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Author Archive for Administrator

New Leadership in North America

Medical Mission Sisters are pleased to introduce our new leadership in North America! The team of five Sisters was elected on November 19, 2017. Pictured from left to right are Sisters Sue Sopczynski, Mary Kirkhoff, Unit Coordinator Frankie Vaughan, Margaret Moran, and Katherine Baltazar. They will begin their new roles on February 1, 2018. We are deeply grateful to our outgoing team, Sisters Maria Hornung, Patricia Lowery and Helen Lembeck for their tireless guidance and support the past three years.

A Message of “PAZ”

Medical Mission Sisters are pleased to announce the release of our 2018 Calendar! This year’s cover features a sweet little boy from Venezuela holding a colorful, hand-made sign with a hopeful message: “PAZ” (“peace” in English). We’re so honored to share our Sisters’ and Associates’ missions and ministries with you! To request your free copy, contact the Medical Mission Sisters through the link on our website.

Associate Lucia Kehr

Sometimes Medical Mission Sisters Associate Lucia Kehr, born in Germany, reminisces about how alien she felt when she moved to Argentina years ago.  The difficulties of acclimating to a new language and culture were overwhelming at first. Fortunately, she knew people who helped her start her new life.

Now Lucia is returning the favor. A pastoral assistant in Darmstadt, Germany, since 2011, she works with a church group to help newly arrived migrant women find their way in Germany, just as her friends did for her in Argentina. Lucia shares: “Many of [the migrants] are now enriching our community. My goal is to integrate people into this work as ‘bridgebuilders’ to overcome strangeness and distrust and to build up an attitude of good neighborliness.”

Recently, Lucia worked on a project called “Religions for Peace” to foster interfaith dialogue. She is thankful for the “spirituality of the Medical Mission Sisters” for helping her to become a healing presence for others.

“As an MMS associate I try to encounter people with all their riches and their wounds as I accompany them in their life journey,” Lucia said. “Yes, I am wounded and also healed. As I walk through life now I feel I am becoming the woman God wants me to be and loves.”

A New Day Dawns

 

Medical Mission Sisters are pleased to announce the release of the third CD of the five-volume Sacred Folk Music Project, a collection of Sister Miriam Therese’s songs.  Artists include Melba Moore, Janis Ian, and Medical Mission Sisters, and others, interpreting these beautiful, poetic songs that comfort us, challenge us, and always lead us to God.

Associate Marge Sexton

 

When Marge Sexton’s sister died from breast cancer, not much younger than their mother who had died from a heart attack at 42, she listened to Sister MT Winter’s song “Come down, Lord” more times than she could count. Decades later, when her son died by suicide on Christmas in 2015, the Medical Mission Sisters and Associates were there to try to soothe even a small portion of the ache in her heart.  

An activist by nature, Marge felt determined to channel her own pain, no matter how overwhelming, into meaningful action.  By starting a support group called Moms Rising Together, she is able to engage with other mothers struggling with the same grief. Going a step further, she started The Ron S! Charitable Fund to honor her son by raising money for the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. Given her innate instinct to be a healing presence for others, Marge recently made her first Associate commitment on Sunday, October 22. 

“I was extremely attached to my son; I’ll never get over it. But I want to be healthy and I want to be happy,” Marge said. “Using my grief, turning it to a healing presence, makes me more aware of the pain of the world. Being with others in their pain is what I can do now.”

Global Mission Sunday

Medical Mission Sisters (MMS) have a deep resonance with Global Mission Sunday, occurring this year on October 22.  Our Foundress, Anna Dengel prayed that “the needs and sufferings of humanity must find an echo in our hearts…”  Core to our MMS life is a daring loyalty to respond to the needs of people of our time; our approach to global mission comes from a heart sense of presence to the whole world.  As Sisters and Associates we stay engaged in the brokenness of our world, with profound listening to the Spirit within us, within those whom we are called to serve and within the whole of creation.

25 Years of Healing Presence in Uganda

Medical Mission Sisters note with joy the 25 years of service of our Sister Janet Harbauer at Uganda Martyrs Hospital in Lubaga, Uganda.  As a key administrative staff person, she is on call 24-7, helping with all aspects of building needs for the hospital, school, staff and guest quarters. Sister Janet, a native of Perrysburg, Ohio, also helps secure and administer school fees for needy students and mentors several of them to help them get the most from their education.

Associate Karol Feld

Born in San Jose, Costa Rica, North American Associate Karol Feld shares, “I love the idea of being a healing presence.  Inspiring others is great.”  In 2015, Karol attended one of our The Way of The Healer workshops in Philadelphia, led by Sister Miriam Therese (MT) Winter.  Remembering she had sung the songs of MT in grade school, she believed she was meant to connect with our Community.

After graduating from high school in 1974, Karol attended college in San Jose, studying business with an emphasis in marketing.   She met her husband-to-be while he was in Costa Rica on vacation.  Married in 1985, the couple has two daughters and lives in Philadelphia.

While working for a counseling agency as an authorization manager, Karol developed a knack for computers.  Her husband encouraged her to use her computer skills to teach. When an opportunity opened up at a local Catholic high school, Karol happily accepted the position.   In addition to 11 years of teaching digital and computer applications, Karol also taught Spanish for two years and was the activities coordinator for nine.  She now works at Sr. Hubert’s High School teaching graphic design part-time and also works in the school’s office.

50 Years of Healing Presence in Ethiopia

Medical Mission Sisters recently celebrated 50 years of healing presence in Ethiopia.   Our Sisters began their mission in Ethiopia in Addis Ababa with a small medical clinic.  Attat Hospital in Attat, a little over 100 miles away, was built two years later and has grown to include departments for women with at-risk pregnancies, and malnourished children in addition to general medical and surgical services.  Approximately 300 patients also are treated daily at the outpatient clinic.  German Sisters Erna Stocker-Waldhuber and Walburga Kupper, who spent many years in Ethiopia, were among those who enjoyed the celebration.

