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Sister Phyllis Backer

Sister Phyllis 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.

Born and raised in Ferdinand, Indiana, Sister Phyllis graduated from the Academy of the Immaculate Conception, and earned her R.N. at St. Mary’s School of Nursing before joining our Community. She served at St. Vincent’s Hospital for a year, and then for almost 30 years in Pakistan.

Sister Phyllis was Director of Nursing Services, Director of Community Health Service, and Midwifery Supervisor at Holy Family Hospitals in Karachi and Rawalpindi, and at St. Teresa’s Hospital in Mirpurkhas.

She remembers, “Much of my involvement was with women, especially those who came to us for antenatal care and delivery. This is a time when a woman is very vulnerable, and a kind word and gentle care is very much appreciated. We were also training young Pakistani women to become nurses.”

Sister Phyllis returned to the U.S. in 1987. She served as a nurse at Joseph Richey Hospice in Baltimore for two years, and then was Coordinator of Anna Center, a respite care center for sick, homeless women in Washington, D.C., for four years. Returning to Baltimore, she became involved in the Outreach Program of Corpus Christi Parish, and also at the Infirmary of the School Sisters of Notre Dame.

For the past 11 years, Sister Phyllis has served with our older Sisters as our Residential Care Coordinator in Philadelphia. In this role, she visits and coordinates care for our Sisters who are in assisted living or nursing care facilities. “I look after their physical needs, keeping in touch with families when the Sister is not able to do this, x-rays, lab work, as well as any other needs they may have – their clothing, toiletries, insurance papers, books, etc.”

She reflects, “One of the privileges I have had is to be with many Sisters in their last illnesses, and in preparation for their final journey. These are times of blessing, and their memories are a real inspiration for me.”

March 15, 2011