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Miriam Therese Winter Chair

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Medical Mission Sisters are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the release of “Joy Is Like the Rain” by our Sister Miriam Therese (MT) Winter. Recently we joined our friends at Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut, where Sister MT is a Faculty Associate, to mark the occasion at a special concert.  Hartford Seminary also announced the new academic Chair it has established:  “The MT Winter Chair in Transformative Leadership and Spirituality.”  Sister has taught at the seminary for over 30 years and last year designed and became the first director of its Master of Arts in Transformative Leadership and Spirituality.

Caption:  Sister Miriam Therese Winter at the concert at Hartford Seminary celebrating “50 Years of Joy Is like the Rain.”

 

Vigil for Refugees

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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.

Mother Teresa becomes Saint Teresa

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Medical Mission Sisters share the joy of a new saint, Mother Teresa of Calcutta!  Our Community has a special relationship with Mother Teresa, as she came to us before founding her Missionaries of Charity to learn how to care for those who were sick and dying.  Several of our Sisters at Holy Family Hospital, Patna, India, were her teachers in the late 1940s.  Although she and Mother Anna Dengel, our Founder, never worked together, they held great respect for the unique call and mission of each other’s Community.

December 2015 Archives

 

Sister Rosemary Ryan

Ryan_Rosemary_3Sister Rosemary was born in Madison, Wisconsin. After graduating from high school, she joined our Community in 1964. She earned her B.S. in Biology from Chestnut Hill College and her medical degree from Hahnemann Medical College, both in Philadelphia.  During her residency at Faulkner Hospital, a community-based teaching hospital in Massachusetts, Sister Rosemary helped start a hospice program. She then provided medical direction for the Faulkner hospice program and directed outpatient training for medical residents as a clinical instructor in medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine.  Over the next 35 years, Sister’s responsibilities expanded as she served as a medical director for several hospice programs and also for the VNA Care Network home health agency.  Sister Rosemary served in several leadership positions within our Community including Eastern District Coordinator and North American Sector Coordinator for Mission.  For many years, she also has been a hospice medical director, serving in Boston and surrounding towns.  Sister Rosemary was recently elected as a member of our Community’s new leadership team and, beginning in the spring of 2016, will work alongside our Society Coordinator in London. 


Thank You

thyouMedical Mission Sisters thank you for all your interest in and support of our mission of healing presence in 18 nations today.  If you are considering participating in “Giving Tuesday” on December 1, we would be grateful if you thought of us.  Click on the “Donate” button at the top right hand side of this page to make an on-line gift.  Thank you!

January 2015 Archives

New Sector Leadership Team

IMG_5878 (1)Medical Mission Sisters are pleased to announce that our Chapter Delegates meeting in India have chosen a new Leadership Team for our Community. Sister Irene Fernandez, currently our Sector Coordinator of Asia, is our new Society Coordinator and will begin her six-year term in early 2016. She will be joined in leadership by Sister Rosemary Ryan from the United States who is in mission in Boston; Sister Edith Dug-yi from Ghana who is District Coordinator of West Africa; Sister Rini Astuti, an Indonesian woman, who is our Sector Coordinator of East Asia; and Sister Maria Fernanda Ramirez from Colombia who is now Medical Mission Sisters’ Coordinator for Peru. Our thoughts and prayers are with each one as together they begin their new call in mission.

Caption: Medical Mission Sisters Rini Astuti, Irene Fernandez, Edith Dug-yi , Rosemary Ryan and Maria Fernanda Ramirez, our newly elected CommunityLeadership Team. 

Sister Gertrud Dederichs

Dederichs_Gertrud_12Sister Gertrud Dederichs was born in Germany in 1951. She entered our Community in 1975 and made her First Profession of Vows the following year. After studying social work, she was assigned to a parish in Nairobi, Kenya, from 1980 to 1990. Sister Gertrud studied at the Institute for Spiritual Leadership in Chicago for a year, then returned to East Africa to work in formation. She also became involved in the Medical Mission Sisters’ response to AIDS. Returning to Germany in 1991, she went on to serve as Sector Coordinator for Europe, and then as Assistant Coordinator for our Society from 1996 to 2004. Sister Gertrud now serves as a pastoral minister in a hospital in Bottrop, Germany. She also is involved in justice and peace work and is a member of a local intercultural and inter-religious group. In 2010, she was elected our Community’s District Coordinator of Germany, a position she continues to hold today.

November 2015 Archives

Sister Gertrud Dederichs

Dederichs_Gertrud_12Sister Gertrud Dederichs was born in Germany in 1951. She entered our Community in 1975 and made her First Profession of Vows the following year. After studying social work, she was assigned to a parish in Nairobi, Kenya, from 1980 to 1990. Sister Gertrud studied at the Institute for Spiritual Leadership in Chicago for a year, then returned to East Africa to work in formation. She also became involved in the Medical Mission Sisters’ response to AIDS. Returning to Germany in 1991, she went on to serve as Sector Coordinator for Europe, and then as Assistant Coordinator for our Society from 1996 to 2004. Sister Gertrud now serves as a pastoral minister in a hospital in Bottrop, Germany. She also is involved in justice and peace work and is a member of a local intercultural and inter-religious group. In 2010, she was elected our Community’s District Coordinator of Germany, a position she continues to hold today.

 

 

Sister Senait Mengesha
Mengesha_Senait-2Sister Senait Mengesha was born in 1961 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In 1981 she joined our Community and then made her First Vows in 1985. Her Final Vows were professed in 1993. Sister Senait attended school in Malawi and Ethiopia. After college, she worked in the public health department at Attat Hospital, focusing on women’s groups in the villages. Sister Senait then studied sociology and social administration at the University of Addis Ababa where she earned a B.A. degree. She worked in the Daughters of Charity Urban Development project in Addis Ababa for three years in a department for youth, elderly and disabled persons. In 2010 she was elected for a three-year term as our District Coordinator of Ethiopia. Upon completing a second degree, she joined the National Office of the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat where she worked in the social rehabilitation unit in a project for and with orphans and vulnerable children. In recent years, Sister Senait has been working as the Social Rehabilitation and Development Coordinator at the National Ethiopian Secretariat. She is our Community representative at the UN office in Addis Ababa.

New Sector Leadership Team

IMG_5878 (1)Medical Mission Sisters are pleased to announce that our Chapter Delegates meeting in India have chosen a new Leadership Team for our Community. Sister Irene Fernandez, currently our Sector Coordinator of Asia, is our new Society Coordinator and will begin her six-year term in early 2016. She will be joined in leadership by Sister Rosemary Ryan from the United States who is in mission in Boston; Sister Edith Dug-yi from Ghana who is District Coordinator of West Africa; Sister Rini Astuti, an Indonesian woman, who is our Sector Coordinator of East Asia; and Sister Maria Fernanda Ramirez from Colombia who is now Medical Mission Sisters’ Coordinator for Peru. Our thoughts and prayers are with each one as together they begin their new call in mission.

Caption: Medical Mission Sisters Rini Astuti, Irene Fernandez, Edith Dug-yi , Rosemary Ryan and Maria Fernanda Ramirez, our newly elected CommunityLeadership Team. 

