Author Archive for Administrator – Page 3

Sister Miriam Paul (Hanna) Klaus

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Sister Miriam Paul (Hanna) Klaus was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1928. She and her family moved to Louisville, Kentucky, when she was a child.  There she earned a Bachelor’s Degree and M.D. from the University of Louisville.  She entered our Community in 1957 after several years working at Harvard Medical School and Peter Brent Brigham Hospital in Boston.  Following a medical mission of seven years in Pakistan and in what is now Bangladesh, she returned to the U.S. and began lecturing in the Billings Ovulation Method of Natural Family Planning (NFP).  She also worked several years in St. Louis and then became Director of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at St. Francis Hospital in Kansas. Moving to Washington, D.C., in 1978, she worked for two years as Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at George Washington University and practiced as an obstetrician/gynecologist.  In 1980, Sister Miriam Paul became Executive Director of the Natural Family Planning Center in Bethesda, Maryland, and launched TeenSTAR (“Sexuality Teaching in the context of Adult Responsibility”), a program to educate young people about the value of sexual abstinence. She explains that TeenSTAR was designed as “a counterweight to the prevalent contraceptive inundation approach to youth, in an effort to stem the tide of teen pregnancy and abortion.” Today, nearly 56,000 students have graduated from TeenSTAR programs. Although Sister is no longer the Executive Director, she remains active in its many program components.

Associate Jorge Reyes Chang

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Associate Jorge Reyes Chang is our first Peruvian Associate.  Born and raised in Chimbote, six hours North of Lima, Jorge studied sociology in Lima and then became a journalist.  For more than 10 years he has been working with Medical Mission Sister Gisela Reich at ADEP, which provides educational audiovisuals especially for youth in the area.  Jorge’s specialty is leadership, conflict resolution, organization of groups, accompaniment and communication.  He also works with the Ministry of Education in its Ongoing Education program for teachers.  He shares, “To be well as we live with dignity means for me the same as saying we are healthy.  That is manifested in human relations, learning processes, organization, community work, civil participation and citizenship, self-esteem, communication with God and nature.  I think healing and wholeness is possible when we attend to all human dimensions, and get rid of all the remains of poverty, need and lack of rights.”  

60 Years of Holy Family Nursing School in New Delhi

Medical Mission Sisters mark the 60th anniversary of Holy Family Hospital Nursing School and College in New Delhi, India, this month.  With a strong public health and nurse-midwifery curriculum, the four-year nursing school program has been instrumental in educating thousands of women in professional, caring service to those in need of health care.

Caption: Sister Aquinas Hamilton in the 1970s teaching at Holy Family Hospital School of Nursing in New Delhi.

Journeying with Forced Migrants

UntitledMedical Mission Sisters journey with many persons who have been displaced from their homes and homelands due to natural disasters, political uprisings and as victims of trafficking.  In Germany, several of our Sisters work at a comprehensive health care service for homeless people in Frankfurt.  In the United Kingdom, Sister Rosalinda Moag has a very special ministry journeying with forced migrants. “The situation of forced migrants here in the UK is heartbreaking,” says Sister. She is a case worker for the Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) Detention Center Outreach program, a volunteer at Bakhita House for victims of human trafficking, and also assists Filipino migrants in their relocation struggles.

Caption: Last year, Sister Rosalinda (center) participated in a Refugee Tales Walk.  She shares, “After each day’s walk, well-known writers told stories or tales about refugees’ plight and longing…it was a pilgrim and sacred encounter (for me).”

Sister Michaela Bank


Sister Michaela Bank was born in Bonn, Germany, in 1943. She entered the Medical Mission Sisters in 1966.  After studying economics, she became our General Treasurer and served in this capacity from 1974-1985. In 1986 she began a special ministry in Germany working with young people. After the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, she and our Sister Angelika Kollacks started a counseling center in Marzham-Hellersdorf, a low-income area of Berlin, in response to the tremendous needs they experienced among women of the former “East Germany.”  As therapists, they accompany women of all ages through crisis and difficult situations. Sister Michaela continues her involvement in finance as our District Treasurer of Germany.  She also serves as a member of the commission for women for the Bishops Conference where she works for equal rights in the Church.


2016 Winter Jubilarians


Medical Mission Sisters share the joy of 8 of our Sisters who mark special milestones this Winter. Seven celebrate their 60th anniversaries of Profession of First Vows and one Sister marks her 50th anniversary. From North America, India, and the Netherlands, these Medical Mission Sisters together have served nearly 500 years among those in need.

Caption: We congratulate our 15 Sisters around the world who mark their Jubilees this Winter.


