S I S T E R S
C H A R I T Y
C I N C I N N AT I
W Contents FEATURES Serving in the Now .................................10 S. Cathy Cahur’s life and ministry in San Francisco, California. Q & A With Associate Mary Wall ...........12 Get to know the Colorado Springs Associate. Blooming Relationships...........................13 Sisters and ﬁrst grade Daisy Troop members develop friendships. Chapter Opens with Prayerful Spirit ......14 The 2015 Chapter determines direction for next 10 years. Mother to Mother ...................................23 Associate Katie Klus describes her connection with Elizabeth Seton. A Vision That Keeps Unfolding...............24 The global vision that continues to grow since S. Stephanie Lindsey.
DEPARTMENTS OPJCC .....................................................6 Defending Human Rights Vocation/Formation ..................................7 Incorporating Cultural Diversity in Religious Life Celebrating Our Founder ........................22 Elizabeth the Mother Timeless Treasures ...................................26 Woodwork from Elizabeth Seton’s Paca Street home. On the Cover: The statue of Sisters of Charity founder Elizabeth Seton was created by S. Peggy Boudette, SC-NY. 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.
hat a strange winter in Cincinnati – only two weeks of heavy snow with below-zero temperatures followed by three weeks of heavy rain before the official first day of spring. Yet, spring cannot be stopped. Looking out my window, spring has arrived with colorful crocuses, abundant daffodils, singing birds and greening grass awakening me to the season of new life. With spring we begin the work of preparing the soil for summer planting. It takes extra energy and time to prepare the ground for the vegetables, herbs and wide variety of flowers to be planted. But, as all gardeners know, this preparation is essential for the laying of a good foundation to receive the moisture of the rains and the warmth of the day. In this spring Intercom, Chapter 2015 will be highlighted. You will read about the energy and time taken to prepare the “soil” of our hearts and minds (starting 18 months prior) in laying a good foundation for the “seeds” to be planted as we live into 2025. Calling on the Holy Spirit to open our hearts to “Hazard Yet Forward,” we asked the question, “What is God calling us to?” Our directions for the next 10 years are both exciting and challenging. As spring awakes the world to the hidden potential of the Mother Earth, Pope Francis calls religious men and women to wake up the world with their joy! Articles about our Open House and celebration of National Catholic Sisters Week; the Office of Peace, Justice and Care for Creation (OPJCC); Vocations; and the lives of Sisters and Associates committed to the joy of the Gospel challenge us to “turn over” some solid-packed soil or beliefs, so God’s call to care for all God’s people will blossom in compassion, joy and love. Our seasons are about transitions, change and growth in our life. As we journey together, let us listen to the stirrings deep within as we apply the call of the Gospel to the needs of our brothers and sisters on the margins and of all creation. In deep gratitude,
S. Lois Jean Goettke
Mem-bits This column by S. Benedicta Mahoney offers brief glimpses of the past, tiny bits of memories. Do you remember? Were you there? Did you know? June 3, 1921 – A disastrous flood wiped out one-fourth of the city of Pueblo, Colorado, and claimed over 400 lives. St. Mary’s Hospital was not hit, but the 19 Sisters of Charity on the staff worked tirelessly to tend to the injured and even found time to assist in restoring the devastated city. April 24, 1929 – Three young women became the first postulants in the newly formed Vincentian Sisters of Charity of Bedford, Ohio.
The Vincentian Postulants of 1929 – Sisters Mary Bernarda Artway, M. Bonaventure Janis, and M. Joseph Slavic.
Aug. 15, 1938Nov. 11, 1938 – For 87 days, during the SinoJapanese War, the Sisters of Charity in Wuchang, China, had to evacuate St. Joseph Compound because active warfare had reached their city. They found refuge in the French Concession in Hankow. Upon their return home, the Sisters found The convent at St. Joseph Compound in Wuchang, China. misery everywhere – 100 refugees awaiting care in the hospital and many of the outer buildings ransacked. Their convent, however, had not been touched. Their valuable possessions had been hidden in their cellar.
Please visit “In Memoriam” at www.srcharitycinti.org for biographical information and reﬂections on the Sisters of Charity and Associates who have died. May our Sisters and Associates enjoy the fruits of their labor as well as peace with their God. S. Joan Carole Schaffner May 16, 2015 S. John Catherine Gumbert March 17, 2015 Associate Kenneth Horney February 27, 2015 Associate Claire Wirt February 20, 2015
Jan. 4, 1953 – Archbishop Edwin V. Byrne dedicated the newly erected St. Vincent Hospital in Santa Fe, New Mexico. A national publication, Hospital Progress, featured St. Vincent’s and declared it “not the largest nor the most magnificent, but few equal it in completeness.” Jan. 6, 1963 – Bishop Charles Buswell of Pueblo, Colorado, dedicated the Elizabeth Seton Postulancy. The Western Postulate had been located in the North Wing of St. Mary-Corwin Hospital since August 1961.
The stained-glass window in the chapel of the Western Postulate in Pueblo, Colorado.
Hazard Yet Forward! By S. Christine Rody
ack in the fall of 2013, last words of our Charism the Leadership Council Statement, first expressed 30 set in motion the years ago, resounded through planning for the Chapter of the CPC meetings in light 2015. Facilitators were engaged of the Chapter theme. The and a request for volunteers committee members opened to form the Chapter Planning their ponderings on questions Committee (CPC) was sent to Sisters at large: “Where out. Nine Sisters responded, are we on the continuum who with two Sisters from of risk-taking? What/why/ the Council, Lois Jean how do we resist? What Goettke and Christine Rody, is the reservoir of wisdom formed the Chapter Planning and insight that can help us Committee. Fifteen weekend navigate the ambiguity and meetings and countless shorter Members of the Chapter Planning Committee are (front, from left) S. Janet challenge unfolding around Gildea, S. Marge Kloos, S. Marty Dermody, (back, from left) S. Ruth Kuhn, meetings of the whole group us?” (CPC minutes, 3/8/14, Donna Fyffe (facilitator), S. Suzanne Donovan, S. Mary Catherine Faller, Mark and subcommittees later, the p 6). These ponderings, Clark (facilitator), S. Christine Rody, S. Marianne Van Vurst, S. Mary Caroline Chapter happened, setting concentrated and distilled Marchal, S. Lois Jean Goettke and S. Sandy Howe. direction to help us look to by the Chapter, resulted 2025 and electing Leadership in four calls to movement for the next four years. In this Intercom are the details of that focused, “intentionally toward the vulnerabilities of our weeklong listening intently to the Spirit and the specifying Earth and our brothers and sisters” (Chapter working paper, directions of our Hazarding Yet Forward. 3/6/15). Sharing a deepening spirituality through networking, especially with young seekers and people on the margins, Reflecting on the process of preparation for the Chapter enflamed the hearts of delegates and led to the first specific call. might present the elements of a model for good post-Chapter Stewarding the earth toward environmental sustainability and action. Rereading the minutes of about half of those 15 its intertwining implications for us as a Congregation created meetings called to mind the openness, dedication, willingness the second movement call. Considering personal and communal to do hard and sometimes tedious work, spirited conversations, relationships almost as far as we could imagine was whittled into deep reflectiveness, passion for community and mission of the practical yet far-reaching steps in the third movement. Finally, members of the committee and all the others they engaged in the fourth movement call toward knowing better and responding getting ready for our communal event. By assessing our internal to the needs of those at the margins of society captured our and external realities, through surveys, compiled statistics and continuous reading of the times and our adjusting practical small group discussions, the committee verified what it had responses to what God has let us see. projected at its first meeting: that the Congregation needed “fluidity, flexibility, capacity to move on” (CPC minutes, 12/14/13, p 4). An overarching desire to keep all involved in the unfolding of the process led to involvement of the generous Communications Office and technological components like the Chapter Chat, live streaming and use of Survey Monkey. A desire to use existing channels of sharing ideas connected the Chapter process to our small groups and Fall Congregational Days. Determining the theme and creating the logo touched back into our history and out to the Community at large for designs. The length of preparation time enabled a reflective, unrushed process.
