Intercom S I S T E R S
C H A R I T Y
C I N C I N N AT I
Special 2011 Chapter Edition included
Dear Sisters, Associates and Friends,
he practice of providing for the poor has roots in many major religions. In our own Judeo-Christian heritage we read from Proverbs 31:8-9: “Speak, yourself, on behalf of those who have no voice, and for the rights of the destitute; open your mouth, decree what is just, defend the needy and the poor!”
Contents FEATURES All Are Welcome ..................................... 4 International Women’s Day 2011. Different Logo – Same Mission ............... 8 Bayley provides senior care rooted in values. The Love of Christ Urges Us ................. 10 Sisters of Charity ministering in social work. A Spiritual Family ................................. 19 The priests who serve the Motherhouse.
DEPARTMENTS Vocation/Formation ................................ 7 The Vocation Promise of Volunteer Programs Associates in Mission ........................14-15 Building Relationships, Changing Lives Sharing in Life’s Journey Motherhouse/Mother Margaret hall ..... 16 The Singing Circle OPJIC................................................... 17 Healing Our Global Home Meet Our Sisters ................................... 18 S. Mary Jo Gasdorf
On the Cover: S. Margarita Brewer with students from Roberts Paideia Academy in Cincinnati, Ohio. The students are part of the LNESC Young Readers Program that helps young Latino children and their families improve their reading skills. To read more about S. Margarita’s ministry with Cincinnati Public Schools, see Page 10.
In this issue of Intercom we focus on some of our Sisters and Associates who are doing direct ministry with people who are poor, ministries which we might categorize as “social work.” Social workers help people cope with difficult family and personal situations, while avoiding the creation of unhelpful dependencies. Ultimately they help people trapped in debilitating economic or social realities. Often it takes advocacy work to change the legal or political systems that keep them in poverty. The women who are highlighted in these pages literally carry out the teachings of Jesus in Matthew 25. They feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, give clothes to those who need them, and visit prisoners. What is their motivation? Do they see the face of God in the people they work with? Maybe. Maybe not. Jesus seems to be saying that it doesn’t really matter whether they notice it is him they are feeding or building houses for or counseling. What matters is that they do the ministry. They do what Jesus did – and called his followers to do. This work is deeply embedded in our Vincentian heritage. St. Vincent de Paul always encouraged his Company of Charity to respond to the needs of the poor. his advice: “You will find out that charity is a heavy burden to carry, heavier than the bowl of soup and the full basket. But you will keep your gentleness and your smile. It is not enough to give bread and soup. This the rich can do. You are the servant of the poor… They are your masters, and the more difficult they will be, the more unjust and insulting, the more love you must give them. It is for your love alone that the poor will forgive you the bread you give them.” St. Louise de Marillac advised: “…you will see a great amount of misery that you cannot relieve … Share their trials with them; do all you can to provide them with a little assistance and remain at peace.” Our Sister and Associate social workers do indeed share their lives with the poor – and receive from them so much more. S. Nancy Bramlage Councilor
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.
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? Feb. 9, 1853 – First election of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati took place in the Community Room of St. Peter Orphan Asylum. Mother Margaret George and four “officers” were chosen to lead the 24-member community. July 1908 – The Catholic education Association (later NCeA) held its fifth annual meeting. The Sisters of Charity at the Motherhouse provided accommodations for 50 Sisters from various communities.
S. Charles Regina O’Flynn was the first supervisor of Sisters of Charity schools, 1893-1901.
March 21, 1953 – The General Chapter approved the General Council’s plan to establish three regions in the Congregation: (1) Archdiocese of Cincinnati and Maryland; (2) other dioceses of Ohio and Michigan; (3) Colorado and New Mexico.
Aug. 18, 1959 – The Congregation opened its first mission in Texas – Sacred heart School, Conroe, in the Diocese of Galveston. Because of its distance from other Sisters of Charity houses, the school was turned over to the Sisters of the Incarnate Word in 1967.
In Memoriam Please visit “In Memoriam” at www.srcharitycinti.org for biographical information and reﬂections on the Sisters of Charity and Associates who have died. May our Sisters and Associates enjoy the fruits of their labor as well as peace with their God. S. Maria Fidelis Ritter May 17, 2011 Associate Betty Berwanger May 12, 2011 S. Theresina Ross May 12, 2011 Associate Mary Jo Inman April 2, 2011 S. Mary Mark Sullivan March 23, 2011 S. Mary Matthew Gmucs March 4, 2011 S. Anna Marie Lammert Feb. 23, 2011
Sisters Francetta Hanlon, Rose Colette Casey, William Mary O’Connor (principal) and Margaret Helene Ralph were the first faculty members at Sacred Heart School in Conroe, Texas.
S. Joan Rutterer Feb. 12, 2011 S. Mary Robers Feb. 11, 2011 3
ALL ARe WeLCOMe
International Women’s Day 2011 By Donata Glassmeyer, Associate
onoring the achievements of women around the world, the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati and the Office of Peace, Justice and Integrity of Creation celebrated the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day at the Motherhouse on Sunday, March 6. Featuring an array of art, artifacts, poetry, fabrics, music, clothing, video and breads from the four corners of the world, the afternoon highlighted a panorama of the wealth of women’s initiatives and vision.
Who could miss S. Patrice Vales dressed head to toe as a lovely Peruvian wearing authentic knitted hat, vest, sash and blouse gleaned from Sister’s travels and visits around the world. Throughout the afternoon visitors were invited to view social justice videos. The heifer Project short film featured the efforts in India where women raise goats and other livestock to feed their communities. Ceremonially the women pass on the gift of a goat or a calf to a newly forming group of women in an effort to maintain the continuum of sustainability.
S. Grace Ann Gratsch assumed the persona Associate April Vale’s daughters of American civil rights leader Susan B. th Anthony. Dressed in late 19 century clothing, Elizabeth (left) and Alexandra S. Jean Miller, interim coordinator of wear period dresses from the S. Grace Ann talked to all who listened about the Office of Peace, Justice and Integrity of late 1800s. women’s right to vote. True to her historical Creation and co-coordinator of the event, character, Sister remembered the time when said, “Our office continues to advance Susan B. Anthony was arrested in November 1872 for voting its mission of integrating social and eco-justice through illegally in the presidential election. education, advocacy and action. Through our programs and publications we have seen many lives changed for the better.” Also in period dress, S. Ann Dorenbusch portrayed St. elizabeth Ann Seton. As Mother Seton, S. Ann wore the iconic black bonnet, cape and long dress made of coarse material so reminiscent of elizabeth’s early days as the founder of the Sisters of Charity.
For example, S. Sarah Mulligan and her team of health promoters of the Daniel Comboni Community Clinic’s women’s program in Mixco, Guatemala, decorated the clinic and presented crepe roses to all the women who visited the clinic on March 8, International Women’s Day. A special Mass was held in the church that evening in recognition of the day. Back at Mount St. Joseph, Ohio, performance artist Jori Cotton, youth program director for The Women’s Connection (Price hill), provided a dramatic recitation of her poem, “Damn That Child,” the story of a young black girl faulted for her budding sexuality. Jori’s profound and moving poem provided considerable material for discussion on why and how young women (of any race) may be made to suffer for their unique gifts of beauty and sensuality.
Sisters John Miriam Jones (left) and Jean Miller weave a web of connections around the world.
In stark contrast, several young girls, the children of Associates and Sisters of Charity employees, donned starched pale linen and lace dresses with high necklines and long sleeves, worn in an era when girls did not make their First Communion until age 14 and often married soon after. The dresses belonged to S. Nancy Bramlage’s grandmother. Intercom
Irish American Archives Society Recognizes
S. Mary Ann Flannery
From Vietnam, Co Buon and Anh Vu display artwork and a fan from their native country.
Associate Liz Maxwell ministered in the Cuchumatanes Mountains of Guatemala as a Maryknoll Sister many years ago. Liz is pictured on the back cover of this Intercom wearing a colorful huipil, a traditional tunic worn by Guatemalan women. Also in native dress is Liz’s friend Nellie Derrenkamp, originally of the Philippines, who works as a nurse aide in Mother Margaret hall. From Vietnam, Co Buon and her niece Anh Vu displayed beautiful artwork and a majestic Asian fan from their country. In an effort to connect the many visitors from around the world at the event, S. Jean provided a large inﬂated globe where people could literally “connect” globally using yarn to weave their relationships from country to country. At the end of the afternoon, Sisters, Associates and friends gathered in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception for a women’s worship service, praying: “Let us build a house where love can dwell and all can safely live, A place where saints and children tell how hearts learn to forgive. Built of hopes and dreams and visions, Rock of faith and vault of grace. Here the love of Christ can end divisions.
Mary Ann Flannery was honored with the Irish American Archives Society Walks of Life Award during a dinner Feb. 24, 2011, in Cleveland, Ohio. The award honors individuals of Irish descent “for their significant S. Mary Ann Flannery contributions to the educational, cultural, economic, spiritual and judicial enlightenment of northeast Ohio.” Sister was one of five recipients this year. her maternal grandmother, Catherine, came from Ireland to America with her parents and became an early leader in the women’s suffrage movement in Pittsburgh, Pa. In her acceptance speech, S. Mary Ann said, “the crowning jewel of my walk of life is my present ministry as first woman director of the Jesuit Retreat house in Parma, Ohio, the oldest retreat house in the U.S. and among 40 such houses owned by the Jesuits. In this role I am conscious that before me is the blessing and example of my ancestors who draw me with them on the ‘walk of life’ and alongside me are my siblings, my family members, my Sisters in community, friends, staff and board members at the retreat house, and my caring, broadminded Jesuit brothers in religion, all of whom not only support me in this walk but who walk with me so that others may find the light they need in their lives.”
All are welcome, all are welcome, all are welcome in this place.” Marty Haugen, © 1994, GIA Publications Reprinted with permission under OneLicense.net S-910064
Charity Family CBSM Publishes Electronic Newsletter The Corporation Board for Sponsored Ministries recently launched Mission, a quarterly electronic newsletter dedicated to promoting the mission of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. The newsletter is designed to provide readers with inspiration, information and ideas that will assist in living the Charity mission. To view the publication’s current issue, visit the Sisters of Charity Web site (www.srcharitycinti.org), click on “Ministry,” then “Mission Newsletter.”
