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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

Sister Maggie Lupiya

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

The third of nine children, Sister Maggie is a native of Malawi, Africa. She met our Sisters when she attended the Phalombe School of Nursing and Midwifery in Malawi. After graduating, she worked for a year and a half at an Anglican hospital, and joined our Community in 1991.

Sister Maggie’s first mission assignments were in her native Malawi. She worked as a nurse- midwife at Phalombe Hospital, then taught typing to young girls from poor backgrounds. She also coordinated a microcredit project for poor widows.

After taking Community Development Studies specializing in rural development, Sister Maggie went to Wolisso, Ethiopia, where she is in charge of the Public Health Department of St. Luke’s Hospital. “I am working mainly in community mobilization, organization, and health education,” she explains.

The Public Health Department staff is involved both at the hospital and at outreach sites. They are activating the local committees and forming women’s groups. They also do ongoing training of the health extension workers – young women from the rural areas who have one year of training by the government and are assigned to do house-to-house health work in their areas.

Sister Maggie also checks the nutritional status of children under the age of three in their homes. If they are malnourished, they are referred to St. Luke’s Hospital, which UNICEF has declared an excellence hospital in the fight against malnutrition. Its Therapeutic Feeding Unit trains caretakers, staff from outlying health centers and clinics, and local families how to feed the children with nutritious, locally available food.

February 1, 2011

Sister Kathleen Fitzgerald

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

Born in Jersey City, New Jersey, Sister Kathleen graduated from St. Aloysius High School and became a registered nurse at Jersey City Medical Center. She served in the U.S. Army Nurses Corps during World War II, and was stationed in England. After the war, she joined our Community.

Sister Kathleen’s first missionary assignment was for six years at Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi, India, where she worked as a nurse and became a registered midwife. She returned to the U.S. in 1955 to serve as our Postulant Mistress, and went on to serve as Novice Mistress in South Shields, England, and in Lipa City, the Philippines.

In 1967, Sister Kathleen began several years of nursing work at Holy Family Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. She was then called back to Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi, where she became Directress of the School of Nursing.

After Sister returned to the U.S. in the early 1970s, she continued her education, receiving a B.A. in Health Sciences and Community Health Education from Jersey City State College, a M.S. in Pastoral Counseling from Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y., and a Certificate of Advanced Study in Pastoral Counseling from Loyola College in 1990. During these years, she worked as a clinical instructor at both the Monmouth College School of Nursing in Jersey City, and Brook-dale Community College in Lincroft, N.J.

In 1992, Sister Kathleen co-founded the Anna Center for homeless women in Washington, D.C. She recalls, “It was a privileged and blessed time…we were able to offer respite care for many women who needed a place to stay while they recuperated from illness or surgery.”

From 1995 until late last year, Sister Kathleen cared for hundreds of women in a prison ministry at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in Jessup. She used the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator (MBTI) to “help the women grow in self-understanding and appreciation of their gifts, as well as fostering understanding of others and enhancing communication skills.”

Sister Kathleen celebrated her 60-year jubilee in 2009. She shares, “I am grateful for God’s patient, forgiving and enduring love…and for the opportunity and privileges I have had to serve, to be in the midst of the poor.”

February 15, 2011

Sister Eufrecina Briones

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

The oldest of five siblings, Sister Eufrecina grew up in a rural area in the Philippines. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree in Nursing from the University of Santo Tomas. She lived in the U.S. for two years under the Exchange Visitors Program, where she took post-graduate courses in Nursing Administration at De Paul University, and worked as a staff nurse at St. Mary of Nazareth Hospital in Chicago.

When Sister Eufrecina returned to the Philippines, she served as a clinical instructor at the University of Santo Tomas College of Nursing before joining our Community. She made First Vows in 1968, and studied at the Asian Pastoral Institute.

Sister Eufrecina’s first mission assignment, in 1972, was to Holy Family Hospital in Mandar, India, where she was the director of the school of nursing. In 1978, she went to Kurji Holy Family Hospital in Patna, India, where she coordinated the nursing school and nursing services for three years.

After she returned to the Philippines in late 1981, Sister Eufrecina became our Formation Coordinator for eight years. She then returned to teaching, serving as clinical instructor at the Ateneo de Zamboanga. In 2000 she moved to Antipolo City, where she became involved in ministry with the elderly.

From 2007 until last year, Sister Eufrecina was again our Formation Coordinator. She now lives in Capulaan, Villasis, where our Sisters have opened a Haven for Ecological and Alternative Living (HEAL), a center for learning, training and demonstrating an ecological and alternative way of life.

March 1, 2011

Sister Phyllis Backer

Sister Phyllis is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 15, 2011

Sister Inge Jansen

Sister Inge is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Born in Emmerich, Germany, Sister Inge entered our Community in 1957 and had her formation studies in England. After making her First Vows, she returned to Germany and helped establish a foundation there for women interested in our Community. She was then missioned to our Generalate, at that time in Rome, where she assisted with hospitality.

After earning her nursing diploma in 1968, Sister Inge joined our other Sisters in Uganda who were preparing for mission in Ethiopia. She began working at Attat Hospital, which had just opened. Sister Inge recalls, “The miracle of healing happened from the very beginning.”

Over the next 40 years, Sister Inge served in the wards, the outpatient department, the financial office, and wherever else was needed. She explains, “For me, this mission was and is a lifelong commitment. Especially during difficult periods, the people around us counted on us. They promised all the support they could give, and together, we hoped for better times. Even when there was no medicine available, our presence was important.”

In early 2009, at the 40th anniversary celebration for Attat Hospital, Sister Inge received the “Pro Pontificae et Ecclesae” Medal during a Mass presided over by Bishop Abuna Musie. Although now officially retired, she mentors her younger coworkers at Attat Hospital, and cares for the many visitors and interested young women who want to know more about our Community.

“I love to live and would be happy to live until I die in my adopted country, among my beloved people of Ethiopia,” Sister Inge shares. “I imagine we are bringing a little sunshine, and the rays, through God’s miracle, are daily continuing to touch the now over a million people, mostly still living simply in mud or grass houses, in our catchment area. What an honor it is for us to be in mission here!”

April 1, 2011


Medical Mission Sister Associate Jane Jones

Jane is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

A native of Kingston, Ontario, Canada, Jane became a registered nurse at the Kingston General Hospital School of Nursing, then earned her Bachelor’s Degree at McGill University in Montreal. From 1973 to 1979, she worked as a nurse in Sierra Leone, West Africa, and in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Jane shares, “In Sierra Leone, I was a public health nurse on a mobile river clinic, bringing medical care to a number of remote villages in the north of the country. In Kabul, I was the recovery room and intensive care unit supervisor/tutor in a large general hospital. In both jobs I learned more than I taught, and received more than I could possibly have ever given.”

After marrying her husband, Larry, and having two daughters, Jane decided to become an elementary school teacher. She did that work for 19 years in several international schools, in Jakarta, Indonesia; Kinshasa, Zaire; Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire; and Surabaya, Indonesia.

One summer while back in North America, Jane picked up a copy of “The Singer and the Song,” by Sister Miriam Therese Winter. She felt a strong connection with the healing charism of our Community, and our work for peace and justice throughout the world. In 2004-2005, she participated in Sister Miriam Therese’s Women’s Leadership Institute at Hartford Seminary.

Jane has also worked with Sister Lucy Klein-Gebbinck on a number of projects in the very poor city of Camden, New Jersey. “I have been so blessed to have spent periods of time with the Medical Mission Sisters’ Camden community on a number of occasions. These are relationships I treasure,” Jane says.

Since retiring from teaching in 2006, Jane divides her time between Surabaya, Indonesia, and the U.S. She is taking courses toward her Master’s Degree at Hartford Seminary, and says, “As I have lived so far away for so long, I am very aware that this time of study and friendship with Medical Mission Sisters is very special, and one that I will always cherish.”

Jane adds, “The promise that I made in 2005 and continue to make each day, to live ‘as a healing presence at the heart of a wounded world,’ grounds me in the here and now and connects me to a world without boundaries…I am so blessed and privileged to be part of this sacred endeavor!”

April 15, 2011

Sister-Doctor Illigem (Gemma) Susanta

Sister-Doctor Gemma is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Born in Takengon, Indonesia, Sister Gemma converted to Catholicism at the age of 15. After high school she joined a diocesan religious congregation and became a doctor. She transferred to the Medical Mission Sisters in 1980.

Sister Gemma has worked at a number of medical facilities. She has served for many years as a general practitioner in the outpatient department of Fatima Hospital in Parepare, South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Managed by the Archdiocese of Makassar, this is the only Catholic hospital in the midst of the Muslim population in Parepare.

Sister uses alternative health therapies, such as herbal medicine and acupuncture, in her healing ministry. In conjunction with the local government health services, she also cares for persons with leprosy (Hansen’s disease) in the Lauleng Leprosarium.

For the past five years, Sister Gemma has been in charge of the national tuberculosis program in Parepare, in collaboration with the local government services. In addition, she is involved with the poor elderly, in the parish and the city, helping them with handicrafts, prayers, health care and nutrition.

May 1, 2011

Sister Marie Schmids

Sister Marie is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

A native of Philadelphia, Sister Marie attended Monroe Township Grammar School and Little Flower High School. She remembers at age 12, wondering if she would be a missionary in a foreign country. She reflects, “Perhaps that is where the God quest began for me.”

After joining our Community, Sister Marie attended Trinity College in Washington, D.C., and became certified as a medical technologist at Nazareth Hospital in Philadelphia. She was missioned to Holy Family Hospital in Karachi, Pakistan, in 1955. She served there for a total of 13 years in a number of leadership positions. She also served in Dacca for 5 years.

“My wonderful life experiences overseas, a truly life-giving community, and a variety of careers have all been part of my learning,” she shares.

Sister Marie returned to the U.S. in 1974, and began ministry in the South. She was involved with a primary health care/community development project in Wallace, North Carolina, and earned her B.A. in Sociology from the University of North Carolina in 1977. She worked with the Diocese of Savannah in St. Mary’s, Georgia, and in Fernandina Beach, Florida.

