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MMS in India Help to Launch “Help to Each Other”

Medical Mission Sisters (MMS) in Hajipur, Patna, are working to secure education and financial support for seven recently orphaned Dalit children. Sister Smita Parmar says that the children were in shock when she visited them shortly after their parents’ sudden deaths. Collaborating with other local groups, MMS organized a program called “Help to Each Other” to provide the children with food, clothing and other necessities.

Caption: Sister Smita Parmar is pictured second from right in the first row, along with the children and others from their village. 

Sister Dolores Kannampuzha

In the early 1970’s, Sister Dolores Kannampuzha came upon a group of police officers in the town of Kottayam in Kerala, South India. Their batons raised, they were clearly intent on beating several local women engaged in prostitution. When Sister Dolores stepped in the way and asked them to beat her instead, the officers walked away.

“The war ended for the time being,” Sister Dolores said. “At that time what came to my mind was the Gospel story of the adulterous woman. The crowd and all those who came to stone her put down their stones and went back one by one. Jesus and the woman left at the end.”

Since entering the Medical Mission Sisters (MMS) in her native Kottayam, in 1952, Sister Dolores has devoted her life to helping the most marginalized members of society, including those incarcerated and those without homes. Since its founding in 1999, she has led the Cancer and AIDS Shelter Society (CASS), helping to spread awareness of AIDS/HIV as well as provide homecare and life-saving treatment. On a recent International Women’s Day, Sister Dolores was honored by the Kottayam YMCA as an outstanding woman in social work. In summer 2018, when South India was hit by a devastating flood, she and other MMS in the community opened their facilities to survivors and helped to distribute food, clean water and other supplies.

Associate Dr. Erika Voss

There was a time when Associate Dr. Erika Voss wrote secret letters to the Medical Mission Sisters. A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, her parents worried about her moving too far away from home. After attending Marquette University and securing a summer job in the local County Hospital, she realized how strongly she wanted to be involved in the medical field. Eventually Dr. Voss’s parents accepted the idea of her leaving home and she entered MMS on her 21st birthday in 1949. She completed medical studies in 1956 at Georgetown University and afterwards served as a physician and surgeon in Bangladesh, Ghana, India, Pakistan and Uganda. In the U.S., Erika joined two other MMS in Rossville, Tennessee, helping the Poor People’s Health Council establish their clinic. In 1974 Erika left the official MMS community and, returning to Wisconsin, she spent six years in a rural community that had been without a doctor for twelve years.  She later worked in an inner-city clinic which served the poor and volunteered at a medical clinic for those without homes. Now retired, Erika Voss has been an MMS Associate since 1984. Her activities center around helping with projects at a homeless clinic, being a medical consultant at a local food pantry, doing water quality testing in the river and gardening. She shares, “The two greatest gifts I have received in life are my two families: The one I was born into and Medical Mission Sisters.”

Recovering from the Kerala Flood

Medical Mission Sisters in South India are assisting relief efforts at flood camps in Kerala, India. They were able to access emergency funding from the Hilton Fund for Sisters, and went to the camps last week, helping in any way they could with the immediate needs of flood survivors, such as purchasing commodes for two paralyzed persons, and offering a healing presence to the families they visited.

Sister Angelika Kollacks

As a child, Sister Angelika Kollacks moved from Canada to Austria, and then from Austria to Germany. Music and singing were the only constants in her life and they are still her passion today. After entering the Medical Mission Sisters (MMS) in Essen, West Germany, in 1972, she studied music and gestalt-therapy. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1992, Sister Angelika went to Berlin with Sr. Michaela Bank to establish a counselling center to help lower-income people improve their level of wellness. She also worked as a music therapist for local women and, in 1995, she graduated with distinction from the Fritz-Perls Institute in Music and Gestalt Therapy.

Today, Sister Angelika has her own music therapy practice, where clients might experience one of several healing techniques involving the use of sound, like lying down in what looks like a canoe, which has ten strings on each side that are played to elicit the sensation of being held.

“I rely on God being present in every person, and I trust in the healing power inside everyone,” Sister Angelika shares. “Music touches us on a deep level and evokes memories, emotions and different worlds. It helps us to connect with the spiritual ground in ourselves, with the cosmos, with God.”