S. Patricia Sabourin (back) reads from one of the Sisters of Charity Civil War journals during a dulcimer concert held May 1 in the Motherhouse chapel.
Civil War Anniversary Commemorated S. Mary Loyola Mathia Recognized S. Mary Loyola Mathia was honored by St. Frances Cabrini parish (Spring hill, Fla.) on Feb. 6, 2011, for her 70 years of devoted service to God’s people. The Mass was concelebrated (From left) S. Mary Loyola Mathia visits with the Rev. James by six priests, with the Hoge, OSB, and Associate Claire Wirt during a reception following Rev. Richard Jankowski Sister’s 70th anniversary celebration at St. Frances Cabrini parish serving as primary in Spring Hill, Fla. celebrant. A number of Florida Associates were in attendance and joined in the reception following the celebration for more than 300 friends, Associates and parishioners. “I see the charity, humility and simplicity that come from her very soul,” Associate Rachel edwards said of Sister. “We feel privileged to know and love S. Loyola, as she continues to mentor all of ‘her’ Associates.”
Springer School Celebrates 40 Years Sisters Mary Jean Fields and Marianne Van Vurst were in attendance for the 40th anniversary celebration of Springer School and Center on April 27, 2011, at Great American Ball Park. Both Sisters ministered as executive directors of the school – S. Mary Jean from 1971-’78 and S. Marianne from 1978-’85. S. Mary Jean became principal at Springer in 1965, when it was an archdiocesan school educating children with a broad range of special needs. Supported by University of Cincinnati professors, she moved the school into a new field of education for children with learning disabilities. To read an interview with Sisters Mary Jean and Marianne, and the only other two executive directors of Springer School, visit www.springer-ld.org/node/335.
April marked the beginning of the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. At the Motherhouse, the hills of Kentucky Dulcimers performed for Sisters, Associates and members of the community May 1 in the Motherhouse chapel. Period pieces, such as “Oh! Susanna,” “Camptown Races,” “When Johnny Comes Marching home” and “God Bless America,” were interspersed with readings from the Sisters of Charity Civil War journals. In addition, a display honoring the many Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati who ministered to wounded soldiers during the Civil War can be found in the heritage Room at the Motherhouse.
Book Reprint “A Retreat with elizabeth Seton,” by S. Judith Metz, has been reprinted and is currently available for purchase for $10. Arranged as a seven-session retreat, the book is an invitation to set aside some time for quiet reﬂection and prayer. The reader is led through some of the challenges elizabeth faced and how the everyday events and circumstances of her life were avenues by which she deepened her relationship with God. To purchase, contact S. Judith Metz at (513) 347-4058 or Judith.email@example.com.
t h e vocation promis e of
Volunteer Programs By S. Patricia Wittberg
s one year follows another, our societies and cultures continuously change, which means that the experiences many of today’s young adults have had in their childhoods and teen years are often very different from those of their elders. Who among us “older folks” – i.e., anyone older than 40 – grew up with a personal computer? An iPod? A blog or Facebook account? “Texting” on a cell phone? More to the point, what kind of Catholic environment did we experience in our youth? Memorizing The Baltimore Catechism and attending daily Latin Mass under “Sister’s” watchful gaze? Or drawing rainbows in CCD classes and fidgeting through Sunday liturgy? What impact did these early experiences of Catholicism have on our view of the possibility or desirability of a religious vocation? Studies of millennials – those young adults born between 1981 and 1995 – are discovering that their early religious upbringing has developed generational characteristics that pose both challenges and opportunities for religious congregations. On the one hand, millennials are more likely than any previous generation to say they have no religion at all (20 percent). And these “religious nones” are disproportionately likely to have been raised Catholic. Among those millennials who still retain at least some Catholic identity, most are relatively disengaged from the Church – attending Mass only sporadically, praying infrequently, uninformed regarding Catholic traditions or doctrines and not particularly interested in learning about them. Only about 15 percent are the kind of Catholics – frequent or daily Mass attendees, faithful to prayer and to Church teachings – that traditionally entered religious life. On the other hand, millennials also exhibit a greater willingness than previous generations to volunteer in programs that help the poor, clean up the environment, or mentor at-risk children and youth. Many religious congregations, including the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, offer opportunities for young people to dedicate a week, a few months, or a year of their lives to volunteer service. The experience of living a simple lifestyle in an intentional community, of praying, eating and sharing together while serving the poor, is often life-changing for these young adults. For many alumni of these volunteer programs, re-entry into the mainstream work world after such an intense experience is desolate and disconcerting. They could, I believe, be interested in an invitation by religious congregations to both Associate and vowed ministry. S pring 2 0 1 1
(Front, left) Melissa Falle, communications for the Sisters of Charity of Halifax, and College of Mount St. Joseph students Brittany Zorn (front, right) and Brittany Arthur took part in the SC Federation annual service and spirituality trip in New Orleans, La., Jan. 3-8, 2011.
Recently, the National Religious Vocation Conference has begun to explore ways that volunteer programs and religious congregations might collaborate to provide volunteer alumni with opportunities for prayer, faith sharing, spiritual direction, ministerial service – even intentional community living. I have been asked to lead a small task force of the religious and lay coordinators of these programs to brainstorm how such collaboration might be developed. Might a database be made available to volunteer alumni that would list the retreat houses, ministries and living opportunities provided by religious congregations in cities across the country? Might the congregations’ spirituality centers create “Life Choice Seminars” that would help volunteer programs’ alumni to discern the paths – occupational choices, religious or lay Church service choices, marriage or religious vocation choices – to which God is calling them? What other mentoring or spiritual opportunities might volunteer programs’ alumni need? Our first task force meeting is this summer. I am excited about this new initiative! The 15 percent of Catholic millennials who are still attracted to traditional Catholicism are easy to find: they attend institutions such as the University of Steubenville or Ave Maria University; they frequent daily Mass in our parishes. But there is another, larger group of Catholic millennials who are equally dedicated, who are also searching for the “more” in their lives. I believe we are called to invite them to join us as our Sisters and Associates. Source: Barry A. Kosmin and Ariela Keysar, Religion in a Free Market. C2006 p. 24
SPON SOR ED M IN IST RY SPO TLIG HT
(Left) Associate Phyllis Siler welcomes her longtime friend S. Rose Elizabeth Bumgarner into her home at The Village.
DIFFERENT LOGO — SAME MISSION...
Bayley Provides Senior Care Rooted in Values By S. Ruth Kuhn
n January 2011 those associated with Bayley Place began to experience a new look. The sponsors and benefactors, buildings and staff, residents and families, friends and neighbors remain the same, but the logo and brand has changed. Since its doors first opened in October 1990, Bayley has been dedicated to meeting the needs of the older adult community in Cincinnati. As the mission statement so aptly proclaims: “Bayley provides a continuum of care for seniors in a Catholic/Christian-like environment. With the Sisters of Charity, we strive to provide compassion and quality of life to those we serve. Our commitment is rooted in the values of respect, honesty and excellence.” Last year the Community Press selected Bayley as the No. 1 retirement community on the west side of Cincinnati. In the 20 years since Bayley began, the needs of today’s mature adults have changed. Its programs have evolved to meet these changes and will continue to evolve, supporting both a healing mission as well as fiscal sustainability. S. Martha Walsh presently serves on Bayley’s Board of Trustees and has a unique advantage in understanding the importance of good financial planning. “Bayley has found itself challenged like all institutions by the downturn in the economy, but it has maintained fidelity to its commitment not to send clients away when their money runs out and they are on Medicaid only,” S. Martha said. “Bayley is committed to quality care to all of its clients.” In an effort to better portray the services provided by 8
Bayley, the identity is defined by a tree (symbol of strength and growth) at the center of the new logo. The tree includes both a welcoming embrace (demonstrating openness to all) and a cross (its foundation with the Sisters of Charity). The leaves of the tree form a heart – the hallmark of Bayley’s compassion and respect. (from the Bayley marketing brochure) The new logo’s ‘tag’ line “Life in Every Moment” sums it up well. Bayley provides a full spectrum of services that promote engagement, wellness and vitality. The various offerings will continue to expand and evolve to serve the ever-changing needs of the community. A newcomer to the pastoral care staff, S. Diana Durling, shares her impressions. “It is heartwarming to see the mission of Bayley being carried out daily,” Sister said. “The smiles and warm greetings given to each other by residents and staff is a gift given freely with love. We touch each other deeply, sharing our limitations, sorrows and especially our joys. Bayley is not just a home - it is ‘their home.’ The residents’ lives are richer when they are treated with care, respect and loving kindness during all stages of life. In turn the staff is moved to a deeper devotion to the residents. The Gospel message to ‘love one another’ is obviously in the hearts and minds of all who live and minister at Bayley.” In order to better articulate what Bayley offers, the services are now categorized into two service lines – Bayley Access and Bayley Living. Access programs provide services to adults who live independently in the community, and include the Adult Day Program, Fitness Club, Be Connected Intercom
and Community Outreach. Bayley Living encompasses oncampus residential services such as Assisted Living, Nursing Care, Memory Support Care and The Village. The Adult Day Program (formerly eldermount) celebrated its 25th anniversary this year and has grown significantly since it was first offered at the Sisters of Charity Motherhouse. The Fitness Club is a health and wellness resource for Bayley residents and the larger community. Less than one year old, the Bayley Be Connected membership program offers services such as transportation, social activities and classes to seniors who are living independently but need contact with the larger community. The Community Outreach Program emphasizes wellness and enables people of all ages to visit the Wellness Center for regular programs. The Bayley Living category of services offers a full continuum of care from skilled nursing beds to assisted living apartments, which include meeting the needs of residents with Alzheimer’s and/or dementia. This past year a nine-bed Medicare Rehabilitation Unit was opened to respond to a need in the community for short-term stays. When asked about Bayley Living, S. Maureen heverin shared her family’s experience. “At the age of 92, Mom broke her hip and could no longer live alone,” S. Maureen said. “We were aware that she needed the physical support but what none of us realized is that if she had stayed in her home she would have been socially isolated. her friends and neighbors had either died or moved away. When she moved to Bayley, once she had physically recovered, she had a new lease on life because of her ‘new friends’ who shared meals, Bingo, Mass, the special rosary group in the evenings and so much more. We had to call to be sure she was available for our visits! We loved it. The services at Bayley helped her live to 100 years of age with great contentment. Our family will always be grateful.” In addition, The Village, which comprises 76 maintenance-free cottages, opened in the fall 2002, and provides an option for independent living while looking