“Breath of the Spirit” CD

Breath of the SpiritMedical Mission Sisters are pleased to announce that the second CD of the Five-Volume Sacred Folk Music Project has been released.  Entitled “Breath of the Spirit,” it includes 21 folk songs by our Sister Miriam Therese (MT) Winter, sung by performing artists of many faith traditions.  The dedicated work of Dan Paulos, Director of St. Bernadette Institute of Sacred Art in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and his wonderful friends, “Breath of the Spirit” features Mack Bailey, Melba Moore, Elisabeth Von Trapp, Janis Ian, The Monks of Weston Priory, the Medical Mission Sisters and many more who gave their time and talent to this endeavor.  Medical Mission Sisters are most grateful to Dan Paulos for helping us to share God’s Healing Word in this special way.

To order “Breath of the Spirit” ($14.95 plus $3.00 postage and handling), E-mail:

Sister Rose Teresa Kujur


Sister Rose Teresa Kujur was born in Bihar, India, in 1960.  She entered the Medical Mission Sisters in 1987, made her First Vows in 1990 and her Final Profession in 1996.  Sister Rose lived in North East India for a number of years, working with various cultural groups. In 2008 she moved to Patna, India, to minister in Kurji Holy Family Hospital and its many outreach services. Sister Rose Teresa served as coordinator of the hospital’s Community Development Center and was involved in vocation promotion for Medical Mission Sisters in North India.  Since the summer of 2015 she has been in ministry in Boynton Beach, Florida, at Women’s Circle, a non-profit organization established in 2000 by Medical Mission Sister Lorraine Ryan to help low income women achieve financial stability through education and job development skills training.



Human Trafficking Awareness Month

Sr-TeresitaMedical Mission Sisters participate in “Human Trafficking Awareness Month” (January) in many different ways.  In Philadelphia, Sister Teresita Hinnegan continues her decade-long efforts to help people in many areas of life learn more about human trafficking.  She is now working with a group to set up protocols to help hospital staff better identify the signs of women and girls who are being trafficked and what they can do to help these victims.  Statistics show that 70 % of trafficking victims visit a hospital for care, so it is an important site for awareness and assistance.

Caption: Medical Mission Sister Teresita Hinnegan continues her special mission of healing presence to women and girls who are victims of human trafficking.



Associate Chris Schenk

Chris Schenk

Associate Christine (Chris) Schenk was born in Lima, Ohio, in 1946.  She has master’s degrees in Theology from St Mary’s Seminary and Graduate School in Cleveland, and in nursing from Boston College.  From 1971-1977 she was a Canonical member of the Medical Mission Sisters.  When our Community’s Associate program began in 1984, Chris became one of its first members.  She says, “Associate membership is important to me for two reasons: it keeps me in contact with a group of fantastic women, from whom I’ve learned a lot in my life’s journey, and it helps me keep my awareness of a broader global world.”  In 1988, Chris joined the Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph in Cleveland (CSJ).  She served urban families for 18 years as a nurse-midwife before co-founding FutureChurch in 1990.  FutureChurch was created to bring about a greater participation of laity, especially women, in the Church.  She received the FutureChurch Trivision Award for 23 years of service with the organization when she retired from her role as Executive Director in 2013. Chris currently writes a column for theNational Catholic Reporter’s online edition.


Membership in Africa

DSCN2200 Betty Nabuguzi, Sr. Rosemary Adhiambo, Catherine Ato and Sr. Margaret LupiyaMedical Mission Sisters begin the new year celebrating that we now have 33 African Sisters, eight African novices and two African postulants who have been accepted for candidacy.  Our Community in Africa also will welcome six women as pre-candidates in 2016.  Joining our African Sisters in mission in five nations on the continent today are 11 Medical Mission Sisters from Germany, India, the Philippines and North America.  It is a wonderful sign — and lived experience — of our internationality.





Sister Josephine Nafula


Sister Josephine Nafula was born in 1960 in Uganda.  Before entering the Medical Mission Sisters, she worked as a teacher and as a Diocesan administrative secretary for six years.  She made her First Profession of Vows in 1995 and her Final Vows in 2000.  Her first mission assignment was to Nangina Holy Family Hospital in Western Kenya where she was an administrative secretary and then Acting Hospital Administrator.  Sister Josephine studied at the Institute of St. Anselm, England, then served as a counselor/therapist there for five years.  She earned a Master’s Degree in Psychotherapy from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom and then a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology in India.  After 15 years working outside her home country, Sister repatriated to Uganda and began working in ongoing formation, giving workshops/retreats to people from all walks of life.  Now Sister Josephine is involved in various activities in our Community including vocation promotion and serving as our District Coordinator for East Africa.