 

Sister Evelyne-Mathilde Mballa

A native of Cameroon, Sister Evelyne-Mathilde Mballa was a healing presence long before she became a Medical Mission Sister (MMS). She earned social work degrees in Cameroon and later in France, where she eventually became a citizen. Through her positions with various governmental and nongovernmental agencies Sister Evelyne has worked with marginalized groups including migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, indebted individuals and families and HIV-positive pregnant women. She has also worked in child protection services and with those suffering from physical and mental disabilities.

When she first encountered Medical Mission Sisters in Ghana, their mission of being a healing presence resonated strongly with Sister Evelyne. She reached out to our Community, moved to the United States and joyfully made her First Profession of Vows in 2017. Today, Sister Evelyne is engaged in a “ministry of presence” in Camden, N.J., where she is a healing presence to refugees at Catholic Charities Services, helping them to settle into new apartments, teaching them English, and comforting their children as they adjust to their new environment.

“My heart is joyful and refreshed whenever I meet those kids,” Sister Evelyne reflects. “I am also filled with hope knowing that I am beholding the next American generation, because the integration of newcomers in America has been the soul of America and has built the American dream for centuries.”

 

Sister Emily Kottaram

A native of Kerala, South India, Sister Emily Kottaram was deeply affected by her parents’ compassion for those on the bottom of the country’s caste system. Her parents “planted the first seeds” of her desire to become a world citizen, eventually leading her to join the Medical Mission Sisters in 1966. After earning a degree in nursing, Sister Emily was inspired by Mother Anna Dengel’s call to “go to places where no one wants to go.” She spent nine years volunteering for a pioneering Primary Health Care ministry in Abease, a remote village in Ghana.

Sister Emily reflects: “Those years have a very special place in my heart. They are stories of growth, mutuality, letting go, conversion, empowering others, entering lives of people, and learning the richness of their culture, being loved and accepted.”

She came to the U.S., she earned a master’s degree in pastoral counseling. She later served in the ministry of initial and ongoing formation and in district administration in South India, and today she is formation coordinator for the Cochin community in South India. She cherishes her experiences, reflecting that the people she has journeyed with enriched her life, helping her fulfill her dream of becoming a “global citizen.”

Gathering of Newer Members

Medical Mission Sisters who have recently made their lifetime commitment to God through our Society, gathered in small groups to experience various missions in Germany, the Netherlands and the U.K. Coming from India, Pakistan, Uganda, Ghana, Ethiopia, Germany and the U.S., they will go on to meet in Germany for a cherished opportunity to learn more about each other, forming bonds of connection and a shared vision that transcends international boundaries.

 

 

 

Caption: Sisters visiting the Frankfurt communities arrived to a warm welcome. So far, their activities have included a tour of the city and participating in a protest march for the safety of boat refugees.

Sister Immaculate Tusingwire

Attending the United Nations 62nd Commission on the Status of Women in March 2018 led Sister Immaculate Tusingwire to reflect on her own experiences with sexism. A native of Uganda, she grew up in a culture where women were expected to be subservient to men.

As an adult, Sister Imma says she wants to be a voice for other women. For four years she lived a quiet life as a member of a society of cloistered Carmelite nuns. Yearning to be a healing presence in the broader world, she later joined the Medical Mission Sisters (MMS). She was assigned to the South West of Uganda, where she helped with collating and editing the Unit Africa newsletter.  Discovering her passion for communication, Sister Immaculate earned a degree in communication from Tangaza University in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2013. She is currently on a year-long stay in the United States where she is deepening her knowledge and skills by working in the communication department at the MMS headquarters in Philadelphia.

“Now as a communicator, I find that I can do advocacy,” she said. “There is a lot of healing that can take place with this work. There are so many possibilities that I have in mind.”  

Yes, Every Child

Medical Mission Sisters believe every child has a right to feel safe and cared for. Over the past few weeks, our Sisters have been busy making calls to local representatives and writing letters, in addition to packing items from our Thrift Shop to be given as gifts at a local immigration event.  Sister Philo Morris, who works for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia on behalf of migrants and refugees, snapped this photo of a girl from Pakistan with her new purse.