S. Diana Durling (left), a member of the pastoral care staff at Bayley, visits with resident Joan Sommers.
toward needs in the future. When asked, Associate Phyllis Siler shared some of her experiences as a resident of The Village. “We are like a little community where everyone is very friendly and willing to help if needed,” Phyllis said. “Many activities, such as water exercise classes, card clubs, talks and monthly birthday celebrations, take place at the Wellness Center. Trips to nearby attractions and shopping excursions planned by the staff are offered to residents and members of the larger community. As a former Sister of Charity and now an SC Associate, living in The Village has made it possible for me to visit and renew friendships with many Sisters of Charity who live ‘across the street’ at the Motherhouse. I’m so glad I made the decision to move to The Village!” In her 2009-2010 annual report letter, Adrienne Walsh, president and CeO, commented, “What began 20 years ago as a plan in the hands of the Sisters of Charity has now become a thriving campus, providing a multitude of services to thousands of individuals and families. We have been diligently fulfilling the 200-year-old mission of the Sisters and while our organization has more than a century to go before achieving their status, we are happy to say we are mapping out our course in that direction.” From a wealth of health and wellness services to options for retirement living, Bayley is committed to meeting the needs of adults – today and tomorrow. Editor’s Note: As a member of the Corporation Board for Sponsored Ministries, S. Ruth Kuhn is the CBSM’s liaison to Bayley. Bayley’s Adult Day Program (formerly Eldermount) celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2011.
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. 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 social work. To read full articles and additional ministry stories, including Sisters Rose Izzo, Kay Tardiff and Barbara huber, visit www.srcharitycinti.org and click on “Ministry” then “Ministry Locations.” S. Margarita Brewer Cincinnati, Ohio Since 2003, S. Margarita Brewer has been ministering with Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) to help english language learners (eLL), students whose native language or home language is other than english, become successful in their academic life while embracing their cultural identity.
and celebrate all children. In addition, the eLL Fun with Science Camp, in partnership with the Northern Kentucky University Latino Institute for excellence and the Department of Biology, is a week-long event exposing students to all fields of science through hands-on learning activities.
Within the last four years, “To me, the best way for these the eLLF has provided a total students to succeed in this country of $14,500 in scholarships to is through education,” said Sister, an deserving eLL students. The educational services coordinator with funding has motivated students CPS. “You can give them food and S. Margarita Brewer, with students involved in the Young Readers to graduate from high school shelter, you can give them whatever Program at Roberts Paideia Academy, is an educational services with a higher GPA and has given they need, but what is going to make coordinator with Cincinnati Public Schools. them more opportunities for a them productive citizens in this new higher education. In seven years, environment and in this new culture is their education.” Sister has seen the graduation rate of her hispanic students When she came to CPS eight years ago as a school increase from 30 percent to 93 percent. community coordinator for the Office of Second Language S. Margarita has truly changed the lives of the students she Acquisition, S. Margarita thought she would only be working encounters on a daily basis. her support has given them more with the hispanic population. She quickly realized there were than they could ever have dreamed as they learn to appreciate many cultures represented in the Cincinnati area (more than 70 their cultural identity, receive the needed support for their languages spoken by eLL students). S. Margarita said she visited education, graduate from high school, succeed in college, and classrooms and discovered that it was impossible for a single become self-sufficient and meaningful contributors to society. teacher to take care of all the educational needs of the individual “I am really happy to be able to have the opportunity to students. She started the eSL (english as a Second Language) volunteer tutor program, which has helped hundreds of students. help eLL families because I know how hard it is to move to another country,” S. Margarita said. “Several things work against In 2010, Sister had approximately 70 tutors assisting nearly 300 us, particularly if you have an accent; you are immediately students. During the last three years the program has logged labeled for it. This is more or less the reason I want to focus on more than 4,000 volunteer hours. education. If you want to help families, education is the only S. Margarita also is a founding member and president of the way out.” english Language Learning Foundation, Inc. (eLLF). Among the cultural and educational programs that S. Margarita oversees To view a slideshow of the many cultural and educational programs with the support of her foundation is Children’s Day, a day for S. Margarita oversees, visit www.srcharitycinti.org/news_events/photos.htm parents, families, communities and public officials to value 10
S. Michael Mary Eagan Aurora, Colorado At the age of 84, S. Michael Mary eagan continues to make a name for herself in Aurora, Colo. A former program director for Catholic Charities, S. Michael Mary operates the Little Flower Center, a social service outreach program in the “original” area of the city of Aurora. S. Brenda Busch (left) and Pamela Hardin Willis are involved with the housing counseling/foreclosure prevention programs at Working In Neighborhoods in Cincinnati.
Among the services provided at Little Flower Center is a furniture exchange program. When an estate or article of furniture is donated, the furniture is given to persons in need of these items. The program is designed to prevent “dumping,” Sister explains, while instead providing quality, useable items to those in dire need. Often, many seniors moving out of their homes and into senior citizen centers become both donors and recipients of the program as their mode of living changes.
S. Brenda Busch Cincinnati, Ohio
As our country continues to fall on hard times, i.e. second and third generations having to move into one household due to circumstances beyond their control, Little Flower Center has made the necessary adjustments and created programs to meet the needs of the people in Aurora. The “Baby Buds” program, currently funded by the Denver Foundation, provides support to the children of these unfortunate families as well as their related or non-related caretakers.
After consulting with her sister, S. Barbara Busch, executive director of Working In Neighborhoods (WIN), an organization that empowers individuals to make informed choices for themselves and their neighborhoods through community building, home ownership and economic learning, S. Brenda learned WIN was understaffed.
Completely operated by volunteers, the center is assisted by Queen of Peace and St. Therese parishes in Aurora. Monthly donations from the parishes help pay the center’s costs. In addition, Sister said numerous grants are needed to keep the center thriving. “Grant money is out there,” she said, “but you have to go after it.” As S. Michael Mary reﬂects on her current ministry, and the impact she has made on the lives of so many in the city of Aurora, she remembers elizabeth Seton. “I have such respect for elizabeth and the many roles she played in her own life; she did them all well,” Sister said. “At the same time she was socially gracious and present to the people. She had a great talent for personal interaction, and I like to think that I bring that to the table, as well.” S. Michael Mary Eagan works with volunteer Bob Bialka to keep the Little Flower Center’s furniture program in line with the needs of the community.
After 44 years in education, most recently as principal of holy Family School in Cincinnati, Ohio, S. Brenda Busch said her heart told her it was time to serve God in a new way.
“For the past 30 years, I have listened, observed and been impressed by the growth and mission of WIN,” S. Brenda said. So when she learned the foreclosure crisis was not diminishing and there was a real need to be able to schedule more people for housing counseling, she realized this was where God was leading her. Since August 2010, S. Brenda has served as WIN’s intake coordinator for its housing counseling/foreclosure prevention programs. She is the first person a caller speaks with when contacting WIN concerned and upset about losing their homes because they are falling behind on their mortgage payments. Sister explains the program’s process; fills out an intake form; and signs them up for their first session with one of WIN’s housing counselors. S. Brenda says she most enjoys helping others, and being part of WIN’s friendly, competent and compassionate staff. “When I was much younger, I came across this quote from George eliot (pen name for Mary Ann evans): ‘What is there to live for if not to make life less difficult for others.’ I believe in the truth of these words,” Sister said. Throughout the years countless Sisters of Charity have contributed to the mission and success of WIN, which was founded in 1978 by Sisters Barbara Busch and the late Judith Martinez. Through their Board involvement, prayers and monetary support, WIN has helped thousands of low- and moderate-income families purchase homes as well as saved hundreds from foreclosure, and S. Brenda is proud to add her name to that list. As she makes phone calls, greets others and schedules new clients, S. Brenda follows in elizabeth Seton’s footsteps. “elizabeth cared for everyone she met,” S. Brenda said. “She left us the legacy to look for God in each person and event. She asked us to rely on God’s guidance and to do our best for others.”
S. Anita Maroun with Jean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche, an international organization that enables people with and without disabilities to share their lives in communities of faith and friendship.
