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Archive for 2016Archives

Sister Bimla Toppo

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

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

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

“If You Love” Book Release

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

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

Associate Jane Jones

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

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

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

Women’s Circle News

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

 

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

Sister Bernadette Rini Dwi Astuti (Rini)

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

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

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

Mission in Venezuela

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

 

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

Sister Agnes Lobo

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

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

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

Leo House Dedicates a Room to Anna Dengel

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

Sister Rita Schiffer

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Sister Rita Schiffer, an obstetrician-gynecologist from Germany, has served at Attat Hospital in Attat, Ethiopia, for the past 19 years. Now its Medical Director, she has seen a great improvement in the health conditions of women coming to the hospital for difficult births.  This in great part is due to the Medical Mission Sisters’ extensive safe motherhood program and to the “Waiting Area” they constructed on the hospital grounds for delivery of the highest risk mothers-to-be.

Born in 1957, Sister Rita entered our Community in 1978 during her medical studies.  She made First Vows in 1980 and her Final Vows in 1986.  Sister served as an Ob-Gyn doctor in Ghana, then Germany, before being missioned to Ethiopia.

Recently interviewed by Global Reports of the National Catholic Reporter newspaper, Sister Rita says, “When a group works in the same project it can really change things.  Instead of every 10 years, going in this direction and then in that direction, the continuity of a religious group is good for a project.  Although the people may change, the direction or the priorities remain the same.”

In her almost two decades at Attat Hospital, Sister has experienced many changes including a notable reduction in the occurrence of fistula damage in women during labor and delivery. She also is helping to lead the way in diagnosing and treating cervical cancer.

New Associate Leadership Team in North America

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Medical Mission Sisters announce a new Coordinating Team for our Associates Program in North America.  Associates Theresa O’Connor and Jane Jones and current Associate Program Assistant, Maria Mele, will continue the wonderful work begun by Loretta Whalen, Associate Coordinator since 2007.  The transition to new leadership for our Associate Program takes place in mid-October.   Associates are lay women and men who are committed to living the vision and values of the Medical Mission Sisters within the context of their own lives, work and relationships.

Caption:  Loretta Whalen, Theresa O’Connor, Jane Jones, Maria Mele

Sister Katherine Baltazar

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Sister Katherine Baltazar, a psychiatric nurse in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, is passionate about the health and well-being of the Lakota Sioux Native Americans with whom she lives.  She has been in this community since 2012, working in suicide prevention and raising awareness of the dangers of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).  She says of FAS, “It is one of the few medical conditions that is 100% preventable.” 

Born in Washington, D.C., in 1955, Sister Katherine began her professional career with degrees in nursing, science and psychology.  She lived in Europe for several years and studied at the Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland, returning to the U.S. to obtain her Master’s Degree in psychiatric mental health nursing from Columbia University in 1994.  Traveling from Arizona to New Zealand and Australia, and then to Hawaii, she developed an interest in native people, herbal medicine, culture and community development. 

Sister Katherine entered our Community in 2003, made her First Vows in 2005 and her Final Vows in 2010.  While in Philadelphia, she ministered in New Jerusalem Now, a program for recovering addicts.  She earned a post-Master’s Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner certificate from Drexel University before beginning her current mission among the Lakota Tribe.  “I chose psychiatric-mental health nursing because I wanted to help alleviate some of the suffering of people,” says Sister Katherine.

Miriam Therese Winter Chair

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

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

 

Into the Future Newsletter

Into The Future 

Vigil for Refugees

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Medical Mission Sisters in Germany recently joined other Christians in mourning the close to 3000 refugees who died in the Mediterranean Sea this year trying to escape life-threatening circumstances at home.  Catholics and Protestants organized a vigil to honor those who lost their lives.  In the heart of Frankfurt City, they erected a wooden cross and stood in a circle around it as darkness fell. The cross was crafted from planks of a refugee’s boat which crossed the Mediterranean Sea and finally arrived in Lampedusa, Italy.  There was time for silent prayer and all were invited to light a candle in memory of the refugees who died.