Associate Camillia Falotico

She may seem a bit shy at first, but Associate Camillia Falotico is known throughout our Philadelphia headquarters for her warm smile and upbeat spirit. She has been a joyful presence here for 42 years. Working in the ministry of finance, she happily welcomes Sisters into her office, occasionally helping them with paperwork or simply exchanging a heartfelt hello.

From an early age, Camillia has enjoyed offering a helping hand. She credits her family for bestowing her with a good work ethic. Growing up, she frequently heard stories about her grandfather who, after emigrating from Naples, started his own business with a horse and wagon, even delivering the ashes to help build the Empire State Building and Yankee Stadium. Meanwhile, Camillia’s grandmother answered the business’s telephone calls and her mother managed the books and collected payments.

Following in her mother’s footsteps, Camillia earned a degree in business administration from Philadelphia University and soon afterwards she replied to Medical Mission Sisters’ ad for a bookkeeping position. Camillia, who made a five-year Associate commitment in October 2017, now divides her time between work and caring for her elderly aunts.

She shares, “Over the years of working with MMS my life has been enriched. In the Sisters, I see the value of caring for people in many ways.”

101st German Catholic Convention

Medical Mission Sisters from Germany and the United Kingdom recently attended the 101st German Catholic Convention, or Katholikentag, held in Münster from May 9-13. With tens of thousands in attendance, the convention is the highest representative affiliation of Catholic laypersons in the German Church. About 20 MMS and Associates participated, thanks to the efforts of Associate Petra Schrey. In addition to overseeing an MMS information booth,  they attended activities like meditative prayer, international mass, music concerts, dances, talks and forums.

Reflecting on the convention, Associate Linda Maog shares: “Together, we are invited to make some rippled-effect efforts for our world to be a better place to live in.”

Sister Marie Ego

Marie Ego, a Medical Mission Sisters Associate and Sister of Loretto, didn’t have to think about her response when the late Sister Ellen Hummel, MMS, suggested she should go to Ghana to work at the Centre for Spiritual Renewal in the Kumasi Diocese.

“Oh no, not me,” she quickly replied.

The Holy Spirit must have moved her because, before she knew it, she and Sister Cathy Mueller, SL, were on their way to Ghana in 1986, where they gave six-week workshops on counseling skills, leadership development, management skills in personnel development and communication skills. Sister Marie returned several times and, in 1989, decided to make Ghana a more permanent home, living with our Sisters in Berekum for 18 years. 

After repatriating to the United States in the mid 2000’s she made her first trip back to Ghana in 2012 to conduct workshops on “Counseling the Victims of Sexual Abuse” for caregivers. Currently, Sister Marie lives in Kentucky and is a part-time pastoral care worker in the infirmary where Sisters and lay people receive care. She has self-published two books of original poetry. 

In 2015, Sister Marie made her life commitment as an MMS Associate, and shares, “I feel that I have grown a great deal in my understanding of health from my association with MMS…I value the focus on healing that is so much a part of the charism.”

Sister Ann Louise Smith

Deeply sensitive to the needs of others, Sister Ann Louise Smith has found fulfillment in a life of service as a Medical Mission Sister. Working as a home health aide for more than 20 years, she became trained as a cosmetologist so that she could better assist elderly women who could no longer care for themselves. Now retired, she remains the resident stylist for our elderly sisters in Fox Chase.  

 “… meeting the needs of other people, being of service, giving support, caring and listening are all part of our call to healing mission,” Sister Ann reflected. It was her call to religious life, she said, that allowed her the chance to develop meaningful relationships with the people in her care.

A native of McSherrytown, Pennsylvania, Sister Ann joined the Medical Mission Sisters in 1951. Before becoming a home health aide in 1979, she served for more than a decade in Pakistan and Venezuela, working as a housekeeping supervisor for three years at Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi, and later as a kitchen supervisor in Judibana.

Sister Ann shares with us: “It is in giving that I have received so very much. All of these women whose lives have touched mine have helped me to grow more deeply in my own spiritual life.”