In 1980, Sister Marie spent several months in Thailand, aiding Cambodian refugees. From 1982 to 1988, she ministered in a number of departments at our North American Headquarters in Philadelphia. She then relocated to St. Petersburg, Florida, where she helped to manage a shelter for single women, and served as our membership discernment coordinator.

Sister Marie worked for a dozen years in New Port Richey, Florida, in the Connections Job Development Program begun by Sister Joan Foley. “Almost all applications for employment require some basic computer skills…to be part of my students’ enthusiasm and appreciation of their new computer skills was fulfilling and exciting.”

Sister Marie returned to the Philadelphia area last year and is currently serving as our Membership Coordinator. She shares, “So many people, events, books, workshops, and ‘learnings’ have brought me to where I am today…the longer I travel my unique road as a Medical Mission Sister, the more grateful I am.”

May 15, 2011

Sister Mirjam Koevoets

Sister Mirjam is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

The second of six children, Sister Mirjam was born and raised in the Netherlands, and studied nursing before entering our Community in 1963. Her first mission assignment was to Welkom, South Africa, where she studied midwifery in Cape Town. In 1971, she went to Siteki, Swaziland, where she worked as a nursing tutor.

From 1980 to 1983, Sister Mirjam lived in Nairobi, Kenya, and served as our Assistant Coordinator in Sector Africa. She also worked part-time with the Jesuits at the Mwangaza Retreat Center.

After her term was completed, Sister Mirjam studied Spirituality at the Institute of Spiritual Leadership in Chicago, Illinois. She then returned to the Netherlands and served in the District Assembly and in formation, and gave the first Enneagram workshops in her country. She gave spiritual guidance to individuals and groups.

Sister Mirjam now lives in Utrecht in the Netherlands. She guides students, pastors and ministers in their study and practice of spiritual direction. She also works as a volunteer in a local home for the elderly, where she conducts a reminiscence program with people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

June 1, 2011

Sister Anne Louise von Hoene

Sister Anne Louise is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

A native of Rutherford, N.J., Sister Anne Louise graduated from St. Mary’s High School and earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry at Georgian Court College in Lakewood, N.J. After joining our Community, she graduated from the St. Louis College of Pharmacy, and also did the house accounts for our Sisters living in St. Louis.

In 1959, Sister was missioned to Holy Family Hospital, Berekum, Ghana, as the pharmacist and local treasurer. She returned to the U.S. to earn her M.B.A. in Hospital Administration from the University of Chicago in 1969, and went on to serve as Administrator of Holy Family Hospital in Berekum for 13 years.

“I grew to love Ghana and its people.” Sister Anne Louise shares. She was active in the Diocesan Health Committee and the Church Hospital Association of Ghana, and also served as Sector Treasurer of Africa. She became a member of our General Finance Team in 1980.

After Sister turned over her job as Administrator to a Ghanaian man, she studied investment management at Temple University in Philadelphia. She became our General Treasurer in 1986, serving for ten years at our global headquarters in London. “The years in London were rewarding ones. It was challenging and stimulating to work at that level. It brought me into contact with many of our Sisters in parts of the Society I had not known before.”

When Sister Anne Louise returned to the U.S., her interest in social justice drew her to the Washington, D.C., area. She explains, “My previous experiences led me to become involved in the Jubilee movement to cancel the debts of the world’s poorest countries, and in the Africa Faith and Justice Network.” In 1998, she began working at the U.S. Catholic Mission Association (USCMA), where she continues today as the accountant and part-time administrative assistant.

Looking back on her lifetime of varied ministries, Sister Anne Louise shares, “I feel very blessed to belong to a congregation that has tried over the years to follow the lead of the Spirit through changing, sometimes difficult and confusing times. I feel very blessed to have been privileged to live and work with Medical Mission Sisters of many cultures and nationalities.”

June 15, 2011

Sister Jean Amar

Sister Jean is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

A native of the Philippines, Sister Jean earned her B.S. degree in Commerce (Accounting) from the Colegio de San Agustin de Bacolod in 1984. She then served for six years as a community organizer with the sugar cane workers on Negros Island, her birthplace, before entering our Community at age 27.

Sister Jean’s first mission assignment was in the Prelature of Ipil, Zamboanga del Sur, where she journeyed with young people, farmers, and community health workers. In 1998, when she visited St. Therese’s Hospital in Mirpurkhas, Pakistan, she felt a strong wish to minister in Pakistan. She returned to the Philippines, made Final Vows, and spent several years in Bongao in mission.

In 2006, Sister Jean became part of our new international community in Lahore, Pakistan – a large city of about 10 million people. “We found ourselves trusting only in God’s Providence,” says Sister Jean of their first months. “Meeting and making connections with different people and feeling the tensions of the political/religious conflicts were opportunities to hold on only to God. Amidst our struggles, we took strength and inspiration from our love and support for each other…and the care, thoughtfulness, and encouragement of our new-found friends.”

When floods devastated much of Pakistan in 2010, Sister Jean was involved with relief efforts. She also coordinates the youth ministry, and is active with a Filipino Community in Lahore. At Christmastime, they gather gifts together for children in need. She shares, “Last year, some members of the Filipino Community were challenged to save more for next year because they were touched by the situation of the Special Children. So the activity became a venue for mutual growth and joy.”

Sister Jean also works as an administrative assistant in the seminary, and serves as our district treasurer.

July 1, 2011

Sister Jean Murray

Sister Jean is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Born in Philadelphia, Sister Jean attended Little Flower High School, and did office work before entering our Community in 1948. “I was baptized Genevieve and was always called Jean by my family. I believe the meaning of that name is, ‘God has been gracious to you’ – something I have never doubted through the years of my life.”

Sister Jean feels privileged to have served as secretary to our Foundress, Doctor Anna Dengel, in Rome. She spent ten years at Marymeade, in Mt. View, California, where she was in charge of the office. She also did secretarial work for our Vocation Coordinator in Philadelphia, and public relations work in St. Louis.

In 1972, after Sister Jean returned from Rome, she lived and worked in Philadelphia for nine years. She earned her Associates Degree in Applied Science – Mental Health and Social Services at the Community College of Philadelphia, where she tutored in the Learning Lab. She taught shorthand and typing at The Bridge Therapeutic Center, acted as an aide at the Philadelphia State Mental Hospital, and was our Vocation Coordinator for North America.

Sister Jean began five years of mission in Malawi, Africa, in 1982. She taught at Our Lady of Wisdom Commercial School, and was a member of our formation team in Malawi. When she returned to Philadelphia, she became a tutor in English as a Second Language, reading and math. She also did secretarial work in the Nursing Department of the University of Pennsylvania.

Looking back on sixty years of vowed life, Sister Jean shares, “Mission for me is listening to God’s word in the many ways it is spoken to me and responding to it with the help of His grace; it is love of God and neighbor; it is living in the presence of God, discovering the revelation He has for me in each new place, in the people and happenings in my life, and hopefully being some little expression of God’s presence in our world as I try to be of service to others.”

July 15, 2011

Sister Clare Muthukattil

Sister Clare is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Born the fourth in a family with seven children, Sister Clare grew up in the small village of Teakoy in Kottayam, India. She studied at Assumption College in Changanacherry, and made her First Vows with our Community in 1960.

After a brief time of hospital work and teaching women interested in our Community, Sister studied and served as a laboratory technician at Holy Family Hospital, New Delhi, and at St. Thomas Hospital, Chetipuzha. She then attended a two-year course in pastoral and catechetical training at the Pastoral Orientation Center, Cochin.

In the 1970s, Sister Clare was in mission in Rome in preparation for our Chapter meeting; in Germany as a contact person for Indian nursing students working there; and in Brazil, where she ministered among the villagers of Faina Goas.

Sister returned to India, and worked for the development of fisherfolk for five years. In 1985, she was missioned to Mundakayam Medical Trust Hospital, where she served in the community health department.

At the request of our Community, Sister Clare went for studies in theology, earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Pune, India, and then her Master’s Degree, specializing in spirituality and pastoral counseling, in Bangalore. For four years, she lived near the Kottayam Medical College and worked with poor families.

From 1995 to 2003, Sister Clare lived and served in our District House and Ushus Community in Kottayam. She then went to Ayushya where she helped in conducting programs and retreats, counseling, and holding holistic health classes.

Sister Clare has held many positions within our Community. She has served on our leadership teams, coordinated renewal programs, edited the newsletter, been a member of the Sector Asia spirituality team, and been a resource person for women in formation. She now lives in the Anna Dengel Home in Ithithanam.

August 1, 2011

Sister Karen Gossman

Sister Karen is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Sister Karen graduated from Our Lady of Mercy Academy, and received her R.N. at Saints Mary and Elizabeth Hospital. She worked there, and in the Army Nursing Corps on a hospital ship in World War II, before joining our Community.

Sister Karen’s first overseas mission assignment was to Pakistan. She was an operating room supervisor and nurse-midwife at Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi for five years, and then served as Administrator at Holy Family Hospital in Karachi.

In 1960, Sister Karen began several years of service as Administrator and our local Superior in Quinhon, South Vietnam. In 1968, she became Executive Director of a Vietnam Assistance program, spending time in Saigon and in Washington, D.C.

After Sister Karen repatriated to the U.S., she became certified as a nurse-anesthetist at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Youngstown, Ohio, then worked on the staff there for four years. She was a Clinical Instructor at Bel Park Anesthesia Associates in Youngstown, Ohio. She also worked in the anesthesia department at Norton Children’s Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky.

When Sister Karen retired from active hospital work, she became a pastoral care worker. She recalls, “As a Eucharistic minister, I carried the Lord God to my fellow parishioners and neighbors. I brought comfort to the lonely and helped to feed the hungry.”

Sister Karen also participated in many outreaches for justice. She joined a Covenant Peace Community with 250 members. She says, “Practically all of the religious communities in the area were represented in our group, as well as married couples, children and single adults. We worshipped, worked, and made our spiritual journeys toward transcendence together. I consider it a grace to have been a small part of a group that pursues this goal.”

Sister Karen recently moved to our North American Headquarters in Philadelphia.

