fortunate that someone was a tissue donor parents’ background of Polish-American and French/Germanand they put their tissue with mine to create the proper parts. Even with the operation, there was a very good chance that I was going to be deaf in that ear. However, years later, my hearing was so good that I became a singer and toured the United States in a musical. Outside of the hubbub of dealing with an infant, my parents got threats from Asian families that didn’t know them. They were treated like they were trying to steal from the government by getting funds for taking a baby when, in reality, they didn’t receive a penny and that wasn’t their intention at all. It didn’t help that Garry Trudeau (author of the political comic strip SPRING 2016

Jenny with her parents, Jane and Nick Januszewski. Her parents recently celebrated 50 years of marriage.



American. Other than the refugee family we took in when I was very young, I didn’t know other Asians as I grew up in the countryside in Michigan. I’m pretty much as American mutt as it gets. It’s not that my parents didn’t try to expose me or that I have avoided it (and am certainly not ashamed of it). It’s just that I didn’t grow up with it as a focus. Today, for Easter, I feasted on beef stroganoff. It’s more of a comfort food to me than pho and egg rolls. But all that being said, being part of the adopted culture/group has been a big part of my life. My parents adopted four children in total. My husband and I are looking forward to sharing the culture of adoption within our own family and have just applied to adopt a child from China. We’re very excited to be able to give a loving, fulfilling family life to a child in need.

Jenny Januszewski had the opportunity to meet S. Kateri Maureen Koverman for the first time in July 2015.

On the weekend here you were with others who came from the same setting in Vietnam, at approximately the same time. Is there a ‘felt connection’ with one another? Is there a bond you share that has come out of this common experience? Do you have the desire to further foster this connection among you? Talk about this briefly. It was nice to just be around people who already know (and have experienced) a similar history. It’s like running into someone who had the same high school teachers even if they weren’t in your class. They know all of the nuances of being raised in multi-cultural and multi-racial families. They know what it’s like to live in the Midwest and grow up Catholic. I’ve kept in touch with everyone from the weekend. We’re “family” and take great concern in each other’s well-being. My husband and I are flying up to Portland, Oregon, in the fall and will be sure to meet up with one of the other adoptees from the weekend and his wife. I have no doubt that the group of us from that weekend will stay in touch for decades to come.


Was the July weekend the first time you met S. Kateri Maureen? It would be good if you could share a little about meeting her or your relationship with her, personally, or through your adoptive parents. She has been an instrumental figure in all that has happened related to the Babylift, the adoptions that occurred and occasional reunions that have taken place since. We, as Sisters of Charity, are proud of her sense of mission on your behalf over these 40 years. Yes, this was my first time to meet S. Kateri Maureen. What an amazing human being! She is an unstoppable force of goodwill and love. She has been everywhere and helped everyone in her path. I thought of her recently when I watched a “60 Minutes” piece on Nicholas Winton, who rescued children from the Holocaust. There are some people in the world who are made just “extra special.” They make it their mission to save the worlds of others and, because of them, we’re able to find the humanity and the good in even the most horrendous moments of history. My family and I will always be grateful to her and for her years of work. I am one of many that she has helped and I consider that a true blessing.


Daily Grace By Josh Zeller, Communications intern


or 16 years now, Michelle Farwick has been a treasured and well-loved employee of the Sisters of Charity. Not only is she known as the medical records manager of Mother Margaret Hall, but she is also a general go-to person for Sisters and employees alike. Her relationship with the Community began at Bayley, as a secretary; after spending some time there, she saw a position open up at Mother Margaret Hall, applied, and was hired as a medical records assistant. Then, about four years ago, her supervisor retired, and she took over the department as manager. Before and since, Michelle has always been very, very busy. “I do admissions and discharges; I move Sisters if there’s a need; I help with computers, and I fix phones. We do a lot,” Michelle relates. “You find if you work over there that, even though you have that title, you do a lot of different things. What would fall under the medical records umbrella, I do that, but also I deal with the doctors—whatever encompasses admissions, discharges, moves, and credentialing.” Michelle also interacts with multiple departments, including the Communications Office. If Director of

