Intercom Vol. II, 2022

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Volume II, 2022

S i s t e r s

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C h a r i t y

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C i n c i n n at i

A Letter From Our Sister



Dear Sisters, Associates and Friends,


n this morning, it could be because summer’s gentle breezes are carrying the tune of a singing bird to my ears that a particular quote comes to mind. “A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.” I find myself reflecting with gratitude about the many ways Spirit sings in and through our lives. Spirit’s life among us is a song of energy and passion for what matters, breaking into life and inviting us to be “explorers of the new” with openness and curiosity. Our song is one of renewal and resilience, ever re-centering for mission and hopefulness amidst the challenging realities of our time. “Resilient people,” according to Robert Wicks, “tend to open up a space for others where they can rest their burdens.”

Contents Features A New ‘Home’.......................................3 S. Christine Okpomeshine’s transfer of vows. Grace Abounds.......................................7 S. Noreen Ellison is building relationships in her retirement ministries. God is Enough................................. 8-11 S. Annie Klapheke professes final vows. Inventive to Infinity....................... 12-13 Living St. Vincent de Paul’s call at Light of Hearts Villa. Santa Maria – The Middle Years..... 14-16 Santa Maria Community Services from the 1930s-1970s. A Heart for Service...............................17 Associate Maureen Maxfield honored. Meeting Her Grace......................... 18-19 S. Victoria Marie Forde celebrates 75 years as a Sister of Charity. A Journey Going Forward.............. 20-21 S. Juanita Marie Gonzales gives thanks for God’s blessings. On the Cover: Sister of Charity of Cincinnati Annie Klapheke (left) professed perpetual vows with the Community during a liturgy on May 7, 2022, in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception. Read more on pages 8-11. Disclaimer: The information contained in Intercom is intended for general information and educational purposes only. Opinions expressed herein are the views of individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati.


In this issue of Intercom, there are shimmering examples of following Spirit’s lead into the next melody as a way to make space for others where they can rest their burdens. From our blest history of direct service at Santa Maria Community Services in Cincinnati to the current urgency of climate change, Spirit’s song abiding with us sings with hope and creativity. In recent weeks, we have welcomed guests back to our Motherhouse grounds, nearly completed the renovations to the Motherhouse, and turned our passion for ministry more intently to the world’s needs and our response. When completed, La Casa del Sol Ministry Center will be home to the MSJ Talent Education program and the social justice/outreach ministries of the Congregation. Construction is progressing rapidly and we look forward to a fall blessing and opening of the building. Planning for “Chapter 2023” began with the Sisters’ Spring Forum held at the Motherhouse in April. In the months ahead, friends and family are invited to pray with the Congregation as we listen to the song rising up and leading us into the next era of our religious life. Spirit is renewing and refreshing the tune, deepening and broadening our awareness of Her abiding with us as the song we sing with our lives. As our world is restless with uncertainty, we are joining our song with the many praying for compassion to touch the planet, bringing an end to violence, destruction, and inequalities of every sort. May Spirit’s love song, singing through our very lives, become one melody of peace and renewal for our planet. Blessings,

S. Marge Kloos, SC 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 God. S. Carolyn Ann Siebert Associate Betty Rensing S. Anna Maria Ahl March 27, 2022 April 17, 2022 April 26, 2022 I n tercom

A New ‘Home’ By S. Joan Elizabeth Cook


n April 23, 2022, we welcomed S. Christine Okpomeshine as a Sister of Charity of Cincinnati. S. Christine transferred her perpetual vows from the Handmaids of the Holy Child Jesus, the congregation to which she had belonged since 1978. This transfer was the culmination of a three-year period of discernment and preparation. She was attracted to the Sisters of Charity Community because she recognized our love and quest for social justice and our solidarity with the poor. Christine, the fifth of ten children, was born in Ghana to Beatrice and Hyacinth Okpomeshine. When she was 12 years old the family moved to Nigeria, which was her parents’ native country. At various times, the family was even larger when different ones of her cousins lived with them and they all enjoyed playing together. Catholicism was an integral part of her family life. Her parents were very involved in the local parish, and they encouraged the children’s devotion to the Eucharist. Christine has also had devotion to the rosary. When she was a teenager her father helped her build a simple gathering place for the young people of the village to gather and pray the Rosary together. Christine continues to rely on Mary’s guidance and compassion in her ministry of health care, particularly with pregnant women. Her research demonstrates that pregnant women frequently find peace and comfort when they call on Mary the Mother of God to care for their unborn child. And one of Christine’s favorite biblical stories is Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. For her that story affirms God’s constant, gentle, truthful presence in her life.

The Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati witnessed and participated in S. Christine Okpomeshine’s transfer of vows on Saturday, April 23, 2022 in the Motherhouse chapel.

Christine credits the Sisters in her Catholic high school with her awakening interest in religious life. A year after graduation she entered the Handmaids of the Holy Child Jesus. Her first assignment after first vows was in Sierra Leone, where she opened a clinic and house for pregnant women and children under the age of 5. This project led her to pursue training in midwifery, followed by a license in nursing. She then asked to study in the United States for additional training in order to give better care to the women in the clinic.

Nigeria. When she returned there in 2013, she realized that, even though she remains grateful for the initial formation she received as a Handmaid, and continues her friendships with several of her Novitiate group, much had changed in the community and in herself. Thus began her search for a new “home.” During that time she joined the Nursing Department at the College of Mount St. Vincent in New York. This summer she works in Women’s Health Services at Metropolitan Hospital in Manhattan, orienting newly hired nurses. She finds this work satisfying, not only to assure that the nurses provide excellent patient care, but also to give them opportunities for advancement in the nursing profession.

She studied for a Master’s degree in Nursing at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, during which time she lived with the Sisters of Charity of Convent Station. She then earned a doctorate in Public Health while continuing to teach and practice nursing, with the intent to open a larger clinic in

During the Transition ceremony, Christine taught us all to sing with her in the Igbo language, “Narekele Mo,” “Take My Thanksgiving.” The words were the perfect expression of the happiness and gratitude of the occasion: “What shall I render to Jehovah? For He has done so very much for me.”

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Looking to the Future By S. Joanne Burrows


he summer of 2022 brought two new significant additions to the Mount St. Joseph campus. La Casa del Sol Ministry Center and the Seton green space both sprang from the demolition of Seton Hall and advance our 2015 Chapter Directive to care for creation by transforming our properties into models of ecological sustainability. Located across Bender Road from Mother Margaret Hall, La Casa del Sol Ministry Center occupies the hilltop where S. Paula Gonzalez’s prototype solar home stood. The Ministry Center echoes the original building’s profile and builds upon Paula’s passion for sustainability.

energy efficiency strategies throughout. Twelve 250-foot-deep geothermal wells provide for heating and cooling needs year round. One hundred nine solar panels on the roof generate electricity for the Center. Combined with high efficiency insulation throughout, geothermal and solar will allow the building to attain the anticipated goal of being “net-zero.” In other words, the geothermal wells and the solar panels will produce all the HVAC and electricity the building will need to operate throughout the year.