Caption:  Sisters Walburga (left) and Erna (right) share, “To see the development of the hospital from the initial small emergency room to today’s clinic with integrated health care, to meet an enlightened population, for which healthy life is a high value, fills us with much gratitude and joy.” 

Sister Joan Chunkapura

Born in Kerala, South India, Sister Joan Chunkapura entered the Medical Mission Sisters (MMS) in 1963. Sister reflects, “My journey as an MMS in South India has been a meaningful, pleasant and fulfilling experience mainly because I found mission as the very essence of my life.”  In 2015, she celebrated her Golden Jubilee.

After earning her B.Sc. in Nursing, Sister Joan was assigned to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Hospital School of Nursing in Kerala, then went to Nangina Hospital, Kenya, where she served as Assistant Matron. She also was Nursing Supervisor at St. Thomas Hospital School of Nursing, Chethipuzha.  Sister received her Master of Arts and Ph.D. in Psychology in New Delhi in 1980.

Trained in de-addiction and family therapy in the United States, Sister Joan became a pioneer in the treatment of addicts by opening de-addiction centers in Kerala.  Currently, she serves as director/principal of Total Response to Drug and Alcohol Abuse (TRADA) Institute in Kottayam.  TRADA works at the grassroots level offering leadership training for dalit and tribal women; reproductive and child health programs; education for children in schools and colleges; information and guidance clinics on HIV/AIDS; and training programs in counseling, pastoral care and Alzheimer’s-related disorders.

2017 North American Jubilarians

Medical Mission Sisters in North America celebrated the Diamond and Golden Jubilees of eight of our Sisters on August 15 at our Community’s North American Headquarters in Philadelphia.  Celebrating the 60th anniversary of their First Vows were Sisters Joan Foley, Maria Hornung, Patrice McSweeney, Joan Marie Doud and Phyllis Backer.  Sisters Judy MacDonell, Rosemary Ryan and Mary Kirkhoff celebrated their 50th anniversaries. Together, these Sisters have served 450 years among the sick and poor in Pakistan, Ghana, Ethiopia, Uganda, Malawi, Venezuela, England, Kenya and the United States. 

Caption: Congratulations to our eight North American Jubilarians!

Associate Mary Taylor

Associate Mary Taylor first came to know the Medical Mission Sisters through her relationship with Associate Ray Mattern.  “The first time I attended liturgy, I sensed a gentle nurturing presence,” she says. 

After years of struggling with alcohol addiction, Mary’s wake-up call came after she was arrested for drunk driving.  “I was so scared, and felt hopeless.  I knew I needed help, so I asked for it, and found help in a twelve-step program.”  After 12 years of continuous sobriety, the New Jersey native reflects, “The worst thing that happened to me turned into the best thing that happened to me.  I have a personal relationship with a higher power. My spirituality is essential to my recovery.”

A customer service representative at FedEx, Mary spends much of her free time helping others.  She mentors women in prison, many of whom are in jail because of drugs or alcohol.  Mary also works as an interfaith minister and serves on the advisory board at the School of Sacred Ministries in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Twice a month she leads an interfaith service on Sunday mornings at a drug and alcohol rehab.  In 2016, Mary made her first Associate commitment, and says she hopes to grow spiritually and learn more about herself and others by stretching beyond her comfort zone. She shares, “I want to deepen my relationship with God.”

Update from Our Sisters in Venezuela

Medical Mission Sister Maigualida Riera reports from Venezuela that “the heart of life keeps beating in the midst of the tensions and uncertainties.”  Our Sisters and Associates continue to promote life and peace by supporting families to plant vegetable gardens, offering space for reflection and community prayer, painting murals of hope and respect, and guiding the youth through music, art and dance, giving them the opportunity to cleanse themselves of the recent violence, and to recover their own peace, joy and life.

Caption:  A man who observed the boys and girls shared, “Sister, thank you for this activity. I have felt very traumatized by the tragedy that happened in our market, and today, I felt liberated by the energy of the children. I know now that it is worth it to stand up and continue living.”

Sister-Doctor Stella Theruvil Honored by the Indian Medical Association

Medical Mission Sisters share the wonderful news of Sister-Doctor Stella Theruvil’s recent award.  Sister was honored by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) for her lifelong service and as a best physician.  When receiving her award, Sister Stella thanked all, especially our Foundress Mother Anna Dengel and the Medical Mission Sisters.  Born in 1937 in Kerala, India, she made her First Profession of Vows in 1960, and then studied medicine at Lady Harding Medical College in New Delhi.  Sister Stella currently works at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Hospital, Bharananganam, as a physician and alternate therapist.  Congratulations on your award, Sister Stella!

Sister Monika Ballani

Born in Potsdam in the former East Germany, Sister Monika Ballani was a Medical Mission Sister Associate member from 2003-2004.  She then became a Canonical member of our Society, and in 2006 made her First Profession of Vows. Sister Monika made her Final Vows in March 2013.

Sister Monika works in the Archdiocese of Berlin, Germany, where she is a social manager, coordinating and organizing pastoral care activities for persons with disabilities, especially those who are deaf, and with women in the center for counseling.  Sister shares lovingly, “I learned Sign Language 18 years ago, which gave me the opportunity to communicate directly with my deaf aunt in the last decades of her life.”