August 15, 2011

Sister Maria Gracia Navata

Sister Maria Gracia is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Sister Maria Gracia was born and raised in Agno, Pangasinan Province, in the Philippines, where she completed her elementary and secondary education. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing at the University of St. Thomas in Manila, where she also worked as head nurse. Sister Maria Gracia came to the U.S. as an exchange visitor student, and worked at the Margaret Hague Maternity Hospital at Columbia University in New York City. Feeling the call to religious life, she joined our Community in Philadelphia, and made her First Vows in 1961.

Sister did nursing work at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Philadelphia, and then at Holy Family Hospital in Dacca, East Pakistan. In 1968, she returned to the Philippines and studied at the East Asian Pastoral Institute at the Ateneo de Manila University.

For the next 13 years, Sister Maria Gracia ministered in the area of integral human development, which includes health, self-government, education, spirituality, and ways to earn a living. She was involved with the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement, and with an agrarian movement in central Luzon.

From 1982 to 1996, Sister Maria Gracia helped farmers, women and youth struggle for preservation and reconstruction of the environment, especially with the Sarling Sikap Corporation, Abra. She then returned to her hometown, where she worked with local fisherfolk, farmers and women in integrated human development programs and community building.

Sister Maria Gracia has been involved with HEAL (Haven for Ecological and Alternative Living) since January, 2010. She celebrated her Golden Jubilee as a Medical Mission Sister in 2011.

September 1, 2011

Sister Mary Grace (Kenne) Froehlich

Sister Mary Grace (Kenne) is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Born and raised in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Sister Kenne attended Johnstown Catholic High School and Mt. Aloysius Academy. She learned about our Community through her sister Annette, who is also a Medical Mission Sister, and entered shortly after high school graduation. She went on to study at the Philadelphia Multi-lithing School, and in the 1960s managed the print shop, post office, and maintenance staff at our North American Headquarters in Philadelphia.

Sister Kenne studied at Temple University and Antonelli’s School of Photography, where she earned her diploma in portrait photography in 1976. She traveled the world to photograph our health care and missionary work. She also volunteered with the International Red Cross on the Thai-Cambodian border for six years.

In the mid-1980s, Sister Kenne moved to Las Cruces, New Mexico, where she worked as a printer at New Mexico State University. She decided to study physical therapy (P.T.), and attended El Paso Community College in Texas, graduating with her degree as a P.T. Assistant in 1993.

Sister Kenne served as a P.T. Assistant at Alliance Care of Texas in El Paso. She later moved backed to Las Cruces, New Mexico, where she lives with her sister Annette. She does pulmonary rehabilitation work at the Atrium Physical Therapy Center in Las Cruces with clients ranging in age from their late 60s to early 80s.

The people Sister Kenne works with are suffering from lung diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, chronic bronchitis, asthma, and pulmonary fibrosis. Sister conducts a two-month program of 24 sessions with them, to teach better breathing and increase strength and endurance. Some of the clients are on oxygen, and some are hoping to get a lung transplant. All are referred by a physician, who then receives updates on their progress. Sister Kenne says, “This is the perfect job at this time for me.”

September 15, 2011

Sister Mini Thomas Ottaplakal

Sister Mini Thomas is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Born in a village in Kerala, India, Sister Mini Thomas came to know about our Community when she was studying nursing at Immaculate Heart of Mary Hospital in Bharananganam. She joined our Community in 2000, and made her First Vows in 2004.

She shares, “For me, the call to religious life is something special and a privilege. It is entering into a freeing experience to follow Jesus’ ways by means of three vows. It enables me to experience and trust God in a deeper way.”

Sister Mini Thomas was assigned to work among the tribal people of Roshni, Madhya Pradesh, then to the Holistic Health Centre, Ayushya in Ithithanam, where she tended the herbal garden and took care of herbal preparations. She made her Final Vows on May 17, 2008, at IHM Hospital, Bharananganam, and began studying for a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing in Mangalore, Karnataka. She is currently serving at Kurji Holy Family Hospital in Patna.

“In the future I see myself continuing to take care of the sick and poor, either in a hospital or clinic where the poor and ordinary people can benefit…I enjoy taking care of the sick and poor and treasure the moments when they recover by our simple, loving care,” Sister Mini Thomas says.

She adds, “Our Society has helped me to grow in all aspects of my life, to experience different ways of prayer, to find and experience God in creation, to encounter God in the poor and sick, to find the ‘God of small things’ in my day-to-day life, to discover the talents within me and to respond to the different needs in a hospital or village.”

October 1, 2011

Sister Jacinta Conlon

Sister Jacinta is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

A native of New Brunswick, Canada, Sister Jacinta graduated from Moncton High School and earned her R.N. at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. She was working in a hospital in Montreal when she learned of our Community. She remembers, “I wanted to go and work as a nurse where they did not have the resources.”

Sister Jacinta was missioned for 13 years to India, where she served as a nurse-midwife and worked with student nurses, primarily at Holy Family Hospital in Mandar. She spent three years as a staff nurse at St. Patrick’s home in Ottawa, where she developed an interest in caring for the elderly. She also cared for our foundress, Mother Anna Dengel, in the last year of her life in Rome.

When Sister returned to North America, she focused her efforts on accompanying older persons. She gave nursing care to our elderly Sisters at our Philadelphia headquarters for 5 years. Then she moved to Florida, where she served in the Senior Companion Program, provided respite to caregivers, and did hospice volunteer work. She lived in St. Petersburg, Holiday, and Tampa, Florida.

She shares,“Mission for me means going to those in need of healing, who have few resources and less power to help themselves…entering the lives of these people, open to be affected by them, and simple enough to give of ourselves.”

Sister Jacinta now lives at our North American Headquarters in Philadelphia, where she serves in our Mission Development Center.

October 15, 2011

Sister Gaudencia Nafula Wanyonyi

Sister Gaudencia is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Born in a small village in Kenya, Sister Gaudencia is the second of eight children. A nurse-midwife, she made her first vows in 1990 in Malawi, where she completed her formation as a Medical Mission Sister. She has served in Nangina Hospital, Kenya, and in Techiman Hospital, Ghana.

As a young nurse, Sister Gaudencia reflected, “Mission means being an active presence of Christ the Healer to those the Lord has put in my way, mostly those who suffer…it means being compassionate and kind, and showing that you really care.”

In 2006, Sister Gaudencia began working in Angíya, Homa Bay Diocese, as one of the pioneers of a new mission in Kenya. Located near Lake Victoria, Homa Bay used to be a busy port, but the shoreline became hemmed in, reducing the income of the local families.

Sister Gaudencia has been working as a coordinator of the Primary Health Care Program at the Good Shepherd Ang’iya Dispensary. Of the 350,000 people in the clinic’s service area, 54% live below the poverty line. Sister Gaudencia and the staff care for mothers and newborn infants, for patients suffering from illness, and for people with HIV/AIDS. They also offer preventive care, such as immunizations.

Community training is another component of the Primary Health Care Program, with workers visiting people who live in remote areas and accompanying those who need specialized care when they go to the hospital.

In January, 2011, Sister was elected District Coordinator for East Africa for a term of three years.

November 1, 2011

Sister Shirley Wing

Sister Shirley is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Born in Rochester, New York, Sister Shirley spent her childhood in the country. At the age of 16 she converted to Catholicism, along with her immediate family. After graduating from East Syracuse High School, she received her R.N. at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse, and earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing Education at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. She made her First Vows in our Community in 1953.

From 1953 to 1963, Sister Shirley taught and served as Director of Nursing Education at Holy Family Hospital in Patna, India. After earning her Master’s Degree in Nursing at Catholic University, she became Coordinator of Nursing Education and Nursing Services at the hospital for another ten years. She then served for eight years at Holy Family Hospital in Delhi, India, as a teacher and Assistant Director of Nursing Education.

After 27 years in India, Sister Shirley returned to the U.S. and took courses at Temple University in Philadelphia to prepare herself to work with older people in the field of Recreation Therapy. She served until 1995 at a geriatric center in Philadelphia, explaining,“In our U.S. culture, older persons are a group in need, a group experiencing deprivation.”

In 1994, Sister Shirley began working as a nurse with some of our elderly Sisters. She also became very interested in herbs, and began using them to help our Sisters with common ailments.

Sister Shirley has continued to be involved with hospitality and volunteer work. She enjoys our book study group, and is active with our Integrity of Creation group, identifying and sharing ways we can live more sustainably within the environment.

November 15, 2011

Sister Maria Salema

Sister Maria is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

The sixth of seven children, Sister Maria grew up in Goa, India. She joined our Community after high school and served at Holy Family Hospital, Mandar. Sister completed her nursing studies in 1986, and studied midwifery at Kurji Holy Family Hospital, Patna, India, where she was a staff nurse for four years.

Sister Maria later moved to Pune, India, where she worked as district secretary, was in charge of the holistic health dietary department, and did vocation work. Her next mission assignment was to Holy Family Hospital, Mandar, where she took care of the dietary department and the farm.

Sister Maria began mission in Venezuela in 2000. She lives in Barquisimeto, where she is involved in coordinating the parish pharmacy. During the past 11 years, she has conducted health camps for hundreds of people, and helped diabetic patients learn to prepare their own healthful, delicious meals.

Together with Sister Therese Cheruvallathu, Sister Maria plans a variety of activities and accompanies different groups in the Barrio 12 de Octubre. They have given workshops on many topics, including: human values, nutrition, relationships within the family, reflexology, and massage.

December 1, 2011

Sister Elona Stanchak

Sister Elona is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

A native of Middlefield, Ohio, Sister Elona joined our Community shortly after graduating from Villa Angela Academy in Cleveland in 1952. She remembers,“I had an interest from about the eighth grade or so where I wanted to help people, go into nursing, and make some contribution as a missionary.”

Sister Elona and her good friend, Sister Celine Bernier, both became R.N.s at St. Francis Hospital in Trenton, N.J., and were missioned to Pakistan in 1959. She says, “We didn’t really know what to expect…we were just asked to go where the need was greatest.” She worked for a year at Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi as a nursing supervisor, then became certified as a midwife and served for four years at Holy Family Hospital in Karachi. She returned to Rawalpindi for several years as Director of Nursing Services.