Archives: 2015

December 2015

Sister Gertrud Dederichs
New Leadership Team
Thank You
Sister Senait Mengesha

 

 

October 2015

Our 90th Anniversary
Sister Jacinta Conlon
MMS 14th General Chapter Begins
Taking Action to End Gun Violence
Associate Elly Naiko

September 2015

Sister Elaine Kohls Honored in Ethiopia
Sister Goretti Poovathunkal
“Latidos” Youth Music Group
Sister Emma Panizales

August 2015

Sister Mariotte Hillebrand
Women’s Circle Celebrates 15 Years
Associate Jane Jones
North American Jubilarians 2015

July 2015

Sister Elly Verrijt
MMS Attend a Conference on the Consecrated Life
Sister Belaynesh Abera
Holy Family Hospital Mandar Milestone

June 2015

Responding to Natural Disasters
Associate Therese Connolly
Sister Christi Kancewick’s Vow Renewal
Sister Miriam Therese (MT) Winter’s “Transition”

May 2015

“Moving Cloud Flowing Water” by Sister Yumiko Nobue
Sister Angelika Kollacks
Associate Commitments in North America
Sister Rowena Pineda

April 2015

Medical Mission Sisters at the UN
Associate Loretta Whalen
Anna Dengel Day
Suicide Prevention in South Dakota

March 2015

“The People’s Parliament”
Sister Helen Lembeck
First Vows in Africa
Sister Maggie Lupiya
 

February 2015

Int’l Day of Prayer and Reflection against Human Trafficking
Sister Beate Glania
2015 Spring Jubilarians

January 2015

Reopening Mission in Malawi

Sister Marielena Ridad

Sister MT Winter Directs New Master of Arts Program

Sister Phyllis  Backer

December 2015 Archives

Sister Rosemary Ryan

Ryan_Rosemary_3Sister Rosemary was born in Madison, Wisconsin. After graduating from high school, she joined our Community in 1964. She earned her B.S. in Biology from Chestnut Hill College and her medical degree from Hahnemann Medical College, both in Philadelphia.  During her residency at Faulkner Hospital, a community-based teaching hospital in Massachusetts, Sister Rosemary helped start a hospice program. She then provided medical direction for the Faulkner hospice program and directed outpatient training for medical residents as a clinical instructor in medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine.  Over the next 35 years, Sister’s responsibilities expanded as she served as a medical director for several hospice programs and also for the VNA Care Network home health agency.  Sister Rosemary served in several leadership positions within our Community including Eastern District Coordinator and North American Sector Coordinator for Mission.  For many years, she also has been a hospice medical director, serving in Boston and surrounding towns.  Sister Rosemary was recently elected as a member of our Community’s new leadership team and, beginning in the spring of 2016, will work alongside our Society Coordinator in London.
December 10, 2015

Sister Rozlin Kullu

Kullu_RozlinSister Rozlin Kullu was born in 1980 in Orissa, India.  She entered our Community in 1999 in Pune and received her degree in Pharmacy during her years of formation/integration.  Sister Rozlin made her Final Vows as a Medical Mission Sister in 2011.  Currently, Sister serves as a pharmacist at Kurji Holy Family Hospital and as local Assistant Coordinator.  She reaches out to help those who can’t afford their medication.  Sister Rozlin also enjoys activities in her local parish and in “keeping up” with fellow MMS attendees of our “Gathering of Newer Members,” held in North America last summer.

Celebrating 50 Years In East Africa

woman_with_babyMedical Mission Sisters celebrated 50 years of healing presence in East Africa in July.  In our ministries in Uganda and Kenya these past five decades, we have served in hospitals and health centers, trained community health workers and helped upgrade the skills of traditional birth attendants, reached out to thousands affected by HIV/AIDS, increased health awareness in cities and villages, and shared God’s love for all persons.  We rejoice in our 50 years of service among the people of East Africa!

Photo:  This mother and child are among the thousands who have come closer to health because of the Medical Mission Sisters’ healing presence in East Africa over the past 50 years.

Sister Agnes Lanfermann

healing presnece agness lanfermannSister Agnes Lanfermann, our Society Coordinator, was born in Kirchhellen, Germany, the eldest of 10 children.  She studied philosophy and theology in Germany, then spent time as a volunteer, aiding street children and persons who were handicapped, imprisoned and suicidal in the slums of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.  Agnes entered the Medical Mission Sisters in 1981, and has since offered her healing presence by accompanying persons on their spiritual journeys, by assisting with the integration of members into our Community, by teaching theology and mission spirituality in the university and other educational venues, and by providing leadership to our District Germany, Sector Europe and now our entire global Community.  She lives in London, but spends much of her time “on the road,” sharing her special call to mission with our Sisters throughout the world.

Mission Green

Mission Green

 Medical Mission Sisters are partnering with Inglis, a 136-year-old non-profit provider of services and housing for persons living with disabilities, in a project named Mission Green.  The Groundbreaking for Mission Green, a 61-bed, fully accessible residence for persons over 55 with limited income, took place June 21 at our North American Headquarters in Philadelphia.  Ten resident rooms will be reserved for seniors with significant disabilities.  All other units will be fully accessible.  It is hoped that in early 2015 Mission Green will welcome its first residents.

 

Photo:  At the Groundbreaking for Mission Green…Sister Frankie Vaughan, Project Director for Medical Mission Sisters; Gavin Kerr, President and CEO of Inglis; and Holly Glauser of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.

Sister Patricia Lowery

Pat Lowery healing photo

Sister Patricia (Pat) Lowery was born and raised in Chicago and entered the Medical Mission Sisters in 1959.  After medical school in Washington, D.C. and a surgical residency and two years of practice in New York, she began what became over 20 years of medical service to the people of Ghana, West Africa.  In addition to performing needed surgeries, Sister Pat taught surgical residents and shared her expertise through consultancy services with six Church-related hospitals in Ghana.  Since 2000, Sister has been Chief of Surgical Services at Fort Defiance Indian Hospital in Fort Defiance, Arizona, serving members of the Navajo nation.

Celebrating 40 Years in Peru

 

newsjune82013Medical Mission Sisters celebrate 40 years of healing presence in Peru in June, 2013. Since 1973, we have been privileged to live and serve among a wide variety of people in cities, towns and isolated villages.  Among our many ministries in Peru have been: parish health clinic services, social work assistance, pre-school and after school education programs for children, pastoral work, care of persons affected by HIV/AIDS, skills training for women, university education and special services to children with disabilities.  Blessings on all who have shared life with us these past four decades!

Above photograph: Sister Patricia Gootee from Loogootee, Indiana, was the first Medical Mission Sister to live and work in Peru.

Sister Therese Tindirugamu

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERASister Therese Tindirugamu, our Sector Africa Coordinator, was born and raised in Uganda.  A nurse before she entered our Community in 1980, she later studied midwifery and took advanced studies in religion, spiritual counseling and pastoral work.  For many years, Sister Therese accompanied African women on their journeys toward becoming Medical Mission Sisters, first for our District East Africa, then for all of our Sector Africa.  After serving two terms as District Coordinator of Medical Mission Sisters in East Africa, she coordinated justice and peace efforts for the Major Superiors of Religious Institutes in Uganda, and also gave retreats and on-going formation workshops throughout the country.  Affectionately known as “TT,” Sister Therese lives in Kampala, Uganda.

MDG Momentum

Medical Mission Sisters’ representative to the United Nations, Sister Celine Paramundayil, shares that there now are less than 1000 days until News photo may 7the 2015 year-end deadline date to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  While much has been accomplished toward reaching the goals set to eradicate poverty and hunger, improve health, and give everyone access to a basic education, there still is much to be done.  An “MDG Momentum” is currently underway to accelerate the action needed to create a more just and healthy world for all.

Above photograph: Improving maternal health and reducing child mortality are two of the MDGs that Medical Mission Sisters have long addressed.

Sister Christi Kancewick

Sister Christi Kancewick, MeOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAmbership Promotion Coordinator of the Medical Mission Sisters in North America, is a Chicago-born physical therapist with a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Studies and additional studies in Spiritual Direction.  In addition to her special ministry in our own Community, Sister Christi participates in RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults), the Alternatives to Violence Project and volunteers at Covenant Home.  Close to her heart is a parish program in the Kensington area of Philadelphia, where she helps teens and young adults explore life issues. Healing mission for me comes from my relationship with God. It is about significant relationships with everyone who crosses our path, and having inclusive relationships in ‘every day ways,’ she says.

Sister Maria Fernanda Ramirez Rivera (Mafe)

Medical Mission Sister Maria Fernanda Ramirez Rivera (Mafe) is beginning her fifth year as co-coordinator of a special health care program for chilMafe newsdren, especially those living with disabilities, in Pachacutec, an area of extreme poverty in Peru.  A pediatrician, Sister Mafe provides needed health care and special rehabilitation therapies to little ones with cerebral palsy, autism and other complex syndromes.  She and her co-coordinator, a Passionist Sister, “can see that it makes a big difference for children and their families.”  Earlier this year, Sister Mafe, who is from Colombia, made her Final Vows as a Medical Mission Sister. 

Above photograph: Sister Mafe with Jean Franco Arellano, one of the children who inspired the program for children with disabilities in Pachacutec

A Gathering of the Next Generation

Click to read A Gathering of the Next Generation Newsletter

Sister Eunice Cudzewicz

Healing Presence

As editor of the Medical Mission Sisters’ Intercontinent, an internal publication that helps enrich communications and community among Medical Mission Sisters and Associates worldwide, Sister Eunice Cudzewicz, MMS, is always encouraging others to live “the sacred dance” within them. Born and raised in Chicago, she finds the world of communications a very rewarding one. Helping others to articulate their own special expression of a mission of healing presence helps all to learn more of the wonder of God.

The Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP)

Helping others express themselves in a non-violent way is one of the hundreds of ways in which Medical Mission Sisters around the world try to be a healing presence to those in need today.

Sister Barbara Ann Brigham believes very much in the importance of living in a non-violent way. To enable others to do so, she has become very active in the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP).

Started in prisons in the United States in 1975, the Alternatives to Violence Project is dedicated to reducing the level of violence in our society. It introduces persons to ways of resolving conflict that do not resort to physical, mental or emotional retaliation as the only solution.

AVP is an association of community-based groups and prison-based groups. They offer experiential workshops in conflict management, responses to violence and personal growth. The national organization provides support for the work of these local groups and keeps them updated on resources that have been proven to help others in especially stressful situations.

Sister Barbara Ann, who is fluent in Spanish, began her AVP work when she was in mission in Peru. Today she is a trainer for the Alternatives to Violence project and conducts workshops with prison inmates; with a team at New Jerusalem Now, a residential recovery program founded by our Sister Margaret McKenna; and with residents of Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood, where Sister Barbara Ann lives.

The workshops use the shared experience of participants, interactive exercises, games and role-plays to examine the ways in which we respond to situations where injustice, prejudice, frustration and anger can lead to aggressive behavior and violence. It helps participants learn to understand why they feel the way they do when confronted with these realities. An AVP workshop then teaches participants how to manage anger and fear; how to deal effectively with risk and danger; how to communicate well in difficult situations; how to understand why conflicts happen, and more.

Sister Barbara Ann says, “Our society has so much violence in it, anything we can do to stop it is good.”

March 1, 2013

Sister Maria Fernanda Ramirez Rivera (Mafe)

Sister Maria Fernanda Ramirez Rivera (Mafe) is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and Associates trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer today.

Born in Popayan, Colombia, Sister Maria Fernanda Ramirez Rivera (Mafe) studied medicine, then worked in a remote jungle between Colombia and Ecuador. “Working as a general physician in the zone of armed conflict in Colombia, I spent most of the time caring for children who were victims of war and those who were forced to take part in this conflict as child soldiers. These children of war helped me to discover my religious vocation. I think their cry awakened in me the call for a more radical commitment to the Gospel.”

Sister made First Vows as a Medical Mission Sister in 2007 in Peru. On March 9, she will make her Final Vows in our Community.

Currently Sister Mafe is a member of our Callao community in Peru. During her pre-candidacy, she worked as a volunteer in the hospital Dos de Mayo, a hospital for people with few economic resources, which helped her get to know the Peruvian pediatric approach. During this time she came to explore possibilities of mission in Pachacutec, a town in Lima’s desert along the coast.

She says, “One day, a young mother came to my office with a child with severe disabilities. I was touched to know there were no options for going to any rehab because of the lack of appropriate means of transportation, the great distance to hospitals and the lack of money. During the weeks that followed, many other mothers came with children with disabilities. I felt we should do something for them. We found support from two NGOs and started with 10 children in September 2008.” Sister Mafe continues, “We offered physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, educational support, psychological help, social worker services and pediatric care. Gradually more and more came.” Sister also worked in a project for women with HIV and AIDS.

In addition to her medical service, Sister Mafe is active in inter-congregational collaboration both in reflection groups and in mission itself. She participated in disaster relief work after the earthquake in Pisco, Peru, and the earthquake in Haiti. Sister reflects, “The whole experience left me with the great satisfaction of having been there and having contributed from my being as a Medical Mission Sister, the commitment to try to make others know better the reality of these brothers and sisters (in Haiti), the desire to keep on supporting concrete projects of trustworthy organizations – and the treasure of the many people I came to know, with whom I could share the mission, to whom I could give my time, my gifts, my love, share a hug, a prayer, a word.”

We congratulate and pray for Sister Mafe as she takes her Life Vows as a Medical Mission Sister!

March 1, 2013

Sister Patricia Patton

NEWS
Sister Patricia Patton, from Tarrytown, NY, recently returned to North America after 52 years of healing presence in Africa, 42  among the Maasai people of Kenya.  A nurse-midwife, she served as administrator of Loitokitok Hospital at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro.  Then Sister Pat started a community-based health care program for the Maasai people that included simple but very effective health education in the village bomas.  In recent years she journeyed with the members of FRIFAT–Friends Fighting AIDS Together–a support group of HIV-positive persons who help each other to live full, happy and productive lives.

Above photograph: The women of Loitokitok dressed Sister Pat in traditional Maasai attire for her Kenyan farewell party.

Sister Patricia Patton Returns to North America

Sister Patricia Patton, from Tarrytown, NY, recently returned to North America after 52 years of healing presence in Africa, 42  among the Maasai people of Kenya.  A nurse-midwife, she served as administrator of Loitokitok Hospital at the foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro.  Then Sister Pat started a community-based health care program for the Maasai people that included simple but very effective health education in the village bomas.  In recent years she journeyed with the members of FRIFAT–Friends Fighting AIDS Together–a support group of HIV-positive persons who help each other to live full, happy and productive lives.

Sister Anne Kayathinkara

Sister Anne is one of 625 Medical Mission Sisters in 19 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Sister Anne, the eighth of eleven children, was born in Kerala, India. When she was 19, she left home to serve as a volunteer nurse at Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi, India. She recalls, “This was the first time I crossed the boundaries of my native land to go to a faraway place with a new culture, a new language, new people, and a new profession…somehow I knew that God had already taken hold of my hand, and I was being led through new territory on my spiritual path.”

After making First Vows in 1947, Sister Anne was one of four pioneering Medical Mission Sisters who began serving at Immaculate Heart of Mary Hospital in Kerala, India. “The people were deeply moved with awe when they saw the young Sisters working in the hospital,” she says. “For the first three months I slept in the hospital ward and when the patients needed something, they would just call me…it was a real family life. What we enjoyed in the beginning was togetherness! We were one with the people, and they were full of appreciation.”

Sister Anne went on to minister at Holy Family Hospital, Mandar; St. Thomas Hospital, Chethipuzha; Mundakayam Medical Trust Hospital; and Holy Family Hospital in Bombay. She says, “I had an adventurous journey as a nurse.” She became vocation promoter and newsletter editor for our South India District – dual positions which she held for six years. In 1973, she was nominated by the Kerala Bishops’ Conference for the new position of General Secretary of All Kerala Vocation Promoters Conference.

In 1987, Sister Anne returned to Immaculate Heart of Mary Hospital, where she began pastoral care service. “After 48 years, I was really thrilled to see the changes and developments there.” She presently works in the hospital’s counseling and psychiatry department.

“Looking back over the years, I have come to understand that God took hold of me even before I knew where I was being led,” she says. “I feel that I was chosen to follow in a special way, and I was always held with special protection and care. Today I am even more and more aware of the presence of God.”

January 1, 2010

Sister Helen Lembeck

Sister Helen is one of 625 Medical Mission Sisters in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Sister Helen graduated from Visitation Academy before joining our Community. She then earned a Bachelor’s Degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

From 1969 to 1974, Sister Helen ministered in Fort Portal, Uganda, as Secretary of Virika Hospital and Treasurer of District East Africa. She returned to our North American Headquarters in Philadelphia for several years, serving as Treasurer of our Eastern District, and working in a private accounting firm.

Sister Helen went back to Africa in 1980. In Malawi, she was Business Administrator at Montfort Hospital for 7 years, and at Phalombe Hospital for 3 years. She also served as our Sector Treasurer in Africa, and as a member of our Central Finance Team.

After repatriating to the U.S. in the 1990s, Sister Helen moved to California. She has been Treasurer of the Western District, and active with our Assembly of North America, either as an elected member or as a participant-observer.

In 1995, Sister Helen earned her M.B.A. in Global Management from the University of Phoenix. She currently serves as our Treasurer in North America. She shares, “What makes my job easier for sure is the fact that we have wonderful donors and benefactors who have supported our ministry and are co-missionaries with us around the world. Thanks to their faithful support, we are tasked with looking for the best stewardship of the gifts God and they have given; to use them wisely now and have sufficient for the future.”