Sister Tomasa Martinez Flores

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Sister Tomasa Martinez Flores was born in 1963 in Peru. By the age of 17 she knew she wanted to be a missionary. Interested in teaching, she studied at the Higher Education Institution of the Marist Brothers. After graduating, she worked in public schools for several years, taught in a secondary school, and was a supervisor of education, teaching professional skills. While taking part in the activities of the Diocese of Callao, Peru, she met the Medical Mission Sisters (MMS), and in 2005 began living in a MMS community. She entered our Community in 2008 in Callao, and made her First Vows in 2010. Sister Tomasa has a Master’s Degree and a license in education from the University of Peru.  In Callao, she is involved in technical education among both young people and adults. Sister Tomasa says she hopes to promote healing in all areas of education, coming from whatever needs she may meet, now and wherever she is in mission. 

MMS Honored with a Special Citation

DSCN1045Medical Mission Sisters have been honored with a special Citation from the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Passed unanimously by the legislators, it acknowledges our Community’s 90th anniversary and how our Sisters have lived the vision of our Founder Anna Dengel, MD, in helping to improve the health and welfare of people in need all over the world.  The Citation offers special congratulations for our past contributions to so many people and offers best wishes for continued success in the 18 nations in which we currently serve.

Caption:  Pennsylvania State Representative Thomas Murt presents the special Citation to North American Coordinator Sister Helen Lembeck.  In his remarks to the 50 Sisters assembled for the presentation, Representative Murt drew attention to the special gifts of compassion and hope that Medical Mission Sisters have shared with millions of women, children and men over the past 90 years.

New Sector Leadership Team

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

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

Sister Senait Mengesha


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

Thank You

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

Sister Rosemary Ryan

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

MMS in Support of the UN Climate Change Conference

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Medical Mission Sisters are participating in the UN Climate Change Conference and its related activities around the world in a variety of ways. Two of our Sisters are at the Paris conference the first week it meets and three will take their places the second week.  A number of our Sisters and Associates joined thousands in London, Frankfurt and Washington, DC, over the weekend, in interfaith prayer gatherings, rallies and marches, to draw attention to the importance of reducing greenhouse gases for the sake of the health and life of our planet and all of its inhabitants.

Caption:  Medical Mission Sisters Associate Jane Blewett marches in Washington, DC, carrying a banner that shares Pope Francis’s deep concern for our planet.

Associate Elly Naiko

Naiko_Elly, AssociateAssociate Elly Naiko was born in Makassar, Indonesia, in 1934. Elly first heard about our Community when she was in her mid-twenties. In 1985, she decided to become an Associate. While spending time with Medical Mission Sisters in Jakarta, Elly learned of a vacancy in our Fatima Hospital in Pare Pare. She served there for 10 years in various capacities, including supervision of the hospital kitchen and laundry. In 1995, after a visit to the Netherlands, she took part in the foundation of the social institution, Bina Keluarga Lansia (BKL) Pangngu’rangi in Makassar. Founded to accompany the elderly and help them and their relatives maintain family unity, a social life, and an active spiritual life, it grew to over 2000 elderly members over the next 10 years. Today Elly, a widow, has three stepchildren and 10 grandchildren and lives with her elder sister in Jakarta.

Taking Action to End Gun Violence

2015MemorialMedical Mission Sisters in Philadelphia are participating in an interfaith “T-Shirt Memorial to the Lost,” which is trying to raise public awareness of the tragic toll exacted by gun violence. The T-shirts displayed on our Northeast Philadelphia property bear the names of 207 persons killed by guns in the city in 2014. This is part of a national effort called “Taking Action to End Gun Violence.” Many passersby have asked about the Memorial and have added their voices to the many who advocate for peace in our world.

Caption: Medical Mission Sisters Celine Paramundayil and Kathryn Gates hold the T-shirts bearing the names of two men killed by guns in Philadelphia last year.

MMS 14th General Chapter Begins

Agnes-lights-Chapter-CandleMedical Mission Sisters have begun our 14th General Chapter, a very special four-week meeting that occurs only once every six years. Chapter delegates from Africa, Asia, East Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America now have come together in India to review our mission of healing over the past 6 years and to set directions and priorities for our healing presence through 2021. We pray with and for our delegates as our Community moves into the future in the spirit of our Founder, Anna Dengel.

Caption: Our Society Coordinator, Sister Agnes Lanfermann, lights the “Chapter candle” to officially open our 14th General Chapter.

Sister Jacinta Conlon

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Sister Jacinta Conlon was born in 1923 in New Brunswick, Canada. She worked as a registered nurse before she entered our Community in 1958. After her First Vows in 1961, she was missioned to Holy Family Hospital (HFH), Mandar, India. In 1966, Sister went to Holy Family Hospital, Bombay, to study midwifery. When she returned to HFH Mandar, she taught in the nursing school and worked as a staff nurse until 1975. After a short time serving the sick in a nursing home in Ottawa, Sister participated in the care of our Founder Anna Dengel in Rome. When she returned to the U.S., Sister cared for our elderly Sisters in Philadelphia, then provided respite care in South Carolina and Florida for over 20 years. Since 2008, Sister Jacinta has lived in Philadelphia at our Community’s North American Headquarters where she volunteers in our Mission Development Center.

