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Archive for ARCHIVES/Healing Presence – Page 2

50 Years of Healing Presence in Uganda

Honoring and continuing our 50 years of healing presence in Uganda is one of hundreds of ways in which Medical Mission Sisters and our Associates around the world try to be a healing presence to others today.

In 1962, Medical Mission Sisters arrived in the newly independent nation of Uganda, once known as the Pearl of Africa. We began our healing mission at Virika Hospital in Fort Portal, where we opened the first nursing school in Western Uganda. Our Sisters also began to hold regular safari clinics in the remote areas.

Seeing the great need among the people in far-flung areas, in 1979 we turned over the hospital’s management and built a small dispensary in Kasanga, a remote village in western Uganda. Our Sisters at the clinic treated thousands of people with tuberculosis, cholera, malaria and other diseases, and expanded their work into ten small clinics in outlying areas. Programs for education, immunization, nutrition, and mothers and children were all part of our work.

Eight years later, with the help of local parishioners we were able to begin another small dispensary in Rubanda, Uganda. Our Primary Health Care program there now covers 45 villages and serves over 20,000 people. Patients receive outpatient, inpatient, lab, pharmacology and maternity services. Special support for adults and orphans affected by HIV/AIDS is also given.

Our Sisters are also active in Kampala, the capital of Uganda and home of Sister Therese Tindirugamu, our Sector Coordinator in Africa. Sister Janet Harbauer has been in mission for over 20 years at Rubaga Hospital. Sister Josephine Nafula works at a de-addiction center and teaches at the Kibusi Brothers University College. Sister Mary Jo Grethel conducts retreats and psycho-spiritual workshops for Uganda’s priests, religious, and lay persons. Many of them know us, and some, like Bishop Robert Muhiirwa, were delivered by one of our Sisters.

One of the great blessings of these 50 years is the number of new vocations. In 1969, Sister Speciosa Babikinamu, a midwife, became our very first Medical Mission Sister from Africa. More than 30 other women from several African nations have followed her lead.

We thank God for the opportunities and challenges of the past 50 years, and ask for continued blessings on our mission in Uganda today and in the future.

June 15, 2012

Indigenous Peoples Forum at the United Nation

Learning from information shared at the U.N. is one of hundreds of ways in which Medical Mission Sisters and our Associates around the world try to be a healing presence to others today.

Sister Celine Paramundayil, our representative to the United Nations, attended the Indigenous Peoples Forum in May, 2012. “Indigenous people from around the world came in colorful costumes,” she says. “The theme for the year was Doctrine of Discovery, which provided that by law and divine intention European Christian countries gained power and legal rights over indigenous non-Christian peoples immediately upon their ‘discovery’ by Europeans.”

A group of indigenous students from Salamanca High School in New York spoke of their situation as victims of the Doctrine. For years, their forbears were not permitted to live their own ethnicity. Instead of giving up their native language, now the students are encouraged to speak it, and treasure the culture of their ancestors. They stressed the importance of studying the Doctrine of Discovery to learn more about history that still influences our world.

Sister Katherine Baltazar, who attended the Forum for a day, said the importance of preserving native languages was also stressed at the presentation she attended on Central and Eastern Europe, the Russian Federation, Central Asia and Transcaucasia. Other themes included the intrusions by mineral companies on the land, the lack of employment, non-inclusion in government policies affecting the indigenous communities, the desire for self-determination, and violence against indigenous women and girls.

“My new learning was about Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) which is a term I was not familiar with–but is now a focus for addressing cardiac disease, diabetes, chronic lung diseases and other conditions that often are related to inadequate diets and decreased exercise now plaguing many of the world’s communities,” Sister Katherine explains.

Sister Katherine also enjoyed a presentation on the contributions of Indigenous Peoples in providing nutritious food for all. A woman from the Micronesian Islands spoke about helping people to return to their traditional diets, which are much healthier than the fast foods being imported on the islands.

July 1, 2012

Enabling Older Parishioners in Arequipa, Peru, to Grow Nutritious Food

Helping older people grow fresh food is one of hundreds of ways in which Medical Mission Sisters and our Associates around the world try to be a healing presence to others today.

