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Archive for ARCHIVES/Meet Our Members – Page 2

Sister Usha Gaikwad

Sister Usha is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Born in 1967 in a village in Maharashtra, India, Sister Usha joined our Community “to be a healing presence to others, especially the sick, the neglected and the poor.” She first served at Kurji Holy Family Hospital, Patna, and made her Final Vows in 1999.

Sister Usha shares, “During my hospital ministry, caring for the newborns and patients made me grow in dependence on God and reach out with care, love and compassion. This has given me such joy and contentment in life.”

In Goa, India, Sister Usha was in mission with women interested in our Community. She took a course for this mission at the Jesuit Center in Patna. She says, “Accompanying young women was a great blessing as I was able to share in each one’s sacred journey, grow in faith, dependence on God and belief in the guidance of the Spirit.”

In 2009, Sister Usha joined our Holistic Health Center in Pune. She completed her Bachelor’s Degree in 2010, and is involved with health education and outreach. Students from ten different nursing colleges take the basic holistic health course offered at the center.

Sister Usha reflects, “My whole life is a response to God’s love, a life of unity and harmony, integrating myself in the community and ministry…the healing mission has given meaning to my life.”

February 1, 2012

Sister Mary Kirkhoff, M.D.

Sister Mary is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Born and raised in Chicago, Sister Mary graduated from Loretto Englewood High School and Clarke College in Dubuque, Iowa, where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology. She joined our Community in 1964, and earned her Medical Degree from St. Louis University School of Medicine. She completed her Family Practice residency at McNeal Memorial Hospital in Berwyn, Illinois.

In 1976, Sister Mary went to Ghana for three months of surgery experience in Africa, then spent three years as a staff doctor and medical officer at Nangina Hospital in Kenya. She ministered among Cambodian refugees on the Thailand border before repatriating to the U.S. in 1980.

Sister Mary completed a residency program at St. Vincent’s Health Center in Erie, PA, then worked for five years at Stewart-Webster County Hospital in rural Richland, Georgia. She returned to our North American Headquarters in 1986, and served as our property manager. In 1989, she began ministry with the U.S. Indian Health Service. She recalls, “There began my experience of Native American culture with the Sioux…a people who belong to a great extended family, who are very hospitable.”

Sister Mary returned to our Philadelphia headquarters for several years, to manage the care of our ill elderly Sisters. She then began working with underserved persons at the Community Medical and Dental Center in Rahns, PA, a small rural town about an hour from Philadelphia. She and Sister Carol Huss offered an Education and Healing Program that was integrated with the primary health care offered by this non-profit center.

““Mission for me means making the reign of God visible in the world around me by being a tangible presence of Christ the Healer,” Sister Mary explains. In 1999, when she and Sister Carol decided to move to McNeal, Arizona, she became the family practice doctor at the Chincahua Health Center, then immersed herself in the ecological dimension of health and healing.

Living just 15 miles from the Mexican border, Sister Mary’s current involvement is with a small business revolving fund that helps people find work so they can stay in Mexico with their families. She is on the Steering Committee of our Justice Co-Mission group.

February 15, 2012

Sister Josephine Brannigan

Sister Josephine is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Born and raised in South Shields, North East England, Sister Josephine completed her nursing studies in Newcastle on Tyne. She worked in New York for four years, then returned to England and joined our Community.

Sister Josephine’s first overseas assignment, in 1961, was to Amman, Jordan, where she was part of an international group of our Sisters who opened a new hospital. Her next mission was at Holy Family Hospital, Karachi, Pakistan. She then returned to England, where she became certified as a midwife, and served as District Coordinator until 1980.

Returning to ministry in Pakistan, Sister Josephine served for eight years at St. Teresa’s Hospital in Mirpukhas, Sindh. She then repatriated to England, and worked in a home for women with learning difficulties. In collaboration with the Sisters of Mercy, Sister Josephine helped to establish a residential home for frail older people in Hexham, Northumberland.

In 2004, Sister Josephine was again elected as our District Coordinator in England. She presently serves as health care coordinator for our English Sisters.

March 1, 2012

Sister Therese Hayes

Sister Therese is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

The oldest of nine children, Sister Therese joined our Community shortly after her graduation from Sacred Heart Academy in Stamford, Connecticut. She studied nursing at Georgetown University for two years, then earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Massey College in Atlanta.

Sister Therese did secretarial and administrative work in Philadelphia and in Ghana, at Holy Family Hospitals in Berekum and Techiman. In Kumasi, Ghana, she served as the private secretary to Bishop Peter Sarpong.

Returning to Philadelphia in the early 1970s, Sister Therese studied at LaSalle University, graduating with a dual major in Religious Studies and Criminal Justice/Sociology. She became involved in prison ministry, and was recognized for her dedicated service in Philadelphia prisons.

In her South Philadelphia neighborhood, Sister Therese has provided compassionate care to many vulnerable persons in their homes, hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes. She took care of young children; served as a patient care volunteer at Jefferson Hospital; assisted the elderly and their caregivers; and was an advocate for the poor and elderly at the local and state levels. She also volunteered at St. Paul’s Parish.

In 1988, Sister Therese began ministry as an AIDS Buddy with ActionAIDS, the largest AIDS service organization in Pennsylvania. She continues this work today, sharing, “I feel blessed by God to have gained so much knowledge and practical experience about AIDS, and I am grateful to be able to do this work.” She received her 20-year award from ActionAIDS in 2008.