A Call for Action to End Gun Violence

Medical Mission Sisters are women of peace, and women of action.  Fueled with the same fire and flame as our Founder, Mother Anna Dengel, MD, our Sisters today call for action on gun control, especially in light of the most recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida.  The epidemic of gun violence sweeping our country is a public health emergency.  We join with thousands of others in the nation who are marching, boycotting and calling on their legislators for change!

Caption:  Medical Mission Sisters hosted the Memorial to the Lost installation which commemorated the 288 lives lost to gun violence in Philadelphia in 2014.

Sister Carmel Petonyak

Medical Mission Sister, Carmel Petonyak celebrated her Platinum Jubilee this month; she entered our Society in February, 70 years ago!  Sister Carmel was in mission in India for over 30 years, working as a floor supervisor at Holy Family Hospital, Bombay, as staff nurse and instructor at the School of Nursing at Holy Family Hospital, Patna, and as an English instructor and assistant to the novice mistress in Pune.  She currently lives at our North American headquarters in Philadelphia and assists in the Archives Department.

Sister Peninah Lilian Mukabwa

A cherished part of Sister Peninah Lilian Mukabwa’s routine is stepping out into her garden in the early morning hours, after it rains, and reflecting on the interconnectedness of the life forms she sees.  A Native of Kenya, Sister entered the Medical Mission Sisters in East Africa’s Umoja parish in 2011, eventually joining the Sunyani Community in Ghana, West Africa. Now back in West Africa after a six-month inter-Unit exposure in the Philippines, she is considering returning to East Africa to continue exploring her passion for organic farming. In 2013, Sister had started a farmers group to share the methods she had learned, along with the message of our interconnectedness with the Earth.  She had been troubled by how many local farmers were relying on less labor-intensive, inorganic methods, and by the easy availability of harmful chemicals. She recalls going to the market and seeing tomatoes with clear fungicide residue (likely the result of the farmer’s illiteracy) being sold to customers who had no option to buy healthy, organic produce. 

Sister Lilian reflects: “We totally depend upon the rest of the universe… We forget the real truth that we can’t take a breath without the trees and all the green growing things. We would have nothing to eat or drink without the cycle of water and rain.”

Sister Dr. Fernande Pelletier

Medical Mission Sister Dr. Fernande Pelletier was awarded by the Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG) for her “historic and immense contributions to Christian health service delivery in Ghana.” After being missioned to Ghana in 1961, Sister Fernande was instrumental in establishing clinics in multiple villages, often under difficult conditions. She continued her service to CHAG long after reaching the compulsory retirement age of 60.

Caption: A photo of Sister Dr. Fernande Pelletier taken before she retired in 2016 at age 84. 

 

Associate Marie Conti

After graduating from Little Flower Catholic High School for Girls in Philadelphia, Associate Marie Conti was convinced she should become a nun. The Mother Superior from the Dominican Order who interviewed Marie told her to take one year off to “explore life.”  Marie moved to Miami and after getting pregnant, returned for Philadelphia and made an adoption plan for her baby.

Over the next few decades Marie struggled with drug and alcohol addiction. During this time, she earned a degree from Wharton School of Business at University of Penn, got married, had a child, and got divorced five years later.   For 30 years she worked in healthcare and in risk management/patient safety.

In 1992, Marie entered a twelve-step program and learned about the MMS Peace Hermitages. For the next seven years she came to stay in the hermitages as often as six times a year, a key part of maintaining her sobriety. Through our Sister Jane Burns she learned about MMS Associates and made her first Associate commitment in 2011. Now retired, she devotes her time to ministries like the “Radical Hospitality” programs at Broad Street Ministry.

Marie shares: “The focus of my life has become service, as opposed to material gain. I desire to bring succor to a suffering world. To comfort God’s broken creatures, of which I am one.”

Associate Sister Selena Wilson, OP

Sister Selena Wilson, OP, describes 2016 as grace-filled and blessed.  This was the year she made her first commitment as a Medical Mission Sisters (MMS) Associate, and had surgery to remove her right kidney and a cancerous tumor.  Sister Selena shares that even though she had feared the worse, God’s grace showed her how to pour herself into her ministries at Holy Cross School, in the Heart-to-Heart program and Alternatives to Violence Program (AVP), easing her worried focus on her fate. 