The Ministry Center provides a new accessible and sustainable home for current and future ministerial opportunities. At its center, the first floor provides a large gathering space equipped to meet the needs of the congregation and outside groups to convene. MSJ Talent Education will occupy the east side of the building with a roomy classroom, playroom, instrument storage, and director’s office. The west side will house two body therapy rooms as well as offices for the Congregational Social Justice Program, the Newcomers Transition Program and private piano lessons. The ground floor offers flexible space that will be used as a gathering room now but can be redesigned for future needs. Restrooms, a kitchen, storage and utility rooms make up the rest of the space. In keeping with the Sisters of Charity commitment to care for creation, the building employs both active and passive

The ground floor of the Center can be accessed from the east side of the building and will at first offer a gathering room, restrooms, a kitchen, storage and utility rooms.

La Casa del Sol Ministry Center located across Bender Road from Mother Margaret Hall.

MSJ Talent Education will occupy the building’s east wing..


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The center of La Casa del Sol will provide a large gathering area for Sisters and guests.

Sisters of Charity offer a tour of the new Ministry Center to attendees of the Midwest Regional Sustainability Summit to illustrate the use of alternative energies as well as sustainability in design.

Seton Green Space Just west of the Motherhouse, the Seton green space now adorns the footprint of Seton Hall, which was demolished in the spring of 2021. Native plants, shrubbery and trees create a restful oasis for Sisters and visitors to relax and enjoy the beauty of the Mount. The green space provides a low maintenance garden that attracts and supports beneficial insects, especially pollinators like butterflies and bees, as well as regional and migrating bird species. The Seton green space is traversed by a 5-foot-wide ADA-compliant walkway and includes a patio with a fire pit, a water feature and benches throughout for all to sit, converse with friends and enjoy nature. For additional photos of both projects, please visit the Sisters of Charity website at www. and click on the Photo Gallery. V ol u me I I , 2 0 2 2


Dare to Risk a Caring Response – Celebrating National Nursing Home Week


rom May 8-14, 2022, the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati celebrated National Nursing Home Week. This year’s theme was “Dare to Risk a Caring Response,” from the SC Charism Statement. The Sisters of Charity have long been called to know the needs around them and to provide a loving response. Employees, too, carry this call of service and love with them daily. Throughout the week activities were planned, which included a coffee bar and Graeter’s ice cream treat for employees, resident and staff Bingo, Maggie’s Pub trivia and a campus grill out. All employees were gifted with a new T-shirt with the week’s theme printed on its back.


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Grace Abounds By S. Georgia Kitt


t’s all connected for S. Noreen Ellison. Since 2015 the spirit of Saints Vincent de Paul and Elizabeth Seton has permeated her retirement days. The SC influence and presence is fondly and frequently recalled by many living in her Royal Oak, Michigan neighborhood; a presence that has been there for 88 years. For S. Noreen, it’s all about building and continuing relationships – in her retirement ministries and in her neighborhood community. “I do what presents itself, sharing kindness, care and outreach in different settings,” S. Noreen shared. Grace abounds. S. Noreen considers it a privilege to have the time to freely respond to the challenges and gifts of actively living her vocation. Every day seems to fill itself. She is a member in many varied communities, be it her two St. Vincent de Paul (SVDP) conference groups, the Resurrection Choir (for Shrine funerals), Spiritual Advisor Formation group, Vincentian Life Committee, her SC small group, or as a board member for the housing cooperative where she lives. S. Noreen serves as the spiritual advisor for two St. Vincent de Paul conferences, one for the Shrine of the Little Flower (Royal Oak parish) and the other for three inner-city Detroit parishes, referred to as the Blessed Rosalie Rondu Conference. Typically the first and third weeks of the month are highly scheduled with conference meetings for both core groups. This includes preparation of the spiritual reflection and reports of home visits that occur on weekends. The Rule of the SVDP Society states: “Vincentians are called to journey together towards holiness … drawing near to Christ, serving him in the poor and in one another. No work of charity is foreign to the society.” SVDP conferences meet a minimum of two times a month; this is true of SVDP groups across the world. Meetings include Scripture, reflection, faith sharing, opportunities to grow in friendship with one another and together serving the needs of the poor. Visiting the homes of those they serve is a primary focus of the ministry with those living in poverty. S. Noreen and SC Associate Therese Frye form one of the visiting teams; as they set out for a home visit they refer to the time given as an opportunity to go out ‘to meet their grace.’ A familiar result of the home visit is that the poor’s courage teaches those who visit. As St. Vincent said, “Go to the poor, there you will find God.” S. Noreen feels she has developed gifts of listening, encouraging, responding, facilitating and accompanying. During home visits they pray with the family, listening and V ol u me I I , 2 0 2 2

(From left) Associate Therese Frye and S. Noreen Ellison receive a check from a benefactor to help pay a deposit and rent for a homeless SVDP family to get into an apartment.

responding to the needs voiced by family members. God seems very present in most every home visit. A frequent learning for conference members is to see how the poor are caught in the system; a challenge then is to find ways to change the system. Grace abounds. In her neighborhood living community most everyone knows S. Noreen is a Sister of Charity. They fondly remember the many SCs who taught in the Shrine schools, including S. Patricia Marie Donnelly, who was at the grade school for 30-plus years. Some still appreciate the neighborhood Scripture groups that were led by Sisters Mary Catherine Ratterman and Annunciata Hulse. Many remember S. Katharine Pinto as their kindergarten teacher and S. Mary Alicia Bomya as a special minister to the homebound before she retired to the Mount. As S. Noreen walks the neighborhood they wave, smile and greet one another. When her neighbors learn of a health concern among them, they ask S. Noreen to lead them in prayer for the person and the family. During COVID-19, when a neighbor suffered a heart attack, 18-20 of them gathered outside in the courtyard to pray; it is where they turn – relationships are built. They look out for one another and appreciate the variety of cultures present in the neighborhood. Neighborhood relationships are valued. Grace abounds. 7

God is Enough:

S. Annie Klapheke Professes Final Vows By Erin Reder


t wasn’t until the age of 26, and a graduate student at The Ohio State University, that S. Annie Klapheke first realized a call to religious life. Even though faith had always been central in her life; she was raised Catholic, went to a Catholic school and found life in her faith, discerning a call to religious life never crossed her mind. It wasn’t until a dear friend directly wrote to her and asked, “Have you ever thought about religious life?” that all her previous thoughts and feelings finally started to make sense.

correspond through mail. S. Tracy ultimately popped the question in a letter that changed her path’s trajectory. ‘Have you ever thought about religious life?’ S. Tracy wrote. ‘I think it would bring you a lot of joy.’ “When I read that question I thought, maybe that’s what I am looking for,” S. Annie recalls. “Maybe this is how you do it as an adult. I hadn’t considered it before. Looking back, I now see how I was being formed. I was desiring all the aspects of religious life but didn’t know it could be found in religious life until someone asked the question.”