March 15, 2012

Sister Marykutty Mathew Kudakkachira

Sister Marykutty is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Sister Marykutty, the youngest in her family, remembers that she felt drawn to our Community during a crossroads in her life. She recalls, “I knew in my heart that I wanted to give my life in service of others…the charism of Medical Mission Sisters was different. They encouraged women to be who they are, and be risk takers in challenging situations. They reached out to people and places where others dared not step in.”

After graduating from college with a Bachelor’s in Science and a diploma in nursing, Sister Marykutty joined our Community in 1983. She worked for over ten years as a bedside nurse. When her own mother died at 102, she was thankful to be able to care for her and have the support of the Sisters.

Sister explains, “After the death of my mother, I wanted to provide the same quality care to all who feel the pain of loneliness, helplessness, hopelessness and unworthiness.” She was encouraged to become involved in hospice care.

After studying palliative care at Calicut Medical College, Sister Marykutty was invited by the Holy Cross Sisters in Trivandrum to start a hospice unit in their area as part of their community outreach and welfare activities. She recalls, “Within a year the number of patients grew to over 200, but all were well cared for.” The local government has since taken responsibility for the program.

Sister reflects, “As I got more involved with palliative care, it broadened my vision of nursing…interaction between the patient, family, community, and the multi-professional care team is a key element for a successful program.”

Sister Marykutty recently moved to London, where she hopes to continue her mission in the field of palliative care. She is also assisting at our Generalate office.

April 1, 2012

Sister Sylvia Strahler

Sister Sylvia is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

A native of Suffield, Ohio, Sister Sylvia studied at Kent State University and earned her R.N. at St. Thomas Hospital School of Nursing in Akron. She worked at the hospital as a staff nurse, and at the Miami Heart Institute, before joining our Community. She made her First Vows in 1960.

Almost all of Sister Sylvia’s missionary life has been in Pakistan. She spent two years at Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi, where she was certified as a midwife. From 1963 to 1969, she was a midwifery tutor and ward supervisor at Holy Family Hospital in Karachi. She returned to the U.S. to obtain her Bachelor’s Degree from Ohio State University, and then served for 17 years at St. Theresa’s Hospital in Mirpurkhas, where she taught midwifery, and was involved in maternal/child welfare programs.

“The school was indigenous in language. Most of the students knew very little English…there were girls who were the first person in their village to be educated,” Sister Sylvia explains.

In 1989, Sister Sylvia left the hospital setting to join a Community Health and Pastoral Work program in Faisalabad, where she continues to live and minister today. The program includes a daily clinic with preventive health care, especially for women and children, as well as home visits to patients, and health care education. Sister Sylvia shares, “Our pastoral work is done in more what we call ‘basti’ – a depressed area of the city.”

In a country ravaged by floods, earthquakes, and political turmoil, Sister Sylvia finds simply relating to the people is an expression of healing presence. “I think people see us as a sign of hope…they say to me, ‘you’re just like one of us,” she says.

April 15, 2012

Sister Sunita Xalxo

Sister Sunita is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Active in her parish as a youth, Sister Sunita felt the call to religious life at a young age. She recalls, “I went with my friends to pray in one another’s houses. We also went to families where there were sick people and where they were in need of prayer. I have great devotion to Our Lady.”

When Sister Sunita joined our Community in 2002, she was touched by the simplicity of our Sisters. She remembers, “Many inspired me with their love, kindness, openness and their support.” After she made her First Vows, she was assigned to Hajipur, where our Sisters are in mission with the poor, the dalits, and especially women and children.

“I saw how helpless those women and children were as they struggled in poverty and how difficult it was for the women who had no means to educate their children…helping them in my small way gave me great joy.”

After a year in mission in Hajipur, Sister Sunita studied at Kurji Holy Family Hospital in Patna, India, and became a laboratory technician. She shares, “My understanding and vision for healing became deeper and wider as I spent two years as a student. I had opportunities of being with patients and consoling and interacting with them in their pain, bringing relief to them in whatever way I could.”

Sister Sunita continues her service at Kurji Holy Family Hospital. She reflects, “I love our mission and our Society and all that it stands for: healing, peacemaking, justice, eco-spirituality and empowerment of women and children.”

May 1, 2012

Sister Nina Fritsch

Sister Nina is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

A native of Detroit, Michigan, Sister Nina graduated from Providence Hospital School of Nursing and worked as a pediatric nurse before she joined our Community. Her first overseas assignment was to Maracaibo, Venezuela. She says, “I could not have imagined that this would be the beginning of my long, varied, challenging and most rewarding life in Latin America. I would live in modern hospitals and barrios in the city, mud houses, straw mat shacks, half-constructed homes, small villages, remote rural areas, in the rain forest and mountains, and on the seacoast.”

Sister Nina served in nursing and leadership positions in hospitals in Caripito, Judibana and Maracaibo, where she also helped to set up a public health outreach program. In 1973, she began four years of mission in Bolivia, where she directed four health centers and a nursing school that trained students for rural health care, and worked with nursing students in a government hospital.

After returning to Venezuela for two years as a pastoral worker and nursing consultant, Sister Nina served in Nicaragua for three years. She then moved to our global headquarters in London to assist with our Archives. In 1986, she moved to Peru, where she was involved in a variety of pastoral ministries, taught Bible classes, and worked with women’s groups and in the community kitchens.

When she returned to Philadelphia, Sister began serving as a healing presence among women in prison and in recovery from drug addiction. She is involved with justice work, and with the Church Ministry Institute of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Sister Nina reflects, “My life has been very full and continues to be so. Each step has been clearly the right step to take and in taking the step, things fall into the right place…this life has stretched me, fulfilled my dreams, and continues to fill me with joy and gratitude.”