S. Anita Maroun Bedford, Ohio In 1972, S. Anita Maroun met Jean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche, an international organization that enables people with and without disabilities to share their lives in communities of faith and friendship. Jean asked S. Anita three questions: What is your nationality? What is your profession? Do you love Jesus? “The first two were very easy,” Sister said. “I’m Lebanese and a teacher. The third question was a little more difficult – ‘yes, I think so.’ his response, ‘Come to L’Arche and see.’” S. Anita traveled to France in 1974 and experienced firsthand what living in community was all about. Following her return to the Cleveland, Ohio, area, Sister met the founder of the Cleveland L’Arche community, Associate Pat Wehner, who at the time was a Vincentian Sister of Charity. This is how S. Anita was introduced to the Vincentian Community, and how she began her 36-year involvement with L’Arche. In her sixth year as eastern U.S. regional coordinator, Sister’s primary responsibilities involve working with each community in the eastern region toward greater “mission effectiveness.” She provides formation for boards of trustees as well as assistants in the homes and community leaders; ensures there are retreats, gatherings and workshops within the region; and conducts leadership training. In addition, S. Anita is the chairperson of the International Discernment Process for the international coordinator and vice coordinator positions; a member of the Vocational Development Committee; and a participant on the National Council and in the International Leadership Body. S. Anita says the relationships that she has built with her communities’ core members are what make her ministry so fruitful. “They are wonderful people – gifted in so many ways, so welcoming, so accepting and humorous,” Sister said. As S. Anita responds to the needs of a population that continues to be marginalized and often seen as less than human, the words of elizabeth Seton inspire her: “Our name devotes us to their service in any manner that we could truly serve them … We must display for them the tender compassion of [God’s] goodness, be the ministers of [God’s] providence for the relief of their miseries, a relief that disposes so well every heart to [God’s] better service.”1 1 Dirvin, Joseph I., C.M., The Soul of Elizabeth Seton: A Spiritual Portrait. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1990. pp. 129-130
S. Nancy Crofton has been ministering at Talbert House’s ADAPT for Men program in Cincinnati since July 2010.
S. Nancy Crofton Cincinnati, Ohio As she reﬂects on her current ministry at Talbert house’s ADAPT for Men, a program for drug and alcohol addicted adults charged with felony offenses, S. Nancy Crofton says she never imagined herself working with women and men with addiction. “I had never worked with adults, and I had never worked with people who have alcohol and drug problems…” S. Nancy said. “I wanted something that would be a challenge for me and would use my gifts to the fullest. I was open to whatever the Lord wanted from me and tried to listen to what God was calling me to.” A licensed social worker, S. Nancy, who has been at Talbert house for almost three years, transferred to the ADAPT for Men program in July 2010. She is currently responsible for a caseload of 11 clients. She conducts the assessment testing and interviews with the clients; gathers information; and completes a diagnostic assessment to see if the client meets the criteria for treatment. A report is sent to the hamilton County Drug Court for the judge to decide whether the client is accepted into the program. S. Nancy meets with each of her clients in one-on-one sessions for one hour each week. She updates service plans (every 2030 days) and works with the client to determine new goals. In addition, Sister facilitates a Core Group, which can consist of up to 12 men in group therapy five days a week. She also has an anger management group consisting of 15-28 clients that meets twice a week. Seeing the men turn their lives around is most satisfying to S. Nancy. “I had never realized the effects of drug use on a person,” Sister said, “not only the physical effects but the emotional effects, as well… When I listen to their stories and am able to challenge them to see themselves as created beings of God, making bad choices but not being bad people, I feel I have done something to help them.” Intercom
S. Mary Beth Peters Cincinnati, Ohio “Our guests are some of the most faith-filled, humble and gracious people I have ever met in my 30-plus years in social work,” said S. Mary Beth Peters, executive director of Our Daily Bread, a Christian hospitality ministry in Cincinnati, Ohio. “One time a reporter came to Our Daily Bread to do a story,” Sister continued. “One guest he approached said that he would be happy to speak with him, but wanted to pray first. After the interviews the reporter came to me and remarked how surprised he was at the depth of their faith. My response was: ‘Our guests’ faith puts my faith to shame.’” S. Ann Hunt (back, third from left) coordinates three women’s enrichment programs at The Women’s Connection in Cincinnati, including the Piecemaker quilting group.
S. Ann Hunt Cincinnati, Ohio “Meaningful living is about building relationships,” S. Ann hunt said, referring to how she carries out the spirit of elizabeth Seton in her daily ministry. “I bring a caring, hopeful presence to the staff and the women who come to The Women’s Connection. A lot of my work is via the phone and e-mail, so it is a matter of respecting each person who connects with the center.” For the last 13 years S. Ann has been ministering at The Women’s Connection in Price hill (Cincinnati, Ohio), a neighborhood center founded by S. Mary Jo Gasdorf that provides support for change by educating, empowering and enriching women, children and families. S. Ann currently coordinates three women’s enrichment programs (basic machine sewing, scrapbooking and the Piecemaker quilting group). She also serves as volunteer coordinator of the center’s programs and events, and is the editor of the agency newsletter. After working in parish ministry for more than 10 years, S. Ann found herself ministering at both The Women’s Connection and Terrace Guild, a GeD site in Winton Terrace (Cincinnati). In both ministries she was working with those living in poverty. “Both ministries gave me the rich opportunity to interact and learn from a different culture,” S. Ann said. She eventually came to The Women’s Connection full time and quickly learned each day brings something new. “I enjoy the people with whom I work, meeting new volunteers and observing the excitement of the women who discover that they can do more than they thought,” she said.
Since 2005, S. Mary Beth has been responsible for the administrative duties at the shelter, which provides a warm meal and a safe place in community for the poor in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine and West end neighborhoods. But she says the most enjoyable part of her ministry involves associating with the many guests who visit on a daily basis. From the unemployed and the working poor to the homeless and the mentally ill, S. Mary Beth says she receives much more than she gives. With more than 500 guests making their way into the hospitality center each day, however, Sister says she has her fair share of challenges. “So many suffer from mental illness and you never know what will upset them,” she said. “One of my hats is that of peacekeeper. If a guest is having a hard day and I am having a hard day, it’s a challenge.” But it is the inspiration of Our Daily Bread’s founder, Cookie Vogelpohl, the niece of the late S. Clara Vogelpohl, that brings things into perspective. S. Mary Beth explains that she wears a bracelet on her wrist with the initials ‘WWCD’ (What Would Cookie Do?). “Cookie is a unique individual who has created a remarkable presence for the poor in Over-the-Rhine,” S. Mary Beth said. “The bracelet is a reminder for me to keep my ‘bad’ day in check.” Through the loving relationships she has built with the guests of Our Daily Bread, S. Mary Beth is living the mission of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati daily. her kind and gentle way with the guests, the time she spends with them, and the listening ear she lends, all keep elizabeth Seton’s spirit alive and ever present. S. Mary Beth Peters is the executive director of Our Daily Bread, a Christian hospitality ministry in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Sister says she has seen firsthand the value of women making connections with other women, and how self worth and confidence grow with each coming together. “Friendship happens,” S. Ann said, “and it is wonderful to behold. Women need one another to laugh, share and grow. how beautiful!” SPRING 2011
Building Relationships, Changing Lives By Debbie Weber, Associate
y relationship with S. Sarah Mulligan started one beautiful June evening at a fundraiser for an international nonprofit that is based in Cincinnati, Ohio. The hosts of the fundraiser were aware that my husband, Jim, and I had volunteered in developing countries, including Guatemala, since 1996. They thought we should meet S. Sarah. That first meeting was brief, but changed the course of our lives. At a subsequent meeting over dinner the following week, S. Sarah asked us to work in her clinic in Mixco, Guatemala. It is difficult to say no to a Sister of Charity, especially S. Sarah. her love for her Guatemalan friends, co-workers and those who live in poverty came through in every word she spoke. Saying “yes” to her request, and to God’s, was easy. Jim is a dentist and I am a social worker/administrator. Through the years we have traveled three times to the Daniel Comboni Community Clinic that S. Sarah co-founded. I think our two professions work well in the clinic as there is a great need for cavity prevention in the very young children in Guatemala as well as dental care for the older children and adults. S. Sarah asked me to design a cavity prevention program for young children and an oral health care presentation for the Diabetic Club members. I agreed and designed a “Smiles for Guatemala” training program complete with a Spanish training manual and PowerPoint presentation. Jim provided dental care, collaborated with the two dentists at the clinic, and trained clinic staff and village “health promoters” to apply ﬂuoride varnish and to provide education.
The three of us have taken the ﬂuoride program to remote villages, schools, churches, and of course, S. Sarah’s clinic. hundreds of children and adults have received ﬂuoride varnish and dental education and have been referred to a dentist if necessary (roughly two-thirds of the people we have seen had cavities). Program design and implementation is good, but it is not what has made my experience in Mixco life-changing. The people of Guatemala have changed my life. By returning to the same clinic, the same remote villages, the same schools – we have built relationships. Working side-by-side with S. Sarah, her staff and the health promoters has been a gift. I don’t go to Guatemala, or other underserved areas, to “do good.” I go to help out where needed and when asked, and to stand in solidarity with my sisters and brothers of the world. Spending time with S. Sarah is icing on the cake. her gentleness, kindness and unconditional love for all are grounding for me. To learn more about the Daniel Comboni Community Clinic, visit www.guatemalaclinicmixco.org. A slideshow of photos from Debbie’s most recent trip can be found on our Web site at www.srcharitycinti.org/news_events/photos.htm.
Associate Debbie Weber (right) has traveled three times to the Daniel Comboni Community Clinic in Mixco, Guatemala, to assist S. Sarah Mulligan.
Sharing in Life’s Journey By Mary Jo Mersmann, director of Associates
ssociate Cathy Ruggieri Colque is the assistant director at hyde Park Center for Older Adults in Cincinnati, Ohio, and has served there for the past 33 years.
While earning a degree in social work at edgecliff College in Cincinnati, Cathy worked 40 hours a week in the kitchen and dining room at the Marjorie P. Lee Retirement home. After graduation she moved to Indianapolis, Ind., and became a patient coordinator in the X-ray department at Winona hospital. After one year, Cathy received a call from the director of the Marjorie Lee home asking her to return as the activity director; she accepted since she had enjoyed her time there in the past. Several years later Cathy took the position at hyde Park Center, first as activities director. “By then I realized that working with older adults was what I wanted to do,” she said. Over the years her responsibilities have broadened. As assistant director, she supervises several employees and oversees transportation, the meals program and all the programs and activities at the center.
“No day is ever the same,” Cathy shared. “What I enjoy most are the people I serve. There are people who come to the center who knew my grandparents and my parents. There are people who were my neighbors or parents of classmates. Some of the people have been coming to the center for 25 years and have shared my life’s journey with me. In many instances I have been able to share their end-of-life journey with them.” The hyde Park Center was the first multi-purpose senior center in the state of Ohio. The center offers programs, transportation, meals and social services to older adults primarily in the communities of hyde Park, Mount Lookout, Oakley, Madisonville, O’Bryonville, east end and South Norwood. however, people from all over the city take part in the programs. “Many of the center’s members know that I entered the Sisters of Charity in 1968, left the Community and now am an Associate,” Cathy said. “I am very proud of that. I have brought some members to Mass at the Motherhouse and once brought a group for a tour of The Village, [senior housing located at Bayley, a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati].” Cathy keeps her Social Service License current. She also is certified through the Ohio Association of Senior Centers as an administrator of aging services.