Looking back now S. Annie S. Annie Klapheke professed perpetual vows during a Mass can see the Spirit at work. As on Saturday, May 7, 2022 in the Chapel of the Immaculate an undergraduate student at the Quickly she began discernment and Conception at the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse. University of Dayton, she says the soon found herself getting to know experience had a significant impact the Sisters of Charity Community. She was immediately in helping her grow in her faith and finding a love of living in connected to its welcoming spirit, vibrancy, joy and charism. intentional community. She lived with five other women and While there were fears and concerns, those were soon eased as felt drawn to that way of living. “UD was also my first taste of a her call became more and more clear. “It’s not that I didn’t at religious charism, the Marianist charism,” she recalls. “I wasn’t one time desire to get married or to start a family,” she says, familiar with religious orders but loved the Marianist charism “but I felt that this life was where God was calling me. There and it was a big part of my college experience. My time at UD were still hard moments to grapple with but I came to peace formed me and motivated me to do some full-time volunteer with that God had invited me to love in other ways.” work after graduation.” This call led S. Annie to Anchorage, Alaska, where she did a year of volunteer service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps of the Northwest, living in intentional community with seven other volunteers and working in a homeless day shelter in their social service office. She spent the year immersed in direct service, community living, intentionality, spirituality, simple living – and loved it! After her year in Alaska, it was time to return home and S. Annie was left craving the intentional living, service and faith life that she was steeped in while living in Alaska. She kept asking herself, ‘Where do you find these opportunities as an adult?’ She enrolled in graduate school to study nutrition and dietetics and as she continued to struggle with the question, a new question was posed to her that changed everything. Friends from UD, Sisters Tracy Kemme and Annie had kept in touch through the years and continued to 8

The Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse was filled with Sisters, Associates and close friends of Sisters Annie Klapheke and Tracy Kemme for the celebration. I n tercom

Sisters Annie Klapheke (front, center) and Tracy Kemme (back, left) process in to the May 7 liturgy.

One of the greatest blessings she received during the formation process was the relationships formed with many other Sisters of Charity. She met first-hand models of faithfilled women who were willing to go wherever they were called, and who trusted that God would use them in the best way they were needed in that time. She met wisdom figures, giant figures in the Community who modeled the true spirit of the Sisters of Charity. And while some have since passed – Sisters Annina Morgan, Paula Gonzalez, Florence Cremering and Kateri Maureen Koverman – she is grateful to have known them personally and to get a little touch of their spirit. In addition, through intentional community living at Casa de Caridad in Anthony, New Mexico, and the Novitiate House, Bayley House and now Visitation House here in

S. Annie Klapheke is most grateful for her parents Michael and Joann, who have been a source of love and support in her faith life from a young age. V ol u me I I , 2 0 2 2

(From left) Sisters Tracy Kemme, Monica Gundler (SC Leadership) and Annie Klapheke embrace following the liturgy on May 7, 2022.

Cincinnati, she found nourishment in the intentionality, daily living and prayer life; playing together, serving together, having meals together were all important in affirming that this is the life she is called to. “A huge part of my formation is the relationships I have formed with Sisters across congregations, especially in Giving Voice,” she adds. “All those women feel just as important in my vocation as my own Community members. I don’t feel that heaviness of diminishment. Of course there’s sadness in thinking of who we will say goodbye to but I still see so much life and vibrancy in religious life today and have so much hope for the future.” S. Annie’s faith and trust in God throughout this journey has guided her and brought her the certainty in knowing religious life was her call. Throughout the joys and struggles, the ups and downs, God has been faithful and led her to perpetual profession feeling at peace with this commitment as well as excitement and joy in knowing that it’s from a place of total freedom. 9

“I’m grateful for all the people God has gifted me with and who have led me to this point,” says S. Annie. “I look back at my life and see how my family and friends have been a part of my faith journey and how all the Community members and Sisters have helped form me and support me through it all. I am grateful I have a ministry [as a registered dietitian at the Good Samaritan Health Center in Price Hill] I truly enjoy and am continuing on the legacy of our Sisters that first started Good Samaritan Hospital.” Timing of her final vows was influenced by the pandemic, but S. Annie only looks at the added blessings it provided as she prepared to make that final commitment. “I feel like my life was a little (From left) newer members of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati Whitney Schieltz, Annie more spacious because of the pandemic,” she Klapheke, Tracy Kemme, Andrea Koverman and Romina Sapinoso gathered for the vow reflects. “A lot of the busyness and commitments Mass on May 7. came to a halt and there was more time for prayer and reflection. It drives home the point of being vocation journey, being the one who dared to ask the question able to trust in God and God being enough. When everything – have you ever considered religious life, S. Tracy directed else in life is turned upside-down, whether it be our personal S. Annie’s heart to the path she had been destined for. health, global health, jobs, economy, God is the one constant. And as she looks to the future with hope, S. Annie will The pandemic is a reminder of that. In this vocation that I’m continue to trust in God. She knows there will be changes to committing to, can God be enough? Yes, God is enough!” come, but she is confident that God will call the women who And fittingly, she made her commitment with S. Tracy Kemme by her side. During her liturgy on May 7, 2022, the Community gave thanks for S. Tracy, who professed her final vows in July 2020, during some of the most restrictive days of the pandemic. As an important companion in her own


are needed at that time, however many that might be. “I see a lot of hope and new life in our own congregation and across congregations,” she says. “There will be dying’s and letting go’s – but with each new letting go, there will be new life and resurrection that comes from that.”

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Sisters Barbara Hagedorn (left) and Mary Ann Humbert (right) served as mentors to Sisters Tracy and Annie throughout formation.

Community members and close friends gathered in the Cedars Auditorium to celebrate Sisters Annie Klapheke and Tracy Kemme.

During the liturgy on May 7, the Community gave thanks for S. Tracy Kemme, who professed her final vows in July 2020, during some of the most restrictive days of the pandemic.

Sisters and staff celebrated S. Annie Klapheke’s profession of final vows in Mother Margaret Hall nursing facility.

S. Tracy Kemme receives a huge hug from niece, Lucy. (From left) Sisters Annie Klapheke and Tracy Kemme receive a blessing from the Community. The pair were excited to have the opportunity to celebrate the special liturgy together. V ol u me I I , 2 0 2 2


Inventive to Infinity By S. Patricia Wittberg


common saying among the various congregations of Sisters and Daughters of Charity, derived from St. Vincent de Paul, is that we are to be “inventive to infinity” as we strive to respond to the emerging needs we see around us. At Light of Hearts Villa in Bedford, Ohio, Sisters Helen Therese Scasny, Anita Maroun and Regina Kusnir and many other Sisters of Charity have lived St. Vincent’s call for more than 35 years.*