May 15, 2012

Sister Corry Sulistiati Adimarwoto

Sister Corry is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Born in East Java, Indonesia, into a non-Catholic Chinese family, Sister Corry was baptized at the age of ten, and attended a Catholic school in Malang. In 1961, she became a naturalized Indonesian citizen. She graduated from pharmacy school and taught for two years before joining our Community in 1969.

Sister Corry served at Fatima Hospital in Parepare. In 1974, she attended the East Asian Pastoral Institute in the Philippines and then worked as our Formation Coordinator in Indonesia for nine years. She also served as our District Coordinator in Indonesia.

In 1995, Sister Corry was one of four Medical Mission Sisters who started a new community in Semarang. Four years later, she was elected as our Sector Coordinator in East Asia.

At the end of her leadership term, Sister Corry moved to Wangon, a small village in Central Java. She says, “I felt very much at home with the village people, and I felt that it was life-giving to me…when I was small, I was a village girl who grew up in a village context. Being in Wangon meant that I was in touch again with my roots.”

When Sister Corry was asked to move to the formation house in Semarang, the people from Wangon asked to accompany her as a way of expressing their gratitude. She explains, “They wanted to be involved in sending me out as their missionary. This was so very consoling to me.”

Now serving on our formation staff, Sister Corry is also in mission with elderly women in the parish.

June 1, 2012

Sister Andrea Serafini

Sister Andrea is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Born and raised in Renova, Pennsylvania, Sister Andrea graduated from St. Joseph High School and worked for three years as a public school secretary before joining our Community. She became a R.N. at St. Francis Hospital in Trenton, New Jersey.

“I spent 27 full and wonderful years in India,” Sister Andrea recalls. She was a nurse at Holy Family Hospital in Thuruthipuram, then served as our novice mistress in Kottayam. She went on to be Administrator at our Holy Family Hospitals in New Delhi and Bandra (Bombay).

Drawn to accompany very poor people, Sister became involved in an Urban Community Development Center in Bandra. In 1980, she was missioned to Kurji Holy Family Hospital in Patna, where she served as an outpatient facilitator and teacher in the nursing school before repatriating to the U.S.

Sister Andrea settled near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and began volunteering in the Community Skills Program at Goodwill. After two years, she became part of the staff. “Many of the trainees were adapting from a lifetime of being in an institution to a community living arrangement,” she explains. “We were teaching them daily living skills, communication and social skills.” She had responsibility for 22 trainees in the day program, and was honored by Goodwill for her efforts.

Reflecting on a lifetime of loving service, Sister Andrea shares, “Mission for me means making present the healing and transforming power of Christ as we enter the lives of the poor and oppressed, commit ourselves to overcome the causes of evil and struggle with others to further justice and peace.”

June 15, 2012

Sister Theramma Prayikalam

Sister Theramma is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Sister Theramma joined our Community at age 22, encouraged by a close friend who was a Carmelite. She already had a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. Soon after her first profession in 1975, she opted to live and work among the fisher people in Poothura, Kerala, India.

“I was motivated by the Gospel values of justice, love, equality and freedom. I realized that I could live out these values only by being with the poor, especially in their struggles to live as human beings. The poor and oppressed inspired me to a greater faith and loyalty to Gospel values, and a deeper commitment,” she recalls.

Sister Theramma worked for 30 years as a teacher and social activist, in deep solidarity with the fisher people as they fought for their rights. She explains, “Our active participation in the struggles of the fisher people helped me to redefine the meaning of my life as a religious.”

At the end of 2004, Sister went to the Philippines, where she earned a Master’s Degree in Feminist Theology. Her thesis, later published into a book, was on the “Spirituality of the Fisherwomen in Kerala: Inspiration and Challenge to Consecrated Women.”

Now Sister Theramma is serving on the core team of Ayushya, our alternative health center in Ithithanam, India. She reflects, “I believe that God has plans for each one of us to be fulfilled at different times in our lives. These are what can be called ‘times of grace.’”

July 1, 2012

Sister Catherine Shean

Sister Catherine is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and 80 Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

A native of Perth Amboy, New Jersey, Sister Catherine earned her R.N. at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York, and worked as a nurse at various health care facilities before joining our Community in 1943.

Sister Catherine became a nurse-midwife at our Catholic Maternity Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She served there for over 20 years, as an instructor and director. She remembers, “There were only three (nurse-midwifery) schools in the U.S. at that time, and we were one of them. We had many, many wonderful students through our program…and of course the privilege of taking care of mothers in their homes.”

Sister Catherine also was in mission in Ghana for over 20 years. She was a nurse-midwife and director at Holy Family Hospital School of Nursing in Berekum, and worked briefly in Techiman. She found great satisfaction in, “Bringing better maternity care to the women and families, and knowing that students would also carry on and use the training they received. It was always wonderful to see people’s talents develop and grow.”

From 1982 to 1986, Sister Catherine ministered in the social services department of Nangina Hospital in Kenya. She spent six months at Phalombe Hospital School of Midwifery in Malawi. In 1989, she returned to the U.S. and became involved in a number of activities.

Sister Catherine moved to Tucson, Arizona, where she taught at the St. Elizabeth of Hungary Clinic. She also was active in the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and in her parish. Today she is retired, and resides at St. Joseph’s Manor near Philadelphia.

A founding member of the American College of Nurse Midwives, Sister Catherine received the Hattie Hemschemeyer Award in 1994, in honor of her distinguished achievements in nurse-midwifery.

Healing presence for Sister Catherine is, “Just the day to day contact you hope the Lord helps you to have with each person…and helps them to realize how wonderful they are.”

