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Summer 2015







A Letter


our SISter



Dear Sisters, Associates and Friends,

O Contents FEATURES The Freedom of First Vows........................8 Sisters Tracy Kemme and Andrea Koverman profess first vows. Wake Up the World!................................12 The Sisters of Charity host Days of Mission and Service.

n June 18, Pope Francis released his encyclical on ecology and creation, titled “Laudato Si’: On Care For Our Common Home.” The phrase “Laudato Si’,” translated in English as “Praised Be To You,” is taken from St. Francis of Assisi’s 13th century prayer known as the Canticle of the Creatures (also called the Canticle of the Sun). The Canticle praises God for all creation: sun, moon, stars, wind, water, fire, earth, peacemakers. St. Francis’ magnificent hymn springs from the depths of his faith in God, who so intimately enters into creation: “Praise be to You, My Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruits with coloured flowers and herbs.”1

A Prophetic Voice of Our Day .................16 S. Paula Gonzalez honored as an Enquirer Woman of the Year. The Gift of Friendship ............................19 Sisters Kathryn Connelly and Catherine Kirby’s friendship through the years. Adapting to the Times .............................20 Mother Margaret Hall renovation comes to an end.

DEPARTMENTS OPJCC .....................................................7 We Are Not Commodities Vocation/Formation ................................11 Summer Happenings in Initial Formation Celebrating Our Founder, Elizabeth Ann Seton ...............................................18 Elizabeth the Friend Timeless Treasures ...................................26 S. Sophia Gilmeyer’s dulcimer

On the Cover: Sisters Tracy Kemme and Andrea Koverman professed first vows as members of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati on June 27, 2015. To read more about Sisters Tracy and Andrea and what the vows mean to them, visit Pages 8-10. 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.

Like St. Francis, we Sisters and Associates of Charity give thanks for God’s abundant blessings, opportunities and challenges. In the summer issue of Intercom, we praise God for our Sisters Andrea Koverman and Tracy Kemme, who recently professed first vows as consecrated women religious; for the eight women and men who made their commitment as Associates of the Sisters of Charity and the three Associates who discerned a lifetime commitment; for our S. Paula Gonzalez, who was honored as one of The Cincinnati Enquirer’s “Women of the Year” for her lifelong dedication to restoring the balance within Earth’s ecosystems; and for Sisters Lois Goettke and Christine Rody who gifted us with their generous ministry of leadership and now begin new chapters in their lives. In the final verses of the Canticle of the Creatures, St. Francis praises God for calling forth peacemakers on Mother Earth. Several articles in this issue of Intercom reflect our commitment as the Family of Charity to collaborate in abolishing all forms of human trafficking and to advocate for alternatives to holding women and children in detention centers as they seek asylum in our country. As you read these pages, we pray that you too find reason to sing praise to God!

S. Louise Lears, SC (1Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, New York: 1999, 113-114.)



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? March 29, 1902 – The Sisters of Charity Council recorded this decision: To petition the City of Cincinnati to lay water mains from Elberon Avenue in Price Hill to Mount St. Joseph, thus ensuring an ample water supply. The cost to the Congregation was $13,503.11. Jan. 4, 1913 – This is the date of death of S. Francis de Chantal Woodruff, age 90, 38 years a Sister of Charity. Sister had been a convert, a widow, a mother of S. Francis de Sales, who was also a Sister of Charity (entered 1885; died 1930). July 3, 1945 – S. Mary Alice McFarland obtained her first patent on her art creation Sisters Francis de Chantal Woodruff (left) and Francis de Sales Woodruff, mother and daughter. “Flore de Rey,” the X-ray reproduction of flowers. Years of experimentation had resulted in the black and white photographic X-ray of a flower on a white background. With further experimentation, with the assistance of S. Augusta Zimmer, the flowers appeared in pastel colors on a black background. Sept. 15, 1951 – Mother Mary Zoe Farrell received a letter on this date from Father Daniel Lord, SJ, a noted priest, author, producer, and lecturer. He wrote words of praise for the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, especially the ones living at Sts. Peter and Paul Convent in Detroit, Michigan. He had just spent several months there working on his “City of Freedom” production, honoring the 250th anniversary S. Mary Alice McFarland examines her first of the city of Detroit. He wanted to praise patent issued by the State of Ohio. the Sisters who had permitted his use of their Community Room for his uninhibited workspace. Among his gracious words for his Sister-hostesses were these: “most generous hostesses in the world;” “loveliest spirit of friendliness and sisterliness among themselves;” and “extraordinarily courteous to the many people who had to visit Father there.”

Summer 2015

In Memoriam Please visit “In Memoriam” at for biographical information and reflections on the Sisters of Charity and Associates who have died. May our Sisters and Associates enjoy the fruits of their labor as well as peace with their God. S. Pierre Habel July 17, 2015 S. Dolores Johnson June 4, 2015


Sharing the Gifts of the Holy Spirit By S. Joan Elizabeth Cook


ospitality given and It was our turn to receive hospitality received – in a word, that when we traveled to Moncton, New has been the experience of Brunswick, Canada for the annual the Leadership Council members gathering of the SC Federation in recent months. In April the members. We were a group of about 70 Sisters of Charity were the hosts Sisters from eleven SC Congregations to the members of the Leadership and two provinces of Daughters of Conference of Women Religious Charity. Our hosts this year were the (LCWR) Region 6. This includes Religieuses de Notre Dame du Sacré the Sisters in Kentucky, Ohio, Coeur. They introduced us to their and Tennessee. Our Motherhouse beautiful part of the world, and gave Sisters gave a warm SC welcome to us the opportunity to enjoy the local the group of about 65 Sisters who delicacy: lobster. As Federation leaders convened for our spring meeting. The S. Joan Cook (left) talks with S. Marian Durkin, a Sister we took steps to strengthen and deepen Region 6 Sisters always enjoy coming of Charity of St. Augustine (Cleveland, Ohio), during the our ties to one another. For example, LCWR Region 6 meeting at Mount St. Joseph in April. together to renew friendships, pray several SC congregations are opening an together, and discern how to witness intercongregational House of Charity in to the Gospel in today’s world. We practiced ways of praying Brooklyn, NY. And we are formalizing the structure for bringing without words through art and music – a pleasant change from Seton Heritage Ministries in Emmitsburg under the umbrella of our usual office responsibilities. the SC Federation. And speaking of Emmitsburg, we received progress reports about preparation for the “40 Years a Saint” We reflected together on the resolutions we have made at celebration that will take place in Emmitsburg September the annual meetings in the past few years. Several resolutions 12-14, marking the fortieth anniversary of Saint Elizabeth concern immigration and eliminating human trafficking; Seton’s canonization. others involve caring for our Earth: curbing environmental degradation, reducing our carbon footprint, and cutting back on our dependence on fossil fuels. This year our Region is recommending that, rather than introduce a new resolution, we focus on deepening our commitment to these recent resolutions as a national priority for LCWR. In our conversations we looked forward to Pope Francis’ new encyclical, Laudato Si’, which was released a few weeks later. In it Pope Francis points out that care for the Earth and its most vulnerable inhabitants is an ethical mandate to all of us. (You can access the encyclical at http://m. papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html.)


Another gesture of hospitality toward the end of June was to welcome the two new members of our Leadership Council, Sisters Marge Kloos and Mary Caroline Marchal. We five spent a day reflecting together on the mystery and ministry of leadership that was entrusted to us when we were elected in March. We are grateful for your prayers as we begin our four years together. And we thank and bless Sisters Lois Jean Goettke and Christine Rody, who finished their ministry of leadership after sharing their gifts of wisdom and spirit with all of us. Leadership team members of the Sisters of Charity Federation came together June 5-7, 2015, in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada for their annual meeting.


Thank You The Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati are filled with gratitude for the ministry of leadership of Sisters Lois Jean Goettke and Christine Rody. We thank them for their years of loving service as members of the Leadership Council.

