Author Archive for Administrator – Page 4

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

Conlon_Sr. Janinta ConlonHealing Presence
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.

World Health Day

World Health Day is celebrated on April 7 to mark the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1948. Each year a theme is selected for the day to raise awareness of a special public health concern in our world. The theme for 2015 is “Safe Food: From Farm to Plate. Keep it Safe.”

Our immediate thought about this emphasis on “Food Safety” is probably in relation to the illnesses and deaths we know can and do come from spoiled or contaminated food. Almost 2,000,000 deaths can be attributed annually to them worldwide. The origins of over 200 diseases can be traced to food containing harmful bacteria, parasites, viruses and chemical substances.

With special attention to safety at every level of the growth, harvesting, transportation, storage and preparation of food, these diseases — and a great number of deaths — can be reduced. But what energies can/will we put into helping to change the life circumstances of the millions of people in our world who have only our “throwaway food” to eat?

Easter Blessings

The Easter season is a sacred time of the year.  It is one in which we move from reliving and remembering the suffering and death of Jesus on Good Friday to embracing the joy of the Resurrection, and the deep peace it brings.  The roller-coaster ride of emotions experienced by Jesus’ disciples the week before Easter, the week we call “Holy,” are ours, too.  From a Holy Thursday experience of love, community and service to others, to the agony and crucifixion on Good Friday, then the solemn “quiet”– almost emptiness — of Holy Saturday, we finally come to Easter.  The sun rises on our services, the bells ring out like never before, we don our best light-colored clothing and rejoice!  Alleluia!  Death has been overcome by life — and we can’t contain our joy.

But this Easter experience of joy, peace and the love of God (who is more than we can ever imagine) is not to be held onto.  It is for us to share.  While Easter is celebrated very specially in Chapels and Churches, and even on hillsides, it is meant to be lived in the barrios and villages, the crowded cities and centers where women and men long to know that they and their lives mean something, that they have a purpose in life, that they are loved and loveable.  Our 40-day journey through Lent again transitions to a daily journey of life, reaching out to others in their any and every need, being “Easter people” in a world in great longing for the new life we have to share.

First Vows in Africa

Lt---RT-CHRISTINE-LEKURU-&- (1)Medical Mission Sisters worldwide celebrate the First Vows of two of our members in Africa. Christine Lekuru and Jane Frances Suglo make their First Vows on March 28, 2015, at the Assumption of Our Lady Catholic Church in Nairobi, Kenya. Both women entered our Society in 2013. Christine, from North West Uganda, worked with women’s groups during her community experience in Ang’iya, Kenya. Jane Frances, from North West Ghana, worked in fashion design before becoming a candidate. May God bless them on this special day!

Caption: From left to right: Christine Lekuru and Jane Frances Suglo who make their First Vows on March 28.

Sister Maggie Lupiya

Lupiya_MargaretSister Maggie Lupiya was born in Malawi, Central Africa. After graduating from the Phalombe School of Nursing and Midwifery, she worked at an Anglican hospital. In 1991 she entered our Community. Sister Maggie made First Vows in 1994 and her Final Profession in 1999. Her first mission was to Malawi where she worked as a nurse-midwife at Phalombe Hospital, then taught typing to young girls from poor backgrounds. She also coordinated a life-altering microcredit project for poor widows. After taking community development studies specializing in rural development, Sister Maggie was assigned to Wolisso, Ethiopia, where she was in charge of the Public Health Department of St. Luke’s Hospital. Since 2011 she has been in Kenya, East Africa, serving as our East Africa District Treasurer and a formation team member for Sisters in Temporary Vows. Sister Maggie will be one of four Medical Mission Sisters who will be missioned to Malawi in July, 2015.

Sister Helen Lembeck

Lembeck_HelenSister Helen Lembeck was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1945. She entered the Medical Mission Sisters in 1963 and made her First Vows in 1966. Sister Helen earned a Bachelor’s Degree in accounting from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. From 1969 to 1974 she ministered in Fort Portal, Uganda, as Secretary of Virika Hospital and Treasurer of District East Africa. She then returned to our North American Headquarters in Philadelphia for several years, serving as Treasurer of our Eastern District and working at a private accounting firm. In 1980 Sister Helen returned to Africa, this time to Malawi, where she was business administrator of two hospitals for a total of 10 years. After repatriating to the U.S. in the 1990s, she moved to California, was Treasurer of our Western District, and very active on our North American governing board. In 1995 she earned a Master’s Degree in Business Administration in Global Management from the University of Phoenix. Sister is currently a member of our Leadership team in North America.