Communications S. Georgia Kitt needs information about a resident in Mother Margaret Hall—their room number, or a room number change for the Update newsletter—Michelle is the one she calls. She has also guided the nursing staff through the recent implementation of electronic charting (electronic medical records). From the time she comes in at 7:30 a.m., she has her hands full. An important aspect of her position is assisting with transitions, which can be tricky. It is always very difficult for Sisters when they need to move into Mother Margaret Hall, or when they have to change rooms. “You try to set up their room as close as possible to what it was, from where they came from,” Michelle says. If it feels more like home, the transition is not as difficult to make. One thing that Michelle really enjoys about helping with these moves is the way in which she has gotten to know the Sisters over the years: “They like to have the one-on-one, and you learn about them.” Michelle was born and raised on the West Side of Cincinnati, Ohio, but she did not get to know the Sisters of Charity until after her marriage, when she converted to Catholicism. Her husband had a connection to the Sisters through his late aunt S. Elizabeth Marie Gottmer, who had an education ministry in Holy Family parish and was known as an avid Reds fan. “Family is my number one priority,” says Michelle, who was starting her family around the time she first began at Bayley. Now, her sons are at Elder High School (one is a junior, and the other is getting ready to enter college in the fall), and have known Sisters all of their lives. She loves how they always care about and ask after her family: “As much as we give them, we get a lot more back, I think, in return.” She experiences this grace daily at Mother Margaret Hall, which stands out from all other nursing facilities for its warmth and positivity. “Personally speaking, it’s a blessing for me to work here. There’s not ever been a day I’ve dreaded coming to work,” Michelle confides.

Medical Records Manager Michelle Farwick (pictured with S. Benedicta Mahoney) assists Sisters with transitioning into their rooms at Mother Margaret Hall.



Mercy in Motion Pope Francis has declared Dec. 8, 2015-Nov. 20, 2016 the Year of Mercy, inviting us all to show others the mercy of God. God is compassionate and full of love, but our actions can also reflect God’s mercy. The Sisters of Charity, in their daily lives, show us that extraordinary acts of love are possible. Their actions speak! In this and following issues of Intercom, we will spotlight our Sisters and their MERCY IN MOTION.

Made with Love Sisters Mary Beth Peters, Mary Catherine Faller and Katharine Pinto are three of the many Sisters of Charity, Associates and friends of the Community who knit or crochet baby blankets for newborns at Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. The blankets are given to children whose families do not have the financial resources to purchase one on their own, or to babies with particular health issues. S. Mary Beth, who also knits baby hats, says: “I pray while I crochet. It’s similar to a prayer shawl, I pray for the baby and the mother.” S. Mary Catherine adds, “It’s something special to me to know these blankets go to families who have very little. … I remember hearing a story of a family who asked if they could take the receiving blanket used in the hospital home with them because they didn’t have anything else. Instead they were able to have one hand-made.” S. Katharine Pinto expressed that when she heard about the ministry a couple years ago, she felt it was something she could easily become a part of. “Even though I do not know who the child is, I pray for the child, the family and a happy future.” S. Katharine has been knitting and crocheting

blankets for family members for years, and was thrilled to extend the gesture to others outside her family. “This is an opportunity for me to use my gifts, it’s something I’ve learned how to do and am able to do – and I know that some family will benefit from it. It’s a simple kindness that touches a life.” S. Lynn Heper, who has coordinated the effort since 2011, says that more than 550 blankets have been made with love since its beginnings. While the makers may never meet the families gifted by their blankets, they are sure to know their kindness brings peace and comfort to many, and a very warm welcome to the newborns as they start their life’s journey.

S. Carol Ann Brockmeyer collects donations to the Vine Street Neighborhood Service Center during weekly visits to the Sisters of Charity Motherhouse.

Mercy at Work Twenty-seven years ago, S. Carol Ann Brockmeyer started Vine Street Neighborhood Service Center, a center devoted to bettering the quality of life for area residents by assisting them in meeting the basic needs of daily living. Today, S. Carol Ann continues that compassion and generous spirit; daily she picks up donations at the Sisters of Charity Motherhouse and from various organizations and individuals and delivers them to the center where they are given away to the poor. Donations range anywhere from clothing and toys to household items and food.