“Words cannot express our deep gratitude for the cards, prayers, hugs and words that you have shared with us as we leave office. Our four years were blest with walking together to plant ‘charity’ ever deeper into our living; blest in the ways you allowed us to journey with you in your good times and not so good of times. All we can say is that you were ‘gift’ to us and we thank you. Let us continue to pray for each other as we live our 2015 Chapter Direction.” In love, your Sisters, Christine Rody and Lois Jean Goettke

Summer 2015


Charity Family The Singing Circle By S. Mary Bodde COMMUNITY WELCOMES ASSOCIATES Congratulations to Susan Keister, Anna Nelson, Zulema Ramirez and Genny Sample, who made their commitments as Associates in Mission on Sunday, May 3. The celebration took place in Spring Hill, Florida, at St. Frances Cabrini Church among family, friends and many SC Associates. On Sunday, June 14 the Sisters of Charity Community welcomed Donna Bender, Mary Alice Cunningham, Irene Diesel, Virginia Gilmore, Larry Harty, Catherine Herzog, Michelle Howard and Tina Meder as Associates in Mission. During the celebration lifetime commitments were also made by Jan Metz, Ruth Meyer and Brother Gary Sawyer. Ruth Meyer was also recognized for her 25 years as an Associate in Mission. Congratulations to all of the above mentioned Associates and those who accompanied them on their journeys!

(Front row, from left) Genny Sample, Anna Nelson, Deacon Bob Anderson, (second row, from left) Geri Anderson, Zulema Ramirez, Susan Keister, and Mary Jo Mersmann

(Front row, from left) Cincinnati Associates Donna Bender, Mary Alice Cunningham, Tina Meder, Catherine Herzog, (back row, from left) Michelle Howard, Virginia Gilmore, Irene Diesel, and Larry Harty

S. MIRIAM THOMAS BUSCH CELEBRATES 100 YEARS OF LIVING On June 12 the Community, friends and family celebrated S. Miriam Thomas Busch’s (right) 100th birthday. Sister ministered in education for 41 years, and volunteered part-time in the public relations department of Cincinnati Good Samaritan Hospital following retirement. She is still active and attends a weekly class called “Art with Cheryl” where she works on her watercolor painting.

EARTH DAY FAIR EDUCATES, MOTIVATES EarthConnection, the SC Spirituality Center and the Office of Peace, Justice and Care for Creation celebrated Earth Day on April 22 with the second annual Earth Day Fair. Sisters, Associates and employees were encouraged to stop by to learn more about caring for our (From left) Associate Joyce Metz and S. Joyce Earth while earning chances for raffle Brehm collect used medicine bottles for items. Among the activities for guests recycling during the 2015 Earth Day Fair. were the opportunity to calculate their water footprint, purchase produce from a Farmers’ Market and speak with a representative from Rumpke Recycling.


SANTOS ARRIVES AT MOTHERHOUSE Our S. Blandina Segale collection continues to grow! In May, the Communications and Archives offices received a santos of our Servant of God, created by S. Roberta Westrick. The santos is now displayed in the S. Blandina Parlor at the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse.


We Are Not Commodities By Debbie Weber, OPJCC director


uman trafficking, also known as trafficking in persons, is a modern-day form of slavery. It is a crime under state, federal and international law and is currently the second largest type of criminal activity, exceeded only by the illegal drug trade. Two primary factors driving the spread of human trafficking are high profits and low risk. Like drug and arms trafficking, human trafficking is a market-driven criminal industry that is based on the principles of supply and demand. Every year, traffickers generate billions of dollars in profits by victimizing millions of people around the world, including here in the United States. Human trafficking involves the act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harboring or receiving a person through use of force, coercion, deception or other means, for the purpose of exploiting them. Every year, thousands of men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers, in their own countries and abroad. Poverty is one of several factors that make individuals vulnerable to trafficking. While trafficking victims come from a range of backgrounds, including economically privileged families, human trafficking is linked inextricably with people lacking resources, notably job opportunities.

The following are major forms of human trafficking:

Forced labor, or involuntary servitude, may result when unscrupulous employers take advantage of gaps in law enforcement to exploit vulnerable workers. Immigrants are particularly vulnerable, but individuals are also forced into labor in their own countries. Workers around the world fall victim to bonded labor, or debt bondage, when traffickers or recruiters unlawfully exploit an initial debt the worker assumed as part of the terms of employment. A unique form of forced labor is that of involuntary domestic servitude where the victim lives at a private property, as a housekeeper for an example. Such an environment is conducive to exploitation since authorities cannot inspect private property as easily as they can inspect formal workplaces. A person is a victim of trafficking if they are coerced, forced, or deceived into sex trafficking, or prostitution, or maintained in prostitution through coercion. Forced child labor applies to any child who is subject to involuntary servitude, debt bondage, or slavery through the use of force, fraud, or coercion, regardless of the location of that exploitation. Summer 2015

Artwork by Karen Martin

Child soldiering is a unique and severe manifestation of human trafficking that involves the unlawful recruitment of children, often through force, fraud, or coercion, for labor or sexual exploitation in conflict areas. Organ trafficking is a crime that occurs in three broad categories: 1) traffickers force or deceive the victims into giving up an organ, 2) victims formally or informally agree to sell an organ and are cheated because they are not paid for the organ or are paid less than the promised price, 3) vulnerable persons are treated for an ailment, which may or may not exist and thereupon organs are removed without the victim’s knowledge. If you are interested in a thought-provoking and enlightening evening where you can learn more about human trafficking, consider attending OPJCC’s Human Trafficking Symposium. Keynote speakers will be Edwina Gateley: poet, theologian, artist, writer, lay minister and prophet; Brenda MyersPowell: executive director of The Dreamcatcher Foundation; and Pam Matson: retired FBI special agent. Join us for advocacy and action opportunities, a book signing with Edwina Gateley, fair trade vendors, displays, artwork and more! Sources: Polaris Project, United Nations, U.S. Department of State

Violence Against Women: Human Trafficking Symposium Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015 6:30 p.m.-9 p.m. (Doors open at 5:30 p.m.) Xavier University, Cintas Banquet Center 1624 Herald Avenue Cincinnati, OH 45207 Registration is open and seating is limited. Tickets: $15, $10 for students with ID. A percentage of ticket sales will go to assist trafficking survivors.

Register today! • Visit us online at or use above QR Code. • Send check made out to Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. Mail to Sisters of Charity/OPJCC, 5900 Delhi Road, Mt. St. Joseph, OH, 45051. • Call 513-347-5313.


of First Vows THE FREEDOM

By Megan Moore, Communications student intern


overty, Chastity, Obedience: in American culture, these words are rarely, if ever, associated with freedom. To most who have adopted the American mentality, those words sound like a threat to freedom more than anything. However after talking to both Sisters Andrea Koverman and Tracy Kemme about the profession of their first vows, that was the one word that came up more than any other. Whether the vows allowed them the freedom to worship, or to love vastly without hesitation, freedom was the one concept that both women shared.

Sisters Tracy Kemme (left) and Andrea Koverman began Affiliation with the Community in June 2012.

S. Tracy had similar feelings. “I went from thinking at the very beginning of my discernment process, why would anyone want to take a vow of celibacy, to seeing them as a way of life that brings me so much joy.” In 2013, Sisters Tracy Kemme (left) and Andrea Koverman visited a variety of sites that were part of Elizabeth Seton’s life in Maryland and New York.

Admittedly, this feeling was not immediate for either of them. “The vows were always something that I wasn’t necessarily excited for. Poverty, chastity, and obedience … Not one of those words was appealing to me at first. My whole life I’ve worked not to live in poverty,” said S. Andrea.

In preparation for their first vows, both women met with separate groups of Sisters to discuss what these vows mean to them.

“It’s just awesome to hear the different perspectives on the vows and how at different times in their lives they have integrated them and how the vows meant something different to them throughout their lives and ministries. That was probably the most important part of preparing for vows for me was hearing what they meant to other Sisters,” said S. Tracy. After much reflection, Sisters Andrea and Tracy had formed their own understanding of each individual vow.

Poverty S. Andrea: What surprised me is that it’s not really about materialism and material wealth. What it really means to me is knowing that I’m not self-reliant and I’m not in control, I am a co-creator, I am a partner with God. Remember to always rely on God and look to God for guidance in everything that I do every day, it’s a part of my thinking and my prayer every day. You’re emptying yourself to make room for God, so there is a poorness there, but it is more spiritual than material.