Working with those with special needs, Sister Monika and her team invite handicapped persons to retreats, travels and projects.  She says, “We sing, pray, dance, do handicrafts, and do group work. Everyone can become involved using the abilities they have.  The disabilities are still there, but the pooling of different potentials weaves a web of support in which everyone can contribute.”  She warmly adds, “For me, it is worthwhile to live this mission to make visible how special and wonderful God has created everyone, and to celebrate the gifts and talents of all.”

Sister Aquinas Hamilton

Sister Aquinas Hamilton is a fervent advocate of justice for the poor.  After 42 years of mission in India, she began working with the Philadelphia Unemployment Project, traveling to the state capital to successfully promote increasing the state minimum wage. A member of our Justice Co-mission, she says, “Real health is not possible without justice.  Justice and health go hand in hand.”

Born in New York City in 1927, Sister Aquinas entered our Community in 1946 and made her Final Vows in 1954.  An R.N., Sister was missioned to Holy Family Hospital in Patna in 1953, where she became a registered nurse-midwife and served on the nursing staff.  In India, she worked in various hospitals as outpatient supervisor, the supervisor of public health in the villages and as Acting Director of the Nursing School at Holy Family Hospital (HFH) Mandar.  After returning to the U.S. to earn B.S.N and M.S.N. degrees, she returned to HFH in New Delhi in 1970 as the Director of the Nursing School for six years. She then taught at the HFH School of Nursing in Mandar until 1995.

More recently, Sister Aquinas expresses her passion for peace and justice by participating with Heeding God’s Call, a multi-faith movement committed to decreasing the flow of handguns from legal gun shops to the illegal market.  She has demonstrated at a local gun shop to deter potential buyers.  Sister makes phone calls and sends letters to local representatives who may be able to influence gun control and lets the politicians know she is praying for them every day.

Sister Evelyne-Mathilde Mballa’s First Vows


Medical Mission Sisters were thrilled to celebrate with Sister Evelyne-Mathilde Mballa her First Vows made on June 18, 2017 in Philadelphia.  Fulfilling a childhood desire to be a missionary, Sister, who was born in Cameroon, Africa, made her commitment in a beautiful ceremony surrounded by family, friends, Sisters and Associates.  Energetic and enthusiastic, with a desire to improve the lives of those made poor, she has registered degrees in social work and is currently volunteering at Catholic Charities in Camden, New Jersey.

 

Sister Colette Beru

Passionate about teaching and helping women, Sister Colette Beru started a women’s group in the town of Sunyani, Ghana, where she has been living for several years.   While attending Mass one day last year, she noticed the women sitting in a separate section from the youth and the men, not interacting.  She approached the women with the suggestion of coming together to form a women’s group. 

This now vibrant group holds sessions on personal hygiene and cleanliness, family life, and the importance of education for the children.  They are learning how to make soap and other household items for their own use and to sell in the market.  Sister Colette warmly reflects, “It is amazing what God can do when two or three are gathered with a common purpose.” 

Born in the Upper West region of Ghana, Sister Colette entered our Community in 1998.  After making Final Vows in 2002, she was assigned to Techiman where she taught and also was a vocation promoter.  She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Religious Studies and Education from the Catholic University College Fiapre, Sunyani, in 2008.  She later studied Educational Administration and Management at the University of Education, Winneba, Ghana. 

In addition to her women’s group work, Sister Colette continues teaching and assisting in the local parish.  She also serves as the Pre-candidate Formation Coordinator of Medical Mission Sisters in Unit West Africa.

 

MMS On President’s Decision to Withdraw from the Paris Agreement

Medical Mission Sisters believe all of nature is sacred, connecting us to the holy, and connecting us to God.  In response to President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement on climate change, our United Nations Representative, Sister Celine Paramundayil, spoke to “Global Sisters Report.”  She shared, “Let this challenge unite the world to do more for a better world.  The good news is that there are more good people in the world who care for the common good — our Mother Earth.”

Caption: To read Sister Celine’s full interview with “Global Sisters Report,” visit: http://globalsistersreport.org/news/environment/sisters-join-chorus-denouncing-trumps-climate-move-47101

Associate Maureen Pryjma

Associate Maureen Pryjma’s journey with Medical Mission Sisters (MMS) began when she joined our Society right after high school.  Although the New Jersey native “loved the spirituality of the Community,” Maureen left before making Vows.  She says, “After almost 50 years, I still miss those two years with MMS that continue to center my spirituality and belief in the goodness of people, and the need to make a difference in their lives and my own.” 

After graduating from Cornell University in New York with her BSN, Maureen worked in coronary care.  In 1970, Maureen married Phil Pryjma, who recently also became an MMS Associate.  The couple has seven children—four biological and three adopted from Vietnam, Korea and Peru. 

During the 1980s, Maureen earned her Master’s degree in social work and became the Clinical Director for Eagleton School in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, an all-boys psychotherapeutic residential school.  Maureen remained with the school until it closed in 2016.

A life-long commitment to enrich her spirituality led Maureen back to MMS.  She attended the Women’s Leadership Institute at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, taught by our Sister Miriam Therese Winter.  In 2015, she made her first Associate commitment.  Maureen reflects, “I have always been about compassion, but now I see that I am taking the time to nurture my own spirituality and healing.”

Sister Edith Dug-yi

Born in Ghana, West Africa, in 1956, Sister Edith Dug-yi was the sixth of 10 children.  Before entering the Medical Mission Sisters in 1991, she worked as a public health nurse for 10 years.  For 20 years, Sister was in mission in Ghana, Uganda, and Kenya.  She served in formation ministry in Kenya for seven years.