Sister Helen has also been on our global General Finance Team for 14 years. “This is a wonderful opportunity to learn how other areas of our Society are faring financially, and to contribute to or participate in our Generalate responsibility for overall care for our members, ministries and healing charism.”

January 15, 2010

Sister Celine Paramundayil

Sister Celine is one of 625 Medical Mission Sisters in 19 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Born in Kerala, India, Sister Celine is the youngest of eight children. A nurse, she joined our Community in 1982. As a young Sister, she wrote, “Mission for me means recognizing my share in God’s plan for wholeness, since I am a part of God and of this universe. If the light is lit in me, that much darkness is removed from this world. With my little lamp, I wish to enter into the darker areas of suffering, illness and ignorance.”

After her First Vows, Sister Celine served as the youth animator at the Lourdes Forane Church in Kottayam. In 1991, she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Holy Cross College, Trichy. She ministered at Mundakayam Medical Trust Hospital in Kerala before opting to work among the poor dalit women in Gandhipet, Tamil Nadu. The dalit people are the least in the social strata, and Sister Celine was a pioneer in our work with them.

She shares, “My ten years in Gandhipet were golden years…I learned the value of human dignity and the need to respect each human being, irrespective of their caste or what they possess. Even today, if someone insults the dalit, I feel the pain.”

Sister Celine received a Masters Degree in Women’s Studies from Mother Teresa Women’s University in Kodaikanal, and was recognized with the A.K. Pillai Award for earning the highest marks.

After serving as the assistant program coordinator of our Ayushya Center for Healing and Integration, Sister Celine began teaching in our School of Nursing at Immaculate Heart of Mary Hospital, Bharananganam.

Sister Celine will begin a three-year term as our Community’s new representative to the United Nations in 2010. She will be based in the U.S., and will work with Sister Philo Morris in the first six months of this year in transitioning into the responsibilities of this ministry.

February 1, 2010

Sister Anna Mae Doran

Sister Anna Mae is one of 625 Medical Mission Sisters in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Born and raised in the small town of Jordan, New York, Sister Anna Mae earned her R.N. at St. Joseph’s Hospital School of Nursing in Syracuse before joining our Community. In 1950, she began 29 years of hospital and public health work in India, where she also became a registered midwife. She was a supervisor at our Holy Family Hospitals in Patna and Mandar, and Administrator at St. Thomas Hospital and Archbishop Attipetty Jubilee Memorial Hospital in Kerala, and Holy Family Hospital in Bombay.

Sister Anna Mae returned to the U.S. in the late 1960s, earning her Bachelors Degree in Education from Temple University and her Masters in Public Health from Tulane. Back in India, from 1971 – 1978, she served as Executive Secretary and Relief Coordinator of the Bihar Voluntary Health Association, and Coordinator of the Community Health Department at Kurji Holy Family Hospital in Patna.

After repatriating to the U.S. in 1978, Sister Anna Mae served in a federally-funded “Improved Pregnancy Outcome” project in Anderson County, South Carolina, where she “saw a great need for midwifery in rural areas of the South.” She became certified as a nurse-midwife at the University of Mississippi. She then spent five years in Americus, Georgia, founding and coordinating the Middle Flint Cooperative Perinatal Project to reduce infant mortality rates in eight counties of southwest Georgia.

“I was surprised at the similarities between Southwest Georgia and a developing country,” she recalls. “I was surprised that there were people without running water or inside plumbing.”

Sister Anna Mae then moved to Gainesville, Florida, where she spent six years as Team Leader on a federally-funded project for babies and their mothers aimed at reducing low birth weights. After working in the Health Department in St. Petersburg, Florida, for a year, she served with the Healthy Start Program in Pinellas Park, Florida, for 11 years.

In 2008, Sister Anna Mae moved to our North American Headquarters in Philadelphia.

February 15, 2010

Sister Belaynesh Abera

Sister Belaynesh is one of 625 Medical Mission Sisters in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

The oldest of twelve children, Sister Belaynesh was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. After completing her education, she worked at the Cistercian Technical School, where she first met the Medical Mission Sisters. She made her First Vows in our Community in 1987.

As a young Sister, she shared, “For me it is important to share in and participate in the healing ministry of Christ, since I belong to the part of our world’s society who receive only 8% of the world’s resources for health. It does not matter where and how I involve myself, but it is important to me to try and bring hope and justice to people. I want my life to witness to this, and I want to be part of the struggle for freedom wherever oppression exists, in any form and in any degree.”

After pharmacy training, Sister Belaynesh worked at Attat Hospital, then moved to our community-based project in Debre Zeit, Ethiopia. She now works for the Archdiocese of Addis Ababa, coordinating the Justice and Peace Desk, which she set up in 2006. She says, “Contemporary Ethiopia is changing fast and going through the process of socio-economic, political and cultural transformation…there is a real need to educate citizens on issues related to human rights and to prepare them to vote, and to have positive political involvement on matters that affect their lives.”

Sister Belaynesh’s work includes preparing and organizing seminars and workshops for religious and political leaders, teachers, parish youth leaders and laity council leaders. She explains, “Our Mission is to strengthen communities of Christians which exhibit love, justice and peace, so as to enhance the formation of a more egalitarian society.”

Within seven of the Catholic schools, Sister Belaynesh has developed Peace Clubs. She has also produced a guide book to help students have Peace Club meetings. The enthusiasm and commitment of the young people is a great inspiration to her. The students say that being in the Peace Clubs has positively changed their attitudes towards others and helped them to know themselves, to envision what they can become, to set goals, and to become more tolerant and confident as they work to promote peace and justice.

March 1, 2010

Sister Maria Hornung

Sister Maria Hornung is one of 650 Medical Mission Sisters in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

A graduate of Ursuline Academy in New Orleans, Sister Maria attended Trinity College in Washington, D.C., and earned her B.S. in Pharmacy from George Washington University. She was then missioned to Africa, where she served as a pharmacist in Fort Portal, Uganda, and in Kampala, Uganda.

In 1970, Sister Maria graduated from Temple University with a Master’s Degree in Education. She worked for several years in Nairobi, Kenya, in the area of group dynamics and human relations with the Association of Sisterhoods in Kenya. In Nigeria, she served a three-year term as District Superior of West Africa, and then was elected our Sector Superior in Africa.

After 25 wonderful years in Africa, Sister Maria repatriated to the U.S. in 1986. She served for nine years as our Formation Coordinator, briefly returning to Africa for 6 months of relief work in Ghana. In 1997, she was elected to a six-year term as our North America Sector Coordinator.

After her years in leadership, Sister Maria felt called to a new mission. She returned to Temple University and graduated with her Master’s Degree in Religion, with a focus on Interreligious Dialogue. She authored a book, “Encountering Other Faiths,” published by Paulist Press, along with an accompanying workbook.

In 2005, Sister Maria began working as Coordinator of Interfaith Education at the Interfaith Center of Philadelphia, whose programs reached over a thousand people last year. She works with adults in diverse settings, facilitating an understanding of their commonalities and an acceptance of their differences. She also serves as Coordinator of our Lifewright ministry, which offers retreat and renewal programs to Medical Mission Sisters. In 2009, she traveled to Indonesia as part of a special U.S. – Indonesian Fulbright exchange program.

Sister Maria shares, “In my encounters with peoples of many countries, cultures and religions…I have met God in many places and under many guises…interreligious dialogue has become a passion with me.”

March 15, 2010

Sister Maria Emma Panizales

Sister Emma is one of 625 Medical Mission Sisters in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

A native of Cotabato City in the Philippines, Sister Emma joined our Community the early 1970s in the midst of the Muslim-Christian conflict in the island of Mindanao. She was then a faculty member of Notre Dame University Training Department. She made her First Vows in 1975.

Sister Emma lived and worked in the slum areas of metro Manila, and also served as our Vocation Promotion Coordinator, and a member of our formation team in District Philippines. In addition, she worked closely with her country’s Justice and Peace Commission of the Share and Care Apostolate for Urban Settlers.

“Our mission with the slum dwellers, with the workers, with those who struggle for Justice and Peace, for a land of their own, with those exerting efforts to form Christian Communities not only among adults but among the youth and children, our mission which calls us to organize women, children, young people, etc. to educate, to heal and be healed, have been and will continue to be God’s signposts of God’s continued presence and love for me,” she shares.

