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Summer 2012

S i s t e r s

o f

C h a r i t y

o f

C i n c i n n at i

A Letter


Our Sister



Dear Sisters, Associates and Friends,


n his book “The Gift,” Daniel Ladinsky has published translations of some of the poetry of the great Persian mystic Hafiz. He has written many beautiful, inspiring poems. One of my favorites starts, “I rain because your meadows call for God …” I think of that now when it rains. Another favorite is “The Sun Never Says”: Even After All this time The sun never says to the earth, “You owe Me.”

Contents Features Caritas Convocation: Convening, Complementing, Committing..................6 Sisters and Associates gather in June.

Look What happens With a love like that. It lights the Whole Sky. (p.34)

The Love of Christ Urges Us..................10 Sisters of Charity ministering at the Motherhouse and caring for our Earth. Motherhouse Sisters, Employees Embrace the Mission..............................32 Green efforts at the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse. Forever Grateful.....................................34 Statue signifies family’s gratitude following son’s miracle recovery.

Departments Vocation/Formation...............................20 Back to the Future OPJIC....................................................22 Pauperization of Women Meet Our Associates...............................23 Associate Viola Elizondo Motherhouse/Mother Margaret Hall......24 Motherhouse Hospitality Begins with Front Desk Sponsored Ministry Spotlight.................26 Seton Family Center On the Cover: S. Kathleen Ann Murray (front, right) greets Caritas Convocation and Motherhouse guests (from left) S. Jacqueline Riggio, S. Mary Germaine Maximovich, Denise Morris,S. Jean Welling, Associate Lynnessa Gallagher and Associate Candidate Chanin Wilson. 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.


Our Sisters of Charity Constitutions remind us of why we minister: “By our ministry we seek to testify to God’s active presence in and among peoples. We desire to witness to our experience of the Lord’s love … (Nature of the Congregation, p.8 #5) Whether we are in paid or volunteer ministry, or in the ministry of prayer, our aim, as a member of the Charity Family, is to witness to this experience of God’s love, to shine with it, to be enflamed by it. As always, there are many wonderful articles in this issue of Intercom. We hear about our special “Caritas Convocation” and learn more about some of our Associates. Our “ministry spotlight” shines on Sisters who have worked for many years to call us to care for God’s creation, and those whose love shines through their Congregational service. We have a glimpse of some of the dear people who help at our Front Desk, a ministry of hospitality to all who call or stop by. We learn about some of our Sisters who have been honored for their loving service and more about some of our sponsored ministries. What connects all the stories in this issue is that these Sisters and Associates, like the sun, never say “You owe me.” Their work is filled with a love of God, of people, and of all creation, which lights the lives of all they touch. We just need to hear about it and our own hearts glow with new light. As always, this Intercom allows us time to share in a little of the sacred space, of the special love shining in the lives of our Charity Family. Let’s lift our hearts in eternal gratitude for each and all of us as we participate in God’s sacred work here on earth. Let’s allow God’s love to shine through in all we do, so that we too, may “light the whole sky” through our shining love. S. Mary Bookser Executive Councilor Intercom

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? Aug. 15, 1929 – Five Sisters of the Pious Union from St. Rita School for the Deaf began their year of novitiate as Sisters of Charity, thus beginning the merger of the Pious Union with the Sisters of Charity. The merger was completed by 1934. July 1936 – Two Sisters of Charity were enrolled in the recently founded Institutum Divi Thomae, a unit of the Athenaeum of Ohio. The Institute “did theoretical research and instruction” under the direction of Dr. George Sperti. Six Sisters of Charity were eventually associated with the program, but the one who served the longest was S. Ann Gertrude Cronin, 1939 to 1951. Sept. 25, 1959 – On this day all of the patients of Glockner Sanitarium were transferred from their old building to the new Glockner-Penrose Hospital. The entire operation took place between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. S. Cyril Mahrt was the administrator.

S. Cyril Mahrt

Dec. 24, 1959 – For the first time, luminarios lined the Front Avenue of the Motherhouse to the Grotto. The project had been planned by Sisters Alice Elizabeth Streit and Agnes Rita McDonough and carried out by the Junior Sisters.

Elizabeth Seton High School in South Holland, Ill., now sponsored by the Archdiocese of Chicago, was rededicated as Seton Academy in 1987.

August 1963 – Two all-girl high schools – one in a southeast suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, and the other in the southeast suburb of Chicago, Ill. – had similar histories. Lumen Cordium High School in Bedford, Ohio, was opened by the Vincentian Sisters of Charity in 1963. Elizabeth Seton High School was opened by the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati in 1963. Both schools remained in operation for 24 years, closing in 1987.

In Memoriam Please visit “In Memoriam” at for biographical information and reflections on the Sisters of Charity and Associates who have died. May our Sisters and Associates enjoy the fruits of their labor as well as peace with their God. S. Marie Helen Ankenbrandt June 28, 2012 S. Rose Elizabeth Bumgarner June 26, 2012 S. Mary Imelda Sekerak June 16, 2012 S. Mary Jean Fields June 7, 2012 S. Grace Graber May 28, 2012 S. Martha Seton Tsai May 18, 2012 S. Ann Mojzisik May 9, 2012 S. Rosemary Schmid May 5, 2012 S. Geraldine O’Hagan May 4, 2012

Lumen Cordium High School in Bedford, Ohio, opened in 1963. S ummer 2 0 1 2


Sisters of Charity Federation members and other volunteers helped rebuild a home destroyed by Hurricane Katrina during the Federation Come and Serve Weekend last fall.


Committed to Systemic Change By S. Louise Lears


o never do alone what can be done together” is a covenant that the 13 members of the Sisters of Charity Federation made recently at our annual meeting in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada. The 11 Sisters of Charity congregations and two provinces of the Daughters of Charity promised to develop individual congregational priorities in light of the Federation commitment to collaborate for the sake of systemic change.

n “Social thinking and social practice inspired by the Gospel must always be marked by a special sensitivity towards those who are most in distress, those who are extremely poor … you will also want to seek out the structural reasons which foster or cause the different forms of poverty in the world … so that you can apply the proper remedies.”

public housing, parish nurse ministry, a food pantry, and basic needs assessments.

The four Canadian congregations of the Federation have developed the Maritime Project. The core committee consists of one representative from each congregation: Moncton, Antigonish, Halifax and St. John. The initiative focuses on advocacy for increased social assistance rates, greater accessibility to heating rebates, workable poverty reduction plans, and affordable/ What’s systemic change? Generally, mixed income housing. A recent effort of actions that bring about systemic change the Maritime Project concerned a proposed have wide-ranging social impact in the lives reduced minimum wage for servers earning of those living in poverty. Such actions create tips, most of whom are women. The New a structure for ongoing, permanent change; Brunswick provincial legislator acknowledged - John Paul II, New York, 1979 have strategies that can be replicated to solve the Maritime Project letter opposing such a similar problems elsewhere; bring about social two-tiered minimum wage for servers and the change by transforming traditional practices; and allow people government ultimately decided against such a system. to see the world through new eyes. Put simply, systemic change Finally, there is the House of Charity in New Orleans, La., enables people themselves to identify the root causes of their where three Federation sisters - our own S. Monica Gundler poverty and to change the structures and attitudes that keep them in collaboration with a Sister of Charity of New York and a impoverished. Daughter of Charity - work with the St. Bernard Project (SBP) At our gathering in St. John, New Brunswick, we heard from three ministries that already demonstrate a commitment among Federation congregations to collaborate for systemic change. Rendu Services is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth (Kentucky), the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill (Pennsylvania), and the Daughters of Charity (New York). Rendu Services is named after S. Rosalie Rendu, a French Daughter of Charity born in 1787 who worked through poverty, revolution, crime, plague and famine to aid people to better their lives. The mission of Rendu (pronounced “Ron-doo”) Services is to work with and for those who are poor and marginalized in Fayette County, Pa. In response to the Gospel call to love our neighbor, the sisters of Rendu Services collaborate with area agencies to provide a mobile health van, health-care screening in 4

to rebuild houses in New Orleans. A 35-foot storm surge from Hurricane Katrina destroyed 100 percent of residential homes in St. Bernard parish and many people have still not returned home. SBP addresses the physical, mental and emotional barriers for vulnerable families, senior citizens and disabled residents who are struggling to recover from the devastation. The House of Charity hosts volunteers who paint, spackle, sand and install drywall in houses being restored through the St. Bernard Project. The founders of our Sisters of Charity Federation congregations - Saints Vincent de Paul, Louise de Marillac and Elizabeth Seton - gifted us with the legacy of collaboration for systemic change, always urged by the charity of Christ. May we be true to our promise to “never do alone what we can do together.” Intercom

Welcome Andrea and Tracy


n Sunday June 24, 2012, Andrea Koverman (right) and Tracy Kemme were formally welcomed as Affiliates of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. Andrea and Tracy will continue to live at the Casa de Caridad in southern New Mexico. Andrea is a teacher and part-time administrator at Our Lady of the Assumption school and Tracy is a pastoral minister at Sacred Heart parish, both in El Paso, Texas. They also serve with the Sisters of Charity at the Santo Ni単o Project for children with special needs in Anapra, Mexico. To view a slideshow from the ceremony visit Photo courtesy of Mark Bowen S ummer 2 0 1 2


Associate candidate Gloria Cordova takes part in the opening prayer service for the Caritas Convocation.

C a r i tas C o n v o c at i o n :

Convening, Complementing, Committing June 27-July 1, 2012


n estimated 150 participants gathered in the Motherhouse chapel on June 27 for the opening prayer service for the Caritas Convocation. Sisters, Associates and Candidates came from near and far to become more acquainted with one another while identifying, clarifying and strengthening the Sister/Associate relationship. They convened, complemented and committed to each other; photos and comments follow. Photos courtesy of Associate Debbie Weber

(From left) Associate Jo Carol Laymon, S. Pat Dempsey and Associate Mary Wall

Participants came with their water from the north, south, east and west to add it to the whole.

Associates Mary Ann Perez (left) and Blasa Rivera enjoy the music and entertainment with a dance.

“We are the Word of God spoken only once.” The first full day of the convocation focused on the topic of convening.


- S. Cheryl Ann Grenier

“The Convocation drew me much deeper into the relationship of Sisters and Associates and I am glad I was here. It was encouraging, uplifting, and indeed the Love of Christ is urging us to take new steps, new initiative in the relationship. I do believe this Spirit I have ‘caught’ will be lasting. Thank you all!”

- S. Esther Marie Humbert


“This has been an experience I won’t forget. I learned a lot, met great women and know in my heart the SC charism is in good hands.”

-S. Juanita Marie Gonzales

Sisters and Associates participated in a talent show on Friday evening.

“Knowing leads to understanding.”

Sunday, July 1 marked the closing of the Caritas Convocation. Following a presentation in the Cedars auditorium, Sisters and Associates gathered in the Motherhouse chapel to recommit to the Sister/Associate relationship.