What can we learn from the experience of the CPC that might be helpful as we Hazard Yet Forward? Be engaged, be realistic about and creative with data, involve as many interested people as possible, share with others as processes go on, use the wisdom of those who have tried similar ideas/plans, be reflective and open to the Holy Spirit. Whatever your relationship with the Sisters of Charity, we invite you to Hazard Yet Forward with us, knowing we have all been given a purpose, energy and insight. We have and can count on companions to help us see that purpose unfold and to encourage us along the way.
We say of ourselves, “we dare to risk a caring response.” These 4
C O M M U N I T Y C E L E B R AT E S
National Catholic Sisters Week
Employees await the debut of the Sister-employee video created for NCSW while enjoying rootbeer floats.
isters, Associates and employees came together to honor women religious as part of National Catholic Sisters Week, March 8-14, 2015. Inaugurated in 2014, the week’s purpose is to bring greater awareness to Catholic Sisters – to make them more known and visible on a broad national level. Throughout the week, on the Sisters of Charity website and social media, Sisters – past and present – were featured highlighting the significant role they have played in our country’s and world’s history. Sponsored ministries joined in the celebration, giving thanks to the Community and the many Sisters who have served their organizations throughout the years. In addition, involvement from our friends on social media was requested. An invitation was sent asking Facebook friends to name a Sister of Charity who has made a difference in their life and to describe her in one word. So many responses were received that a “Thank You” video was created in their honor and shared digitally. The Motherhouse was abuzz in the weeks leading up to NCSW. Sisters and employees came together to create a fun, light-hearted video celebrating their relationships. Put to the song “Walking on Sunshine,” the video debuted at a gathering mid-week. Sisters and employees enjoyed root beer floats and the opportunity to spend quality time together. A common theme throughout the week was the gratitude expressed from so many individuals who have developed relationships with women religious throughout their lifetime. Bringing awareness to the lives of these incredible women and the contributions they have made to all our lives, will hopefully enable more young women to learn about women religious, and to choose to follow their example.
(From left) Linda Lewis, S. Rose William Herzog and Marlene Kassem celebrate National Catholic Sisters Week together.
(From left) Environmental Services technician Maribel Breckenridge with S. Rita Hawk.
(From left) Lenny Doerflein, S. Marty Dermody and Lenny Kleiner take a “Sister Selfie” during the March 11 event. 5
Defending Human Rights By Debbie Weber, OPJCC director
“We cannot live in a culture of indifference. We cannot discard people.” - Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, SDB
ardinal Rodríguez speaks my language: social and creation justice. When he visited the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in March of this year, I attended his talk at St. Gregory the Great Chapel at The Athenaeum of Ohio. I quickly realized Cardinal Rodríguez had not changed much since I met him in 1999. He still has a grand smile, a sense of humor and is quick to talk about his passion: those who live in poverty, those who are hungry, those who are vulnerable. That evening he told us: “We cannot live in a culture of indifference. We cannot discard people.” Rodríguez is a Honduran Cardinal and is the current Archbishop of Tegucigalpa. He was personally asked by Pope Francis to be the chairman of the Council of Cardinal Advisors. Rodríguez is in his second term as president of Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican social justice ministry assisting those who live in poverty, of all faiths, around the world. He joined other faith leaders at the Interfaith Summit on Climate Change this past September because he feels that “when hunger and poverty turn every day into a battle for survival, climate change loads the dice against the poor.” Rodríguez was the Vatican’s spokesman with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank on the issue of third world debt. That is when I, and several others from Cincinnati, had a private audience with then Archbishop Rodríguez on July 31, 1999, in Tegucigalpa. It was my first trip to Honduras and I went back five more times to this country where drug cartels, gangs, corrupt officials and stark poverty are juxtaposed by the beauty of mountains, jungles, turquoise coastal waters and the Honduran people. Representing the U.S. and supporting the Bread for the World Jubilee Campaign, my group participated at ground level of what was to be the design and implementation of an international program of debt relief for highly indebted, lowincome countries, allowing them to expand basic education and health services. Archbishop Rodríguez helped us to understand the grave situation of his people. According to Rodríguez, in the 1960s Honduras borrowed approximately $70 million from the World Bank to build a dam for a power plant. Because there were no caps on the interest rates, they increased. By 1998, Honduras had paid $250 million
Associate Debbie Weber (front row, second from left) and several others from Cincinnati had a private audience with Archbishop Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, SDB, in 1999, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
in interest for this loan, but still owed the original $70 million. This was a typical scenario of many indebted countries. Then Hurricane Mitch hit in October 1998. Honduras was the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere before Mitch. The hurricane destroyed $6 billion worth of infrastructure and killed over 5,000 people. Honduras had to borrow more money to rebuild. Without the help of debt relief, the poorest of the poor living in Honduras had no hope of climbing out of their poverty. When Honduras was granted approximately $1 billion in debt relief in 2005, Rodríguez cautioned that if Honduras did not end its “corruption addiction, any debt relief or donation would not be useful.” He was right. Today, Honduras is the second poorest country in Central America and has the highest murder rate in the world. Perpetrators of murder and other violent crimes, commonly the police and military, are rarely brought to justice. There is rampant crime and impunity for human rights abuses. Young people often join gangs because of lack of opportunity, and many times because they are forced to join. It is no wonder that thousands of Hondurans flee the country. Cardinal Rodríguez continues to be a defender of human rights and an advocate against poverty. He continues to challenge leaders of the world’s richest nations to keep their promises to increase and improve development aid to the world’s poorest countries. He challenges Catholics to take a leadership role to protect all of creation, including our Earth. Sources: Caritas Internationalis Human Rights Watch International Monetary Fund INTERCOM
Incorporating Cultural Diversity
in Religious Life
Women entering religious life in the United States today are more likely to be from diverse cultural backgrounds.
By S. Patricia Wittberg
omen entering religious life in the United States today are more likely to be from diverse cultural backgrounds. While 89 percent of the current members of religious congregations describe themselves as White and/or Anglo, barely half (57 percent) of the newly entered religious do. The rest are Latina (17 percent), Asian (16 percent), African-American (8 percent), or of other backgrounds (2 percent). A recent study by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) asked religious communities what they were doing to integrate culturally diverse members into initial formation and into community life. The most common formation practices were establishing houses of formation in other cultures, having bilingual formation staff, having multicultural formation communities, and providing a professed Sister-mentor from the same culture for those in initial formation. Communities also tried to use multiple languages in their prayer together, to celebrate the holidays of different cultures, to increase the visibility of minority members on their websites, and to deliberately mentor minority members for leadership. The older, majority, members were encouraged to learn a second language – even if only a little – and both groups were provided with opportunities to learn more about each other’s culture. In the past, the Sisters of Charity were perhaps more multicultural than many other U.S. congregations, having not only Irish- and German-descended members but also Latina entrants from the West, Chinese Sisters, and even a small deaf
community. More recently, the Vincentian Sisters of Charity from Bedford, Ohio, have added an Eastern European background to our mix. While we did not follow all of the practices recommended in the CARA study (in those earlier days, probably no Community did), we at least have inherited a tradition of accepting and welcoming diverse cultures. Are we equally welcoming of generational cultures? In many ways, Catholic women growing up in the 1990s and early 2000s experienced a Catholicism as different from the 1950s and 1960s Church as Hispanic or Vietnamese Catholicism is from its Anglo-American variant. Not only ethnic variety, but also generational variety, adds to the Catholicism (i.e. the universality) of the Catholic Church, and of religious life. What would our Community – Sisters and Associates – look like if we adapted more of the welcoming practices from the CARA study to generational cultures; if we set up multi-generational local communities or used multiple generational languages in prayer, if our overand under-50 members set aside times to learn more about each other’s culture, if we watched each other’s TV, listened to each other’s music, and shared blogging/Instagram/Snapchat skills (or, for that matter, our skills in crocheting, teaching, or community empowerment) with each other? What if we shared more with each other the stories of our uniquely generational and personal, yet profoundly common and lifechanging, experience of God’s loving call? 1 Incorporating Cultural Diversity in Religious Life: A Report for the National Religious Vocation Conference, by Mary L. Gautier, Jonathan L. Wiggins, and Jonathan C. Holland, is available on the NRVC website: (www.nrvc.net).