In Arequipa, Peru, a group of older people gather at the local parish every Friday. With our Sisters’ help, they began a project to grow vegetables on a small piece of land behind the parish house.

Sister Pat Gootee explains, “We put up a fence around the garden land and asked City Hall to send some men to plow the land that had become very hard…the older folks came to pick up the rocks from the dirt and plant their seeds, and they brought bottles of water from their houses for their plot of land to make the seeds grow.”

Because Arequipa has a very dry climate, the need for water was ongoing. The group decided to ask City Hall to install a tank of water beside the garden, to be used to water the plants. After many months of insisting that this tank be installed, it was finally put in place. Meanwhile, the land dried up and became very hard. After many requests, City Hall again sent some men to plow the land and remove the rocks.

Sister Pat says, “Most of the older people have migrated from the mountain areas as young people, so they have their roots among the farmers in the mountain valleys. They truly enjoy working on the land and watching their seeds sprout and grow.” With the water tank, the older folks are very hopeful about producing something this year.

She reflects, “Like so many areas on this planet, there is very little water on the mountain sides around Arequipa. The relationship of hard work, to prepare the land and finally to produce a harvest is important but difficult. So much of the land in Peru is desert, and the miracle is to transform this desert into a green garden. This is the kingdom of heaven made visible.”

July 15, 2012

From Drug and Alcohol Addiction to Healthy Living

Providing wholesome, homegrown food for city dwellers whose health has been compromised through addiction is one of the hundreds of ways in which Medical Mission Sisters and our Associates try to be a healing presence to others today.

As part of its program of holistic recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, New Jerusalem Now (NJN) in North Philadelphia takes advantage of the summer season to grow its own produce. Lettuce, tomatoes, squash, kale, collards, peppers and more help feed the 30-40 formerly homeless residents of NJN.

Founded by Medical Mission Sister Margaret McKenna over 20 years ago, New Jerusalem Now reaches out to marginalized persons in a very poor area of the city. NJN’s five empowering therapies are:
_ addicts helping addicts
_ solidarity in recovery
_ recovery that includes 12 Step and
Alternatives to Violence Programs
_ family-like recovery model
_ giving back to the local community
NJN shares the homegrown produce it cannot use with those in the local neighborhood as a way of giving back.

August 1, 2012

Counseling the Victims of Sexual Violence

Learning how best to be present to women and girls who have experienced sexual violence is one of hundreds of ways in which Medical Mission Sisters and our Associates try to be a healing presence to others today.

In response to the need for counseling skills to help Medical Mission Sisters and others “be there” for those experiencing rape, incest and other sexual trauma, District West Africa hosted a “Counseling the Victims of Sexual Violence” Workshop in June. The nine-day workshop was led by Medical Mission Sisters Associate Sister Marie Ego, a Sister of Loretto, who worked with us in Ghana for many years. She also is a trained psychotherapist.

There were 11 participants in the program, five Medical Mission Sisters and six Sisters from other Congregations. It was a real international group with Nigerian, Filipina, Kenyan, Ghanaian and German Sisters attending. Sister Marie is from the United States.

Step-by-step, such issues as sexual exploitation, rape, victim-blaming, the wall of silence, incest and future trauma in the lives of abused persons were discussed. Participants learned why children are so afraid to tell their parents about any personal abuse they experience and why parents so often do not hear what their children are saying. Sister Marie addressed these often-labeled “delicate” topics using personal sharing and reflection, group discussions, practical exercises and some very illuminating movies. All felt they left the workshop much better prepared to help the women and girls who come to them for help.

August 15, 2012

Chinese Brush Painting and Meditation

Teaching others how meditation and art can come together is among the hundreds of ways that our Sisters and Associates try to be a healing presence today.

Sister Mary Gavin is known for her beautiful Chinese Brush Painting, her lovely liturgical enhancements and her instructive art classes. Her Contemplative Arts Classes–now in their 17th year–start again October 3, 2012, at our North American Headquarters in Fox Chase, Philadelphia.