In 2010, Sister Edith returned to Ghana and joined the staff at the Center for Spiritual Renewal in Kumasi.  Begun by Medical Mission Sisters Ellen Hummel and Jean Salgot, and a Missionary of Africa priest, the Center has had a pivotal role in the formation of African Christians since the early 1970s.  Sister Edith shares, “As a community member, I have grown in a deeper sense of belonging, not only to my immediate community, but to the Society as a whole. More and more, I also see myself as a child of the world, and not just to my family or a particular nationality, and so what affects the world affects me.”

Sister Edith recently served as our Community’s District Coordinator for West Africa.  She combined this important internal ministry with her special spiritual formation ministry at the Center for Spiritual Renewal.  In 2015, she was elected to our new Society Leadership Team in London.

Sister Abhaya Thekkan Earns her MSN/Nurse Practitioner degree

Medical Mission Sisters in North America congratulate our Sister Abhaya Thekkan on her recent graduation from Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Sister, who earned her MSN/Nurse Practitioner degree, made her Final Vows as a Medical Mission Sister in 2012.  A former Carmelite Sister, she received her BSN Degree, also from Jefferson University, in 2015.  Sister Abhaya asks for continued prayers so that she may be a healing presence to those whom she meets in her onward journey.

Caption: Congratulations, Sister Abhaya on your MSN/Nurse Practitioner degree!

Sister Eugine Mary Simon

Born in a coastal village in Tamil Nadu, India, Sister Eugine Mary Simon, who entered our Community in 2000, says being a healing presence comes from looking within.  “One thing is to realize my own woundedness.  When I am able to do this I am able to recognize the need for healing,” she shares. 

Sister Eugine Mary was a part of our Chapter Communications Team and has also edited our South Indian newsletter, Spandan. She is currently in Philadelphia preparing to become our next Society Communications Coordinator.   When she completes her training, she will return to India for a few months, and then move to London, England.

Prior to coming to Philadelphia in January, 2017, Sister Eugine Mary worked for seven years in South India, among the dalit women and children.  The people in this area are migrants; they do not own land and are always looking for work.  A social worker by profession, she helped identify the needs of the villagers, providing social and pastoral support in her desire to help build a healthy community.  She focused on the youth and children, working through education, leadership development programs, catechism and the “Youth and Children’s Parliament.” She warmly shares that some of the people she helped are still in contact with her today. 

Spring 2017 Associate Commitments

Medical Mission Sisters in North America joyfully celebrate the recent commitments of seven Associate members.  Making first commitments were Karol Feld, Phil Pryjma, Fran Pelham and Loretta Cody.  Carole Roberti, Mary Taylor and Selena Wilson, OP, made commitments for five years.  We warmly welcome our new and re-committed Associates who share our Community values and commit themselves to live as a healing presence wherever they live and work.

Caption: Associate Fran Pelham and Sister Joan Foley on the eve of the commitment ceremony.

Newsletter: A Further Step Towards Transforming Our World

Click here to read A Further Step Towards Transforming Our World

Associate Helen Hryniuk

A native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Associate Helen Hyrniuk has always had a desire to help people.  “Throughout my life,” she says, “there is a thread of service to others.”  After attending an open house at the Philadelphia Police Headquarters in 1971, she developed an interest in the Philadelphia Police Department and worked as a dispatcher from 1973 to 1989.

In 1989, Helen earned a spot in the Philadelphia Police Academy at the age of 34. After four years as an officer, she was promoted to Detective.  In 2008, Helen retired from the Philadelphia Police Department, and fondly reminisces, “I was blessed to work with some extraordinary people and formed friendships that would last a lifetime.”  After 35 years in various positions with the Police Department, she was ready to embark on the next chapter of her life.

Participating in a faith-sharing group in 2000 had opened Helen’s ears and heart to hear the “whisper of God.”  This experience encouraged her to explore her faith further.  Reading books and engaging in retreats and various programs were a turning point in deepening her spirituality.  Helen, who now works part-time at the Medical Mission Sisters’ Thrift Shop shares, “Working with the Sisters, I am constantly impressed by their dedication and spirit.”  A member of our on-campus choir, Helen became an Associate member in 2013.  She says, “God has been so good to me throughout my entire life; I cannot forget to thank Him for all the blessings He has given me.”

Sister Gabriela Ehrlich Turns 101

Medical Mission Sisters in Essen, Germany, recently celebrated the 101st birthday of Sister Gabriela Ehrlich.  Born in 1916 in Klagenfurt, Austria, Sister Gabriela completed her medical training in Slovenia and Italy, and before joining the Medical Mission Sisters in 1954, specialized in pediatrics in Bologna, Italy.  Sister worked at our Holy Family Hospitals in Mandar, India, and Techiman, Ghana, and helped to facilitate the founding of Attat Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1967.  Congratulations to Sister Gabriela, who is our oldest Medical Mission Sister!

 

Sister Mary Jane Caspillo

Born and raised in the Philippines, Sister Mary Jane Caspillo entered our Community in the early 2000s, making her First Vows in 2005 and her Final Vows in 2013.  Her first mission assignment was to San Fernando, a provincial capital in the Philippines, where she developed relationships with farmers and indigenous people living in the mountains.  Her healing mission grew out of living with the everyday realities of the people, sharing with them their concerns about family, their livelihood, and their faith life in good times and hard times.

Currently, Sister Mary Jane works in the diocese of Malaybalay in Bukidnon, where she leads our Community and co-workers in mission in responding to relevant issues in the local and neighboring dioceses.  She has initiated relief and development programs among indigenous people, including victims of storms, landslides and other calamities.  Sister also has served on several of our governmental assemblies and on our global Community’s “Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Committee.”   In addition, she is involved in communications and vocation promotion work for Medical Mission Sisters (MMS).

