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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.

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.

Sister Rose Kayathinkara

Kayathinkara, RoseSister Rose Kayathinkara was born in Bharananganam, Kerala, in 1942. After entering our Community in 1961, she studied medical technology, then earned a Bachelor’s Degree in social services. Sister Rose was then missioned to work among the Garo tribe in Meghalaya. In 1990, she began working with Caritas India’s North East Regional Forum as a coordinator to promote awareness and action in the organization and empowerment of people, especially women. In addition to various leadership roles in North East India, including serving as our District Coordinator, Sister Rose started the Mendipathar Multipurpose Cooperative Society in 1998 in order to help the subsistence level farmers get just wages for their work, fair prices for their produce, and more direct access to markets and money. In 2012 she received the Meghalaya State Award in recognition of her outstanding contribution to social services. Sister Rose celebrated her Golden Jubilee as a Medical Mission Sister this year.

A Special Border Ministry

Teresa JaramilloMedical Mission Sisters and the people of Tijuana, Mexico, have been blessed by the past 22 years of loving service given by our recently retired Sister Teresa Jaramillo. She began work with the people of Colonia Fausto Gonzalez, a barrio next to what was a garbage dump, in 1992. In 1998, she was instrumental in the formation of a women’s cooperative called “Union Entre Mujeres” (Union Among Women). Through the cooperative, women of the barrio can receive two-year certificate training in hair styling or enroll in a one-year training program in baking skills. Together, the women also help feed the over 40 children in the neighborhood kindergarten a daily nutritious meal.

Caption:  Sister Teresa Jaramillo (second from the left), spent 22 years in mission among the people of Tijuana, Mexico.

 

Sister Maria Hornung

Hornung_Maria-2Sister Maria Hornung was born in New Orleans in 1936 and entered our Community in 1954. She earned her B.S. in Pharmacy from George Washington University and served as a pharmacist in Fort Portal and Kampala, Uganda. Then, upon earning a Master’s Degree in Education from Temple University, she worked for several years in Nairobi, Kenya, in the area of group dynamics and human relations with the Association of Sisterhoods in Kenya. After 25 years in mission in Africa, many in leadership positions for our Community, Sister returned to the U.S. in 1986. She served additional years in leadership and in formation work, then returned to Temple University, graduating with a Master’s Degree in Religion, with a focus on Inter-religious Dialogue. She authored the book, “Encountering Other Faiths,” with an accompanying workbook, and in 2005, began working as Coordinator of Interfaith Education at the Interfaith Center of Philadelphia. Currently retired from this position, Sister Maria continues her involvement in facilitating an understanding of the commonalities of faith expressions and an acceptance of their differences. She also is our Lifewright Coordinator, offering retreat and renewal opportunities for our Sisters and Associates. Since 2011, Sister has been a member of our North American Leadership Team.

Healing Arts Website

Copy of sheilafrMedical Mission Sisters in North America have launched a new website about their healing arts ministries. Currently featured are the Integrative Health Care services of Sister Sheila McGinnis and the Creative Arts of Sister Mary Em McGlone. Through their ministries, each Sister shares ways to counter the negative impact of stress in our daily lives. Please visit this new site at www.healingartsmms.org 

 

Caption:  Sister Sheila McGinnis demonstrates reflexology as a technique for reducing stress.

Sister Tina Becker

Becker_Tina_12Sister Tina Becker was born in Beckingen, Germany, in 1975. A registered nurse, she also was trained as a pastoral worker and worked in a parish for six years. After entering the Medical Mission Sisters in 2006, Sister Tina continued her pastoral ministry. From 2012-2013 she visited East Africa for nine weeks, spending time in Kenya and Uganda. She was struck by the poverty and violence around her, and was especially moved by her experience with the “kids club,” a group of small children who were HIV-positive. Returning to Germany, she took a position as a hospital chaplain in Frankfurt, where she currently accompanies patients suffering with cancer. Sister Tina focuses on caring for those with cancer and other serious illnesses and helping young women in their search for direction in life.