Our 90th Anniversary

downloadMedical Mission Sisters in 18 nations celebrate our 90th birthday on September 30. As our Founder, Anna Dengel, was “all fire and flame” when she realized she could do something to help women who were denied access to health care in North India in the early 1900s, today–in innumerable ways–we continue to be “fire and flame” for healing and wholeness. Our 550 Canonical members and 100 Associate members feel privileged to keep the fire burning, as we work for justice, wholeness and peace in a world in which too many persons still experience brokenness, suffering and pain.


Caption: Medical Mission Sisters at 90 recommit ourselves to carrying on the “fire and flame” of Anna Dengel, as we strive to be a healing presence among those in need through our lives and many ministries.

Sister Emma Panizales

Panizales_EmmaSister Emma Panizales was born in Cotabato, Philippines, in 1948. She entered our Community in 1973 and made her Final Profession in 1980. She was vocation promotion coordinator and a member of our formation team in the Philippines, living and working in slum areas of Metro Manila. It was there that Sister Emma began a life-long focus on justice and peace work. In 1983 she was missioned to Venezuela. Over the past 30 years, she has been very active with the Justice and Peace Commission of the Conference of Religious in the country and with the formation of young religious in the Theological Institute for the Education of Religious in Caracas. She served as our Sector Coordinator of Latin America from June, 2008 until May, 2015.

“Latidos” Youth Music Group

scan0024Medical Mission Sisters in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, are working with local barrio residents to put an end to violence. One new program, started by Sister Maigualida Riera, is “Latidos,” a youth music group. In only four months, it registered over 100 participants.

Caption: Musicians and singers in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, who are part of the new group, “Latidos.”

Sister Goretti Poovathunkal

Poovathunkal_Goretti-2Sister Goretti Poovathunkal was born in Kerala, South India, in 1932. In 1953 she entered our Community. After Profession, she was assigned to work in the kitchen in the Novitiate in Pune, India. Over the next 35 years, Sister Goretti served our Community in many of our missions of North India, in charge of hospital dietary departments, gardens and farms. She then had a year’s mission experience in the Philippines. Sister helped to develop local leadership wherever she was in mission. During a time of renewal in 2001, she visited the U.S. and saw our Sister Margaret McKenna’s “New Jerusalem Now” ministry in North Philadelphia. She was strongly inspired to return to this mission to share her life with people struggling to recover from addiction. In 2003, after waiting, preparing, and praying for a year, she began mission at “New Jerusalem Now” and stayed for nine years. While living there she also became involved in justice work, especially advocating for affordable housing for those who are poor. In 2013, Sister Goretti repatriated to India. She now lives and provides assistance to our Holistic Health Center in Pune.

Sister Elaine Kohls Honored in Ethiopia

IMG_1421Medical Mission Sisters share the good news of our Sister Elaine Kohls’ recent honor in Wolisso, Ethiopia. She was awarded a Certificate of Merit for her great contribution in providing water to people of the area. There are more than 140 tube wells which started as hand-dug wells under the leadership of Sister Elaine. Ensuring safe and clean water has long been an important part of her ministry. It has led to better health for thousands of women, children and men.

Caption: Sister Elaine Kohls has worked with local Ethiopian leaders to ensure a safe water supply for all.

North American Jubilarians 2015

45Medical Mission Sisters in North America celebrate the Jubilees of seven of our Sisters this year. We honor four Sisters marking their Diamond Jubilees and three who celebrate their Golden Jubilees. A special Mass at our North American Headquarters in Philadelphia recognized these Sisters’ service. Celebrating their 60th anniversaries of First Profession are Sisters Elona Stanchak, Ellen Hummel, Celine Bernier and Isidora Bollich. Sisters Barbara Ann Brigham, Eunice Cudzewicz and Helen Marie McGrath mark their 50th anniversaries. Combined, they have served nearly 400 years as a healing presence to those in need. Please join us in congratulations, prayers, and thanks.