be inventive to infinity. In 2001, the Vincentian Sisters of Charity entered into a 50/50 partnership with the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine so that, when the Villa residents needed more than assisted living, they could go to Regina Health Center for additional care. In 2004, after the Vincentian Sisters’ merger, the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati assumed responsibility for the VSC half of the partnership. In 2015, the Villa was transferred to the Sisters of Charity Health System of Cleveland, In the mid-1980s, it was becoming sponsored by the Augustinian SCs. obvious that the Sisters’ all-girls high Since then, the Villa has added more school, Lumen Cordium, was facing the services: it has doubled the capacity of prospect of declining enrollment. There To provide additional funding for Light of Hearts its memory care unit while still serving were 25 other Catholic high schools in Villa’s Benevolent Fund, S. Helen Therese its original mission of independent living, Cleveland, the final members of the Baby Scasny started the Villa’s Gift Shop and flea assisted living, and respite care. A key Boom generation were being replaced by a market where she continues to volunteer today. element of this mission is that no one much smaller age cohort, and the local allis ever made to leave because they can no longer pay: any boys Catholic high school had recently become coeducational. resident who runs out of funds and enrolls in Medicaid can S. Anita, the principal of Lumen Cordium, and the other Sisters looked for a new unmet need. And thus Light of Hearts still stay at the Villa. As many as 30 percent of the residents have done this and yet, in more than 30 years, the Villa has Villa was born. never operated in the red. Changing a high school into a free-standing assisted living Our Sisters are still a vital presence at Light of Hearts facility – the first one in Ohio at the time – truly required Villa, and still “inventive to infinity” maintaining its mission. “inventiveness to infinity.” Sisters Helen Therese and Regina S. Regina has been there for 16 years, most of that time as were in charge of coordinating the transformation: dividing director of pastoral and special ministries. In this role, she the classrooms into apartments, raising funding, and getting oversees the chapel and spiritual ministries. The Villa has a license from state officials who kept seeing Light of Hearts always had at least one priest living there, who provides Villa as a nursing home rather than as a home for the well liturgy and the sacraments consistently – even during the elderly. They sold all the school’s furnishings and equipment most restrictive days of the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID to pay the contractors, and got three-year loans from several restrictions truly required inventiveness: for example, S. Regina religious congregations – and paid them back within the created 10-minute Holy Week services in each of the Villa’s first three years of the Villa’s operation. They hired the same five hallways. Residents sat in the doorways of their rooms, architect who had originally designed the building, and whose reading portions of the day’s scriptures and praying together work won two design awards. In 1989 – two years after the while S. Anita led the singing, as the priests went from place high school had closed – Light of Hearts Villa was completed, to place. These services continued until the chapel could be nine months early and under budget. S. Helen Therese was used again. S. Regina also oversees the Seton Safety Net, an the first executive director, a position she held for the next 20 activity of the Villa’s Community Outreach Department. years. S. Anita served as her assistant for part of this period, This is a food closet for area seniors and also for staff if they and has filled other roles since: “everything from receptionist, are in need. The Seton Safety Net relies solely on donations to liturgist, to providing legal services to the residents as a civil of food and cash for grocery store gift cards. attorney” once she had completed her law degree. In the following years, changes in religious life and in the larger health care field provided more opportunities to 12

The Villa’s Benevolent Fund always needs additional money in order to cover the expenses that Medicaid does not. I n tercom

An employee of Light of Hearts Villa for the last 16 years, S. Regina Kusnir (left) is inspired by the residents, whose median age is 89.

Another opportunity for inventiveness to infinity – this one undertaken by S. Helen Therese’s Gift Shop and flea market. Residents and other people donate items that are sold on an honor system – there is no cash register, and people pay what they can. Prior to COVID, the gift shop had raised $20,000 for the Villa’s Benevolent Fund. Anything that is not bought is sent to nonprofits who provide homes for homeless men and women who have been discharged from hospitals. S. Helen still volunteers at the Gift Shop several times a week, as do numerous alumnae from Lumen Cordium High School, who still have a strong connection with the Villa and support it in various ways.

Through the years S. Anita Maroun has served in various capacities at Light of Hearts Villa, including receptionist, liturgist, and civil attorney.

When asked what inspires them about Light of Hearts Villa, S. Helen Therese said, “I love doing this because the residents have experienced hard times in their lives. They are religious and love their faith. I believe they should have the best care. We should respect them, love them, and help them in their journey towards God.” S. Regina is inspired by the residents, whose median age is 89 – several are more than 100. She says they take their mission of praying for the world V ol u me I I , 2 0 2 2

seriously. She loves doing Bible Study with them, even or especially those in the Memory Care Units, because “Faith is rooted in the heart, not in the brain.” S. Anita mentioned the staff, which she calls amazing – over half have been at the Villa for many years and are a community of people who care for each other. She cited an instance when a staff member’s son was severely injured: the rest of the staff donated 150 hours of their own sick leave and vacation time so that she could remain in the hospital with him. And every day at 11 a.m. they stopped for a minute of prayer for the boy.

The Sisters, the staff, and the residents of Light of Hearts Villa truly live the mission of the Vincentian and Sisters of Charity tradition to “make God’s love visible” in their ministry. And in the past 33 years, their “inventiveness to infinity” is a key reason why! * The Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati merged with the Vincentian Sisters of Charity of Bedford, Ohio, on June 27, 2004. The Vincentian Sisters made vows as Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati in a ceremony at Villa San Bernardo in Bedford. 13

S a n t a M a r i a C o mm u n i t y S e r vic e s : 1 2 5 y e a r s o f h e l p i n g f a mi l i e s h e l p t h e m s e l v e s

Santa Maria the middle years By S. Judith Metz


s Santa Maria moved into the 1930s, those who succeeded Sisters Justina and Blandina Segale built on a strong foundation with a mission to serve those in need regardless of religion, nationality, or ethnicity. Their ministry, grounded in strong faith and reliance on God, was located at 13th and Republic streets where it served as a symbol of stability, security, and compassion in its Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. The center offered a full line of programs serving its clientele from infancy to old age delivered by a small cadre of Sisters of Charity augmented by a professionally trained staff, and a strong complement of generous volunteers. In 1933, when S. Mary Kevin Keane was named director, she upgraded the equipment, furnishings, and program of Santo Bambino Day Nursery. The doors of Santa Maria opened each weekday at 6:30 a.m. when the Sisters and staff welcomed smiling, crying, and squirming tots as young as 18 months who settled in under the watchful eye of their caretakers. Free play and organized activities such as song, rhythmic dance and posture work filled their schedule. A snack break and dinner were included in the program along with a period of rest in the early afternoon. The 5-year-olds attended kindergarten from 9 a.m. until noon where they had a catechism lesson and activities that encouraged the development of their social and physical skills. Attendance at the day care center, using a graduated fee scale based on a family’s ability to pay, fluctuated according to economic and social conditions. During the Great Depression attendance was as low as 17; a decade later, when many mothers worked in defense plants and offices, 118 children were enrolled. The war-time increases were also due to an influx of families from Kentucky and Tennessee seeking employment in war production industries. Both the day care center and the kindergarten continued to serve many families in the post-war decades while the staff grew to include a doctor and a registered nurse. Exemplary of the dedication of staff, S. Maria Caritas Condon who served at Santa Maria from 1948-’56, was lauded by Msgr. Marcellus Wagner, director of Catholic Charities, as “the best social worker we ever had.” One Santa Maria mother wrote: “Please make special note of Sister Maria Caritas. We became acquainted with her in 1951 when my two younger children stayed at Santa Maria Day Nursery. She 14

Wood working, metal craft, and sports activities were available programs for boys at Santa Maria during the 1950s.