Sister Teresita Hinnegan

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Teresita Hinnegan was born in McKinley, Pennsylvania, in the late 1920’s. She entered our Society in 1948, made her First Vows in 1951 and her Final Vows in 1956.  She received her RN in 1954, and was missioned to Holy Family Hospital in Dacca, Bangladesh, where she became certified as a nurse-midwife. She was a nurse supervisor there for six years. She also held several administrative positions at St. Michael’s Hospital in Bangladesh. In 1969 she returned to the U.S. and served as Eastern District Superior. Sister Teresita added an MSW to her academic career in 1981. She was a 20-year faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing where she established the Nurse-Midwifery Distance Learning Training Program for the recruitment and training of certified nurse-midwives in underserved areas of rural Pennsylvania.  She continues to be a local and state advocate for maternal/child health in Pennsylvania.  In 2007, she co-founded Dawn’s Place, a non-profit organization and residential program.  Dawn’s Place provides trafficked women with sexual-trauma recovery therapy, access to addiction counseling and education and life-skills training. Sister Teresita also opened the Center for the Empowerment of Women in Philadelphia in 2007 where she continues to be actively involved in raising awareness about the human rights of women and girls, how they are violated, and identifying best practices for prevention.  A champion in the prevention of violence against women, Sister Teresita says, “Violence against women is present in every society.  It’s a slow, uphill climb to make both overt and covert violence against women more visible in order to mobilize advocates to work at solutions.” 

Mother Teresa becomes Saint Teresa

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

Sister Catherine Osei

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Sister Catherine Osei was born in Ghana and entered our Community in 2001, making her First Vows in 2003. In 2009 she completed a course in Nursing Administration at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration.  Since 2010 she has been in charge of the Outpatient Department at Holy Family Hospital in Techiman, Ghana, and it was there that she made her Final Vows at Techiman Cathedral. In 2011 she was the senior staff nurse at HFH.  While working at HFH she also continued her studies at the Catholic University College of Ghana and graduated in 2012 with a BSc in Health Administration and Management. Sister Catherine has served as vocation contact for the Western District of Africa, secretary to the Techiman Diocesan Vocation Promotion Team, co-treasurer for District Africa, a member of the Liturgy Commission and Cathedral Parish Pastoral Council member. In 2016 she was elected the new Unit Coordinator for our Community in West Africa.

HEAL (Haven for Ecological and Alternative Living) Anniversary

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Medical Mission Sisters in the Philippines are celebrating the 10th anniversary of HEAL (Haven for Ecological and Alternative Living).  Located in Villasis, HEAL advocates a new way of looking at our threatened planet and shares alternative ways toward more sustainable lives and communities.  Established in 2006, HEAL offers a variety of programs to religious organizations, schools and other groups.  Daily Earth care, meditation, reflection, group sharing and liturgies help participants experience a new way of appreciating and relating to the larger community of life.

Caption: Visitors at HEAL spend time planting vegetables that will become part of another group’s meals. 

 

Sister Daphne Norden

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Sister Daphne Norden was born in England in 1936.  Before entering the Medical Mission Sisters in 1978, she taught biochemistry for seven years at the University of London and for 15 years in the University of Zimbabwe. Sister Daphne worked with the Movement for a Better World, promoting the value of Christian community. In 1980 Sister Daphne made her First Vows and her Final Vows in 1984.  After two years in London with an interdenominational hospital chaplaincy team, she was missioned to Karachi, Pakistan, where she worked at Holy Family Hospital as a counselor to nursing students and in hospital ministry for seven years. She returned to London and served as District Coordinator for our Community and was a member of our General Assembly. Sister Daphne has been very involved in mission promotion, raising awareness of justice issues, editing the UK “Medical Mission News” magazine and also its website. She shares, “Mission for me now is looking for ways to establish God’s reign on our world and working for justice for people living in poverty.”