Associate Jane Jones

Jones_Jane, Assoc-2Medical Mission Sister Associate Jane Jones was born in Kingston, Ontario. She went to McGill University in Montreal to study nursing, then became an elementary school teacher, graduating from University in Kingston. Jane worked as a nurse in Canada, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan. During this time she met her husband. In Malaysia, Indonesia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Ivory Coast, she worked mostly in education. She then returned to Indonesia. After reading our Sister Miriam Therese (MT) Winter’s book The Singer and the Song, she felt an instant connection to our healing charism and our work for justice and peace throughout the world. This led Jane to Sister MT’s Women’s Leadership Institute in Hartford, Connecticut, and then to become a Medical Mission Sister Associate in 2005. Jane is the mother of two daughters, and also now a grandmother. She currently lives in Wapakoneta, Ohio. Of Associate life, she says, “The promise that I made in 2005 and that I 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.”

Women’s Circle Celebrates 15 Years

11709908_978259572238065_3769556818776906639_oMedical Mission Sister Lorraine Ryan founded Women’s Circle in 2000 with Sister Joan Carusillo, a Sister of the Holy Cross. A place for underserved women in Boynton Beach, Florida, it marks its 15th anniversary this year. Women’s Circle empowers women to be “all they can be,” while promoting an acceptance and appreciation of cultural diversity. It serves almost 300 women each year, offering classes in English, literacy, computer training, typing, sewing and knitting. It also provides job development services, including career advice, interview techniques, clothing for interviews and support group activities. All services are offered free of charge.

Caption: Sister Lorraine Ryan, co-founder of Women’s Circle in Boynton Beach, Florida, reviews plans for an enlarged facility.

Sister Mariotte Hillebrand

Hillebrand_Mariotte_12Sister Mariotte Hillebrand was born in 1977 in Bad Waldsee, South Germany. She studied theology and social work at Benediktbeuern, Bavaria; Lyon, France; and in Frankfurt, Germany. Sister Mariotte entered our Community in 2006 and her made First Vows in 2008. In the summer of 2012 she was missioned to Taizé, France, and worked with another Sister with a small group of youth from France and from Eastern Germany. In 2013 Sister spent several months with Medical Mission Sisters in Hajipur and Patna, North India. Currently Sister Mariotte serves as a pastoral assistant in a poor and multi-ethnic area of Frankfurt. She also responds to projects like “school fit” where she helps underprivileged children with their education needs. On Easter Monday of this year, Sister Mariotte made her Final Vows as a Medical Mission Sister.


Holy Family Hospital Mandar Milestone

scan0021Medical Mission Sisters in District North India have signed an “Agreement” with the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, Society for Medical Education, North India, regarding the building of a Medical College on the grounds of Holy Family Hospital (HFH) Mandar where we have been in mission since 1947. Our Community will transfer 17 acres of land as a gift deed for the Medical College and will receive in return the wherewithal to build a new De-Addiction Center and Community residence. Medical Mission Sisters will continue to work in vital health and teaching areas of HFH Mandar and HFH Mandar School of Nursing. We also will continue our de-addiction, alternative health care and community health work, as well as our ecological farming among the rural people of the area who still live in great need.

Caption: One of our Sisters, Benedicta Soreng, caring for a child at HFH Mandar.

Sister Belaynesh Abera

Abera_Belaynesh-4Sister Belaynesh Abera was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. After completing her education, she worked at the Cistercian Technical School, where she first met the Medical Mission Sisters. She made her First Vows in our Community in 1987. After pharmacy training, Sister Belaynesh worked at Attat Hospital, then moved to our community-based project in Debre Zeit, Ethiopia. She now works for the Archdiocese of Addis Ababa, coordinating its Justice and Peace Desk, which she set up in 2006. Sister Belaynesh’s work includes preparing and organizing seminars and workshops for religious and political leaders, teachers, parish youth leaders and laity council leaders. Within seven of the area Catholic schools, Sister Belaynesh has started Peace Clubs. She also has produced a guide book to help students explore issues of peace and justice. The enthusiasm and commitment of the young people is a great inspiration to her.


MMS Attend a Conference on the Consecrated Life

getPart (1)Medical Mission Sisters along with pre-Associate, Sister Selena Wilson, OP, attended a special conference on the Consecrated Life at St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, in late June. Sister Sandra Schneiders, IHM, the presenter, spoke on the history of religious life, and how the past would shape our future. She focused on Pope Francis’ view of religious life as a prophetic force in the church.

Caption: Sr. Sandra Schneiders, second from the left, poses with Medical Mission Sisters Katherine Baltazar, Lucy Klein-Gebbinck and Celine Paramundayil, some of our Community’s participants in the conference on the Consecrated Life.