Sister Mary Jane’s personal contribution towards global solidarity is expressed in her activities with the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) and the Sisters’ Association of Mindanao.   RMP members commit themselves to support the poor farmers’ quest for social justice, freedom, and genuine agrarian reform.  She shares, “My connection with the Rural Missionaries helped me discern my response as an MMS member and witness the Gospel values in and with the rural poor, particularly the farmers and the indigenous people.”  

An Update on Our Mission in Venezuela

Medical Mission Sisters in Venezuela, and our Sisters and Associates around the world, are deeply moved by the situation facing Venezuelans today.  Many parents have decided to have one meal a day so their children can have two.  Uncertainty and unmet basic needs have led to an increase in crime and violence. Sister Maria Fernanda, a member of our Society Leadership Team, recently visited our Sisters there.  She shares, “Our Venezuelan people are suffering, however I experienced that, in the midst of pain, their faith opens them to the pain of others, transcending their own suffering to sow hope and joy in those who feel more oppressed.  I think that it is only out of love that we can remain discreetly and lovingly present among those who suffer.”

Caption: A mother and children at our Solidarity Kitchen in Barquisimeto, Venezuela.

Sister Kristina Wolf

German-born Sister Kristina Wolf recalls, “[At the age of 13] I was totally clear about working in and for the Church because I was very much attracted to Jesus and our faith.”  Before entering our Community in 2002, she earned degrees in nursing, theology and pastoral psychology.  She made her Final Profession of Vows in Germany in 2010.

Sister Kristina’s current ministry is at the Center for Christian Meditation and Spirituality in Frankfurt.  The center was established both to help those who are very engaged in their parishes reconnect with their spiritual sources, and to provide an opportunity for spiritual exploration to those who are not “insiders” of the Church. Sister Kristina is involved in individual spiritual guidance and a special group that trains people to guide others in meditation and contemplative prayer.

For a few hours a week, Sister Kristina meets with patients at a psychiatric outpatient clinic, helping them learn to cope better with their daily life difficulties through awareness and meditation.  In addition to her spirituality ministry, Sister Kristina is the head of the Council of the Religious in the Diocese of Limburg, accompanies our Associate Members in the Frankfurt area, and has been a member of the Germany District Assembly for over ten years.  Last year, Sister Kristina was elected the new Unit Coordinator for Medical Mission Sisters and Associates in Germany.

Sister Regy Augustine Peringarappilly

Born in Kerala, India, in 1969, Sister Regy Augustine Peringarappilly, a lawyer by profession, also works part-time as a social worker. She made her First Vows in 1998 and her Final Vows in 2003. In Kottayam, Kerala, South India, Sister Regy had been involved in mediation, especially in family cases, and has held awareness classes for women’s and children’s rights. Noticing the alarming rate of involvement with the crime among the youth, Sister feels compelled to help, believing that “children are a supremely important national asset.”  As a lawyer she can offer her expertise when the juveniles are brought into court and accused of “all sorts of crimes.”

Working with another Medical Mission Sister, Sister Regy helped implement a project for HIV- affected people in Idukki and Kottayam. When participants initially were reluctant to connect with one another, the Sisters organized awareness classes and offered counseling to overcome the stigma of the disease. “The participants developed a feeling of oneness in the group and valued the need for coming together to support each other,” shares Sister Regy. She adds, “As we acted as an instrument of God among them, they became physically and mentally more healthy and capable of maintaining their lives with hope and self-esteem.”

Sister Regy is a determined advocate for women’s rights.  She has been designated by the Social Welfare Department of Kerala to provide legal service for distressed women.  Since 2013 she has been serving as a “Legal Counselor” in one of the service providing centers, helping women affected by domestic violence.  Recently Sister was selected by the district hospital and medical office to serve on two committees which investigate and take action on the complaints of women experiencing sexual harassment in their workplace.

Anna Dengel’s 125th Birthday

Medical Mission Sisters and Associates are celebrating the 125th birthday of our Foundress, Anna Dengel.  Born on March 16, 1892, in Steeg, Austria, Anna was the oldest of nine children.  Because her own mother died when she was a young girl, she was especially moved by the unmet health, education and development needs of women, wherever they happened to live. Anna continues to be an inspiration to many and has greatly contributed to the health and hope in people’s lives around the world.  Following her vision, and with gratitude to her, we continue to be a healing presence to tens of thousands in need in our wounded world today.

Associate Bonnie Buongiorne

Born in Clarkson, New York, Associate Bonnie Buongiorne’s special bond with horses led her to found Ray of Light Farm in 2000.  Ray of Light serves as a special animal-assisted therapy center and large animal rescue farm in East Haddam, Connecticut.  “I didn’t know what it was about horses; I simply knew that I felt good when I was in their presence,” Bonnie shares. 

The idea for the farm came when Bonnie was diagnosed with stage-two breast cancer at the age of 39.  “I made a promise to the universe, that if I survived, I’d do something good with the rest of my life.”  Bonnie’s connection to Medical Mission Sisters began when she was taught by our Sister Miriam Therese (MT) Winter while attending Hartford Seminary’s Women’s Leadership Institute in 2001.  Bonnie lovingly reflects, “The day I learned of the MMS charism of healing presence, I bought the farm!”

An Associate member since 2004, Bonnie continues her work at the farm and is also a licensed massage therapist.  She says, “I hope that my hands will be instruments of healing.”

International Women’s Day 2017

Medical Mission Sisters (MMS) have long been passionate about improving the lives of women and advocating for their well-being.  On March 8, we stand with others around the world in observing International Women’s Day. Since the early 1900s this day is considered a national holiday in many countries. Thousands of events occur throughout the month of March to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. For 92 years, MMS have advocated equality and opportunities for women on the five continents in which we serve. 