Chinese Brush Painting is rooted in a rich tradition of many thousands of years. It is a spiritual discipline with principles and refined techniques, with purposeful use of brushes, ink, paper, color and composition. There are many people who find Chinese brush paintings to be some of the most understated, beautiful paintings around the world. Depicting subjects such as people, birds, flowers, and landscapes, these paintings represent one of the oldest styles of art in existence today.

Born and raised in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Sister Mary worked as a nurse-midwife and nurse-midwifery instructor for many years before pursuing her strong interest in art. She studied Art Therapy at Temple University and learned Chinese Brush Painting and Eastern Meditative Arts prior to beginning her Contemplative Arts ministry.

Sister’s classes introduce participants to all the steps involved in creating what appears to be “simple” artwork. They also offer 10-15 minutes of Silent Sitting Meditation. Sister Mary uses meditation because of its benefits to the body, mind and spirit. The practice of using simple breathing techniques helps one to focus and relax, reducing stress.

She says, “During meditation, you are focused on breathing. During the painting, you are focused on the brush and becoming one with the brush. Then, you have complete focus.”

Class Schedule:
Wednesdays beginning October 3, 2012, from 9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
Thursdays beginning October 4, 2012, from 9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
and 7:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. There will be seven weeks of classes.

For more information or to register, please call Sister Mary Gavin, at (215) 725-1843.

October 1, 2012

Special Companions at the End of Life’s Journey

Journeying with those preparing to go home to God is one of hundreds of ways that our Sisters and Associates try to be a healing presence today

For many years, a number of our Sisters and Associates have been special companions to those passing from Earthly to Eternal life. They each recognize the sacredness and mystery of this time in a person’s life. Each in her or his own way, offer their physical presence, their care and compassion, and their prayers, trying to be fully present to the person who is approaching death.

One such companion is North American Medical Mission Sister Denise Elliott, who has worked with hospice patients for some time. At Action AIDS in the 1980s, she witnessed many suffering people who were isolated from the structures meant to help them. But she also recalls, “I came away…enriched and more at ease with how people die, and at the same time, growing in my understanding that each death is as unique as each person.”

She shares, “I remember well the first time I just sat breathing in rhythm with a person who was in a deep coma. The experience of connecting with not only that person but life itself was, and is, a profound ‘knowing,’ of experiencing God.” For Sister Denise, being involved with hospice “is a way to stay close to this final incredible mystery.”
A social worker who has an MSW Degree from Temple University, and who once worked as an Assistant Administrator in Calcutta House, a hospice for men with AIDS, Sister Denise says, “another gift of being a hospice volunteer is availability to family members who are also traveling a new uncharted path. I am so impressed at how so many families unselfishly share home and time and energy to be there for their loved one who is dying.”

“Being part of hospice, accompanying a person who is dying, is a pure gift. It is for me a deep renewal of my belief in life, of my faith that love is God and this love is eternal.”

September 1, 2012

A Century of Service in India

Offering lifetimes of compassionate care to the people of India is among the hundreds of ways that our Sisters and Associates try to be a healing presence today.

Sisters Rita Kacheriparambil and Josephine Veliparampil, both from Kerala, South India, marked their Golden Jubilees as Medical Mission Sisters at a special Mass in Sandipani, Pune, on August 15. Close to 100 family members, friends and other Medical Mission Sisters from all over India joined the celebration.

A nurse before entering our Community, Sister Rita was trained as a midwife at Holy Family Hospital, Mandar, India; served there for several years; then worked in our hospital in Thuruthipuram, South India. She studied public health nursing and reached out to many in need of basic health care services in areas served by Holy Family Hospitals in New Delhi, Bombay and Mandar. Sister Rita was a member of our pastoral team at Kurji Holy Family Hospital, Patna, and in recent years has been part of our healing mission at the Holistic Health Centre in Pune.

Sister Josephine, a nurse-anesthetist, assisted at thousands of surgeries at Holy Family Hospital, Mandar, for many years. She then became part of our Community’s formation teams in Maner, Pune and Rajnigandha. Sister Josephine, whose brother Msgr. George Veliparampil was the main celebrant at the Jubilee Mass, currently serves in a variety of support services at our Holistic Health Centre in Pune.