- Lynnessa Gallagher, Associate Keynote speakers on Friday, June 29 were S. Janet Gildea (left) and Associate Lynnessa Gallagher who spoke on the Sister/Associate complementing relationship.

S. Katharine Pinto poses with a watercolor she painted during a breakout session.

(From left) Associate Rita Wesseling, Associate Debbie Weber, S. Joyce Brehm and Associate Mary Bradley enjoy each other’s company.

“These women have ‘unswaddled’ me from those pieces of cloth that bound me up in fear.” - Moe Nieman, Associate Candidate

Summer 2012


Green Burial Option C ommunity to offer


he Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati Earth Belief Statement affirms their commitment to preserving and protecting Earth, while continuing to impel them to explore new ways of living simply and caring for all creation. Most recently the Leadership Council of the Sisters of Charity approved the option to choose a more Earth friendly type of burial. “Green” or natural burial involves returning the body to its natural cycle of life. In doing so, individuals are buried in a simple biodegradable container without embalming and without a concrete grave liner. Many may not realize that tucked behind the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse, along the rolling green hills and amongst the large shaded trees, is the Mount St. Joseph cemetery. More than 1,700 Sisters are buried on the grounds; each year close to 30 more burials take place. Having the cemetery on its property enabled the Sisters to look more closely at and to choose this environmentally friendly type of burial as an option. Sisters Joyce Richter and Winnie Brubach have been researching this type of burial for the past two years, and created a proposal which they presented to Leadership. They also prepared discussion materials on all Sisters of Charity burial options for use in small group discussions. “When I saw the lineup of grave liners that are stored beyond our cemetery, I said to myself, ‘I don’t want one of those placed in the ground when I die,” S. Joyce explained. “I have polluted the Earth enough and now I am really trying to make more Earth friendly choices.” “Most cemeteries,” S. Joyce continued, “require a grave liner or vault. Because we own our own cemetery, we can stipulate the requirements.” Sisters who opt for this type of burial will have the opportunity to choose to be laid to rest in either a simple wooden casket or shroud/blanket as opposed to a metal casket. There would be no grave liner or vault, and finally, the body would not be embalmed. “If we take seriously our Vision Statement ‘to live more simply in a complex world ...’ and the whole of the Belief Statement then an option for a simple, green burial flows naturally,” S. Winnie said. “For those of us who think this way, it is nice to have an option.” 8

Historically, Sisters Joyce and Winnie explained, it was practice in this country to bury unembalmed, in a simple pine box, to wake people in their home, and to bury in a cemetery without a concrete liner. The funeral industry brought about many changes to the natural way of laying a body to rest. Each year cemeteries bury millions of feet of wood, thousands of tons of steel, copper and concrete, and hundreds of thousands of gallons of embalming fluids, which contain formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. “In our research we have found people, many of them other religious communities, who have opted to take back the preparation and burial of a loved one; to keep it simple,” S. Winnie said. According to a June 21 article in the National Catholic Reporter, “Green Burials Offer Ecological, Ancient Way to Say Goodbye to Loved Ones,” a natural burial carries a lower ecological footprint. Vault-less burials and simpler material from renewable materials create much less embodied energy. And unlike cremation, which releases some greenhouse gasses in the incineration process, green burials release little to no greenhouse gas. And the nutrients that are in our bodies are recycled back to the Earth. There is much to be considered when making the choice for a natural burial. “Green burial is a return to a simpler understanding of the interconnectedness of humans with the rest of creation,” said S. Christine Rody, councilor. “In terms of our religious life, we need to consider how our understanding of this relationship not only fits with our values of simplicity and poverty but also our relationship with our families and our culture, as well as Earth. To be able to decide how one will be buried is a rare privilege and needs to connect with all the aspects of one’s life. How will it affect my community, my family, my friends, Earth? Will those who know and love me understand why I am deciding what I am deciding?” Sisters Joyce and Winnie are grateful that Leadership has approved this form of burial as an option for those Sisters who are buried in the Motherhouse cemetery. Details are still being finalized, but for now they are pleased to see that Community members are open to the idea and continuously seeking ways to nourish and care for Earth. Intercom

The Singing Circle Charity Family By S. Mary Bodde S. Barbara Davis Receives “Mind, Heart, Hand Award” Mercy College of Ohio presented S. Barbara Davis with the “Mind, Heart, Hand Award” on Monday, April 16. The award is given annually by the president to a member of the Mercy College family whose thoughts, attitudes and behaviors exemplify the college’s mission and F. Hayward, president of Mercy College of Ohio, values (compassion, excellence, human John with S. Barbara Davis. dignity, justice, sacredness of life, and service) and whose presence serves as a positive influence on others. One of her nominators said: “It is amazing to watch [S. Barbara’s] MIND work, her generous HEART give and HANDS help wherever needed.” S. Alice Ann Composes Music for Anniversary Celebration On June 13, 2012, S. Alice Ann O’Neill and Fr. Murray Bodo, OFM, gave a poetic/musical presentation as part of the 800th anniversary celebration of the founding of the Poor Clare Sisters at St. Bonaventure University in New York. In honor of the anniversary, Fr. Murray composed new poems about St. Clare of Assisi. He and S. Alice Ann chose a group of the poems to present with solo cello music by J.S. Bach and Sister. Titled “Moon and Mirror,” S. Alice Ann composed most of the music which was inspired directly by Fr. Murray’s poems and by St. Clare. 

S. Tricia Throws Out First Pitch S. Tricia Cruise threw out the first pitch at the San Diego Padres vs. Cincinnati Reds baseball game on Friday, July 6 in San Diego, Calif. It was part of Father Joe’s Villages Night at the park. S. Tricia is the president, CEO and chief fundraiser for Father Joe’s Villages in San Diego, a multi-agency organization that is the largest provider of homeless services in both San Diego and Riverside counties.

S. Pat Wittberg Speaks at CRC S. Pat Wittberg was a keynote speaker at the General Assembly of the Canadian Religious Conference (CRC) May 26 in Montreal, Canada. S. Pat’s address, Recognizing the Time That is Ours: A Call to Generational Dialogue, “defined and described the successive generational cultures in North America today and explored the implications of these cultural differences for both religious life and the Church as a whole.” S. Pat is professor of sociology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. She is also the author of numerous books and articles on Catholic religious orders. S ummer 2 0 1 2

College Honors S. Caroljean Willie S. Caroljean Willie was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the College of Mount St. Joseph on Saturday, May 12 for her dedication to the poor through her ministry as NGO representative at the United Nations. Sister gave the commencement address to the adult and graduate students. 9

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 2012 Intercom continues its series on the ministries of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. This issue spotlights our Sisters serving the Community as well as visitors and guests of the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse in addition to those caring for our Earth. To read full articles and additional ministry stories, visit and click on “Ministry” then “Ministry Locations.” S. Kathleen Ann Murray Hospitality

want to live here. They have such an appreciation for the Motherhouse, and they feel so at home.”

It goes without saying that the Sisters of Charity are known for their hospitality. Generosity, warmth and genuineness are all part of their charism. As director of Hospitality, S. Kathleen Ann Murray is one of the individuals directly responsible for making Motherhouse visitors and guests feel at home.

In addition to the staff and volunteers that come to welcome guests and make them feel at home, the Sisters living at the Motherhouse also enrich visitors’ stay. Their presence and friendly greetings are inviting. And S. Kathleen Ann joins them. Sister moved to the Motherhouse about one year ago, and says she wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse plays host to numerous groups and individuals throughout the year. Behind the scenes, making sure those guests have a room to stay in, a space to meet in and a meal to eat, among others, is S. Kathleen Ann, who has been ministering at the Motherhouse for the last seven years. After serving as an elementary principal for 18 years, Sister came to Hospitality in 2004. She says those experiences, working with a variety of people and personalities, have been beneficial in her current position. S. Kathleen Ann is responsible for meeting and greeting the various guests coming and going daily; assigning/booking rooms for overnight guests; scheduling/ coordinating with housekeeping, kitchen staff and Front Desk volunteers; producing the weekly Motherhouse bulletin; and billing.

“I love living here,” she said. “I love working here. I like the people and the job. I have no complaints!” S. Kathleen Ann Murray (left) works with Melinda Brosious, environmental services supervisor, to prepare a guest room in Seton Hall.

“Every day is different,” she says. “This is one of the only places left in Cincinnati that is able to hold large groups for meetings and retreats. I’m already booking for 2014.” Guests and groups range from as little as five to as many as 74. All denominations and faiths visit. S. Kathleen Ann says the Motherhouse offers many amenities to its guests, but one of the most appealing is a quiet place for people to come together whether it’s for a company retreat or meeting, a community gathering, or a group of friends wanting to get together for a spiritual weekend. These individuals and groups have come to appreciate the beautifully kept buildings and grounds as well as the hospitable atmosphere of this spiritual environment. And many come back again and again. “We have a Lutheran church group that comes frequently and they all enjoy their time,” Sister said. “They tell me they



S. Judith Metz with a painting by Herman Wessel, a student of Frank Duvenek, displayed in the Sisters of Charity Art Room.

S. Judith Metz Archives

making sure they’re properly cared for. We have lots of inquiries, every day, from both the public and Sisters.

When taking on the role of director of Archives for her Community, S. Judith Metz knew there was a rich history to preserve. Sister’s passion is history. She taught the subject at Seton High School in Cincinnati from 1966 until 1979, and before that she said she “caught the history bug” from her father, who also had an interest in the subject.

“Most archivists I know don’t want or don’t have a staff to work with,” she continued. “Our Community is blessed with people who are interested and talented in this kind of work. Due to the number of staff, we can respond and we can generate materials and events that [other religious communities] can’t generate” – like the recent publication of the book “The Love of Christ Urges Us – The History of the Sisters of Charity in the Civil War.”