World Day of Prayer 2017

Medical Mission Sisters in 17 nations join others around the world in observing “World Day of Prayer” on March 3.  Begun by Christian laywomen, it is now observed by people of many faiths on the first Friday of March.  All are invited to join in prayer and action for peace and justice.  Its 2017 theme — “Am I Being Unfair to You?” — is a call to open our minds, hearts and hands in response to the violence and injustice in our world.

Caption:  Women of different nations take turns preparing the Prayer Service distributed each “World Day of Prayer.”  In 2017 the women of the Philippines have the honor.

 

Sister Betty Mathay

Born in Bataan Province in the Philippines, Sister Betty Mathay received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and her CPA at the University of the Philippines. In 1968 she entered our Community, and made her First Vows the following year at age 30.

After serving as District Treasurer in the Philippines, Sister Betty was missioned to the Brayat Minulyo Hospital in Surakarta, Indonesia, where she served until 1992. During those years, she was a member of our Society Finance Team, and also our Coordinator in Sector East Asia.

When Sister Betty returned to her native country, she wanted to work at the grassroots level and had a strong desire to do pastoral care. “From the very beginning of my religious life, I saw my participation in our healing mission doing pastoral care as just being a loving person, giving my smile and having an understanding heart for all,” she says.

Sister Betty ministered in the southern part of the Philippines in several hospitals, and became part of the hospital ministry of the diocese. For four years, she was co-chaplain with a priest in the Zamboanga City Medical Center. After transferring to the northern Philippines, she continued to do pastoral hospital visits, and visited homebound patients, bringing them Holy Communion when needed. She also was involved with formation of Pre-candidates and Sisters in Temporary Vows.  Now living in Quezon City in the Philippines, Sister Betty is part of a team helping Medical Mission Sisters become better known and our mission more widely supported.

MMS Response to President Trump’s Executive Orders

Medical Mission Sisters join many others in strongly objecting to President Donald J. Trump’s recent executive orders barring refugees and banning nationals of seven nations from entry into the United States.  As an international Community of 500 Sisters and 100 Associates of 23 different nationalities we see justice as integral to our mission of healing.  We treasure the dignity and potential of those who are made poor and are denied justice.  They are the ones who will be most affected by these executive orders. We echo the words of Pope Francis, “We are all children of God.”
                    

Photo credit: Melanie Lidman at  GlobalSisters.Report.org

Sister Irene Fernandez

Our Society Coordinator, Sister Irene Fernandez, has been involved in a variety of healing ministries since she became a Medical Mission Sister (MMS).  Born in Kerala, India, she grew up in Singapore, and learned about MMS through a vocation leaflet her sister was using as a bookmark in an Agatha Christie novel.  She entered our Community in India in 1972, and made her First Vows in 1974.  She first worked in the community health department in Mandar, India, and in various positions at Holy Family Hospital, Mandar.  Sister Irene shares, “Healing as a way of life, a way to wholeness and fullness of life, was from the depths of my heart a personal call and a commission.”

Upon moving to Germany in 1980, she worked with youth and refugees, and was also responsible for our district finances for seven years.  Sister Irene then studied pastoral counseling in Chicago, Illinois, where she earned a Master’s degree.  She returned to North India and became involved in formation and finance work.  Additionally, she served in several leadership positions for our Community in North India, and also as our Sector Coordinator for Asia.

Sister Irene was Coordinator of our Holistic Health Center in Pune for several years, a valuable ministry that helps people of little or no financial means experience what health and wholeness can mean.  In her passion for making a difference in the lives of others, she initiated the partnership venture at Kurji Holy Family Hospital Patna in which Medical Mission Sisters and the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth together oversee health care services.  The Archbishop of Patna applauded this partnership as a “first of its kind” which many other Congregations are now following.  Sister Irene lives at our International Headquarters in London.

Sister Carol Reed

Sister Carol Reed recently celebrated 25 years as a Medical Mission Sister in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where she has been in mission since 2002.  She describes her Silver Jubilee celebration there as a very joyful day of poetry, singing and dancing. 

Born in 1946 in Massachusetts, Sister Carol has her BA in American Studies from Smith College, a certificate in Elementary Education from the University of Alabama, and a Master’s degree in teaching English as a Second Language from the School of International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont. She entered the Medical Mission Sisters (MMS) in 1988, made First Vows in 1991 and Final Profession of Vows in 1998.

Teaching Spanish literacy to indigenous Triqui women in Oaxaca, Mexico, for two years, was Sister Carol’s first mission.  She then moved to San Diego, California, where she taught English as a Second Language at the American Language Institute for International Students.  Sister also served as vocation promoter in our Western District and spent some time in prison ministry.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is Sister Carol’s current home; she teaches English in Cathedral High School, produces textbooks for grades one-to-four and supervises the English teachers. Sister greatly enjoys teaching English and writing to the seminarians at St. Francis Seminary, the major seminary for the country. She also teaches academic writing to second-year philosophy students. Sister Carol is the first contact person for women interested in MMS in Ethiopia, and is active in vocation promotion activities. She shares, “I try to approach others with non-judgmental compassion and be the healing presence of Christ in whatever way that is possible.”

MMS Participate in Women’s March

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Medical Mission Sisters, Associates and partners in mission joined hundreds of thousands of women, men and children at the Women’s Marches in Washington DC, Philadelphia and New York City on January 21.  A deep concern for the rights, health and welfare of all women and girl children has always been a primary focus of our mission.  We “stand with” women of all races, faiths, ages and nationalities in expressing the importance of treating women with dignity, respect and as equals with men.  As the March organizers stressed, there can be no true peace in our nation and our world without justice and equity for all.