“Our hearts are filled with joy and gratitude as we recall the past 50 years of our journey as Medical Mission Sisters,” Sisters Rita and Josephine say. Literally tens of thousands of people in North and South India have felt their healing presence throughout these years in very special and personal ways. Congratulations, Sisters!

September 15, 2012

Enriching the Lives of Children with Disabilities

Caring for children with disabilities in Peru is among the hundreds of ways that our Sisters and Associates try to be a healing presence today.

In Peru, the government declared 2011 to 2020 as the “decade of people living with disabilities” and 2012 as the “year of national integration and appreciation of our diversity.” Although there is a general (protective) law for people with disabilities, our Sisters in Peru note that all do not benefit from it. Disability remains a factor that aggravates the extreme poverty of many families.

COFARI (Community of Families and Comprehensive Rehabilitation) began in Arequipa 10 years ago in the house of the mother of a child with cerebral palsy. It began with three children and after a year grew to eight. The staff of COFARI 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 income and pay very little for the daily therapies.

Sister Pat Gootee shares the story of Eduardo who is five years old and has cerebral palsy and mental retardation. He could not walk or talk, but answered with his eyes and smile. Eduardo requires daily therapies to reduce the spasms of his muscles and facilitate the mobility of his body. Sister says, “He stays in COFARI during the day and his mom has found a job to support the family. After having surgery, he is able to sit in a wheelchair. We hope that in a year or two of physical therapy and occupational therapy, Eduardo will be able to enter a special school and learn a trade that can support him in life.”

Another child, Heiner is a 15-year-old boy who was born with “split spine” (a congenital spine disorder), could not read or write and had a learning disability. In 2010, the local government started a literacy project in the community center of the neighborhood (Bocanegra). Once a week, Heiner comes to physical therapy where he has contact with other children. Our Sister Tomasa, a teacher, has visited Heiner regularly and encouraged him to do handicrafts to sell and earn a little income. He also is involved in making handicrafts with other children and parents of the group receiving physical therapy in our project.

“For me, Heiner is a beautiful example of how therapy can let the kids be more independent, and this makes life easier for the family. It shows me also how much can be accomplished when the families take advantage of the opportunities that arise and get involved in the local community. We continue, day by day, walking with Heiner and his family,” says Sister Christianne Gadiot.

October 15, 2012

Loving Care of our Elder Ones

Offering care and support to our Elder Sisters in North America is just one of the ways we are called to be a healing presence today.

In North America today, we are committed to providing our elder Sisters with the health, religious and social services they need for the full length of their days. They have given so much of themselves to others throughout their lives. By offering a “continuum of care,” we try to help each one to participate as fully and as long as possible in her lifelong mission of healing.

Many of our older Sisters pioneered our missions in Africa, Asia and Latin America. After decades of service in hands-on health care, teaching, community development and efforts to educate and empower women, they have turned over their ministries to local counterparts and come “home.” These wonderful women in their 80s and 90s continue to be a healing presence in whatever ways they are able: helping with Community tasks, teaching literacy courses, praying daily for the needs of our world, helping in our Thrift Shop, writing letters to politicians about social justice issues, being active in local senior centers, and staying in touch with our Sisters overseas.

Sister Aquinas Hamilton, one of our Sisters living at our North American Headquarters in Philadelphia, says, “If you can do something, you can make a difference,” quoting another Medical Mission Sister–Mary Louise Lynch. And so they do!

We as a Community support our elder Sisters’ “new way” of being a healing presence by providing the physical assistance, adaptive devices and living situations they need. We listen to and share their stories with others, for they are full of life and hope and concern for those in need. We are blessed, indeed, by all they are and continue to call us to be as Medical Mission Sisters.

November 1, 2012

Life Among the Maasai in Loitokitok

Sharing life and ways to better health among the Maasai people in Loitokitok, Kenya, is just one of the ways we are called to be a healing presence today.

Sister Pat Patton from Tarrytown, New York, was in mission in Africa for over 40 years. From 1971 to 1982, Sister worked as matron at the first hospital in Maasai land, Loitokitok District Hospital in Kenya. The Bishop then invited her to establish a community health program in Ngong Diocese, which covers most of the tribal lands of the Maasai. “This meant preparing myself for an entirely different approach to health care, and combining health care with the development of people.”