Sister Elly Verrijt

Verrijt_Elly-3Sister Elly Verrijt was born and raised in De Peel, the Netherlands. After college she taught agricultural biology for several years in home economics training schools before she joined our Community in 1966. In 1969 she was missioned to Indonesia where she worked as a health education specialist for 12 years. After post-graduate training in public health nutrition at the Universitas Indonesia in Jakarta, Sister Elly served as a nutritionist in the slums of Surakarta and the villages of Central Java and worked with the local people for better health and living conditions. In 1986 she studied at the Institute for Spiritual Leadership in Chicago and served in our Community’s formation and ongoing formation program for many years. After a live-in experience at Genesis Farm in New Jersey, she knew she had to follow her dream of opening a center for earth studies in the Netherlands. She founded “De Garde,” a center for Ecological Awareness and Spirituality in Udenhout in 1999. After 10 years she turned over the leadership of De Gaarde to a group of dedicated Earth workers. Sister Elly now is an international workshop/retreat leader in Ecological Spirituality and Awareness.

Sister Miriam Therese (MT) Winter’s “transition”

newsOur Sister Miriam Therese (MT) Winter recently completed 34 illustrious years as Professor of Liturgy, Worship, Spirituality and Feminist Studies at Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut. She now will focus her energies on two programs she founded at the Seminary and continues to direct: the Women’s Leadership Institute and the Master’s Degree Program in Transformative Leadership and Spirituality. It’s not a “retirement” for MT, but more of a “transition.”

In photo: Sister Miriam Therese (MT) Winter with Heidi Hadsell, President of Hartford Seminary, at the “transition” party.

The Mystery of Grace

It’s hard not to be affected by the sincere show of forgiveness that the families of those killed at Mother Bethel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, offered to the person who took their loved one’s life. Their broken hearts became heart-wrenching for any of us who followed the tragic events of a mid-June evening and the days after. There was a very special grace in their sharing. In their deep loss and pain, they reached out to the one who caused their anguish…and they forgave him.

Similarly, we remember the Amish community of rural Pennsylvania, who, in an almost unbelievable expression of grace, forgave the man who lined up and killed their young children while they were attending school. Heart-broken themselves, they went to see the killer’s widow and offered forgiveness for what her husband had done to their girls and boys, their families, their community.

Grace. A gift given by a God who loves us and wants us to love, too. Grace. Expressed in often totally unexpected and surprising ways. The actions in Charleston, and those of several years ago in Pennsylvania, show us the best of humankind even in the most terrible of circumstances.

Sister Christi Kancewick’s Vow Renewal

Christi's renewal of vows 051 - CopyMedical Mission Sister Christi Kancewick renewed her Vows for two years on the Feast of Corpus Christi in Philadelphia. She says the occasion “was a great blessing. It was filled with love and support from MMS, community and friends. It was a day of deepening my commitment in this journey of being a Medical Mission Sister.” In mid-July, Sister Christi leaves for an Intersector exposure for one year in Africa. She will be working in Nairobi accompanying our African candidates and doing pastoral work. We congratulate Sister Christi and wish her all the best in the year ahead.

Caption: Sister Christi Kancewick (right), pictured with Sister Lucy Klein-Gebbinck, our Integration Coordinator for North America, recently renewed her Vows for two years. She soon begins a special mission experience with our Sisters in East Africa.

Associate Therese Connolly

tcMedical Mission Sister Associate Therese Connolly was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After graduating from high school in 1964, Therese entered the Medical Mission Sisters as a Canonical member. She studied at St. Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri, where she earned a B.S. in Nursing in 1972. As a Canonical member for 27 years, she provided nursing services to the people of Ghana and Nigeria and was active in formation work. In 1997 she became one of our Associate members. Since the late ’90s, Therese has worked in a variety of nursing positions, including as a Mental Health Intensive Case Manager at the Philadelphia Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center. She says, “It’s my heart’s desire that the beautiful healing charism of our Society influences how I live and all that I do. It is a way of being, not a thing that I do.” Therese recently assumed the role of Residential Care Coordinator for our Sisters in Philadelphia who need skilled nursing care.

Responding to Natural Disasters

in-photos-heatwave-in-india-body-image-1432853070 (1)Medical Mission Sisters join our prayers with those of many in our world for the people who have been deeply affected by the torrential rain and flooding in the United States and the terrific drought and intense heat wave in India. In both disasters, over 2000 people have died. As June begins, there is hope that weather patterns soon will change. May it be so.

Caption: An Indian farmer walks through his drought-ravaged fields. (Photo by Jagadeesh NV/EPA).

Sister Rowena Pineda

Pineda_Rowena 2Sister Rowena Pineda was born in Quezon City, in the Philippines. Before becoming a Medical Mission Sister in 1987, she spent a year visiting MMS in Manila and participating in our mission in Bongao. In 1989 she made her First Vows. Her first mission assignment was to Bongao, Tawi Tawi, where she spent five years working in communications and community health. During this time Sister Rowena also helped train health workers. Her next mission was in Metro Manila, where she lived in poor urban communities, helping develop community-based health programs. She also participated in the education and formation of youth. Sister Rowena was our Formation Coordinator for 12 years and was actively involved in formation and leadership development, counseling and spiritual direction of Women and Men religious of other Congregations. For the past seven years she has been Sector Coordinator of East Asia, coordinating our missions in Indonesia, Pakistan, and the Philippines.