With a deep appreciation for the Sisters of Charity history, the mission and its founders, Sister felt impelled to share it with others. In 1979, during the celebration of the sesquicentennial in Cincinnati, she researched, wrote and published “Women of Faith and Service,” a history of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. She spent many hours researching in the Archives and eventually became very familiar with its resources. As time continued Sister also became involved with the SC Federation traveling to motherhouses, giving talks and presenting at conferences. Out of this came her involvement in the publishing of the “Collected Writings of Elizabeth Seton,” which she and S. Regina Bechtle co-edited. With her interest and knowledge Sister became the resource person on anything SC. So in 1996, when the then director of Archives retired, S. Judith naturally took over the director’s position. “At that point,” S. Judith said, “I went to Wright State University [in Dayton] and took archival administration classes so that I was prepared to become archivist.” As director she manages the activities in the Archives as the staff of six provides tours; hosts researchers; conducts research; and answers e-mails, phone calls and letters from people who have been impacted by or are interested in the work of the Sisters of Charity. “Our main priority is accessibility,” S. Judith said, “making our resources available to those interested in accessing them, and S ummer 2 0 1 2

In addition, Sister says she could be considered the curator for all the antique furniture, artwork and artifacts in the Motherhouse, which includes the Sisters of Charity private Art Room collection. Much of the staff ’s time is spent offering tours of the Motherhouse and its art collection. “Our ministry is outreach. It is a way for us to show off our beauty, our art and tell the story of the Sisters of Charity to all who visit.” For all the research she has conducted, for all the Sisters’ journals she has read, and for all the hours she has spent getting to know our Sisters of the past, S. Judith says she has found a true connection with Mother Margaret George, founder of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. “I’ve read so much of her material and transcribed so much,” Sister said. “Personally I’ve always been interested in the early national period of American history. The fact that Margaret George’s life spans the history of the early community, in addition to her relationship with Elizabeth Seton, it brings that spirit into our foundation here. It’s exciting and meaningful to me and I feel we have that spirit through her today. Margaret loved Elizabeth and believed deeply in her mission. That’s what she gave to us.” There is no doubt that spirit of our founders is present in the Archives. As they collect, organize, preserve and make available the Sisters of Charity mission and history, the Community’s story continues to be told and better known to all who inquire. 11

S. Helen Berson Finance Office After 14 years of service in the Sisters of Charity Finance Office, S. Helen Berson retired at the end of June. Throughout those years many Sisters were the recipients of S. Helen’s compassion and understanding as they requested help with their taxes, cars or other financial matters. “My personal mission is to make it as easy as possible to handle the annual processes and paperwork for taxes, budgets and reports, and to provide assistance to other staff members as needed,” Sister said in a May interview. “In addition, I try to lighten the burden when problems of any kind arise for individual Sisters.” Prior to settling in to her position in the Finance Office, S. Helen spent 36 years practicing pharmacy in three states and many settings. She came to the Finance Office upon the request of S. Roslyn Hafertepe, who was the Community’s Treasurer. At the time, S. Helen wanted to work a few more years at Pauline Warfield Lewis Center, a mental health hospital in Cincinnati. When she retired three years later, she contacted S. Roslyn. Shortly after joining the Finance Office, Assistant Treasurer S. Grace Murphy suddenly passed away. “[S. Helen] was an unsung hero for her demonstration of leadership and initiative [during that time],” said CFO Tim Moller. Since, Tim says, “S. Helen has efficiently handled Sisters’ financial matters with professionalism, sensitivity and keen intelligence.” Among her responsibilities, Tim said, were the streamlining of local house budgeting and financial reporting, automating the filing of Sisters’ tax returns, and providing support to her Sisters during periods of change and challenge. “Over the years I have become the unofficial person to call to get answers or to get directions to solve a problem,” Sister added. “This was not a part of my job, but it was the part of my ministry I liked the most. I was able to help so many, and in the process, came to know our Sisters personally. This was a great blessing to me.” She has been a blessing to her Sisters, as well. “I worked with S. Helen as a Network Leader for six years during which time she also worked in the Finance Office,” Executive Councilor S. Mary Bookser said. “As a former Townhall Network Leader, as well as in her work with the Finance Office, S. Helen is a true Sister of Charity communityoriented woman. She is willing to do whatever is needed to be of service to the Congregation and to individual SCs, and graciously and patiently gives of her time and wisdom to those who ask for her help.”


“You can’t replace her,” said S. Thelma Schlomer, who has worked closely with S. Helen the past four years, and has taken over the position following Sister’s retirement. “She’s a wealth of knowledge. On the phone, she is very gentle and patient to every Sister she helps. I’m hoping that having listened and worked closely with S. Helen these past years, that some of her has rubbed off on me.” S. Thelma said when she began her ministry in the Finance Office in 2008, she and S. Helen were in one office, sharing one computer. She originally came on to help with filing Sisters’ taxes, and at the time, S. Helen told her it would take three to four years to learn how to do them. “That first year we worked right next to each other – elbow to elbow,” S. Thelma said. “I’m not a CPA,” she continued, “I don’t have a business background, but I think it was my demeanor with the Sisters that made her think of me for this position. She says sometimes that’s more important. She wanted someone with empathy and understanding. That’s what the position is.” And that’s what S. Helen has been for these past 14 years; her compassion, her wisdom, her humor and her companionship will most certainly be missed. Above all, S. Thelma says she hopes to carry on S. Helen’s gift to make each individual Sister feel as though her call is the most important one of the day. So what words of wisdom can S. Helen impart to S. Thelma? They are short and to the point: No two days are alike – expect the unexpected; brand new problems are few and far between – keep good notes; and finally [and maybe most importantly] if you get stuck – call me!

S. Helen Berson retired from the Finance Office at the end of June after 14 years of service.


S. Cookie Crowley Sisters’ Services For anyone who has visited the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse and had the opportunity to be greeted by S. Jean Marian Crowley it is easy to witness the fun and playful side to her character. Known as S. Cookie to all who are introduced to her, Sister has a quick wit that can brighten anyone’s day. What also is evident, however, is the deep love and dedication she has to her Charity Family. Sister settled into the role of director of Sisters’ services in 2000 after 18 years as In appreciation of the SC employees and their efforts, S. Cookie Crowley dishes a serving of ice cream to Motherhouse resident counselor of the Boys employee Jim Hochhausler (Sparky). Hope Program in Cincinnati. As she describes her current role, her responsibilities involve Losing a family member emotionally takes it toll, and coordinating the day-to-day life at the Motherhouse. “My daily while it is an honor and joy to have the opportunity to plan routine is never routine!” Sister exclaims. From scheduling each Sister’s funeral, it can also be challenging. “The ones that Masses to helping Sisters as they return home in retirement and are dying now,” Sister explained, “they were our mentors; we greeting visitors and guests, Sister says she enjoys being present lived with them; they taught us about community. It’s hard. for her Sisters – and SC employees. Sometimes it’s really hard when I close the casket. Many times I cry with the family at those closings.” “I love what I do here at the Motherhouse,” she said. “The Sisters are very patient with me. I have learned a lot being with our senior Sisters on a daily basis. They are a wise group of women enjoying retirement after many, many years of dedicated service to God’s people.” One of her most satisfying roles, as well as extensive and emotionally challenging, is the planning of Sisters’ funerals. “I have a wonderful team that helps me with preparations and we work together to celebrate with our Community and the Sister’s family the lives of women who are truly wonders,” Sister said. Since taking on the role nearly 12 years ago, S. Cookie has participated in the funeral planning of more than 260 Sisters of Charity. She makes every effort to ensure that the Sister’s life is celebrated most appropriately and reflects who that individual woman was as a Sister of Charity. “Every one has been inspirational,” she said. From the moment she receives the call that a Sister has passed away, S. Cookie says she immediately prays to that Sister for assistance as the team prepares to plan the final celebration of her life. From there she begins a process that includes everything from collaborating with the undertaker, assisting and planning with the Sister’s family, preparing the program and memorial card, and choosing the scripture readings. It ends when the last family member says goodbye. S ummer 2 0 1 2

Having a sense of humor and being compassionate, willing to listen and flexible are all qualities needed in her role, however, Sister also credits the Sisters with having those same qualities. “Their prayers and support are unbelievable to me,” she said. “I feel them all the time.” In addition she looks to those Sisters who are now gone to give her inspiration and strength. Located along the walls outside the Motherhouse chapel are scrolls with the names of every woman who has made her commitment as a Sister of Charity of Cincinnati. Every day S. Cookie chooses a name from those scrolls to pray to and to thank her for what she’s done for the Community. “It’s a really good connection for me every day,” she said. “That’s how you get through a lot of things.” Inspiration can also be found in our founder, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. “What an example she is to all of us,” S. Cookie said. “I really count on that she approves of what I’m doing, helping me to meet graces and to say ‘whatever,’ or no worries, God is with you always. It goes right along with a small rock on my desk, a gift from the late S. Trish Mirsberger, that says, ‘Relax, God is in charge.’”


S. Annette Marie Paveglio (right) works with secretary Micki Trentman to plan, promote and develop the Spirituality Center’s activities, retreats and programs.

S. Annette Marie Paveglio Spirituality Center

session; as well as preparation and facilitation of several prayer services throughout the course of the year.

Located at the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse, the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati Spirituality Center embodies the spirit of Elizabeth Seton with its hospitable and prayerful atmosphere. As the Spirituality Center’s director since 2004, S. Annette Marie Paveglio has led the staff in its mission to deepen others faith life and heighten their awareness of Gospel values in our global world.

S. Annette Marie says any time the Spirituality Center can further its mission, it brings satisfaction, and raises their hearts in gratitude to God.

After ministering for 40 years in Catholic education as a teacher and principal, the time came when S. Annette Marie was ready for a change. In June 2004, she decided to integrate her spirituality with her administrative skills taking on the role of Spirituality Center director. At the Mount, Sister is responsible for the oversight and coordination of activities of the Spirituality Center, specifically planning, promotion and development of the center’s activities, retreats and programs; collaboration with local groups to co-sponsor spiritually-based programs; facilitation of a monthly Lectio Divina/Centering Prayer 14

“It is wonderful to read the evaluations of our offerings, and to hear participants personally express their growth/ insights gained from coming to the center,” she explained. “It gives added enjoyment to coordinate a large gathering of some sort; the planning, time and energy pays off with what people take with them.” Making sure others are aware of the programs offered, and meeting the needs of the community with varying kinds of experiences, can be a challenge. Marketing is an ongoing issue, and as technology and social media continue to expand and become an integral part of our lives, the Spirituality Center staff has used those tools to the fullest. However, Sister says “word of mouth” is by far the most effective method of marketing. Intercom

Anyone who visits the Spirituality Center or interacts with one of its staff members can see that Elizabeth Seton’s spirit is alive and ever present. “From our staff ’s daily contacts, whether on the telephone, e-mail, or in person, I believe we carry out that friendliness in answering questions, helping with registration or whatever it takes to meet their needs,” Sister said.


“Mother Seton championed for the poor,” S. Annette Marie said, and in that spirit the Spirituality Center offers scholarships and keeps costs as low as possible, oftentimes not charging a fee at all. “Elizabeth embraced all who came to her,” she said. “She also was a woman who responded to the needs of the time. We continually pray for the guidance of the Spirit to assist us in planning for the needs of God’s people. I believe we try to embrace the goodness of each person and allow them the space to grow in whatever way is best for them. None of this is about us as Sisters of Charity; rather, it is about providing the sacred space for gathering so people can experience what Elizabeth says so well, ‘Let your chief study be to acquaint yourself with God, because it is the only knowledge which can fill the heart with a peace and joy which nothing can disturb.’”