The first step was to do a basic survey, to identify the primary health care needs. The community then selected the women and men they wanted to be trained as Community Health Workers (CHWs). Over 300 CHWs were trained in concepts of basic hygiene, disease prevention, and other health issues. They then went out and taught their individual communities what they had learned.

An integrated group from a number of areas in the parish also formed to address the problems of HIV/AIDS. “We decided to have a resource center, so that we could reach teachers, secondary school students, and the local population,” Sister Pat explains. “We started with a series of classes in our parish, and then we linked up with the Centers for Disease Control in Nairobi.” The center, Boma la Tumaini (House of Hope) was dedicated on World AIDS Day, December 1, 2004. World AIDS Day is recognized each year with programs to help further educate the community.

Over 100 people come to Boma la Tumaini each month for testing. If they are positive, they are able to get anti-retroviral drugs through a private clinic. “The most rewarding part of working with these people is to watch women develop their leadership qualities. They start with health education, and go on to the development of their community,” says Sister Pat.

Sister Pat spent her last years in Africa working with FRIFAT (Friends Fighting AIDS together). FRIFAT is a support group of 60 HIV-positive persons that meet weekly for classes, sharing, and celebrations. They learn income-generating skills (bead making, sewing, etc.) and work on a communal farm. Some members of FRIFAT have been trained as community health workers, and other members have learned about home-based care. As a result, they have been invited to give talks at antenatal clinics in the hospital, and at youth group meetings and in churches.

When Sister returned to the U.S. a few months ago, she knew she had left the Maasai people in and around Loitokitok with much-needed skills for a healthier life.

November 15, 2012

Computer Skills for Job Training

Teaching computer skills to persons searching for a job is one of hundreds of ways in which Medical Mission Sisters around the world try to be a healing presence to those in need today.

About 12 years ago, Sister Marie Schmids began working in our Connections Job Program, founded by Sister Joan Foley in New Port Richey, Florida. She recalls, “There was a definite need to respond to individuals who wanted to make career changes who needed computer skills. I was just learning about computer technology, and wanted to share what I knew with others. The Connections Program seemed to be a perfect match for me to do this.”

Since that time, Sister Marie has seen the need for basic computer skills grow dramatically. “Almost all applications for employment require some basic computer skills, and require the job applicant to understand how to complete the job application on the computer,” she explains.

She adds, “Lately, the number of older clients seeking employment has increased because of the existing housing and economic crisis in Florida at this time.” Many of the individuals who attend computer classes at Connections have no computer skills, and need one-on-one training on the basics of using a computer. Some of the clients need to learn typing skills as well.

“Over the years, the quality of the computer courses available at Connections have developed significantly – we are blessed with sufficient computers and good teaching materials!” says Sister Marie. Classes are given on: Windows, Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, QuickBooks, File Management, File Organization, E-mail Fundamentals, Internet for Job Search, and Internet for Research.

Sister Marie explains, “I have discovered practical tutorials that prove very helpful to those seeking employment. These tutorials are excellent software programs that are self-taught and fun for the student.”

“To be a part of my students’ enthusiasm and appreciation of their new computer skills is fulfilling, and an exciting part of my ministry at Connections.”

Pastoral Care in “Priestless Parishes”

Providing pastoral care in “priestless parishes” is just one of the ways Medical Mission Sisters have been called to be a healing presence.

Medical Mission Sister Joan Barina and Mercy Sister Joyce Ross spent over 30 years together, first as religious education coordinators throughout the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska, then as pastoral associates in Our Lady of the Angels Parish in Kenai. Appointed by the bishop to these positions, they are among a relatively small group of Church workers who have ministered to persons in parishes without resident priests.

The two Sisters recently published a book on their experience in Alaska entitled “Our Journey with the Real Church: Faith in the Last Frontier.” “Today, the entire Church is in need of ordained clergy,” they note in their book. “However, we have noticed that the Church in spite of fewer priests is the Church. The faith-filled laity (are) still practicing and are very aware that they are the Church.”