T H E Y E A R O F C O N S E C R AT E D L I F E
YCL Open House a Success
ore than 450 family and friends of the SC Community filled the Motherhouse on Feb. 8, 2015, to learn about the Sisters of Charity Community and religious life today. Guests were grateful for the variety of opportunities presented to them during the threehour event, which included guided tours of the Motherhouse gems, opportunities to interact with Sisters and Associates, childrenâ€™s activities, musical performances and a birthday celebration for our Servant of God, S. Blandina Segale. The Open House was in response to the Year of Consecrated Life, which Pope Francis named the period Nov. 30, 2014 to Feb. 2, 2016. Religious houses across the country were asked to open their doors on Feb. 8 to provide guests with an opportunity to learn more about religious life today. Additional opportunities to celebrate the Year of Consecrated Life with the SC Community will be offered throughout the year.
Guests enjoyed the beauty and unique treasures found in the Motherhouse Art Room.
Volunteers helped in the children's area where visitors were able to have their faces painted, play games and listen to stories.
Save the Date The next Year of Consecrated Life celebrations will take place on Saturday, June 13 and Friday, June 19. The Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati will be partnering with Price Hill organizations to host service opportunities for individuals of all ages. Please mark your calendars and be sure to check our website as the dates get closer to learn how you can help Wake Up the World! 8
S. Tracy Kemme (center) chats with guests in the dining room.
S. Jean Miller prepares to give a tour.
Communications Director S. Georgia Kitt (left) welcomes guests as they enter the Motherhouse.
S. Blandina Segale would have been 165 years old on January 23. Visitors to the Open House celebrated S. Blandina’s birthday with the Community, as well as her family members (pictured).
(From left) Associate Kathy Vogelpohl, Associate Nicki Veldhaus and Ron Vogelpohl volunteered during the three-hour Open House.
S. Alice Ann O’Neill’s Suzuki cello students performed in the dining room.
One of the most fascinating stops on the tour was the Immaculate Conception Chapel.
Serving in the Now By S. Frances Maureen Trampiets
Cathy Cahur is, in every sense of the word, a modern pioneer. She is also a living example of what Pope Francis has repeatedly called us to do: she left behind the familiar, the comfortable and secure, and reached out to the marginalized. It all started with her sabbatical at the California Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Menlo Park, California, in 1985. The Institute offered graduate degrees in counseling with an emphasis on a balanced approach to mind, body and spirit. “The participants came from different religious backgrounds and had different understandings of spirituality,” said S. Cathy, “but all were united in accepting love and support from a higher power and then trying to give loving service where it was needed. Some of my colleagues challenged my beliefs. They would say things like: ‘Cathy, how can you belong to such an exclusive Church that prohibits basic rights to gay and lesbian persons?’ This broke my heart. “During this time our sabbatical required service in outreach and ministry,” she continued. “I chose ministry to gay and lesbian persons with HIV and worked with support groups in San Mateo County. Eventually, when I moved and settled in San Francisco, I joined Shanti, a community center providing health, counseling and support services for persons with HIV/AIDS. I was trained by Shanti and was assigned to a group. We leaders received ongoing training and support over the next several years.” S. Cathy heard about Most Holy Redeemer Parish in San Francisco and was impressed by their outreach to the gay community. The mission statement on the cover of their weekly bulletin said: “Most Holy Redeemer Parish is a Christian Community in the Roman Catholic tradition. The parish
draws people from isolation to community, from searching to awakening, from indifference to concern, from selfishness to meaningful service, from fear in the midst of adversity to faith and hope in God.” That was a faith community that S. Cathy wanted to be a part of. The mission statement continued: “The community of Most Holy Redeemer shares God’s compassionate love with all people. The parish offers a spiritual home to all: senior citizens and youth; single people and families; those who are straight, gay, lesbian, and transgendered; the healthy and the sick, particularly persons with HIV disease.” S. Cathy sensed that God was calling her to ministry in the gay community and to MHR Parish. The community of Most Holy Redeemer became her faith community and her new spiritual home. After receiving her counseling degree in 1987, S. Cathy moved to San Francisco. “I was able to find a rent control studio apartment behind a garage in the Castro, the heart of San Francisco’s gay community. It was a very small space but okay for me,” she said. “The apartment was just four blocks from Most Holy Redeemer parish. “Father Tony McGuire, then pastor of MHR, tried to build up our parish. Many of the parishioners left were seniors. He invited gay people into the parish and began offering needed services. It was a wonderful connection – the gays and the grays! Father Donel Godfrey, SJ, wrote a book about our parish and called it just that, The Gays and the Grays. The parish did grow and continues to grow today,” said S. Cathy.
S. Cathy Cahur (second row, second from left) with members of her Centering Prayer group at Most Holy Redeemer Parish in San Francisco, California. 10
Now S. Cathy is looking forward to celebrating her 60th anniversary as a Sister of Charity in September 2015. Like so many others, she began her ministry as a consecrated religious as an educator, teaching junior high school for six years in Royal Oak, Michigan, then in Cincinnati and Kettering, Ohio, and Port Huron, Michigan. In 1968 she was missioned to Holy Name High School, Cleveland, Ohio, to teach English and humanities, and from there went to Springfield, Ohio, and Denver, Colorado. S. Cathy Cahur (right) and parishioners of Most Holy Redeemer Parish provide refreshments for the monthly distinguished speaker series.
“During the AIDS crisis in San Francisco in the late 1980s,” she said, “we lost about 40 percent of the gay community.” She got a full-time job at Bay Area Research Treatment Services in San Francisco. The clinic offered services for persons suffering from opiate substance abuse, mainly heroin addicts. She served as counselor and eventually took on additional responsibilities including training of counselors and administrative and chart review duties. It was during her ministry with drug addicted persons in the late 1980s that S. Cathy learned centering prayer with our Sisters in Colorado: Sisters Mary Michele Fischer, Mary Jean Fields, Marie Re, Mary Bauer, Margaret Donnelly, Nancy Hoffman, Patmarie Bernard and Jean Miller. S. Cathy and MHR Parishioner Tom Olszewski went to Snowmas, Colorado, to be trained and certified as centering prayer presenters. They taught centering prayer workshops at the parish and established a prayer group which still meets weekly. S. Cathy obtained a budget from the parish to bring in speakers and to support scholarships for centering prayer group members to make retreats at Mercy Center in Burlingame, California, where centering prayer programs and retreats are frequently offered.
After beginning her sabbatical at the California Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, God led her down a new road. The journey was an unexpected one, but a very fruitful and deeply satisfying one. “I am so grateful for my centering prayer daily practice,” she said. “It has been a tremendous gift for me which especially helps me to give service in the now. I keenly experience S. Simone Campbell’s definition of our vow of chastity as ‘radical availability.’ I strive for that kind of availability – to just ‘show up’ without my agenda and be truly present in the now. In my experience, very valuable.” In speaking about her current parish ministry, S. Cathy says, “I sense I naturally offer loving ‘grandmother energy’ which is caring and supportive.” She ended the interview with a quote from Psalm 132 in Praying the Psalms by Nan C. Merrill. “In my centering prayer teaching and in our group prayer experiences,” she said, “I try to lead others to: “‘Enter into the Silence, into the heart of truth; For therein lies the Great Mystery where life is ever unfolding… Listen for the music of the Holy Word in the resounding Silence of the universe. May balance and harmony be your aim as you draw into the Heart of Love.’”