July 15, 2012

Sisters in Integration and MMS Associates in Germany

Medical Mission Sisters are blessed by German women preparing to share their lives with us and with those in need, and by 12 German women and men Associates–all of whom carry on our mission of healing presence today.

At the end of June into early July, Medical Mission Sisters in various phases of integration into our Community and our German Associate members gathered for a Summer Weekend Workshop in Berlin. Fifteen women and two men joined Sister Beate Glania, our Coordinator of Integration in District Germany, and Sister Miriam Therese Winter, special resource for the weekend, reflecting on the theme of “Prayer” through song, ritual and quantum spirituality.

The Sisters were together an additional five days with Sisters Beate and Miriam Therese (MT), taking a closer look at “Anna Dengel and Prayer.” They shared several prayers written by our Foundress that were recorded in her diaries, collectively translating into German a prayer Anna had written in English. MT as she is widely known, has been doing extensive research on our Foundress, her spirit, vision and life journey from the small Austrian village of Steeg, and has discovered some wonderful “treasures” in the process.

“I was caught up in the Spirit-filled energy of our German Sisters and those associated with our communities there,” MT said on her return to the United States. “They are our future. How good it is to get to know one another as individuals and to add their names to my prayers.”

August 1, 2012

Marking a Total of 540 Years of Service

Nine of our 600 Medical Mission Sisters now living in North America are Diamond Jubilarians this year, marking the 60th anniversaries of their First Vows. They have been and continue to be a special healing presence, as are all of our Sisters and Associates around the world.

Sister Bernadine Cupen – born in Trinidad, Sister was a secretary before entering the Medical Mission Sisters. She became a medical technologist and served in our hospitals in North India for 15 years. She then worked in community development and pastoral work in Bombay, and helped to introduce the charismatic renewal there. In the US since 1986, Sister Bernadine has served as a pastoral associate for many years and now volunteers at New Jerusalem Now, a recovery program for formerly homeless and addicted women and men.

Sister Nina Fritsch – a Detroit native, Sister was a pediatric nurse before she became a Medical Mission Sister. Her overseas mission experience was as a nurse, nursing school instructor and pastoral worker in Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Peru, the latter especially with women’s groups. Since 1996 she has lived and worked in the Philadelphia area: with women in prison recovering from drug addictions, with the Ministry Institute of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and in raising awareness of and attention to the many areas of injustice in our world.

Sister Benet Gilland – a Mexican by birth, Sister Benet received her pre-Medical Mission Sister education in San Antonio, Texas. As a MMS, she received her Master’s Degree in Religious Education from Catholic University and her Master’s Degree in Liturgy from Notre Dame University. She taught postulants and novices in India and California, was a Spanish instructor at the Mexican American Cultural Center in San Antonio, and served as our Western District Coordinator for 6 years. Her life has been one of wholehearted response to the need, wherever it presents itself.

Sister Karen Gossman – born in Louisville, Kentucky, Sister Karen was a nurse who served in World War II’s Army Nursing Corps before joining the MMS. Sister served in Pakistan for 9 years, South Vietnam for 8 years and several years as Executive Director of the Vietnamese Assistance Program in Saigon and Washington, D.C. after the Vietnam War. She became a nurse-anesthetist and worked in Youngstown, Ohio, then Louisville. Sister Karen was very active in pastoral work and in a Covenant Peace Community in Louisville for many years.

Sister Katharine Heidkamp – a Chicagoan, Sister Katharine worked as an X-ray technologist before entering our Community. She served in Pakistan and Venezuela, then returned to the US to become certified in nuclear medicine. Sister received a Master’s Degree in Education, and taught at two colleges, in Illinois and New Mexico. After 25 years in the field of X-ray, she worked as a pastoral assistant on an Oneida Indian Reservation. She then focused her energies on justice issues. Sister received a national award for her untiring work to help cancel the debt of the world’s poorest nations.

Sister Carol Huss – a native of Hammond, Indiana, Sister Carol served as a nurse, nurse-midwife and hospital administrator in India for 39 years. She helped start the Voluntary Health Association of India and served on its faculty. An author of several books, she also helped advance the practice of holistic health modalities in India. When she returned to the US, Sister served in prison ministry and in our fund raising department in Philadelphia then moved to the Mexican-US border. Sister Carol is involved in micro-credit projects in Mexico and in parish ministry in Double Adobe, Arizona.

Sister Teresa Jaramillo – born and raised in San Luis, Colorado, Sister Teresa served 15 years in hospitals in Venezuela, directing housekeeping services, and doing social work and practical nursing. She received a degree in social work then spent 4 additional years in Venezuela and 11 in Nicaragua. For 4 years she worked as a pastoral minister in her home parish then moved to Tijuana. The past 20 years she has worked among the people of Colonia Fausto Gonzalez, a barrio next to what was long a garbage dump. She started a Women’s Cooperative there that has led to training and needed employment for many.

Sister Gertrude Provost – a Wisconsin native, Sister Gertrude became a nurse after entering our Community. Her life of service includes missions in Dacca, Bangladesh; Rawalpindi, Pakistan; Amman, Jordan; South Shields, England; and Ashland, Wisconsin, where she cared for her elderly parents. Since 1998, Sister Gertrude has lived and worked in Philadelphia, offering her special healing presence to women inmates. She is also deeply involved in the care of our elder Sisters, as they journey through the final stages of their Earthly life.