“The People’s Parliament”

Copy of scan0002Medical Mission Sisters in East Africa share that a television station in Uganda is bringing attention to women’s issues through a program called, “The People’s Parliament,” recorded and aired in different rural areas of the country. Our African Sector Coordinator, Sister Therese Tindirugamu, says, “The program is aimed at conscientizing the people of Uganda towards women’s rights and covers topics including female genital mutilation, and women’s inheritance and ownership of land and property. Other women’s issues addressed are gender-based violence and maternal health care.

Caption: Bringing attention to women’s issues and equality has always been a special part of our mission.

Sister Beate Glania

0bff205909Sister Beate Glania was born in 1966 in Frankfurt, Germany. She has a Ph.D. in Theology (Pastoral Psychology) and served as a pastoral worker in a number of places and positions. After living for several years in an Ignatian spirituality community, she entered the Medical Mission Sisters in 2004 and made her First Vows in 2006. Sister made her Final Vows in 2010. At the Jesuit’s St. George University in Frankfurt, Sister Beate assists in the spiritual training of students of theology who want to become pastoral workers. She accompanies them through reflection groups, weekends for spiritual input, retreats and spiritual accompaniment. Since 2010 Sister Beate has been the Integration/Formation Coordinator for District Germany. In this area of service for our Community, she journeys very closely with both Canonical and Associate members.

2015 Spring Jubilarians

45Medical Mission Sisters share the joy of 23 of our Sisters who mark special milestones this February and March. Thirteen celebrate their 60th anniversaries of Profession of First Vows, two Sisters mark their 50th anniversaries and eight mark 25 years since they made their First Professions. From North America, India, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Africa, North and South India, England, and Italy, these Medical Mission Sisters together have served over 1,000 years among those in need.

Caption: We congratulate our 23 Sisters around the world who mark their Jubilees this Spring.

International Day of Prayer and Reflection Against Human Trafficking

dagmarMoMOct1Medical Mission Sisters join many others around the world in marking the first-ever “International Day of Prayer and Reflection against Human Trafficking.”  To be held February 8, it has been set by Pope Francis as a day to mobilize attention, reflection and action on a growing evil in our world.  A number of our Sisters are actively involved in raising awareness of and responding to the needs of those who are among the 36 million persons being trafficked today.  Among them is Sister Dagmar Plum, pictured here, with individuals in Europe who have fled trafficking situations.

Caption: Pope Francis has said about human trafficking, “In order to eliminate it, we need a mobilization comparable in size to that of the phenomenon itself.”

Sister Phyllis Backer

IMG_2360_edited-1Sister Phyllis Backer was born in Ferdinand, Indiana, in 1931. Before entering the Medical Mission Sisters in 1955, she received her R.N. from St. Mary’s School of Nursing in Evansville, Indiana. Her first mission was as supervisor of the Pediatric Department of St. Vincent Hospital in Philadelphia. She then began what became 27 years of service to the sick in Pakistan as a nurse-midwife, director of nursing service and community health team member in Karachi, Rawalpindi and Mirpurkhas. In between her Pakistan assignments, Sister Phyllis earned her BSN from St. Louis University and participated in a midwifery refresher course. When she returned to the U.S. in 1987, Sister moved to Baltimore, MD. There she was a member of our formation team and worked as a respite nurse. She co-founded “Anna Center,” a respite care center for sick, homeless women in Washington, DC. When it closed, she worked as a nurse in Baltimore before returning to Philadelphia in 2000. For the past 14 years, Sister Phyllis has been our dedicated and loving Residential Care Coordinator for our Sisters in Philadelphia who need skilled nursing care.