In 1983, Sister Emma was missioned to Caracas, Venezuela. There she has been very active with the Justice and Peace Commission for many years, and coordinates the activities of different justice and peace teams with inmates imprisoned in Caracas. She is our Sector Coordinator in Latin America, and is involved with the formation of young religious in the Theological Institute for the Education of Religious. Sister Emma also serves as our Sector Coordinator in Latin America.

April 1, 2010

Sister Mary Elizabeth Johnson

Sister Mary Elizabeth is one of 625 Medical Mission Sisters in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

A native of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Sister Mary Elizabeth graduated from St. Margaret Academy and became a registered nurse at St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing in La Crosse, Wisconsin, before joining our Community in 1946.

In 1949, Sister Mary Elizabeth began 17 years of ministry in Pakistan. She served at Holy Family Hospitals in Rawalpindi, Karachi, and Dacca, as a nurse, midwife, and administrator. She also was involved in education, setting and correcting the national nursing and midwifery exams.

Sister Mary Elizabeth reflects, “This time of my life is set apart in my heart to remember always with a special glow, and many thanks for those Sisters I worked, played and prayed with, and for the Pakistani people I met, worked with, and helped to better health.”

IIn 1966, after the Second Vatican Council, Sister was appointed to a five-member governing body for North American Medical Mission Sisters serving around the world. Two years later, she became administrator at our North American Headquarters in Philadelphia. From 1972 to 1974, she served on our “Ministry Team” that traveled extensively, leading workshops, facilitating prayer and giving concerts.

Sister Mary Elizabeth then became business administrator for our music and liturgy publications, and also responded twice to the need for emergency relief work along the Cambodian border. She says, “We Medical Mission Sisters are called into relationships and areas of ministry that change: widening and narrowing in turn into new endeavors that continue to open our faith life for, and as a part of, God’s people.”

In 1980, Sister Mary Elizabeth moved to Hartford, Connecticut, assuming administrative duties at the Hartford Seminary Foundation and its Educational Resources Center. She received her Master’s Degree in Religious Studies from Hartford Seminary. She continues to live in Hartford, and helps fill orders and answer permission requests for the use of our music and books.

Sister Mary Elizabeth, who celebrated her 60th Jubilee in 2009, shares, “Mission for me means helping to make Christ present in the world. It is trying to witness Christ the healer in our daily life with others and with ourselves.”

April 15, 2010

Our new Society Coordinators

Sisters Agnes Lanfermann and Elizabeth Vadakekara are two of 625 Medical Mission Sisters in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

On Saturday, April 24, 2010, our new Society Leadership Team took office in London. We offer gratitude and prayerful good wishes to Sister Carmelita Perez, who has completed her six-year term as our Society Coordinator, and Sister Suzanne Maschek, who has finished her term as Assistant Society Coordinator.

Sister Agnes Lanfermann is our new Society Coordinator. She was born and raised in a small village in northwest Germany. A published author, Sister Agnes has studied pastoral psychology, philosophy and theology. She has lived in Frankfurt for the past 25 years, teaching at the Jesuit University and giving workshops at the Institute of Mission Spirituality. She has served in leadership as our Sector Coordinator in Europe, and as our District Coordinator and Formation Coordinator in Germany.

Sister-Doctor Elizabeth Vadakekara is our new Assistant Society Coordinator. Born in Kerala, India, Sister Elizabeth has served at Kurji Holy Family Hospital, Patna; Holy Family Hospital, Mandar; and Holy Family Hospital in Bongao, the Philippines. She spent 12 years at the Mundakayan Medical Trust Hospital in Kerala, where she developed community health programs in villages around the hospital.

Wishing to expand her skills, Sister Elizabeth studied child psychiatry and began working in the areas of suicide prevention, drug addiction, and HIV/AIDS at a crisis intervention center. She has been our Sector Coordinator in Asia for the past six years, and coordinated many aspects of our outreach to victims of the 2004 tsunami.

Sisters Agnes and Elizabeth will attend the annual SEDOS meeting in Rome in May, and will visit and introduce themselves to the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL). Sister Agnes will also attend the International Union of Superiors General Plenary Assembly in Rome.

Please join us in prayer, thanksgiving, and celebration at this special time in our history.

May 1, 2010

Sister Patricia Edelen

Sister Patricia is one of 625 Medical Mission Sisters in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Sister Pat entered our Community one year after she graduated from Mt. St. Agnes High School. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree from the George Washington School of Pharmacy in Washington, D.C., and completed her pharmacy internship at St. Clare’s Hospital in New York.

Sister’s first mission assignment was to Hospital Nuestra Senora de Coromoto in Maracaibo, Venezuela, where she served for 9 years as pharmacy director, and for 3 years as hospital administrator. She returned to the U.S., and spent 4 years as assistant chief pharmacist at Holy Family Hospital in Atlanta. She then relocated to our North American Headquarters in Philadelphia, and served as our Personnel Directress for 2 years.

In 1974, Sister Pat began working in the Diocese of Savannah, Georgia, as staff pharmacist at the Chatham County Memorial Hospital. She later moved to Lumpkin, Georgia, where she assisted Sister-Doctor Jane Gates with her medical practice and also worked part-time as the pharmacy director of Stewart-Webster County Hospital of Richland. In 1980, she spent 3 months in Thailand, ministering to Cambodian refugees.

When Sister Pat settled back in Philadelphia, she began a term on our Eastern District Assembly, and also served in parish social ministry in North Philadelphia. She became the Services/Facilities Coordinator of the Administration Building at our Philadelphia headquarters. She explains, “This ministry put me in contact with our employees, as well as numerous outside groups, and different vendors.”

Now serving as our Hospitality Coordinator in Philadelphia, Sister Pat shares, “Mission for me means to be an active presence of Christ the Healer in a world that often rejects the very ones whom we are called to serve. It means caring enough for others that we take the risk of going where we have never been before and trying daily to reflect the compassion of Christ.”

May 15, 2010

Sister Dulce Corazon Velasco, M.D.

Sister-Doctor Dulce is one of 625 Medical Mission Sisters in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

A physician, Sister Dulce Corazon Velasco served as a lay volunteer in Bangladesh before joining our Community. She made her First Vows in 1980, at age 36.

Sister Dulce’s first mission assignment was to Bongao, Tawi-Tawi, where she lived and worked for 22 years. During this time, the Jolo Vicariate Health Ministry was centered in Bongao, where Holy Family Hospital underwent changes and re-orientation. Our Sisters developed a shared vision with the local people of an alternative health care system, which included community health programs, a referral system, medical services and linkages/networks.

The experiences Sister Dulce had over those years, and the relationships she developed with the local people, had a deep impact on her. She reflects, “It is very important for health professionals to learn how to have trust with people. The people are able to take care of themselves given the chance.”

In December, 2003, our Sisters officially turned over their involvement in Bongao to the local people. Sister Dulce continued on the hospital’s advisory board for 5 more years. “We Medical Mission Sisters offered this as our gift to the healing mission of the Vicariate of Jolo…enabling the people to take back their responsibility for their own health as their God-given right,” Sister Dulce recalls.

Sister Dulce began serving a three-year term in 2005 as Executive Director of a non-government organization, Integrative Medicine for Alternative Health Care System (INAM) in the Philippines. At the request of Bishop Labayen, President of the INAM Board of Trustees, she has renewed her term until 2011.

Living in Quezon City in the Philippines, Sister Dulce has also served as a Visiting Professor at Boston University, and continues to mentor students from the University who visit her country yearly.

June 1, 2010

Sister Annette Froehlich

Sister Annette is one of 625 Medical Mission Sisters in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

A native of Johnston, PA, Sister Annette joined our Community shortly after her high school graduation. She attended St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing, where she received her R.N., and later became certified as a midwife at the Catholic Maternity Institute in Santa Fe.

Sister Annette’s first mission assignment was to Ghana, where she was a nurse at Holy Family Hospital in Berekum and at the Kokofu Leprosarium. She then served in administration and nursing at Holy Family Hospital in Techiman.

In 1971, Sister Annette received her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing and then a Master’s Degree in Public Health from St. Louis University. She returned to Holy Family Hospital in Techiman, Ghana, for several years as a public health nurse and administrator.