Meanwhile, the western Sisters of Charity centering prayer group was meeting three times a year in Colorado. As members of the original group died, Sisters in the East began to join. Now Sisters Jean Miller, Patmarie Bernard, Carol Brenner, Joyce Richter and Cathy meet twice a year at the Mount for a weekend retreat. Now retired from her work at the clinic, S. Cathy’s current ministry is in MHR Parish and focuses on teaching centering prayer. She offers an annual introductory workshop, supports the ongoing weekly prayer gatherings and plans and coordinates the monthly distinguished speaker series. The March 2015 distinguished speaker was Richard P. Hardy, professor of theology and spirituality from St. Paul University, Ottawa, Canada, and the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California. He spoke on ‘Markings on the Journey in Prayer with St. Teresa of Avila.’ These monthly programs have helped parishioners cultivate deep roots in the practice of centering prayer. It has become an integral part of the lives of many in the parish.
S. Cathy Cahur (center) with Sue Fandel and Bill Osuna at the Contemplative Outreach Annual Conference. 11
Q & A with
Associate Mary Wall By Associate Vicki Welsh
“A Charism needs to be lived according to the place, times and people. The charism is not a bottle of distilled water. It needs to be lived with energy, rereading it culturally too.” - Pope Francis, on the Year on Consecrated Life. 1. What childhood influences seem to have encouraged your life choice of a service career? I decided to become a nurse at 10 years of age. My mother was very ill and I was so impressed with the care she received by the nurses. I wanted to be just like them. So off I went to nursing school right after high school. I returned to Colorado Springs, Colorado, as a new graduate and started as a medical/ surgical nurse and worked my way to vice president of nursing. I loved working with the patients and also with the nurses. I believed the nurses were the patient advocate and I was the nurses’ advocate. I retired from Penrose Hospital after 30 years of service. 2. Talk a little about the passion that welled up in you to establish a hospice in Colorado Springs. My passion for working with seniors and end-of-life care always stayed with me. I was a Board member of a hospice company in Colorado Springs and knew the owners were going to shut it down. Something in my heart said I must buy the company. So I did. My two partners and I decided we would service anyone in need, even if they could not pay. We became very successful after only two years, taking the company from eight patients to 150 patients a day! To this day I am involved with hospice in Colorado Springs and in Kauai, Hawaii. I have recently taken a consulting position at Kauai Hospice. I will be reorganizing the Nursing Department and working with the nurses on leadership and team building. 3. Can you (or anyone) ‘retire’ from the consecrated life? I believe when one is given a gift of caring for others one never stops. We find ways to continue to offer help and care to 12
Associate Mary Wall (right) has fond memories of working alongside Associate Jo Carol Laymon (left) and S. Pat Dempsey during her 30 years at Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
others even throughout our ‘retirement.’ I have retired twice now and still find ways to help nurses and influence patient care. Others seek us out and it is our obligation to meet their needs. 4. No article would be complete without a few words about your relationship with our beloved SCs. My connection with the Sisters of Charity started when I began working with Penrose Hospital. The Sisters were mentors to me and encouraged me to pursue my career in nursing administration. [I] fondly remember those Sisters who loved me, scolded me, mentored me, and generally strengthened my God-given gifts to create the nurse I was to become: S. Myra James, my administrator for 25 years, S. Ruth Anne Panning, finance officer, and Jo Carol Laymon (former S. Michael Miriam), director of nursing, as well as Sisters Pat Dempsey, Sally Duffy, and Louise Lears. In more recent times, Sisters have continued to influence [my] life: Sisters Joan Crocker, Mary Jean Fields, Barbara Counts, Jane Grosheider, and Roberta Westrick, to name a few. I have always felt very close to the Sisters and believe in their mission. I have been an Associate of the Sisters of Charity since 2004, and love every minute I am with the Sisters. They are my family in so many ways and have been for 50 years. I celebrate 50 years nursing in this community this year! It has been a great ride with ups and downs but always aiming for the goal of helping others and caring for them. I love what I do! The community of Colorado Springs has reciprocated their appreciation for Mary Wall, as well. In 1997, Mary received the State of Colorado Nightingale Award and in 2005 she received the Colorado Hall of Fame Award. And, just this March, the Nightingale Society honored Mary’s 50 years of nursing by presenting her with the Foundress and Life Time Achievement Award. Intercom
relationship has been blooming this year between 19 St. Antoninus Daisy Troop members and a group of Sisters living at the Motherhouse and Mother Margaret Hall. In November 2014, the first graders took their first trip to the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse and spent an afternoon getting to know one particular Sister they were partnered with. They took time to answer questions about their favorite things, before making a craft. The Daisies ended the meeting with performing a few songs.
English teacher as well as my Journalism teacher. I described her to the girls as one of the most fun people you would ever meet and certainly one of the smartest. “As soon as we walked into the room, the first person I saw was S. Benedicta and I pointed her out to Maggie. She was partnered with S. Benedicta and they spent much of that visit talking about their families, their favorite things, and their hobbies, just like good friends.
“The next month they exchanged letters and S. Benedicta sent her a special Valentine card that Maggie No one was sure what kind of cherishes. To say that Maggie is looking friendships would be formed, but it was S. Benedicta Mahoney enjoys spending forward to their next get together would be clear right from the start this relationship time with her Daisy first grader Maggie an understatement. … It’s been 30 years since would continue to grow throughout the Guenther during a visit in November. I sat in S. Benedicta’s classroom, but it was as if year with one more meeting scheduled for no time had passed at all when I saw her in November. She is March. still as smart as a whip, as funny as ever, and makes you feel In between meetings the Daisies sent their Sister pals happy just being around her. I feel doubly blessed that my Christmas cards and Valentines while the Sisters responded daughter has a special friendship with one of the remarkable with notes, small gifts and other forms of correspondence. women that made such a positive impact on my life.” Moms made special trips to the Motherhouse to deliver birthday gifts or “thinking of you” packages. The relationships have been life-giving for both ages. In addition, the Sister-Daisy relationship has reconnected parents with former teachers and mentors. Daisy mom and Seton High School graduate Michelle Guenther remembers being taught by S. Benedicta Mahoney. When she accompanied her daughter Maggie on the girls first visit to Mother Margaret Hall, she had the opportunity to reconnect with her former teacher, and Maggie is now forming her own relationship with Sister as well. “On the way there some of the girls were nervous about meeting their ‘Sister friend’ for the first time,” Michelle said. “I tried to put their nerves at ease and shared a few stories about some of the special women that taught me when I went to Seton High School - Sisters Jeanine Marie Holthouse, Marie Irene Schneider, Mary Dolores Schneider, and of course, Benedicta Mahoney. S. Benedicta was my sophomore
Troop leader Melissa Tepe explained the importance of this Sister-Daisy relationship. “When I became a Girl Scout leader I thought a lot about the important concepts I would hope to lead our troop to understand and experience. Girl Scouts is built on many fundamental concepts but I felt that learning about community, friendship and kindness would be a great place to start. “The relationship with the Sisters of Charity has exceeded our expectations and has been an important part of our year. The first grade girls were shy at first but have become really excited about their ‘Sister pal’! “I am so proud of these young girls, the care they show for the community and the friendship they have given the Sisters. The friendship that the Sisters of Charity have given them back is just icing on the cake! We are looking forward to many years of building upon these relationships!”