Caritas Convocation: Convening, Complementing, Committing June 27-July 1, 2012 Sisters of Charity Motherhouse Mount St. Joseph, Ohio Associates, Candidates and Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati are invited to:
“It is good to be able to help people connect with programs and services that will enhance their quality of life,” she said. “Mother Seton dedicated her life in service to others in whatever ways it was needed and that is what I try to do at work and in my daily life.” Associate Cathy Colque (second from left) is the assistant director at Hyde Park Center for Older Adults in Cincinnati, Ohio. Also pictured are (from left) Roseanne Berge, Juanita Pape and Gaynell Howard.
• Get to know SC Associates, Candidates and Sisters from across the country • Pray together, share our stories and dreams, get in touch with our SC roots • Build community, visit, dine and play together • Identify, clarify and strengthen the Associate/Sister relationship. For more information, visit the password-protected sections of our Web site at www.srcharitycinti.org or contact Mary Jo Mersmann, director of Associates, at (513) 347-5473 or firstname.lastname@example.org. SPRING 2011
The Singing Circle By S. Mary Bodde
bout seven or eight years ago, four Sisters on the seventh floor of Mother Margaret Hall invited me to have lunch with them and then sing afterward,” S. Terry Thorman said as she explained the beginnings of the Mother Margaret Hall Singing Circle. “We met every Friday. As the group became larger, we outgrew our space in the alcove near the nurse’s station. “That’s when Kate Preston [the former MMH director of activities] suggested using the Community Room on the third floor as well as the outdoor patio when the weather is nice,” S. Terry continued. “We usually average 15 participants each week.” When there is no piano, S. Terry accompanies the singers with her Q Chord, a combination of a basic keyboard and electric guitar into a portable, easy-to-use instrument. She uses the benefits of her master’s degree in music therapy to promote socialization. “It’s very touching to me to see how they relate to each other - a longtime friend touches the other’s knee with a ‘Hello there!’ and ‘How are you today?’”
with them. Matt, an intern, is good with jokes that relate to them. One day a volunteer brought her grandson for ‘Show and Tell.’ “It’s not all about singing,” S. Terry noted. “Singing provides a structure so one could take part even if she didn’t sing. And it’s not just my group. We are involved in training interns. They want to gain real experience and interact with the group. In a way the Sisters are training the interns.” Singing Circle members share their responses. “I was one of the early ones,” S. Pierre Habel remembers. “I like oldfashioned songs, songs from different nationalities, like Irish songs. Besides singing we stop for a few jokes and funny stories. We’re full of surprises.” S. Claire Boehm enjoys singing “old favorites and ones I know, but especially being with people who like to sing. I try to make conversation with people who look as if they haven’t seen anyone for a while,” she adds with a twinkle in her eye. “Even if they sing songs I don’t know, it’s nice to be with the group,” S. Mary Susanne Wittwer said.
These ‘cognitive socializations’ allow S. Terry to suggest songs, like “My Favorite Things.” She notices the sensory stimulations - hands, feet, instruments and respiratory - as they sing and laugh. Volunteers and interns from the College of Mount St. Joseph join them, like Angela who brings her flute. Beverly Anderson, activities coordinator at MMH, sings The Mother Margaret Hall Singing Circle meets every Friday afternoon for socialization and song.
S. Terry Thorman (right) has led the Singing Circle for the last eight years.
Global home By S. Jean Miller
Bolded items throughout the article are parts of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati Earth Belief Statement, adopted in 2010. “We believe that God continues to create the universe in the present moment and calls us to be life-giving and creative participants in the ongoing life of Earth.”
s spring reveals itself to us in tiny new buds on tree branches, in the color change of some birds’ feathers, in the courageous heads of crocus ﬂowers breaking through the warming soil, we experience God’s continual creating in the present moment. We also can look out into the universe and study new galaxies and planets emerging. The wonder of the night sky can awaken deep gratitude in this emerging creation. In our fast-paced, troubled world we can miss these wonderful seasonal and universal dramas of the present moment. however, if we can pause, come to stillness, awaken our senses to the new work of the insects and squirrels or the birth pangs of the doe and fawn, we will be moved to hear God’s call for our creative participation in healing our global home. When we ask ourselves, “how can we creatively participate?” The answer is in the rest of our earth Belief Statement. It says, “We believe Earth is our teacher.” One of the many lessons earth teaches is that every creature in nature is important, useful and produces no “waste.” humans have created “waste.” Think about your own waste just today despite recycling and reusing. Now imagine the amount of waste the Community of Charity produces every day throughout the United States. Jim Motavalli, a senior writer at E magazine, says, “Three-quarters of what the U.S. throws into landfills today is products and packaging. A lot of it is designed for one-time use and a lot of it is toxic.” Maybe we need to take our goal to recycle and reuse to an individual and communitywide next step. Reduce our
consumption, eliminate packaging, buy local to reduce the waste of transport and inform ourselves about ePR (extended Producer Responsibility). Now some cities, states and countries are implementing ePR laws. Producers take responsibility to take back the waste (often toxic) part of their product in a manner to insure new products are made from their old waste. Does your city or state have an ePR law? What new product is being made from some of our waste? All of this might earn us an “A” grade. The belief statement also says, “We believe in safeguarding Earth’s regenerative capacities.” The land at our Motherhouse is a gift for all who join us for retreats, hikes or contemplation. One of our calls to creative participation is taking care of this land. This area is very susceptible to erosion and slippage. This year we have a Motherhouse Grounds/environment Committee studying the ways to keep the hill from slipping and the soil from eroding. One way is to plant certain trees like black locust with vertical root systems. Watch for the new trees being introduced. You will see selective harvesting of some trees. A strategy to prevent slippage that was discussed was the insertion of long rods, as anchors, until the tree roots are established. Invasive species keep trees and wild ﬂowers from receiving the nutrients they need. Two invasive species are honeysuckle and garlic mustard that we continually work to eliminate from the land. In order for the land and native vegetation to use their regenerative capacity there is much work for employees, Sisters, Associates, college students and friends as they root out invasive species, plant trees and cut down nonessential trees in order to safeguard our land’s regenerative capabilities. “We are called in humility to reverence the beauty and gifts of Earth, in simplicity to recognize our kinship with Earth, in charity to sustainably protect and restore the integrity of Earth’s ecological systems.”
M EE T O U R S I S T E R S —
S. Mary Jo Gasdorf
fter serving eight years in a leadership position for the Community, S. Mary Jo Gasdorf responded to a Chapter directive to focus on the needs of women and children. She discovered the need for a neighborhood center to advocate for and refer people, especially women, to services they didn’t know were available. In May 1997, The Women’s Connection opened its doors, and 14 years later continues to strengthen families in Price Hill (Cincinnati). We took the opportunity to sit down with the center’s executive director and learn a little more about her. What do you enjoy most about being a Sister of Charity? Bearing the title Sister of Charity for 50 years has been both a blessing and a challenge! It has been a blessing because I have been in relationship with so many great Sisters of Charity. It has been a challenge because to live the Gospel message of love 24/7 is a tall order. In recent years I have especially known the love and support of the Community of Charity (Sisters and Associates) as I worked hard to keep the mission of The Women’s Connection alive and well in Price Hill. I have several quotes that I like to use to express myself and one of those is: “We are all in this together.” I enjoy having so many wonderful companions on this journey of life.
What is your favorite way to connect with God?
S. Mary Jo Gasdorf visits with Jennifer at The Women’s Connection in Price Hill.
Connecting with nature is one of my favorite ways to connect with God. If I am unable to be outside I find that pictures are a great way to visit nature indoors. Seeing the face of God in the women and children who visit the center is always a blessing. So many times the eyes tell the story. Stories of abuse and lack of hope and stories of joy at finding a job or finding a place to live … we have it all here. When I need a break from administration I love to go out and visit with the children. Jesus knew what he was doing when he invited the children to come to him. Children help us keep all things in perspective.
What is the best thing about Community life?
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
The first thought that comes to mind is my Sisters, both past and present. Without the strong, caring and loving risk takers of the past we would not be where we are today. I am a small part of the history of the Sisters of Charity and I am very proud of that reality. Beginning The Women’s Connection was definitely a ‘going out on a limb’ adventure. Because of the support of so many of my Sisters and Associates then and now I have had the courage to act and create something new that keeps the mission of the Sisters of Charity alive in Price Hill.
In my senior year of high school I was president of the Catholic Student Mission Crusade. A talk I gave to an assembly at Seton High School on conditions in Cape Town, South Africa, had a profound effect on me. The poor and oppressed have always had a special place in my heart, and that is because I have been so blessed in my life. I always wanted to be a missionary, either at home or in the foreign missions. In 1976, I was planning to go to Ravenna, Ky., to minister at a parish in a small mining town tucked away in Appalachia. To my surprise my journey took a sharp right turn and I was elected provincial of the Dayton Province. Thirty-five years later I now find myself working with the poor in Price Hill, many of whom are Appalachian. God does work in mysterious ways.
What do you do for fun? I love to travel, go to the movies, read a good book, listen to music, go fishing, go for a walk, enjoy a party, or sit by any body of water and just be!