Sister Mary Schild – raised in Kansas City, Kansas, Sister Mary was a medical technologist before she became a Medical Mission Sister. She served in our Holy Family Hospitals in India for 12 years, then in Virika Hospital in Virika, Uganda, for 3 years. In the 1970s she returned to Kansas City and became Director of Chaplaincy Services at a children’s hospital. She also had a very special outreach to persons in the area with HIV/AIDS. Since 1987 Sister Mary has lived in Tucson, Arizona, extending her pastoral ministry to a number of older persons.

August 15, 2012

Sister Inge Jansen

Sister Inge in Attat, Ethiopia, is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and Associates who faithfully live our mission of healing presence today.

Born in Emmerich, Germany, in 1935, Sister Inge Jansen was 22 years old when she entered the Medical Mission Sisters in England in 1957. At that time, our Community had no formation house in Germany. After her First Profession of Vows, Sister Inge and several others were assigned to start a Medical Mission Sisters’ foundation in Essen, now a little over 50 years ago.

After she received her nursing diploma in Germany, in 1968 Sister Inge was assigned to Uganda to assist with preparation for another new mission of our Community, this time in Ethiopia. The country’s many health needs had deeply touched Mother Anna Dengel’s heart and she was pleased when there were both German and Indian Sisters who were able to respond to them. In 1969, Medical Mission Sisters assumed the administration and staffing of Attat Hospital, a rural, 73-bed hospital in the Gurage area of the nation. Since its opening, Sister Inge has been present in many healing ways to hundreds of thousands of women, children and men as a nurse, administrator, and manager of the hospital’s business office.

Sister Inge was recently awarded the Cross of the German Government for Distinguished Service for her 42 years of dedicated service to the Ethiopian people. The German Ambassador, Ms. Lieselore Cyrus, presented Sister Inge with this award in August at the German Embassy in Addis Abeba.

When receiving this very special honor, Sister shared her personal pleasure in the “many changes and highlights, especially the improvement in the health and educational status of the local population” over the years. Although now retired from active work, she continues to “be there” in Attat, offering support and encouragement to the Ethiopian co-workers who have assumed her previous positions. Attat Hospital also continues to be very actively involved in numerous aspects of health care, health education, disease prevention, provision of safe water and sanitation, and training of local health workers, and is a center for HIV/AIDS voluntary counseling and testing, and a safe haven for high-risk mothers to await the delivery of their babies.

September 1, 2012

Sister Katherine Baltazar — an Update

Sister Katherine is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and Associates in 17 nations trying to be present to others today in the spirit of Jesus the Healer

Sister Katherine Baltazar, who recently served as a psychiatric nurse practitioner at a Drug and Alcohol Treatment and Rehab Center outside Philadelphia, this month begins a new full-time mission in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, among people of the Lakota Nation on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation.

Eagle Butte is home to four different bands or sub-tribes of the Lakota: the Black Feet, Two Kettle, Without Bows, and Planters by the Water. Sadly, 47.9% of its people live below the poverty line. Per capita income is only $9,192 for a population of 1,318. Unemployment is high. So, too, is the instance of suicide. “The Indian County Times” has reported that 1 in 5 girls in the area has contemplated suicide; 1 in 10 has attempted it.

Sister will be working as a psychiatric nurse practitioner at the Cheyenne River Reservation Hospital and also will be going three days a week to field clinics in the area. A 2008 three-month experience with the Lakota Sioux in Rosebud, South Dakota, made her very aware of the suicide problems, especially among the youth. She is hoping she will be able to make a difference in at least some of their lives.

On a recent visit to Eagle Butte, Sister Katherine was greeted by many with the words “We really need you — when will you start?” She is pleased to answer, “Very soon!”

For more about Sister Katherine and her life as a Medical Mission Sister, visit: Sister Katherine Baltazar

September 15, 2012

Sister Dagmar Plum

Sister Dagmar in Berlin, Germany, is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and Associates who faithfully live our mission of healing presence today.
Sister Dagmar was born in 1944 and grew up in the Rhineland. She went to school in Monchengladbach and worked for one year as a volunteer in an orthopedic children’s hospital before attending the university where she studied theology, French literature and linguistics.

In 1964, she was granted a scholarship and met our Sisters for the first time in Malawi. A few years later she entered the Medical Mission Sisters in Essen. She made her First Vows in 1978 and Final Vows in 1984. She’s worked as a staff person with SOLWODI (Solidarity with Women in Distress) where she was a counselor, case manager and interpreter in Koblenz. In that city, SOLWODI opened its first safe house for victims of trafficking and forced prostitution, of forced marriages and brutal violence carried out by partners and family members. In 2008, Sister Dagmar said, “It is estimated that, worldwide, women prostitutes are being frequented by up to one million men each day.”

Of the legalization of prostitution in Germany in 2002, Sister said, “This law inhibits the detection of victims of trafficking and forced prostitution by police, who find it more difficult to differentiate between legal and criminal prostitution.”

Sister Dagmar is a founding member of RENATE (Religious in Europe Network against Human Trafficking and Exploitation), a group of women religious in Europe who are committed to working together against human trafficking and exploitation. In her work with the Jesuit Refugee Service at a detention center near the Polish border, Sister Dagmar regularly meets women and men victims of trafficking, who are detained because they have no documents. In addition to pastoral work and counseling, she initiates or follows up on juridical procedures for the detainees. She also is teaching some of them English, German, and French. For Sister Dagmar, who has been involved in work against human trafficking for many years, RENATE is a great support.

October 1, 2012

Associate Recommitments

Medical Mission Sister Associates in North America recommit themselves to carry on our mission of healing presence.

After 15 years of Associate membership, the following Associates made their Commitment for Life:
Bud Wilkins –Over the years, he provided substance abuse counseling for the homeless and was a team member in prison ministry. Bud volunteers at our Medical Mission Sisters’ Thrift Shop in Fox Chase, Philadelphia. He is a former insurance broker.