Prayerful Spirit CHAPTER OPENS WITH
By Associate Vicki Welsh
hapter 2015 opened Friday, Feb. 27, 2015, with Convocation and Prayer in the Immaculate Conception Chapel. S. Marge Kloos led the singing of “Holy Spirit Come Fill This Place.” Holy Spirit, Come and ﬁll this place. Bring us healing with your warm embrace. Show your power, make your presence known. Holy Spirit, Come ﬁll this place.
S. Joan Cook gives her opening remarks.
S. Joan Cook, SC president, during her opening remarks of welcome, called the Chapter in session. She invoked the memory of S. Mary Pat Wagner saying S. Mary Pat’s only regret about ceasing her medical treatments, was that she would most likely not live to participate in this 2015 Chapter. S. Mary Pat so wanted to help shape the future of the Community. S. Joan assured her that she would help the process from heaven. Each of the 140 delegates whose names were called to come forward were mindful of S. Mary Pat’s spirit among them. After each delegate placed her green commitment card in the bowl, the Music Ministry sang, “We Are a Chosen People.” S. Janet Gildea led the delegates in the Chapter Prayer and they ended their prayer with the singing of “The Charity of Christ Urges Us On”.
(From left) Sisters Marge Kloos, Carol Wirtz and Mary Jo Gasdorf
S. Lois Jean Goettke places her green commitment card in the bowl. (From left) Sisters Noreen Ellison and Rose Martin Morand 14
Looking to the Future By S. Judith Metz
he first full day of Chapter on Feb. 28, 2015, was comprised of prescribed activities that open each Chapter. After a call to order and taking of attendance, the delegates participated in prayer and a solemnized blessing of the Chapter room and of each other. An introduction by facilitators Donna Fyffe and Mark Clarke proposed the questions: Where is God calling us? What is it that God and people today are asking of you? In considering these questions the delegates were reminded of Pope Francis’ exhortation in his letter on consecrated life: “Look to the past with gratitude,” and of our Chapter theme “Hazard Yet Forward.”
S. Louise Lears reflects on challenges for the future.
Next each member of the Leadership Team reflected on an aspect of what they saw as challenges for the future in response to Pope Francis’ call to “wake up the world.” CFO Tim Moller gave a comprehensive report sharing our current financial picture and offering projections for the future. He stated that careful stewardship and Spirit-led discernment will be needed to insure that our ministries and financial health could be assured. After a lunch break, S. Mary Bookser asked the delegates to reflect on what they see as emerging ideas as we move into the future. Table discussion and sharing followed around the questions: What do you hear God saying? What gives you hope? After delegates reviewed a summary of each table’s discussion points, they highlighted a long list of similarities, differences, and missing issues. (From left) Sisters Jean Welling, Regina Kusnir, Joyce Richter and Jeanne Roach review a summary of a table’s discussion points.
(Front to back) Sisters Franette Hyc, Caroljean Willie, Marie Vincentia Roney and Carol Wirtz
Reflecting on the Chapter Process By S. Joan Deiters
aside and continue to enter into the process. We were given a really difficult challenge: select only five concepts from those included in all of the scenarios. These five were to meet the criterion that they were the ones to best direct and position the Congregation for the future. Our table came to a consensus on its list of five concepts. Next, our assigned places were scrambled and each of us brought our original table’s S. Monica Gundler (left) presents with S. Tracy Kemme on the consensus list to a new table. This fourth scenario on intentional communities. table was charged with the task of S. Suzanne Donavan provided an arriving at a new consensus for the list of five concepts. overview of the scenarios. The delegates were reminded that n the second full day of Chapter, March 1, 2015, we prayed “Transfigure Us, O Lord” and I hoped for inspiration to transform the scenarios into a collective vision. The work of the day fell into three phases: an introduction to the scenarios, table discussions to arrive at a consensus around the concepts that could best direct and position the Congregation for the future, and finally a discussion with a new table to come to consensus with that group.
the scenarios are conversation starters, not proposals. S. Mary Ann Flannery invited discussion of the Introduction through the question: Have these paragraphs caught the essence of who the Sisters of Charity are? Scenarios were presented related to spirituality, ecological sustainability, poverty, intentional communities - with focus on young adults, and expanding our network of relationships and concept of community. I had many questions in my mind: How would the scenarios help us? How would we work with them? Would we ever arrive at a new place? I tried to put these questions
(From left) Sisters Joan Clare Stewart, Janet Gildea and Marcel DeJonckheere work on a consensus to their list of five conceps.
Up to this point, the work of the day had been a bit difficult for me. As I thought back to the morning prayer, I wondered what the transformation would look like. I was thinking in general terms, not of what needed to be changed in me, but I soon realized something in me had to soften and to trust in the wisdom of the group to find its way. There was a great deal of overlap in the concepts; I like things clear. I wasn’t sure just how the scenarios fit into this process; I like to understand clearly before I move ahead. I felt quite defensive of the way my original table had worked, now I found that the other tables represented in my new group had gone about the task in a different way. In the midst of my stubborn clinging to my own need for clarity and my need to represent my original table—a light dawned. That light invited me to step back, let go, and just work with the concepts. Finally, my mind and heart felt lighter as our table arrived at a list of five concepts that we deemed best to guide us on the journey of “Hazard Yet Forward.” The results of the day’s work from all the tables were displayed on newsprint for us to view – and it was an amazing surprise to find that there was a very strong agreement around five concepts which led us directly into our next day’s work. What didn’t show up on the newsprint was the transformation in me and in many other delegates that allowed us to open to the wisdom evolving from the group, to the guidance of our preparation for Chapter, and to the process of the scenarios in leading us into our Chapter Direction.
One of the Chapter tables works on their key priorities.
Where Is God Calling Us? By S. Mary Ann Flannery
he day’s theme for March 2, 2015, “Setting Direction: Where is God Calling Us,” directed us to examine the questions put before us following the analysis we had given to the five scenarios. We were asked: What needs to be re-thought and changed in how we function as a Congregation? What areas might each Sister grapple with and what type and style of Leadership do we need to facilitate implementation of these priorities that have surfaced through the scenarios? ‘Implications of the Call’ followed in the afternoon session when as tables we came up with two or three priorities we shared on newsprint to answer the question of what are these implications? The groups were asked to dialogue around top priorities and link similar ones. Tables named key priorities based on each table’s wisdom and conversation.
The Seton/Elder High School Chorus performed during the evening of March 2.
S. Kateri Maureen Koverman
(From left) Sisters Cookie Crowley, Roberta Westrick and Margaret Mach
Setting Direction By S. Georgia Kitt
arch 3, 2015, was a day of choice-making, when the Community identified the directional statements for the coming 10 years and named its intended strategy. It became clear delegates were intent on identifying a direction together with deliberately chosen strategies and to see it realized by 2025. The Sisters vote on their 2015 Chapter Direction. Narrative Team, using their valued experience of past collated survey results, small group discussions, Sisters’ dreams and delegate work of the previous day, offered the possible outcomes. Delegates listened to see if anything was missing and if they could live this outcome with faith and fidelity as a Sister of Charity. The goal was to vote on an affirmation before noon. The room sat quietly and thought about the items presented: an integrated approach; a spirituality portion; the environment section; a relationship element; and desire for the margins’ inclusion. Discussion at the tables and a brief open microphone session followed. The facilitators asked for a leaning (not an official vote) from the delegates on each section. It showed a strong majority for passing, and a vote followed. President S. Joan Cook stated: “In the spirit of gratitude to the Holy Spirit and to one another, we have discerned together our 2015 Chapter Direction, Where is God Calling Us?” After green, red and yellow voting cards were invited to be raised, the proposal was approved by all present. Members of the Narrative Team were (from left) Sisters Suzanne Donovan, Monica Gundler, Patricia Wittberg, Tracy Kemme, Montiel Rosenthal, Louise Lears, Mary Ann Flannery and Carol Bauer.