looked after us and helped us as though we were truly family,” securing food, clothing, and financial assistance. “Each year the children ask if they can’t go back to visit,” she said, “and each time they see a Sister on the street they say, ‘There’s one of our Sisters.’” Those who benefitted from Santa Maria’s programs did not forget. A former participant, living in Milford, Ohio, in the 1950s, wrote to the Cincinnati Post of a boy from Santa Maria who needed a bicycle in order to attend a trade school in another part of town. She was sure if the need was known assistance would be offered. The very day the article appeared a bicycle was on hand for the boy! On any given day, while the preschool and kindergarten programs were in full swing, hundreds of children from 17 area schools poured in to Santa Maria for after-school activities. Boy and Girl Scout Troops, averaging about 100 participants, met weekly, while classes for girls were available in sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crocheting. Santa Maria provided the materials while the children kept what they made. The youngest girls met in a “Little Women’s Club,” while the older ones could participate in home-making, child care and cooking arts. Wood working, metal craft, and sports activities were available for boys. For anyone interested, arts and crafts, glee club, dramatic arts, plastic work, and typing lessons were available. Most of these offerings continued to be available through Santa Maria’s summer programs. Of course, none of this could have been available without an extensive corps of hundreds of volunteers. These included many local women; religious brothers from several communities who taught woodworking and shop skills; College of Mount St. Joseph students who directed group activities; College of Music students who taught class I n tercom

piano; Sodalists from Xavier University who taught other instruments; and many high school volunteers, most notably from Seton High School whose students have contributed their services to Santa Maria for many decades, and continue to do so. Volunteers were always on hand to donate to and assemble Christmas baskets of food, clothing, and toys for the Santa Maria families. Outstanding among these was Mrs. Evelyn Maloney who, from 1951-1966, made ballet, square dancing and singing available to hundreds of young people at Santa Maria. Devoted to her profession as a dancer, Mrs. Maloney took deep satisfaction in instilling an appreciation for beauty and grace in the children. Each spring this dedicated teacher found herself knee-deep in satin, tulle, net, and sequins as costumes were created for the annual song and dance recital that gave excited students the opportunity to display their artistry. For her part, Mrs. Maloney considered each child “part of her family,” and found “much happiness” in her work. Evenings at Santa Maria were reserved for adult programs. The “Americanization” or “Citizenship” classes grew in importance with enrollment burgeoning during the World War II years. Michael Digerolamo, a social worker and teacher for many years, noted that about 85 percent of the people taking the class were illiterate in English. “So,” he said, “teaching citizenship involved not only history and civics, but also reading and writing.” Continuing S. Blandina’s emphasis, participants were encouraged to preserve their own culture, but add American ideals to them. A mother’s study and discussion club, Cana conferences, and social clubs were offered as well as a placement division and assistance with legal matters. The “Oldsters” club for those over 65 met one afternoon each week for a meal, games, and a social. Members

Dramatic arts was another after-school opportunity available to the children at Santa Maria. V ol u me I I , 2 0 2 2

S. Ludmilla Hartman ministered at Santa Maria for more than 20 years and became known as the “Doughnut Sister,” for always having an unlimited supply of the children’s favorite treat.

were thrilled when Sisters Elise Halloran and Agnes Celestia Schaumleffel from Mount St. Joseph provided joyful holiday music at one of their Christmas dinners. In addition to their scheduled programs, Santa Maria’s social workers offered guidance, consultation, and assistance to many individuals and families either in their offices or as part of an extensive program of home visits. During the summer Sisters of Charity, on break from teaching, were available to accompany them. The agency also offered lowincome housing opportunities on the upper floors of their building. Several Sisters along with a staff of about a dozen professionals managed the organization. From its founding Santa Maria experienced financial insecurity. When the agency became a member of Community Chest (later United Way) in 1916 it gained a degree of financial stability, but it also had a core of dedicated supporters. The Society of Willing Workers was an ongoing booster of the Institute’s efforts, and by the 1930s many of the Italian families who earlier received assistance became donors and volunteers. Their “Italian Club” sponsored a semi-annual Ravioli and Spaghetti Dinner, a colorful social event drawing close to a thousand people. Santa Maria Guild, founded in 1951 by wives of the Institute’s Board, was another source of assistance. Eventually growing to more than 200 members, these women sponsored annual garden fetes and clam bakes, with proceeds going to purchase equipment and supplies for the programs, as well as to maintain the facilities. In 1966, at the request of Community Chest, Santa Maria expanded its services to include the Southern Appalachian community in Lower Price Hill. While some programs remained at 13th and Republic streets, the after-school program was phased out. A new center in Lower Price Hill opened in a two-room storefront, but a year later moved to 15

Directors of Santa M aria Sisters Blandina and Justina Segale 1897-1932 S. Leonita Mulhall 1932-1933 S. Mary Kevin Keane 1933-1939 S. Kathleen O’Donnell 1939-1940 S. Agnes De Sales Molyneaux 1940-1942 S. Mary Omer Downing 1942-1947 S. Mary Paul Doyle 1947-1948 S. Marie Agnese Bonanno 1948-1954 S. Martina Marie Poirier 1954-1960 S. Ellen Joseph Walsh 1960-1964 S. Mary Rita Vieson 1964-1968 Edward Domit 1968-1970 David Crowley 1970-1973


Volunteer, Mrs. Evelyn Maloney, made ballet, square dancing and singing available to hundreds of young people at Santa Maria.

St. Michael Street, and soon opened an outreach office on Warsaw Avenue in East Price Hill. Changing its name to Santa Maria Neighborhood House, the agency directed its resources to projects such as the Lower Price Hill Community School, a Youth Service Bureau, a community health board, nonprofit housing corporations, a mother’s club, and tutoring. At the same time, social workers maintained a large volume of case work. S. Ludmilla Hartman was a staple through the years of transition from Overthe-Rhine to Lower Price Hill. Beginning her work at Santa Maria in 1959, this creative and caring personality took charge of the Oldsters Club, Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, arts and crafts, and “boys and girls of all ages.” When the children arrived for their after-school programs they always made a bee line for Sister. Somehow their activities were more enjoyable after their visit with the “Doughnut Sister” who seemed to have an unlimited supply of their favorite treat. When Santa Maria moved to Lower Price Hill, S. Ludmilla set up a scouting program and started a senior’s program called the “Get-Together-Club” that grew rapidly because she “always tried to take a personal interest in each one as they came to the door.” At their weekly meetings they were served a hot meal, which “for many would be the only hot one for a week.” Later they played cards or Bingo, and sang and danced along with S. Ludmilla who lovingly cared for each one of them. When she received a donation of equipment for a kitchen, she used it not only for their weekly meetings, but to teach Home Economics to teenagers from the area. Although she “officially retired” in 1980 at the age of 81, she continued to be involved with the “seniors” for another decade. By the late 1960s Santa Maria had evolved into an agency that was increasingly independent of the Sisters of Charity. In 1972, it incorporated as Santa Maria Community Services independent of the Sisters of Charity. Governed by a Board of Directors, it was fully prepared to move into the next phase of its long and storied journey of assisting the neediest in Cincinnati. I n tercom