The Sisters of Charity Spirituality Center has been operating since 1974 in various capacities and under various titles. While its purpose in the beginning was to serve the needs of the Sisters for summer retreats, it responded to the needs of the public in 1981 offering programs for college alumnae, Lutheran women, senior citizens groups, youth and parish groups, weekend and overnight retreats, spiritual enrichment days for teachers and other professionals, to name a few. Today its offerings continue to grow with six- and eight-day retreats, weekend/overnight retreats, private retreats, days of reflection, centering prayer, book discussions, evening prayer programs, massage therapy, a labyrinth, and individual spiritual direction for both women and men. For more information about the programs and retreats offered by the Spirituality Center, visit

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Maria M. Odom (left) presents the 2012 Champion award to SC Ministry Foundation President and Executive Director S. Sally Duffy.


atholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) honored SC Ministry Foundation on May 24 with the Champion award. “We are extremely grateful to SC Ministry Foundation for its commitment to all immigrants and for its financial support of CLINIC and essential programs serving immigrants across the country,” said Maria M. Odom, CLINIC’s executive director. “Over the past decade, SC Ministry Foundation has meaningfully invested in communities and in community programs, promoting sustainability and equipping organizations to better serve the most disadvantaged and vulnerable immigrants. We are honored that SC Ministry Foundation is an ally and friend to CLINIC in its ongoing work to promote and protect the rights of immigrants of our country.” “SC Ministry Foundation’s mission is to promote the mission and ministry of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, which includes promoting their stance on immigration,” said S. Sally Duffy, president and executive director. “The Sisters of Charity support the pastoral letter of Catholic Bishops of Mexico and the United States, Strangers Together on the Journey, which acknowledges that the current immigration system cries out for change. We are deeply humbled to receive the CLINIC Champion award on behalf of the board of directors of SC Ministry Foundation. We express our gratitude to CLINIC for this award and for partnering with us since 2003.”


S ponsored ministry spotlight —

Postal employee Jim Summey picks up the afternoon mail from Sisters Ann Elizabeth Von Hagel (center) and Timothy Ann Schroeder.

Sisters Timothy Ann Schroeder and Ann Elizabeth Von Hagel Mount St. Joseph Post Office “It’s wonderful seeing everybody and it’s so nice to offer this service [of receiving and sending mail],” S. Ann Elizabeth Von Hagel, a 12-year clerk at the Mount St. Joseph Post Office, said. S. Timothy Ann Schroeder, an 11-year clerk, echoed, “It’s wonderful to be able to help everyone.” The Mount St. Joseph Post Office is open for service Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. But Sisters Ann Elizabeth and Timothy Ann wake at 4:30 a.m. to start their work day at 6:30 a.m. Their morning begins by receiving incoming mail delivered by Fred Brown, a mail carrier from the Main Post Office on Dalton Street in Cincinnati; at 3:30 p.m. Jim Summey picks up the Mount mail for the same terminal. The Mount Post Office is a clearing house for intercampus mail – Motherhouse, Mother Margaret Hall, Bayley and the College of Mount St. Joseph. The Sisters of Charityowned meter machine allows the Sister clerks to meter mail for the offices and give each an account every month. Packing up the mail ‘to go’ requires a lot of sorting: priority packages, standard parcel post, U.S. and foreign 16

letters, express overnight, registered mail. Each category goes in a separate bag. “We offer all the services of a regular post office, but we cannot accept credit cards or international money orders,” S. Timothy Ann said. Sisters Ann Elizabeth and Timothy Ann explained the Sisters of Charity contract as a postal unit under the North Bend Post Office. The U.S. government pays rent for the three rooms used for the post office’s services, and the Sister clerks get a ‘non-negotiable’ check for what they would earn if they were lay employees. They are not paid directly by the government. The two agree they most enjoy working together and greeting the Sisters, employees and neighborhood visitors that stop by on a regular basis. “It’s a big plus to be here rubbing elbows with all of our Sisters,” S. Ann Elizabeth said. “And we’ve met so many wonderful neighborhood people who enjoy the peace and beauty of the Mount.” Like so many of our Sisters ministering at the Motherhouse, Sisters Ann Elizabeth and Timothy Ann carry on Elizabeth Seton’s spirit through their ministry of hospitality. “There’s a spirit of goodness and spirituality that comes from ministering here,” S. Timothy Ann said. “We feel a part of it.” Many thanks to S. Mary Bodde for her assistance with this article. Intercom

Environmental Awareness S owing the S eeds of

By S. Fran Trampiets


our Sisters of Charity environmental activists have led the way within the community and among those with whom they’ve ministered. They’ve sown the seeds of environmental awareness and active involvement in conservation, clean energy and protection of all living things. Sisters Jean Miller, Paula Gonzalez, Winnie Brubach and Joyce Richter, with very different backgrounds and life experiences, have all had an impact on the environmental movement. S. Jean Miller began her environmental involvement in Nicaragua in the 1980s during the Contra War. Trade between Nicaragua and the United States had been very important throughout Nicaragua’s history. Then during the overthrow of Somoza and the Sandinista Revolution, the United States implemented a trade blockade against Nicaragua. “We couldn’t get the simple, basic everyday necessities,” S. Jean says. “Parts for repairing things like stoves and electrical wiring were no longer available. This caused us to look at things that were present in our own environment. I learned how to make solar ovens and taught women at the women’s center how to make and cook with simple solar ovens. Most of my cooking was done in the solar oven that I had made. The connectors for electric wiring were essential, but no longer available. After a study of various soils available in the country, an artist friend of mine shaped and tested them in the kiln and eventually produced them for use by the government to repair or construct new energy lines. This was new technology that called forth our creativity and deeper knowledge of nature and how to use it appropriately.” Those experiences in Nicaragua later led her to alternative construction techniques and the straw bale sustainable housing project known as Tierra Madre, located in Sunland Park, N.M. “There is no way I can separate my work with the poor and the environment,” S. Jean said. “I have lived in other countries with the poor through hurricanes (Nicaragua), earthquakes (Mexico), toxic exposure in New Mexico and sandstorms in Peru. Any kind of natural or human-made disaster always affects the poor in the worst way. They don’t have the means to escape or bear the costs of rebuilding, cleaning up or healing physically or emotionally from disasters.”

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S. Jean Miller with a straw bale home in Sunland Park, N.M. Currently S. Jean is a trainer for two environmental movements. “The Pachamama Alliance is an international program attempting to build a spiritually fulfilling and socially just movement promoting environmental sustainability,” she explains. “Awakening the Dreamer Marianist group works to educate school children, parishes and others ‘to change The Dream for our planet.’” She is also part of a small group that specializes in eco-spirituality and environmental study and is on the Grounds and Environment Committee for the Motherhouse. The seeds of S. Mary Joyce Richter’s interest in the environment can be traced back to her childhood. She says, “From childhood I had a deep love of Earth – and spent much of my summers outside. Wonder and appreciation for the beautiful gift of Earth came first. In later years, I began understanding what sustainability was all about – and our need to care for Earth.”


These days she is an active board and committee member of Cincinnati’s Western Wildlife Corridor whose mission is to protect the scenic beauty and natural resources of the Ohio River Valley through direct land protection and promotion of responsible land use. A time-intensive activity is the eradication of invasive plant species. Nature hikes, an annual Wildflower Festival and Wildflower-a-thon, and other educational programs on Earth issues are also part of her Earth-care ministry. A member of the College of Mount St. Joseph Environmental Action Group, she was instrumental in the college’s signing of the St. Francis Pledge. She supports their work on sustainability issues by sending out a monthly Earth article to all faculty and staff. S. Joyce also is a member of the Grounds and Environment Committee at the Motherhouse and is taking a Master Recycling Class through Hamilton County Environmental Services. She is a member of the Sierra Club and of the National Land Conservancy. She is involved in ongoing research on natural/green burial and its implementation at the Motherhouse. “The 1969 picture of Earth from space completely changed my life,” said S. Paula Gonzalez. “The Apollo picture just grabbed me by the hair of my head and I became a global citizen on the spot! The spirituality of all this rapidly took root.” With a Ph.D. in biology and several years of teaching the subject at the College of Mount St. Joseph, she began offering programs on general environmental topics, “to date about 1,800. Focus evolved over the years from global awareness – which always included ecological issues – to more of a focus on energy.”

S. Winnie Brubach (right) and June Greensmith deliver produce from the organic garden at EarthConnection to St. Leo’s Food Pantry.

After converting an old chicken barn on Mount St. Joseph property into a solar residence that became home for S. Paula and S. Mary Bookser in 1991, she turned her attention to the construction of EarthConnection. Through the help of Diane Armpriest, faculty of the Department of Architecture at the University of Cincinnati, she hired University of Cincinnati architecture students, at co-op student wages. Under Diane’s direction, along with a host of volunteers, they transformed a renovated four-car garage across from the college into EarthConnection, a model for ecologically sustainable living. EarthConnection’s features include a solar assisted geothermal heating system, a super-insulated building envelope, double-paned insulated windows, floor tile made of waste glass, a wall made of aluminum cans, and carpeting made of recycled two-liter pop bottles. The building is a model of energy-saving technology and creative use of recycled materials. S. Paula conducted tours and held environmental seminars at EarthConnection from 1995 to 2001. Recently much of S. Paula’s time is spent educating the public about ‘fracking,’ the process by which highly pressurized water mixed with chemicals is injected into a well in shale formations to fracture the shale and release entrapped natural gas that is piped off for sale. “Informed citizens are critical at this time,” she says. “This is especially true here in Ohio where fracking is about to take over the eastern part of the state and bring with it many problems of air and water pollution, plus transformation of the rural countryside into an ‘industrial scene.’”

S. Joyce Richter (back, center) was instrumental in the College of Mount St. Joseph’s signing of the St. Francis Pledge, a commitment by Catholic individuals, parishes and institutions to assess the community’s energy conservation and impact on global change. Also pictured are (back, from left) Maria Taske, Kristen Dwyer, Adam Konopka, Bill Lonneman, (front, from right) Abbie Roedersheimer, college president Anthony Aretz and S. Paula Gonzalez. Photo courtesy of College of Mount St. Joseph


S. Paula is a board member of Green Energy Ohio (GEO) which promotes development of renewable energies. GEO is the Ohio Chapter of the American Solar Energy Society and recently awarded S. Paula its Lifetime Achievement Award. She also serves on the Archdiocesan Climate Change Task Force and is on the board of Ohio Interfaith Power and Light (OIPL), a coalition of faith-based environmental activists. In 2007 S. Paula co-founded the Ohio branch of IPL. Intercom

S. Winnie Brubach recalls, “Without calling it ‘environmental’ I have always been involved in things growing, plants and creatures. My parents’ families of origin were all farmers and people of the land. I was taught respect of Earth and her inhabitants, especially from my father and his family. This is possibly where I got my sense of place orientation, my understanding of the ecosystem where I live and learning to work within it without destroying what is there naturally. “When I began to work at EarthConnection in 1995,” she continues, “my interests expanded to include renewable energy, water conservation, land use, invasive species and the organic side of gardening and large-scale farming.” As facilities coordinator of EarthConnection, S. Winnie conducts tours of the building, talks about solar energy as it is used in EarthConnection and about organic gardening. “I am part of a team of four who maintain an organic garden at EarthConnection. We meet weekly to plant, harvest and weed the garden. The produce harvested goes to St. Leo’s Food Pantry in the North Fairmount neighborhood of Cincinnati. Last year we harvested and delivered 1,338.5 pounds of veggies. “I try to show that it is easy to garden, to raise your own food, even if you have limited space. I am not an expert on container gardening but I have been able to encourage folks to consider it. We always have tomato plants that we pot and take to the food pantry. The people there are most happy to take the plants home to grow their own tomatoes.”