S. Katharine Pinto knits and crochets baby blankets for newborns at Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati. 24

“Mercy is at work,” Sister said. “People come in and cry, they are so happy and grateful. If somebody needs something special and we don’t have it, I go and get it for them. There’s always a bag or two of donations here at the Motherhouse.” I N T E RC O M

Calls of Care “Mercy calls us to not only listen but to do something,” says S. Agnes Ann Gardt. As part of her ministry of prayer, S. Agnes Ann reaches out to Sisters and Associates through personal phone calls. If someone is celebrating a birthday, is recovering from an illness or surgery, or has experienced a loss in their family, S. Agnes Ann will give them a call, ask how they are doing and listen to their needs. “The greatest gift we have from the Lord is the gift of peace,” she said. “We are all called to have peace – in our hearts and in our lives. St. Augustine said, ‘We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song!’ We should be happy people.” Sister says that she hears and feels the joy and appreciation from those she talks with. “The other day at Mass there was a Sister who had a bandage on her hand. So I asked her about it, she was so glad I spoke to her. “That’s what we are all about. You can say love one another and pray for each other, but He calls us to reach out in action.”

S. Rita Maureen Schmidt (standing) hosts a weekly Catholic hour at a nursing facility in the Shelby County, Ohio, area.

Although retired, Sister finds her weekly schedule filled with visits to three nursing homes, assisting with funerals, helping the bereaved, and in general bringing God’s love and mercy to those so desperately seeking it. For the last 23 years, S. Rita Maureen has visited the elderly at Dorothy Love, Fairhaven and The Pavilion nursing facilities in Sidney, Ohio. In addition to hosting a weekly Catholic hour, which includes offering Communion, reading the Gospel, and leading the rosary, she visits the dying, sits with their families, and even attends funerals. As Pope Francis said: “[This] is the time for mercy. It is the favorable time to heal wounds, a time not to be weary of meeting all those who are waiting to see and to touch with their hands the signs of the closeness of God, a time to offer everyone, everyone, the way of forgiveness and reconciliation.” S. Rita Maureen has embraced those words for years, using these chance encounters to offer God’s compassion and to bring those who have fallen away from the Church a means to return.

Aiding the Needy S. Agnes Ann Gardt reaches out to Sisters and Associates through personal phone calls.

A Loving Presence

The Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati frequently donate to Matthew 25: Ministries. In March, numerous boxes of bed linens and medical supplies were given. Donated items help the poorest of the poor and disaster victims throughout the United States and around the world.

As the only woman religious living in Shelby County, Ohio, S. Rita Maureen Schmidt is living God’s mercy daily. Sister says she finds herself approached by strangers at the grocery store, on the street, and even in the parking lot, asking for her prayers, guidance, or questions about the Catholic faith. “I can never be in a hurry,” she laughs. “It takes me a couple hours every time I go to the grocery store.” Sister explains that it’s in the little moments that opportunities present themselves. She tells of the following encounter: “One day I was at the grocery store and a woman came up to me and said her husband was having an affair. She asked me to pray for her. So I prayed with her right there in the parking lot. … I always say God puts me in the right place at the right time.” SPRING 2016

S. Cookie Crowley and SC employees load a truck of donated items for Matthew 25: Ministries. 25

Timeless Treasures By S. Judith Metz


small brass plate inscribed “Sr. Mary Regina” affixed to a varnished wooden box – a black velvet-lined writing surface – small compartments for pens and ink – and tucked beneath, a secure space for writing paper, snippets already penned, or letters received. Mother Regina Mattingly’s lap desk, now displayed on the Heritage Room mantle in the Motherhouse, was a well-loved and treasured possession. When did she acquire such an item? On how many journeys did it accompany her? Imagine her carrying it aboard riverboats and rail cars as she made her way to her first mission in Cincinnati in 1845, and to Dayton to open the new St. Mary’s Academy in 1857. Or later, when she was Mother of the Congregation, did it accompany her as she traveled to visit the Sisters on the various missions? Did she use it as she sat in quiet corners at Cedar Grove writing in her journals? Or in her last months as she lay in a hospital bed suffering the ravages of cancer? Well-educated as a young woman, Mother Regina Mattingly was a deeply reflective person, a lover of books, a devoted educator, a keeper of journals, and a prolific letter-writer. Surely, for such a one, the familiar feel of the polished wood and the worn velvet cloth provided a sense of comfort and peace and she settled in with pen and paper. As she began her journals she told herself, “All that I may promise in these pages shall be the true exponent of self, as far as circumstances will permit. … I wish to be real in all things – real in friendship, real in practical piety, real in the correction of my many faults, real in my intercourse with others, and above all real in my love of God and His Sacred Heart.” She returns again and again to these themes, often starting a passage by describing some event such as the felling of trees at Cedar Grove, then shifting to a spiritual reflection, as when she writes, “It forcibly reminded me of the roots of our human passions which some of us have been tugging at for so many years.” Like her journals, Mother Regina’s letters reflect a sense of sincerity, depth and wisdom. Her correspondence with the Sisters expressed a warm affection and concern for each one, and she relished hearing of their lives. Many regarded