TRADA Award

Copy (2) of Chunkapura-2Medical Mission Sisters share the good news of the award for the “Best Integrated Center for Rehabilitation of Addicts” in India given to “Total Response to Alcohol and Drug Abuse” (TRADA), co-founded by our Sister Joan Chunkapura in Kottayam, South India. Over the last 27 years,TRADA has provided free treatment to 7,500 persons with drug addictions and assisted over 30,000 alcoholics and their families. TRADA also has led efforts on substance abuse prevention and trained thousands in counseling and de-addiction treatment.

Caption:  Sister Joan Chunkapura from South India accepts the “Best Integrated Center for Rehabilitation of Addicts” award given to TRADA.

Associate Jane Blewett

Copy of scan0007Jane Blewett, who grew up in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, became one of the first Medical Mission Sisters’ Associates in 1984. She had been a Canonical member of our Community for 25 years, serving as a medical records librarian in Pakistan and then in public relations in Philadelphia. She married Lou Niznik and worked for 13 years at an international social justice and peace center in Washington, D.C. In the mid-1980s she became acquainted with Thomas Berry’s “Great Work” and “the human/Earth dilemma and felt called to a deeper awareness in that area.” She has spent over 25 years helping to raise the consciousness within herself and others of our sacred evolutionary story and of Planet Earth’s need for healing for the well-being of the whole community of life. She resides in Sandy Springs, Maryland.

Sister Katherine Baltazar’s Award

June2013Virginia010Medical Mission Sisters share the good news that our Sister Katherine Baltazar has been awarded the American Psychiatric Nurse Association’s (APNA) Psychiatric Nurse of the Year award for 2014.  This award recognizes an APNA member who demonstrates vision, perseverance, dedication, initiative and facilitation in the delivery of mental health services to individuals, families, and their communities.  Sister Katherine, a psychiatric nurse practitioner, has been in mission at the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation Hospital in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, since 2012. 

Caption:  Sister Katherine Baltazar, right, with a nurse researcher colleague from the While Clay people of Montana.  Teresa Brockie, PhD, left, has done extensive research in Native American suicide, a reality Sister Katherine is working to prevent.

Sister Philomena Faria

PhiloSister Philomena Faria was born in Karachi, Pakistan, in 1944.  She made her First Vows in 1968 and her Final Vows in 1976.  Sister worked at Holy Family Hospital (HFH) in Karachi, as a tutor and in nursing services for 14 years.  She then taught midwifery at St. Teresa’s Hospital in Mirpurkhas, Pakistan, for 15 years.  In 2004 she became a member of our Faisalabad community and contributed to its special focus on community health.  She then returned to HFH Karachi to teach midwifery.  Sister Philomena currently serves as our Formation Coordinator in Pakistan and accompanies candidates as they search for their best way to respond to God’s call.  In addition to her work in formation, she gives retreats and spiritual direction to interested persons, considering herself as one called to pass on values and the importance of love in all of our lives.

Attat Hospital

scan0005Medical Mission Sisters have been responding to the needs of the local people in Attat, Ethiopia, for 45 years.  Attat Hospital is our base.  It and its extensive integrated health services cover a population of 800,000 people.  In addition to in-patient care, women’s groups, water and sanitation activities, village first-aid stations and leadership training are offered.  Attat Hospital also is a center for HIV/AIDS therapy, counseling and testing, and provides home-based care for persons living with AIDS.

 

Caption:  These two young children are among the hundreds of thousands who have been cared for by our Sisters at Attat over the past 45 years.

Mission Green Update

MissionGreenNewsMedical Mission Sisters are happy to announce that progress is continuing on Mission Green,  a 61-bed, fully accessible residence for persons over 55 with limited income at our North American Headquarters in Philadelphia.  A number of rooms will be reserved for seniors with significant disabilities.  All other units will be fully accessible.  Medical Mission Sisters are partnering with Inglis, a 137-year-old non-profit provider of services and housing for persons living with disabilities, on this project.   The move-in date is set for Fall of 2014. 