A Heart for Service By Erin Reder


n April 2022, Associate in Mission Maureen Maxfield was honored by the Leadership Council for Nonprofits with the ‘Visionary Board Leader’ Leadership Legacy Award. The award honors an established and proven board member of a nonprofit organization in the Greater Cincinnati region who has led their organization through transformational change, weathered difficult circumstances, and demonstrated outstanding vision and achievement. To know Maureen is to understand that while she appreciates the accolades, she wishes the focus to remain on the organization for which she was honored – Santa Maria Community Services. Santa Maria became near and dear to Maureen years ago. As an employee of the Sisters of Charity Health Care Systems, (From left) Nune Sargsyan and Jenny Berg (executive director of the Leadership Council for she attended a Christmas party for the children Nonprofits at the time of the event) celebrate Maureen Maxfield at this year’s Leadership Council in Santa Maria’s day care at Seton High School for Nonprofits awards. in 1986. Years later, as the program officer at SC truly reflects the spirit of Elizabeth Seton and Sisters Blandina Ministry Foundation, she worked closely with and Justina Segale and their commitment to working with Santa Maria on its funding requests to the foundation. This connection only became stronger as a volunteer through Santa the vulnerable and marginalized. She says Santa Maria knows the needs of the neighborhood and determines what has to Maria’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program where she be done to help – a reason why the organization is known served as a tax preparer for 10 years. throughout the Price Hill neighborhood as trustworthy and With a heart for service and the Charity charism, dependable. Maureen began serving on the board at Santa Maria in 2017. Maureen has had the opportunity to meet many local She was the co-chair of the development committee before people who have a passion for the organization’s mission and taking on the position of committee chair. Included in the a deep love and appreciation for the Sisters of Charity. In initiatives that she has introduced are the Sr. Margarita Brewer Hope Fund, Sister Blandina and Sister Justina Founders Fund preparation of the anniversary she herself has connected with many community members to hear their stories and ties to and the H.A. Musser Anniversary Fund. the organization and the SCs. She has unearthed countless Board chair Guillermo Villa, said, “Since joining stories of gratitude; stories of service, faith and generosity. the board, Maureen has been a catalyst in our area of An Associate of the Sisters of Charity since 2002, the development. She not only provides exceptional leadership spirit of the Community continues to call and guide her to our development committee, but is never afraid to roll today. She looks to the future of Santa Maria with hope and up her sleeves and support the organization as a volunteer excitement and it motivates her to continue to educate others herself. Her passion for Santa Maria Community Services is about the services and impact the organization has today contagious.” Added S. Patmarie Bernard, “Maureen has been on the Price Hill community. And while humble, Maureen invaluable to Santa Maria Community Services, presenting is grateful for this most recent honor, as it too allows her to many good ideas for their financial well-being.” continue to bring the organization and its services into the Maureen has been particularly involved with the spotlight. planning and celebrations related to the organization’s 125th anniversary and wants people to know that Santa Maria V ol u me I I , 2 0 2 2


Meeting Her Grace By S. Joan Elizabeth Cook


Victoria Marie Forde, a Sister of Charity for 75 years, is a model of wholeheartedness, quiet determination, concern for those who are marginalized, and appreciation for history. She was born in Ashtabula, Ohio, the first of three daughters to Mary and Lewis Forde. Her sister Justine is deceased and her youngest sister Jacquelyn lives in Westerville, Ohio. S. Victoria attended elementary schools in Cleveland Heights and East Cleveland, and attended Ursuline Academy of the Sacred Heart in Cleveland for her first year of high school. Then the family moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where their mother found relief from the asthma she suffered. S. Victoria and her sisters enrolled at St. Vincent Academy at the beginning of S. Victoria’s sophomore year.

Latin and history teacher. S. Miriam Clare Glandorf also taught in the school, and helped Victoria get ready for the Community. S. Victoria entered the Community on Sept. 7, 1947 and made first vows on Aug. 15, 1949. She then studied at the Teachers College of the Athenaeum of Ohio, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. Her first students were in primary and intermediate grades at St. Mary’s, Hyde Park; St. Francis Xavier, Pueblo; Cathedral in Denver; Pauline Memorial, Colorado Springs; and St. Saviour, Rossmoyne (Cincinnati). She enjoyed encouraging the children’s creativity.

For several years S. Victoria taught high school students at Carroll High School in Dayton and St. Mary’s, Albuquerque. Her mentor, S. Eugene S. Victoria Marie Forde (back) was born in S. Victoria was attracted immediately Ashtabula, Ohio, the oldest of three daughters. Fox, encouraged her to invite the to the Sisters at St. Vincent’s. She found students to discover in literature that their them to be very welcoming women and fine teachers, and concerns united them with the whole human family of God. their range of ministries appealed to her. S. Winifred Keyes’ S. Victoria earned a Master’s Degree in English at the stories of her missionary experiences in China broadened University of Notre Dame in the summers, then continued S. Victoria’s horizons. And she appreciated the encouragement full-time, earning a Ph.D. in English in 1973. An unexpected she received from S. Victoria Waldron, who was S. Victoria’s joy during that time was having the opportunity to ice skate again. After moving from Cleveland to New Mexico, she found her skates to be few and far between. When she learned the University had an outdoor rink that was open to the public every day at noon, she was thrilled! During her time at Notre Dame she also spent a summer studying at the University of London, England. Then in spring 1982 she served as administrative assistant and rector for the Notre Dame program in London. She began teaching at the College of Mount St. Joseph in 1973, immersing herself in the life of the College, teaching Humanities, literature, writing and Women’s Studies courses. She took a special interest in the women of nontraditional age, creating programs and courses that enabled them to study within the constraints of their responsibilities as mothers. S. Victoria Marie Forde (far left, facing camera) helped establish the Women’s Studies program at the College of Mount St. Joseph in 1973 along with three other colleagues. 18

S. Victoria willingly accepted opportunities to promote women’s gifts. She addressed the Cincinnati Archdiocesan I n tercom

Priests Senate on the subject of Inclusive Language and Imagery; served on the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center Women Church committee; and gave a presentation for the celebration of 125 years of SC ministry in New Mexico. She explained that, in those early years, “Epidemics were not unusual and during these the Sisters gave up their food and beds, and slept on the floor while the patients were two in a bed. S. Catherine [Mallon] tells about nursing from 5 a.m. until midnight and once for two weeks all night with little rest during the day.”

Liberal Studies over 21 years old at the College of Mount St. Joseph.”

Through the years S. Victoria dedicated herself to social change.

In 1988 S. Victoria received the Sister Adele Clifford Distinguished Teaching Award from the College of Mount St. Joseph. The College honored her again with the Faculty Appreciation Award in 2006. The citation read, “A professor with a passion for teaching. A writer inspired by literature. A Sister of Charity dedicated to social change. These qualities of Sister Victoria Marie Forde inspired countless traditional undergrads, Weekend College students, and adult women in

After nineteen years at the Mount, a sabbatical experience led to a new chapter in S. Victoria’s life. Her years in Albuquerque had introduced her to the richness of the Hispanic culture, such as the processions and festivities to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe. So during her sabbatical, she became more fluent in the Spanish language at the Mexican American Cultural Center in San Antonio, Texas.