Chapter Bowls By S. Regina Kusnir Empty Vessels Hollow containers Waiting Waiting Waiting. Awaiting. Chapter charged with Spirit’s fire Sprinkled with members’ gifts Bursts with energy Rises like incense. Plumes of smoke Drift to the heavens Calling down inspiration Until spent. Empty vessels Hollow containers Prayed for the rekindling Of Spirit’s fire within their hearts Day by day by day. Sheets of concepts Daily arose like billowing smoke Filling empty bowls With hope for the future endless possibilities vision drawing clearer. Empty bowls Chapter bowls Sacredly held The holy The cosmos The vulnerable The blessings The diminishments The relationships The possibilities The sacred trust Vincent Louise Elizabeth Margaret Our foremothers. Spirit’s fire Sparked minds and hearts To envision a future. Called from the beginning To address the needs of our world
Prayer Days By S. Kathryn Ann Connelly We hold our sacred bowls aloft Reverently Intentionally sending forth Our billows of smoke Toward the vulnerabilities of our Earth of our Sisters and Brothers. We bow to the Divine Mystery Within and around us. We seek wholeness Sacredly uniting Our living Our actions Our past Our present Our future. Empty Vessels Hollow containers Waiting Waiting Waiting. Awaiting. Who will be the Grains of incense Challenging us To together Move in rhythm With the billowing smoke? They are empty bowls Awaiting God’s word Until Ignited by Spirit’s fire They are called forth As leaders to take their bowls Bow in reverence to The One who unites us Who calls us to move To move boldly Into a future Where Charity Rises like incense Lifting hearts and heads Arousing the staid Instilling hope in the hopeless Daring to Hazard Yet Forward!
n Wednesday, March 4, 2015, the discernment/prayer days at Chapter began. As the day unfolded, delegates, nominees, collaborators and SCs in general held the following questions in prayer: Where is God calling? Who is God calling? How are we to answer? The day of discernment and recollection was a quiet time to invoke the Spirit in prayer, to dialogue with others a bit, to be aware of God’s presence in our midst. Where is God calling? The atmosphere at the Mount on this day of discernment was poignant with reverence, with awe and respect. God’s Spirit was at work in this house. Quiet vigil was kept throughout the day, as each nominee came to her decision to stay in the process or opt out. A glass bowl placed near the altar in chapel slowly filled with the nominees’ response cards as time for prayer to end the day neared. On Thursday, March 5, 2015, the process called for more table conversation to raise questions for the nominees. This compilation of questions from the groups was given to each nominee who then chose two for her response and stance. The nominees presented their views to the delegates. No discussion or questions for clarification were entertained at this point. There was a respectful acceptance as each Sister spoke her heart’s response again.
Delegates bless the nominees during the discernment/prayer days at Chapter.
Members of the elected Leadership Team are (from left) Sisters Mary Caroline Marchal, Marge Kloos, Joan Elizabeth Cook, Louise Lears and Mary Bookser.
Chapter Elections By S. Mary Ellen Murphy
fter a day and a half of focused individual and collective reflection in processes designed to facilitate our discernment, on March 6, 2015, we engaged in the election of our leaders for the next four years from 2015 to 2019. There was obvious giftedness and commitment among our 14 nominees. The elements of our Chapter Acts centering on spirituality, relationships, the margins of society and creation, along with the skills and capacities needed in our leaders came together in a series of graced moments during the elections. At the conclusion of each secret ballot when one of our women was elected to lead the Community, beginning with the president, the delegates stood and sang a blessing in the name of all of us, assuring each of them that we walk with them on this shared journey of faith. Once the elections were completed the delegates stood and applauded in gratitude for all the nominees who participated in the process. Following that, S. Joan Cook invited us to gather in chapel where we formally blessed our re-elected and newly elected leaders: Sisters Joan Cook, president, and councilors Louise Lears, Mary Bookser, Marge Kloos and Mary Caroline Marchal. 20
Sister delegates bless the elected leaders.
S. Mary Caroline Marchal (left) receives a hug from S. Mary Ellen Murphy.
A Joyful Ending By Associate Vicki Welsh
ine days prior, 140 Sisters of Charity delegates gathered in this same Immaculate Conception Chapel to call upon the Holy Spirit to guide their deliberations, their discernment, and to walk with them as they made decisions that would influence the Community direction into 2025. On Saturday, March 7, 2015, the Mass of Celebration and Thanksgiving began appropriately with liturgical dancing and the singing of “Enter the Journey”. Members were ready to praise and affirm the Direction. The Scripture was spirit-filled with readings reminding us of the Law, that God’s foolishness is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the story of Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple. S. Donna Steffen used each to support her message that centered on the theme, “Transfigure us oh Lord”. She told us that in Zimbabwe, their word for God means, ‘the one who turns things upside down.’ She ended her message with a Sufi poem, “Tired of Speaking Sweetly”. The Sisters of Charity make liturgy as prayerful, joyful, and God-full as you will ever find. These days of Chapter were no less so.
S. Annie Klapheke begins the closing with liturgical dance. The Community gathered on March 7, 2015, for the Chapter’s closing.
The Sisters of Charity Music Ministry provides a joyful celebration. SprIng 2015
Elizabeth the Mother By S. Judith Metz
rom her earliest years Elizabeth Seton was attracted to the image of God as her father; later she grew to love Mary as her heavenly mother. These spiritual relationships proved to be models for her own parenting. Being a mother is a place where she met her grace in a most fulfilling way. She thrived on walking with her children through each step of their lives, yet she was able to release them to their own destinies blessed with her unconditional love.
The joy Elizabeth experienced in her family life was not without tension and anxiety, as she endured illness, the threat of epidemic disease, bankruptcy, and finally the death of her dear husband, William, just 10 years into their marriage. The turn of events left Elizabeth a single parent raising her children in severely reduced circumstances. Despite the challenges of their situation, Elizabeth looked back on this period in their “dear little humble dwelling” with delight “at the hours of love around [their] fire, or little table or at the piano, [their] little stories every evening, lively tunes, and thousand endearments after the lessons, and work of the day when each one helped [their] dear Mother.”