During their Novitiate, (back, from left) Sisters Andrea Koverman and Tracy Kemme, accompanied by S. Donna Steffen, visited S. Sarah Mulligan and the Daniel Comboni Community Clinic in Mixco, Guatemala. 8

S. Tracy: The vow of poverty is so countercultural and I love that; the idea that we hold everything in common, relying on each other and recognizing that everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. I have a poverty and you have a poverty and we support each other in that. To me it is focusing on what’s important and not getting caught up in having as much as you can. It’s single-heartedness for me by keeping God at the center of my life. That is what is important for me and everything else comes second. Intercom

S. Tracy: I think the vow of obedience encompasses all of it. It’s doing what God tells me. That is what all Christians strive to do, what God wants, but to stand up in front of everyone I love and say that my life is going to be about doing what God asks me to do, what an adventure! What comes next for Sisters Andrea and Tracy? “Something that is very important to both Tracy and me is intentional community,” explained S. Andrea. “We want to provide a place for people who are discerning. There seems to be a growing interest in young people and a real spiritual hunger. I think that hunger in young people is a response to today’s society and culture. Our American value system of individualism and the idea that everyone is responsible for pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps is not setting well with people, especially as they become educated and feel a call to respond.” The Future of Charity (newer vowed members or women in formation with religious congregations from the Sisters of Charity Federation) gathered in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 2014.

Chastity S. Andrea: It is a sacrifice in a lot of ways, but it is a huge gift in the sense that it allows God to be the center of my life. This lifestyle allows for that, if I had a husband and children, they would need to be a priority, and that’s not to say that people who are married do not live a God-centered life, but for me, this is the way that I can do that best. Trying to love in a nonpossessive and non-exclusive way, we are called to love a wider and wider circle of people. That is really what the call of chastity is about for me. S. Tracy: I see how not having a family of my own allows me to make everyone my family. Because I am not dedicated to a husband and children I have the freedom to serve in a different way. Just because women religious are celibate doesn’t mean their sexuality turns off. There is this great creativity and generativity that I see in all of our Sisters. I see that in myself, too. That life energy God has put in me goes toward building the kingdom of God and that is very freeing to me. I experience love in very surprising and deep ways that I never thought that I could.

S. Andrea confesses that the journey to her first vows, though rewarding, has not been easy. “It’s a long process, which can be frustrating, but really it is a good thing because you have so much time to really live it out. This past year has really clarified my call – that I am absolutely certain it’s right, which is a really good feeling after so much time.” S. Tracy sums up this sentiment perfectly in her blog, “Diary of a Sister-in-Training”: “From time to time, there will be #youngsisterproblems, but mostly, there are #youngsistergraces.”

In the fall 2014, S. Caroljean Willie, former Federation NGO representative to the United Nations, hosted (from left) Sisters Donna Steffen, Andrea Koverman, Annie Klapheke, SCL candidate Mallory Gerwitz and Tracy Kemme.

Obedience S. Andrea: To me it is obedience to the will of God; not to a hierarchy or to any other entity. I suppose that in theory there could be an issue of a call to obedience but I have not experienced that in Community. There is such a reliance on the Spirit, when God is a part of the decision making and that is what we will obey. It is difficult, though, listening to that inner voice and obeying it when I’d rather not.

Summer 2015


Many members of the Future of Charity, a group that has formed to build relationships among the younger, newer members of the SC Federation, attended the first vow celebration of Sisters Andrea Koverman and Tracy Kemme.

Profess First Vows



n June 27, 2015, Sisters, Associates, friends and family filled the Immaculate Conception Chapel at the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse to celebrate the profession of first vows by Sisters Andrea Koverman and Tracy Kemme. Both women committed themselves “for three years to the service of God, God’s people and all of creation, as a member of the congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati.” “I devote my life to continuing the transformative mission of Jesus to bring about the Kingdom,” they vowed. “I freely promise to live in community and be a woman of communion, energized by Christ’s love and life.”

(Front, from left) Sisters Tracy Kemme and Andrea Koverman sign their vows during the June 27 ceremony.

SC President, Sister Joan Elizabeth Cook, accepted the women’s vows and following the Mass and ceremony in the chapel guests were invited to celebrate with the Community in the Motherhouse Dining Room. Both Sisters Tracy and Andrea will live in SC community and minister full-time; Andrea at the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center, and Tracy at the Social Action Office of the Archdiocese and with Hispanics at Holy Family parish in Price Hill (Cincinnati). During the next three years they will continue to discern their call to lifetime commitment as a Sister of Charity. 10

Sisters Andrea Koverman (left) and Tracy Kemme (right) enter the Motherhouse chapel with Novice Director S. Donna Steffen. Intercom

Summer Happenings in Initial Formation By S. Monica Gundler


his summer at the Mount is one of lush green hills and full blooms. The frequent rain, while certainly putting a damper on picnics and pool parties, has nourished growing from the smallest flowers to the towering trees along the hillside. The drone of lawn mowers, join the birds in a summer chorus. Nature’s rhythm also seems reflected in the summer happenings inside the Motherhouse and beyond. In the life of the Sisters of Charity, summer also brings new things to bloom especially for our women in initial formation.

All of the women in initial formation are part of a Sisters of Charity Federation group called the Future of Charity. In addition to meeting in person twice so far, they have developed a blog which has continued to circulate widely among many audiences. The blog has been a wonderful way for each of them to share their insights and reflections not only with each other, but with potential discerners, friends and family who are growing in understanding more about the process of religious life. Sisters Tracy and Andrea welcomed several “Future” folks to the vow ceremony in June. Casa de Caridad is also welcoming several women for the AVE program. After Volunteer Experience invites women who have finished a year or more of service to reflect, live in community and have the opportunity for retreat and spiritual direction during their time of transition. Although not specifically a program for vocations to religious life, it is an opportunity to offer a time in community with those who also share a desire for service to others and a discernment of God’s call in their life.

Sisters Andrea Koverman and Tracy Kemme professed their first vows in June as a crowded chapel of family, friends, Sisters and Associates gathered to celebrate with them. The liturgy included a beautiful dance of the Magnificat by Novice S. Annie Klapheke. S. Annie is mid-way through her canonical year and will be transitioning to a new volunteer experience at the Good Samaritan Free Health Center in Price Hill this summer as she continues in her Novitiate journey. Pre-entrants Denise Morris, Novice S. Annie Klapheke offered a beautiful dance of the Magnificat during the June first vows liturgy at the Romina Sapinoso and Whitney Motherhouse. Schieltz are also using this summer time to further learn and discern their calls to religious life.

During these busy summer months, we ask that you continue to pray for all of those in initial formation as they walk the path to our shared future.

Romina will be moving back to Casa de Caridad in New Mexico after finishing her master’s degree in Multi-Cultural Education in California. Denise Morris has finished her year of teaching at Resurrection School in Kansas City and attended her brother Dan’s ordination to the priesthood. Denise is also moving to Casa de Caridad in August. Whitney shared her “journey of a lifetime” via photos and updates on Facebook as she and her father set out on an adventure that took her across the Middle East and Europe to five different countries! On her return she attended the first vows celebration and joined S. Annie for a day exploring ministry in the Cincinnati area with SC Ministry Foundation. Summer 2015

Pre-entrant Denise Morris attended her brother Dan’s ordination to the priesthood prior to moving to Casa de Caridad this summer.




Associate Joanie Schaffer volunteered he summer of 2015 offered new at the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse, opportunities for community making cards for and writing messages members and families to learn to victims of human trafficking and more about religious life, in particular women and children in detention the vibrant and active lives of the Sisters centers. “I appreciated learning more of Charity of Cincinnati. In June, the about human trafficking and what the SC Community coordinated two Days Sisters of Charity are doing to help the of Mission and Service, giving volunteers women involved in this situation,” she a chance to work alongside the Sisters said. in service to the local community. During both June service days, volunteers helped with Some of the volunteers had previous “To be able to give back and pay the weeding in the gardens at EarthConnection. relationships with the Sisters, others it forward to the Sisters of Charity just a working knowledge of their for all they have done for our kids and mission at St. Joseph legacy in the community. The time spent together enabled lay Orphanage was an easy decision,” related Jim Jenkins, volunteers to learn more about the contributions the Sisters of development director at St. Joseph Orphanage. “Spending the Charity are making to the world. time with Sisters Winnie Brubach and Caroljean Willie [at Approximately 85 Sisters, Associates and lay friends joined together in a variety of service activities at the following local organizations: Community/Education Matters, EarthConnection, the Price Hill Pacer, Resurrection School, the Sisters of Charity Motherhouse, St. William School and Working In Neighborhoods. Together they painted buildings, cleared yards, planted flowers and even designed cards for trafficking victims and women and children in detention centers. 12

EarthConnection] was icing on the cake!” The Days of Mission and Service are part of a year-long celebration for the “Year of Consecrated Life,” as declared by Pope Francis. The next scheduled activity is planned for Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015, at the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse. The Sisters of Charity will host a Day of Prayer with Religious, offering various prayer experiences to the public throughout the afternoon. For more information visit Intercom

A large group gathered at the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse on Saturday, June 13 to make cards for trafficking victims and women and children in detention centers.