Sister Mary Em McGlone’s Award

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Medical Mission Sisters share the exciting news that our Sister Mary Em McGlone had her artistic talents recognized by the Pennsylvania Water Color Society.  One of her paintings was accepted into its highly competitive 37th Annual International Juried Exhibition.  She also received two awards at the Gallery reception for her painting, Bruges, a rendering of a street in Belgium.  After a professional career of nursing, Mary Em began painting images that evoke a sense of peace and centeredness to counteract the stressful effects of the constantly negative images in media.   To this end, she also shares the therapeutic value of art through watercolor classes and workshops.

Caption: Sister Mary Em with Sister Sue Sopczynski at the Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art in Millersburg, PA.

Summer Jubilarians

scan0005Medical Mission Sisters around the world mark the anniversaries of 25 Sisters who celebrate their 60th, 50th and 25th Jubilees this August.  With a combined 1,285 years of service, we congratulate all who are celebrating in North America, India, the Philippines, Kenya and England.  Six Sisters mark their Diamond Jubilees, 18 Sisters mark their Golden Jubilees, and one her Silver Jubilee.  Another 22 of our Sisters celebrate their Jubilees in other months in 2016.

Caption: Congratulations to all Medical Mission Sisters who celebrate their special anniversaries this summer!

Sister Kathleen Fitzgerald

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Sister Kathleen Fitzgerald was born in Jersey City, New Jersey.  After high school she became a registered nurse and served in the U.S. Army Nurses Corp during World War II, stationed in England.  She entered our Community after the war.  Her first mission assignment was Holy Family Hospital (HFH) Rawalpindi, Pakistan, as a nurse and then nurse midwife.  In 1955 Sister Kathleen returned to the United States to serve as our Postulant Mistress; she also subsequently served as Novice Mistress in South Shields, England, and in Lipa City, the Philippines.  In 1967 she began several years of nursing at Holy Family Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, then returned to HFH Rawalpindi, where she was Directress of the School of Nursing.  After returning to the U.S. in the early 1970s, she continued her education, receiving a B.A. in Health Sciences and Community Health Education, an M.S. in Pastoral Counseling, and a Certificate of Advanced Study in Pastoral Counseling.  In 1992 she co-founded the Anna Center, a medical respite care center for homeless women in Washington, D.C.  From 1995 until 2008 Sister Kathleen accompanied hundreds of women in prison at the Maryland Correctional Institute for Women in Jessup.  Her ministry included Myers-Briggs testing to help the women identify their strengths and weaknesses, especially important for their new lives after release.  Sister Kathleen now resides in Philadelphia where she is involved in a variety of support services  for our Community.

Raising Awareness of Human Trafficking at the DNC

Trafficking City HallMedical Mission Sisters are raising awareness of Human Trafficking at the Democratic National Convention this week in Philadelphia.  Sisters Teresita Hinnegan, Sue Sopczynski and others will be distributing information at the Convention Center on Human Trafficking and safe housing for girls and women who have been prostituted.  Sister Mary Em McGlone helped with the initial poster art on Human Trafficking on display at bus shelters in Center City; Sister Sue led negotiations for their placement.   Sister Teresita states, “If you can raise the awareness enough and get enough people interested, they can work a change in systems that allowed this kind of violence to happen.” 

Caption: Medical Mission Sisters are present at the DNC to bring attention to human trafficking.

Sister Beate Harst

Bottrop community2Sister Beate Harst was born in Germany in 1961 and entered our Community in 1988.  Two years later she made her First Profession of Vows.  During her early formation years as a Medical Mission Sister, Sister Beate served as a nursing aide in a hospital and became interested in pastoral care for the sick.  In 1995, Sister Beate made her Final Vows, then went to Holy Family Hospital Techiman, Ghana.  From 1996 to 1999 she served there as a hospital chaplain. In recent years, Sister Beate has been living her mission of healing presence as a hospital chaplain in Bottrop, Germany.  Sister Beate’s work includes spending time with the hospital staff, listening to their needs and experiences.  In addition to ministering to the sick, the dying and the grieving, she also conducts workshops and accompanies individuals on their spiritual journey.   She shares, “My work is like holding a beautiful, colorful and precious stone in my hand. The people I am working and sharing life with are as colorful as the stone. Each life experience is so different. Each experience of sickness, of crises, of dying is so different.”