Lee Wilkins – A nurse and counselor, Lee is currently learning with and accompanying her husband, Bud, also an Associate, in their walk with his Alzheimer’s diagnosis. They both are enthusiastic participants in a clinical trial, testing a potential Alzheimer’s medication.

Cathy Chatelain – Cathy is enrolled in a two-year course in real estate investing and counseling. “Home Solutions” benefits those struggling to sell their home, to avoid mortgage default, or to better their home’s condition to ready it for sale. A former software engineer, Cathy expresses her interest in alternative healing through Matrix Energetics seminars.

Pauline Bazinet, MD – Pauline was long in service with Medical Mission Sisters in India. Before she retired, she was the Medical Director of the Royal Ottawa Psychiatric Hospital. Pauline now savors time for quiet reading and prayer, as well as the simple joys of hearth and home.

Anne Morgan – A nurse-anesthetist and hospital administrator, who lived and worked many years with Medical Mission Sisters in India, Anne is now retired. She speaks with fondness of early-times in Mission where each Sister was capable of doing “everything” – a necessity due to slender staffing.

Rosemary Nagl – Rosemary is a RN, visiting nurse and liturgical drummer. She has suffered with chronic illness for more than a decade. Now, Rosemary identifies “learning to receive care” as one of her disciplines.

Judy Leiby – Judy worked in corporate information technology for many years and is currently a hospice staff person, certified in therapeutic harp. She is also a certified master gardener through a University of Utah program in low-maintenance, mountain plant species.

Therese Connolly – A Full-Time Veterans Administration Nurse and Mental Health Case Manager in the Philadelphia area, Therese has a Certification in Pastoral Counseling from Loyola College of Maryland.

Theresa O’Connor – A nurse with a Masters from Yale University, her current practice in the Delaware Valley is in Holistic Psychotherapy and Professional Coaching. Her current work is Holistic Psychotherapy and Professional Coaching Corporations. Theresa also is involved with eldercare.

Cass McKee – Cass works with her parish bereavement team and recently attended an event on Ecology and Spirituality at the United Nations in New York City. She was drawn to Medical Mission Sisters though studies with our Sisters in scripture, theology and spirituality. Cass is also a mother to eight, grandmother to 24 and great-grandmother to three.

The following Associates renewed their Commitment for five years:

Marie Conti – A graduate of the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Marie works in Hospital Risk Assessment and Quality Control in the North Philadelphia Health System. She is a peer counselor in substance abuse and also volunteers with Philadelphia “Red Paws,” an animal rescue subsidiary of the American Red Cross.

Larysa Kilpatrick – A retired Montessori teacher and school nurse in Abington Township, PA, Larysa is also a volunteer visitor and reader for our MMS elders in residential care. Her spiritual practice includes the discipline of meditation, which she shares with her toddler grandson.

Camillia Falotico – Camillia has a BS in Business Administration, with a specialty in accounting. With a professional career in the Medical Mission Sisters’ Finance Department, Camillia is the current Director of Finance. Deeply rooted in her large Italian family, Camillia is a sought-after dessert chef.

For more information on our Associate Program, please visit Associate Membership.

October 15, 2012

Sister Bina Stanis

Sister Bina in Kasiadhi, India, is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and Associates who faithfully live our mission of healing presence today.

Sister Bina Stanis, originally from Tamil Nadu, was born and raised in Nagpur, Maharashtra, and entered the Medical Mission Sisters in 1985. She completed a Master’s degree in sociology and has mainly been involved with those in need at the grassroots level. She lives in the village of Parez, one of the many villages whose people have been displaced since 1997, and works with the communities in Lonpongtandi, Horomocha, and the struggling farmers of the Karanpura valley.
“Displacement is a very complex phenomenon,” says Sisters Bina. She has had a special ministry of justice among the poor people of Jharkhand, India, who have been removed from their tribal homeland by the coal mining industry. In Kasiadhi, Sister 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 hold onto their property and land rights.

In addition to helping the indigenous people struggle to keep their homes, she also helps them to address their health needs. Jharkhand does not have basic health facilities for 80% of the people who live in villages. 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.

“For indigenous peoples all over the world, land is sacred,” says Sister Bina, who celebrates her Silver Jubilee as a Medical Mission Sister on November 10 in Kasiadhi.

November 1, 2012

Sister Christi Kancewick

Sister Christi in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and Associates who faithfully live our mission of healing presence today.

Chicago native Sister Christi Kancewick, who made her First Vows on June 10, 2012 in Philadelphia, is one of our newest Medical Mission Sisters in North America. She graduated from Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School in 1974, then went to Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI, and received her B.S in Physical Therapy in 1978. Her work as a physical therapist included long-term rehabilitation, pediatric care with children in schools, and special therapy with cancer patients.
A member of St. Irene Parish in Warrenville, Illinois, Sister Christi always had an interest in religious life and mission. She felt a calling to the Medical Mission Sisters because she could “help without being heroic and through just being who I am.” Sister received her Master’s Degree in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University in 1983. She also studied Spiritual Direction at the Claret Center in Hyde Park, Chicago

Before entering the Medical Mission Sisters, Sister Christi was the Director of Adult Faith Formation at SS Peter and Paul Parish, in Naperville, IL. She became a candidate/novice of the Medical Mission Sisters in March, 2010. Her ministry includes participation in the RCIA program (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) and the Alternatives to Violence Project. She also supports the efforts of Covenant House, a safe refuge for runaway teens.