Employees and residents from St. Joseph Home of Cincinnati (a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Charity) participated in the card-making at the Motherhouse.

Painting, sanding, staining and garden work were all on the agenda for volunteers at Working In Neighborhoods on Friday, June 20.

Summer 2015

(From left) Sisters Catherine Kirby, Associate Brother Gary Sawyer and S. Kathryn Connelly volunteered at the Price Hill Pacer on Saturday, June 13. Volunteers at Resurrection School in Price Hill helped plant and weed the school’s grounds.

Volunteers at EarthConnection helped prepare the gardens for planting. Participants at St. William School in Price Hill were responsible for painting the school’s classrooms and hallways. 13


‘ WA K I N G U P T H E W O R L D ’

at Community Matters By Josh Zeller, Communications student intern


n the property of Community Matters, there is a colorful, hand-painted sign that proclaims: “Everyone’s Invited! Garden Parties Every Saturday…” Located in Lower Price Hill, the facility has a flourishing community garden with a mission During her volunteer service at Community Matters, Elizabeth Riedel befriended Keisha to “increase the local community’s and enjoyed spending the morning with her. access to local, fresh produce” and to teach participants how to “grow and prepare food.” In concordance with the care a garden brings, which in that mission, the yard is bursting with turn leads to a better community. green from wooden garden plots, from Through Amelia’s years working tires painted blue and orange, and with the Sisters of Charity, Elizabeth other receptacles that give the garden has known the Sisters all of her life. a unique character. It is all made Elizabeth Riedel (front row, left) was one of the volunteers at She well remembers visiting the possible by the many volunteers and Community Matters during the SC-sponsored Day of Mission and Service on June 13. Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse as community participants that bring a child: touring, attending meetings it life. there with her mother, swimming in the pool with her Girl On Saturday, June 13 one of these volunteers was Elizabeth Scout Troop, and participating in an on-campus scavenger Riedel, who will be entering her sophomore year at the local hunt hosted by S. Judith Metz. She has grown close not only to McAuley High School. She came with her mother, Amelia, S. Judith, but also to S. Sally Duffy, president of SC Ministry to participate in the Year of Consecrated Life (YCL) service Foundation, and S. Alice Ann O’Neill. day, during which—in response to Pope Francis’ call to “Wake After working with the Sisters that day, Elizabeth felt that Up the World”—religious women and men work alongside she had an even better understanding of the spirit of the Sisters laywomen and men to make a difference and raise awareness of Charity. She saw it, she said, in their “willingness to go out of all the ways religious serve Christ and the Church. On that in the heat” and work with people in need. She believes that particular day, Elizabeth worked alongside Sisters Pat Wittberg, the Sisters of Charity are waking up the world by “bettering Annie Klapheke, Maureen Heverin, Mary Ann Humbert, Joyce lives” through events like the one she participated in, helping Richter and Andrea Koverman. They helped to weed, and even the community become more “independent” as they learn how got to plant their own wildflowers, adding splashes of color to grow, sustain, and then take home the crops from their local among the fruits and vegetables. She also got to work and play garden. with members of the community, including a little girl named Keisha, with whom she ran around the garden and drew up Greatly satisfied and touched by her experiences there, fabulous chalk art on the sidewalk. Through that experience, she Elizabeth says that she would definitely like to come back got to know the community a little bit better, moving past her to Community Matters and participate in another one of initial reservations about the area as she saw how “welcoming their garden parties. For those interested in having the same and open” it was. memorable experiences, these parties take place on Saturdays in May through the end of September, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Elizabeth learned about the YCL service day through her Not only is it a good place to give back to the community, it is mother, Amelia, who works for SC Ministry Foundation. The also a place to live the Sisters of Charity mission to “care for all event at the Community Matters garden was one of two Days creation” as the Year of Consecrated Life continues. of Mission and Service sponsored by the Sisters of Charity for the Year of Consecrated Life. It especially appealed to Elizabeth because she feels that a better Earth can be established through 14


Service with a Smile By S. Regina Kusnir


ou can hear her smile. You easily catch her enthusiasm for life. You marvel at the breadth of her experience. You are touched by her lifelong sense of service. Twenty-five years ago, S. Ramona Chisholm entered the Sisters of Charity. The sense of service exhibited by the Sisters of Charity in St. Joseph Hospital in Albuquerque, New Mexico, drew her to the Congregation. Today, she exhibits that same sense of service she so admired as a young woman and she “can’t believe it’s been this long.”

“I love what I do,” S. Ramona said. “There is much stigma against mental illness in society. In our profession we try to understand the pain someone is experiencing. We care about the hidden scars, the fears that penetrate a hesitancy to reach out for help. My prior experience in state hospitals and ERs prepared me for this ministry that cares about those people who are left behind.” S. Ramona started as an intake coordinator and now does utilization review and recertification so insurance coverage is appropriate for each person.

Service is borne of an awakening, “Do what presents itself ” is an urging from deep within to do S. Ramona’s favorite saying of something that adds meaning to the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. She believes lives of others. Her family life was that if you do that, you’ll have the grounded in service. Her dad was in grace of the moment. Or, as the S. Ramona Chisholm works on the refurbishing of the the Navy for 34 years. By the time the Marine motto states: Adapt, Overcome, fiberglass Mother Margaret George statue that typically is young Ramona was in junior high, she Improvise. These sayings open you to located along the Motherhouse Front Avenue. had been in 14 different schools. Her recognize that “God gives us each gifts mom was mostly a stay-at-home mother, yet when Ramona was to use to cover all God’s people.” In her ministry, as a Community in high school her mom took a job in research at the National liaison, and in her art these gifts are to be pondered. Institutes of Health. Her younger brother is a retired social Art is an eclectic avocation for S. Ramona. Given an idea, worker, and her sister is in the CIA. she loves to “run with it.” The Motherhouse Front Avenue Professional service for S. Ramona is in health care. In 1965 she began a three-year degree in nursing. She began work in St. Joseph Hospital and became head nurse on a medical unit. Her ongoing education led her to a nursing degree with certification as a nurse practitioner in psychiatry. Over the years her compassionate care has been experienced by many in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Pueblo, Colorado, Good Samaritan Hospital in Dayton, Ohio, and now at the Lindner Center for Hope in Cincinnati, Ohio. Lindner Center of Hope opened in 2008 and S. Ramona has been there since its opening. It is a psychiatric facility in Mason, Ohio, that services a population from adolescents to elders. The appearance of a ski lodge is reflective of the kind of inpatient and outpatient care given to those in need of substance abuse programs and those with all forms of mental illness. A diagnostic inpatient service admits individuals for a 10-40 day stay enabling a team of specialists to come to a right diagnosis and determine proper treatment.

Summer 2015

statue of Mother Margaret George was a joint endeavor with S. Peggy Beaudette, SC of New York. Now she is refurbishing the fiberglass statue – a first for her – in collaboration with S. Peggy. She once built a three-story fountain for a Community gathering. She made molds of elderly, middle-aged and child’s hands over which the waters flowed representing those we minister to. This spring the tall stacks for the Federation meeting were sculpted out of cardboard. None of this is work, it is fun. She cherishes being asked to do designs and centerpieces for jubilees and Community events, loving the sense of anticipation and getting things ready for celebrations. 25 Years and Looking Forward: S. Ramona lives life to the full. She hopes that in this Year of Consecrated Life we “wake up the Church” by asking ourselves: “What do we have to say? How are we going to bring the Gospel to the ‘new world’ where people don’t want to go to church, where church is dying from lack of attendance, where the Church is seemingly not meeting the needs of the people?”



A Prophetic Voice of Our Day By Megan Moore, Communications student intern


very year, The Cincinnati Enquirer recognizes 10 women for their contributions to the community through its Women of the Year program. This, the 47th year, Sister of Charity of Cincinnati Paula Gonzalez was named one of those 10 women.

glowing nomination letter written by Buffy about S. Paula, her admiration for her former professor is clear.

According to its website, The Enquirer looks for “accomplished women who, through their volunteer work or current careers, have enhanced education, charities or philanthropy, and civic life in the Tristate.”