Sister MT Winter Directs New Master of Arts Program

Copy of BEC_2968Medical Mission Sisters’ Miriam Therese Winter is pioneering and directing a Master of Arts Degree in Transformative Leadership and Spirituality at Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut. The 36-credit program is designed to train students for leadership roles in corporate, government and non-profit organizations. Sister Miriam Therese, Professor of Liturgy, Worship, Spirituality and Feminist Studies at Hartford Seminary, says, “I continue to encounter religiously unaffiliated women and men within various faith traditions who are seeking a deeper understanding of the Divine and want to contribute more effectively to peace and cross-cultural harmony in our tumultuous times.”

Caption: For more information on this program, visit:

Sister Marielena Ridad

Ridad_MarielenaSister Marielena Ridad was born on the island of Negros in the Philippines in 1939. She earned a B.S. in Administration before she entered our Community in 1961. Her first assignment was to Germany to assist with the preparation of projects for international funding agencies. She soon returned to the Philippines and helped with vocation promotion work. Sister Marielena then began a decades-long journey with the people of Venezuela that continues today. She served at Hospital Coromoto in Maracaibo for several years. After it closed, she began living and working in the barrio. She helped form a Christian Communities Cooperative and a Center for the Socio-Political Formation. She also helped organize the first group of Medical Mission Sisters Associates in Venezuela. Sister Marielena has served as Sector Coordinator of Latin America and as a Chapter Delegate. She joyfully celebrated her Golden Jubilee last year among the people who claim her heart.

Reopening Mission in Malawi

scan0006Medical Mission Sisters are reopening a mission in Malawi in early 2015. Our first healing presence in the nation, begun in 1959, extended over almost 50 years. Three of our Sisters from Malawi and one from Kenya will now be in mission in partnership with two other Congregations—in Nguludi Catholic Hospital and at the Catholic University; both in the Diocese of Blantyre. We wish them all the best!

Caption: Medical Mission Sister Lilia Conol, who passed away in 2010, was instrumental in involving Malawian communities in assisting AIDS orphans during her many years in mission in the country.

Sister Fernande Pelletier

Pellitier_Fernande-1Sister Fernande Pelletier was born in Fort Kent, Maine. After making her First Vows in 1951, she attended Trinity College and Georgetown University Medical School in Washington, D.C. She then completed her internship and surgical residency at St. Francis Hospital in Trenton, N.J. Her first mission overseas was in 1961 to Holy Family Hospital, Berekum, Ghana, for six years. Sister Fernande then was transferred to a District Medical Hospital in Kiri, Zaire. In 1970 she returned to Berekum, where she still works today. Initially Sister served as the hospital’s only doctor and was called upon to perform everything from surgery to helping with basic sanitary needs. Sister Fernande also traveled to many remote areas of Ghana to care for those with no access to a doctor. Today, she continues her ministry at Holy Family Hospital, with a focus on the isolation ward and outpatient area. Her lifetime of service to the sick and poor has been recognized by the Vatican. In 2007 she received a Papal Award from the Apostolic Nuncio to Ghana.

Associate Cornelia (Conny) Kalz

scan0009Cornelia (Conny) Kalz was born in 1957 in Cottbus in the former GDR, what was once East Germany. She studied dental medicine and worked in the health system of the German Democratic State where the conditions were difficult. People were not allowed to choose their doctor freely, and materials or instruments needed were often found wanting or were not available at all. Conny married and had two children. After political union in the country in 1989, she started a private practice in dentistry with her husband. During this phase of her life, Conny met the Medical Mission Sisters and was drawn to the Community’s holistic approach, healing presence, feminist spirituality and common search for life and its possibilities. She became an Associate member in 2003 and made her Life Commitment in 2009. Studies in medical hypnosis, Qi Gong, and traditional Chinese medicine allow her a different approach towards her patients. Together with them, she tries to more fully understand that body, spirit and soul are one.

World AIDS Day 2014

dec012007Medical Mission Sisters join many others in marking December 1 as World AIDS Day. According to estimates, 35 million people are currently living with HIV/AIDS, including 3.2 million children around the world. Our Sisters care deeply for those affected by HIV and AIDS. In many nations, we are involved in hands-on care of those who are suffering with HIV/AIDS; in training caregivers and counselors; in teaching HIV/AIDS prevention; in working with parishes and dioceses to establish programs to care for AIDS orphans; and in being AIDS buddies.

Caption: This lovely Ugandan woman lost her husband to AIDS just after their baby was born. Then she herself died.