A Spiritual Family By Donata Glassmeyer, Associate
he priests who serve the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati are familiar faces in the halls of the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse. hailing from varied backgrounds and religious orders, each priest shares in his appreciation of the Sisters of Charity mission and ministries. Fr. Patrick McCloskey, OFM, celebrates Sunday Mass in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at Fr. Greg Friedman, OFM, with his aunt, S. Mary the Motherhouse. “The chapel is one of my favorite Andrea Friedman, celebrates Mass at the Mount places to celebrate Mass because it is so beautiful and St. Joseph Motherhouse. everyone engages in the ‘full, conscious and active participation’ in the liturgy as Vatican II requested,” Fr. Pat said. “Although I did not have a formal affiliation with the Sisters of Charity when I began in 2003,” Fr. Pat continued, “I knew S. Louise Akers when I chaired the religion department at Roger Bacon high School [Cincinnati] and Sister did the same at Seton high School [Cincinnati] in the 1970s. For the past several years, S. Lucien Marie Davis has invited me to speak to her fifth grade students at Resurrection School in Cincinnati about St. Patrick.” Fr. Greg Friedman, OFM, claims, “I’m a Charity in-law.” his aunt is S. Mary Andrea Friedman and his cousins are the late Sisters Joseph Marion and Jane ellen Shappelle. “It’s good to say Mass here,” Fr. Greg said. “With my family connection, and the long Friar history with the Sisters of Charity, I’m able to enjoy this side of my family.” “The Sisters of Charity are a community of prayer for all people all over the world,” Fr. Greg added. “In my homilies, I try to salute the women who devote many years of their lives to such diverse ministries. I try to apply this to the daily Scripture and to reinforce the Sisters’ ministry of contemplative prayer.” Fr. Louis Barto, OFM, joined the Franciscan community in 1990 at the age of 41, after caring for his ailing parents for many years. After several assignments in Kansas, Indiana, Louisiana and Illinois, Fr. Louis transferred back to the Friary on Colerain Avenue in Cincinnati and assumed ﬂexible hours working as chaplain at Cincinnati’s Drake hospital. In 2002, Father began presiding at the 8 a.m. Mass at the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse and hearing confessions two times each month. In July 2005, Father was assigned as a full-time pastor at St. Clement parish in St. Bernard (Cincinnati) where he works with S. Patricia hill, who is a part-time pastoral minister there. Together they visit the sick. “S. Pat has shown me many ways to travel around Cincinnati. She is a great help,” Fr. Louis said. Fr. Ralph Westerhoff comes to the Sisters of Charity via a connection at St. Vincent de Paul parish on River Road in Cincinnati. The late S. Mary Gordian Lewis, a retired RN who took care of Fr. Westerhoff’s mother at the rectory, mentioned to Father that the Sisters of Charity were in need of a chaplain. So, off and on, Fr. Westerhoff said Mass at Mother Margaret hall and the Motherhouse. “My mother eventually lived in Mother Margaret hall for about two years,” Fr. Westerhoff said. “She passed away there and the funeral was held in the Motherhouse chapel. The Sisters and staff were very good in caring for her. It was care to the ‘tenth power.’ My family will always be grateful to the Sisters.” Today Father also says Mass at Bayley, a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. he retired as pastor of St. Lawrence parish in Cincinnati in 2006.
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 400 Sisters are joined in their mission by 188 Associates (lay women and men). Sisters, using their professional talents as ministers of education, health care and social services, live and minister in 35 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. Georgia Kitt Advisory Board Members: S. Mary Ann Flannery Donata Glassmeyer 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: email@example.com Subscriptions: $15 per year
5900 Delhi Road Mount St. Joseph, OH 45051 www.srcharitycinti.org
Fathers Mike Glockner, Louis Lipps, SJ, and Joseph Bruening were featured in the 2010 fall issue of Intercom. SPRING 2011
5900 Delhi Road Mount Saint Joseph, OH 45051 http://www.srcharitycinti.org
14 Building Relationships, Changing Lives: Associate Debbie Weber (back, second from right) designed a cavity prevention program for young children in Mixco, Guatemala, where S. Sarah Mulligan (back, third from left) lives and ministers.
10 The Love of Christ Urges Us: S. Brenda Busch (left), who recently joined the staff of Working in Neighborhoods, visits with Amber and her daughter Makayla at their home in western Hamilton County. S. Brenda is one of many Sisters of Charity ministering in the field of social work.
All Are Welcome: Nellie Derrenkamp (left), nurse aide, Mother Margaret Hall, and Associate Liz Maxwell enjoy the afternoon at the Motherhouse on March 6, 2011, celebrating the 100th anniversary of International Womenâ€™s Day.
S I S T E R S
C H A R I T Y
C I N C I N N AT I
Special 2011 Chapter Edition
(From left) Sisters Delia Sizler, Donna Bryant, Joanne Burrows and Tricia Cruise take part in the opening ritual of the 2011 Chapter.
A Faith Journey By S. Caroljean Willie
lace your discerning touch among us as we discover the wisdom that lies within each one of us ...” These lines from the opening prayer in A Faith Journey into Discerning Leadership, the booklet given to Sisters in preparation for the 2011 Chapter, capture well the spirit that pervaded the week of April 8-April 16, 2011; a spirit of openness and honesty as we embraced together the journey which would lead us into a transformative vision for the future. From the sound of the singing bowls resounding throughout the Motherhouse chapel at the opening to the closing ritual of anointing the new leadership team, there was a sense that as a Community we had arrived at a new place. There was recognition of the need to discover the wisdom within but also a real sense of the wisdom residing in each Sister. Throughout Chapter there was a peacefulness and quiet energy and enthusiasm that each delegate brought to the work we were about. Facilitators Donna Fyffe and Debbie Ansberry invited delegates to review the material in Co-Observing: Seeing with Fresh Eyes and reﬂect silently on their own understanding of identity and culture, purpose and stewardship. Questions used to guide these reﬂections were: “Who are we as Sisters to one another? What is the quality of our communal life? How do we show up for one another? What is the expression of our charism and mission in the world? And how do we order our lives for governance and to manage our ﬁnite and precious resources for the greater good?” Following personal reﬂection delegates were invited to share at their tables and then move about the room to hear the voices of their Sisters. These questions provided the bedrock for the recommendations and decisions made during Chapter. Throughout the week delegates were encouraged to review the stages of the “U” Theory; “to avoid reacting to old issues in
(From left) Sisters Mary Lou Knapke and Nancy Crafton prepare for the opening of the 2011 Chapter.
the same tired ways and to see with fresh eyes and think in new ways about the universal and foundational issues we face” and to enter deliberations with open minds, open hearts and open wills. The primary challenge of the “U” Theory, to connect to an emerging future and allow for a shift in identity and self, provided the impetus for delegates to deeply listen to each other and to the future which is emerging within us as religious women in the 21st century. The nomination process took place in two stages. One was at the Governance Small Group meetings prior to Chapter and the second was at Chapter itself. In both cases Sisters were invited to say aloud the name of a Sister she would like for president and again for councilor. The names from the small groups were submitted to the Chapter Planning Committee ahead of time and were spoken aloud from the ﬂoor at the same time as the names which surfaced at Chapter. Multiple opportunities for sharing among ourselves as well as a desert day for personal discernment and reﬂection provided the time and space for “letting go” that we might “let come.” The words of S. Diana Durling encapsulated the spirit of Chapter: “While sitting in the silence of the chapel, I reﬂected on what our Community’s future might be. I couldn’t help but wonder if the 12 apostles in the upper room felt the same as they prepared for their future. The apostles back then and our Community now have been waiting, expecting and hoping for enlightenment from the Spirit. I noticed as each Sister and Associate entered the chapel that the atmosphere moved to a stirring effervescence with hope and joy. We are kindred spirits igniting our lives with new challenges as Sisters of Charity.” iNterCoM
Transformative Visioning By S. Rita Hawk
he image of a patchwork quilt introduced our day’s agenda on Saturday, April 9. S. Joan Deiters, chair of the Chapter Planning Committee, challenged us to the work of “making a new quilt” by listening, speaking and openness to one another during the next seven days. “The challenge of transformative visioning will forever impact the quality of our life,” she suggested.
she warned. The voice of judgment will close our mind; the voice of cynicism will close our heart; and the voice of fear will close our way to openness to God’s will. These are shadows, and during our time together, we will have to shine a ﬂashlight on them, she stated. During Chapter we will need to name the voices to one another. The “U” Theory laid the groundwork for the 2011 Chapter.
Throughout Chapter that was what we were about. New vocabulary became part of our language and being during our Chapter days: The “U” Theory, of co-sensing, co-observing, co-presencing, co-discerning and co-creating, was the patchwork of our transformative visioning life quilt. Facilitator Debbie Ansberry helped “reground and situate us” for the work ahead. She reminded us we had asked that our Chapter be contemplative, discerning, respectful, listening, communal and transformative. Quite a tall order for ourselves! She described the “U” Theory, which includes three major movements: observing, retreating and reﬂecting, and then acting – often in an instant. Between the ﬁrst movement of observing and the second of retreating and reﬂecting comes “letting go.” As we move toward the second movement we descend to the bottom of the “U,” the entrance into the Paschal Mystery. In the second movement we are allowing the “inner knowing to emerge.” Between the second movement and the third movement of acting, we are “letting come.” Engaging in these three movements, Debbie reminded us, involves an open mind, open heart and open will. Negative “voices” often try to impede this opening process,
Debbie emphasized the importance of “going down the ‘U,’” that is entering into the Paschal dimension of the process in order to “come up” while co-creating and co-evolving. She challenged us to see a bigger world; to let go in order to let come. It is a process of metanoia, a changing of mental processes to embrace wholeness. Finally, we were immersed in the “U” process: one process, ﬁve stages: • Co-initiating: uncovering our common intent; stopping to listen to others and to what we are being called in our life together. • Co-sensing: observing, observing, observing; connecting with each other and sensing what is coming from the whole. • Co-presencing: connecting with our source of inspiration and will through prayer and silence; allowing the inner knowing to emerge; going to the “bottom of the ‘U.’” • Co-creating: making decisions based on extensive discernment and/or “tinkering” with ideas to be developed via the “U” process in the future; or committing to further discernment and study. All three forms of co-creating were evident in the results of Chapter. • Co-evolving: Chapter continues as we “live into” the decisions made, further “tinkering,” or more discernment and study. These ﬁve stages, Donna asserted, lead us to “seeing things whole” in terms of our culture and identity, our purpose and our stewardship of our resources for our future.
Sister delegates begin the Saturday session in prayer. SPRING 2011 CHAPTER
In our Chapter, three players showed up: the Holy Spirit, 159 delegates and two facilitators. Together we shaped a new patchwork quilt for our future. Some pieces are yet to emerge; some are in place; and all, in time, Kairos (God’s) time, will form a new and beautiful Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati masterpiece which will provide beauty, warmth and new life to, for, and with the people of God 3
Our Mission in the World
Sisters listen to the presentations of four lay partners who discussed the ways in which they extend the SC mission.