In the letter, Buffy stated: “Like Elizabeth Ann Seton, who founded the Sisters of Charity, S. Paula is ‘a citizen of the world.’ Her retreats, lectures and advocacy have taken her beyond the Cincinnati area, including trips to United Nations Earth Summits in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Johannesburg, South Africa. But she has also made a lasting impact on the Cincinnati area.”

When Elizabeth “Buffy” Barkley, professor and chair of the Department of English and Modern Languages at Mount St. Joseph University, read this criteria, S. Paula Gonzalez immediately came to mind. Buffy came to know S. Paula when she was a student at the then College of Mount St. Joseph; S. Paula was her biology professor. Reading the

Though she has retired from teaching biology, S. Paula has not retired from teaching about our Earth. Of the 1,800 talks she has given, the titles have included “Called to Transformation—Today’s Human Challenge,” “The Wonder of the Universe: Earth as Teacher,” and “From Arrogance to Reverence.”



Fellow Sister of Charity of Cincinnati Mary Bookser had this to say about her dear friend: “S. Paula has had an ever-deepening ecological spirituality since childhood. Her family grew vegetables, had chickens as well as fruit trees. This sustained them and they lived in gratitude for this help from God’s Earth.” It was in 1981 that S. Paula’s passion for the Earth led to the building of La Casa del Sol, a 1,500-square-foot home built entirely from recycled materials and heated mainly by the sun. Ten years later, Sister worked to build EarthConnection, a transformed four-car garage, heated and cooled by a combination of active and passive solar strategies. S. Paula uses EarthConnection as a teaching tool for those who share Sister’s commitment to “living lightly on the Earth.” “I’ve taught a lot of people in the past 60 years,” said S. Paula. “I hope to have taught that all of us are a part of this planet, which is in serious trouble.” This is not Sister’s first honor. In 1998 S. Paula received the Ohio Alliance for the Environment Award for Distinguished Service in the Field of Environmental Education. The Individual Contribution Over a Lifetime Award was presented to S. Paula during the alliance’s annual conference. In 2002 the alumni association of the College of Mount St. Joseph (now Mount St. Joseph University) awarded her the Alumni Career Achievement Award for her contributions to the progress of Earth awareness and promotion of the idea of the self-sufficient Earth.

William Lonneman of Mount St. Joseph University’s Environmental Action Committee who works side by side with S. Paula believes, “She is, without doubt, one of the major prophetic voices of our day urging people to change so that we might live sustainably in the years to come. She is based in deep science and spirituality, with an amazing practical streak that has been years ahead of its time for decades now. She has dedicated her life to teaching and prodding, relentlessly pushing people to face reality. She has the hopefulness of a true follower of Jesus; she sees what is happening and it is not pretty, but it does not defeat her.” S. Paula is anything but defeated when looking towards the future of our Earth. “We need to have the humility to realize we have made mistakes and that we need to correct them. I know we can make these corrections. I am absolutely convinced. We are little but we are powerful.” There is no better way to describe S. Paula herself. At nearly 83 years old, she, as Buffy Barkley said, “is such an energetic, driven woman. She won’t give up, she will never give up. She may slow down. But she won’t give up.”

“Before people were talking about the Earth and climate change, that was already part of [Paula’s] life and she did not give up. She is so aware of the beauty and the fragility of life as well as the interconnectedness,” Buffy explained. S. Paula’s humble response to the title of Woman of the Year? “I was surprised, I certainly wasn’t expecting anything like this at all. It was a pleasant surprise, though.” All of S. Paula’s efforts regarding education about the state of our Earth are not in vain. In June, Pope Francis released his encyclical, Laudato Si’, a call to conversation and action about our changing environment. “The morning the encyclical came out, I was in a retreat in Emmitsburg, Maryland. I made sure to incorporate [the encyclical] into the reflection that I gave. I want people to know that we should be excited about this!” said S. Paula. In an interview with National Catholic Reporter, S. Paula shared her enthusiasm about Pope Francis’ encyclical, addressing how we are shaping the future of our planet: “I’m exceedingly excited, and especially thrilled with all the background stuff the pope has included,” she told NCR, predicting that “he’s going to grab the attention of the global community, for sure. I think people will be really moved and motivated.” Summer 2015

(From left) S. Marge Kloos, Elizabeth Barkley, S. Barbara Davis, S. Paula Gonzalez, S. Mary Bookser and S. Nancy Bramlage at Mount St. Joseph University’s commencement ceremony in May.


n Saturday, May 9, 2015, S. Paula Gonzalez received the Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree from Mount St. Joseph University. In addition, S. Paula addressed graduate and nontraditional students during the University’s morning commencement ceremony.


Elizabeth the Friend By S. Judith Metz


Elizabeth formed friendships in a variety of contexts, some from family connections, others in the context of church and social activities. But is seems that wherever she went she attracted people who loved and supported her, and whom she loved and supported – in Italy, during her short stay in Baltimore, Elizabeth held friendship with her priest-associates as a dear treasure. She told such as Simon Brute, and her lifelong friend, Julia Scott, of course, among the Sisters, “You have a friend who would students, and their parents fly to you from any part of the in Emmitsburg. Through her world, leave children, everything warm caring nature, she came on the smallest intimation she to know each person in her or his could be useful to you.” Elizabeth’s uniqueness – their interests, their friendships energized her and formed go e sorrows, their concerns, their needs. her into the person she became. She od oth M Yo e Even before Margaret George moved to tl ur r realized from an early age the importance r lit etur y ou n do es f Emmitsburg, her letters refer to Elizabeth o l u of relationships and spent her energy to this so as her “mountain Mother” and express concern sustaining them. Regarding each person as a special about Elizabeth “springing from true friendship.” A gift, she cherished each friendship as a unique and precious note Elizabeth wrote years later as Margaret was going to relationship that required attentiveness and care. “The join the Sisters in New York demonstrates her individualized longer I live and the more I reflect and know how to value concern for each: “Beg Rose to do all she can to get Fanny the realities of friendship,” she told Eliza Sadler, “the more home – to let Cecilia have all the time she can with her precious that distinction becomes.” parents … watch carefully to make Felicite happy – and the All her adult life Elizabeth enjoyed the blessing of health of Scholastica who cannot bear much wet and cold you intimate friendships. Her warm, caring personality naturally know … and take care of Margaret exactly as you would of reached out to embrace others, and she willingly accepted EAS.” their embrace. Besides the many hours she spent visiting, For Elizabeth, each of her friendships was unique and sitting with others in times of illness or bereavement, and held a special place in her life. Julia Scott and Elizabeth engaging in her benevolent work, she was willing to spend offered each other unquestioning acceptance and unwavering long hours early in the morning before others arose, or late support through all the vagaries of life. S. Cecilia O’Conway into the night sharing herself with others in her letters and and Elizabeth spurred each other to greater heights in their journals. Loving, loyal, and generous she embraced both the quest for God. Rev. Simon Brute and Elizabeth were soul joys and sufferings of her friends and was open to sharing friends and spiritual directors to each other. Each of these her own with them. She excelled at creating a welcoming relationships encompassed the totality of life from the atmosphere. In one instance she promised her sister-in-law mundane to the sublime. Honesty, candor, spontaneity, and Rebecca Seton a “comfortable fire and everything in my trust characterized each of them. They shared what was most power to make you happy.” precious to them with openness and freedom, and they were truly mirrors of God’s love for each other. G


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ot more welcome are the sunbeams at my window than your well-known footstep at my door.” Who would not thrill to be greeted in such a way? Yet, expressions such as this flowed readily for the pen, and presumably the lips, of Elizabeth Seton.


The Gift of Friendship By Sisters Kathryn Ann Connelly and Catherine Kirby

Throughout her life, Elizabeth honored friendship as “one of the great spiritual resources of human existence.”1

aspect, but to share in prayer, to share in the good and the not so good; to agree or not agree; to foster the good in the other; to count on, to rely on, to be there, are all part of this wonderful gift called friend.