Upon her return to the U.S., Sister Annette worked as a nurse in her native Johnston, PA, and updated her midwifery skills at Booth Maternity Center in Philadelphia. She then served as Public Health Nursing Supervisor of the Allegheny County-Covington and Clifton Forge Health Departments in Covington, Virginia.

Sister Annette settled in the southwest in 1981. She was involved in overall administration for a University of Arizona-New Mexico Chile Health Project on the Navajo Indian Reservation. In 1983, she moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico, where she served as a nurse-midwife at the Dona Ana Public Health Office. Later, Sister Annette worked at the Mesilla Valley Hospice in Las Cruces as a staff nurse.

A certified Master Gardener, Sister Annette has been an environmental services volunteer and a Nature Center volunteer. She lives in Las Cruces with her sister Mary Grace, who is also a Medical Mission Sister.

June 15, 2010

Sister Maria Agustine Miyatun

Sister Maria Agustine is one of 625 Medical Mission Sisters in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Sister Maria Agustine was born the fourth child in a Muslim family in Solo in Central Java, Indonesia. She studied at Catholic elementary and high schools run by the Franciscan Sisters. “I was attracted to the Catholic faith and wanted to become a Catholic, but my parents forbade it,” Sister recalls.

At nursing boarding school at Holy Family Hospital, Sister Maria Agustine became a Catholic without telling her family. She was drawn to the Medical Mission Sisters’ way of life, and joined our Community in Solo. She made her First Vows in 1978, and her Final Vows in 1985. “Still Muslim, my mother and family came to join our celebration. I felt very happy,” she remembers.

Sister Maria Agustine has been involved in a variety of healing ministries. She worked with the social service group of the Vicariate of Surakarta to empower people, and also did vocation promotion work. In 1996, she was appointed Formation Coordinator while continuing her social service ministry.

In Kedung Ombo, Central Java, Sister Maria Agustine ministered in a program for improving children’s nutrition and health. She also was active in Panti Wredha, a new home for the elderly that was established in Solo. She shares, “The elderly need friends in the process of aging, attention, and love … they need to be accompanied, to be heard, to be respected, to be helped, and to be served.”

Sister then served at Fatima Hospital in Parepare, Indonesia. She began in the nutrition department, then had charge of the kitchen, laundry and sewing areas, and later, was general cashier of the hospital. In addition, she taught first semester nursing students at the Nursing Academy of Fatima.

Sister Maria Agustine recently began her elected term as our District Coordinator in Indonesia. “I have now been a Medical Mission Sister for 32 years, and I ask God’s guidance in this new task of district leadership.”

July 1, 2010

Sister Jean Lorenz

Sister Jean is one of 625 Medical Mission Sisters in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Born and raised in Dubuque, Iowa, Sister Jean graduated from Visitation Academy, and from Clarke College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Art. She worked for the American Cancer Society as a medical illustrator before joining our Community. She remembers, “My job was absorbing and challenging, so the Lord had difficulty in getting my attention for another possibility in my life journey.”

In her early years with our Community, Sister Jean served as local superior in St. Louis and Philadelphia, and traveled throughout Africa, Asia, and the U.S., doing publicity and fundraising. In the mid-1970s, she entered a work-study medical illustration program at Duke University Medical Center and the University of North Carolina, and helped to develop booklets for a health center in Rossville, Tennessee. She recalls, “It was a blessing that I was able to go to different departments and see surgeries and other services.”

Sister Jean then left for East Africa to work with the African Medical and Research and Education Foundation (AMREF), as well as an associated group, the Flying Doctors. With them, she used her art skills to create manuals and posters to help educate the people about health. She explains, “AMREF was a small organization and we knew everybody. We were very much into doing everything we could to help the people.”

In 1979, Sister began 25 years of ministry as Associate Chaplain at Mathari Psychiatric Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya. When she learned that the 1,500 patients had no occupational therapy, she began incorporating music therapy into their daily routines. Volunteers joined her, bringing cassette tapes of tribal music and international hymns. “The patients responded so well…I would play the music and get them on their feet, moving and dancing, and at the end we had some hymns and a short prayer.”

Sister Jean, who returned to the U.S. after 27 years in Kenya, recently has been working with women prisoners and at adult literacy centers in the Philadelphia area. She celebrated her 60th anniversary in 2009. “I just knew I had to become a Medical Mission Sister,” she says, “and I knew I wouldn’t be happy unless I did. And yes, I am very happy.”

July 15, 2010

Sister Rosamma George Vadakethalakal

Sister Rosamma is one of 625 Medical Mission Sisters in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

The oldest of six children, Sister Rosamma is from a village in Kerala, India. She was drawn to the simplicity she saw in our Sisters who lived in the midst of the poor Muslim people in Erattupetta, Kerala. “There I saw religious life lived out in a different form,” she explains.

Sister went on to study nursing at Kurji Holy Family Hospital in Patna, and worked as a staff nurse in Mascat for four years, where she learned “the meaning and implications of living and working with an international group.”

After a time of formation in Erattupetta, Sister Rosamma made her First Vows in 1996. Her first mission assignment was to Gandhipet, Tamil Nadu, South India, where she was involved at the grassroots level for six years. “The people around us were dalits, low caste, who had undergone long years of oppression and isolation from higher castes,” she recalls. “The women were doubly oppressed and overburdened.”

Sister Rosamma went on to earn her Master’s Degree in Sociology from Anna Malai University. She was a member of our community in Maner, India, where she worked in the community health center. She then became involved in formation ministry, serving as pre-candidacy coordinator, and now as coordinator for the orientation phase of formation in South India.

Now living in Bharananganam, Sister is studying for a degree in psychology. She has served on a team giving psychotherapy sessions for the first year theologians of St. Paul’s Seminary, Trichy, and the novices of the Franciscan Sisters of St. Thomas, Trichy. She also has given health awareness classes for students of St. Xavier’s School, where she shared the message of the People’s Health Assembly, “People’s Health in People’s Hands.”

Sister reflects, “I am convinced that our choice to be on the side of the poor is the right one, and in this there is the hope of bringing social transformation. My hope for the future is to be an active presence of Christ, the healer, with whom I live and struggle to form a just society.”

August 1, 2010

Sister Helen Marie McGrath

Sister Helen Marie is one of 625 Medical Mission Sisters in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Sister Helen Marie graduated from Holy Name High School. In Cincinnati, she earned her Bachelor’s Degree at Mount St. Joseph College, became certified as a medical technologist at Good Samaritan Hospital, and worked at Charity Hospital for eight years. She remembers, “I thought I was being called, summoned, I wasn’t quite sure where… when I came to visit the Medical Mission Sisters, their simplicity of life and joy attracted me.”

Sister was assigned to Holy Family Hospital in Karachi, Pakistan, where she served for 43 years. She worked in the lab for about 20 years, then turned over her position to two professionals she had helped to train. She was already teaching microbiology in the School of Nursing; in the mid-1980s, she began teaching full-time. She recalls, “I taught physics, chemistry, microbiology and human development and I was consulate for the students also, lots of 17-year-olds!”

She adds, “Our time with the students would go so fast. But when I would see the girls walking up on graduation, I could not believe the happiness. Not only had they grown, but they had matured and really become professional women.”

The people of Pakistan are mostly Muslim, and Sister Helen Marie remembers that, at Holy Family Hospital, “We were always known for taking everybody, whether they were Muslim or Catholic or Protestant or on the staff, it was all the same. We all worked together.” She was also involved with the St. Joseph Association, a mostly Christian group that provided burials for people from low-income families.

Even though she lived through times of political instability in Pakistan, Sister Helen Marie said she never felt really afraid. “The people were very kind to us. And we never, ever felt anything like the people were against us.”

She adds, “Healing presence isn’t just a one-way street. Sometimes people are there when you need them, and you try to be there when they need you.”

Sister Helen Marie repatriated to the U.S. in 2009. After completing a period of renewal, she has been volunteering at our Thrift Shop in Philadelphia.

August 15, 2010

Sister Betty Mathay

Sister Betty is one of 625 Medical Mission Sisters in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Born in Bataan Province in the Philippines, Sister Betty is the second of three daughters. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and CPA at the University of the Philippines. She made her First Vows at age 30, in 1969.