A retired Air Force colonel and his wife invited her to help with migrant ministry in the Cincinnati Archdiocese. She visited migrant camps, especially in Tipp City, Troy, and New Carlisle. There she taught GED and English as a Second Language classes and taught children through the Ohio Migrant Education Center, serving as liaison between schools, principals, counselors, teachers, and children. Rural Opportunities, Inc. helped her secure funding for books for migrants. She involved area college students in tutoring the migrant children in the summers, and helped with quinceañera celebrations. Reflecting on this ministry, S. Victoria voiced her humble gratitude that she experienced the “preferential option for the poor.” She was “transformed more and more deeply by the migrants, their deep faith in God in the midst of their oppression, their love of family and joy in community, and their love and acceptance of me.” Recognizing her diminishing physical energy, she organized volunteer groups to continue the work. And she served as Contact Sister for the first SC Associate in Volunteer Ministry, John O’Connor, a teacher and coach at Catholic Central High School in Knoxville, Tennessee. John spent a summer as a tutor and recreation organizer in the Ohio migrant camps. S. Victoria continued volunteering in Guatemala with S. Sarah Mulligan, participating in weekend prayer vigils at the School of the Americas, and working at Su Casa in Cincinnati. The National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York, honored S. Victoria with a plaque on the Women’s Wall of Fame, commenting, “You are to be commended for steadfast dedication to your family, friends, and community.” In the SC Archives she processed the Seton Writings and S. Blandina Segale material, and began interviewing Sisters in Mother Margaret Hall, recording more than forty oral histories for the Archives. She continues to record the oral histories of our Sisters in Mother Margaret Hall, creating a valuable record of the women on whose shoulders we stand. S. Victoria Marie Forde earned a Master’s Degree in English at the University of Notre Dame followed by a Ph.D. in English in 1973.

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A Journey Going Forward By S. Regina Kusnir


ife is filled with celebrations great and small. A Sister of Charity for many years, S. Juanita Marie Gonzales reflects on some of those celebrations, and the ones still taking place. She sees them in light of the ongoing history of the Community. The saints who brought the Community into being, those who have gone before us, the younger members who bring new perspectives – they all converge and find her giving thanks to God who continues our evolution. This outlook is rich in God’s blessings. It enables us to change and minister to those who need our spirituality and love. S. Juanita was born in a now non-existent southern New Mexico mining town, Santa Rita, that was taken over by a copper mine. Santa Fe is now the locus for her large family, seven girls, seven boys, many nieces and nephews and their families. She says, “In my family, practicing our faith was part of our everyday life. Holy Mass was never missed and the rosary was prayed daily. If we did not attend Holy Mass, we could not go out with our friends.” The strength of this familial faith sensitized her to meet the needs of those who could benefit from her care.

Journey to the Sisters of Charity The young Juanita went to Santa Fe to study nursing. There her vocation with the Sisters of Charity was born. She started to dream about being a Sister but kept saying, “No, no, no.” Then one day she and a Sister were feeding little ones at St. Vincent Hospital and Sister said to her, “You are thinking of becoming a Sister.” “I said, ‘No, no Sister, I am not.’” Later she asked her, “What are you?” as her family never met

S. Juanita Marie Gonzales (center) ministered in Poland for six years, teaching English in a boarding school for girls.

religious Sisters even for catechism in her hometown. “When I eventually told my mother what I was thinking she told me, ‘Forget that and come home.’ The Lord did not let go and I have been a Sister of Charity for 62 years.” Throughout the years St. Elizabeth Seton has been her inspiration. Elizabeth appeals to so many mothers, converts, widows, single parents, teachers, etc. She says, “I am inspired by her devotion to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, as she would think when she looked to the Catholic Church, ‘They have the real Presence.’”

Ministerial Journey S. Juanita always wanted to be a nurse. A back injury cut that ministry short and she became an educator. She began her teaching career in Michigan where she nurtured third graders at the Shrine of the Little Flower. She went on to Jackson, then to Lansing where she taught at St. Mary’s Cathedral School which later merged with Holy Cross School, run by the Sisters of Mercy. When the Mercy Sisters left the school, S. Juanita became principal for 17 years.

S. Juanita Marie Gonzales began her almost 30-year education ministry in Michigan in 1964. 20

Next came a transatlantic post in Poland where she taught English in a boarding school for girls. The six years in Poland were marked with summer trips home to reconnect with Sisters and family. During these years, she had the opportunity to travel to a number of European countries and to visit Rome. While there Sept. 11 occurred in the U.S. and I n tercom

longer needed in the parish where she was a minister. Sister is a blessing because she prepares older students who come in seventh and eighth grades who have not received their sacraments. These students must come to the regular class and then on Sundays to meet with S. Jo and she prepares them.”

A Journey Back Home “Coming to Santa Fe was a blessing in that I was close to family for the first time. Mom was still alive when I arrived. It was a joy to be able to see her often as well as my brothers, sisters and their families. When Mom died, we were six generations strong. I was privileged to prepare Mom’s Mass.” A blessing of ministering to many persons over numerous years is the development of good friendships. S. Juanita maintains connections with individuals from each of the places where she has ministered. This summer she is going to a reunion in Michigan and will meet with former students who are now parents and grandparents. S. Juanita Marie Gonzales (center) met the Sisters of Charity as a nurse at St. Vincent Hospital in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

she remembered the kindness of the Polish people and her desire to return home. She completed this assignment and returned in 2001. S. Juanita began preparing to assist S. Sarah Mulligan in Guatemala when a health issue arose and that ministry became impossible. Instead, God used S. Lorraine Delisle to let her know that Fr. Frank Pretto in Santa Fe was looking to hire a Sister who spoke Spanish. S. Juanita answered the call and for 19 years now she has been the director of the Faith Formation Program in the parish of San Isidro and the mission of San Jose. She is proud of this program that has developed over the years. “The program is not just for the preparation for sacraments, but a program of faith formation that covers the 10 years from first grade to age 16. Over the years the students are prepared for and receive First Communion in third grade, Reconciliation in grade four and Confirmation in their second year of high school. I have been very fortunate to get Catechists every year.” S. Juanita experiences many joys in her ministry; first in ministering with a collaborative priest and catechists. She has been able to implement changes for the good of first communicants and their parents. “The parents select the day and Holy Mass during May or June for the First Communion,” she explains. “The child sits with their parents and they are all recognized during the Mass. Another change was to place the Sacrament of Reconciliation into the fourth grade when the children have a better understanding of the sacrament. “Another joy is the blessing of S. Josephine who was no V ol u me I I , 2 0 2 2

Sisters of Charity have ministered in New Mexico since the 1800s. Sisters and Associates in the area frequently got together to meet, pray and socialize before COVID altered that and many other things since 2020. The gift of technology is a blessing that helps in communication. The journey of S. Juanita throughout her 62 years as a Sister of Charity is an adventurous journey. She is a joy-filled woman with great love for the people of God. S. Juanita brought her faith and her gifts and talents to many different ministries, in different places, each with joys and challenges. In the words of St. Elizabeth Seton, who is her inspiration: “Why, Faith lifts the staggering soul on one side, Hope supports it on the other. Experience says it must be, and Love says – let it be” (from Elizabeth’s letter to Julianna Scott).

For the past 19 years, S. Juanita Marie Gonzales (standing, left) has served as the director of the Faith Formation Program in the parish of San Isidro and the mission of San Jose in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 21

Collaborators in Creation By S. Caroljean Willie


n his call for an ecological conversion, Pope Francis writes: “The human person grows more, matures more and is sanctified more to the extent that he or she enters into relationships, going out from themselves to live in communion with God, with others and with all creatures. Everything is interconnected and this invites us to develop a spirituality of that global solidarity which flows from the mystery of the Trinity … we are called to an integral ecology which includes taking time to recover a serene harmony with creation, reflecting on our lifestyle and our ideals, and contemplating the Creator who lives among us and surrounds us.”

anew. We strive to continue giving voice to Paula’s vision through our work at EC.