Fortunately, we do enjoy many of the same activities; we both like to travel, we both like history, we both like to read, we both have been educators. Unfortunately we have had some health issues calling for a bit more than “support” – from asthma attacks to a stroke, we have helped one another to recognize God’s ways are sometimes not our ways. We’ve dealt with family deaths, we celebrated all manner of good – from jubilees to job success. The disappointments that life provides have been faced hopefully with integrity.

s we think of Elizabeth Seton in relation to her lifestyle both before her journey into the Catholic Church, and after her conversion, and during her struggles as a young widow and mother to the formation of her religious community and living as a vowed member, the gift of friendship was a constant. In all the biographical sketches of her life, every author has made references to this outstanding gift. Elizabeth not only maintained such relationships, but fed and encouraged them. Sharing friendship to her meant more than being a support to the other. It meant sharing in the good and the not so good; in the joy and in the sorrow; in the humdrum of day-to-day life and in the exhilarating special occasion. It meant “being there” whether in actuality or vicariously. It meant being the Jesus person walking with; it meant praying for and with; it meant laughing with or crying with; it meant having an alter ego. As Elizabeth’s daughters, the two Cathryns as we call ourselves (Kathryn and Catherine), have been truly blessed with this gift of friendship. As we walk in her footsteps, our friendship has grown and deepened. The Jesus person in our lives is truly present and as we look to Elizabeth, she has shown us the way. To be supportive of each other is just one Summer 2015

Elizabeth shared her life with her many friends, we try to do the same. The Congregation is our priority – so we are present. We do show up, we do give 100 percent and neither of us will tolerate anything less from the other. We are for others, the poor and the uneducated have a special place in our hearts. We try to make hospitality our hallmark, and our door is open. The welcome mat is out. We are ready for a party or a visit! Urged by the love of Christ and in the spirit of our founder, Elizabeth Ann Seton, we Sisters of Charity strive to live Gospel values. We choose to act justly, to build loving relationships, to share our resources with those in need and to care for all creation. - SC Mission Statement Joan Barthel, Life of an American Saint: Elizabeth Seton



Adapting to the Times By S. Barbara Hagedorn


very treasure needs restoration over the course of its lifetime. In 2010 the time had come for Mother Margaret Hall (MMH). Renovations had been done in the past but this time the need for more complete work in the nursing rooms was necessary. The sanitary lines were deteriorating because of age. A major renovation would require coming up to licensure codes for nursing homes. As an example the bathrooms would have to be handicap-accessible. All of this prompted the Leadership Council in 2010 to engage Plante Moran to do a feasibility study looking at room size, private baths and showers, improving the air quality of the building, modernizing and upgrading the HVAC, providing an integrated nurse call system, and having wireless access in place for the residents. PDT Architects and Turner Construction were hired by the Leadership Council to move the plan forward. As ideas became possible plans, focus groups for the Congregation were held to get input from the Sisters. The committee of S. Pat Saul, Tim Moller (chair), Jim Franz and Vicki Humphrey was appointed. Tim Moller describes the preparation phase for the project. “We worked very methodically at the outset to listen to the Sisters and get their ideas. We involved them in the feasibility study as we were evaluating our construction options – whether to relocate our Sisters to another facility for a year or more or to renovate in place. We provided updates along the way as we were discerning our approach – at annual Fall Congregational Days, and at special focus groups and feasibility study updates. We even constructed a special mock-up room in Mother Margaret Hall’s dining room so that Sisters could give us invaluable input which they did with customary enthusiasm.”

The entire project was a major undertaking on several fronts. Care for the Sisters was first and foremost. The stewardship of the financial aspect of the project was always a consideration. Great efforts were made to keep costs controlled as much as possible. One unique effort was refurbishing of the elevators with geo-thermal mechanics and upgrading the interior of the cabs by covering this work with grant money. The staff of MMH provided quality care for the residents throughout the dust and disruption. MMH passed the yearly state surveys during the time of the construction. This was no easy task but attests to the dedication and special efforts of those involved – the residents, staff, managers, project leader John Cissell and his team, Tim Moller and the Leadership Council who was supportive behind the scenes. The tower was one of the first signs of renovation construction.

In the fall 2012, the first signs of construction began taking place with the creation of the tower which housed all non-clinical services such as central supplies, laundry and trash chutes. Construction inside the building began in 2013 on floors 6 and 7. As the Sisters vacated their rooms, the crews began to renovate two floors at a time. The floors were released to Mother Margaret after a state inspection and the staff could begin to move the Sisters into their new rooms. Another feature of the renovation was the new front entrance which ties so beautifully into the existing building. The attractive artwork which Sisters Pat McNally and Mary Ellen Murphy procured and placed throughout Mother Margaret Hall provides a peaceful and homelike touch. Buying new furnishings and recycling others added a simple and lovely style to the facility. 20


Renovation work on the Mother Margaret Hall Community Room.

MMH social worker Ellen Dillon enjoys her new work space.

The blessing of the newly renovated Mother Margaret Hall began in the MMH chapel on May 27, 2015. Summer 2015

The beautifully renovated front entrance of Mother Margaret Hall welcomes guests to the building.

“With the completion of Mother Margaret Hall, the Sisters of Charity have adapted to the times, have provided a state-of-the-art home for the Sisters and are positioned to deliver quality care to residents for years to come,” Tim said. “Credit goes to S. Pat Saul and the Mother Margaret Hall staff who didn’t miss a beat while delivering excellent care to the Sisters, to Turner Construction and our employees involved in the project. This was a complex, technically difficult endeavor with many surprises and challenges that only a 70-year-old building could present.” The blessing of the new space occurred May 27, 2015, beginning in the chapel. The Leadership Council then proceeded to each floor to bless every room. It was a culmination of a project well done. S. Pat Saul reflects on the project in these words: “Now that the renovations are complete, I look back and realize that none of what we accomplished would have happened if we didn’t have a unified group dedicated to make the renovations possible as well as caring for the residents in place. Staff and residents to a person would ask how could they help, what could they do to assist and how was I doing. I know I was the ‘face’ for the remodeling but the support and trust from so many made it possible. I found the daily prayer by our residents and Motherhouse residents a tremendous support. I never heard negative comments over the disruptions. There were frustrating days and events. Yet, there was always someone who would be present with a smile and a reassuring comment. Most of all, I found an atmosphere of support which speaks to me of a job well done ... and for that I am humbled and grateful for the role I played in this effort.” 21


We Ask the Wrong Questions By S. Jean Miller


bout one year ago our attention was glued to the U.S.-Mexico Border where mothers with children and unaccompanied minors were coming into the country in droves after long trips from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. They were fleeing violence, poverty, and drug cartels as they left family, friends, homelands and culture. If they had families in the U.S., many of them were sent to their family member and told they were to report to immigration offices for the legal process to determine whether they had an asylum case and could remain with their family member. During this process the children are in school, learning English while mothers are working or adjusting to this country. As the numbers of mothers and children continued to come, President Obama decided to deport some of the new arrivals back to their countries in order to send a message: “Don’t come because you will only suffer a long violent journey to be sent home.” He also spoke with the Mexico government asking them to detain them there. This did not deter the flow from Central America. It only slowed the numbers entering the U.S. They still come and our “aggressive deterrence strategy” is detention in large centers in Karnes, Texas, Dilley, Texas, and Berks, Pennsylvania. The women there have good asylum cases but the legal process is long and instead of sending them to family and friends where they can work and get education for the children while they participate in the local immigration offices, they suffer months of detention. The Dilley center, run by Corrections Corporation of America, is attempting to be humane in their care for residents, providing clothes, counselors, medical services, religious services, playgrounds, sports equipment and education for children, etc. but the women and children are psychologically and physically ill and fearful. Their questions are: Will we be sent back? Will we be able to pay the exorbitant bond charges? Will we be able to express ourselves to the judge on television in order to be believed about our case? Will we find a job if we are finally freed? Our question might be “what is humane?” The dictionary says humane is benevolent, kind, civilized. In this center, many have more services than they had in their own countries. However, they are not happy. They are suffering psychologically. The children are not eating and they are 22

crying to leave. They have been stripped of their human dignity as they lost their freedom to care for themselves and their children. What was the reason of the government when they changed the process to detention? At the Dilley dedication ceremony, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson announced that the purpose of this facility was to deter families from fleeing to the United States and to send a message: “If you come here, you should not expect to simply be released.” So these women are subjected to detention or lack of freedom so that others will not come to the U.S. They are guilty of no crime. They are asylum-seekers and we are detaining them and trying to tell people that detention is “humane.” Bishops and interfaith groups have visited the Dilley center and written letters calling for the closure of these centers, as immoral. The United Nations Human Rights Council called upon the United States to “halt the detention of immigrant families and children.” Recently, 136 House Democrats signed a letter to the Department of Homeland Security, calling upon the government to end the practice of detaining mothers and children in family detention centers. A portion of their letter said, “[f ]or nearly one year we have been closely following the troublesome conditions of confinement, due process issues, and serious developmental and medical concerns of those being detained. We believe the only solution to this problem is to end the use of family detention.” The centers remain open with some slight changes in the length of stay and the amount of bond. However we continue to attempt to answer the wrong question. The answer continues to be: Detention is not humane or respectful of human dignity for the women and children. And the question of what is happening in their country that causes them to flee goes unspoken. Editor’s note: On July 24, 2015, a federal district court decision by Judge Dolly Gee ruled that families in detention must be released because they violate a 1997 legal settlement known as the Flores Settlement. We are waiting and calling for the government to respond by releasing and changing their practice of detaining immigrant families. INTERCOM

Associate Virginia Gilmore L oving L ife :

By Josh Zeller, Communications student intern

Where do you currently live?

at the Motherhouse – it’s like my parish. I’m in a Centering Prayer group, and have been trying to take advantage of the Spirituality Center’s activities, courses, and book sharings.

