Medical Mission Sisters were thrilled to celebrate with Sister Evelyne-Mathilde Mballa her First Vows made on June 18, 2017 in Philadelphia. Fulfilling a childhood desire to be a missionary, Sister, who was born in Cameroon, Africa, made her commitment in a beautiful ceremony surrounded by family, friends, Sisters and Associates. Energetic and enthusiastic, with a desire to improve the lives of those made poor, she has registered degrees in social work and is currently volunteering at Catholic Charities in Camden, New Jersey.
Passionate about teaching and helping women, Sister Colette Beru started a women’s group in the town of Sunyani, Ghana, where she has been living for several years. While attending Mass one day last year, she noticed the women sitting in a separate section from the youth and the men, not interacting. She approached the women with the suggestion of coming together to form a women’s group.
This now vibrant group holds sessions on personal hygiene and cleanliness, family life, and the importance of education for the children. They are learning how to make soap and other household items for their own use and to sell in the market. Sister Colette warmly reflects, “It is amazing what God can do when two or three are gathered with a common purpose.”
Born in the Upper West region of Ghana, Sister Colette entered our Community in 1998. After making Final Vows in 2002, she was assigned to Techiman where she taught and also was a vocation promoter. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Religious Studies and Education from the Catholic University College Fiapre, Sunyani, in 2008. She later studied Educational Administration and Management at the University of Education, Winneba, Ghana.
In addition to her women’s group work, Sister Colette continues teaching and assisting in the local parish. She also serves as the Pre-candidate Formation Coordinator of Medical Mission Sisters in Unit West Africa.
Medical Mission Sisters believe all of nature is sacred, connecting us to the holy, and connecting us to God. In response to President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement on climate change, our United Nations Representative, Sister Celine Paramundayil, spoke to “Global Sisters Report.” She shared, “Let this challenge unite the world to do more for a better world. The good news is that there are more good people in the world who care for the common good — our Mother Earth.”
Caption: To read Sister Celine’s full interview with “Global Sisters Report,” visit: http://globalsistersreport.org/news/environment/sisters-join-chorus-denouncing-trumps-climate-move-47101
Associate Maureen Pryjma’s journey with Medical Mission Sisters (MMS) began when she joined our Society right after high school. Although the New Jersey native “loved the spirituality of the Community,” Maureen left before making Vows. She says, “After almost 50 years, I still miss those two years with MMS that continue to center my spirituality and belief in the goodness of people, and the need to make a difference in their lives and my own.”
After graduating from Cornell University in New York with her BSN, Maureen worked in coronary care. In 1970, Maureen married Phil Pryjma, who recently also became an MMS Associate. The couple has seven children—four biological and three adopted from Vietnam, Korea and Peru.
During the 1980s, Maureen earned her Master’s degree in social work and became the Clinical Director for Eagleton School in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, an all-boys psychotherapeutic residential school. Maureen remained with the school until it closed in 2016.
A life-long commitment to enrich her spirituality led Maureen back to MMS. She attended the Women’s Leadership Institute at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, taught by our Sister Miriam Therese Winter. In 2015, she made her first Associate commitment. Maureen reflects, “I have always been about compassion, but now I see that I am taking the time to nurture my own spirituality and healing.”
Born in Ghana, West Africa, in 1956, Sister Edith Dug-yi was the sixth of 10 children. Before entering the Medical Mission Sisters in 1991, she worked as a public health nurse for 10 years. For 20 years, Sister was in mission in Ghana, Uganda, and Kenya. She served in formation ministry in Kenya for seven years.
In 2010, Sister Edith returned to Ghana and joined the staff at the Center for Spiritual Renewal in Kumasi. Begun by Medical Mission Sisters Ellen Hummel and Jean Salgot, and a Missionary of Africa priest, the Center has had a pivotal role in the formation of African Christians since the early 1970s. Sister Edith shares, “As a community member, I have grown in a deeper sense of belonging, not only to my immediate community, but to the Society as a whole. More and more, I also see myself as a child of the world, and not just to my family or a particular nationality, and so what affects the world affects me.”
Sister Edith recently served as our Community’s District Coordinator for West Africa. She combined this important internal ministry with her special spiritual formation ministry at the Center for Spiritual Renewal. In 2015, she was elected to our new Society Leadership Team in London.
Medical Mission Sisters in North America congratulate our Sister Abhaya Thekkan on her recent graduation from Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Sister, who earned her MSN/Nurse Practitioner degree, made her Final Vows as a Medical Mission Sister in 2012. A former Carmelite Sister, she received her BSN Degree, also from Jefferson University, in 2015. Sister Abhaya asks for continued prayers so that she may be a healing presence to those whom she meets in her onward journey.
Caption: Congratulations, Sister Abhaya on your MSN/Nurse Practitioner degree!
Born in a coastal village in Tamil Nadu, India, Sister Eugine Mary Simon, who entered our Community in 2000, says being a healing presence comes from looking within. “One thing is to realize my own woundedness. When I am able to do this I am able to recognize the need for healing,” she shares.
Sister Eugine Mary was a part of our Chapter Communications Team and has also edited our South Indian newsletter, Spandan. She is currently in Philadelphia preparing to become our next Society Communications Coordinator. When she completes her training, she will return to India for a few months, and then move to London, England.
Prior to coming to Philadelphia in January, 2017, Sister Eugine Mary worked for seven years in South India, among the dalit women and children. The people in this area are migrants; they do not own land and are always looking for work. A social worker by profession, she helped identify the needs of the villagers, providing social and pastoral support in her desire to help build a healthy community. She focused on the youth and children, working through education, leadership development programs, catechism and the “Youth and Children’s Parliament.” She warmly shares that some of the people she helped are still in contact with her today.
Medical Mission Sisters in North America joyfully celebrate the recent commitments of seven Associate members. Making first commitments were Karol Feld, Phil Pryjma, Fran Pelham and Loretta Cody. Carole Roberti, Mary Taylor and Selena Wilson, OP, made commitments for five years. We warmly welcome our new and re-committed Associates who share our Community values and commit themselves to live as a healing presence wherever they live and work.
Caption: Associate Fran Pelham and Sister Joan Foley on the eve of the commitment ceremony.
Click here to read A Further Step Towards Transforming Our World
A native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Associate Helen Hyrniuk has always had a desire to help people. “Throughout my life,” she says, “there is a thread of service to others.” After attending an open house at the Philadelphia Police Headquarters in 1971, she developed an interest in the Philadelphia Police Department and worked as a dispatcher from 1973 to 1989.
In 1989, Helen earned a spot in the Philadelphia Police Academy at the age of 34. After four years as an officer, she was promoted to Detective. In 2008, Helen retired from the Philadelphia Police Department, and fondly reminisces, “I was blessed to work with some extraordinary people and formed friendships that would last a lifetime.” After 35 years in various positions with the Police Department, she was ready to embark on the next chapter of her life.
Participating in a faith-sharing group in 2000 had opened Helen’s ears and heart to hear the “whisper of God.” This experience encouraged her to explore her faith further. Reading books and engaging in retreats and various programs were a turning point in deepening her spirituality. Helen, who now works part-time at the Medical Mission Sisters’ Thrift Shop shares, “Working with the Sisters, I am constantly impressed by their dedication and spirit.” A member of our on-campus choir, Helen became an Associate member in 2013. She says, “God has been so good to me throughout my entire life; I cannot forget to thank Him for all the blessings He has given me.”