A Wisconsin native, Sister Joan entered the Medical Mission Sisters in 1961 and met Sister Joyce while working for the national hospital system in Alaska. During her three decades in the state, Sister Joan helped with sacramental preparation, RCIA programs, and catechetical work with adults and children. She also facilitated a Scripture study group and an outreach to prisoners. A graduate of Marquette University, in April 2012, Sister Joan received “A Person for Others Award” at Marquette’s Alumni National Awards Ceremony in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Both Sisters Joan and Joyce retired to Albany, New York, in 2009. While writing their book, they began serving as Eucharistic Ministers at Peter’s Hospital, a ministry they continue today, as well as “helping out” in the city’s Blessed Sacrament Parish.

“God is with us no matter what. We’re still praying to the same Jesus. He’s there even if ‘Father’ isn’t. I think people realize that,” the two Sisters reflect.

“Our Journey with the Real Church: Faith in the Last Frontier,” can be purchased from www.lulu.com

December 1, 2012

Contributing to Global Efforts toward Justice and Peace

Our collaborative work with the United Nations is just one of the ways Medical Mission Sisters have been called to be a healing presence.

Sister Celine Paramundayil has been the Medical Mission Sisters’ full-time UN representative since 2010. She says Medical Mission Sisters’ involvement with the UN is “an extension of our healing presence.” In our committee and in other collaborative work there, “we strive to give voice to the voiceless by advocating for policy changes that are vital for the health of humanity and our planet.”

The primary goal of the United Nations is to maintain international peace and security. In light of the current global context, for the first time a high level forum on the culture of peace was held at the UN General Assembly on September 14.

“According to Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury of Bangladesh, the culture of peace should be seen as the essence of a new humanity, a new global civilization based on inner oneness and outer diversity. A culture of peace is a set of values, attitudes and ways of life based on principles of freedom, justice, democracy, tolerance, solidarity and respect for diversity, dialogue and understanding,” Sister shares. “His words resonate the kingdom values of Jesus, the very values we Medical Mission Sisters uphold.”

Sister Celine says, “While the problems of our world seem immense and continue to grow, we can have hope that the shared global network of committed persons is a clear indication of the growing role of civil society across our world.”

Sister has participated in many meetings and events in New York, facilitated the participation of other MMS and Associates in a variety of UN events, and enabled visitors, especially participants of our 2012 Gathering of Newer Members in Philadelphia, to get a firsthand experience of our contribution to this world body. She continues to see her mission at the UN as linked to all peace and justice involvements that work in the spirit of the Millennium Development Goals and other global peace initiatives.

Medical Mission Sisters have been involved with the UN for over 20 years, receiving DPI (Department of Public Information) accreditation in 1994 and EcoSoc (Economic and Social Council) consultative status in 2000. We also are active participants in work for Women and Climate Change.

Sisters Janet Gottschalk, Teresita Hinnegan and Philo Morris led the way for Sister Celine’s current full-time involvement. They continue to participate in UN meetings, as does Sister Senait Mengesha in Ethiopia.

December 15, 2012

North American Ministries

Focusing on the needs of the poor and those easily overlooked or forgotten in North America is just one of the many ways that Medical Mission Sisters and our Associates try to be a healing presence today.

Our 119 Medical Mission Sisters and 41 Associates in North America begin a new year of healing mission by responding to the special needs of the poor, isolated, underserved or those in need of a special healing presence in a country often considered the richest and most powerful in the world. As all members of our Community, our Sisters serving in the United States and Mexico believe justice is integral to healing. They work and pray for the day when all will be treated with the care and concern they deserve as human beings and as children of God.

Women and their needs are a special focus of ministry in North America. Whether these women are victims of domestic violence or trafficking, newer immigrants looking for work, in prison or in transition from incarceration, homeless, uninsured, seeking greater knowledge and leadership skills, or struggling to make a good life for their families, Medical Mission Sisters reach out to them as part of hands-on and in-person programs. Some of these programs have been developed by us. Others we have joined as co-workers with others for justice.