20 Years of Women’s Leadership Institute

244cb0fd-b9e9-48a8-ab44-c61fdf3f812aMedical Mission Sisters share the good news of the 20th anniversary of Women’s Leadership Institute (WLI) at Hartford Seminary.  This Fall, WLI’s founder, our Sister Miriam Therese (MT) Winter, will again lead women from different backgrounds and faith traditions through a nine-month journey of bonding, discovering and rebirth.  Sister MT says, “The strength of this experience-based program lies in its capacity to speak honestly to the deepest of needs, to listen to and affirm women wherever they are on their journey, and to offer a rich mix of theory and theology, prayer and practical application, as the basis for facilitating leadership, and as substance for transformative change.”

 Caption: Sister Miriam Therese (MT) Winter shown here with a 2015 WLI graduate.

“It Is Good for Us to Be Here: Catholic Religious Institutes As NGOs at the United Nations”

UNMedical Mission Sisters have been involved in the United Nation for over 25 years.  In the book It Is Good for Us to Be Here: Catholic Religious Institutes As NGOs at the United Nations, stories and experiences from Catholic Communities, including Medical Mission Sisters, are shared.  NGOs of Institutes of Religious Life have been the most influential faith-based non-governmental organizations (NGOs) at the United Nations.  This collection of essays speaks to the moral and ethical consciousness they bring to the entire process of peace and development.  In this book, our current UN Representative, Sister Celine Paramundayil, shares, “We use every possible opportunity at the UN to raise the issues affecting people who live in poverty.”

Caption: “Involvement at the UN is an extension of the healing ministry of Medical Mission Sisters,” says Sister Celine. “The goal is to have a life of dignity for all human beings who are created in the image of God.”

Associate Therese Connolly

Connolly_Therese 6-16-12Medical 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 desiring to be a Canonical member. She studied at St. Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri, where she earned a B.S. in Nursing in 1972.  For 27 years, she provided nursing services to the people of Ghana and Nigeria and was active in formation work.  After ending her Canonical Membership 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.”  Since early 2015, Therese has been the Residential Care Coordinator for our Sisters in Philadelphia in need of skilled nursing care.

Sisters in Mandar, India, Participated in Turnover Ceremony

news june 2016Medical Mission Sisters in Mandar, India, recently participated in the ceremony marking the official turnover of ownership of Holy Family Hospital (HFH) and Holy Family Hospital School of Nursing to the Catholic Bishops Conference of North India.  The Bishops Conference will develop them into a new medical college for North India.  Our Sisters have administered and overseen direction of HFH Mandar for the past 69 years and in these almost seven decades have served tens of thousands of persons.  Some Sisters will remain on the hospital and nursing school staff.  Others will continue and/or expand other Mandar ministries including a De-addiction Center, a Complementary Health Care Service, Community-Based Health Care and Organic Farming.

Caption: The banner displayed at the official turnover of ownership of HFH Mandar to the Catholic Bishops Conference of North India.

Sister Norys Navas

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Sister Norys Navas was born in Carona, Lara state, Venezuela.  At the age of 20, she moved to Barrio El Trompillo and became a member of an apostolic youth fraternity.  It was during this time that she felt very much a part of the Church and wanted to help provide jobs for young people.  She discovered a talent for making handicrafts (ceramic crosses, nativity figures, etc.) and gave workshops to young people, women and children.  In 1994 Sister Norys met the Medical Mission Sisters, and began participating in formation meetings, retreats and conferences that were held in Maracaibo and Caracas.  She joined our Community in Caracas, making her First Vows in 2001.  In Maracaibo Sister Norys studied special child care and taught handicrafts to women. She worked at Fe y Alegria School as a Pastoral Coordinator in Maracaibo and then as a Pastoral Coordinator for a school in Caracas.  Sister Norys later served in the Padre Machado Hospital among people with cancer and then at the Algodonal Hospital for people with AIDS.  It was here that she first learned massage and relaxation exercises in caring for patients.  In 2011, Sister Norys made her Final Vows.  Since 2014 Sister Norys has been in mission in Arequipa, Peru, where she works with the Community of Families and Comprehensive Rehabilitation (COFARI), an outreach program for children with disabilities and their families.