Mother Regina Mattingly’s lap desk from the mid-1800s is currently displayed on the Heritage Room mantle in the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse.

her as a loving mother as well as a true friend. She worried and fretted about the Sisters traveling West – the hardships of their lives and the travails of opening new missions. Her letters are filled with encouragement and support, but also with challenging, questioning, and cajoling them to remain strong in their dedication to their prayer and to their ministries. A great lover of natural beauty, she often remarked on her surroundings as when she and Mother Josephine Harvey visited the Western missions where she was extravagant in describing the magnificent sights of the Colorado Rockies, and the gorgeous hues of the New Mexico Sangre de Cristo Mountains. By reading her journals and letters it is possible to see deeply into the soul of this prayerful woman who was so influential in the foundational years of the Sisters of Charity. How many of these passages were written on her beautiful lap desk?


On the Web For full articles, please visit the News/Events section of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati website at, and click on “Feature Articles.” FOREVER YOUNG S. Ramona Chisholm celebrates her 18th birthday on Feb. 29, 2016.

Communications intern Megan Moore enjoys her first visit to the Sisters of Charity Drum Circle.

A GLOBAL PRESENCE OF BENEVOLENCE: SCS IN CHINA, 1928-1950 People the world over celebrated the Year of the Monkey on Feb. 8. The festivities serve as a reminder of the years of service the Sisters of Charity devoted to China, and, in general, of the global presence of benevolence they have managed to establish throughout their history.

THE HEARTBEAT OF THE SC MOTHERHOUSE Once a month the Sisters of Charity Drum Circle meets to rejoice in an afternoon of music and prayer through the playing of drums!

Editor Erin Reder

Director of Communications S. Georgia Kitt Executive Council Liaison S. Mary Bookser

Chinese Sisters, postulants and novices gather outside the front gate of the Motherhouse in 1949.

ARTISTIC EXPRESSIONS Read more about the artwork and lives of our SC artists Sisters Ann Christine Bessler, Mary Gerard Cheng, Mary Alice McFarland, Irene McGee and more.


Intercom Staff

Graphic Design/Layout Michelle Bley

THE CALL Sisters Helen Fox, Joyce Brehm and Alice Ann O’Neill reflect on their decisions to enter the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati.

S. Helen Fox entered the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati in 1951, and again in 1980.

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 310 Sisters are joined in their mission by 206 Associates (lay women and men). Sisters, using their professional talents as ministers of education, health care, social services and environmental justice, live and minister in 26 U.S. dioceses and in Guatemala, Mexico and the West Indies. They also sponsor institutions to address education, health care and social service needs, with particular concern for direct service to the poor.

Advisory Board Members: S. Mary Ann Flannery Mary Jo Mersmann S. Joyce Richter S. Frances Maureen Trampiets Vicki Welsh Letters to the editor, articles and photos are welcome. The staff reserves the right to edit for space and readability. Make submissions to: Communications Office 5900 Delhi Road Mount St. Joseph, OH 45051 Phone: 513-347-5447 Fax: 513-347-5467 Email: Subscriptions: $15 per year

This pictured window box was one of S. Mary Gerard Cheng’s unique creations.

5900 Delhi Road Mount Saint Joseph, OH 45051 sistersofcharityofcincinnati 27

5900 Delhi Road Mount Saint Joseph, OH 45051

10 Notre Dame graduates show off their class rings around S. John Miriam Jones, for whom they have tremendous gratitude for helping make their time at Notre Dame possible.


14 The Sisters of Charity Motherhouse is home to many beautiful pieces of art, but it is the Immaculate Conception Chapel that will take your breath away. Motherhouse Sisters and employees enjoy the activities planned for National Catholic Sisters Week in March.

Spring 2016 Intercom  

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

Spring 2016 Intercom  

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