In 1968, Sister Elona came back to the U.S. and earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing at Duquesne University. She returned to Holy Family Hospital in Karachi as Director of Nursing Services. In 1978 she became Administrator of the 225-bed hospital – a position she held for 21 years.

“It wasn’t easy, but I had a lot of support from the staff and the doctors…the Christians, the Hindus, the Muslims, the Farsi, we always had that spirit that we would work together as one,” she shares. “We received so much from the people, who are such a happy people with great faith, in spite of their poverty and the simplicity of their lives. They, even the government, respected us and supported our work.”

Sister Elona repatriated to the U.S. in 2009, and is currently living near our North American Headquarters in Philadelphia, where she volunteers at our Thrift Shop. Looking back on her missionary life, she says, “Being compassionate, caring, open to people and their needs is being a healing presence…if I had to do it again, I think I would be ready to do it. I think we have gained more than we have given from our experience. It’s been very enriching.”

December 15, 2011

Sister Anita Sangma

Sister Anita is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

The second of eight children, Sister Anita was born in a small village, Rajabala, in Meghalaya state in North East India. She made her First Vows in 2004, when she was 24 years old, then went to study for her Bachelor’s Degree.

After completing her degree, Sister Anita was assigned to the Chumukedima community, then took a one-year Theology course as a preparation for her Final Profession of Vows in 2010. She shares, “I experienced God’s love and protection wherever I was working and studying…as I stayed in different communities, I experienced the hard work of our elder Sisters.”

She adds, “As I continue in mission I find God in the midst of many different situations, in creation and in people. This has deepened my faith and trust in God.”

Sister Anita shares that she was working at the Mendipathar Multipurpose Cooperative Society in January, 2011, when a big crowd, mostly youth, came running with weapons in an outbreak of tribal violence. The shops were immediately closed and many of the local people, especially women and children, ran to the Cooperative for safety. Sister Anita prayed together with the people as they stayed in this safe place.

Sister Anita shares, “I thank God for calling me to be a Medical Mission Sister. I want to serve His people through the healing charism. It is an ongoing response to the demands of the time, and challenges me to be open to new ways to live Gospel values, to live the signs of the time.”

January 1, 2012

Sister Ann Louise Smith

Sister Ann Louise is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Born and raised in McSherrystown, PA, Sister Ann Louise joined our Community several years after graduating from Delone Catholic High School. Her first overseas mission was to Rawalpindi, Pakistan, where she supervised the housekeeping at Holy Family Hospital for three years. After several years back in the U.S. in various supportive roles, she went to Judibana, Venezuela, where she served as the kitchen supervisor.

From 1967 to 1972, Sister Ann Louise worked in the dietary department, office, and outpatient department at Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi. She then returned to the U.S. She worked in Fayette County, Texas, on a joint health care project between Vanderbilt School of Nursing and Meharry Medical College. She also was involved with the Thrift Shop and Chapel at our North American Headquarters in Philadelphia.

Sister Ann Louise spent over 20 years working as a home health aide with older people in Philadelphia. During this time, she became trained as a cosmetologist as well. She reflects, “Mission for me means being of service to others. I did this by caring for and supporting the elderly in their homes. I was especially concerned for those who lived alone, having no one to aid or support them…I saw so many beautiful things happen in the lives of these persons.”

In 1992, Sister Ann Louise returned to Pakistan. She joined our Sisters in Karachi in helping to prepare young women who were hoping to enter nursing school. She says, “It was a great privilege to work so closely with these young Pakistani women, and to have been so accepted by them. I was touched in many beautiful ways by them, and felt a mutual love and respect for them – as students, and as friends.”

Sister Ann Louise now lives at our North American Headquarters in Philadelphia. She is able to use her cosmetology training to care for some of our own older Sisters, cutting and styling their hair. She shares, “It is in giving that I have received so very much. All these women whose lives have touched mine have helped me to grow more deeply in my own spiritual life…meeting the needs of people, being of service, giving support, caring, and listening are all part of our call to healing mission.”

January 15, 2012

Sister Usha Gaikwad

Sister Usha is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Born in 1967 in a village in Maharashtra, India, Sister Usha joined our Community “to be a healing presence to others, especially the sick, the neglected and the poor.” She first served at Kurji Holy Family Hospital, Patna, and made her Final Vows in 1999.

Sister Usha shares, “During my hospital ministry, caring for the newborns and patients made me grow in dependence on God and reach out with care, love and compassion. This has given me such joy and contentment in life.”

In Goa, India, Sister Usha was in mission with women interested in our Community. She took a course for this mission at the Jesuit Center in Patna. She says, “Accompanying young women was a great blessing as I was able to share in each one’s sacred journey, grow in faith, dependence on God and belief in the guidance of the Spirit.”

In 2009, Sister Usha joined our Holistic Health Center in Pune. She completed her Bachelor’s Degree in 2010, and is involved with health education and outreach. Students from ten different nursing colleges take the basic holistic health course offered at the center.

Sister Usha reflects, “My whole life is a response to God’s love, a life of unity and harmony, integrating myself in the community and ministry…the healing mission has given meaning to my life.”

February 1, 2012

Sister Mary Kirkhoff, M.D.

Sister Mary is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Born and raised in Chicago, Sister Mary graduated from Loretto Englewood High School and Clarke College in Dubuque, Iowa, where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology. She joined our Community in 1964, and earned her Medical Degree from St. Louis University School of Medicine. She completed her Family Practice residency at McNeal Memorial Hospital in Berwyn, Illinois.

In 1976, Sister Mary went to Ghana for three months of surgery experience in Africa, then spent three years as a staff doctor and medical officer at Nangina Hospital in Kenya. She ministered among Cambodian refugees on the Thailand border before repatriating to the U.S. in 1980.

Sister Mary completed a residency program at St. Vincent’s Health Center in Erie, PA, then worked for five years at Stewart-Webster County Hospital in rural Richland, Georgia. She returned to our North American Headquarters in 1986, and served as our property manager. In 1989, she began ministry with the U.S. Indian Health Service. She recalls, “There began my experience of Native American culture with the Sioux…a people who belong to a great extended family, who are very hospitable.”

Sister Mary returned to our Philadelphia headquarters for several years, to manage the care of our ill elderly Sisters. She then began working with underserved persons at the Community Medical and Dental Center in Rahns, PA, a small rural town about an hour from Philadelphia. She and Sister Carol Huss offered an Education and Healing Program that was integrated with the primary health care offered by this non-profit center.

““Mission for me means making the reign of God visible in the world around me by being a tangible presence of Christ the Healer,” Sister Mary explains. In 1999, when she and Sister Carol decided to move to McNeal, Arizona, she became the family practice doctor at the Chincahua Health Center, then immersed herself in the ecological dimension of health and healing.

Living just 15 miles from the Mexican border, Sister Mary’s current involvement is with a small business revolving fund that helps people find work so they can stay in Mexico with their families. She is on the Steering Committee of our Justice Co-Mission group.

February 15, 2012

Sister Josephine Brannigan

Sister Josephine is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Born and raised in South Shields, North East England, Sister Josephine completed her nursing studies in Newcastle on Tyne. She worked in New York for four years, then returned to England and joined our Community.

Sister Josephine’s first overseas assignment, in 1961, was to Amman, Jordan, where she was part of an international group of our Sisters who opened a new hospital. Her next mission was at Holy Family Hospital, Karachi, Pakistan. She then returned to England, where she became certified as a midwife, and served as District Coordinator until 1980.

Returning to ministry in Pakistan, Sister Josephine served for eight years at St. Teresa’s Hospital in Mirpukhas, Sindh. She then repatriated to England, and worked in a home for women with learning difficulties. In collaboration with the Sisters of Mercy, Sister Josephine helped to establish a residential home for frail older people in Hexham, Northumberland.

In 2004, Sister Josephine was again elected as our District Coordinator in England. She presently serves as health care coordinator for our English Sisters.

March 1, 2012

Sister Therese Hayes

Sister Therese is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

The oldest of nine children, Sister Therese joined our Community shortly after her graduation from Sacred Heart Academy in Stamford, Connecticut. She studied nursing at Georgetown University for two years, then earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Massey College in Atlanta.

Sister Therese did secretarial and administrative work in Philadelphia and in Ghana, at Holy Family Hospitals in Berekum and Techiman. In Kumasi, Ghana, she served as the private secretary to Bishop Peter Sarpong.

Returning to Philadelphia in the early 1970s, Sister Therese studied at LaSalle University, graduating with a dual major in Religious Studies and Criminal Justice/Sociology. She became involved in prison ministry, and was recognized for her dedicated service in Philadelphia prisons.

In her South Philadelphia neighborhood, Sister Therese has provided compassionate care to many vulnerable persons in their homes, hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes. She took care of young children; served as a patient care volunteer at Jefferson Hospital; assisted the elderly and their caregivers; and was an advocate for the poor and elderly at the local and state levels. She also volunteered at St. Paul’s Parish.

In 1988, Sister Therese began ministry as an AIDS Buddy with ActionAIDS, the largest AIDS service organization in Pennsylvania. She continues this work today, sharing, “I feel blessed by God to have gained so much knowledge and practical experience about AIDS, and I am grateful to be able to do this work.” She received her 20-year award from ActionAIDS in 2008.

March 15, 2012

Sister Marykutty Mathew Kudakkachira

Sister Marykutty is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Sister Marykutty, the youngest in her family, remembers that she felt drawn to our Community during a crossroads in her life. She recalls, “I knew in my heart that I wanted to give my life in service of others…the charism of Medical Mission Sisters was different. They encouraged women to be who they are, and be risk takers in challenging situations. They reached out to people and places where others dared not step in.”

After graduating from college with a Bachelor’s in Science and a diploma in nursing, Sister Marykutty joined our Community in 1983. She worked for over ten years as a bedside nurse. When her own mother died at 102, she was thankful to be able to care for her and have the support of the Sisters.

Sister explains, “After the death of my mother, I wanted to provide the same quality care to all who feel the pain of loneliness, helplessness, hopelessness and unworthiness.” She was encouraged to become involved in hospice care.

