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2016 Archival Treasures


Healing Presence

 

Sisters in Venezuela
Medical Mission Sisters in Venezuela ask for our prayers for the continuing hardships in life that the people among whom they serve, and so many other Venezuelans, are experiencing.  A State of Exception and Economic Emergency is now in place in the nation.  Almost all continue to be affected by the lack of food and medical supplies.  Some people have to wait in a queue for more than five hours for basic commodities, if there still are any to be purchased (at exorbitant prices) when they reach the front of the line.  Public offices are now open only on Monday and Tuesday and schools hold classes only two days a week.  This has been decreed “to help save water and electricity.”   Despite all this, “we continue to hope and dream,” our Sisters write.  “Hopefully actions which will help transform for the better will go along hand in hand with the dreams and hopes we share.”
(June 2016)
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Leo House Dedicates a Room to Anna Dengel
Medical Mission Sisters were recently honored by Leo House, a Catholic Guest House in New York City, when it dedicated one of its rooms to our Founder, Mother Anna Dengel.  At the same time it also dedicated a room to Saint Teresa of Calcutta.  It was at Leo House in November, 1960, that Anna Dengel and Mother Teresa met, attended Mass and shared a meal together.   About 30 people attended the dedication ceremony, including our Sister Celine Paramundayil, Sisters of St. Agnes, employees, and guests in Leo House.  It began in the very Chapel where Mother Teresa and Mother Dengel once met.
(November 2016)
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Vigil for Refugees
Medical Mission Sisters in Germany recently joined other Christians in mourning the close to 3000 refugees who died in the Mediterranean Sea this year trying to escape life-threatening circumstances at home.  Catholics and Protestants organized a vigil to honor those who lost their lives.  In the heart of Frankfurt City, they erected a wooden cross and stood in a circle around it as darkness fell. The cross was crafted from planks of a refugee’s boat which crossed the Mediterranean Sea and finally arrived in Lampedusa, Italy.  There was time for silent prayer and all were invited to light a candle in memory of the refugees who died.
(October 2016)
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HEAL (Haven for Ecological and Alternative Living) Anniversary
Medical Mission Sisters in the Philippines are celebrating the 10thanniversary of HEAL (Haven for Ecological and Alternative Living).  Located in Villasis, HEAL advocates a new way of looking at our threatened planet and shares alternative ways toward more sustainable lives and communities.  Established in 2006, HEAL offers a variety of programs to religious organizations, schools and other groups.  Daily Earth care, meditation, reflection, group sharing and liturgies help participants experience a new way of appreciating and relating to the larger community of life.
(September 2016)
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Raising Awareness of Human Trafficking at the DNC
Medical Mission Sisters are raising awareness of Human Trafficking at the Democratic National Convention this week in Philadelphia.  Sisters Teresita Hinnegan, Sue Sopczynski and others will be distributing information at the Convention Center on Human Trafficking and safe housing for girls and women who have been prostituted.  Sister Mary Em McGlone helped with the initial poster art on Human Trafficking on display at bus shelters in Center City; Sister Sue led negotiations for their placement.   Sister Teresita states, “If you can raise the awareness enough and get enough people interested, they can work a change in systems that allowed this kind of violence to happen.”
(July 2016)
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20 Years of Women’s Leadership Institute
Medical Mission Sisters share the good news of the 20th anniversary of Women’s Leadership Institute (WLI) at Hartford Seminary.  This Fall, WLI’s founder, our Sister Miriam Therese (MT) Winter, will again lead women from different backgrounds and faith traditions through a nine-month journey of bonding, discovering and rebirth.  Sister MT says, “The strength of this experience-based program lies in its capacity to speak honestly to the deepest of needs, to listen to and affirm women wherever they are on their journey, and to offer a rich mix of theory and theology, prayer and practical application, as the basis for facilitating leadership, and as substance for transformative change.”
(July 2016)
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“It Is Good for Us to Be Here: Catholic Religious Institutes As NGOs at the United Nations”
Medical Mission Sisters have been involved in the United Nation for over 25 years.  In the book It Is Good for Us to Be Here: Catholic Religious Institutes As NGOs at the United Nations, stories and experiences from Catholic Communities, including Medical Mission Sisters, are shared.  NGOs of Institutes of Religious Life have been the most influential faith-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs) at the United Nations.  This collection of essays speaks to the moral and ethical consciousness they bring to the entire process of peace and development.  In this book, our current UN Representative, Sister Celine Paramundayil, shares, “We use every possible opportunity at the UN to raise the issues affecting people who live in poverty.”