By S. Louise Lears
enedictine S. Joan Chittister tells us that religious life “must be about seeing what others do not see or saying what others may not say, for whatever reason, at whatever price.”1 On Sunday morning of the 2011 Chapter gathering, delegates focused attention and energy on the question: Who do we say we are to the world, and how do we demonstrate this in our actions? In our Constitutions, we read that Sisters of Charity, urged by the charity of Christ, strive to continue the mission of Jesus, given by God: to preach the Good News to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed.2 Thus, our reason for existence is manifest in living Gospel values, in responding to the critical needs of the time through the lens of the dream of God with “unapologetic loyalty to the vision of Jesus.”3 This mission demands a preferential option for the needs of people who have been made poor or vulnerable by unjust systems. The mission makes demands on us; instead of thinking that we have a mission, we can say that God has us to carry out the mission. Recognizing that the Charity mission is inextricably linked to the signs of the times, we examined our current mission statement, adopted in 1979, to discern if different language might illumine our expanding awareness of issues affecting the Church and the world. A proposal for re-wording the mission statement by the Mission Focus Committee (whose members had worked for seven years to promote the Charity mission) prompted a rich exploration of the following: How do we become the change we yearn to see? How are we called to deepen our relationship with those who long to be part of our mission? What challenges do we face relative to the sustainability and viability of the mission? In short, what might our collective voice say to the world “that is both authentic and manifests integrity as evidenced by our actions?”4 4
(From left) Mission partners Doug Frazzell, Dave Scharfenberger, Erin Reder and Mary Jo Mersmann prepare to speak to the Chapter delegates.
These discussions led us to afﬁrm a newly worded mission statement that is ﬁrmly rooted in our heritage as well as imbued with an emerging consciousness of care for all creation: Urged by the love of Christ, and in the spirit of our founder, Elizabeth Ann Seton, we Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati strive to live Gospel values. We choose to act justly, to build loving relationships, to share our resources with those in need, and to care for all creation. With these words, we conﬁrmed our mission with fresh energy to further the reign of God. We committed ourselves to be more intentional about living and sharing Gospel values, individually and communally. We asked Congregational leaders to give sustained focus and attention to the mission by assigning speciﬁc responsibility for this task. We know that saying what we believe and acting accordingly as one Community is challenging; diversity of opinion is a reality. Yet diverse opinions need not pose an obstacle if we are willing to work constructively with diversity. Our ability to move through the challenges we face with love and humility will be a mark of our commitment and a witness to the world. iNterCoM
We Sisters of Charity are aware that we are not alone on this mission. We are convinced that the mission has been entrusted to all people of God by virtue of their baptism. For this reason, we actively seek lay partners who share in and extend the mission given to us. The relationship with lay partners in mission allows for mutual strength and support in living out Gospel values. On Sunday afternoon, four lay partners – Erin Reder, Sisters of Charity Communications managing editor; Mary Jo Mersmann, director of Associates; Doug Frizzell, dean of students at the College of Mount St. Joseph; and Dave Scharfenberger, from Working in Neighborhoods – touched our hearts and minds with stories of ways in which they extend the mission of the Sisters of Charity to “act justly, to build loving relationships, to share our resources with those in need, and to care for all creation.” Their narratives and challenges led us into a deeper conversation about the particular relationship between Sisters and Associates. More than 180 Associates, women and men of different ages and backgrounds, collaborate with Sisters in responding to the Gospel in the spirit of our founder, Elizabeth Ann Seton. Associates choose to be in mutual relationship with vowed members by integrating the mission into their individual roles, positions or ministries. They seek to live in ways that make visible the virtues of humility, simplicity and charity that are the foundation of the spirituality of the Sisters of Charity. As a result of these afternoon conversations, delegates overwhelmingly committed to a process of mutual exploration of the relationship between Sisters and Associates. We afﬁrmed the desire for honest dialogue about our expectations of each other, how we live out our call together, and how we extend the mission. Perhaps the ﬁnal sentence of the Sisters of Charity Charism Statement best describes the journey and commitments of the day: “As pilgrims, we pray for the wisdom to know the needs of our brothers and sisters and we dare to risk a caring response.”5 Joan Chittister, OSB, as quoted in Ted Dunn, “Refounding Religious Life: A Choice for Transformational Change,” Human Development (Fall 2009), p. 9 2 Isaiah 61:1, as quoted in the Constitutions of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, Nature of the Congregation, p. 7 3 Nancy Schreck, OSF, “Creating a Future for Religious Life,” LCWR Occasional Papers (Winter 2007) p. 9 4 Ted Dunn, “Refounding Religious Life,” p. 9 5 Constitutions of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, Charism, p. 5 1
“Collaboration with our lay counterparts is in our Sister of Charity DNA.” - S. Rita Hawk
“We all have much to share. God will send the opportunities. Often it is a call to share some of our time, and to have a ‘one-to-one’ conversation.” - S. Roslyn Hafertepe
(From left) Past and present staff of the College of Mount St. Joseph, Sisters Joanne Burrows, Marge Kloos, Monica Gundler, Elizabeth Cashman, Mary Bookser and Annette Muckerheide, connect with dean of students Doug Frizzell prior to his presentation on Sunday afternoon of Chapter. SPRING 2011 CHAPTER
Seeing Things Whole By S. Ruth Hunt
“O word of God, come into this space, O word of God, come send us your grace, Open our minds, show us your truth, Transform our lives anew.” ~ Fr. Ricky Manalo, CSP
hat wonderful words with which to begin a new day of Chapter on Monday, April 11. The theme for the day was based on our model “Seeing Things Whole,” in the realm of culture and identity. Beginning with registration the feelings of anticipation, joy, vitality, readiness, eagerness, peace, excitement, calm and wondering ﬁlled the halls, chapel and Cedars auditorium. This was a scene quite different from previous Chapters where problems, discussions, decision making and undesirable topics seemed to weigh heavily on the spirits of the delegates. Why the change? Community participation and a new process for discussion was given to us by patient, knowledgeable women, facilitators Donna Fyffe and Debbie Ansberry, who understood what we wanted and needed. For many months the Governance Committee had organized small groups, and those Sisters who could, looked at the types of questions that modeled what would be part of Chapter using the process that had been outlined by the Chapter Planning Committee. Therefore, when the delegates came to the table on Monday, they were prepared for what would take place. Input for the topic of the day by one or both of the facilitators led to time for private reﬂection, table talk and reports from the group at large. Two important issues for reﬂection related to relationships and identity, and led to the realization that we need to continue to work on these far beyond the week of Chapter. The table discussions and open mic led to a commitment as incarnational beings to develop wholesome, loving relationships which make a difference in the lives of others. This includes being aware of the needs of those whom we meet, and especially those with whom we live. It is easy to put on a show of great hospitality for outsiders, but how about those with whom we live, those moving into a new house, a new area, or a new section of the country? Hospitality, care, support and concern should not be something we turn on and off at will. 6
Debbie Ansberry (left) and Donna Fyffe facilitated the 2011 Chapter.
These thoughts naturally ﬂowed into the issue of mission. How do outsiders, those to whom we minister, those who are on committees with us, those people in the pews, see us? Do we witness the presence of Christ to them? Discussion was held on the rewording of our mission statement. Most of the delegates agreed that the new words written made a good statement. There were some differences of opinion about words, and when the facilitators reminded us our work was not to be a “wordsmith,” we were quick to change our focus back to the task at hand. However, we also agreed that everyone has a different explanation of mission, when asked. Mission is part of who we are, and each of us should, by our very actions, as well as our words, give life to our vision of mission. It was surprising how one topic seemed to ﬂow right into the next. The topic of new members and how to encourage them followed on the heels of mission. Most people who are attracted to religious life are so because of a person they knew or an experience they had. If this is true, then we cannot say, “I am too young, too old, too afraid of what will become of religious life, diminishment, or a bleak future.” Every meeting can be an opportunity to show the commitment we are trying to live. This means that women who have been blessed by a call to the single and/or married life also see through us the value of a recommitment to their own vocations. People are iNterCoM
hungry for a deeper spirituality and it is part of our mission to feed that hunger. Women, when they see us, should see us willing to listen contemplatively, willing to give up and let go of what doesn’t work, and willing to look forward to a future for religious life, no matter how that may unfold. It was determined that we continue to make better use of technology to inform others about our Community, to commit our resources to help the Vocation Team do what is needed, and that every Sister take responsibility for encouraging women to share in the life we live. We also will explore and develop ways to strengthen our connection within the greater Family of Charity, i.e. the SC Federation and the Vincentian Family. A vital part of our Community is our Associate program. Small and large group discussions emphasized the need to have a greater relationship with the Associates. As we work to gain new members, we need to remember those who have already committed themselves to us as Associates. It was afﬁrmed that Sisters were willing to have Associates in their small groups (except for issues of ﬁnance and government) and to pursue new ways of becoming more involved with these women and men. This should be a combined effort of the Sisters and the Associates to ﬁnd alternative ways to forming a closer relationship with each other. One other topic we struggled with on Monday was our commitment to further discernment together on who we are as ecclesial women, and in developing and maintaining an authentic voice in the Church. It came as no surprise that
S. Barbara Hagedorn (left) visits with S. Jo Anne Termini following a presentation given by the Executive Council.
there were many different problems, hurts and ideas about our relationship with the Church. How do we, as Sisters of Charity, follow Elizabeth’s call to be daughters of the Church in today’s world? Mother Seton, Louise de Marillac and Mother Margaret George all had difﬁculties with the hierarchy of the Church, and found ways to overcome these barriers or submit. Always, the will of God was the criteria. We submit that there is a need for us as women of the Church to become knowledgeable about the issue of women’s role in the Church, including the ordination of women. We need to study and be aware of what scholars, theologians and Church leaders are saying. We need to pray and ask to know the truth about personal conscience. Just because we have not heard much about religious life lately does not mean that it is not a topic in Rome. There was much more that followed in the afternoon. The Executive Council gave us an account of what a day in the life of a council member looks like. Making use of a blank calendar, they ﬁlled in all the meetings, conferences, assigned tasks, trips, both home and abroad, retreats, duties of the ofﬁce, telephone calls, visits with Sisters, and the list goes on and on. This calendar made the needed number of councilors unquestionable. Council members shared highlights of their leadership experience as well as an area of struggle and challenge. Were we exhausted at the end of the day? Yes! Did we look forward to the next day? Yes! Were our spirits still full of joy? Yes! Were we aware of God’s presence and the working of the Spirit? Absolutely, positively! S. Sally Duffy addresses the delegates.