After studying palliative care at Calicut Medical College, Sister Marykutty was invited by the Holy Cross Sisters in Trivandrum to start a hospice unit in their area as part of their community outreach and welfare activities. She recalls, “Within a year the number of patients grew to over 200, but all were well cared for.” The local government has since taken responsibility for the program.

Sister reflects, “As I got more involved with palliative care, it broadened my vision of nursing…interaction between the patient, family, community, and the multi-professional care team is a key element for a successful program.”

Sister Marykutty recently moved to London, where she hopes to continue her mission in the field of palliative care. She is also assisting at our Generalate office.

April 1, 2012

Sister Sylvia Strahler

Sister Sylvia is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

A native of Suffield, Ohio, Sister Sylvia studied at Kent State University and earned her R.N. at St. Thomas Hospital School of Nursing in Akron. She worked at the hospital as a staff nurse, and at the Miami Heart Institute, before joining our Community. She made her First Vows in 1960.

Almost all of Sister Sylvia’s missionary life has been in Pakistan. She spent two years at Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi, where she was certified as a midwife. From 1963 to 1969, she was a midwifery tutor and ward supervisor at Holy Family Hospital in Karachi. She returned to the U.S. to obtain her Bachelor’s Degree from Ohio State University, and then served for 17 years at St. Theresa’s Hospital in Mirpurkhas, where she taught midwifery, and was involved in maternal/child welfare programs.

“The school was indigenous in language. Most of the students knew very little English…there were girls who were the first person in their village to be educated,” Sister Sylvia explains.

In 1989, Sister Sylvia left the hospital setting to join a Community Health and Pastoral Work program in Faisalabad, where she continues to live and minister today. The program includes a daily clinic with preventive health care, especially for women and children, as well as home visits to patients, and health care education. Sister Sylvia shares, “Our pastoral work is done in more what we call ‘basti’ – a depressed area of the city.”

In a country ravaged by floods, earthquakes, and political turmoil, Sister Sylvia finds simply relating to the people is an expression of healing presence. “I think people see us as a sign of hope…they say to me, ‘you’re just like one of us,” she says.

April 15, 2012

Sister Sunita Xalxo

Sister Sunita is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Active in her parish as a youth, Sister Sunita felt the call to religious life at a young age. She recalls, “I went with my friends to pray in one another’s houses. We also went to families where there were sick people and where they were in need of prayer. I have great devotion to Our Lady.”

When Sister Sunita joined our Community in 2002, she was touched by the simplicity of our Sisters. She remembers, “Many inspired me with their love, kindness, openness and their support.” After she made her First Vows, she was assigned to Hajipur, where our Sisters are in mission with the poor, the dalits, and especially women and children.

“I saw how helpless those women and children were as they struggled in poverty and how difficult it was for the women who had no means to educate their children…helping them in my small way gave me great joy.”

After a year in mission in Hajipur, Sister Sunita studied at Kurji Holy Family Hospital in Patna, India, and became a laboratory technician. She shares, “My understanding and vision for healing became deeper and wider as I spent two years as a student. I had opportunities of being with patients and consoling and interacting with them in their pain, bringing relief to them in whatever way I could.”

Sister Sunita continues her service at Kurji Holy Family Hospital. She reflects, “I love our mission and our Society and all that it stands for: healing, peacemaking, justice, eco-spirituality and empowerment of women and children.”

May 1, 2012

Sister Nina Fritsch

Sister Nina is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

A native of Detroit, Michigan, Sister Nina graduated from Providence Hospital School of Nursing and worked as a pediatric nurse before she joined our Community. Her first overseas assignment was to Maracaibo, Venezuela. She says, “I could not have imagined that this would be the beginning of my long, varied, challenging and most rewarding life in Latin America. I would live in modern hospitals and barrios in the city, mud houses, straw mat shacks, half-constructed homes, small villages, remote rural areas, in the rain forest and mountains, and on the seacoast.”

Sister Nina served in nursing and leadership positions in hospitals in Caripito, Judibana and Maracaibo, where she also helped to set up a public health outreach program. In 1973, she began four years of mission in Bolivia, where she directed four health centers and a nursing school that trained students for rural health care, and worked with nursing students in a government hospital.

After returning to Venezuela for two years as a pastoral worker and nursing consultant, Sister Nina served in Nicaragua for three years. She then moved to our global headquarters in London to assist with our Archives. In 1986, she moved to Peru, where she was involved in a variety of pastoral ministries, taught Bible classes, and worked with women’s groups and in the community kitchens.

When she returned to Philadelphia, Sister began serving as a healing presence among women in prison and in recovery from drug addiction. She is involved with justice work, and with the Church Ministry Institute of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Sister Nina reflects, “My life has been very full and continues to be so. Each step has been clearly the right step to take and in taking the step, things fall into the right place…this life has stretched me, fulfilled my dreams, and continues to fill me with joy and gratitude.”

May 15, 2012

Sister Corry Sulistiati Adimarwoto

Sister Corry is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Born in East Java, Indonesia, into a non-Catholic Chinese family, Sister Corry was baptized at the age of ten, and attended a Catholic school in Malang. In 1961, she became a naturalized Indonesian citizen. She graduated from pharmacy school and taught for two years before joining our Community in 1969.

Sister Corry served at Fatima Hospital in Parepare. In 1974, she attended the East Asian Pastoral Institute in the Philippines and then worked as our Formation Coordinator in Indonesia for nine years. She also served as our District Coordinator in Indonesia.

In 1995, Sister Corry was one of four Medical Mission Sisters who started a new community in Semarang. Four years later, she was elected as our Sector Coordinator in East Asia.

At the end of her leadership term, Sister Corry moved to Wangon, a small village in Central Java. She says, “I felt very much at home with the village people, and I felt that it was life-giving to me…when I was small, I was a village girl who grew up in a village context. Being in Wangon meant that I was in touch again with my roots.”

When Sister Corry was asked to move to the formation house in Semarang, the people from Wangon asked to accompany her as a way of expressing their gratitude. She explains, “They wanted to be involved in sending me out as their missionary. This was so very consoling to me.”

Now serving on our formation staff, Sister Corry is also in mission with elderly women in the parish.

June 1, 2012

Sister Andrea Serafini

Sister Andrea is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Born and raised in Renova, Pennsylvania, Sister Andrea graduated from St. Joseph High School and worked for three years as a public school secretary before joining our Community. She became a R.N. at St. Francis Hospital in Trenton, New Jersey.

“I spent 27 full and wonderful years in India,” Sister Andrea recalls. She was a nurse at Holy Family Hospital in Thuruthipuram, then served as our novice mistress in Kottayam. She went on to be Administrator at our Holy Family Hospitals in New Delhi and Bandra (Bombay).

Drawn to accompany very poor people, Sister became involved in an Urban Community Development Center in Bandra. In 1980, she was missioned to Kurji Holy Family Hospital in Patna, where she served as an outpatient facilitator and teacher in the nursing school before repatriating to the U.S.

Sister Andrea settled near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and began volunteering in the Community Skills Program at Goodwill. After two years, she became part of the staff. “Many of the trainees were adapting from a lifetime of being in an institution to a community living arrangement,” she explains. “We were teaching them daily living skills, communication and social skills.” She had responsibility for 22 trainees in the day program, and was honored by Goodwill for her efforts.

Reflecting on a lifetime of loving service, Sister Andrea shares, “Mission for me means making present the healing and transforming power of Christ as we enter the lives of the poor and oppressed, commit ourselves to overcome the causes of evil and struggle with others to further justice and peace.”

June 15, 2012

Sister Theramma Prayikalam

Sister Theramma is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Sister Theramma joined our Community at age 22, encouraged by a close friend who was a Carmelite. She already had a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. Soon after her first profession in 1975, she opted to live and work among the fisher people in Poothura, Kerala, India.

“I was motivated by the Gospel values of justice, love, equality and freedom. I realized that I could live out these values only by being with the poor, especially in their struggles to live as human beings. The poor and oppressed inspired me to a greater faith and loyalty to Gospel values, and a deeper commitment,” she recalls.

Sister Theramma worked for 30 years as a teacher and social activist, in deep solidarity with the fisher people as they fought for their rights. She explains, “Our active participation in the struggles of the fisher people helped me to redefine the meaning of my life as a religious.”

At the end of 2004, Sister went to the Philippines, where she earned a Master’s Degree in Feminist Theology. Her thesis, later published into a book, was on the “Spirituality of the Fisherwomen in Kerala: Inspiration and Challenge to Consecrated Women.”

Now Sister Theramma is serving on the core team of Ayushya, our alternative health center in Ithithanam, India. She reflects, “I believe that God has plans for each one of us to be fulfilled at different times in our lives. These are what can be called ‘times of grace.’”

July 1, 2012

Sister Catherine Shean

Sister Catherine is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

A native of Perth Amboy, New Jersey, Sister Catherine earned her R.N. at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York, and worked as a nurse at various health care facilities before joining our Community in 1943.

Sister Catherine became a nurse-midwife at our Catholic Maternity Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She served there for over 20 years, as an instructor and director. She remembers, “There were only three (nurse-midwifery) schools in the U.S. at that time, and we were one of them. We had many, many wonderful students through our program…and of course the privilege of taking care of mothers in their homes.”

Sister Catherine also was in mission in Ghana for over 20 years. She was a nurse-midwife and director at Holy Family Hospital School of Nursing in Berekum, and worked briefly in Techiman. She found great satisfaction in, “Bringing better maternity care to the women and families, and knowing that students would also carry on and use the training they received. It was always wonderful to see people’s talents develop and grow.”

From 1982 to 1986, Sister Catherine ministered in the social services department of Nangina Hospital in Kenya. She spent six months at Phalombe Hospital School of Midwifery in Malawi. In 1989, she returned to the U.S. and became involved in a number of activities.

Sister Catherine moved to Tucson, Arizona, where she taught at the St. Elizabeth of Hungary Clinic. She also was active in the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and in her parish. Today she is retired, and resides at St. Joseph’s Manor near Philadelphia.