Elizabeth clearly cherished her maternal role. She delighted in her children and devoted a great deal of energy and enthusiasm to caring for them in every step of their development. The young woman became the mother of five After the family’s move to within seven and a half years of Baltimore, Maryland, and with her marriage, and in her way of discussions of the formation of the reckoning, each child was born Elizabeth at the bedside of her ill oldest daughter Anna Maria. Sisters of Charity, Elizabeth made to be treasured. Her oldest, Anna Drawing by S. Ruth Jonas, SC. clear her first priority when she Maria, was from the beginning her wrote to a friend, “[F]or me, here companion and comfort. Two sons, I stand with hands and eyes both lifted, to wait the adorable William and Richard, followed. Both were sources of delight as well as concern to their mother as they sought to find their Will – the only word I have to say to every question is, I am a ways in the world. Catherine and Rebecca were the youngest, Mother, whatever Providence awaits me consistent with that plea I say Amen to it.” and to their doting mother, the brightest of the lot. From the start, Elizabeth’s children “wound themselves around her heart.” During her years in Emmitsburg, Maryland, as Mother When they were young she referred to them most frequently as her “angels.” Using affectionate nicknames, she effused over their small accomplishments in her correspondence. She describes how “there is as much kissing and admiring Ricksy as there used to be nursing him,” and how she was so taken with Catherine’s red locks and “saucy behavior” that she “could have ate her up.” She told her friend, Julia Scott, “My world is my family and all the change to me will be that I can devote myself unmolested to my treasure.” 22
of the Sisters of Charity, Elizabeth continued to nurture and support her children. She suffered untold anguish over the long illness and deaths from tuberculosis of her oldest and youngest daughters, Anna Maria and Rebecca. As her sons moved toward adulthood and set out on their own paths she never hesitated to support them in any way she could, despite setbacks and disappointments. And through it all she cherished the support and friendship of her dear Catherine. As she herself attested: “I am a Mother, whatever providence awaits me consistent with that plea I say Amen to it.” INTERCOM
Mother to Mother By Associate Katie Klus
lizabeth Seton was a mother to three daughters and two sons; I am a mother of two daughters and two sons. Like Elizabeth, I love my children with an unconditional love and believe that God blessed me with my four children, so that I could better understand Christ’s love for me, His child. As God called Elizabeth to be a mother, God called me to be a mother. I am honored. In my prayer life, I ask God to guide me in my discernment to hear God’s call for me, whether that be in my family life, my career or my relationships. I struggle to find the balance to serve my family and my community as a teacher and counselor. I am in awe of how much Elizabeth accomplished in her life while raising five children as a single mother. I pray to Elizabeth to help me hear God’s call for me and to help me balance the many responsibilities in my life. Several years ago, I had the privilege to walk on the sacred grounds of Elizabeth’s home in Emmitsburg, Maryland. As I stood in her humble home, I could so vividly hear her children’s laughter and singing. Do I fill my home with
laughter and singing? I could see her patiently teach each and every child she met with love. Do I teach with love and patience? Mother Seton challenges me to give tirelessly with love and joy. She is my inspiration in how to put my husband and children first, while still using my God-given gifts and talents to serve others. Yet, what inspires me most about Elizabeth is her humanness and her vulnerability. She did not have all the answers in parenting and struggled particularly with disciplining her sons. She mourned tremendously for her lost daughters, so much so that it debilitated her for a time. Yet, she allowed herself to weep while turning repeatedly to God for love, forgiveness and guidance. Elizabeth was not canonized for perfection but, perhaps, because she struggled but never lost her faith. This gives me comfort as a mother to know that I do not have to have all of the answers, that I will weep and that I too must turn to God daily for strength. I am blessed to be a mother and grateful to have Elizabeth’s guidance on the journey.
(Back row, from left) Associate Kate Klus with family members Sammy, husband, Pat, (front row, from left) Leah, Anna and Andrew.
A Vision That Keeps Unfolding By S. Louise Akers
Today, the United States of America is changing its relationship with the people of Cuba. In the most signiﬁcant changes in our policy in more than 50 years, we will end an outdated approach that, for decades, has failed to advance our interests, and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries. Through these changes, we intend to create more opportunities for the American and Cuban people, and begin a new chapter among the nations of the Americas. - President Barack Obama
hen I heard these words I immediately thought of S. Stephanie Lindsey. She was a bridge builder, not only between the U.S. and Cuba, but also between many other countries and cultures. I thought this would be a good time to make the connections between the Sisters of Charity and this monumental event! I believe it’s evident a global vision continues to grow within our Congregation.
Cuban Relations Under the rule of Dictator Batista (1952-’58) “people subsisted under miserable living conditions with little access to education and health care. Sugar, tobacco and coffee production was in the hands of U.S. companies. Cuba depended as well on U.S. oil and imports of all kinds. The nation’s raw materials and human resources meant huge profit for foreign interest, with a bit trickling down to an ostentatious local oligarchy.”1 On Jan. 1, 1959, Cuban revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro ousted a dictatorship and claimed their country’s sovereignty. Immediately, covert destabilization strategies as well as an all-out military invasion were orchestrated to bring the new government down. U.S. policy, then and since, could not conceive of a nation in its sphere of influence being allowed to follow its chosen path. In July 1960, the U.S. suspended its quota of Cuban sugar. Six months later, Washington broke diplomatic relations with Cuba. In 1962, a blockade and trade embargo began. Thus began decades of attempts to destabilize, overthrow and discredit the Cuban revolution. 24
S. Donna Steffen (right) with Fidel Castro at a State Banquet given in honor of the NGO conference in 1984. Sisters Donna and Louise Akers were present along with over 300 Central American and Caribbean women and 17 others from the U.S.
History of GATE In response to the call of Pope John XXIII to religious congregations in the United States to send 10 percent of their members to Latin America, many congregations of Sisters established a missionary presence there. One of those who participated was S. Stephanie Lindsey. She found her life profoundly affected by what she experienced in her ministry in Lima, Peru, where for 18 years she served the people. When she returned, she was asked by her Congregation to share her understanding of liberation theology, and the way its preferential option for the poor was transforming the Church in many Third World countries. S. Stephanie responded to this need by going to Mexico and designing GATE (Global Awareness Through Experience). Its mission was to create an awareness of other cultures and their realities through people-to-people connections. GATE’s alternate tourism allowed the traveler to approach a people as pilgrim; in deep respect for their culture and history and presented the opportunity to learn from the poor as well as from social analysts, teachers, theologians and economists. S. Stephanie found support both from SC Associate Chess Campbell, a Presbyterian missionary, and from the Lutheran Center in Mexico City. It was in Mexico City in 1982 that S. Stephanie and Chess offered the first GATE program to eight participants. Interest in the programs grew rapidly, and in 1984 GATE offered 15 programs in Mexico, eight in Nicaragua, and one in Honduras. Later they added tours to Cuba, Peru and the Caribbean, as well as the Eastern Bloc countries. GATE programs have continued to evolve. To learn more visit www.gate-travel.org. Intercom
SC Memories I searched for Sisters of Charity who had either participated in the GATE program or had gone to Cuba through other programs. The following are excerpts from their memories: S. Nancy Bramlage participated in a GATE immersion trip to Cuba. “[It] was probably the most transformational and educational trip I ever made. And this was largely due to the super effective propaganda about Cuba that the U.S. government fed us in the 1960s after Fidel Castro came to power as president. We learned in school that Fidel Castro was an evil man who ruled a Communist Cuba. It was such a threat to the U.S. to have a small island country so close to us with a Communist government and every effort was made to make us fear them and keep them from succeeding. It was so very enlightening for me to be surrounded by Cubans who liked Fidel Castro and who could tell me all the good things that had been developed in their country: an excellent health care system and a very good educational program for everyone.” Associate Chess Campbell worked and lived in Mexico with her husband, Gary, a Presbyterian minister. Gary worked at CENCOS, a progressive predominantly Catholic center of social analysis and communication.
many cars on the streets – and the ones that were there were very old American models. One thing that stands out in my mind was when some of us went into a grocery store. There was very little on the shelves – and very few choices. It was startling after having experienced the superabundance of our supermarkets. We had a guide who was with us all of the time when we met with people or visited various sites.” S. Jean Miller visited Cuba several times as a staff person for GATE. “Each time I was in Cuba my heart was happy because I saw an economic program that had a priority on the neediest in society. Through cooperatives people had ownership in their industrial or agricultural business. They worked with others for the good of all. Life was difficult for everybody because of foreign blockades, etc. However I saw the seeds of a new way to organize economics that was more just and formed more community. With the economic wealth gap we experience now, we might want to look more closely on how to use what we could learn from Cuba and how it was implemented in Nicaragua later.” S. Donna Steffen, with S. Louise Akers, were participants in a preparatory regional conference for Central American and Caribbean women in 1984; 19 were from the U.S.
“I went to Cuba after living almost a decade in Mexico which gave me the opportunity to view life on the island through a different set of lenses. Some of my impressions: We talked with some Cuban officials at higher levels of government and church but more time was spent listening to people at the grassroots. Not all of them were in accord with the policies of their government but all were supportive of the priority given to health and education. Billboards everywhere emphasized the country’s priority for Cuba’s literacy rate which then and now continues to be among the highest in the region. Efforts were made to combat a spirit of machismo with special attention for women in church and society nationally and internationally …”
“Being present for the roll call of nations as the women from the various Latin American and Caribbean countries entered the hall where the NGO conference was held was extremely moving. During the conference I was surprised to find that the women from the various countries saw Fidel Castro almost as a hero. From their perspective, the people of Cuba had food and housing that many in their own countries lacked.