 

 

Sister Lucy Klein-Gebbinck

Klein-Gebbinck_Lucy 4Sister Lucy Klein-Gebbinck was born in Alberta, Canada. She earned a B.A. in Education from the University of Alberta with a focus on Special Education. In addition to working as a teacher in Alberta, Sister Lucy taught English in Katsina, Nigeria, and in in Pago Pago, Samoa. She worked for Volunteer International Christian Service (VICS) in Alberta from 1983-1988 before entering our Community in 1991 at the age of 37. Then Sister Lucy focused on holistic healing. As a certified massage therapist, she worked as a health education and wellness coordinator for three years in St. Petersburg, Florida. After a time at our Center for Human Integration in Philadelphia, in 1999 she founded the Camden Wellness Program in Camden, New Jersey. The program grew from one to five sites, providing health and education services to clients in one of the poorest U.S. cities. Sister Lucy now combines her healing work in Camden with the integration of new members into our Community in North America.

Helping Children With Disabilities in Peru

cofariMedical Mission Sisters in Peru are involved in COFARI (Community of Families and Comprehensive Rehabilitation), which helps children with disabilities.  It began in Arequipa, in the home of the mother of a child with cerebral palsy. Soon eight children were being helped.  Sister Patricia Gootee shares, “We are now offering professional counseling, occupational therapy, hydrotherapy, psychology, speech therapy, balanced meals, and shuttle service to and from home. Most children come from families with low incomes.” 

 

Caption: Sister Patricia Gootee (center) with children served by COFARI.

Sister Gemma Mendes

Mendes_GemmaSister Gemma Mendes was born in Goa, India, in 1934 and entered our Community in 1954.  At Kurji Holy Family Hospital (HFH), Patna, she studied nursing, then worked at HFH, New Delhi, and HFH, Dacca, in Pakistan.  After additional studies in nursing administration, Sister Gemma returned to HFH, New Delhi, for several years.  Sister served as North India District Coordinator for our Community, then went to work among people of the Santal tribe in Chotanagpur.  For 25 years, she and another Medical Mission Sister were a healing presence among the villagers as they fought for justice against the powerful coal lobby that was overtaking their native land.  At the same time she helped care for the Santals’ basic health needs.  Sister Gemma is now a member of our Kasiadhi community, where she continues her health and justice ministry.

30th Anniversary of Associate Program

Associate commitment 049Medical Mission Sisters welcome 35 North America Associates to Philadelphia the weekend of May 1-4 for a 30th anniversary celebration of our Associate Program.  Coming from as far away as Washington State, these women and men are drawn to the vision, values and healing charism of the Medical Mission Sisters and make a commitment to live them within the context of their own lives and responsibilities.

 

Caption:Associates Rita Maute (left) and Ray Mattern (right) made their First Commitments in 2012.

Sister Joan Barina

Barina_JoanSister Joan Barina was born in Racine, Wisconsin in 1929.  She worked at St. Luke’s Hospital, and at the University of California, before entering the Medical Mission Sisters in 1961. Her first assignment in our Community was as chief technologist at Holy Family Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.  She then served as Holy Family Hospital’s chief technologist in Patna, India, where she also started a medical laboratory school.  When she returned to the U.S. in 1973, Sister Joan worked as a medical technologist with the Public Health Service of California, earned an advanced degree in microbiology, then joined the staff of the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage. In 1979 she began what became over 30 years of ministry in religious education and pastoral work with Mercy Sister Joyce Ross on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula.  Both Sisters co-authored a book about their experiences, A Journey with the Real Church: Faith in the Last Frontier.  Today Sister Joan and Sister Joyce are in mission with the Mercy Sisters in Albany, New York.      

Earth Day 2014

News April 21Medical Mission Sisters have long marked Earth Day, first celebrated on April 22, 1970, ”to promote ecology and respect for life on our planet.”  We continue to explore how to deepen our healing charism from the ecological perspective.  At our last General Chapter we noted, “The Earth has its own potential to organize and heal itself if human beings stop exploiting it.  Understanding ourselves more fully as part of the whole Earth community brings us to a spirit of kinship with all of life.”