(July 2016)
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Journeying with Forced Migrants
Medical Mission Sisters journey with many persons who have been displaced from their homes and homelands due to natural disasters, political uprisings and as victims of trafficking.  In Germany, several of our Sisters work at a comprehensive health care service for homeless people in Frankfurt.  In the United Kingdom, Sister Rosalinda Moag has a very special ministry journeying with forced migrants. “The situation of forced migrants here in the UK is heartbreaking,” says Sister. She is a case worker for the Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) Detention Center Outreach program, a volunteer at Bakhita House for victims of human trafficking, and also assists Filipino migrants in their relocation struggles.
(March 2016)
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Meet Our Members

Sister Bimla Toppo
Born in Jarkhand, North India, Sister Bimla Toppo entered our Community in 2001.  She made her First Vows in 2004.  After a year of mission experience in Rajabala, West Garo Hills, Sister studied general nursing and midwifery at Nazareth Hospital in Shillong.  In 2009, she was assigned to Sundari, where she was in charge of the clinic and collaborated with the Diocesan HealthProject.  As part of preparation for her Final Vows, she took a one-year theology course at Mater Dei Institute in Goa. In 2013, Sister Bimla provided health care for patients struggling with addiction at the Shalom Rehabilitation Center.  She affectionately shares, “I had a very different idea about the addicts as I heard that they behave wild and are afraid to go for treatment.  In a short time, I found them very simple, loving, intelligent, and very talented people who long for love, support and acceptance from their family and society at large in the process of their recovery.”After making her Final Vows in 2013, Sister Bimla devoted herself eagerly to the various communities to which she was assigned.  A well-integrated and dedicated person, Sister Bimla commits herself with simplicity and generosity wherever she lives and works. She has provided guidance for our Community as Vocation Coordinator and as a member of our District Assembly in North East India.  Sister Bimla’s recent election as the Unit Coordinator of North East India is a landmark in history as she is the first Unit of Origin Sister to take leadership in North East India.
(December 2016)
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Associate Jorge Reyes Chang
Associate Jorge Reyes Chang is our first Peruvian Associate.  Born and raised in Chimbote, six hours North of Lima, Jorge studied sociology in Lima and then became a journalist.  For more than 10 years he has been working with Medical Mission Sister Gisela Reich at ADEP, which provides educational audiovisuals especially for youth in the area.  Jorge’s specialty is leadership, conflict resolution, organization of groups, accompaniment and communication.  He also works with the Ministry of Education in its Ongoing Education program for teachers.  He shares, “To be well as we live with dignity means for me the same as saying we are healthy.  That is manifested in human relations, learning processes, organization, community work, civil participation and citizenship, self-esteem, communication with God and nature.  I think healing and wholeness is possible when we attend to all human dimensions, and get rid of all the remains of poverty, need and lack of rights.”
(April 2016)
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Sister Bernadette Rini Dwi Astuti (Rini)
Sister Bernadette Rini Dwi Astuti (Rini) was born in Jakarta City, Indonesia, in 1969.  Before she entered our Community in 1996, she worked as a secretary for several years and participated in the parish activities with youth, the elderly and the sick.  She made her First Profession of Vows in 1999 and her Final Vows in 2005.  From 1999 to 2003, Sister Rini served on the staff of an organization devoted to micro socio-economic development, focusing on family economic management.  She then studied at the East Asian Pastoral Institute in the Philippines in preparation for formation work. In addition to serving as formation coordinator for Medical Mission Sisters in Indonesia, Sister Rini has been active in peace and justice work.  In 2013 she attended an Ecological Spirituality Retreat, led by our Sister Elly Verrijt, an especially meaningful time for her. She says, “We experienced this retreat as a precious moment…it was not only to give new knowledge about the web of life, but in the silent atmosphere we were invited to enter our inner self where our body, mind and spirit experience the energy of the earth…” Sister Rini has served in several leadership roles in the Medical Mission Sisters including as a District Assembly member and as Sector Coordinator for East Asia.  Last year she was elected one of the five members of our new International Leadership Team in London.  She is a special link to our Sisters who are involved in the formation and integration of our newest members.