S. Joan Flynn visited Cuba.
“I visited schools both on the Cuban mainland and on the Isle of Youth. There were a number of schools here that Castro founded to educate teachers for developing countries. We also had the opportunity to visit a prison (not political prisoners) and one of the things that impressed me was that there was no system of parole, but all prisoners had a full-time job for which they received a salary which helped their families while they were incarcerated. I also learned that only about 7 percent of those released return to prison. In the U.S. it is closer to 40-50 percent.”
“I remember a sadness in some people’s faces. However, there was an evident desire to connect when we were in church, as exemplified in their reaching across two or three pews to shake hands at the kiss of peace.” S. Louise Lears traveled to Cuba during her Novitiate and was able to spend time with S. Stephanie following the 10-day GATE program. “I have a collage of memories: smiling schoolchildren in uniforms; cars from the 1950s; brightly colored doors lining the streets; peeling paint and crumbling walls; health care for everyone; an undercurrent of fear; hospitality wherever we went.” S. Judith Metz went to Cuba in 1979 on a comparative economics program. “Cuba is a very beautiful island, but it was like a walk back in time. The pace was slower than in our country. There weren’t too Spring 2015
“The country is a beautiful island nation. Yet, even when I was there in 1984, the impact of the embargo hurting the people, the economy, and the development of the country was evident.” S. Caroljean Willie attended the International Christian Peace Conference in Havana.
In the words of Chess Campbell, “How thankful we are that S. Stephanie’s vision keeps unfolding!” Additional photos from our Sisters’ visits to Cuba can be found on the Sisters of Charity website at http://www.srcharitycinti.org/news_events/cuba.htm. 1. New Mexico Mercury, Margaret Randall “The United States and Cuba: A Half Century”, December 19,2014 http://newmexicomercury.com/blog/comments/the_united_states_and_cuba_a_half_century
Timeless Treasures By S. Benedicta Mahoney
tems, large or small, may exemplify experiences of the Sisters of Charity. One small item – 3 inches by 2 inches by 1 inch – is a piece of woodwork from the walls of the Paca Street House in Baltimore, Maryland. Even though Elizabeth Ann Seton lived in this house for only one year, some of the most important events in her life occurred here in this year from June 1808 to June 1809.
first religious vows before Archbishop John Carroll. It was on that occasion that the Archbishop declared that Elizabeth should henceforth be called Mother Seton. A few months later, four young women who had been living at Paca Street also pronounced their first vows. On June 2, 1809, Mother Seton and her Sisters appeared in public for the first time in the Sister of Charity habit – black dress, black cape and white cap.
Elizabeth Ann Seton, age 34, a widow for The year in Paca Street House ended four and a half years, arrived in Baltimore on when the Sisters left for their newly June 16, 1808. The preceding years had seen Elizabeth Seton’s Paca Street House in acquired property in Western Maryland – Elizabeth’s entry into the Catholic Church, Baltimore, Maryland, from 1808-1809. Emmitsburg, where Mother Seton would followed by months of disapproval, even live and carry out her mission for 12 more rejection, by some of her family and friends. years and where her Sisters of Charity would continue God’s With the help and encouragement of interested clergymen, work. As for the house, the Sulpician Fathers would continue Elizabeth had agreed to move to Baltimore to open a school to maintain it until 1963. Various attempts had been made at for girls. Her three daughters would live with her, and her restoring the house to its early 19th century appearance. Its two sons would stay at nearby St. Mary’s College. They were restoration was finally completed in 1963 and is still maintained assured that their new home would be ready for them. With today. It is now a part of a lately established St. Mary Spiritual the help of Madame Fournier, sister of the Sulpician priest Center and Historic Site. As a Spiritual Center, it provides rooms Rev. William Dubourg, they settled in immediately and Elizabeth for spiritual direction, and a was referring to the Paca Street House as her “little mansion.” conference room. There is a The “little mansion” was a newly built brick house, erected small chapel for liturgical in the Federal style – sturdy construction, two and a half stories services and religious high, thick walls, casement windows, and Applewood stairways. workshops. As a Historic No wonder Elizabeth deemed it “comfortable in every respect.” Site, there is the Rev. Dubourg declared it “in every point of view would perfectly Mother Seton Paca suit our ideas – at least during the first year.” Those ideas Street House and the included the establishment of their boarding school; the arrival Old Seminary Chapel. of several young women (sent by priests); and, verbally expressed Visitors can view the or not, the early development of a religious congregation. places where the Sisters Not least among the assets of the house were its of Charity in America surroundings. It stood next to the Seminary grounds, and it was began and relate with a near neighbor of Old St. Mary Seminary Chapel. During the its ongoing history in course of the year, the Lower Chapel was dedicated. Elizabeth America today. loved hearing the Chapel bells, having access to the daily Masses, offered from “daylight to eight,” and Vespers and Benediction every evening. Here occurred many events in Elizabeth’s life with many far-reaching effects. In March 1809, Elizabeth Ann Seton pronounced her
This small piece of woodwork comes from the walls of Elizabeth Seton’s Paca Street House in Baltimore.
On the Web For full articles, please visit the News/Events section of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati website at www.srcharitycinti.org, and click on “Feature Articles.” A RESPONSE TO LOVE S. Delia Sizler reflects on her experience of living a consecrated life.
S. Dee Sizler (right) with Cincinnati Associate Karen Martin
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 320 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 26 U.S. dioceses and in Guatemala, Mexico and the West Indies. They also sponsor institutions to address education, health care and social service needs, with particular concern for direct service to the poor.
Intercom Staff Editor Erin Reder Graphic Design/Layout Michelle Bley
SEEING BEYOND OURSELVES
Photographer S. Marty Dermody
Ann Johnston, a former student of S. Georgia Kitt, credits her summer tutoring sessions with S. Georgia as making a huge difference in the trajectory of her life.
Director of Communications S. Georgia Kitt Executive Council Liaison S. Mary Bookser
Ann Johnston (left) reconnects with S. Georgia Kitt.
National Catholic Sisters Week The Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati celebrated National Catholic Sisters Week, March 8-14, 2015, as part of Women’s History Month. The purpose of the week was to bring greater awareness to Catholic Sisters and to highlight the significant role that women religious have played in our world histories. A number of Sisters – past and present – were featured on the website throughout the week. Associate Spotlights
Advisory Board Members: S. Mary Bodde S. Mary Ann Flannery S. Karen Hawver Mary Jo Mersmann S. Joyce Richter S. Frances Maureen Trampiets Vicki Welsh Letters to the editor, articles and photos are welcome. The staff reserves the right to edit for space and readability. Make submissions to: Communications Office 5900 Delhi Road Mount St. Joseph, OH 45051 Phone: 513-347-5447 Fax: 513-347-5467 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Subscriptions: $15 per year
Get to know a few of our Associates in Mission through these questionand-answer sessions.
Associate Vicki Welsh (left) and S. Ruth Kuhn
5900 Delhi Road Mount Saint Joseph, OH 45051 www.srcharitycinti.org www.facebook.com/ sistersofcharityofcincinnati 27
5900 Delhi Road Mount Saint Joseph, OH 45051 www.srcharitycinti.org www.facebook.com/sistersofcharityofcincinnati
S. Marge Farfsing enjoys getting to know her Daisy Troop first grader Samantha during their initial meeting in November.
S. Cathy Cahur ministers at Most Holy Redeemer Parish in San Francisco, California, teaching centering prayer. The 2015 Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati Chapter to set direction and hold elections took place Feb. 27, 2015 through March 7, 2015.