When asked what progress they’ve seen in environmental awareness and care of the Earth, S. Joyce says that as a result of the work of the Western Wildlife Corridor, “Much of the invasive species have been eradicated. Persons in the area are becoming aware of the damage caused by invasive species and educated in the beauty of the environment and its diverse plants. Children are also participants in some of our activities; an appreciation and love of Earth is being fostered.” S. Winnie takes a long-range view of her work. “There has been some consciousness raising and awareness of things global. Or, so I have been told. I see myself as a seed sower. Sometimes it takes a while for the seeds to germinate and grow toward harvest.” S. Paula says, “It’s exciting to see that only five years after Ohio became the 24th state to become a member of Interfaith Power and Light, the organization now has 40 state chapters. It’s gratifying to see that faith communities are really beginning to help their folks ‘connect the dots’ between their faith life and climate change. Globally there is growing implementation of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, in spite of political and corporate resistance.” What progress has S. Jean observed? “I just returned from both Nicaragua and the Border,” she said. “I saw the commitment and progress toward sustainability. In Nicaragua the progress I saw was certainly not the results of my efforts, but I was so happy to see the priority that is being implemented around the use of solar energy, reforesting, sustainable agriculture and alternative materials for home building. “It was a joy to visit with Tierra Madre and experience the struggle of the residents,” she continued. “The 2008 economic downturn caused a pause in building and an analysis of what to do at this new moment. They have made some plans that I hope will allow them to meet the new reality and continue the sustainable goals. I do feel that this project is an example of lots of my effort, struggle, joys and frustration.” Four Sisters of Charity, each of them in her own way has been a trailblazer. They have left their marks locally, nationally and internationally.

S. Paula Gonzalez gets a closer look at the alpacas of White Violet Farm during the Sisters of Earth Conference held at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Ind., in July. More than 100 women gathered for “Sharing the Wisdom, Shaping the Dream: Deep Transition.” S ummer 2 0 1 2

To learn more about Associates Bob and Liz Maxwell and Marianne Brater’s involvement with Western Wildlife Corridor, visit our Web site at


Back to the Future By Affiliate Tracy Kemme


(Front, from left) S. Carol Wirtz, S. Peggy Deneweth, Affiliate Tracy Kemme, S. Janet Gildea, (back, from left) Tracey Horan, Affiliate Andrea Koverman and Romina Sapinoso stand next to a historical marker honoring the Sisters of Charity.

he stage was set for this discovery as the seven of us piled in the Subaru on a Saturday morning in May. My housemates and I from the Casa de Caridad were enjoying a little weekend trip to Albuquerque and Santa Fe, N.M. It was a welcome chance to be together before summer brought travel and time away. I went expecting relaxation and fun but found much more than that.

We pulled off at a rest stop that Saturday morning as we traveled from Albuquerque, where we were staying, up to Santa Fe. As we walked to the bathrooms, we heard S. Janet exclaim, “Look!” We turned to see what she was pointing at and were amazed to find a wooden sign reading, “The Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati.” We had stumbled upon a historical marker dedicated to the women who have shaped the history of the southwestern United States, and among them were our very own Sisters. So far from the Motherhouse, it was shocking to see the marker there, but at the same time, it made perfect sense. I smiled. It was like those earliest of pioneers were welcoming us and reminding of their presence on our journey. We continued the drive, and I found myself in places like the Rosario Cemetery, the Blandina Convent, and looking up at the memorial monument by St. Joseph’s Hospital in Albuquerque. As Sisters Peggy, Janet and Carol told us the wonderful stories of S. Blandina Segale, S. Catherine Mallon, and more, excitement fluttered in my stomach. I got a window into the history of the Sisters of Charity, and, in a surprising way, into my own. 20


I had seen some of these things on a previous trip to Albuquerque, but it felt different this time. I celebrated the beginning of my pre-entrance on the Feast of the Annunciation this spring and am in the process of formation to become a Sister of Charity. All that I saw took on new meaning as I realized that I am a part of it. It was like opening a family photo album with each new place that we encountered. Elizabeth Seton’s spirit was everywhere. I knew I was walking upon holy ground where Sisters gone before had walked, run, served, persisted, laughed, cried and knelt in prayer. The energy of these Sisters filled my thoughts and emotions. I imagined their joys and hardships and the grace with which they lived them. Witnessing the fruits of their faithfulness to their journeys gives me strength in my own seeking. They, too, found themselves on paths that took them far from home to places unexpected and sometimes unwanted. They, too, felt driven by an inexplicable divine impulse that led them to say “Yes” with their lives. I felt deeply connected to them and their sacred legacy. Apart from learning about seeds planted by the earliest Sisters of Charity in the Southwest, I was blessed to witness the places that my own housemates had begun their ministry before coming to El Paso, Texas, 20 years ago. We peered into the windows at Villa Therese Clinic in Santa Fe where Sisters Janet and Peggy had lived and seen so many patients. We stood outside of St. Catherine Indian School, and S. Carol pointed out the classroom where she had taught. We hiked together in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, a place where the three had gone to breathe and relax in God’s creation when they lived in Santa Fe. They shared their experience of listening to the Spirit and following even when it wasn’t easy. They shared how God’s Providence had been before them at every step of the way. These were the places and experiences that formed them into the women they are today. These are the places where their call to go to El Paso revealed itself. These are the places where they found all that they needed to answer the call – together. The idea of charism came alive for me in a new way. As I heard the history of our Sisters in the Southwest for the past 150 years and right up to the present, I felt like I was also seeing a vision for the future. Women in our Congregation have been urged by the Charity of Christ since the beginning. They have lived out that urge in community with each other. As much as I may have tried to resist it, I feel that same undeniable urge inside myself, and I know that others do, too. Andrea Koverman and I, who will be going through formation together, knelt down by an outline of Elizabeth Seton’s face to snap a picture at the St. Joseph Hospital Memorial in Albuquerque. I couldn’t help but feel like Elizabeth was right there with us and that this is the start of something wonderful. I felt elation and profound gratitude that God has led me to this Congregation. I am blessed to join such a rich lineage and weave my own story into those already written. Our history has been characterized by deep faith, persistent courage, radical openness to the Spirit, and steadfast love. Fourteenhundred miles from the Motherhouse, looking at the historical marker on the road to Santa Fe, I felt home. These are the things that I found when I dove into the history of the Sisters of Charity. And these are certainly the things that will continue to color our future, a future that I am sure will be brighter than we can even dream.

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Welcome New Associate On Thursday, May 24, 2012, Mary Henn-Bodine made her commitment as an Associate in Mission at St. Paul Church in Juneau, Alaska. Her Companion, S. Delia Sizler, and all eight Associates in the area were present to witness her commitment and welcome her. “I feel that being an Associate of the Sisters of Charity, founded by St. Elizabeth Seton, is a good way to refresh my spirit,” Mary said. “Elizabeth and those who follow in her footsteps try to live a humble, simple lifestyle ‘urged by the love of God’ to do His will through prayer, service and friendship.” Mary and her husband, Jeff, have six children. She is a storyteller and works at Gastineau Elementary School in Juneau.

Associate Mary Henn-Bodine (right) with S. Delia Sizler.

S. Delia Sizler and all eight Alaskan Associates were present when Mary Henn-Bodine made her commitment as an Associate in Mission.


P auperization of W omen —

A Campaign Issue By S. Louise Akers “Migrant Mother,” 1936 (Dorothea Lange, photographer). Library of Congress FSA/OWI Collection.


uring this presidential election campaign, critical issues abound. One of the myriad concerns, in fact, a primary one, is the economy – both global and domestic. In light of space, I will highlight domestic economy; specifically women, their ethnicity, their employment and the impact of current policies. The Sisters of Charity have a long tradition, illustrated through numerous statements, that reflects concern about and solidarity with women’s economic status. For example: “We are challenged to stand together with and for women and children and will take concrete actions, personally and communally, to break the cycles of poverty and violence which disenfranchise women and foster systemic oppression in church and society.” – Sisters of Charity Chapter (1995)

Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility. An excerpt follows: Each person … has a right to the conditions for living a decent faith and family life, food and shelter, education and employment, health care and housing. We also have a duty to secure and respect these rights not only for ourselves, but for others, and to fulfill our responsibilities to our families, to each other, and to the larger society. – U.S. Catholic Bishops Please study the Table below carefully. Note not only the disparity between women’s and men’s salaries but also the substantial gaps between white women and women of color with the exception of Asian women.

Unemployment persists and poverty has risen to an unprecedented level. Even more distressing is the widening of the gap between those who have more resources than they could ever use, and those struggling for minimal survival. This has surely been highlighted by the Occupy Movement’s focus on the 1 percent/99 percent. Consciousness has been raised and more strategic actions are demanded.

The Table offers merely highlights of a monumental reality affecting women, many with families, many single mothers – all within the U.S. How do women secure the rights described above by the U.S. Bishops? In a democracy these rights can be attained through the legislative process. Right now most people recognize ours is at a stalemate. So, we must continue to lobby our Representatives and Senators. ( or In this election year isn’t it incumbent upon us to listen, study, analyze and reflect on the presidential candidate who comes closest to the values we espouse as reflected in the Gospel, in Catholic Social Teaching and in our Sisters of Charity Mission Statement?

Every four years the U.S. Bishops reflect on the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching and issue a document on

… We choose to act justly, to build loving relationships, to share our resources with those in need, and to care for all creation. Chapter 2011

Table: Median Weekly Earnings (Annual Average) and Gender Wage Gap for Full-Time Workers, 16 Years and Older by Race/Ethnic Background, 2010 Women ($) Men ($)

Female Earnings as % of Male Earnings (%)

Female Earnings as % of White Male Earnings (%)

All Races/Ethnicities















Hispanic or Latino










(Institute for Women’s Policy Research,



M E E T O U R A ssociates in M ission —

Viola Elizondo


aving attended Catholic school, Texas Associate Viola Elizondo was familiar with the lives of the saints. As a young girl, she remembers reading the story of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and feeling connected to the first American-born saint. Like Elizabeth, Viola was a convert to Catholicism. With S. Anne Darlene Wojtowicz and Associate Mary Ann Perez, Viola recently attended the June Caritas Convocation and was invited to give the reflection at the Saturday Mass. We asked Viola to share with us a brief history of her connection with the Sisters of Charity Community. Approximately 28 years ago, I was working at my parish, St. Pius X in Weslaco, Texas, on a youth retreat. One of the team leaders told me that she had invited a Sister from Holy Family Birth Center. In came S. Anne Darlene Wojtowicz; that was my first introduction to the Sisters of Charity. What drew you to say ‘yes’ to becoming a Sister of Charity Associate? I found S. Anne Darlene to be spiritual, intelligent and open. She was very much connected to the world around us. I found this to be refreshing. I was attracted to the Charities vision of building up God’s kingdom here on Earth. Soon after our initial meeting, I became S. Anne Darlene’s spiritual director. This allowed me to become familiar with the charism of the Sisters of Charity. The lifestyle attracted me. When I found out that the Sisters had a program for lay people, I inquired about it and made my own commitment. In September 2011, I celebrated 25 years as an Associate – something that makes me proud to be a part of the Sisters and their mission. What does it mean to you to be a Sister of Charity Associate? My way of life was already patterned after Elizabeth. When I met S. Anne Darlene, we became strong supporters and prayer partners of a lifestyle I was already living. The Community of Sisters is a powerful and positive influence that offers a solid Christ-like life that we, Sisters and Associates, walk together as daughters of Elizabeth. At our Caritas Convocation, I experienced something that is unique and wonderful. The Sisters and Associates came together as ONE. I had not experienced this before. I honestly think that God calls us to be one body. We are all in different parts of the country (and beyond) and at different stages of our lives; yet, we know the strength that the whole community, Sisters and Associates, has for each other. S ummer 2 0 1 2

Associate Viola Elizondo (left) with S. Mary Bookser at the June Caritas Convocation.

