Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters SSpS Mission Called by the Spirit ~ Embracing the World
2011 “Through God’s guidance and grace, I can help others. God is always one step ahead of me, but I keep on working and following Him.”
~Sr. Therese Mary Martinez
ALSO IN THIS ISSUE: The New Preschool in St. Kitts - Page 4 New Missionaries - Page 6 News Notes – Page 7
Little Mexico: After 53 years, still going strong! Article on page 2
SSpS Mission Magazine
Little Mexico traces its beginning to April 20, 1958. The Mission Treasurer of the Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters and one of her helpers went in search of a Mexican family in Des Plaines who had been receiving some clothing from the mission department located in Techny. They found in the area a settlement of Mexican people living in very poor conditions. When they discovered that the children were not attending regular religious education, they immediately made arrangements to begin holding classes. The surrounding parishes were contacted and together with the Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters, they created a network of help. At that time, there was no building that could be used to hold these classes and the Sisters held them in the open air all through the summer of 1958. The Sisters finally found St. Alexis Catholic Church in Bensenville, where they were welcome to use the existing parish school and even the buses they had to bring the children to their classes.
Sr. Therese Mary and right-hand man, Felix Vences
Sr. Therese Mary and a visitor to Little Mexico
In the first year of the religious instructions there were about 152 children and five Sisters who took care of them. In the following years the numbers increased, especially during summer months. Numerous volunteers helped by driving the bus and giving instructions. This influenced the parish community which had a â€œgreat missionary spirit,â€? and was very supportive of the work the Sisters were undertaking. In 1961, Santa Teresita was opened in Palatine to serve the Spanish-speaking people of that area. This gave the people a chance to go to Santa Teresita; however, lack of transportation and distance prevented many of them from attending the parish activities. At that time, Fr. Morrison was just starting to build his church, Queen of the Rosary in Elk Grove Village, and the Hispanic community was welcomed with open arms. The secrets to the growing numbers of children were home visits and personal invitations to attend religious classes. They felt wanted and accepted. Since the numbers of children and families that were looking for assistance had grown, Sisters were also giving more time to accommodate those needs. It looked like it could be a full time ministry. Learning to make herbal medicine
SSpS Mission Magazine All those activities began in the small room in the basement of the convent originally used to store school supplies. With the growing number of needy people, there was also a great need for a bigger space that eventually was granted for this purpose. Though the sisters did what they could to help those who came from Mexico, they could not alleviate their poverty. The Sisters realized more and more that definite and individual attention was needed. It was in 1963 that the Sisters began the Sponsorship Program which would allow the families to take out loans. They were to pay back the loans in weekly or bi-weekly payments. In addition, they would receive a food basket that would help them to save money to pay back the loans. The idea was to help them save in order to buy a home. Selling clothing and religious articles provided the Sisters with money to buy food. In addition, the Sisters organized fund-raising activities. When Sr. Therese Mary Martinez, who was one of the first Sisters to see the needs of the Latin American population, observed the shacks in which people lived she was inspired to make assistance to the Hispanics her mission. She named her project LITTLE MEXICO and in 1972 moved the thrift shop which she operated at the convent to a small house on River Road in Mount Prospect. She ran a small ethnic grocery store, received donations of furniture, clothing, food and financial help from individuals and local churches. She realized that to become part of life in the United States, it was essential for families to own their homes. In over fifty years of service, she has helped more than two hundred families to obtain their first homes by providing financial assistance, legal aid from dedicated friends and guidance on mortgages. All financial assistance is repaid within ten years, interest free, and the money is used to help others. She said: “I trust them and they repay the trust.” In 1997, the thrift shop was moved again to a location on Wolf Road in Wheeling.
Page 3 The ministry of Sr. Therese Mary includes family counseling and help with finding jobs. She also appears in court as a character witness and speaks out on behalf of the rights of people from Latin America. She says, “Through God’s guidance and grace, I can help others. God is always one step ahead of me, but I keep on working and following Him.” As Little Mexico’s director, Sr. Therese Mary also takes the responsibility for supervising the people assigned by the court to community service in the shop. This allows the offenders to stay with their families instead of going to prison and gives them more respect. Money for the services comes from the Flea Market in which Sister participates during summer months, donations from nearby parishes and rent for office space. Many of us would say that missionary work involves traveling to a distant country and helping people to improve their living conditions there. Usually we do not think that missionary work is helping those in need wherever they are even in the suburbs of Chicago. Little Mexico is the place where people from Latin America find a loyal friend who works quietly, efficiently and with great determination on their behalf.