SPRING 2011 CHAPTER
Capturing the Spirit of Chapter 2011 ChaPter, aPriL 8-16, 2011
Energized for Action By S. Carol Bauer
s on previous days, Tuesday, April 12 began with prayer and a reﬂective atmosphere that framed all the work of the 2011 Chapter.
In the continuing effort at “Seeing Things Whole,” the morning work returned to the realm of stewardship as we received and considered the report of the Governance Committee. S. Barbara Davis, chair of the Governance Committee, offered the committee’s learnings as the framework for the recommendations ﬂowing from the four-year process guided by the Sisters’ participation in the Governance Small Groups. It was the future of small groups that was the ﬁrst item of consideration by the delegates. S. Mary Ann Humbert reported that as Sisters of Charity we value small groups veriﬁed by the high level of participation by the Sisters and their afﬁrmation of their continued pertinence. The delegates also were told there is a continued diversity of opinion regarding small group formation, but strong support for the participation of Associates. The small group reﬂection by the Sisters also envisioned that area meetings, congregational days and self-organizing groups are viable ways to share the responsibilities given to small groups. The delegates then heard from S. Suzanne Donovan about all of the other recommendations ﬂowing from the months of small group consideration. S. Louise Lears provided a visual expression of how the government elements interface. Mid-morning at the tolling of the tower bells, marking another Ohio death penalty execution, the delegates shared a moment of silence and prayer for the condemned man, his family, his victim and the victim’s loved ones. An open, effective and efﬁcient process of table conversation following the presentation of each recommendation, along with open mic comments, guided the delegates to these decisions:
(From left) Sisters Mary Jean Fields and Jo Ann Martini review the learnings of the Governance Committee.
• That one of the elected councilors be appointed secretary by the Leadership Council. • That one of the elected councilors be appointed treasurer by the Leadership Council. The afternoon session focused on preparation for the nomination process. The ﬁrst element reﬂected on the expectations for elected leadership. Energetic discussion called attention to the importance of both leadership and delegation, the need to listen to the Spirit among us, and the ability to energize for action. Initial discussion followed about both the number of councilors and whether or not it is possible for the councilors to live in cities other than Cincinnati. Diverse observations enlightened further decisions later in the week. Discussion of the importance of leadership also led to fruitful reﬂection on the role that each Sister has for participation in the direction of the Congregation, the willingness to take initiative and to always “entrust, enable and ennoble.”
• That Networks be eliminated as part of the governance structure.
A brief period of quiet reﬂection, prayer and centering began the call for nominations. A collaborative consideration process began with table nominations. When all tables had completed their nominations the delegates heard a prayerful and respectful reading of all the president and councilor nominees. These names represented both those identiﬁed by the delegates and those offered by the Governance Small Groups.
• That newly elected Executive Council utilize a variety of ways to meet the needs of the Sisters and provide opportunities for Sisters to gather.
All of the Sister nominees were asked to rise for a special blessing by the delegates. They were then sent forth to reﬂect and discern their willingness to remain in the election process.
• That the length of term for elected leadership remain four years, renewable.
As it began, the day ended in a prayerful atmosphere relying on the Spirit’s presence.
• That newly elected Leadership Council coordinate the formation of small groups on random selection, with allowance being made for Sisters who request self selection. • That Associates participate in small groups for faith sharing, support, discussion and socialization.
SPRING 2011 CHAPTER
The Work of the Spirit By S. Patricia Wittberg
n the Gospel of Matthew, when Jesus sends the apostles out to continue His ministry, He tells them not to worry because the Holy Spirit will be with them and teach them what to say (Matthew 10:19). In our ministry, too, as Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, we look to the Holy Spirit to guide us and teach us the way we should go. The Spirit’s guidance is especially needed during the process of Chapter: what is God calling our Community to be and to do? Which Sisters is God calling to lead us in responding to this call? The 2011 Chapter of Elections began with nominations on Tuesday, April 12. In a prayer-ﬁlled and reﬂective Chapter session, the names of all the Sisters nominated by either the Governance Small Groups or by each table of Chapter delegates were read aloud. Our Community is truly blessed to have such a large number of Sisters nominated: 63 for president and 99 for councilors. Wednesday was a “desert day” of quiet and reﬂection for all the delegates: the nominees to discern if the Spirit really was calling them to leadership, and the rest of the delegates, Sister observers and Associates to pray for openness to the Spirit’s will. By the time of the Taize prayer service at 4 p.m., the basket before the altar in chapel was ﬁlled with slips of paper from the nominees, each indicating a Sister’s discernment of whether and in what role she felt the Spirit was calling her to leadership. Eight Sisters accepted the nomination for president; 22 accepted the nomination for councilor. On Thursday, these nominees met apart from the rest of the delegates, while one of the facilitators led them in a discussion of further discernment. The rest of the delegates remained at their tables in the Cedars auditorium and shared their views on the strengths each delegate would bring to a Leadership Council. Then each table drew at random a single Sister’s name from a pile of cards containing the names of all the nominees for president, and four Sisters’ names at random from a similar pile of cards containing the nominees 10
(From left) Sisters Mary Bookser, Joan Elizabeth Cook and Louise Lears receive applause from members of the Community after being elected to the Leadership Council of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati.
for councilor. Each table then discussed the skills and liabilities such a hypothetical Leadership Council might possess. This process was repeated several times, and new insights about the nominees became evident when the delegates considered them in combination with each other. As lunch approached, the delegates wrote down two or three questions they wished to ask the nominees. On Thursday afternoon, the delegates met with panels of the nominees as they answered these questions. • Given the challenges and choices we might need to make as a Community to strengthen the witness of consecrated life, what are the particular gifts and experiences you bring to the role of president or councilor? • What most excites you? What gives you passion and energy? • How do you see us moving forward with our commitment to a mutual conversation between Associates and vowed members? • How do you view yourself as being a Daughter of Elizabeth with an authentic voice within the Church? Both in the nominees’ answers, and in the similarity of the questions that continued to surface, the delegates listened for the promptings of the Spirit. iNterCoM
S. Lois Jean Goettke (right) receives a blessing from S. Barbara Hagedorn and Chapter delegates after being re-elected to the Leadership Council.
S. Christine Marie Rody (right) receives a blessing from the Community after her election to the Leadership Council.
By Friday morning, the nominees’ further discernment led a few of them to withdraw from the process: seven nominees remained for president and 16 for councilor. Prior to the actual elections, all of the delegates ﬁrst discussed the pros and cons of having a Leadership Council composed of the president and three, or four, or ﬁve councilors, and voted to have four councilors. A second vote afﬁrmed that the councilors should be full-time in their positions and live in the Cincinnati area. In both of these votes, the near-unanimity of the delegates’ opinions seemed to conﬁrm the Spirit’s guidance. The delegates were then asked to recall the various random combinations of president and councilors which they had drawn on the previous day, and to determine at each table a conﬁguration of president and councilors they all could agree on. If everyone at the table could not agree on a full slate of ﬁve individuals, they listed the partial slate they could agree on. Each table wrote its conﬁguration on a large sheet of paper, and then all the delegates and nominees made a silent pilgrimage around the Cedars auditorium, observing what each table’s delegates had written. The actual election took place in the afternoon. Following a prayer to the Holy Spirit for guidance, ballots were cast for the election of the president. On the third ballot, S. Joan Elizabeth Cook was elected with a majority of votes. For council, S. Lois Jean Goettke was elected councilor on the second ballot. Subsequent councilors – Sisters Louise Lears, Mary Bookser and Christine Marie Rody – were each elected on the ﬁrst ballot. All of the delegates, and many of the Sisters and Associates present at the Motherhouse, then moved to chapel to bless the new Leadership Council.
The Communications Office would like to thank the members of the Chapter Communications Committee for their time and assistance during the 2011 Chapter. We are grateful for your talents; your support enabled our office to effectively and accurately communicate the important issues surrounding the Chapter to the rest of the Community. Many thanks. S. Carol Bauer S. Dorothy Ann Blatnica S. Margarita Brewer S. Winnie Brubach S. Joan Elizabeth Cook S. Marty Dermody S. Janice Ernst S. Rita Hawk S. Sandy Howe S. Ruth Hunt S. Louise Lears S. Katharine Pinto S. Joyce Richter S. Caroljean Willie S. Patricia Wittberg
In talking it over afterward, the delegates agreed that none of them had foreseen the Leadership Council which was actually elected. Several had worried that not enough nominees would be available to choose from, while others had assumed that this Sister or that Sister would certainly be chosen. In the unanticipated nature of the results, many saw the work of the Spirit, whose trademark is often the surprising and the unexpected: “The Spirit blows where it wills.” A Chapter election is, however, only one step on a long and continuing journey. We know that many joys and sorrows, triumphs and trials, await both the Sisters of Charity and their newly elected Leadership Council. But we are sure of the promise of Jesus, “Behold, I am with you always, until the end of time.” (Matthew 28:20)
(From left) Sisters Louise Lears, Mary Bookser, Joan Elizabeth Cook, Lois Jean Goettke and Christine Marie Rody will begin their four-year term on July 1, 2011. SPRING 2011 CHAPTER
Mission Statement Sisters
Urged by the love of Christ and in the Spirit of our founder, Elizabeth Ann Seton, we Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati strive to live Gospel values. We choose to act justly, to build loving relationships, to share our resources with those in need, and to care for all creation. â€“ 2011 Chapter