A founding member of the American College of Nurse Midwives, Sister Catherine received the Hattie Hemschemeyer Award in 1994, in honor of her distinguished achievements in nurse-midwifery.

Healing presence for Sister Catherine is, “Just the day to day contact you hope the Lord helps you to have with each person…and helps them to realize how wonderful they are.”

July 15, 2012

Sisters in Integration and MMS Associates in Germany

Medical Mission Sisters are blessed by German women preparing to share their lives with us and with those in need, and by 12 German women and men Associates–all of whom carry on our mission of healing presence today.

At the end of June into early July, Medical Mission Sisters in various phases of integration into our Community and our German Associate members gathered for a Summer Weekend Workshop in Berlin. Fifteen women and two men joined Sister Beate Glania, our Coordinator of Integration in District Germany, and Sister Miriam Therese Winter, special resource for the weekend, reflecting on the theme of “Prayer” through song, ritual and quantum spirituality.

The Sisters were together an additional five days with Sisters Beate and Miriam Therese (MT), taking a closer look at “Anna Dengel and Prayer.” They shared several prayers written by our Foundress that were recorded in her diaries, collectively translating into German a prayer Anna had written in English. MT as she is widely known, has been doing extensive research on our Foundress, her spirit, vision and life journey from the small Austrian village of Steeg, and has discovered some wonderful “treasures” in the process.

“I was caught up in the Spirit-filled energy of our German Sisters and those associated with our communities there,” MT said on her return to the United States. “They are our future. How good it is to get to know one another as individuals and to add their names to my prayers.”

August 1, 2012

Marking a Total of 540 Years of Service

Nine of our 600 Medical Mission Sisters now living in North America are Diamond Jubilarians this year, marking the 60th anniversaries of their First Vows. They have been and continue to be a special healing presence, as are all of our Sisters and Associates around the world.

Sister Bernadine Cupen – born in Trinidad, Sister was a secretary before entering the Medical Mission Sisters. She became a medical technologist and served in our hospitals in North India for 15 years. She then worked in community development and pastoral work in Bombay, and helped to introduce the charismatic renewal there. In the US since 1986, Sister Bernadine has served as a pastoral associate for many years and now volunteers at New Jerusalem Now, a recovery program for formerly homeless and addicted women and men.

Sister Nina Fritsch – a Detroit native, Sister was a pediatric nurse before she became a Medical Mission Sister. Her overseas mission experience was as a nurse, nursing school instructor and pastoral worker in Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Peru, the latter especially with women’s groups. Since 1996 she has lived and worked in the Philadelphia area: with women in prison recovering from drug addictions, with the Ministry Institute of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and in raising awareness of and attention to the many areas of injustice in our world.

Sister Benet Gilland – a Mexican by birth, Sister Benet received her pre-Medical Mission Sister education in San Antonio, Texas. As a MMS, she received her Master’s Degree in Religious Education from Catholic University and her Master’s Degree in Liturgy from Notre Dame University. She taught postulants and novices in India and California, was a Spanish instructor at the Mexican American Cultural Center in San Antonio, and served as our Western District Coordinator for 6 years. Her life has been one of wholehearted response to the need, wherever it presents itself.

Sister Karen Gossman – born in Louisville, Kentucky, Sister Karen was a nurse who served in World War II’s Army Nursing Corps before joining the MMS. Sister served in Pakistan for 9 years, South Vietnam for 8 years and several years as Executive Director of the Vietnamese Assistance Program in Saigon and Washington, D.C. after the Vietnam War. She became a nurse-anesthetist and worked in Youngstown, Ohio, then Louisville. Sister Karen was very active in pastoral work and in a Covenant Peace Community in Louisville for many years.

Sister Katharine Heidkamp – a Chicagoan, Sister Katharine worked as an X-ray technologist before entering our Community. She served in Pakistan and Venezuela, then returned to the US to become certified in nuclear medicine. Sister received a Master’s Degree in Education, and taught at two colleges, in Illinois and New Mexico. After 25 years in the field of X-ray, she worked as a pastoral assistant on an Oneida Indian Reservation. She then focused her energies on justice issues. Sister received a national award for her untiring work to help cancel the debt of the world’s poorest nations.

Sister Carol Huss – a native of Hammond, Indiana, Sister Carol served as a nurse, nurse-midwife and hospital administrator in India for 39 years. She helped start the Voluntary Health Association of India and served on its faculty. An author of several books, she also helped advance the practice of holistic health modalities in India. When she returned to the US, Sister served in prison ministry and in our fund raising department in Philadelphia then moved to the Mexican-US border. Sister Carol is involved in micro-credit projects in Mexico and in parish ministry in Double Adobe, Arizona.

Sister Teresa Jaramillo – born and raised in San Luis, Colorado, Sister Teresa served 15 years in hospitals in Venezuela, directing housekeeping services, and doing social work and practical nursing. She received a degree in social work then spent 4 additional years in Venezuela and 11 in Nicaragua. For 4 years she worked as a pastoral minister in her home parish then moved to Tijuana. The past 20 years she has worked among the people of Colonia Fausto Gonzalez, a barrio next to what was long a garbage dump. She started a Women’s Cooperative there that has led to training and needed employment for many.

Sister Gertrude Provost – a Wisconsin native, Sister Gertrude became a nurse after entering our Community. Her life of service includes missions in Dacca, Bangladesh; Rawalpindi, Pakistan; Amman, Jordan; South Shields, England; and Ashland, Wisconsin, where she cared for her elderly parents. Since 1998, Sister Gertrude has lived and worked in Philadelphia, offering her special healing presence to women inmates. She is also deeply involved in the care of our elder Sisters, as they journey through the final stages of their Earthly life.

Sister Mary Schild – raised in Kansas City, Kansas, Sister Mary was a medical technologist before she became a Medical Mission Sister. She served in our Holy Family Hospitals in India for 12 years, then in Virika Hospital in Virika, Uganda, for 3 years. In the 1970s she returned to Kansas City and became Director of Chaplaincy Services at a children’s hospital. She also had a very special outreach to persons in the area with HIV/AIDS. Since 1987 Sister Mary has lived in Tucson, Arizona, extending her pastoral ministry to a number of older persons.

August 15, 2012

Sister Inge Jansen

Sister Inge in Attat, Ethiopia, is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and Associates who faithfully live our mission of healing presence today.

Born in Emmerich, Germany, in 1935, Sister Inge Jansen was 22 years old when she entered the Medical Mission Sisters in England in 1957. At that time, our Community had no formation house in Germany. After her First Profession of Vows, Sister Inge and several others were assigned to start a Medical Mission Sisters’ foundation in Essen, now a little over 50 years ago.

After she received her nursing diploma in Germany, in 1968 Sister Inge was assigned to Uganda to assist with preparation for another new mission of our Community, this time in Ethiopia. The country’s many health needs had deeply touched Mother Anna Dengel’s heart and she was pleased when there were both German and Indian Sisters who were able to respond to them. In 1969, Medical Mission Sisters assumed the administration and staffing of Attat Hospital, a rural, 73-bed hospital in the Gurage area of the nation. Since its opening, Sister Inge has been present in many healing ways to hundreds of thousands of women, children and men as a nurse, administrator, and manager of the hospital’s business office.

Sister Inge was recently awarded the Cross of the German Government for Distinguished Service for her 42 years of dedicated service to the Ethiopian people. The German Ambassador, Ms. Lieselore Cyrus, presented Sister Inge with this award in August at the German Embassy in Addis Abeba.

When receiving this very special honor, Sister shared her personal pleasure in the “many changes and highlights, especially the improvement in the health and educational status of the local population” over the years. Although now retired from active work, she continues to “be there” in Attat, offering support and encouragement to the Ethiopian co-workers who have assumed her previous positions. Attat Hospital also continues to be very actively involved in numerous aspects of health care, health education, disease prevention, provision of safe water and sanitation, and training of local health workers, and is a center for HIV/AIDS voluntary counseling and testing, and a safe haven for high-risk mothers to await the delivery of their babies.

September 1, 2012

Sister Katherine Baltazar — an Update

Sister Katherine is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others today in the spirit of Jesus the Healer

Sister Katherine Baltazar, who recently served as a psychiatric nurse practitioner at a Drug and Alcohol Treatment and Rehab Center outside Philadelphia, this month begins a new full-time mission in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, among people of the Lakota Nation on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation.

Eagle Butte is home to four different bands or sub-tribes of the Lakota: the Black Feet, Two Kettle, Without Bows, and Planters by the Water. Sadly, 47.9% of its people live below the poverty line. Per capita income is only $9,192 for a population of 1,318. Unemployment is high. So, too, is the instance of suicide. “The Indian County Times” has reported that 1 in 5 girls in the area has contemplated suicide; 1 in 10 has attempted it.

Sister will be working as a psychiatric nurse practitioner at the Cheyenne River Reservation Hospital and also will be going three days a week to field clinics in the area. A 2008 three-month experience with the Lakota Sioux in Rosebud, South Dakota, made her very aware of the suicide problems, especially among the youth. She is hoping she will be able to make a difference in at least some of their lives.

On a recent visit to Eagle Butte, Sister Katherine was greeted by many with the words “We really need you — when will you start?” She is pleased to answer, “Very soon!”

For more about Sister Katherine and her life as a Medical Mission Sister, visit: Sister Katherine Baltazar

September 15, 2012

Sister Dagmar Plum

Sister Dagmar in Berlin, Germany, is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and Associates who faithfully live our mission of healing presence today.
Sister Dagmar was born in 1944 and grew up in the Rhineland. She went to school in Monchengladbach and worked for one year as a volunteer in an orthopedic children’s hospital before attending the university where she studied theology, French literature and linguistics.

In 1964, she was granted a scholarship and met our Sisters for the first time in Malawi. A few years later she entered the Medical Mission Sisters in Essen. She made her First Vows in 1978 and Final Vows in 1984. She’s worked as a staff person with SOLWODI (Solidarity with Women in Distress) where she was a counselor, case manager and interpreter in Koblenz. In that city, SOLWODI opened its first safe house for victims of trafficking and forced prostitution, of forced marriages and brutal violence carried out by partners and family members. In 2008, Sister Dagmar said, “It is estimated that, worldwide, women prostitutes are being frequented by up to one million men each day.”