Caption: Sister Miriam Therese Winter describes her experiences as a transformative moment – a quantum leap into a renewed and collective commitment to liberty and justice for all.

Associate Yira Infante

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Born and raised in Venezuela, Associate Yira Infante is an integral part of the Medical Mission Sisters’ life and mission in Barquisimeto.  At our Solidarity Kitchen, which serves nutritious lunches six days a week to 150 people, she assesses need, and ensures that the most vulnerable families are included in the lunch program.   Yira, who made an Associate commitment in 2010, also works at a school for children with special needs, and lovingly accompanies them and their families through the struggles of daily life. 

Yira is a practitioner at the Medical Mission Sisters’ Holistic Health Center in the parish compound of Jesus of Nazareth.  She says fondly, “Being an Associate of Medical Mission Sisters has led me over the years to feel healed, as I’m helping others to heal, through my work with children with disabilities, parish youth and alternative therapies.”  She adds, “God has given me a very specific calling: ‘To be a healing presence at the heart of a wounded world’ and I try every day to be faithful to this commitment with all my life, giving myself with generosity, offering what I have, serving with my potential and limitations, just being a good Christian.”

National Migration Week

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Medical Mission Sisters join with the larger Church in marking National Migration Week.  Pope Francis has emphasized the importance of ‘encounter’ in the Christian faith saying, “Faith is an encounter with Jesus, and we must do what Jesus does:  encounter others.”   Our Sisters in London are reaching out to the refugees pouring into the UK from Syria and other parts of the world, in addition to caring for their homeless neighbors.

Caption: Sister Jyoti Kujur encourages the outstanding drumming skills of a homeless man, whom she brought to play for the St Mungo’s Diwali celebration in one of London’s hostels.

Sister Delipher Magola

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Sister Delipher Magola was born in 1984 in Malawi.  The fifth-born of eight children, she has three sisters and four brothers.  Attracted to the Medical Mission Sisters’ charism, Sister Delipher began her formation in 2005.  She shares, “I wanted to touch other people`s lives and be happy like the Sisters. When I visited the places our Sisters were in mission working with women and children here in Malawi, I was inspired to do the same.”

At Malawi College of Accountancy, Sister Delipher obtained a certificate in Financial Accounting (CFA).  She also completed her BA in Sociology.  In 2009, Sister Delipher made her First Vows and was missioned to our Primary Health Care Center in Rubanda, Uganda. In Rubanda, she helped dispense medicines and oversaw maintenance of the health unit and its repairs. She also assisted with bookkeeping and vocation promotion efforts for our Community.

In 2014, Sister Delipher studied social work and administration in Kenya. After receiving her degree and then taking time for home leave, she joined the group of Medical Mission Sisters who re-opened our mission in Malawi.  Today, she works as an Assistant Lecturer in the Social Work Department at the Catholic University of Malawi.  She also is on the team for Student Integrated Support, which helps students realize their goals and empowers them with the necessary skills to solve problems and manage the learning process. Sister shares that she enjoys her work and is happy to be serving others according to her ability and professional skills. 

A Farewell to our Mission in Arequipa

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Medical Mission Sisters are celebrating their final Christmas season in Arequipa, Peru.  For over 40 years, our Sisters here have responded to the needs of those made poor, by offering a very popular pre-school education program, teaching women to sew and by being a healing presence to children with disabilities. In early 2017, these ministries will be turned over to local residents. We will continue to keep all with whom we have shared life in Arequipa in our hearts and in our prayers.

Caption: In Arequipa, Peru, these sweet children enjoy hot chocolate and special bread provided by our Sisters at Christmas.

Sister Bimla Toppo

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Born in Jarkhand, North India, Sister Bimla Toppo entered our Community in 2001.  She made her First Vows in 2004.  After a year of mission experience in Rajabala, West Garo Hills, Sister studied general nursing and midwifery at Nazareth Hospital in Shillong.  In 2009, she was assigned to Sundari, where she was in charge of the clinic and collaborated with the Diocesan Health Project.  As part of preparation for her Final Vows, she took a one-year theology course at Mater Dei Institute in Goa. 

In 2013, Sister Bimla provided health care for patients struggling with addiction at the Shalom Rehabilitation Center.  She affectionately shares, “I had a very different idea about the addicts as I heard that they behave wild and are afraid to go for treatment.  In a short time, I found them very simple, loving, intelligent, and very talented people who long for love, support and acceptance from their family and society at large in the process of their recovery.”

After making her Final Vows in 2013, Sister Bimla devoted herself eagerly to the various communities to which she was assigned.  A well-integrated and dedicated person, Sister Bimla commits herself with simplicity and generosity wherever she lives and works. She has provided guidance for our Community as Vocation Coordinator and as a member of our District Assembly in North East India.  Sister Bimla’s recent election as the Unit Coordinator of North East India is a landmark in history as she is the first Unit of Origin Sister to take leadership in North East India. 

“If You Love” Book Release

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Medical Mission Sisters announce the release of a new book on our Founder, Anna Dengel, entitled “If You Love.”  Researched and written by our own Sister Miriam Therese Winter, the book weaves little known facts into a beautiful story about Mother Dengel’s early life in the Austrian Tyrol and her work as the only doctor at a hospital in North India in the early 1920s that led her to found our Community in 1925.  Anna’s story is one of a passionate faith-filled woman who saw great health and human needs in women in the East.  Motivated by a call to respond, she did not let Church or gender restrictions at the time hold her back.

Caption: You can purchase “If You Love” at bookstore.authorhouse.com, at amazon.com or on other online bookstores.