 

Caption:Sister Anne Bellosillo founded and directs HEAL, the Haven for Ecological and Alternative Living, in Villasis, the Philippines, where hundreds of persons each year learn more about living with care and respect for the whole community of life.

Sister Maigualida (Mai) Riera

Mai 1Sister Maigualida (Mai) Riera was born and raised in Maracaibo, Venezuela. She was an active catechist and literacy teacher before she entered our Community in 1993 and became our first native-born Venezuelan sister. Now in Barquisimeto, Sister Mai works with Fe y Alegria, a primary and secondary educational program for the poor, coordinating a formation program for teachers at the regional level.  She also oversees the Formation/Integration of our members in Latin America.  Sister Mai shares: “Every time I look at or think about the history of Medical Mission Sisters, I am in admiration of the many ways we have found to be a Healing Presence in the midst of a wounded people…Within Fe y Alegría, I have had the opportunity to exercise my profession as an educator; to prepare myself to form others while at the same time being formed myself – it is mutual education and healing.”

Miriam Therese (MT) Winter’s Audiobook

mt_and_janis_ianMedical Mission Sisters give special thanks to singer-songwriter Janis Ian for narrating the audiobook of our Sister Miriam Therese (MT) Winter’s autobiography, The Singer and the Song.  Winner of an “Earphones Award” from Audiofile Magazine, it includes Janis singing over 20 songs in MT’s stories, as well as her own original composition.  She says of our Sister MT, “Wherever she goes, whatever she touches, she creates a community.  I think you’ll find it when you listen to this book.”  Audiobook available at: http://hartsem.edu/WLI/music.html  MP3 CD downloads at: www.amazon.com

 

Caption:Janis Ian and our Sister Miriam Therese (MT) Winter share their joy at the release of the audiobook version of Sister’s autobiography, “The Singer and the Song: An Autobiography of the Spirit.” 

Sister Lorraine Ryan

Ryan_LorraineSister Lorraine Ryan was born in Brooklyn and raised in Illinois. She entered our Community in 1958. After First Vows, she earned degrees in medical record science and nursing.  Later she received a Master’s Degree in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University.  Sister worked over 15 years in India as a nurse, counselor, diocesan coordinator of health services and public health specialist.  She then moved to Boynton Beach, Florida, to care for her sick parents.  After several years of counseling teens with chemical dependencies, in 2000 Sister Lorraine started Women’s Circle with Holy Cross Sister Joan Carusillo.  Located in Boynton Beach, it now has helped hundreds of lower-income women develop the skills they need to get life-supporting jobs.

Justice Ministries in Ethiopia

News March 14 2014Medical Mission Sisters in Ethiopia have key roles in the production of a Justice, Peace and Environment Bulletin that is being shared throughout the Archdiocese of Addis Ababa. Working to build “a culture of peace and non-violence,” Sister Belaynesh Abera is Assistant Editor-in-Chief of the 36-page magazine that shares Ethiopians’ experiences of their own peace-building efforts.  Sister Carol Reed assists the Archdiocesan Catholic Secretariat staff as an Associate Editor.

 

Caption: Sister Belaynesh Abera, who heads the Peace and Justice Desk of the Archdiocesan Catholic Secretariat in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, leads a justice workshop.

Sister Speciosa Babikinamu

Babikinamu_SpeciosaSister Speciosa Babikinamu, a nurse-midwife and our first African-born Sister, entered our Community in 1966.  Since there was no Formation Program in Africa at the time, she made her Novitiate in India, then went to England for studies.  Sister Speciosa has spent almost all of her time in ministry in Uganda.  She is known far and wide in her homeland for her training and upgrading of traditional birth attendants, her involvement in community-based health care, and,  in recent years, for her pastoral presence at Mulago Teaching Hospital in Kampala.  “Over the years,” Sister says, “I have gained deep insights into the poverty of the sick person.”  In each one, there is “greater pain than meets the eye.”