I live in Bayley Village [independent living cottages at Bayley, a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Charity]. I moved in about two years ago with my husband, who is since deceased. I’m very happy here. I moved from Chicago, Illinois, and everybody has been open, friendly, and very good to me in Cincinnati.

Tell us a little about yourself, including your hobbies, interests, or volunteer activities.

When did you make your commitment as an Associate in Mission?

(From left) S. Grace Ann Gratsch, Associate Virginia Gilmore and Virginia’s son Frank at the June 14 Associate commitment ceremony at the Motherhouse.

I am 80 years old, so I’ve been retired for a good while. But I worked in the Atlanta Public Schools, and taught the third grade and kindergarten for a short time. I am trained in speech therapy, however, and I mostly worked with children as a speech pathologist. I also taught African-American children in the late 1960s, when they had just integrated the Atlanta school system. I like to read, and I volunteer at Manna Outreach, an emergency food pantry serving those who live in and near the Price Hill neighborhood. I plan to volunteer soon at Mother Margaret Hall. I am an ex-runner, and was a hiker. I still do yoga, and I’m a nature lover. I was activities chair for Bayley Village for over a year.

On June 14; I studied for a year with S. Grace Ann [Gratsch]. So, I have been an Associate for a short time, but the spiritual growth since then has been on-going, and I’m very glad I made that step.

How have some of the Sisters or your fellow Associates touched your life? They’re friendly, open, loving, accepting. They are earthy, and have no pretensions. I am completely [in step] with their values. It is so exciting to see the three young women – Andrea [Koverman], Tracy [Kemme], and Annie [Klapheke] – here at the Motherhouse. I am still getting to know the Associates. I want to join a small group, one having both Sisters and Associates as members.

Do you see yourself touching others’ lives similarly? I pray that I can. I’ve been given gifts; I have a passion and love within that will enable me to reach out to everyone.

How did you become acquainted with the Sisters In what ways do you feel you carry out the spirit of Charity of Cincinnati? of Elizabeth Seton in your daily life? I grew up in Erie, Pennsylvania, where there was the Sisters of Mercy, the Benedictine nuns, and the St. Joseph Sisters. I became enthralled with Catholicism, but was not a “cradle Catholic”; I didn’t convert until I turned 40. I had never heard of the Sisters of Charity until we moved here, and now my whole heart is with their mission and their charism, and the Sisters themselves – a new spiritual enrichment is going on inside me. That’s why I became an Associate. I attend Mass Summer 2015

I have been enabled to bring the Lord into my daily life, to bring contemplation to everything that I do. Living alone, and living close to the Sisters, I have more time. I have three sons, and I was so busy being a mother and a teacher, and entertaining, cooking, and housekeeping. But now I am free of those responsibilities, and can concentrate on the spiritual part of my life, and I am very grateful for that.


A Heart Capable of Love By S. Anita Maroun, Eastern U.S. regional leader, L’Arche


ean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche, an international network of faith communities where people with and without intellectual disabilities live and work together, received the 2015 Templeton Prize in May 2015. In 1963 Jean visited psychiatric hospitals in France where many people with disabilities were living, and concluded that they are among the most oppressed people in the world. Jean’s understanding of their need was crystallized when an institutionalized man asked him simply, “Will you be my friend?” In 1964, Jean invited three men from an institution, Raphael, Philippe, and Dani, to live with him in a small house in Trosly-Breuil, a village north of Paris. He named the house L’Arche (French for “ark and “arch”), Jean Vanier receives the 2015 Templeton Prize from Heather Templeton Dill (left) and to symbolize both Noah’s Ark, a “boat” to which he Jennifer Templeton Simpson (right) at the Templeton Prize ceremony at St. Martin-in-thecould invite people in pain, and an “arch” or bridge Fields, London, May 18, 2015. Photo courtesy Templeton Prize-Paul Hackett connecting heaven and earth. Dani spent the very first night screaming in anguish and running through “To become fully human is to let down the barriers, to open the village. The next morning Dani went back to the institution up and discover that every person is beautiful. Under all the jobs where he stayed until he died. It was then that Jean realized L’Arche would not be for everyone – that L’Arche could only be a you’re doing, responsibilities you carry, there is you,” Vanier says. “And you, at the heart of who you are, you’re somebody also sign of hope not a solution for all. Today a total of 148 L’Arche communities can be found in 38 crying out, ‘does somebody love me?’ Not just for what I can do, countries! The communities are ecumenical or inter-religious and but for who I am?” now form the International Federation of L’Arche. In most histories written about L’Arche you will not find any reference to Dani. I share it with you because we tend to put individuals like Jean Vanier and Mother Theresa on pedestals. They are raised to the level of saints and their lives of commitment seem unattainable by those of us that admire them. The truth, however, is that Jean Vanier is a man who by his own admission simply wanted to be a friend of Jesus and those that Jesus deeply loved – the poor. The incredible gift of his life is that he has taught many of us to do the same; seek Jesus and befriend the poor. Jean’s discovery in his search for Jesus is that the poor had the ability to transform his heart. In inviting those first men to come and live with him, Jean believed that his responsibility was to “take care of them.” Many of us came to L’Arche in the same way – wanting to help persons that were somehow less than – handicapped-disabled-disfigured-not fully human. What we discovered is that if we allowed those that seem disabled to touch our hearts they had the power to transform us – the power to help us become more fully human. 24

Valued at $1.7 million, the Templeton Prize is one of the world’s largest annual awards given to an individual and honors a living person who has made exceptional contributions to affirming life’s spiritual dimension. The prize is the cornerstone of the Templeton Foundation’s international efforts to serve as a catalyst for discoveries relating to human purpose and ultimate reality. The Templeton Prize will be donated to the International L’Arche Foundation that helps fund communities who don’t have access to governmental funding or subsidies. In his acceptance speech, Vanier made a plea for global peace. “Before being Christians or Jews or Muslims, before being Americans or Russians or Africans, before being generals or priests, rabbis or imams, before having visible or invisible disabilities we are all human beings with hearts capable of loving,” he said. Please pray for peace and for all L’Arche communities around the world who seek to be signs of hope that peace can exist among those who are different from another, and yet, all human and capable of loving! Intercom

C R E AT I N G A C O L L E G E - G O I N G

Culture at DPCR By S. Jeanne Bessette, OSF, Ed.D.


ePaul Cristo Rey High School has just graduated its first class! We have made history in our own small way as 100 percent of these 48 students were accepted to college, altogether earning $2.9 million in merit-based scholarships, including some full-tuition scholarships. People who study college access, persistence and graduation come to the same conclusion time and time again: the greatest factor in determining success is not personal ability or drive but family income, a factor most college students cannot possibly control. While DePaul Cristo Rey High School also cannot control or change families’ incomes, we can give our students what their parents’ economic realities cannot provide. From the day they enter our school, we begin to build a college-going culture. On day one, they learn the school goal: All students will graduate from high school and college. How? Together. Every teacher, administrator and member of our support staff is committed to creating a school culture that supports this goal. (From left) DPCR seniors Noah Sherman, Jeff Peebles and Eugene Moore were members of the school’s history-making first graduating class.