Associate Jane Jones

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Associate Jane Jones was born in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, and educated as a nurse at McGill University in Montreal and as an elementary teacher at Queen’s University in Kingston. She worked as a nurse in Canada, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan where she met her husband, Larry.  Further steps on her life’s journey, working mostly in the field of education, include time in Malaysia, Indonesia, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Ivory Coast. Living, working and raising two daughters in these settings have shaped her worldview and blessed her life in countless ways.

One summer while back in the United States, Jane read our Sister Miriam Therese (MT) Winter’s book, “The Singer and the Song.”  She felt an instant and deep connection with the healing charism of the Medical Mission Sisters (MMS) Community and our work for justice and peace throughout the world. The Spirit was certainly at work leading Jane to Sister MT’s Women’s Leadership Institute in Hartford, Connecticut, and to MMS Association.

For Jane, the encouragement and companionship of Association goes beyond words; healing presence has become the prayer and focus of each day.  For the past several years, Jane has divided her time between her family in the United States and her beloved Larry’s work in Indonesia. The gift of a granddaughter has added a wonderful new dimension to her life.  She and we are further blessed by her new role as Assistant Associate Coordinator for MMS in North America.

Women’s Circle News

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Medical Mission Sisters congratulate Rosanne Costa, a 10-year volunteer sewing teacher at Women’s Circle in Boynton Beach, Florida, for receiving a local Soroptimist International “Women of Distinction Volunteer Award.”  At Women’s Circle, founded by our Sister Lorraine Ryan to help lower-income women in their personal development and employment searches, Rosanne organized and has been teaching sewing.  She also leads the women’s Fashion Show, which shows off their many marketable skills. The Women of Distinction Awards honor women who are outstanding role models in their communities.

 

Caption: Medical Mission Sister Philo Morris, left, a co-worker at Women’s Circle, with Rosanne Costa, the Women of Distinction Volunteer Award winner in the Boynton Beach area.

Sister Bernadette Rini Dwi Astuti (Rini)

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Sister Bernadette Rini Dwi Astuti (Rini) was born in Jakarta City, Indonesia, in 1969.  Before she entered our Community in 1996, she worked as a secretary for several years and participated in the parish activities with youth, the elderly and the sick.  She made her First Profession of Vows in 1999 and her Final Vows in 2005.  From 1999 to 2003, Sister Rini served on the staff of an organization devoted to micro socio-economic development, focusing on family economic management.  She then studied at the East Asian Pastoral Institute in the Philippines in preparation for formation work.

In addition to serving as formation coordinator for Medical Mission Sisters in Indonesia, Sister Rini has been active in peace and justice work.  In 2013 she attended an Ecological Spirituality Retreat, led by our Sister Elly Verrijt, an especially meaningful time for her. She says, “We experienced this retreat as a precious moment…it was not only to give new knowledge about the web of life, but in the silent atmosphere we were invited to enter our inner self where our body, mind and spirit experience the energy of the earth…” 

Sister Rini has served in several leadership roles in the Medical Mission Sisters including as a District Assembly member and as Sector Coordinator for East Asia.  Last year she was elected one of the five members of our new International Leadership Team in London.  She is a special link to our Sisters who are involved in the formation and integration of our newest members.

Mission in Venezuela

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Medical Mission Sisters in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, are trying to alleviate the extreme suffering of their neighbors by offering one meal a day to the young and old of their barrio who are experiencing great hunger.  Our Sisters and Associates have joined forces with the Jesuits in preparing as nutritious a lunch as possible for 100 of the neediest people at Jesus of Nazareth Parish.  The economic situation in Venezuela is at the crisis level and food is harder to find than even several months ago.  Our friends in North America are helping to fund this “Solidarity Kitchen,” an ongoing necessity for the foreseeable future.  Local contacts are helping us to recreate the “miracle of the loaves and fishes.”

 

Caption: Many older and younger Venezuelans are taking to the streets today to draw attention to their dire need for food and medicine.

Sister Agnes Lobo

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Sister Agnes Lobo, the youngest of eight children, was born in 1965 in Mangalore, India.  She worked as a teacher in Punjab before joining the Medical Mission Sisters (MMS) in 1990.  In 1993 she made her First Vows and made her Final Vows in 1999.  Supervising the kitchen and dietary department at Holy Family Hospital in Mandar was Agnes’s first assignment as a Sister.  While living in Mandar she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in social work and was involved in the clinic and development programs. 

In 2011 Sister Agnes moved to Maner, India, where she embraced MMS’s passion for the empowerment of local women.  The women have long experienced caste and class oppression, however, they are patiently coming together to address issues important to their lives.  Sister Agnes shares, this is being accomplished “in collaboration with the NGOs working in the area.  Several women stood for election to the various bodies, and today there are a few ward commissioners who are women.” 

Sister Agnes also is a member of CHA-BIJAN (Catholic Health Association-Bihar, Jharkhand and Andaman), on the administration team at Kurji Holy Family Hospital, Patna, belongs to the Forum for Social Initiatives and is a member of the Diocesan Women’s Commission.  She is the Coordinator of the Community Health Centre (CHC) and is currently active in vocation promotion in the Patna area.

Leo House Dedicates a Room to Anna Dengel

anna-dengel-for-newsMedical Mission Sisters were recently honored by Leo House, a Catholic Guest House in New York City, when it dedicated one of its rooms to our Founder, Mother Anna Dengel.  At the same time it also dedicated a room to Saint Teresa of Calcutta.  It was at Leo House in November, 1960, that Anna Dengel and Mother Teresa met, attended Mass and shared a meal together.   About 30 people attended the dedication ceremony, including our Sister Celine Paramundayil, Sisters of St. Agnes, employees, and guests in Leo House.  It began in the very Chapel where Mother Teresa and Mother Dengel once met.