A new venture for Sister Christi is living and working among people in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia, exploring life issues with teens and young adults. She says, “Healing mission for me comes from my relationship with God. It is about significant relationships with everyone who crosses our path, and having inclusive relationships in ‘every day ways’.”

In September, 2012, she was appointed Membership Promotion Coordinator of the Medical Mission Sisters in North America.

November 15, 2012

Sister Nigist Biru

Sister Nigist in Attat, Ethiopia, is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and Associates who faithfully live our mission of healing presence today.

Born in Ethiopia in 1967, Sister Nigist Biru graduated from nursing school before she entered the Medical Mission Sisters in 2003. She made her First Vows in 2005. After making her vows she began mission in Attat Hospital, in Attat, Ethiopia, working as a ward nurse and in charge of the voluntary counseling and testing for HIV/AIDS.
She also has been active in the counseling related to HIV/AIDS therapy. 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. Sister Nigist found the key to helping is being fully present to those who come, showing love and sharing their pain and suffering.

Sister recently received her official diploma as a Health Officer. She now is working in the Outpatient Department of Attat Hospital and also is overseeing its Nutrition Unit. In the parish, she is involved with young people and a sewing group, whose profits go into an education fund for the youth.

A special “accompaniment” of Sister Nigist was her work with Our Lady of Lourdes Young Women’s Self-Help Project. This program empowers young women socially and economically, and equips them with skills to earn their future livelihood. The program also includes health education, so the women learn how to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS.

In early 2013, Sister Nigist will make her Final Vows as a Medical Mission Sister, an occasion she is anticipating with great joy. Her Profession of Vows for life will bring to 3 the number of our Ethiopian Sisters who have made life commitments to our mission of healing.

December 1, 2012

​Sister Frankie Vaughan

Sister Frankie Vaughan is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and Associates who faithfully live our mission of healing presence today.

Born in Baker, Oregon, Sister (Frances) Frankie’s family moved often as she was growing up because her father was in the military. Her first 3 years of high school were in Wiesbaden, Germany. She completed high school at Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School in Washington, D.C., and joined the Medical Mission Sisters at age 18. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from St. Louis University, and a Master’s Degree in Behavioral Sciences from Johns Hopkins University.
From 1972-74, Sister Frankie lived in Rome, Italy, and served our Foundress, Mother Anna Dengel, by being a liaison to her at our 1973 Chapter meeting, and by assisting with her personal papers. In 1978, Sister Frankie was missioned to Ghana. She served for 5 years as Diocesan Health Development Coordinator in Sunyani, and also was our District Superior for West Africa.

Sister Frankie Vaughan later studied drawing, watercolor, figure drawing and sculpture. Art became a part of her ministry with poor teenagers and adults, persons with addictions, and those suffering with AIDS. “I simply tried to assist them in the expression of feelings and emotions for which they had no words,” she explains. “When I’m doing art work, I feel really connected and whole. I sense a direct and tangible connection between my inside spirit and the work of my hands. When I do something that brings my insides and my outside together, that’s more wholeness. What any of us aspires to be is so often beyond words…art forms help us to reach where we want to be.”

While developing her own artistic talents, Sister Frankie has discovered a number of ways to facilitate creative expression in others, as well. A member of the Association Uniting Art and Religion, she also is a member of our own Liturgy Team. She has taught art and given workshops to a variety of groups, including persons with AIDS, teens and women struggling to overcome addiction, and African American young and older adults at the Southwest Community Enrichment Center in Philadelphia.

After six years in Community Leadership in North America, Sister Frankie now focuses a major portion of her energies on “Mission Green,” a 61-bed, low-income, fully accessible, independent living facility, soon to be built at our Philadelphia headquarters. It will serve a need for affordable senior housing for the local community, as well as for our own Sisters.

December 15, 2012

Sister Elizabeth Vadakekara

Sister Elizabeth Vadakekara is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters and Associates who faithfully live our mission of healing presence today.

Born in Kerala, India, Sister Elizabeth Vadakekara entered the Medical Mission Sisters in 1965. She made her First Vows in 1968 and attended the Christian Medical College in Punjab. She chose to be a general practitioner, and served as a junior doctor at our Kurji Holy Family Hospital in Patna, and at our Holy Family Hospital in Mandar. “My interest has always been connected to community-based interventions,” she says.
Her first overseas mission was to Holy Family Hospital in Bongao, the Philippines, where she practiced as a physician for five years. “We were available 24 hours, 7 days a week and 365 days of the year,” she recalls. “Interaction with the tribal people energized me, and sustained my commitment to be for the people without counting the cost.”

When Sister Elizabeth returned to India, her focus was on developing community health programs in different villages with a vision of self-supported programs for the people and by the people. To help with this ministry she earned a Post Graduate Diploma in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry from King’s College in London.

In 2004, Sister Elizabeth began serving a six-year term as our Sector Coordinator for Asia. A member of the Kerala Conference of Major Superiors’ Action Committee for Tsunami Relief and Rehabilitation, she coordinated many aspects of outreach to tsunami victims, including those of our own Community. She also was involved with the Thrani Center for Crisis Control, and represented the center to the government’s health department when needed. In addition, she served as a consultant to persons with HIV/AIDS.

Sister Elizabeth was elected our Assistant Society Coordinator in 2010 and now lives in our international headquarters in London. In her many expressions of mission, she participates in a wide variety of public health, justice and religious life conferences worldwide. With Society Coordinator Sister Agnes Lanfermann, Sister Elizabeth provides support and leadership to our almost 600 Sisters in mission on six continents.