We work in common with the one purpose of sharing God’s love wherever we are. After all, Elizabeth was a married woman with children. She, too, was the founder of the Sisters of Charity! The duality of our group would so honor Elizabeth’s dual roles that she lived in her own lifetime. You recently attended the Caritas Convocation, what did it mean to you to be a part of that gathering, to be with so many Sisters and other Associates? The time we spent together at the Caritas Convocation was a window into the possibilities that await. It was a time of sharing, learning and appreciating the individual gifts of each Sister and Associate. It was a celebratory event. My vocation as a single laywoman is a lifelong calling. It is very strong, committed, and well grounded in the Lord. Furthermore, my vocation is well fed – for my education, most of which is religious studies, is symbolic of my commitment to God and God’s people. My association with Elizabeth and her “clan” is a wealth of strength that offers stimulation, information, energy and a joy that can only come from God herself. 23

(From left) Sisters Margaret Marie Anthony and Marie Patrice Joyce volunteer at the Motherhouse Front Desk.

M otherhouse H ospitality

Begins with Front Desk By Jackie Lewis, Mount St. Joseph summer intern


s a second-year intern in the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati Communications Office, I can attest to the warm and inviting atmosphere encountered when you enter the Motherhouse front doors. From the moment I walked into the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse last summer, I was at peace. My nerves were getting the best of me that day until a bright smile greeted me and asked what she could do to help. Immediately my anxiousness was replaced. Although I had been offered two other internships none of that mattered anymore, the Sisters of Charity was where I was meant to be. According to, hospitality can be defined as “the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.” To the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati it means so much more. When you enter the Motherhouse, you immediately feel that sense of peace and the welcoming spirit that has come to be associated with the Sisters of Charity. That hospitality can be attributed to the many Sisters and one Associate volunteering their time as the friendly faces you see. The Front Desk is staffed from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week. According to S. Kathleen Ann Murray, director of 24

Volunteers Associate Joan Axt (right) and S. Irene Luther prepare to change shifts.

Hospitality, there are 15 volunteers on average every week. In addition, there are about five who sub when needed. A volunteer takes the desk duty every Sunday during Mass. I sat with some of the Front Desk volunteers to learn more about what compels them in their volunteer ministries. When asked what they enjoyed most about working at the Front Desk, all agree it is meeting and helping the many visitors who come to the Motherhouse for various reasons. “God is here,” says S. Irene Luther. “Giving back for all that has been given to me and to become acquainted with so many of the uses of the Motherhouse by the Sisters and others [is why I do this work],” Sister says of her more than two years at the Front Desk. After 38 years in education as a teacher and librarian, S. Irene retired, but her schedule remains full, volunteering in numerous capacities around the Motherhouse. That familiarity has enabled her to become as knowledgeable as possible about the happenings around the campus. Intercom

S. Gemma Glutz agrees. She says her greatest strength associated with volunteering at the Front Desk is the general knowledge of the workings of the Motherhouse along with the knowledge of the Sisters. “I have volunteered at the Motherhouse for 16 years and I have worked the Front Desk for six of those years. The knowledge I have received is invaluable.” Sister Gemma says the hospitality at the Motherhouse can be described as always going the extra mile. “Most of the Sisters have been at the desk for many years. Others are new,” Sister Kathleen Ann says. “All of the Sisters who work the desk are very generous with their time. They are warming, gracious, helpful and welcoming to all visitors and persons who call.” Joan Axt, the lone Associate volunteer, says she most enjoys sharing and renewing new and old relationships as well as listening to the stories of the Sisters. This year, Joan will mark 35 years as an Associate with the Sisters of Charity. She has been volunteering at the Front Desk for the last 10 years. “When I think of those who have shared the desk with me and who have passed on, I know they are smiling down upon me,” Joan reflects. “I have been very blessed.” S. Margaret Marie Anthony, who also ministers in the Motherhouse choir, lectors at Mass and visits with Sisters in Mother Margaret Hall, has worked at the Front Desk for many years. When asked what some of her most enjoyable experiences were, she said, “Twice I have encountered students I taught in the first and second grades who have

come to the Motherhouse to visit for some reason. It is a joy to see someone who remembers you as their teacher.” There is no defined job description when it comes to volunteering at the Front Desk. Volunteers deliver flowers that come for the Sisters, listen to people who stop by to chat or greet those coming or going. They also cover the phones. All of the volunteers agree that making a contribution for all that has been done for them by belonging to the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati is not work at all, it is simply a joy to serve. As I have matured, I have discovered that, for me, to be hospitable affords me many opportunities for personal growth. Since the Sisters are called to serve the needs of others with what God gifts them, hospitality is an attitude encouraging opportunities to serve. By welcoming people into your space, whether it is the Motherhouse or a table in the dining hall or home, we tell them they are received and accepted. We become a safe place. Being a safe place means that people will return again and again for comfort, healing, wisdom, insight and learning. This is true of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati and the Motherhouse Front Desk ensures this always.

Motherhouse Front Desk Volunteers S. Margaret Marie Anthony Associate Joan Axt S. Mary Bodde S. Rita Cocquyt S. Janice Ernst S. Agnes Ann Gardt S. Gemma Glutz S. Jean Ann Glutz S. Vincent de Paul Grilliot S. Katie Hoelscher S. Jeanine Marie Holthouse S. Ann Christopher Joseph S. Marie Patrice Joyce S. Irene Luther S. Joseph Ellen Noppenberger S. Margaret O’Connor S. Mary Barbara Philippart S. Bernadette Marie Shumate S. Mary Pat Wagner

Front Desk volunteers Sisters Ann Christopher Joseph (left) and Rita Cocquyt

S ummer 2 0 1 2


S ponsored ministry spotlight —

seton family center :

A Sponsored Ministry on the Move Inspiration and Creation According to S. Jacqueline Kowalski, Ed.D., her inspiration to found the Seton Family Center grew from a range of experiences, including her work at The Springer School and at the College of Mount St. Joseph. S. Jackie taught and conducted educational and psycho-educational evaluations of children and adolescents. “I felt called to work with the families who sought out the testing, but needed more than the test results; they needed support in healing their family relationships,” Sister said. She believes such care and support in the form of counseling/ therapy are best provided in a home-like environment. Other organizations did not provide family and play/expressive therapy in such a warm and welcoming office setting and S. Jackie set out to develop a place that would do so. S. Jackie’s dream was realized with the support of the Sisters of Charity, which enabled her to open Seton Family Center’s doors in Price Hill in 1989. The Center flourished and, during the next 20 years, more than 2,000 families were provided mental health care.

A New Era Seton Family Center embarked upon a new era with the retirement of S. Jackie in 2009. Helmut Roehrig, Ph.D., became the new executive director after working at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for 10 years where he specialized in the mental health care of children and adolescents. Seton Family Center enables families to learn effective techniques for solving problems through individual and family counseling, play therapy for children, parenting skills, and diagnostic services.


or the past 23 years, the Seton Family Center (SFC) has provided high-quality mental health and educational services to families in the Greater Cincinnati area – with a special emphasis on serving families with low incomes. Its purpose is to enable families to learn effective techniques for solving problems through individual and family counseling, play therapy for children, parenting skills, and diagnostic services including psycho-educational evaluations. The Seton Family Center is a nonprofit organization and operates as a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati.


The Center’s Board and director have implemented several strategic changes in order to strengthen the organization and position it for growth and continued success. The most significant change – as a direct result of a comprehensive feasibility study prepared in early 2011 – is the Center’s move to a new facility in December 2011. Dr. Roehrig described the new office, which is in Western Hills, and reported it is in a location central to a majority of the Center’s clients, easy to find, on a bus line, offers off-street parking, and is fully accessible. It is large enough to provide the needed space to grow as additional mental health providers are hired. The new location and plans for increased staff allow the Center to meet the growing community need for affordable, high-quality mental health services. Dr. Roehrig stated the transition has had its share of


challenges but added that feedback from both families and referral sources about the new location has been overwhelmingly positive. Seton Family Center continues to be a warm and inviting place for individuals and families to receive the support and care first envisioned by S. Jackie 23 years ago.

Future Directions Weathering the national transformation of health care while remaining true to its mission and vision will be a challenge as Seton Family Center moves forward. According to SFC Board Chair Pam Shannon, adding mental health providers to accommodate the increase in demand for its services will enable SFC’s growth in a sustainable way. Mental health staff will best serve the community needs if they can provide services to a wider range of clients, such as younger children age S. Jacqueline Kowalski, founder of Seton Family Center, with current SFC executive director Helmut Roehrig. 2-5 years, as well as older adults, the fastest growing demographic. Pam adds this growth must continue to be in line with the Center’s mission to serve clients in Seton Family Center need without regard to their ability to pay. She further notes the ongoing support of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati Mission Statement and the enthusiasm of the Board and director have wellWithin the healing ministry of the Sisters of Charity, positioned the Seton Family Center for future success. the Seton Family Center is an innovative approach to “It is there, in a home-like setting, where children and family mental health services. families experience the healing process that is so desperately The Seton Family Center seeks to strengthen familial needed in our society today. The mission of the Sisters of bonds by helping to identify common values, by healing Charity is alive and well at SFC!” said S. Mary Jo Gasdorf. brokenness, and by enabling individual family members Contributing Writers: S. Jacqueline Kowalski, S. Mary Jo to live in healthy relationships. Gasdorf, Pam Shannon, Helmut Roehrig Utilizing a natural family setting, the Seton Family Center promotes a wellness concept affirming the dignity of each family member and advancing the healing process. Vision Statement Inspired by the mission of the Seton Family Center and the healing ministry of the Sisters of Charity, our Vision is: To be the model of mental health care for children and families of all socio-economic levels. We exemplify the belief that families are inherently well and have the ability to bring about healthy change. Our care is provided in a healing, home-like atmosphere that is welcoming to children and family members.