We offered multiple presentations via webinars this year on topics which would broaden our vision and offer ideas to engage more actively as “collaborators in creation.” S. Colette Kane, OP, offered a program from Wicklow, Ireland on An Tairseach whose mission is to raise awareness of the place of the human as part of the web of life through practice and education. Associate Kathy McDonald gave a presentation on native plants, and international artist and filmmaker, Imogene Drummond, offered two sessions on “Ecospirituality through Local Girl Scout troops the Eyes of an Artist.” S. Maureen Wild, continue to visit EarthConnection SC, joined us from Gabriola Island, Canada to learn about sustainability. to speak on Hildegard of Bingen and her We know now from new awareness, almost a thousand years ago, of revelations in both science and theology that creation is an the interconnectedness of all creation. unfolding drama in which new possibilities of existence are Presentations were offered by Sisters Winnie Brubach, progressively embodied and realized. We are being asked to Caroljean (Cj) Willie and Associate Sue DiTullio to audiences let go of ideas and beliefs that no longer fit our reality and to from Mount St. Joseph University, Cincinnati State, and embrace a worldview in which we are, in the words of Pierre on Earth Day at our Motherhouse on recognizing our Teilhard de Chardin, “Collaborators in creation.” Our own interconnectedness and our responsibility to work daily S. Paula Gonzalez, the founder of EarthConnection (EC), towards a world that reflects harmony and sustainability. recounted how the photo of Earth from space transformed Multiple Girl Scout troops continue to visit EC to learn her life and through the years she challenged us to see creation about sustainability. A new picnic table and another bench were obtained through the collection of plastic caps and lids; a project originally started with the Girl Scouts but now extends to donations from throughout the country. S. Winnie and the “Garden Ladies” are already harvesting fresh vegetables for the clients at the Good Samaritan Free Health Center. S. Winnie and Sue are also working with a local landscaping company to complete new gardens in front of EC with all native plants.

Mount St. Joseph University students sort caps for Ec’s Caps to Benches project. 22

S. Cj has given multiple presentations on environmental topics through the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, at Little Flower and St. Leo parishes, at our congregational Spring Forum, through the Sisters of Charity Earth Network, for SC Associates and for the Sisters of Charity of Greensburg, Pennsylvania. She also continues to work with the SC congregation, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and the national inter-diocesan committee on implementing the Laudato Si’ Action Platform. I n tercom

On the Journey Together Contributed by Associate Vicki Welsh


ccompanying an Associate Candidate as she/he travels the journey of discernment to becoming an Associate in Mission of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati is crucial in creating a vibrant Family of Charity. The following Associates share their experiences with the process and the connections built along the way. Associate Maggi Yocis says that being asked to companion Faith Kemper on her road to becoming an Associate was very humbling. Maggi explains she has a long education history of the Catholic faith but was still a little hesitant at first. “Yes, I went through 16 years of Catholic schools so I have a good base,” she says, “but feeling prepared to give retreats – no. Faith – yes. I finally realized that was not the point of the process. Associates of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati study the lives and beliefs and have the charism to follow Saints Elizabeth Seton, Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac. That I could help to walk the journey.” When they started the process in 2021, a whole new way of doing things was starting. Due to the pandemic, they would be working together virtually. Both women are comfortable with technology, and felt confident in trying out this new way of companionship. “So off we went,” remembers Maggi. “Faith in Northern Kentucky and me in Durham, North Carolina. (I should say that Faith and I have been friends for many years, movie buddies when I still lived in Cincinnati.) Step-by-step we read and reviewed all of the readings.” Over the next year the pair would have long phone conversations about what they had read or listened to. Faith said in her discernment statement that she appreciated the uninterrupted time for prayer, introspection, reading, journaling, studying and reflection – as well as a kinship with SC founders and trailblazers. On Feb. 13, 2022, Faith made her commitment as an Associate in Mission. All were welcome to attend the Zoom ceremony that had pictures of the Motherhouse chapel, music (recorded and live harp playing thanks to Associate Nancy Clark), prayers and readings. Faith’s baby granddaughter, Metra, even attended the special ceremony. “Far and wide the journey to becoming an Associate with the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati can be done very successfully in a remote setting,” says Maggi. “It can be done between friends or between persons who have never met one another. It can be done from far reaching places like North Carolina and Northern Kentucky. It can be rewarding and faithfilled. And the ceremony at the end can be beautiful.” Associate Peggy Brockman companioned Phyllis Finch through her discernment process. The two met during a women’s retreat at St. Frances Cabrini in Florida. Peggy explains, “The main subject of the retreat was St. Elizabeth Seton. So many women marveled at the life of Elizabeth, including Phyllis. I was so elated to have them so ‘fired up’ that I did not want to wait long before I began mentoring them.”

Intercom is the official 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 209 Sisters are joined in their mission by 205 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 17 U.S. dioceses and in two foreign countries. 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 Director of Communications S. Georgia Kitt Executive Council Liaison S. Monica Gundler Advisory Board Members: Veronica Buchanan S. Mary Ann Flannery S. Tracy Kemme S. Joyce Richter Debbie Weber Vicki Welsh Letters to the editor, articles and photos are welcome. The staff reserves the right to edit for space and readability. Make submissions to: Communications Office 5900 Delhi Road Mount St. Joseph, OH 45051 Phone: 513-347-5447 Fax: 513-347-5467 Email: Subscriptions: $15 per year

Then, the pandemic hit, making things a little more challenging than in the past. As with any challenge, they adapted and began meeting outdoors and with masks to learn about the charism of the Community. Peggy described Phyllis as a studious member who bought every book and collected a lot of information on Elizabeth and the Sisters of Charity history.” She remains grateful to God for her friendship with Phyllis and was thankful for her generosity and faith-filled contributions to the group. Says Phyllis, “When I joined I was mentored by a saint. Being an Associate has enriched my life; our meetings here and on Zoom challenge me. I now volunteer at two outreach ministries of St. Vincent de Paul, something I would not have thought of without the influence of the Sisters of Charity and the Associates. I know the Lord is moving in my life and causing me to grow in faith and trust and [the Community] plays a large part in that.” V ol u me I I , 2 0 2 2

5900 Delhi Road Mount Saint Joseph, OH 45051 sistersofcharityofcincinnati 23

5900 Delhi Road Mount Saint Joseph, OH 45051

12 At Light of Hearts Villa in Bedford, Ohio, Sisters Helen Therese Scasny, Anita Maroun and Regina Kusnir (pictured) are living St. Vincent de Paul’s call to be “inventive to infinity.”

3 S. Christine Okpomeshine, a former Handmaid of the Holy Child Jesus, was welcomed into the Charity Family and celebrated by Sisters and her family members during a spring gathering weekend for the Community.

S. Winnie Brubach and the “Garden Ladies” at EarthConnection harvest fresh vegetables for the clients at the Good Samaritan Free Health Center in Price Hill.