In Advent, Sister shared her personal reflection on what she believes is at the heart of the season and also at the heart of the Medical Mission Sisters’ life: “to let go of all that does not contribute to our being a healing presence of Christ in the community of life.”

January 1, 2013

In Celebration of Sister Elaine Kohls

Sister Elaine Kohls is one of 600 Medical Mission Sisters in 17 nations trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer.

Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, Sister Elaine joined the Medical Mission Sisters in 1955 at the age 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.
When she returned to the U.S. in 1983, Sister earned her Master’s Degree in International Development at Iowa State University, where she was recognized for high scholarship. In 1984, she took on the administration of Attat Hospital in Attat, Ethiopia.

At that time, Attat Hospital’s service area included 1.5 million people, with one physician for every 250,000 people. The hospital initiated programs for immunization, clean water, and integrated development. In 1991, it won the World Health Organization award for health education in Primary Health Care.

Sister Elaine became the Manager of St. Luke Catholic Hospital and College of Nursing in Wolisso, Ethiopia, when it opened in 2001. “I need to be here in this place at this time, to be with people in their struggle,” said Sister Elaine. “To be Christ bearers with all that can entail, and to let them be Christ bearers in turn, to us and to those they live and work among.”

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.

There are now 52 safe water sites which have been developed by the public health department over the years. The hospital is responsible for the ongoing maintenance of the sites. The communities are involved in the construction, which accounts for about
15 % of the total cost for hand dug wells and springs.

On January 1, 2013, Sister Thianesmary, of the Indian Daughters of Mary Immaculate, assumed the role of General Manager of St. Luke’s Catholic Hospital and College of Nursing and Midwifery from Sister Elaine. The weeks ahead will be special times of transition for both Sisters.

January 15, 2013

A North East India Mission

Our 16 Sisters in North East India are among almost 600 Medical Mission Sisters trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer today.

In the northeast corner of the nation of India, Medical Mission Sisters reach out in a special way to many persons who have long lacked the opportunities for good health care, education and life-supporting livelihoods. Malaria is very common in most of the towns and villages in which our Sisters serve. So, too, are poverty, illiteracy and exploitation of women.  An active advocate for the empowerment of women as valuable agents of change, Sister Alex Illimoottil has been working with the North East Diocesan Forum in Kohima to help women become more aware of the realities that are part of their lives, and to organize them into groups that can address these issues. Leadership training is an important part of her ministry. “We aim to ensure women equal status in all spheres of life,” she says. Sister Alex is also very involved in the informal education of school-age children who do not have access to any other form of education. Other Medical Mission Sisters in Kohima offer special programs for teen-age boys and reach out to those addicted to drugs and alcohol.

Sister Rose Kayathinkara has been honored by the government for having “the best cooperative in North East India.” She founded the Mendipathar Multipurpose Cooperative Society two decades ago and has seen many women gain knowledge, confidence and incomes to help support themselves and their families. Another of our Sisters spends her time caring for the sick in the interior villages that have long gone without health care.

In Rajabala, Medical Mission Sisters try to live an eco-friendly life and care for the Earth through organic farming. Sister Nirmala Chirackapurayidam also trains local health personnel in basic health care and health education, and holds life and justice awareness classes for the youth.

Our Community members living in Chumekedima are neighbors to migrant peoples who are poor and marginalized in many ways. They live in great poverty and most cannot read or write. With these limitations, they have found it difficult to change their lives. We reach out to them, offering health care, feeding programs, nutrition classes, informal education, literacy training, and support to obtain safe housing. In this and all of our ministries in North East India, our Sisters try to be present in a healing way, helping women, children and men who have been denied the basics of life to come to experience what being a human being can and should mean.

February 1, 2013

​A North East India Mission

Our 16 Sisters in North East India are among almost 600 Medical Mission Sisters trying to be present to others in the spirit of Jesus the Healer today.

In the northeast corner of the nation of India, Medical Mission Sisters reach out in a special way to many persons who have long lacked the opportunities for good health care, education and life-supporting livelihoods. Malaria is very common in most of the towns and villages in which our Sisters serve. So, too, are poverty, illiteracy and exploitation of women.
An active advocate for the empowerment of women as valuable agents of change, Sister Alex Illimoottil has been working with the North East Diocesan Forum in Kohima to help women become more aware of the realities that are part of their lives, and to organize them into groups that can address these issues. Leadership training is an important part of her ministry. “We aim to ensure women equal status in all spheres of life,” she says. Sister Alex is also very involved in the informal education of school-age children who do not have access to any other form of education. Other Medical Mission Sisters in Kohima offer special programs for teen-age boys and reach out to those addicted to drugs and alcohol.

Sister Rose Kayathinkara has been honored by the government for having “the best cooperative in North East India.” She founded the Mendipathar Multipurpose Cooperative Society two decades ago and has seen many women gain knowledge, confidence and incomes to help support themselves and their families. Another of our Sisters spends her time caring for the sick in the interior villages that have long gone without health care.

In Rajabala, Medical Mission Sisters try to live an eco-friendly life and care for the Earth through organic farming. Sister Nirmala Chirackapurayidam also trains local health personnel in basic health care and health education, and holds life and justice awareness classes for the youth.

Our Community members living in Chumekedima are neighbors to migrant peoples who are poor and marginalized in many ways. They live in great poverty and most cannot read or write. With these limitations, they have found it difficult to change their lives. We reach out to them, offering health care, feeding programs, nutrition classes, informal education, literacy training, and support to obtain safe housing. In this and all of our ministries in North East India, our Sisters try to be present in a healing way, helping women, children and men who have been denied the basics of life to come to experience what being a human being can and should mean.

February 1, 201