C elebration H onors

Civil War Nurses


he Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati celebrated the Memorial Day weekend by honoring their Sisters who served in the American Civil War 150 years ago. Sisters, Associates and friends of the community gathered at the Mount St. Joseph cemetery on May 26 to acknowledge the places served and to honor the individual Sisters who were called upon through the duration of the war. Almost as soon as the Civil War began April 12, 1861, with the firing on Fort Sumter, there was a critical need for nurses. As troops began to assemble at places like nearby Camp Dennison, contagious diseases swept through the camps. Within months battles began to rage and casualties mounted. The Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, many experienced nurses serving at St. John’s Hospital in Cincinnati, were called upon immediately to serve. With about 100 Sisters in the Congregation, it is safe to estimate that more than half nursed in some capacity. They served on both the eastern front in parts of Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland, and on the western front in Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Georgia. Sisters nursed in army encampments, on battlefields, in tent hospitals, on floating hospitals transporting the sick and wounded, and in hotels, schools and warehouses transformed into hospitals. Although serving with the Grand Army of the Republic, they treated both Union and Confederate soldiers who needed their ministrations. Some even served in multiple locations. The Sisters of Charity remember all of our Sisters, named and unnamed, who responded during a critical time in our nation’s history. Additional articles and photographs commemorating our Sisters’ service in the Civil War will be included in future issues of Intercom.



A crowd of approximately 120 Sisters, Associates and community members attended the May 26 event that recognized the more than 40 Sisters of Charity serving on the battlefields.

Transportation driver Lenny Kleiner served as President Abraham Lincoln as a proclamation was read from the past president praising the Sisters’ service.

Peter Sturdevant, a native of Cincinnati and assistant state director for Bugles Across America (BAA), performed “Taps” during the service.

S. Georgia Kitt places a decorated ribbon on the gravesite of S. Anthony O’Connell.

Philip Siefert, a representative from the Battle of Richmond Association, stands next to the wreath honoring the Sisters serving the battlefields in Richmond, Ky.

The Hills of Kentucky Dulcimers performed a number of musical pieces throughout the program, including “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” S ummer 2 0 1 2

(From left) Sisters Catherine Kirby, Barbara Hagedorn and Judith Metz participated in the program reading from the Sister nurses’ journals and providing the introduction and history of the Sisters’ service in the Civil War.


Total Dedication By Melinda Singkan, St. Mary’s class of 1994 and current seventh grade teacher Faculty, staff and students of St. Mary’s School in Albuquerque, N.M., along with family and friends of the community, celebrated S. Marianella Domenici and her 23 years as principal of the school on May 16. Sister retired this year leaving a legacy of love and joy to all who had the opportunity to get to know her. The following reflection is written by a former St. Mary’s student and current teacher.


s the 2012 school year comes to a close, St. Mary’s School is faced with having to say goodbye to an extraordinary individual who has spent the last 23 years changing the lives of all those who have entered our doors, S. Marianella Domenici.

S. Marianella has had a lasting impact on the thousands of students that she has taught and administered to. She lovingly refers to all of her students as her “love doves.” Sister is one of the most genuine, caring, loving people one would ever meet. She puts the school, its students, families, staff and faculty above all else. Immaculate Conception Pastor, Fr. Rafael Garcia, says, “It is obvious that her passion is the school and the students. She models a very positive quality of a religious, namely, total dedication to serve God through the people of God. Sister really loves the students!” And, the students really love her.

Since arriving at St. Mary’s in 1989, S. Marianella has been the driving force behind the growth of the school. That first year St. Mary’s had an enrollment of 335 students. Today, the school is the largest parochial elementary school in the state with an enrollment of 530 with two pre-kindergarten classes and three classes of each grade level from kindergarten to eighth grade. Under S. Marianella’s leadership S. Marianella Domenici embraces two of her many “love doves” from there has been a very low faculty S. Marianella is truly the heart St. Mary’s School in Albuquerque. Photo by Leslie M. Radigan/People turnover. The main reason for this of the school. It is her devotion, of God/Archdiocese of Santa Fe is Sister herself. Her “open door” time spent with students, concern policy and genuine concern for her for her teachers, and the joy of employees, who are indeed more of a family than employees, is being in the school that has made Sister so successful. St. Mary’s evident in the words of a 20-year veteran St. Mary’s teacher: will not be the same without S. Marianella. For so long she has been the cornerstone of our school, and though we will miss her “While teaching, there are days when my aspirations for tremendously, we wish her well in all that she chooses to do in myself and my students seemed unattainable and days when this next stage of her life. things in my personal life seemed too difficult to bear … on these days I went to see Sister, and she prayed. I was never turned away and never made to feel unwelcome. She helped me find the courage to remain strong and live life the way she does – as a woman of faith.”

To a view a slideshow from the May 16 celebration at St. Mary’s School, visit our Web site at

S. Marianella has always encouraged her teachers to be the best they can. She has given young teachers the opportunity to prove themselves when no one else would.

S. Marianella Domenici’s departure brings an end to the legacy of the dedicated ministry of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati at St. Mary’s School. On Sept. 9, 1893, St. Mary’s opened its doors to 65 boys and three Sisters of Charity teachers. Girls were admitted in 1904 and enrollment grew to 224. Today, St. Mary’s School is the largest Catholic elementary and middle school in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe with 535 students enrolled.

One teacher says, “She was willing to take a chance on me. She has loved me enough to scold me when I was wrong, encourage me when I was right, and for all of that I will never be able to thank her enough.”



Crossing the Border By Sisters Peggy Deneweth, Janet Gildea and Carol Wirtz

Sisters Peggy Deneweth (center) and Carol Wirtz (right) cross the border weekly to coordinate services at the Santo Niño Project in Anapra, Mexico.


everywhere. Knowing that the women of our project work with North Americans and thus, theoretically, have access to funds might put them at risk of kidnap, robbery or extortion.

here were fewer murders in the city of Juarez, Mexico, in May 2012 than in the preceding 49 months. Only 74 people were killed. Since 2006 when President Felipe Calderon launched his war on drugs, more than 10,000 people have lost their lives in Juarez alone, and at the peak of the violence there were eight murders a day. In addition to the killings, kidnapping and extortion have become commonplace. The degree of corruption and abuse of human rights is beyond comprehension. On the outskirts of this city lies the colonia of Anapra, home of the Santo Niño Project for children with special needs and their families. We, Sisters of Charity and Associates, cross the border from our home in New Mexico on Tuesdays, Thursdays and every other Saturday to coordinate services at Santo Niño. Going into Mexico it’s about a 40-minute drive from door to door. The commute was much longer when every car leaving the U.S. was checked for firearms and money in excess of $10,000, in addition to the checkpoints at the Mexican customs office and the military outpost. Ordinarily we are only transporting the baby food we prepare for the children and other supplies like diapers so there is no problem, but the presence of soldiers and federal police who were deployed due to excessive corruption of local law enforcement has been quite intimidating. Since the violence began we have often been asked if it is safe for us to continue our ministry. Most religious and charitable organizations, mission trips and educational immersion experiences have stopped crossing the border. We have had many conversations ourselves about what we should do. We discussed the situation with other religious men and women who face the same decision. The Adrian Dominicans, Monroe IHMs, Sisters of Mercy and Columban missionaries have continued to serve (and some live) in Juarez. The greatest danger seems to be extortion, robbery, or being caught in crossfire. We also considered the potential risks to our co-workers in Mexico because it is widely reported that the drug cartels have “eyes” S ummer 2 0 1 2

Our communal discernment focused on the meaning of solidarity with the community that is the Santo Niño Project. While the services we provide are helpful, they are not essential and the mothers we have trained would be able to continue without us. What would be missed is the ministry of accompaniment and the hope that we offer by our presence. In the end, we agreed that we couldn’t “not go.” The relationships are too important to us. As well, our own personal conversion and ongoing transformation are linked to the community we serve in Anapra. In prayer together we discerned that we should continue our ministry while taking reasonable precautions for safety, e.g. we never travel alone and avoid the downtown area as much as possible. The Mexican presidential election in July has raised hopes of further decreases in the violence. Our own government’s insistence on fighting the drug war with military force through the Merida Initiative, despite the growing evidence that the strategy has not worked, diminishes those possibilities. Our country’s insatiable drug addiction and unfair trade agreements continue to make drug-related jobs an attractive option for survival for the desperately poor. It is a dismal situation that challenges our Christian hope. But we find encouragement in Elizabeth Seton’s words to a Sister of Charity on mission: “The work in the vineyard here is of warfare and crucifixion. May you enjoy true peace in Him. He will take us home at last. Be faithful to our Faithful One. Courage, dearest child of Eternity. The things of this life have eternal consequences. We must be careful to meet our grace. When we go to a place for which we have a dreadful aversion, in that place there is a store of grace awaiting.


(From left) Guy Wagner, Timothy Burns, Tyler Klopfstein, Corey Disbennett, Timothy Burns and Steven Olthaus care for the Motherhouse grounds with the SC mission in mind.

M otherhouse

sisters , E mployees

Embrace the Mission


nyone who enters the Motherhouse grounds can appreciate its beauty. The large shaded trees and the landscaped grounds provide a peaceful home for the Sisters, their employees and guests. Beyond its beauty, the grounds and the Motherhouse are cared for with love and much thought in keeping with the SC mission. Following Chapter 2011, the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati voted collectively to revise the SC Mission Statement to read: 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. For the last decade numerous actions have been taken at the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse to conserve energy and to ensure that all those living and working on the grounds assist in the SC mission to care for all creation. On the grounds the Community responds to its call by planting trees, and eliminating invasive plants such as honeysuckle and garlic mustard. Every year in April a group of Sisters and students from the College of Mount St. Joseph and Seton High School gather to pull garlic mustard from the old growth forest, a weed that crowds out spring flowers, and also releases an enzyme that kills baby trees. Alan Wittich, grounds manager, says being environmentally friendly comes naturally to his staff. “It’s part of our everyday work,” he said. “What might be viewed as environmentally 32

Motherhouse employee Jerry Patton changes an energy-efficient light bulb.