A Richmond, Virginia native, Sister Selena served in the Army Medical Service Corps, earned a Temple University degree in Creative Arts/Recreation Therapy in 1984, and joined the Dominican Congregation. While caring for her ailing mother in 2010, Sister Selena had searched for a religious community nearby with whom to live.  After meeting with Sister Jean Mouch, MMS, she knew she would be happy living with the MMS Community.  She now lives with Sister Lucy Klein-Gebbinck, MMS, in Camden, NJ.

Sister Selena shares: “I believe we take our ‘healing presence’ with us or rather, it’s just a natural part of who we are. God had a plan all along and I’m so glad he chose me to experience such a glorious and strong healing presence in the spirit of Anna Dengel and the Medical Mission Sisters.”

 

Sister Lorraine Ryan Receives Golden Rule Award

Medical Mission Sisters congratulate Sister Lorraine Ryan, who recently received the Golden Rule Award from the Catholic Realtors & Real Estate Professionals of Boca Raton, Florida.  The award was given in recognition of her work against poverty. After serving 15 years in India, Sister Lorraine founded Women’s Circle, which offers classes and job development services to almost 300 immigrant women each year.

Caption: Sister Lorraine Ryan poses with Bishop Barbarito at the award ceremony.

Entering a New Year

Medical Mission Sisters enter 2018 with faith and hope.  In this coming year, may we all move even more deeply into the love of God, with joyful expectation of healing and transformation!

 

Sister Christiana Hanssen

Medical Mission Sister Christiana Hanssen has found a special way to combine her two passions: being a healing presence and dance. Born in Essen, Germany, Sister Christiana studied dance therapy after entering our Community in 1981. She describes feeling attracted to “how ’normal’ [the Sisters] lived religious life.” During her 18 years participating in the healing mission with the Sisters in Frankfurt, Sister Christiana worked with people in dance and movement. It was during that time that she became aware of how life is mirrored in the physical body of people in brokenness, pain and disabilities, so she opened a space for sacred, meditative dance. Her goal was to help her students “experience themselves and also find new ways to live their relationship with God.“

Sister Christiana shares: “I learned more of how the ‘soul’ or life circumstances also find an expression in the body and I felt the desire to help people more on the bodily level and to accompany them on their way towards healing.”

In 2004, Sister moved to our Community in the Bottrop/Ruhr area and began working as a part of a mobile physiotherapist team, mostly with home-bound people.  She now works in private practice, primarily treating those suffering with chronic illnesses including cancer.

 

Resilience in Venezuela

Medical Mission Sisters continue praying for the people of Venezuela who are experiencing economic crisis. Our Sister Maigualida Riera helps to run a Solidarity Kitchen in Barquisimeto and recently reported that the inflation rate has risen above 1,000 percent. For one month’s food supply, she now spends as much as she previously would have spent in a year.  Sister Maigualida describes “an economic catastrophe, which threatens the life, health and dignity of our people, especially the poorest.” 

 

Associate Kristyn Malek

A graduate of Sister Miriam Therese Winter’s Women’s Leadership Institute at Hartford Seminary, Kristyn Malek was committed to being a healing presence even before making her first Associate commitment in October 2017. Her faith in something greater than herself, in the omnipresence of the human spirit, saw her through tragedies she encountered and guided her through a life of being a healing presence to others who are in pain.

Kristyn works as a hospice aide, helping those leaving behind the life they have known look forward to the life their spirit will become. When her daughter recently lost her partner, Ben, to addiction, Kristyn launched a new ministry through painted stones. On the stones, she transcribes words of hope: “you are not alone,” “you’re a rock-star,” “keep on swimming.” She places them in a pouch to give to people like the woman struggling with guilt over her addiction who read her blog, SOS-Stones of Support, and found a message of healing. 

Kristyn shares: “My life’s work is comfort and dignity. I try to remind people that all that matters is that you were loved and cared about, no matter if you fell short, because we all fall short sometimes.”

Kristyn Malek

A graduate of Sister Miriam Therese Winter’s Women’s Leadership Institute at Hartford Seminary, Kristyn Malek was committed to being a healing presence even before making her first Associate commitment in October 2017. Her faith in something greater than herself, in the omnipresence of the human spirit, saw her through tragedies she encountered and guided her through a life of being a healing presence to others who are in pain.