Of the legalization of prostitution in Germany in 2002, Sister said, “This law inhibits the detection of victims of trafficking and forced prostitution by police, who find it more difficult to differentiate between legal and criminal prostitution.”

Sister Dagmar is a founding member of RENATE (Religious in Europe Network against Human Trafficking and Exploitation), a group of women religious in Europe who are committed to working together against human trafficking and exploitation. In her work with the Jesuit Refugee Service at a detention center near the Polish border, Sister Dagmar regularly meets women and men victims of trafficking, who are detained because they have no documents. In addition to pastoral work and counseling, she initiates or follows up on juridical procedures for the detainees. She also is teaching some of them English, German, and French. For Sister Dagmar, who has been involved in work against human trafficking for many years, RENATE is a great support.

October 1, 2012

Associate Recommitments

Medical Mission Sister Associates in North America recommit themselves to carry on our mission of healing presence.

After 15 years of Associate membership, the following Associates made their Commitment for Life:
Bud Wilkins –Over the years, he provided substance abuse counseling for the homeless and was a team member in prison ministry. Bud volunteers at our Medical Mission Sisters’ Thrift Shop in Fox Chase, Philadelphia. He is a former insurance broker.

Lee Wilkins – A nurse and counselor, Lee is currently learning with and accompanying her husband, Bud, also an Associate, in their walk with his Alzheimer’s diagnosis. They both are enthusiastic participants in a clinical trial, testing a potential Alzheimer’s medication.

Cathy Chatelain – Cathy is enrolled in a two-year course in real estate investing and counseling. “Home Solutions” benefits those struggling to sell their home, to avoid mortgage default, or to better their home’s condition to ready it for sale. A former software engineer, Cathy expresses her interest in alternative healing through Matrix Energetics seminars.

Pauline Bazinet, MD – Pauline was long in service with Medical Mission Sisters in India. Before she retired, she was the Medical Director of the Royal Ottawa Psychiatric Hospital. Pauline now savors time for quiet reading and prayer, as well as the simple joys of hearth and home.

Anne Morgan – A nurse-anesthetist and hospital administrator, who lived and worked many years with Medical Mission Sisters in India, Anne is now retired. She speaks with fondness of early-times in Mission where each Sister was capable of doing “everything” – a necessity due to slender staffing.

Rosemary Nagl – Rosemary is a RN, visiting nurse and liturgical drummer. She has suffered with chronic illness for more than a decade. Now, Rosemary identifies “learning to receive care” as one of her disciplines.

Judy Leiby – Judy worked in corporate information technology for many years and is currently a hospice staff person, certified in therapeutic harp. She is also a certified master gardener through a University of Utah program in low-maintenance, mountain plant species.

Therese Connolly – A Full-Time Veterans Administration Nurse and Mental Health Case Manager in the Philadelphia area, Therese has a Certification in Pastoral Counseling from Loyola College of Maryland.

Theresa O’Connor – A nurse with a Masters from Yale University, her current practice in the Delaware Valley is in Holistic Psychotherapy and Professional Coaching. Her current work is Holistic Psychotherapy and Professional Coaching Corporations. Theresa also is involved with eldercare.

Cass McKee – Cass works with her parish bereavement team and recently attended an event on Ecology and Spirituality at the United Nations in New York City. She was drawn to Medical Mission Sisters though studies with our Sisters in scripture, theology and spirituality. Cass is also a mother to eight, grandmother to 24 and great-grandmother to three.

The following Associates renewed their Commitment for five years:

Marie Conti – A graduate of the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Marie works in Hospital Risk Assessment and Quality Control in the North Philadelphia Health System. She is a peer counselor in substance abuse and also volunteers with Philadelphia “Red Paws,” an animal rescue subsidiary of the American Red Cross.

Larysa Kilpatrick – A retired Montessori teacher and school nurse in Abington Township, PA, Larysa is also a volunteer visitor and reader for our MMS elders in residential care. Her spiritual practice includes the discipline of meditation, which she shares with her toddler grandson.

Camillia Falotico – Camillia has a BS in Business Administration, with a specialty in accounting. With a professional career in the Medical Mission Sisters’ Finance Department, Camillia is the current Director of Finance. Deeply rooted in her large Italian family, Camillia is a sought-after dessert chef.

For more information on our Associate Program, please visit Associate Membership.

October 15, 2012

Sister Bina Stanis

Sister Bina in Kasiadhi, India, is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and Associates who faithfully live our mission of healing presence today.

Sister Bina Stanis, originally from Tamil Nadu, was born and raised in Nagpur, Maharashtra, and entered the Medical Mission Sisters in 1985. She completed a Master’s degree in sociology and has mainly been involved with those in need at the grassroots level. She lives in the village of Parez, one of the many villages whose people have been displaced since 1997, and works with the communities in Lonpongtandi, Horomocha, and the struggling farmers of the Karanpura valley.
“Displacement is a very complex phenomenon,” says Sisters Bina. She has had a special ministry of justice among the poor people of Jharkhand, India, who have been removed from their tribal homeland by the coal mining industry. In Kasiadhi, Sister is committed to the empowerment of indigenous people. She is involved with the Jharkhand Mine’s Area Coordination Committee, an alliance of communities fighting mining companies, so the people hold onto their property and land rights.

In addition to helping the indigenous people struggle to keep their homes, she also helps them to address their health needs. Jharkhand does not have basic health facilities for 80% of the people who live in villages. Sister Bina directs the activities of health centers in Kasiadhi, Horomocha and Lopongtandi, where the villagers built their own center after years of trying to access the government health facilities. Many now experience health and healing for the first time in their lives.

“For indigenous peoples all over the world, land is sacred,” says Sister Bina, who celebrates her Silver Jubilee as a Medical Mission Sister on November 10 in Kasiadhi.

November 1, 2012

Sister Christi Kancewick

Sister Christi in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and Associates who faithfully live our mission of healing presence today.

Chicago native Sister Christi Kancewick, who made her First Vows on June 10, 2012 in Philadelphia, is one of our newest Medical Mission Sisters in North America. She graduated from Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School in 1974, then went to Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI, and received her B.S in Physical Therapy in 1978. Her work as a physical therapist included long-term rehabilitation, pediatric care with children in schools, and special therapy with cancer patients.
A member of St. Irene Parish in Warrenville, Illinois, Sister Christi always had an interest in religious life and mission. She felt a calling to the Medical Mission Sisters because she could “help without being heroic and through just being who I am.” Sister received her Master’s Degree in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University in 1983. She also studied Spiritual Direction at the Claret Center in Hyde Park, Chicago

Before entering the Medical Mission Sisters, Sister Christi was the Director of Adult Faith Formation at SS Peter and Paul Parish, in Naperville, IL. She became a candidate/novice of the Medical Mission Sisters in March, 2010. Her ministry includes participation in the RCIA program (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) and the Alternatives to Violence Project. She also supports the efforts of Covenant House, a safe refuge for runaway teens.

A new venture for Sister Christi is living and working among people in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia, exploring life issues with teens and young adults. She says, “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’.”

In September, 2012, she was appointed Membership Promotion Coordinator of the Medical Mission Sisters in North America.

November 15, 2012

Sister Nigist Biru

Sister Nigist in Attat, Ethiopia, is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and Associates who faithfully live our mission of healing presence today.

Born in Ethiopia in 1967, Sister Nigist Biru graduated from nursing school before she entered the Medical Mission Sisters in 2003. She made her First Vows in 2005. After making her vows she began mission in Attat Hospital, in Attat, Ethiopia, working as a ward nurse and in charge of the voluntary counseling and testing for HIV/AIDS.
She also has been active in the counseling related to HIV/AIDS therapy. She and other hospital workers registered over 500 people, and were supported and guided by staff at Johns Hopkins University in the U.S. in developing the best line of treatment. Sister Nigist found the key to helping is being fully present to those who come, showing love and sharing their pain and suffering.

Sister recently received her official diploma as a Health Officer. She now is working in the Outpatient Department of Attat Hospital and also is overseeing its Nutrition Unit. In the parish, she is involved with young people and a sewing group, whose profits go into an education fund for the youth.

A special “accompaniment” of Sister Nigist was her work with Our Lady of Lourdes Young Women’s Self-Help Project. This program empowers young women socially and economically, and equips them with skills to earn their future livelihood. The program also includes health education, so the women learn how to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS.

In early 2013, Sister Nigist will make her Final Vows as a Medical Mission Sister, an occasion she is anticipating with great joy. Her Profession of Vows for life will bring to 3 the number of our Ethiopian Sisters who have made life commitments to our mission of healing.

December 1, 2012

​Sister Frankie Vaughan

Sister Frankie Vaughan is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and Associates who faithfully live our mission of healing presence today.

Born in Baker, Oregon, Sister (Frances) Frankie’s family moved often as she was growing up because her father was in the military. Her first 3 years of high school were in Wiesbaden, Germany. She completed high school at Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School in Washington, D.C., and joined the Medical Mission Sisters at age 18. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from St. Louis University, and a Master’s Degree in Behavioral Sciences from Johns Hopkins University.
From 1972-74, Sister Frankie lived in Rome, Italy, and served our Foundress, Mother Anna Dengel, by being a liaison to her at our 1973 Chapter meeting, and by assisting with her personal papers. In 1978, Sister Frankie was missioned to Ghana. She served for 5 years as Diocesan Health Development Coordinator in Sunyani, and also was our District Superior for West Africa.

Sister Frankie Vaughan later studied drawing, watercolor, figure drawing and sculpture. Art became a part of her ministry with poor teenagers and adults, persons with addictions, and those suffering with AIDS. “I simply tried to assist them in the expression of feelings and emotions for which they had no words,” she explains. “When I’m doing art work, I feel really connected and whole. I sense a direct and tangible connection between my inside spirit and the work of my hands. When I do something that brings my insides and my outside together, that’s more wholeness. What any of us aspires to be is so often beyond words…art forms help us to reach where we want to be.”