Associate Commitments in North America

Associate commitment May 2015 024Medical Mission Sisters in North America celebrate the recent commitments of six Associate members. They come from Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Washington state. Making first commitments were Pat Coppinger, Mary Crane, Maureen Pryjma and Mary Anne Volk. Five-year commitments were made by Arleen Barlow and Nancy Kaye. These women join 42 other women and men in North America who, as Associates, share our Community values and commit themselves to live as a healing presence wherever they live and work.

Caption: Associate Nancy Kaye from Washington state, left, celebrates her five-year commitment with her mentor, Sister Judy MacDonell

Sister Angelika Kollacks

Kollacks_Angelika 2German-born and raised Sister Angelika Kollacks entered our Community in 1972. With a desire to serve in a large city, she joined several Sisters in creating the Effata Center for Holistic Health to help lower-income people improve their level of wellness. At the center, Sister coordinated health and nutrition education activities and stress reduction techniques; prepared educational courses; and directed spiritual counseling and retreats. After the reunification of Germany, in 1992 she moved to Berlin with Sister Michaela Bank. In an ecumenical center in Marzahn, a satellite town of the former East Berlin, she worked as a music therapist with women who were unemployed or underemployed. In 1995, Sister Angelika graduated with distinction from the Fritz-Perls Institute in Music and Gestalt Therapy. She now leads individual therapy sessions; gives workshops together with a psychotherapist; and sings and uses her many musical instruments in liturgical services.

World Communications Day

As World Communications Day is planned each year, the Pope usually issues a statement about it and its theme. Pope Francis did so for this year’s commemoration a few months ago. “Communicating the Family: A Privileged Place of Encounter with the Gift of Love” is the theme for World Communications Day 2015, celebrated on May 17. One of Pope Francis’ comments on it: “The great challenge facing us today is to learn once again how to talk to one another, not simply how to generate and consume information.”

If we really were to take this message to heart, not only our relationships with our family members but also those in our social and business interactions would likely change. If, for just a few of the 24 hours in the day, we turned off our cell phones, put down our iPads, forgot about Facebook and ignored the temptation to Tweet, maybe we would have time to listen to “the other,” to really “be” with someone. We might find that they are hurting…feeling lonely or ignored. Perhaps they’ve been longing for the opportunity to tell us they admire us…or care. We’ll never know unless, even temporarily, we let our gadgets go.

“Moving Cloud Flowing Water” by Sister Yumiko Nobue

scan0010Medical Mission Sisters announce the availability of a beautiful photo book of the unique life and diverse cultures of the people of Northeast India, where 17 of our Sisters are in mission. “Moving Cloud Flowing Water” contains 145 of Sister Yumiko Nobue’s special photographic memories of a people not very well known to our wider world, as well as Sister’s personal reflections on her life and work among them. Sales of the “coffee-table-style book” will benefit the education of children in Northeast India. The cost of the book is $35.00. Please address all questions regarding its purchase to:

Caption: The cover of the just-released book, “Moving Cloud Flowing Water,” a special photographic remembrance of our Sister Yumiko Nobue of the life of the people of Northeast India

Suicide Prevention in South Dakota

P1040559 (1)Medical Mission Sisters advocate for health and wholeness for all individuals. In Eagle Butte, South Dakota, Sister Katherine Baltazar lives among the Lakota tribe, and is active in the youth suicide prevention team. Once unheard of among native peoples, youth suicide is a sad reality today. Since 2012, Sister has worked as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner at Cheyenne River Health Center. “My work is to provide healing resources in the form of treatment for those suffering from depression and anxiety,” she says. “Some of the problems underlying the high suicide rate are poverty, the lack of economic opportunities on reservations…and trauma from violence.”

Caption: Sister Katherine Baltazar, right, participated in a Good Friday walk for suicide prevention. During it, prayers were said for the healing of communities, and that they be protected from the tragedies of suicide.

Earth Day 2015

Earth Day, first celebrated on April 22 in 1970 was started “to promote ecology and respect for the planet, as well as to encourage awareness of the growing problems of air, water and sea pollution.” It’s amazing how much personal and public growth there has been in the past 45 years toward these goals…and beyond them. Recycling, composting, an eco-friendly lifestyle, and more, are not only part of our everyday vocabularies, but also of our lives. Globally, we earnestly discuss issues of climate change and the ecological crisis and what we as responsible human beings can and should be doing about them.