National Catholic Sisters Week

scan0002Medical Mission Sisters are among 51,000 Sisters in the United States today applauding a first-ever occurrence.  As part of National Women’s History Month, March 8-14 has been named “National Catholic Sisters Week.” Various media will feature the invaluable service Catholic Sisters offer to persons of all ages and stages of life.  Our 107 Medical Mission Sisters now in the U.S. are proud that our mission of healing presence touches the lives of so many people in need.

 

Caption: Sister Isidora Bollich offers comfort and healing prayers to many who are sick or troubled.

need.

Associate Marian McDonald

Haiti_iphonen_photos_465-1Doctor Marian McDonald, a Medical Mission Sister Associate, was born in Berlin, Germany, and raised in Media, Pennsylvania.  Now a surgeon and certified master of breast surgery, her involvement with our Community began in 1987 when she served with us in Georgia as a lay volunteer.  Marian also worked with our Sisters in Ghana and each year volunteers her time and shares her expertise and compassion in Haiti.  In 2013, she made her Life Commitment as a Medical Mission Sister Associate, sharing with all at the celebration, “I am indeed a wounded yet gifted healer, and via the Medical Mission Sisters, am being made aware of the connectedness of each others’  lives, attentive to the call of the spirit in every patient I see.  I deeply desire…to bring healing to our world.”

Our Jubilarians

DSCN0430Medical Mission Sisters share the good news that 16 of our Sisters mark special milestones this February and March.  Eleven celebrate their 60th anniversaries of Profession of First Vows, one Sister marks 50 years and four 25 years since their First Professions.  From North America, India, the Netherlands and Germany, these women together have served 810 years among those in need.

 

Caption: Our 16 Jubilarians this year come from North America, India, the Netherlands and Germany.

Sister Nigist Biru

Beru_NigistSister Nigist Biru from Ethiopia, who made Final Vows in our Community in 2013, graduated from nursing school before she entered the Medical Mission Sisters in 2003.  Her first mission was to Attat Hospital, in Attat, Ethiopia, working as a ward nurse and in charge of voluntary counseling and testing for HIV/AIDS.  She and other hospital workers registered over 500 people, and were supported and guided by staff at Johns Hopkins University in the U.S. in developing the best line of treatment for those with HIV/AIDS. Sister Nigist now works in the Outpatient Department of Attat Hospital and also oversees its Nutrition Unit. In the local parish, Sister is involved with young people and a women’s sewing group, whose profits go into an education fund for the youth.

Caregivers Workshop

Sr. Sheila stress reduction workshop and techniques 008Medical Mission Sisters in Philadelphia announce a “Caregivers Workshop” to be held Saturday, February 8, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at our North American Headquarters, 8400 Pine Road in Fox Chase.  Sister Sheila McGinnis, a nurse and holistic health practitioner, will help caregivers learn how to take care of themselves so they can continue to be the loving caregivers they want to be.  For more information and to register, contact: sheilamcgmms@cs.com

Caption: Sister Sheila McGinnis demonstrates techniques to help manage stress.

Sister Mary Grace (Kenne) Froehlich

Froehlich_KenneSister Mary Grace (Kenne) Froehlich was born in 1939 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and entered our Community in 1958. After working in support services in Philadelphia in the early 1960s, she studied liberal arts at Temple University and then became a professional photographer. Sister Kenne did volunteer work with the International Red Cross for six years, helping Cambodian refugees in Aranyaprathet, Thailand. Since 1985, she has lived and worked in New Mexico, studying and then working as a physical therapy assistant. She currently lives with her sister, Annette, also a Medical Mission Sister, and does pulmonary rehabilitation work at Atrium Physical Therapy in Las Cruces.

Growing Membership in Sector Africa

2_New_Candidates_0Medical Mission Sisters in Africa begin the new year celebrating their growing membership.  There are now 12 Sisters in Temporary vows, 7 Novices or Candidates, and 4 more women becoming Pre-Candidates throughout our Sector Africa.  Responding to their own individual call to be a healing presence in the community of life, these women come from Malawi, Uganda, Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria.

Left to right: Second-year Novice, Sister Betty Nabuguzi, with Sister Rosemary Adhiambo Oyusu, our Sector Africa Candidacy Coordinator.