While developing her own artistic talents, Sister Frankie has discovered a number of ways to facilitate creative expression in others, as well. A member of the Association Uniting Art and Religion, she also is a member of our own Liturgy Team. She has taught art and given workshops to a variety of groups, including persons with AIDS, teens and women struggling to overcome addiction, and African American young and older adults at the Southwest Community Enrichment Center in Philadelphia.

After six years in Community Leadership in North America, Sister Frankie now focuses a major portion of her energies on “Mission Green,” a 61-bed, low-income, fully accessible, independent living facility, soon to be built at our Philadelphia headquarters. It will serve a need for affordable senior housing for the local community, as well as for our own Sisters.

December 15, 2012

Sister Elizabeth Vadakekara

Sister Elizabeth Vadakekara is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and Associates who faithfully live our mission of healing presence today.

Born in Kerala, India, Sister Elizabeth Vadakekara entered the Medical Mission Sisters in 1965. She made her First Vows in 1968 and attended the Christian Medical College in Punjab. She chose to be a general practitioner, and served as a junior doctor at our Kurji Holy Family Hospital in Patna, and at our Holy Family Hospital in Mandar. “My interest has always been connected to community-based interventions,” she says.
Her first overseas mission was to Holy Family Hospital in Bongao, the Philippines, where she practiced as a physician for five years. “We were available 24 hours, 7 days a week and 365 days of the year,” she recalls. “Interaction with the tribal people energized me, and sustained my commitment to be for the people without counting the cost.”

When Sister Elizabeth returned to India, her focus was on developing community health programs in different villages with a vision of self-supported programs for the people and by the people. To help with this ministry she earned a Post Graduate Diploma in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry from King’s College in London.

In 2004, Sister Elizabeth began serving a six-year term as our Sector Coordinator for Asia. A member of the Kerala Conference of Major Superiors’ Action Committee for Tsunami Relief and Rehabilitation, she coordinated many aspects of outreach to tsunami victims, including those of our own Community. She also was involved with the Thrani Center for Crisis Control, and represented the center to the government’s health department when needed. In addition, she served as a consultant to persons with HIV/AIDS.

Sister Elizabeth was elected our Assistant Society Coordinator in 2010 and now lives in our international headquarters in London. In her many expressions of mission, she participates in a wide variety of public health, justice and religious life conferences worldwide. With Society Coordinator Sister Agnes Lanfermann, Sister Elizabeth provides support and leadership to our almost 600 Sisters in mission on six continents.

In Advent, Sister shared her personal reflection on what she believes is at the heart of the season and also at the heart of the Medical Mission Sisters’ life: “to let go of all that does not contribute to our being a healing presence of Christ in the community of life.”

January 1, 2013

In Celebration of Sister Elaine Kohls

Sister Elaine Kohls 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 Cincinnati, Ohio, Sister Elaine joined the Medical Mission Sisters in 1955 at the age 18. After college, her first overseas assignment was to Ghana, where she spent nearly 15 years in administration at Holy Family Hospital, Berekum, and Holy Family Hospital, Techiman.
When she returned to the U.S. in 1983, Sister earned her Master’s Degree in International Development at Iowa State University, where she was recognized for high scholarship. In 1984, she took on the administration of Attat Hospital in Attat, Ethiopia.

At that time, Attat Hospital’s service area included 1.5 million people, with one physician for every 250,000 people. The hospital initiated programs for immunization, clean water, and integrated development. In 1991, it won the World Health Organization award for health education in Primary Health Care.

Sister Elaine became the Manager of St. Luke Catholic Hospital and College of Nursing in Wolisso, Ethiopia, when it opened in 2001. “I need to be here in this place at this time, to be with people in their struggle,” said Sister Elaine. “To be Christ bearers with all that can entail, and to let them be Christ bearers in turn, to us and to those they live and work among.”

Ensuring safe and clean water has been an important part of Sister Elaine’s ministry. At the Lower Damakase Spring near Wolisso, a group of development workers from Canada, along with local Christian and Muslim leaders and Sister Elaine, worked together to ensure a safe water supply for the community.

There are now 52 safe water sites which have been developed by the public health department over the years. The hospital is responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the sites. The communities are involved in the construction, which accounts for about
15 % of the total cost for hand dug wells and springs.

On January 1, 2013, Sister Thianesmary, of the Indian Daughters of Mary Immaculate, assumed the role of General Manager of St. Luke’s Catholic Hospital and College of Nursing and Midwifery from Sister Elaine. The weeks ahead will be special times of transition for both Sisters.

January 15, 2013

Philadelphia Thrift Shop

Serving our neighbors through a local thrift shop is one of hundreds of ways in which Medical Mission Sisters around the world try to be a healing presence to others today.

Our Philadelphia Thrift Shop, located at our North American Headquarters at 8400 Pine Road, plans a grand re-opening on Monday, May 17, 2010. The store hours will be Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Sisters invite everyone to the “Same Place, New Face.”

Sister Joan Foley will have overall responsibility for the Thrift Shop. Sister Joan founded and directed the Connections employment assistance program and also started its thrift shop in New Port Richey, Florida. Sisters Helen Marie McGrath, Elona Stanchak, and Silva Zuzek are all involved with the Thrift Shop. Two men from the neighborhood, Bob Perry and Dennis Fisher, have been volunteering their time and help.

The Thrift Shop is selling a variety of items at low prices – new and gently used clothing, bric-a-brac, jewelry, children’s toys, books and CDs, shoes, and some electronics. Eventually we hope to sell items made by people in the areas around the world where our Sisters are in mission.

Sister Joan says, “A significant area in the Shop is devoted to the life and work of Medical Mission Sisters. It’s another way to inform people about what we do in the world, the people we serve, and who they are.”

The Thrift Shop gives people the opportunity to recycle old or unused items. Donations of new or “gently used” items from our neighbors and friends are always welcome. Proceeds help to raise money for our healing mission in 17 nations, including the U.S.

May 1, 2010

Celebrating 200 Years in Mission

The four Medical Mission Sisters from North America who are celebrating Golden Jubilees in 2010 represent a combined 200 years in mission.

On June 13th, we are honoring four Medical Mission Sisters from North America who are marking the 50th anniversary of their First Profession of Vows in 2010. Please join us in congratulations, prayers, and thanks. A Mass and reception is being held at our North American Headquarters in Philadelphia in recognition of these Sisters’ service:

Sister Therese Hayes, a native of Norwalk, Connecticut, served in Ghana as an administrative assistant in hospitals and religious organizations in the towns of Berekum, Techiman, and Kumasi. After returning to Philadelphia in 1972, she got involved in prison volunteer work and other human services, including caring for the children of working mothers. In 1976, she became Prison Chaplain and Counselor for Philadelphia County prisons. Twelve years later, she joined ActionAIDS as an “AIDS Buddy,” a ministry she continues today.

Sister-Doctor Miriam Paul (Hanna) Klaus was born in Vienna, Austria, and raised in the U.S. An obstetrician/gynecologist, she served at Holy Family Hospitals in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, and Dhaka, which is now the capital of Bangladesh. She taught at St. Louis University and George Washington University, and was Ob/Gyn Director for three years at St. Francis Hospital in Wichita, Kansas. For the past 30 years, Sister has been Executive Director of the Natural Family Planning Center in Washington, D.C., and of the international TeenStar (Sexuality Teaching in the Context of Adult Responsibility) education program, which she developed.

Sister Marguerite Papineau, from Holyoke, Massachusetts, is celebrating 50 years of vowed life, 20 as a Medical Mission Sister. As a Daughter of Charity, Sister taught high school in the U.S. and Iran. She also served in Beirut, Lebanon. After receiving her nursing degree and joining our Community, Sister Marguerite was a nurse and teacher in Mirpurkhas, Pakistan. When she returned to the U.S., she coordinated our Samaritan Lay Missioners Program, became very active with our Associates program, and was a volunteer teacher in an impoverished area of Philadelphia. Certified as a chaplain, she was a holistic health practitioner for many years. She currently serves as our Membership Promotion Coordinator.

Sister Sylvia Strahler, a nurse-midwife, will celebrate her jubilee in Faisalabad, Pakistan. A native of Suffield, Ohio, she has spent almost all of her missionary life in Pakistan. She was a nurse and ward supervisor for many years at Holy Family Hospitals in Rawalpindi and Karachi. In Mirpurkhas, she served as a nurse and taught midwifery, facilitated maternal and child welfare programs, and trained local dhais (lay midwives) in health care. She has been in Faisalabad for 21 years, directing a community health project and serving as our District Coordinator in Pakistan.

June 1, 2010

Healers of Mother Earth

Caring for the earth at a Philippine eco-center is one of hundreds of ways in which Medical Mission Sisters around the world try to be a healing presence to others today.

The Cagayan Valley in Northern Luzon is one of the hottest, driest areas of the Philippines, with summertime temperatures over 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Sister Yolanda Durian is in mission there in an eco-center called HOME (Healers of Mother Earth). The center is a place where people in the valley can learn how to care for their environment. It also has a clinic that offers alternative healing modalities.

HOME is surrounded by the rice fields of poor farmers who formerly depended on rain in order to plant rice. When the rains came, they were able to harvest once a year, but they did not have enough water for the necessities of life. Sister Yolanda explains, “These farmers and their families worked so hard, but were still poor, sickly and undernourished. Their children were not even able to go to school.”

The people working in HOME discovered a free-flowing, underground stream that could be harvested to supply clean water, not only to the eco-center, but also for the farmers and their families. “If the poor farmers are able to plant and harvest more often, they will be able to eat enough to keep them healthy,” Sister Yolanda says.

With the help of a generous donor, our Sisters were able to use wind and solar energy to bring the underground water to the surface and harvest it. This system will permanently supply the water needs of the eco-center and the farmers.

Sister Yolanda adds gratefully, “The eco-center teaches people how to care for and heal the Earth, and make proper use of the bounty of the Earth like water to keep them healthy. It also supplies the farmers with clean water for their daily needs, and for watering their rice fields and gardens. When people are able to harvest from the work of their hands, they are able to eat and maintain their health…a healthy environment makes people healthy, and water is indispensable to a healthy life.”

June 15, 2010