Sister Elaine Kohls

Kohls_ElaineBorn and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, Sister Elaine Kohls entered the Medical Mission Sisters in 1955 at the age of 18. After college, her first overseas assignment was to Ghana, where she spent nearly 15 years in administration at Holy Family Hospital, Berekum, and Holy Family Hospital, Techiman. In 1983 Sister returned to the U.S. and earned her Master’s Degree in International Development at Iowa State University. She then became Hospital Administrator of Attat Hospital in Attat, Ethiopia, in 1984. Later, Sister Elaine became the Manager of St. Luke Catholic Hospital and College of Nursing in Wolisso, Ethiopia, when it opened in 2001, and continued this role until 2013. Ensuring safe and clean water has been an important part of Sister Elaine’s ministry. At the Lower Damakase Spring near Wolisso, a group of development workers from Canada, along with local Christian and Muslim leaders and Sister Elaine, worked together to ensure a safe water supply for the community. She is currently District Coordinator for Ethiopia.

Mendipathar Multipurpose Cooperative

scan0006Medical Mission Sister Rose Kayathinkara founded the Mendipathar Multipurpose Cooperative Society in North East India in 1998 to enable marginal farmers to circumvent the unjust practices of middlemen and moneylenders. Since then, she has seen many women gain knowledge, confidence and income to help support themselves and their families. The cooperative sells food and essential commodities like consumer goods, stationery, utensils and clothes. In 2003 it started poultry farming and in 2008 dairy farming. Its objective is to provide milk at affordable prices, and to educate the people in eco-friendly and organic farming, recycling of waste water, and production of bio-gas.

Caption: “Through the years, I am happy to note that the livelihood of the people has improved. However, we have miles to go and we need to create more awareness of what still can be done,” says Sister Rose, above right.

Sister Yumiko Nobue

Nobue, YumikoSister Yumiko Nobue was born in Tokyo, Japan, and raised as a Buddhist/Shintoist. She became a Christian when she was 18, then came to the U.S. in 1981 as an exchange student. In 1991, after studying veterinary medicine and teaching in a Japanese high school, she returned to the U.S. to study nursing at Catholic University of America, where she learned about the Medical Mission Sisters. Sister Yumiko entered our Community in 1995. Her first assignment was to our Holistic Health Center in Pune, India, where she returned after making her Final Vows in 2003. While in the Philippines preparing for Final Vows, she facilitated a course in foot reflexology for a group of massage therapists who are blind. In 2007, she was missioned to Mendipathar, North East India, and used her expertise in acupuncture, acupressure, massage and herbal medicine. Sister Yumiko is now based in Tokyo to care for her aging parents. She also is a teaching assistant at Sophia University and spends several months each year in Mendipathar doing vocation promotion.

75 Years in Philadelphia

associate Loretta Whalen and pre candidate Evelyne MballaMedical Mission Sisters were joined recently by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM, Cap, in celebrating our 75 years in mission in Philadelphia. This special Mass and Reception, attended by Medical Mission Sisters from Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, and North America, also marked the beginning of the 90th year of our Society. In his homily at the Mass, the Archbishop spoke of the “virtue of anger” and of our Founder Anna Dengel’s own anger at the injustices she saw against women and children in North India in the 1920s that led to our founding. Keep living her anger, and yours, at what needs to be changed in our world, the Archbishop said.

Caption: Associate Loretta Whalen, left, and pre-candidate Evelyne Mballa pray together at Mass.

Sister Jane Coyle

scan0011Sister Jane Coyle was born in Philadelphia but grew up in Atlantic City, New Jersey. She entered the Medical Mission Sisters in 1946. Sister Jane has served in a number of administrative, leadership and formation roles for our Community, in the U.S., in England, and in the Philippines. In 1981, she became involved in pastoral work at Corpus Christi Parish in Baltimore. She was named the Pastoral Director of the parish by the bishop, becoming the first woman in the Archdiocese of Baltimore to hold such a position. Over the next 13 years, she worked with other parish leaders in a fully collaborative ministry. In 1991, Sister received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the University of Baltimore. She stepped down from her responsibilities as Pastoral Director in 2002, but continued to be involved in parish ministries. Today she assists our internal communications department at our North American Headquarters in Philadelphia.