Several of our Sisters teach English as a Second Language to adult learners. Often these students come early in the morning, before their minimum-wage jobs, to learn language skills that will help them to better support those in their care and eventually gain citizenship. Other immigration issues–safe housing, good health care, educational opportunities, income-generating projects–also receive the attention, and action, of our North American members.

Two of our Sisters in the US work on Native American Reservations, providing needed health care services. One is a surgeon, the other a psychiatric nurse practitioner. Other Sisters continue to offer holistic health services, especially among those who are poor and living with almost unbearable stress.

Our Sisters offer counseling, religious education and spiritual direction in several areas. Wherever possible, the Community’s love of liturgy and attention to its importance in our lives are shared with others. So, too, is our respect for and collaboration with persons of all faiths for peace and justice in our world.

Taking time to talk with the lonely in parish settings and in our Philadelphia Thrift Shop involves several MMS. We also are pleased to be present to those in assisted living and nursing care facilities, including some of our own members. Other Sisters share their communications and artistic talents and teach interested persons how to identify and develop them in their own lives.

Praying for those who share their special intentions with us is very important to all North American MMS and Associates and a special ministry of our elder Sisters.

January 1, 2013

Germany Ministries

Caring for the poor and vulnerable in Germany is just one of the many ways that Medical Mission Sisters and our Associates try to be a healing presence today.

Medical Mission Sisters have been in mission in Germany for over 50 years. A vibrant group, with half their members below age 50, our Sisters in Germany serve in Berlin, Bottrop, Essen and Frankfurt as doctors, pastoral counselors, hospital chaplains, social workers, theologians, and therapists. They are joined in mission by committed Associate members who together with them minister to the sick and dying, elderly persons, children, the homeless, those with disabilities, women who are trafficked and imprisoned, recovering addicts, and people who are seeking a deeper spirituality in their lives. They also participate in many activities that promote peace, social justice, and interreligious dialogue.

Living in an economically deprived area of the eastern sector of Berlin, our Sisters come face-to-face with signs of growing poverty and need. Working with those with disabilities, Sister Monika Ballani is the head of the pastoral care department for disabled persons in the Archdiocese of Berlin. With a similar ministry focus, Sister Thekla Schonfeld teaches at a school for children with special needs. Helping those in precarious living situations, poverty or other crises, Sisters Michaela Banks and Angelika Kollacks run a women’s counseling center. These Sisters also share their healing presence with those with addiction problems and with those who are former victims or victimizers of concentration camps now looking for inner peace.

In Bottrop, both Medical Mission Sisters and Associates accompany and support people who are acutely or chronically ill, are suffering from chronic pain, are dying, grieving or have other needs for counseling or pastoral care. To help women and men cope with the growing isolation felt in elderly households, our Sisters and Associates in Bottrop try to create a culture of care in the local parishes and communities by establishing groups of volunteers to visit sick and housebound people and by supporting volunteers of the local hospice group.

Our Sisters in Essen also give special attention to the needs of the elderly. In this, they encounter real poverty in material, mental, and emotional resources. Theirs is a unique contribution, as they explore the realities of aging and how best to help others respect the dignity of people in their elder years.

When she moved to the Essen community, Sister Maria Hohenadl took on the role of counselor and case manager in a Catholic care organization. Part of this position consists of visiting elderly and homebound people, eliciting their needs and finding ways to meet them. As a member of several parish communities, Sister Mechthild Driesch continues to try to make the Church present in people’s lives. She helped start a home visiting service for those needing care composed of fellow parishioners.

Medical Mission Sisters in Frankfurt live their mission of healing presence through the medical and psychotherapeutic care of those who are homeless, addicted to substances, and victims of violence. They also accompany people searching for God and meaningful spirituality in their lives.

At the Center for Spirituality in Frankfurt, our Sisters work together with a Franciscan priest and explore creative ways to express and share faith and deepen spiritual life. A local community of our Sisters, right next to the meditation center, supports their many programs and efforts.

Medical Mission Sisters and Associates throughout Germany come together often for prayer, liturgy and focused reflective sessions in which they share their experiences in mission. They also are very involved in sharing their life and work with interested women in “Come and See” weekends and in the on-going Integration of new Canonical and Associate members of the Community.

January 15, 2013