Kristyn works as a hospice aide, helping those leaving behind the life they have known look forward to the life their spirit will become. When her daughter recently lost her partner, Ben, to addiction, Kristyn launched a new ministry through painted stones. On the stones, she transcribes words of hope: “you are not alone,” “you’re a rock-star,” “keep on swimming.” She places them in a pouch to give to people like the woman struggling with guilt over her addiction who read her blog, SOS-Stones of Support, and found a message of healing. 

Kristyn shares: “My life’s work is comfort and dignity. I try to remind people that all that matters is that you were loved and cared about, no matter if you fell short, because we all fall short sometimes.”

Associate Kathy Powers

It was perhaps by chance that Associate Kathy Powers noticed the small ad for a housekeeper tucked away on the bulletin board at St. Timothy’s Church, nearly covered by other notices. Her eyes zeroed in on the words “Medical Mission Sisters (MMS).” For Kathy, the ad couldn’t have come at a better time. In addition to working full time at ACME, she had cared for her father as he battled cardiovascular disease from 1987 until his death in 1999. When he died, she wondered what was next.

Arriving for her interview, Kathy watched as the Sisters made their way out of Mass – she knew in her heart that she was in the right place. The next 14 years would be transformative.  “Through the years of my coming to know the Sisters personally, the ‘fire and flame’ in them has been ignited in me as well,” she said. Kathy, who now also serves in the post office in our administration building, made her first Associate commitment in October 2017 . She also is a healing presence to Sisters and other residents at Immaculate Mary Home.

Kathy shares, “Because of MMS, I’m more open-minded and approachable. I’ve learned to listen without judging, to not give advice when it’s not needed. MMS has given me purpose.”

New Leadership in North America

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

A Message of “PAZ”

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

Associate Lucia Kehr

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

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

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

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

A New Day Dawns

 

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

Global Mission Sunday

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

Sister Eunice Cudzewicz

A Chicago native, Sister Eunice Cudzewicz entered the Medical Mission Sisters in 1962. She earned a B.A. Degree in Biology from the College of Notre Dame and went on to serve as a project director and team member for Management Design Inc., while remaining active in communications and formation work for our Community.

In 1974, Sister Eunice moved to Savannah, Georgia, to become a public health worker. After earning a nursing degree from Armstrong State College, she spent seven years as a staff nurse for a primary health care clinic in rural Lumpkin, Georgia, leaving temporarily to help in the refugee camps in Thailand during the Cambodian refugee crisis.  From 1985 to 1994, she was the Membership Promotion Coordinator at our North American Headquarters in Philadelphia and she now serves as our Society Communications Coordinator.  A gifted artist and musician, she participated in the redesign of our Chapel and is active in liturgy preparation and liturgical dance.

Sister shares: “…let us be bold dreamers and dream a world filled with compassion, dream an end to violence and war, dream our Earth renewed and cherished. Let us love with the love that believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Let us be filled with the very power of God to be a healing presence in the heart of our wounded world.”

Sister Betty Mathay

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

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

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

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

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

Lucy photo

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 Bina Stanis

Stanis_Bina_15

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.

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 AIDS.gov 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.

New Sector Latin America Leadership

Equipo nuevoMedical Mission Sisters in Latin America chose a new Leadership Team at their recent Sector Assembly. Sister Maigualida (Mai) Riera from Maracaibo, Venezuela, was elected Sector Coordinator and also will oversee Integration/Formation in the Sector. Sister María Fernanda Ramirez Rivera (MaFe) from Colombia will direct the Sector’s Commission on Mission. German-born Sister Gisela Reich continues her work for the Commission on Finance.

 

Caption: (left to right) Sister María Fernanda Ramirez Rivera (MaFe), Sister Maigualida (Mai) Riera and Sister Gisela Reich.