friendly to others is just part of who we are and what we do. We don’t even think about it, we just do it.” For example, while the Motherhouse is involved in recycling, sometimes items are missed. As garbage is collected, Wittich says his staff will find a recyclable item, take it out of the trash and put it into the recycling bin. “They will go out of their way to make sure the recycling is done properly,” he said. In addition, grounds workers keep a compost pile, reuse plants, and use diesel-powered tractors, which are more fuel-friendly. If a tree dies, or is cut down, a new one is planted. In addition, as trees are cut down all the firewood is recycled and given to the employees to be used to heat their homes. Inside the Motherhouse, the Sisters of Charity and their employees have committed to recycling. Even on a campus so very large, every building, every floor, every area has recycle bins. In addition to paper, glass, plastic, metals and aluminum cans, many items are re-used, such as brown medicine bottles. Vicki Frede, administrative assistant of Plant Operations, said many items beyond the norm can be and are also collected for recycling, including batteries, cell phones, televisions and computer components. Vicki is behind the Motherhouse’s collection of cell phones, which she said she realized was important after reading how toxic they are to the environment when thrown in the trash. Vicki sends the old phones to be refurbished and then distributed to women’s shelters for use. “It’s an effort at every level,” said Ruth Dilworth, director of environmental services. “It requires effort from the user to place the item in the recyclable bin; personnel to take them to the Intercom

proper place to be picked up by the grounds workers; and grounds to distribute the items in the proper container for pick-up.” By all accounts Sisters and Associates have embraced the effort, and further measures are being taken to ensure new employees will do the same. The Sisters of Charity Human Resources Department is currently working with Sisters Jean Miller and Joyce Brehm and the Communications Office to develop a presentation to be shown to all new employees highlighting the efforts at the Motherhouse and encouraging them to actively participate. Tom Heffernan, executive director of campus services, says numerous steps have been taken to make the Motherhouse, Mother Margaret Hall and auxiliary buildings more energy efficient. To reduce natural gas consumption, thermostat controls were installed on all radiators, as well as energy efficient windows. Decline in electricity consumption can be attributed to the use of Energy Star Compliant appliances and computer equipment; the conversion of fluorescent ceiling lights to energy efficient bulbs and fixtures; and the introduction of LED lighting for outdoor fixtures and food serving lines. In August, Tom says the Congregation will be replacing two of the four steam boilers in the Power Plant with smaller, more efficient boilers that will ensure heating capacity while the Community explores a long-range plan of improvement in the Power Plant. The replacement will involve opening the roof of the Power Plant and using a crane to hoist out the old equipment and insert the replacement units.  “All of our decisions regarding the building and grounds take into consideration care for our Earth,” Tom said. “Ultimately, we have to be realistic with our resources, but we are continuously exploring new possibilities.” Tom said the Community has looked into the use of renewable energy on the Motherhouse campus, including solar panels and wind turbines. While either could be accommodated, an economic analysis does not favor the technology at the present state of development. In addition, the Motherhouse’s location in southwest Ohio is not particularly favorable for either. However, geothermal energy is currently under consideration and appears to be the most feasible. It is evident that the SC mission not only speaks to the Sisters but it also inspires SC employees to make it their personal mission. Vicki says her awareness at the Motherhouse continues at home. Living in a condominium, she says her complex does not have recycling pick-up. She now keeps a bin in her home, and when it’s full she takes it to the Delhi Senior Center where they have recycling containers. “It Mother Margaret Hall RN Jodi Foppe becomes addicting,” she said. “Once you start, you can’t stop. recycles a newspaper in one of the many recycling bins located around the campus. It just seems right.” S ummer 2 0 1 2

(From left) Sisters Margarita Brewer and Pat Marie Bernard

S. Pat Marie Bernard Honored


anta Maria Community Services honored S. Pat Marie Bernard at its seventh annual Bienestar Recognition Lunch on May 18. Sister received the Sr. Margarita Brewer Hope Award. With degrees in both medical technology and nursing, S. Pat Marie has ministered in health care for the past 50 years. Fortytwo were spent in New Mexico at St. Vincent Hospital in Santa Fe and St. Joseph Hospital in Albuquerque with the last 23 years as executive director of the Villa Therese Catholic Clinic in Santa Fe. Currently S. Pat Marie volunteers at Santa Maria’s Wellness/Bienestar program performing wellness checkups. She has served on Santa Maria’s Wellness Advisory Committee and currently serves on the Board of Directors. Santa Maria Community Services mission is to empower Greater Price Hill families as they achieve sustainable health, housing and family life. Santa Maria provides Greater Price Hill with educational tools and resources to help build strong families, promote healthy residents and foster neighborhood revitalization. In her acceptance speech S. Pat said she receives the award “with joy in the fact that I am a member of the Sisters of Charity who founded Santa Maria Community Services 115 years ago! I embrace and celebrate more than 75 Sisters of Charity who offered hope to immigrant populations – totaling more than 500 years of service. And I celebrate the many continuing efforts today by the Santa Maria Community Services Wellness/ Bienestar programs to offer hope.”


Forever Grateful Elizabeth Seton statue signifies family’s gratitude following son’s miracle recovery. By S. Mary Ann Flannery


early 50 years ago, Maureen McNamara-Phalen lay in a Cleveland, Ohio, hospital from Thanksgiving until after Christmas hoping to deliver healthy twins after a difficult and ominous pregnancy.

The spirited and garrulous woman of today does not hold back about the fears she had during those days when her deep faith was tested. Before the delivery of twin boys, Maureen’s husband, Jerry, shared with her the heartbreaking news that one child might not survive the birth process. John Thomas and James Richard Phalen were born on Dec. 26, 1962. James (called Jimmy) was born with spina bifida. The boys were born Caesarean and well-meaning medical personnel said in hushed voices that Jimmy would not survive long after birth. The spinal fluid in spina bifida patients floods the brain causing swelling and eventual death. If such patients survived birth, in those days, they seldom made it to their teen years. “We were devastated. Here we had one healthy child and one very sick child at the same time,” said Maureen. “I could not imagine how we were going to handle this, but most of all, I worried about Jimmy’s future. I clung to hope vigorously,” she added. But from the start Maureen and Jerry were given no hope for Jimmy. They were told there was no possibility he would make his first birthday with his brother. They began the arduous, demanding journey of saving Jimmy’s life while not overlooking John’s needs as well. At the same time, Ann Phalen-Frencel, Maureen’s sister-in-law, started working with Father Joe Danko, an associate pastor at St. Mary parish in Bedford, Ohio, who had initiated a ministry to poor, African-American residents of Oakwood Village, Ohio. These years before the Civil Rights Law took effect spawned severe unemployment in the region and poverty was rampant. Father Danko also had a devotion to then Blessed Elizabeth Ann Seton to whom he prayed for the families he was serving. He enlisted the then Vincentian Sisters of Charity to assist him in the ministry and to spread the devotion to “Mother Seton,” as he affectionately called her. Father Danko then suggested to the Phalen family that they pray to Mother Seton asking that Jimmy become one of her miracles for canonization. The Vincentian community, the Phalen family, and the Danko family all prayed to Blessed Elizabeth Ann Seton daily for Jimmy Phalen. The statue of Elizabeth Seton, commissioned in gratitude for her intervention on behalf of Jimmy Phalen, is currently located on the Bayley grounds.


“By the time of his first birthday,” said Maureen, “the fluid had stopped going into the brain. We felt this was a miracle in itself. Jimmy never needed a second shunt surgery. “We were overwhelmed with excitement when Jimmy began to scoot around as John was learning to crawl. This was considered impossible,” Maureen said. So when the parents took the child for his visit to the neurologist, they placed him on the floor to show how he could scoot around. “The doctor, who was Jewish, said, “This is impossible because I had to cut the nerves in his legs to help him sit up. And, he should be held up with restraints.” Intercom

But there were no restraints for Jimmy. Ever. The surgeon, Dr. Julius Wolkin, was so overcome with Jimmy’s miraculous progress that he and another surgeon wrote letters to the Emmitsburg Daughters of Charity attesting to the miracle. According to his wife, Doctor Wolkin volunteered to work in the Third World when he retired as a surgeon because of his experience in observing the faith of the Phalen family. As the canonization of Blessed Elizabeth Ann Seton neared, Father Danko and his family commissioned a statue of her and worked with the Vincentian Sisters to create a garden on the Bedford Motherhouse property – all in gratitude for her intervention on behalf of Jimmy. On a warm Sunday afternoon, the statue was dedicated. The Phalen family gathered with the Sisters and the Danko family as Fr. Danko blessed the statue. Born with spina bifida, Jimmy Phalen’s parents were told he would not make his first birthday. Instead, Jimmy graduated from high school and college and joined the family business where he has worked all his life.

“I will never forget this,” said Maureen. “I know Elizabeth Ann Seton has always been involved with my family. She knew our suffering. Her father was a physician and she lost some of her own children to disease.” Several months later, Fr. Danko died suddenly of a massive heart attack. He was only 35 years old. Unable to attend the canonization in Rome, Italy, the Phalens drove to Emmitsburg, Md., for a special Mass commemorating the event. “I carried my Jimmy to the sanctuary and was never so grateful in my life,” said Maureen. Ann added, “We would never know then that Jimmy would graduate from St. Edward High School, attend Wright State University, play wheelchair basketball, and join the family fence business where he has worked all his life in the payroll and communications departments. He is smart and follows politics with gusto, always concerned about the social welfare of others.” He and John are very close and used their identical looks to play tricks on others, especially when they were younger. Maureen and Jerry had three more children. Their last child, Elizabeth Ann, has a small hole in her spine but it never matured into spina bifida. “Jimmy enjoys life to the fullest,” said Ann. “… He is a loving, cheerful testimony to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.” “And I owe everything to her,” said Maureen, looking thoughtfully over the pile of family pictures before her. “Everything.” Editor’s Note: The statue of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, and nine other statues that were located along the property of Villa mother, Maureen (right), and aunt, Ann, say San Bernardo in Bedford, recently relocated Jimmy’s they owe everything to Elizabeth Ann Seton. to Cincinnati. Elizabeth’s statue is now placed behind the Wellness Center in the courtyard at Bayley while the other statues are located on the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse property. To view photos of the statues, visit our Web site at S ummer 2 0 1 2

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 360 Sisters are joined in their mission by 194 Associates (lay women and men). Sisters, using their professional talents as ministers of education, health care, social services and environmental justice, live and minister in 32 U.S. dioceses and in Guatemala, Mexico and the West Indies. They also sponsor institutions to address education, health care and social service needs, with particular concern for direct service to the poor.

Intercom Staff Editor Erin Reder Graphic Design/Layout Michelle Bley Photographer S. Marty Dermody Director of Communications S. Georgia Kitt Executive Council Liaison S. Mary Bookser Advisory Board Members: S. Mary Ann Flannery Mary Jo Mersmann S. Emily Anne Phelan S. Therese Ann Reis S. Joyce Richter S. Frances Maureen Trampiets Letters to the editor, articles and photos are welcome. The staff reserves the right to edit for space and readability. Make submissions to: Communications Office 5900 Delhi Road Mount St. Joseph, OH 45051 Phone: (513) 347-5447 Fax: (513) 347-5467 E-mail: Subscriptions: $15 per year

5900 Delhi Road Mount St. Joseph, OH 45051


5900 Delhi Road Mount Saint Joseph, OH 45051

10 The Love of Christ Urges Us: Postal clerk S. Ann Elizabeth Von Hagel (left) sells a book of stamps to S. Mary Bodde. S. Ann Elizabeth is one of the many Sisters of Charity ministering at the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse.


6 Caritas Convocation: Convening, Complementing, Committing: (From left) Associates Frances Arnold, Barry Mersmann, Mary Ann Perez, convocation facilitator Marci Madary and Associate Karen Martin joined S. Joyce Richter (not pictured) for a walk along the Motherhouse property during the June Caritas Convocation. Welcome Andrea and Tracy: (From left) Affiliate Andrea Koverman, S. Janet Gildea and Affiliate Tracy Kemme embrace following the Affiliate Rite of Welcome ceremony on June 24 in the Motherhouse chapel. Photo courtesy of Mark Bowen

Summer 2012 Intercom  

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

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