After serving as District Treasurer, Sister Betty was missioned to the Brayat Minulyo Hospital in Surakarta, Indonesia, where she served until 1992. During those years, she served on our Society Finance Team, and was also our Coordinator in Sector East Asia from 1981 to 1987. When she returned to her native country, she wanted to work at the grassroots level and had a strong desire to do pastoral care.

“From the very beginning of my religious life, I saw my participation in our healing mission doing pastoral care as just being a loving person, giving my smile and having an understanding heart for all,” she explains.

Sister Betty ministered in the southern part of the Philippines in several hospitals, and became part of the hospital ministry of the diocese. For four years, she was co-chaplain with a priest in the Zamboanga City Medical Center. She was also involved with building community with the local fisher folk, and with interfaith dialogue and weekly Bible reflections.

After transferring to the northern Philippines, Sister Betty continued to do pastoral hospital visits, and visited homebound patients, bringing them Holy Communion when needed. She was also involved with formation for pre-candidates and Sisters in temporary vows.

Now living in Quezon City in the Philippines, Sister Betty is serving as the District Treasurer. She shares, “Our healing mission is a wholistic one, caring for the whole person’s needs – body, mind and spirit. When the three are in harmony, healing comes to the person…When I see a smile, a spark in people’s eyes, and they start communicating, I always feel joy in my heart as healing is happening, and God is there healing all of us.”

September 1, 2010

Sister Katherine Baltazar

Sister Katherine is one of 625 Medical Mission Sisters in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Sister Katherine’s mother is Swiss and her father is Filipino. Both were present, along with many other family members and friends, when she made her Final Profession of Vows on September 5, 2010, at our North American Headquarters in Philadelphia.

Sister Katherine, who speaks six languages, graduated from Marymount University in Arlington, VA, in 1977 with degrees in science and nursing, and earned a third degree in psychology from Marymount Manhattan College in New York in 1980. She then lived in Europe for several years, studying at the Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland.

When Sister Katherine returned to the U.S., she earned her Master’s Degree in Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing at Columbia University in New York. She served as an oncology nurse at Sloan-Kettering Hospital, and also worked with Mexican immigrant women in Arizona. Pursuing an interest in native peoples and herbal medicines, she visited New Zealand and Australia.

Sister Katherine settled in Hawaii for six years, where she studied culture and community development, taught undergraduate nursing at the University of Hawaii, and worked as a psychiatric nurse at Hawaii State Hospital. She also earned her certification as a clinical nurse specialist and served as president of the Filipino Association of University Women (FAUW). “Through the FAUW, I became friendly with a Filipino Jesuit, Father Jaime Neri,” Sister Katherine recalls. It was through him that she learned about our Community.

At the prompting of a friend, she attended a Basic Christian Community retreat, and heard a newly-professed Benedictine nun share her story. “She ended her talk by saying, ‘If you hear God’s call, heed that call.’ For some reason, I heard this directed at me,” Sister Katherine recalls. “Before I left Hawaii, I visited the Benedictine and told her my story. She told me that her prayer to God was that her talk would touch just one person. I turned out to be the answer to that prayer.”

Living in Philadelphia for the past 8 years, Sister Katherine served as a nurse, and ministered in our New Jerusalem Laura program for recovering addicts. For three months, she had a mission experience with the Lakota Sioux in Rosebud, South Dakota. She earned a post-master’s Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner certificate from Drexel University and now works at Livengrin, a Drug and Alcohol Treatment and Rehab Center in Bensalem, PA.

September 15, 2010

Sister Philo Mylady

Sister Philo is one of 625 Medical Mission Sisters in 18 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Born the second child in a family with eight siblings, Sister Philo made her First Vows in 1966, at the age of 18. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from BCM College in Kottayam, Kerala, India. Her first mission assignment was in Kerala, at St. Thomas Hospital in Chethipuzha. She then had an intercultural experience in rural Jhamkhed, Maharashtra, which inspired her to choose work at the grassroots level for the development of people.

After Sister Philo made her Final Vows in 1975, she served in community health for several years. She worked in a community development project at the pastoral orientation center in Cochin. Her next assignment was to Padappakara in the Quilon Diocese, where she was able to implement programs of the diocesan social services for the health and welfare of the people.

In 1982, Sister Philo began ministry in North East India. After studying bookkeeping and accounting, she was appointed our district treasurer, and was elected to a six-year term as district coordinator. After that, she was involved for ten years with vocation promotion and formation.

For the past eight years, Sister Philo has been in mission with people who are recovering from substance abuse at the Shalom Rehabilitation Center in Chumukedima, Nagaland. The detoxification facility accommodates 20 residents at any given time. “Recovery and rehabilitation happen to each person at their own pace,” she says.

As assistant to the director of the Center, Sister Philo gives input sessions to the clients and does counseling. Educating health workers, other religious, and high school students about chemical dependency is another aspect of her work.

Sister Philo shares, “With faith and trust in God and with a daring spirit, we continue our ministry to the most neglected…we realize that God has strengthened us to go forward with courage and a sense of total commitment to our mission.”

October 1, 2010

Sister Celeste DiGiorgio

Sister Celeste is one of 625 Medical Mission Sisters in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Sister Celeste was born in Philadelphia, the oldest of 11 children. She graduated from West Catholic High School, and worked as a bookkeeper before joining our Community. She shares, “I am thankful for the special grace of being near Anna Dengel (our Foundress) herself…I learned of her deep appreciation for our benefactors and realized how our growth has been dependent on the generosity of others.”

After she made her Vows, Sister Celeste worked for 17 years in internal administration offices within our community. She was involved with the magazine/circulation department, was an assistant to the Superior at our North American Headquarters, and in charge of our house of studies in Washington, D.C.

With a desire to do social work, Sister Celeste completed her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees at Temple University, then moved to Maryland in the mid-1970s. She recalls, “As a Social Worker, I was deeply and forever touched by the poor who came to me in the Baltimore Health Department.” After three years of service there, Sister spent six years coordinating development at St. Monica’s Community Center in an impoverished Baltimore neighborhood. During part of this time, she was also our Formation Coordinator.

When she returned to Philadelphia, Sister served as the Social Work Supervisor at Women of Hope, a residential program for homeless women, many of whom were mentally ill. “I related to the staff, residents, and professional consultants in an attempt to provide a life-giving milieu, where each resident could take the steps necessary to bring her to a little more wholeness.”

In the 1990s, Sister Celeste coordinated hospitality for returning and visiting Sisters at our North American Headquarters in Philadelphia. She remembers, “I experienced what I call ‘Fresh Internationality’ in the Renewal House.”

Sister Celeste’s recent ministries have involved teaching reading and English as a Second Language, and communication with groups advocating for justice. She shares, “I feel awe, joy and deep gratitude to God, and to all my dear companions on this journey.”

October 15, 2010

Sister Magda van Hoyweghen

Sister-Doctor Magda is one of 625 Medical Mission Sisters in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Sister Magda and her twin sister were born in Temse, Belgium. They grew up with four other siblings, and she and two of her sisters went to boarding school for secondary school. After graduation, she joined our Community in Imstenrade, The Netherlands, in 1953.

After earning her medical degree from the state university in Utrecht, Sister Magda did a one-year surgical internship at Mater Misericordiae Hospital in Philadelphia. She then completed a four-year surgical residency at St. Clare’s Hospital in New York.

In 1972, Sister Magda began 25 years of service as a missionary doctor in Africa. In Tanzania, she was a general surgeon in the referral government hospital in Mwanza for four years. This was followed by a year in Juba, Southern Sudan, and four months in Serabu, Sierra Leone.

Sister Magda and two of our other Sisters began a new involvement in Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi, in 1979. She served there as a general surgeon until 1992. While in Malawi, she was a board member of several church hospitals. She also became involved in the support and care of persons with AIDS.

Sister Magda was elected to a six-year term as our Sector Africa Coordinator in 1992. At that time, she moved to Nairobi, Kenya.

In 1998, Sister Magda returned to Antwerp, Belgium, and earned a Master’s Degree in Bio-Ethics. Today she contributes her knowledge and international experience to a number of European organizations, and within our Community.

November 1, 2010

Sister Judy Garbaccio

Sister Judy is one of 625 Medical Mission Sisters in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Born in Paterson, New Jersey, Sister Judy graduated from Mount Saint Dominic Academy, studied chemistry and pre-medicine at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, and received her R.N. from St. Joseph Hospital School of Nursing in Paterson.

