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Sister Sylvia Strahler

Sister Sylvia is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

A native of Suffield, Ohio, Sister Sylvia studied at Kent State University and earned her R.N. at St. Thomas Hospital School of Nursing in Akron. She worked at the hospital as a staff nurse, and at the Miami Heart Institute, before joining our Community. She made her First Vows in 1960.

Almost all of Sister Sylvia’s missionary life has been in Pakistan. She spent two years at Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi, where she was certified as a midwife. From 1963 to 1969, she was a midwifery tutor and ward supervisor at Holy Family Hospital in Karachi. She returned to the U.S. to obtain her Bachelor’s Degree from Ohio State University, and then served for 17 years at St. Theresa’s Hospital in Mirpurkhas, where she taught midwifery, and was involved in maternal/child welfare programs.

“The school was indigenous in language. Most of the students knew very little English…there were girls who were the first person in their village to be educated,” Sister Sylvia explains.

In 1989, Sister Sylvia left the hospital setting to join a Community Health and Pastoral Work program in Faisalabad, where she continues to live and minister today. The program includes a daily clinic with preventive health care, especially for women and children, as well as home visits to patients, and health care education. Sister Sylvia shares, “Our pastoral work is done in more what we call ‘basti’ – a depressed area of the city.”

In a country ravaged by floods, earthquakes, and political turmoil, Sister Sylvia finds simply relating to the people is an expression of healing presence. “I think people see us as a sign of hope…they say to me, ‘you’re just like one of us,” she says.

April 15, 2012