Sister Gisela Reich

Reich_Gisela_12Sister Gisela Reich was born in Tamm, in Ludwigsburg, Germany and joined the Medical Mission Sisters in 1983. She became a social worker and worked in a youth center in Duisburg, Germany, before being missioned to Callao, Peru, in 1991. Sister Gisela has been very active over the years with a youth group in her parish, Cristo Liberador. In collaboration with “Audio-visuals of Peru” (ADEP), she helps provide training, retreats and seminars on topics that involve youth work, such as leadership style, communication, personality development, ecology, Bible study and more. She shares, “In addition, I accompany young people on their personal healing and decision-making.” In 2010 she celebrated her 25th Jubilee. As one of the members of our Latin American Leadership Team, Sister Gisela continues to work on our Commission on Finance.

Foundation Day

scan0005Medical Mission Sisters around the world celebrate the 89th anniversary of our founding on September 30. On that day in 1925, three other women–Evelyn Flieger, RN, Joanna Lyons, MD, and Marie Ulbrich, RN–joined Anna Dengel, MD, in Washington, D.C., to begin a professional health care ministry in the Church especially for women and children denied access to proper care. Today we are 600 Canonical and 100 Associate members in mission in 17 nations on five continents. The words shown here describe our special call.

 

Caption: As we begin our 90th year, Medical Mission Sisters are grateful to all who have helped us be a “healing presence at the heart of a wounded world.”

Sister Anne Bellosillo

36 Anne with herb pots-4Sister Anne Bellosillo was born on Panay Island in the Philippines. She earned a B.S. in Business Administration from the Philippine Women’s University before joining the Medical Mission Sisters in 1962 in San Jose, Batangas. Sister served almost 15 years in North and South India in a number of hospital administration positions. Returning to the Philippines, Sister Anne then was missioned to the Vicariate of Jolo where she was coordinator of ministries. From 1979 to 1985 she served as our District Coordinator for the Philippines and from 1982 to 1985 was chairperson for the Association of Major Religious Superiors for Women in the Philippines. After 7 years as our Community’s General Treasurer in England, Sister Anne began a new ministry focused on ecological living. First at the Center for Ecologic Living and Learning (CELL) in Cavite, Philippines, and since 2008 at the Haven for Ecological and Alternative Living (HEAL) in Villasis, she helps people of all ages and walks of life to become reconnected with Mother Earth and learn how to respond to the challenges of our current ecological crises.

“The Singer and the Song”

mt_and_janis_ianMedical Mission Sisters have learned of singer-songwriter Janis Ian’s invitation to National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences members to nominate “The Singer and the Song” for a Grammy Award.  This audiobook is the autobiography of our Sister Miriam Therese Winter, read, and sung, by Janis.  Please visit Janis’s website for three free downloads of Medical Mission Sisters songs:  www.janisian.com

 

Caption: Janis Ian and our Sister Miriam Therese (MT) Winter.

Associate Ray Mattern, Jr.

Associate commitment 038Ray Mattern, Jr. from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, became a Medical Mission Sisters’ Associate in 2012. After attending LaSalle High School, Ray received a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy and a Graduate Degree in Pastoral Counseling and also in Religious Education. For many years Ray was a teacher at LaSalle College High School, in addition to being a baseball coach and umpire. He widened his teaching to include being a “companion pilgrim leader,” as he helped young adults through the texts of philosophy, spirituality, and psychology. During ordination studies at the interdenominational School of Sacred Ministries, he met Associate Felicity Lavelle who introduced him to the Medical Mission Sisters. Since 1966, Ray has worked with farmers, farm owners and vendors towards a nutritional food supply, in a context of just wages and working conditions. He is interested in supporting and complementing the medical treatments of HIV/AIDS and other maladies with good nutrition.

New Leadership Team in North America

Copy of Copy of 2014-Coordinating-team-2015At our recent Expanded Assembly of North America, Sisters Maria Hornung, Helen Lembeck and Pat Lowery were elected as the New North American leadership team to serve from 2015-2017. Sister Maria, currently Sector North America Coordinator for Mission and Membership, was elected to a second three-year term. Sister Helen, currently living in Chula Vista, California, has spent many years in business, administration and finance positions for our Community in Africa and North America. Medical Doctor Sister Pat served as a surgeon in hospitals in Ghana for many years and was chief surgeon on the Navajo Nation Reservation’s Fort Defiance Indian Hospital in Ft. Defiance, Arizona, for 14 years.

Caption:  (from left to right) Sisters Maria Hornung, Pat Lowery and Helen Lembeck.