As part of our current Community-wide Renewal process, Medical Mission Sisters have been exploring how to deepen our healing charism from the ecological perspective. At our Thirteenth General Chapter in 2009 (our highest decision-making meeting, held every six years), our Sisters said, “The Earth shows us that there is enough for all if each one uses only what is needed. The Earth has its own way to organize and heal itself if human beings stop exploiting it. Understanding ourselves more as part of the whole Earth community brings us to a spirit of kinship with all of life. This leads to living with deep gratitude in a mutual relationship of give and take, and to seeing the integral connection between respecting and caring for the community of life and our increased responsibility to manage resources well.”

The critical “ifs” of this statement and its focused call for us to grow in our understanding of being part of something much bigger, and more wonderful, than ourselves, remains a daily challenge for all.

Anna Dengel Day

scan0005Medical Mission Sisters celebrate April 17 as Anna Dengel Day. This year April 17 marks the 35th anniversary of our Founder’s death. But we remember, reflect on and thank God for her 88 years of life. Anna Dengel’s faith and vision helped change the Church’s Canon Law that once banned Sisters from being medical doctors, surgeons and obstetricians. Because of her own and our other members’ dedication over the past 90 years, Medical Mission Sisters from around the world have cared for millions of persons who needed health care and/or longed for healing in their lives.

Our new “Anna Dengel” booklet, pictured above, is available free of charge by writing: It just won an Award of Excellence from the Religion Communicators Council.

Associate Loretta Whalen

Whalen_Loretta-3Medical Mission Sister Associate Loretta Whalen was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1940 and entered the Medical Mission Sisters as a Canonical member in 1961 as an RN. She was missioned to Holy Family Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, and then to Mexico and Venezuela. Loretta then earned her MA in Religious Education. Music was an important part of her ministry—she participated in recording 14 albums of our music including “WomanSong” and “EarthSong.” She also was involved in a music and liturgy-based teaching ministry for several years, beginning in 1971. In 1976, Loretta left Canonical membership but continued her involvement with Medical Mission Sisters. She helped launch our Associate membership, and, in 1984 made her life commitment as a Medical Mission Sisters’ Associate. Loretta was married for 11 years and raised two step-daughters. She then founded the National Council of Churches’ Office, “Education on Issues of Global Peace and Justice,” which she directed for 20 years. Now living in Philadelphia, Loretta is our Associate Membership Coordinator for North America and a member of our Community choir.

What a Difference One Woman Can Make

Medical Mission Sisters mark April 17 each year, as “Anna Dengel Day.” On this day, now 35 years ago, Anna’s time on Earth was completed and she returned to God. But what a difference she made in her 88 years of life!

Even before she founded the Medical Mission Sisters in 1925 in Washington, D.C., Dr. Anna Dengel had spent four years among women and children in desperate need of health care in what was then North India, now Pakistan. She cared for thousands of them, professionally and lovingly, in an area in which the Muslim custom of purdahprevented their being cared for by men. In doing so, she picked up the mantle of another lay doctor, Agnes McLaren, whom she never met but who greatly influenced her life. Dr. McLaren, coincidentally (?), also died on April 17, in 1913.

Anna Dengel’s Medical Mission Sisters, now in their 90th year of service to the sick and poor, have reached out to millions of women, children and men in 43 nations on 5 continents over the years. In addition to offering needed professional health care and health education, the Sisters have trained thousands of local women and men–in Asia, Africa, North and Latin America–how to help their own people to experience the best possible health and at least a measure of wholeness in their lives.

Medical Mission Sisters also have recognized how essential justice is to healing…and how the health of our planet greatly affects the health of its people. We have worked hard, wherever we are in mission, to ensure that individuals are treated with dignity, respect, and as human beings created by God.

It all started with Anna Dengel and her vision of “being there” for others. We as a Community are grateful, indeed, for her courage, inspiration and desire to make a difference among those in need in our world.

Read more about Anna Dengel in a new booklet called “Anna Dengel, M.D., Founder of the Medical Mission Sisters — A Woman Called to Healing and Justice.” Request your free copy at:


Medical Mission Sisters at the UN

Miriam+Pau+land+Celine+1186Medical Mission Sisters and Associates participated in many ways at recent UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) events in New York. Our UN Representative, Sister Celine Paramundayil, helped plan two programs. One included Sister Anima Puspha Toppo, speaking on the “Impact of Mining on Indigenous Women.” The other, “Women’s Spirituality: Pioneering and Transforming,” included Sister Miriam Therese Winter and MMS Associate Christine Schenk as panelists. Sister Miriam Paul (Dr. Hanna) Klaus was a special presenter at a companion NGO forum sponsored by the World Organization Method of the Ovulation Method, Billings.

Caption: From left to right: Sisters Miriam Paul Klaus and Celine Paramundayil, who attended the recent CSW events at the UN.