Prayers for our Sisters in Venezuela

DSCN5588Medical Mission Sisters in Venezuela ask for our prayers for the continuing hardships in life that the people among whom they serve, and so many other Venezuelans, are experiencing.  A State of Exception and Economic Emergency is now in place in the nation.  Almost all continue to be affected by the lack of food and medical supplies.  Some people have to wait in a queue for more than five hours for basic commodities, if there still are any to be purchased (at exorbitant prices) when they reach the front of the line.  Public offices are now open only on Monday and Tuesday and schools hold classes only two days a week.  This has been decreed “to help save water and electricity.”   Despite all this, “we continue to hope and dream,” our Sisters write.  “Hopefully actions which will help transform for the better will go along hand in hand with the dreams and hopes we share.”

Caption: Our Sisters in Venezuela continue to be a healing presence among people living in great need today.

Sister Lucy Klein-Gebbinck

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Sister Lucy Klein-Gebbinck was born in Canada in 1954.  She earned a B.A. in Education with a focus on Special Education from the University of Alberta.  Before entering our Community in Philadelphia in 1988, she worked as a teacher in Alberta; taught English in Katsina, Nigeria, and in Pago Pago, Samoa; and served with Volunteer International Christian Service (VICS) in Alberta.  After an initial period of religious formation, she moved into a ministry of holistic health. She became a certified massage therapist and worked as a health education and wellness coordinator for three years in Florida.  The needs then drew her to Camden, New Jersey, one of the poorest and most violent cities in the U.S.  She lived and worked there for several years with another Medical Mission Sister, beginning “Camden Wellness” which provided health and education services to clients that otherwise couldn’t afford them.  For the past three years she and fellow holistic health practitioner and partner in mission, Fiona Hesketh, have been implementing a massage outreach program in the city called “Healing SPIRIT” (Strengthening People in Releasing The Impact of Trauma).  Sister Lucy says, “In low-key ways, our presence makes a difference.  And it is mutual.  We learn from each other — it is an exchange.  We grow together.”  She also is the Integration Coordinator for our Community in North America.

Sister Therese Tindirugamu (T.T.)

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Sister Therese Tindirugamu (“T.T.”) from Uganda has been our Sector Africa Coordinator for the past six years.  She first learned about Medical Mission Sisters when she completed a three-year training program in nursing at Virika Hospital in Fort Portal, Uganda.  In 1980 she entered our Community.  After making her First Vows in 1984, Sister T.T. studied midwifery and took advanced studies in religion, spiritual counseling and pastoral work.  Her first assignment was to Ghana, West Africa, where she spent three years working as a nurse at Holy Family Hospital, Techiman. For many years, Sister T.T. accompanied African women on their journeys toward becoming Medical Mission Sisters, first for our District East Africa, then for all of our Sector Africa.  She also served as the District Coordinator for East Africa. After serving two terms as District Coordinator of Medical Mission Sisters in East Africa, she coordinated justice and peace efforts for the Major Superiors of Religious Institutes in Uganda, and also gave retreats and on-going formation workshops throughout the country.  Sister T.T. now begins a new ministry in East Africa.

Associate Commitments Spring 2016

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMedical Mission Sisters in North America celebrate the recent commitments of eight of our Associate members.   Making first commitments were Carole Roberti, Mary Taylor and Selena Wilson, OP.  Five-year commitments were made by Maureen Prjyma, Mary Crane, Pat Coppinger and Maryann Volk.  Mary Anne Crowley made her life commitment as an MMS Associate.  These women, from many different walks of life, share our Community values and commit themselves to live as a healing presence wherever they live and work.

Caption: Pat Coppinger, who made her five-year commitment as a Medical Mission Sister Associate, reads from Scripture at the Commitment Liturgy.