(November 2016)
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Sister Bernadette Rini Dwi Astuti (Rini)
Sister Bernadette Rini Dwi Astuti (Rini) was born in Jakarta City, Indonesia, in 1969.  Before she entered our Community in 1996, she worked as a secretary for several years and participated in the parish activities with youth, the elderly and the sick.  She made her First Profession of Vows in 1999 and her Final Vows in 2005.  From 1999 to 2003, Sister Rini served on the staff of an organization devoted to micro socio-economic development, focusing on family economic management.  She then studied at the East Asian Pastoral Institute in the Philippines in preparation for formation work. In addition to serving as formation coordinator for Medical Mission Sisters in Indonesia, Sister Rini has been active in peace and justice work.  In 2013 she attended an Ecological Spirituality Retreat, led by our Sister Elly Verrijt, an especially meaningful time for her. She says, “We experienced this retreat as a precious moment…it was not only to give new knowledge about the web of life, but in the silent atmosphere we were invited to enter our inner self where our body, mind and spirit experience the energy of the earth…”  Sister Rini has served in several leadership roles in the Medical Mission Sisters including as a District Assembly member and as Sector Coordinator for East Asia.  Last year she was elected one of the five members of our new International Leadership Team in London.  She is a special link to our Sisters who are involved in the formation and integration of our newest members.
(November 2016)
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Sister Agnes Lobo
Sister Agnes Lobo, the youngest of eight children, was born in 1965 in Mangalore, India.  She worked as a teacher in Punjab before joining the Medical Mission Sisters (MMS) in 1990.  In 1993 she made her First Vows and made her Final Vows in 1999.  Supervising the kitchen and dietary department at Holy Family Hospital in Mandar was Agnes’s first assignment as a Sister.  While living in Mandar she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in social work and was involved in the clinic and development programs. In 2011 Sister Agnes moved to Maner, India, where she embraced MMS’s passion for the empowerment of local women.  The women have long experienced caste and class oppression, however, they are patiently coming together to address issues important to their lives.  Sister Agnes shares, this is being accomplished “in collaboration with the NGOs working in the area.  Several women stood for election to the various bodies, and today there are a few ward commissioners who are women.” Sister Agnes also is a member of CHA-BIJAN (Catholic Health Association-Bihar, Jharkhand and Andaman), on the administration team at Kurji Holy Family Hospital, Patna, belongs to the Forum for Social Initiatives and is a member of the Diocesan Women’s Commission.  She is the Coordinator of the Community Health Centre (CHC) and is currently active in vocation promotion in the Patna area.
(November 2016)
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Sister Rita Schiffer
Sister Rita Schiffer, an obstetrician-gynecologist from Germany, has served at Attat Hospital in Attat, Ethiopia, for the past 19 years. Now its Medical Director, she has seen a great improvement in the health conditions of women coming to the hospital for difficult births.  This in great part is due to the Medical Mission Sisters’ extensive safe motherhood program and to the “Waiting Area” they constructed on the hospital grounds for delivery of the highest risk mothers-to-be. Born in 1957, Sister Rita entered our Community in 1978 during her medical studies.  She made First Vows in 1980 and her Final Vows in 1986.  Sister served as an Ob-Gyn doctor in Ghana, then Germany, before being missioned to Ethiopia. Recently interviewed by Global Reports of the National Catholic Reporter newspaper, Sister Rita says, “When a group works in the same project it can really change things.  Instead of every 10 years, going in this direction and then in that direction, the continuity of a religious group is good for a project.  Although the people may change, the direction or the priorities remain the same.” In her almost two decades at Attat Hospital, Sister has experienced many changes including a notable reduction in the occurrence of fistula damage in women during labor and delivery. She also is helping to lead the way in diagnosing and treating cervical cancer.
(October 2016)
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Sister Teresita Hinnegan
Teresita Hinnegan was born in McKinley, Pennsylvania, in the late 1920’s. She entered our Society in 1948, made her First Vows in 1951 and her Final Vows in 1956.  She received her RN in 1954, and was missioned to Holy Family Hospital in Dacca, Bangladesh, where she became certified as a nurse-midwife. She was a nurse supervisor there for six years. She also held several administrative positions at St. Michael’s Hospital in Bangladesh. In 1969 she returned to the U.S. and served as Eastern District Superior. Sister Teresita added an MSW to her academic career in 1981. She was a 20-year faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing where she established the Nurse-Midwifery Distance Learning Training Program for the recruitment and training of certified nurse-midwives in underserved areas of rural Pennsylvania.  She continues to be a local and state advocate for maternal/child health in Pennsylvania.  In 2007, she co-founded Dawn’s Place, a non-profit organization and residential program.  Dawn’s Place provides trafficked women with sexual-trauma recovery therapy, access to addiction counseling and education and life-skills training. Sister Teresita also opened the Center for the Empowerment of Women in Philadelphia in 2007 where she continues to be actively involved in raising awareness about the human rights of women and girls, how they are violated, and identifying best practices for prevention.  A champion in the prevention of violence against women, Sister Teresita says, “Violence against women is present in every society.  It’s a slow, uphill climb to make both overt and covert violence against women more visible in order to mobilize advocates to work at solutions.”
