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Honoring 480 Years of Healing Presence

The eight Medical Mission Sisters from North America who are celebrating 60-year Jubilees in 2011 represent a combined 480 years in mission.

Eight Medical Mission Sisters from North America are marking the 60th anniversary of their First Profession of Vows at a special Mass on August 15, 2011. Please join us in congratulations, prayers, and thanks for these Sisters’ many wonderful years of service.

Sister Celeste DiGiorgio, a native of Philadelphia, worked for many years in internal administration and service positions within our Community. After completing her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees at Temple University, she ministered in Baltimore as a social worker. Upon her return to Philadelphia, Sister was the Social Work Supervisor at Women of Hope, a residential program for homeless women. She also taught reading and English as a Second Language, and was involved with groups advocating for justice.

Sister –Doctor Fernande Pelletier, a native of Maine, attended Trinity College and Georgetown University Medical School in Washington, D.C. She completed her internship and surgical residency at St. Francis Hospital in Trenton, N.J. Fifty years ago, she began serving at Holy Family Hospital in Berekum, Ghana, where she is still in mission today. She is the recipient of a Papal Award from the Apostolic Nuncio to Ghana, the Grand Medal of the Ghanaian government, and the Ghana Medical Association’s Fellowship Award.

Sister Isabelle Harmon grew up in Maryland and studied X-ray technology at Fitzgerald-Mercy Hospital in Upper Darby, PA. She worked as an X-ray technician in Venezuela, Jordan, and Ghana, then earned her R.N. at New Mexico Community College. She served for 24 years as a member of a Primary Health Project in the village of Abease, Ghana. In Oaxaca, Mexico, she worked with PROSA (Promatores de Salud, or “Health Promoters”), under the auspices of the Commission for the Indigenous in the Diocese of Oaxaca. Sister Isabelle now resides in Boynton Beach, Florida, where she helps low-income women in our Women’s Circle program.

Sister Margaret McKenna, from Teaneck, New Jersey, earned a B.A. in English from Chestnut Hill College, M.A. in Liturgy from Notre Dame, and a Ph.D. in Christian Origins and Religious Thought from the University of Pennsylvania. She also studied at Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem. Sister has been a Director of Novices, a La Salle University professor, a writer, art director, and peace activist. In 1989, she founded New Jerusalem Now, a treatment and housing center for persons recovering from drug and alcohol addiction in North Philadelphia. She has received many awards for her work and remains involved in this ministry today.

Sister Teresita Hinnegan, a Philadelphia native and nurse-midwife, received her R.N. from St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing. She was a nurse supervisor and administrator in Bangladesh. Throughout the 1970s, she worked in nurse-midwifery in the Philadelphia area, and in leadership in our Community. In 1981, she graduated from Temple University, where she earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Social Work, and began 22 years on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing. Sister became a local and state advocate on maternal/child health issues, and received many honors. She founded the Center for the Empowerment of Women and Girls in Philadelphia, and is active in fighting human trafficking.

Sister Janet Gottschalk, a native of Chicago, graduated from Misericordia Hospital in Philadelphia and served as a nurse supervisor in Maracaibo, Venezuela. She later earned a B.S. in Nursing from Case-Western Reserve University, M.S. in Regional and Community Affairs from the University of Missouri, and Ph.D. in Public Health from the University of Texas Health Science Center School of Public Health. She has had eleven academic appointments, and has served in a variety of leadership positions for our Community. As an international public health specialist, she has traveled the world as a consultant, represented us at the UN, and directed our Alliance for Justice Office in Washington, D.C., which she continues to do. She also has received many awards for her work.

Sister Marie Schmids, who grew up in Philadelphia, attended Trinity College in Washington, D.C. She served as a medical technologist in Pakistan and Bangladesh for many years. She returned to the U.S. in the mid-1970s and earned her B.A. in Sociology from the University of North Carolina, where she also worked in a primary health care/community development project She served in several parts of the South; in Thailand, aiding Cambodian refugees; and in a number of departments at our North American Headquarters in Philadelphia. She also worked for a dozen years in New Port Richey, Florida, in the Connections Job Development Program. She recently completed her term as Membership Promotion Coordinator in Philadelphia.

Sister Rosemarie Leier, from Saskatchewan, Canada, has her B.S. in Public Health Nursing from St. Louis University and Master’s in Community Health Nursing from Boston College. She was a nursing supervisor in Pakistan, where she began a nurse/midwifery school, and she also started a school for midwives in Bombay. She worked as teacher and nurse in Utah, California, and Canada, then served in nursing education for ten years in Africa – in Swaziland and Malawi. She now lives in San Diego, where she is involved with a number of volunteer activities and is a member of a centering prayer group.

August 1, 2011