Sr. Therese Mary and friend Evelyn Pazera take a break.
SSpS Mission Magazine
Learning through Play: The New Preschool in St. Kitts Ever since the Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters arrived in St. Kitts, the smallest country in the Caribbean, we have seen the needs of young children. Most of them are from homes with a single mother who needs to work outside of the home to provide food and housing. Thus, there is little time or attention for her child. We saw that the precious years of early childhood needed to be utilized for developing skills and values, and that children needed to do this having fun together. We dreamed of gathering the children together in a safe place to learn through playing, thus nurturing a wholesome foundation for their lives. The dream was realized on Sunday, September 4, 2011 when we celebrated the opening of the new preschool. There are currently seventeen children, who are with us from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm Monday through Friday. During that time, we have devotions in the morning which consist of Bible stories, praying, songs, etc. Other activities throughout the day include outdoor play, small group activities, snacks, lunch time, breaks for bathroom visits, naps and circle time. We hope that in the near future, we will be able to expand to include other children who wish to come to our preschool. One day, a woman came and expressed her intention to enroll her child. When we asked how old the child is, she laughed and answered, “Soon to come!” She is a pregnant mother. Sr. Julita Bele Bau
Mothers and children celebrate the opening of the school.
Our Sisters from Antigua join our Sisters in St. Kitts for the celebration.
The Holy Spirit Preschool focuses on:
Helping families, especially mothers, to form and educate their children. Building a strong foundation of Christian values and morals. Helping children to appreciate their culture and at the same time train them to be multiculturalminded. Working in groups to develop good interpersonal relationship skills in their early education.
The preschool also emphasizes the important collaboration actions of punctuality, politeness and tidiness.
SSpS Mission Magazine
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Wish List for the St. Kitt’s Preschool ~Television set for showing children’s educational DVDs $550.00 ~Children’s educational DVDS $15.00 each (or your used children’s DVDS) ~Meals for the students $8.00 (for one student for a week)
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Donations for the preschool can be sent to the Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters, 319 Waukegan Rd., Northfield, IL 60093
SSpS Mission Magazine
Jesus still calls missionaries to be with Him and to be sent by Him.
n September 8, 2011, Sr. Uloma Patricia Akpa, made her first vows as a Holy Spirit Missionary Sister. Rejoicing with her were family, friends and our Sisters living in the Chicago area. All enjoyed the beautiful liturgy wherein Uloma publicly professed her desire to follow Jesus as a Holy Spirit Missionary Sister. She will soon begin an internship at the Center of Reconciliation in South Chicago run by the Precious Blood Fathers and Sisters. They work in the youth detention center and with the neighborhood gangs, schools and churches as instruments of the Lordâ€™s peace. Sr. Uloma is the first Nigerian Sister in our Congregation.
Sr. Uloma and her sister praise the Lord in dance!
n September 18, Rebecca Chaan David proclaimed her desire to enter the novitiate and begin immediate preparation for following Jesus and partaking in His mission as a Holy Spirit Missionary Sister. The novitiate is a time when a young woman lives the religious life and, under guidance, prepares for total dedication to God. Rebecca is from Sudan and was able to meet with her parents (right) in Uganda shortly before entering the novitiate. She will be doing her novitiate in Chicago with our community in Rogers Park.
Rebecca with Dad and Mom
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News Notes Sr. Lidwina Murakami, Provincial of our Japanese Province, spent a month with us in the U.S. to brush up on her English before the Provincials’ Assembly in Rome. She and our Provincial, Sr. Carol Welp, left for Rome on September 30. On September 25, Sr. Lidwina gave a presentation to our Sisters, friends, and priests and brothers from the Society of the Divine Word about Japan and the after-effects of the tsunami and earthquake. Our novitiate has moved back to its remodeled home in Rogers Park, Chicago, Illinois. Earlier in the year, Sr. Rose Therese Nolta represented the U.S. Province when the Mission Animators and Justice and Peace Coordinators of the Americas met in Sao Paulo, Brazil, at Santo Amaro, our Provincial House in the Brazil North Province. The meeting emphasized how each province has implemented the agreed upon actions from the Third Assembly in September 2008.
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Editor: Judy Cates
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The Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters are an international community of Catholic religious women serving in 47 countries. Missionary activities include pastoral work and catechesis, education, nursing and health care, social work, adult education, and many other services designated to promote human dignity.