Celebrating 90 Years of Healing Presence–Newsletter

Click to read “Celebrating 90 Years of Healing Presence” newsletter

Sister Bina Stanis

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Sister Bina Stanis, originally from Tamil Nadu, was raised in Nagpur, Maharashtra, and entered our Community in 1985.  She earned her Master’s degree in sociology and for many years has been involved with those in need at the grassroots level.  In Jharkhand, India, she has had a special ministry of justice among those who have been removed from their tribal homeland by the coal mining industry.  Sister Bina also is committed to the empowerment of indigenous people. She is involved with the Jharkhand Mine’s Area Coordination Committee, an alliance of communities fighting mining companies, so the people can hold onto their property and land rights. “For indigenous peoples all over the world, land is sacred,” says Sister Bina.  In addition to helping the indigenous people struggle to keep their homelands, she also helps them to meet their health needs. Sister Bina directs the activities of health centers in Kasiadhi, Horomocha and Lopongtandi, where the villagers built their own center after years of trying to access the government health facilities. Many now experience health and healing for the first time in their lives. Sister Bina, who celebrated her Silver Jubilee in 2012, was recently elected a North India Unit Coordinator for our Community.

Our New Society Leadership Team Takes Office

leadershipMedical Mission Sisters gathered in London, England, on April 17 for the transition of our international leadership.   Sister Irene Fernandez, pictured here at the ceremony, is our new Society Coordinator.  She is joined by Sisters Edith Dug-yi, Bernadette Rini Dwi (Rini), Rosemary Ryan and Maria Fernanda Ramirez Rivera (Mafe) as our new Society Leadership Team.  Sisters Agnes Lanfermann and Elizabeth Vadakekara now go on to new ministries in Germany and India respectively.  


Caption: Sister Irene Fernandez from India is our new Society Coordinator.

Sister Birgit Weiler

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Sister Birgit Weiler was born in Duisburg, Germany, in 1958 and entered our Community in 1978.  She has spent more than 20 years living and working in Peru. Sister Birgit shares, “In Peru, I first worked in Arequipa and then for several years in Lima in parishes in poor peri-urban areas. Every day was and is for many families today a struggle for survival.” In Lima, she taught at the Jesuit University Antonio Ruiz de Montoya.  She then returned to Germany, where she wrote a thesis on social justice and the environment for her doctoral degree in intercultural theology at the Goethe-University in Frankfurt. Sister worked as a volunteer in the female prison in Frankfurt, mainly with women from Latin America. In 2012, she received the “Erwin Kräutler” award from the Catholic Faculty of the University in Salzburg, Austria. The award recognizes her studies and doctoral thesis on intercultural studies on creation and the cosmos vision of indigenous people in Peru.  Today, Sister Birgit works from Lima, Peru, as a theological adviser on issues of environmental justice, helping to generate criteria to guide the position and action of the Church in socio-environmental conflicts, especially in mining communities.

Associate Michelle Malo-Esposito’s Holistic Healing Ministry

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Medical Mission Sisters’ Associate Michelle Malo-Esposito runs a wellness center with her husband Dr. Joseph Esposito, who is a chiropractor.  Some of the treatments of their Life Wellness Centre in Herndon, Virginia, include yoga therapy, chiropractic acupuncture, massage therapy and nutrition.  Michelle, a registered yoga instructor and certified fitness professional, began her interest in healing in the 1980s and studied basic massage with our Sister Mary Em McGlone.  This work, she says, “inspired me to continue more study. I went on to develop my own style of working with therapeutic yoga and integrating it with massage therapy and clinical social work to help individuals along their healing journey.” Michelle, who made her Life Commitment as an Associate in 2013, says she enjoys meeting students in every stage of life and helping them to enhance their quality of life through the healing benefits of yogic arts. 

Caption: Michelle Malo-Esposito outside her and her husband’s Life Wellness Centre. For more information, visit www.lifewellnesscentre.com

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

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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


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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: mms@hartsem.edu

Sister Rose Teresa Kujur

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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

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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

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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.