Medical Mission Sisters are pleased to introduce our new leadership in North America! The team of five Sisters was elected on November 19, 2017. Pictured from left to right are Sisters Sue Sopczynski, Mary Kirkhoff, Unit Coordinator Frankie Vaughan, Margaret Moran, and Katherine Baltazar. They will begin their new roles on February 1, 2018. We are deeply grateful to our outgoing team, Sisters Maria Hornung, Patricia Lowery and Helen Lembeck for their tireless guidance and support the past three years.
Medical Mission Sisters are pleased to announce the release of our 2018 Calendar! This year’s cover features a sweet little boy from Venezuela holding a colorful, hand-made sign with a hopeful message: “PAZ” (“peace” in English). We’re so honored to share our Sisters’ and Associates’ missions and ministries with you! To request your free copy, contact the Medical Mission Sisters through the link on our website.
Sometimes Medical Mission Sisters Associate Lucia Kehr, born in Germany, reminisces about how alien she felt when she moved to Argentina years ago. The difficulties of acclimating to a new language and culture were overwhelming at first. Fortunately, she knew people who helped her start her new life.
Now Lucia is returning the favor. A pastoral assistant in Darmstadt, Germany, since 2011, she works with a church group to help newly arrived migrant women find their way in Germany, just as her friends did for her in Argentina. Lucia shares: “Many of [the migrants] are now enriching our community. My goal is to integrate people into this work as ‘bridgebuilders’ to overcome strangeness and distrust and to build up an attitude of good neighborliness.”
Recently, Lucia worked on a project called “Religions for Peace” to foster interfaith dialogue. She is thankful for the “spirituality of the Medical Mission Sisters” for helping her to become a healing presence for others.
“As an MMS associate I try to encounter people with all their riches and their wounds as I accompany them in their life journey,” Lucia said. “Yes, I am wounded and also healed. As I walk through life now I feel I am becoming the woman God wants me to be and loves.”
Medical Mission Sisters are pleased to announce the release of the third CD of the five-volume Sacred Folk Music Project, a collection of Sister Miriam Therese’s songs. Artists include Melba Moore, Janis Ian, and Medical Mission Sisters, and others, interpreting these beautiful, poetic songs that comfort us, challenge us, and always lead us to God.
When Marge Sexton’s sister died from breast cancer, not much younger than their mother who had died from a heart attack at 42, she listened to Sister MT Winter’s song “Come down, Lord” more times than she could count. Decades later, when her son died by suicide on Christmas in 2015, the Medical Mission Sisters and Associates were there to try to soothe even a small portion of the ache in her heart.
An activist by nature, Marge felt determined to channel her own pain, no matter how overwhelming, into meaningful action. By starting a support group called Moms Rising Together, she is able to engage with other mothers struggling with the same grief. Going a step further, she started The Ron S! Charitable Fund to honor her son by raising money for the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. Given her innate instinct to be a healing presence for others, Marge recently made her first Associate commitment on Sunday, October 22.
“I was extremely attached to my son; I’ll never get over it. But I want to be healthy and I want to be happy,” Marge said. “Using my grief, turning it to a healing presence, makes me more aware of the pain of the world. Being with others in their pain is what I can do now.”
Medical Mission Sisters (MMS) have a deep resonance with Global Mission Sunday, occurring this year on October 22. Our Foundress, Anna Dengel prayed that “the needs and sufferings of humanity must find an echo in our hearts…” Core to our MMS life is a daring loyalty to respond to the needs of people of our time; our approach to global mission comes from a heart sense of presence to the whole world. As Sisters and Associates we stay engaged in the brokenness of our world, with profound listening to the Spirit within us, within those whom we are called to serve and within the whole of creation.
Medical Mission Sisters note with joy the 25 years of service of our Sister Janet Harbauer at Uganda Martyrs Hospital in Lubaga, Uganda. As a key administrative staff person, she is on call 24-7, helping with all aspects of building needs for the hospital, school, staff and guest quarters. Sister Janet, a native of Perrysburg, Ohio, also helps secure and administer school fees for needy students and mentors several of them to help them get the most from their education.
Born in San Jose, Costa Rica, North American Associate Karol Feld shares, “I love the idea of being a healing presence. Inspiring others is great.” In 2015, Karol attended one of our The Way of The Healer workshops in Philadelphia, led by Sister Miriam Therese (MT) Winter. Remembering she had sung the songs of MT in grade school, she believed she was meant to connect with our Community.
After graduating from high school in 1974, Karol attended college in San Jose, studying business with an emphasis in marketing. She met her husband-to-be while he was in Costa Rica on vacation. Married in 1985, the couple has two daughters and lives in Philadelphia.
While working for a counseling agency as an authorization manager, Karol developed a knack for computers. Her husband encouraged her to use her computer skills to teach. When an opportunity opened up at a local Catholic high school, Karol happily accepted the position. In addition to 11 years of teaching digital and computer applications, Karol also taught Spanish for two years and was the activities coordinator for nine. She now works at Sr. Hubert’s High School teaching graphic design part-time and also works in the school’s office.
Medical Mission Sisters recently celebrated 50 years of healing presence in Ethiopia. Our Sisters began their mission in Ethiopia in Addis Ababa with a small medical clinic. Attat Hospital in Attat, a little over 100 miles away, was built two years later and has grown to include departments for women with at-risk pregnancies, and malnourished children in addition to general medical and surgical services. Approximately 300 patients also are treated daily at the outpatient clinic. German Sisters Erna Stocker-Waldhuber and Walburga Kupper, who spent many years in Ethiopia, were among those who enjoyed the celebration.
Caption: Sisters Walburga (left) and Erna (right) share, “To see the development of the hospital from the initial small emergency room to today’s clinic with integrated health care, to meet an enlightened population, for which healthy life is a high value, fills us with much gratitude and joy.”
Born in Kerala, South India, Sister Joan Chunkapura entered the Medical Mission Sisters (MMS) in 1963. Sister reflects, “My journey as an MMS in South India has been a meaningful, pleasant and fulfilling experience mainly because I found mission as the very essence of my life.” In 2015, she celebrated her Golden Jubilee.
After earning her B.Sc. in Nursing, Sister Joan was assigned to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Hospital School of Nursing in Kerala, then went to Nangina Hospital, Kenya, where she served as Assistant Matron. She also was Nursing Supervisor at St. Thomas Hospital School of Nursing, Chethipuzha. Sister received her Master of Arts and Ph.D. in Psychology in New Delhi in 1980.
Trained in de-addiction and family therapy in the United States, Sister Joan became a pioneer in the treatment of addicts by opening de-addiction centers in Kerala. Currently, she serves as director/principal of Total Response to Drug and Alcohol Abuse (TRADA) Institute in Kottayam. TRADA works at the grassroots level offering leadership training for dalit and tribal women; reproductive and child health programs; education for children in schools and colleges; information and guidance clinics on HIV/AIDS; and training programs in counseling, pastoral care and Alzheimer’s-related disorders.