Our Cristo Rey-influenced curriculum ensures that each student is increasingly college-ready. Most ninth graders enroll in two language arts classes to strengthen reading, writing and speaking skills which are critical to success in every subject area. Most sophomores will take two math classes, one that incorporates STEM experiences (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) into applied mathematics, and one that moves them from algebra into geometry. These extra classes address common deficiencies and give them a leg up compared to their socioeconomic peers in other schools. We promise our students college readiness if they “do” our curriculum, ask for help when they need it, and work to their best ability in our Corporate Work Study Program. They develop skills of teamwork, persistence, critical thinking and accuracy both at work and in school. We provide multiple opportunities to visit colleges over four years of high school, something that parents typically provide in higher-income families. We promise our students college acceptance as we work tirelessly to find them the right match in selecting colleges. Unlike many schools serving lower-income students, we do not default to the local community colleges, but push students to look seriously at four-year colleges and universities. Trends across the Cristo Rey Network – soon to be 30 schools strong – show that students’ likelihood of finishing college increases 600 percent if they go directly to four-year schools. We also promise our graduates support as they work their way through college and persist to another commencement. This year DPCR will have a college support coordinator on staff to stay in touch with our graduates, teach them to advocate for themselves, and troubleshoot situations that drive other lower-income students home before they graduate (lack of funds, homesickness, social exclusion, family financial needs). She’ll provide encouragement, guidance through their own problem-solving, and even pay a college visit if that’s what is needed to keep a student in school. As our first 48 students go off to 20 different colleges, we believe they are prepared for success. We don’t kid ourselves that they won’t struggle, but we do commit ourselves to helping them persist. The students at DPCR, 300 in our next four classes, depend in part on the success of the Class of 2015 as they too come to believe that “All Students Will Graduate from High School and College. Together.”

SPrInG 2015


Timeless Treasures By S. Judith Metz Sophia was 13 when Mother Seton died: she remembered it well. Their beloved “mountain Mother” was getting weaker and weaker. Everyone knew she was going to die, yet they were all praying their hearts out that she would get better. And then came the day in early 1821. Everyone was devastated. The place seemed Allow Sister Sophia’s dulcimer to draw you in — so empty without her. it was brought with her, along with slaves, and horses, and fortune S. Rose came from New York to be the new mother—and her when she became a Sister of Charity at St. Joseph’s in Emmitsburg former beloved teacher, Sister Margaret, came back to take charge in 1825. of the academy! When Sophia, at 17, decided to become a Sister Brought with her from her Maryland home called “Cedar Grove” — of Charity, she kept her dulcimer with her and later carried it to an estate scattered with cedar and catalpa trees, nestled among missions in Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland and Louisiana. It the green mountains. How many acres? How many slaves? was a comfort to have it, to be calmed by the soft string sounds, to provide entertainment for her companions and the children ophia Gilmeyer received a fine education as a boarding she cared for. Her broad repertoire allowed her to choose just the student at the newly opened St. Joseph’s School in right selection for any occasion. Emmitsburg, Maryland. She felt close to all the Sisters, In the spring of 1850, Sophia was travelling by riverboat from but she loved Mother Seton best. She felt privileged to be in New Orleans to Emmitsburg. Among her belongings she carried her presence, and blessed when this saintly woman visited her her dulcimer—and a doll dressed in the Daughter of Charity class to teach them—or when the students could perform for habit. Each mission had received one, showing them the dress her and the other Sisters on Sunday evenings. Sophia loved her instrument, loved sharing its beautiful sound. Received as a gift they would wear as a result of their superiors’ decision to join the French Daughters of Charity. Sophia had questions about from her parents when she was quite young, she practiced long this change; she was pondering them as a boat made a stop in hours; mastered many pieces. She was proud of her ability to Cincinnati. There she discovered that her old friend and teacher, play the sweet melodies that she loved. S. Margaret [George], had the same questions; felt the same disquiet that she did. The older woman shared her hesitations — and her fear that the community was losing Mother Seton’s American spirit and vision. Sophia learned that some of the Sisters in Cincinnati had declined to renew their vows because S. Joan Cook enjoys of the change and were in a quandary about their future. Some playing S. Sophia even felt that they could not continue in the community. Sophia’s Gilmeyer’s 190-year-old heart leaped! These were her sentiments too! This was the place dulcimer during special Community events. for her; these were the women she wanted to be with! And so she joined them then as a founding member of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati — one of the “Mystic Seven.” Margaret, who loved music herself, remembered Sophia’s dulcimer from their happy days together at Emmitsburg. She encouraged the younger woman to share her music with the community and with the girls at St. Peter’s Orphan Asylum and School. Thus, the dulcimer became part of the new community in Cincinnati. It went to the boys’ orphanage in 1852, and then to St. John’s Hospital. In 1857 Sophia took it to Mount St. Vincent, dubbed “Cedar Grove” after her own family home in Maryland. The dulcimer’s last stop on its long journey was at the fine new St. Joseph’s Orphan Asylum in Cumminsville where she was named director, remaining there until her sudden death in 1872. Her dulcimer—the only relic we have of Sister Sophia. “She was a woman of the most refined and religious texture. She was truly a good religious,” Mother Regina remarked. “[H]umility and simplicity were her special characteristics.” Taut strings, tiny wooden hammers, A fine gleaming, handcrafted wooden case — The old dulcimer sits on a small table in the Motherhouse chapel Poised once again to sing out its sweet melody.




Ten Years Strong By Megan Moore, Communications student intern


h, there are so many, it’s hard to pick just one,” said S. Marty Dermody when asked to name a certain instance in which Rebecca O’Leary, Motherhouse food manager, has touched her life. It’s understandable that it may be hard for Sister to come up with just one instance, considering their friendship is 10 years strong. The first example that came to S. Marty’s mind, though, was this one: “I had commented on some perfume that Rebecca wore; I would always tell her how good she smelled. Later, she brought me the perfume that she had worn. Little things like that are what make her special.” It was when the two realized that Rebecca’s husband, Keith, worked with S. Marty’s brother, Tim, that the two began to develop a friendship. “She was hearing Keith talk about a Dermody and she connected the name with me. After that, we started to talk about a variety of different things,” S. Marty recalls. “She found out that I liked giraffes and she has always managed to surprise me with either material with a giraffe pattern, or a statue or a saying. She also heard that I was a birder, and she has a brother who takes a lot of bird pictures from his yard; she would send them to me. Just the fact that she was interested in my bird watching meant a lot.” Like a good friend, Rebecca has been by S. Marty’s side throughout the hard times as well. “She was very sensitive when my mom and dad were sick. She was always attentive to how they were doing. I just think that she is a real open spirit, and sensitive, too. And more recently I was really touched by her kindness when I was recuperating from my knee surgery.” Of course, there is still an air of fun to their friendship, as S. Marty explained: “There was a time at the Motherhouse when we didn’t have tacos. She would always tease me, ‘We’ll have them tomorrow.’ We didn’t, but we would tease back and forth. Now we have tacos almost every Tuesday!” S. Marty praises Rebecca’s work as well as her friendship. “She is very good at what she does in the kitchen. For example, when I was working on the Chapter Planning Committee, one of my responsibilities was the food committee, so I had to touch base with the kitchen staff, often. Rebecca made things easy. “She makes it very nice and welcoming when the Sisters are here and when guests come. She puts an effort into those events, which are not small events. There are sometimes around a hundred extra people. I have never seen her get stressed, and that could happen very easily to someone in her position. She is detailed-oriented, but she is also very relaxed. Because she’s like this, things always seem to go the way they’re supposed to – very smoothly.” Since moving to the Motherhouse, S. Marty has only grown closer to Rebecca. Even though they see each other frequently, it doesn’t change the fact that whenever they see each other in the dining room, they exchange a hug. (From left) S. Marty Dermody enjoys the friendship she has developed with Motherhouse Food Service Manager Rebecca O’Leary. Summer 2015

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 Photographer S. Marty Dermody Director of Communications S. Georgia Kitt Executive Council Liaison S. Mary Bookser 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: Subscriptions: $15 per year

5900 Delhi Road Mount Saint Joseph, OH 45051 sistersofcharityofcincinnati 27

5900 Delhi Road Mount Saint Joseph, OH 45051


A large group of Sisters and lay volunteers spent the morning of June 13 weeding the gardens of EarthConnection during one of two Days of Mission and Service in June.

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S. Paula Gonzalez was one of 10 women recognized by The Cincinnati Enquirer through its Women of the Year program. Former and present Leadership Team members and employees blessed the rooms and space in the newly renovated Mother Margaret Hall.

Summer 2015 Intercom  

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

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