Sister Judy’s first mission assignment was at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Philadelphia, where she served as Nursery Supervisor. In 1960, she began ministry at Holy Family Hospital in Berekum, Ghana, where she was a Nursing Arts Instructor and Ward Supervisor for 2 years.

Sister Judy went on to spend 11 years at Virika Hospital, Fort Portal, Uganda, where she directed the Nursing Service, and was an operating room and ward supervisor as well as a nursing tutor. During this time, she worked with Uganda’s Ministry of Health to improve health conditions, and became Senior Nursing Officer at Uganda’s government hospital. She also served as our Formation Coordinator.

She reflects, “My companions along the way have been many – nurses, doctors, villagers, professional people, the sick, the healthy, the strong, the weak. Together we traveled, each sharing the others’ gifts and burdens.”

After returning to the U.S. in 1974 and receiving her B.S.N. from St. Louis University, Sister Judy began a new mission in Kenya. She served at Kyeni Hospital for a short time, then at Nangina Hospital for nearly 3 years as Director of Nursing Service and Ward Supervisor. In 1983, she went back to Uganda, where she organized community-based health care projects in the Mbarara Diocese. In the early 1990’s, she became District Formation Coordinator in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia. She repatriated to the U.S. in 1995.

She says, “In Africa, to be a healing presence meant to serve in hospitals, schools of nursing, and a community-based health care project…then I came to a fork in the road. The branch that beckoned was quite different.”

Sister Judy pursued her interest in spiritual direction and retreat work, taking classes at La Salle University in Philadelphia, and at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville, PA. She is active in the Church Ministry Institute of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, a three-year certificate program for laypeople that she helped to develop. She also is involved with spiritual counseling.

November 15, 2010

Sister Sophie Vallavasseril

Sister Sophie is one of 625 Medical Mission Sisters in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Born and raised in Kerala, India, Sister Sophie is the third of four children. After she joined our Community in 1954, she studied nursing and midwifery at Kurji Holy Family Hospital in Patna and worked as a staff nurse.

After our 1967 renewal Chapter, Sister Sophie wanted to learn more about holistic care. She took a one-year diploma course in psychiatric nursing at the All India Institute of Mental Health in Bangalore, and a course in counseling and psychotherapy at the Christian Counseling Center in Vellore. She recalls, “A personal growth and pastoral care course at the Socio-Religious Center in Calicut put me in touch with the specific pastoral aspect of the healing ministry.”

Sister Sophie became involved with formation ministry for seven years, working closely with young people. Following that, she lived and worked in a colony of poor, displaced people in Panackachira. She recalls, “We lived a very simple life in their midst, and shared much of their hardships and struggles. I learned the value of being a compassionate listener, and being simple enough to be of help in small ways as the opportunity presented itself.”

In 1998, Sister Sophie joined the pastoral care team at Immaculate Heart of Mary Hospital in Bharananganam, India, where she appreciates the good interaction between the medical staff and the pastoral team. She shares, “I have learned to put people at ease, introduce them to the ‘hospital routines’ and accompany them through their stay.”

She explains, “Pastoral visits are occasions of sharing on the whole process of life, health, healing, and the role of illness and healthy lifestyle…many a time, people return home with much hope and a more positive outlook on life.”

Sister adds, “Accompanying terminally ill and dying persons is a strenuous, yet rewarding, experience…pastoral care is healing ministry.”

December 1, 2010

Sister Sheila McGinnis

Sister Sheila is one of 625 Medical Mission Sisters in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Born and raised in Troy, New York, Sister Sheila joined our Community shortly after graduating from Catholic Central High School in Troy. She received her R.N. from Misericordia Hospital School of Nursing in Philadelphia, and her Certification in Nurse-Midwifery from the Catholic Maternity Institute in Santa Fe.

In 1964, Sister Sheila was missioned to Quinhon, Vietnam, where she spent four years as a staff nurse, floor supervisor, and midwife at Holy Family Hospital. She returned to the U.S. and earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from Catholic University in Washington, D.C. She went back to Quinhon and served in several positions at the hospital, including Nursing Supervisor, Inservice Education Director, and Pharmacy Supervisor.

Forced to evacuate Vietnam in 1975, Sister Sheila joined others in providing refugee relief work for Vietnamese persons displaced in Arkansas. She later offered the same assistance to Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees in Philadelphia. In 1976, she began a six-year term as Assistant to the Sector Superior of North America. She recalls, “It was then that I actually had some time to reflect on the experience of having worked in Vietnam, and what that meant in terms of my future, as well as my past.”

Sister Sheila developed an interest in complementary modes of healing, and became a staff member of the Center for Human Integration (CHI) in Philadelphia. Founded by Medical Mission Sister Mary Em McGlone, it offered a wide range of programs, workshops, and client services that were designed to facilitate healing by reducing chronic pain, increasing energy and mobility, managing stress, and integrating life-changing awareness.

In 1985, Sister Sheila was elected to a six-year term as our North American Sector Superior. She says, “This ministry involved connections with the Sisters…and connections with others through organizations in which our Sisters have been highly respected for all our years.” At the completion of her term of office, she rejoined CHI as Co-Director and served there until its close in 2008.

Sister Sheila celebrated her Golden Jubilee in 2009. She currently lives in Philadelphia, where she is involved in healing arts using massage, reflexology, and energy work.

December 15, 2010

Sister Therese Cheruvallathu

Sister Therese is one of 625 Medical Mission Sisters in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

A native of Kerala, South India, Sister Therese felt a desire as a young woman to dedicate her life to God and the people of God. She made her First Vows with our Community in 1965. After completing studies in laboratory technology, she worked for 14 years in this field at Immaculate Heart of Mary Hospital, Bharananganam, and Mundakayam Medical Trust Hospital, Mundakayam.

As a preparation to enter into formation work, Sister Therese took a three-year degree course on Indian Christian Spirituality at the University of Mysore. Studying in-depth the spirituality of different religions widened her vision and helped her to respect and appreciate her own culture and spirituality. After accompanying pre-candidates for seven years, she volunteered for mission in Latin America.

From 1996-2000, Sister Therese served in Belem, Brazil, providing alternative health therapies and conducting workshops to equip a group of women to carry on the work. In 2000 she was asked to join the formation team in Caracas, Venezuela. She also worked part-time in the parish clinic.

Six years ago, Sister Therese volunteered to live in a barrio – 12 de Octubre in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. Here she accompanies the basic Christian community and visits the sick, attending to their needs. She also offers acupuncture and other alternative therapies to those in need. Twice a month she participates in seminars for women to help them carry on our healing mission in Venezuela. Recently, she has incorporated the topic of ecology in the family health program, and has been helping women in the barrio learn about ecological living.

January 1, 2011

Sister Julia Burkart

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

Born and raised in New Orleans, Sister Julia studied for two years at Dominica College before joining our Community, making her First Vows in 1950. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree at Trinity College, and her Master’s Degree in Library Science at Catholic University.

Sister Julia ministered in the Admissions Office of Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, and at our Novitiate in the Philippines, before returning to the U.S. and working as a librarian in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. She also was on the staff at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Philadelphia for one year.

In 1972, Sister Julia earned her Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of St. Louis. She spent several years as a social worker, in school programs in New Orleans, and at New Mexico State Hospital in Las Vegas, New Mexico.

Sister Julia began teaching social work in 1975. She recalls, “I liked teaching, and I had gotten my start teaching novices.” She served on the faculty of Eastern New Mexico University and West Texas State University. After additional studies at Texas Women’s University, she spent 12 years at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.

Volunteer work became Sister Julia’s ministry after her official “retirement.” She served homeless women and women in prison in New Orleans for several years, until she moved to Tucson in 1999.

In Tucson, Sister Julia spent four years serving at Casa Maria, the Catholic Worker soup kitchen. She recalls, “The first time I went there, I knew I was in the right space…my job was whatever was needed…it was so rewarding to see hungry people fed.” Sister Julia also worked in a crisis nursery, and was a volunteer teacher and librarian in a local parish. She then moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, where she continued her volunteer work.

Now living at our North American Headquarters in Philadelphia, Sister Julia also has been involved with Pax Christi and Amnesty International. She reflects, “I think national organizations with a track record and history are very powerful…you have to be public about social justice. It’s not enough to pray and have something in your mind. You have to have public action.”

January 15, 2011