(September 2016)
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Sister Catherine Osei
Sister Catherine Osei was born in Ghana and entered our Community in 2001, making her First Vows in 2003. In 2009 she completed a course in Nursing Administration at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration.  Since 2010 she has been in charge of the Outpatient Department at Holy Family Hospital in Techiman, Ghana, and it was there that she made her Final Vows at Techiman Cathedral. In 2011 she was the senior staff nurse at HFH.  While working at HFH she also continued her studies at the Catholic University College of Ghana and graduated in 2012 with a BSc in Health Administration and Management. Sister Catherine has served as vocation contact for the Western District of Africa, secretary to the Techiman Diocesan Vocation Promotion Team, co-treasurer for District Africa, a member of the Liturgy Commission and Cathedral Parish Pastoral Council member. In 2016 she was elected the new Unit Coordinator for our Community in West Africa.
(September 2016)
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Sister Beate Harst
Sister Beate Harst was born in Germany in 1961 and entered our Community in 1988.  Two years later she made her First Profession of Vows.  During her early formation years as a Medical Mission Sister, Sister Beate served as a nursing aide in a hospital and became interested in pastoral care for the sick.  In 1995, Sister Beate made her Final Vows, then went to Holy Family Hospital Techiman, Ghana.  From 1996 to 1999 she served there as a hospital chaplain. In recent years, Sister Beate has been living her mission of healing presence as a hospital chaplain in Bottrop, Germany.  Sister Beate’s work includes spending time with the hospital staff, listening to their needs and experiences.  In addition to ministering to the sick, the dying and the grieving, she also conducts workshops and accompanies individuals on their spiritual journey.   She shares, “My work is like holding a beautiful, colorful and precious stone in my hand. The people I am working and sharing life with are as colorful as the stone. Each life experience is so different. Each experience of sickness, of crises, of dying is so different.”
(July 2016)
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Associate Chris Schenk
Associate Christine (Chris) Schenk was born in Lima, Ohio, in 1946.  She has master’s degrees in Theology from St Mary’s Seminary and Graduate School in Cleveland, and in nursing from Boston College.  From 1971-1977 she was a Canonical member of the Medical Mission Sisters.  When our Community’s Associate program began in 1984, Chris became one of its first members.  She says, “Associate membership is important to me for two reasons: it keeps me in contact with a group of fantastic women, from whom I’ve learned a lot in my life’s journey, and it helps me keep my awareness of a broader global world.”  In 1988, Chris joined the Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph in Cleveland (CSJ).  She served urban families for 18 years as a nurse-midwife before co-founding FutureChurch in 1990.  FutureChurch was created to bring about a greater participation of laity, especially women, in the Church.  She received the FutureChurch Trivision Award for 23 years of service with the organization when she retired from her role as Executive Director in 2013. Chris currently writes a column for theNational Catholic Reporter’s online edition.
(January 2016)
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Sister Birgit Weiler
Sister Birgit Weiler was born in Duisburg, Germany, in 1958 and entered our Community in 1978.  She has spent more than 20 years living and working in Peru. Sister Birgit shares, “In Peru, I first worked in Arequipa and then for several years in Lima in parishes in poor peri-urban areas. Every day was and is for many families today a struggle for survival.” In Lima, she taught at the Jesuit University Antonio Ruiz de Montoya.  She then returned to Germany, where she wrote a thesis on social justice and the environment for her doctoral degree in intercultural theology at the Goethe-University in Frankfurt. Sister worked as a volunteer in the female prison in Frankfurt, mainly with women from Latin America. In 2012, she received the “Erwin Kräutler” award from the Catholic Faculty of the University in Salzburg, Austria. The award recognizes her studies and doctoral thesis on intercultural studies on creation and the cosmos vision of indigenous people in Peru.  Today, Sister Birgit works from Lima, Peru, as a theological adviser on issues of environmental justice, helping to generate criteria to guide the position and action of the Church in socio-environmental conflicts, especially in mining communities.
(May 2016)
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