Medical Mission Sister Dr. Fernande Pelletier was awarded by the Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG) for her “historic and immense contributions to Christian health service delivery in Ghana.” After being missioned to Ghana in 1961, Sister Fernande was instrumental in establishing clinics in multiple villages, often under difficult conditions. She continued her service to CHAG long after reaching the compulsory retirement age of 60.
Caption: A photo of Sister Dr. Fernande Pelletier taken before she retired in 2016 at age 84.
After graduating from Little Flower Catholic High School for Girls in Philadelphia, Associate Marie Conti was convinced she should become a nun. The Mother Superior from the Dominican Order who interviewed Marie told her to take one year off to “explore life.” Marie moved to Miami and after getting pregnant, returned for Philadelphia and made an adoption plan for her baby.
Over the next few decades Marie struggled with drug and alcohol addiction. During this time, she earned a degree from Wharton School of Business at University of Penn, got married, had a child, and got divorced five years later. For 30 years she worked in healthcare and in risk management/patient safety.
In 1992, Marie entered a twelve-step program and learned about the MMS Peace Hermitages. For the next seven years she came to stay in the hermitages as often as six times a year, a key part of maintaining her sobriety. Through our Sister Jane Burns she learned about MMS Associates and made her first Associate commitment in 2011. Now retired, she devotes her time to ministries like the “Radical Hospitality” programs at Broad Street Ministry.
Marie shares: “The focus of my life has become service, as opposed to material gain. I desire to bring succor to a suffering world. To comfort God’s broken creatures, of which I am one.”
Sister Selena Wilson, OP, describes 2016 as grace-filled and blessed. This was the year she made her first commitment as a Medical Mission Sisters (MMS) Associate, and had surgery to remove her right kidney and a cancerous tumor. Sister Selena shares that even though she had feared the worse, God’s grace showed her how to pour herself into her ministries at Holy Cross School, in the Heart-to-Heart program and Alternatives to Violence Program (AVP), easing her worried focus on her fate.
A Richmond, Virginia native, Sister Selena served in the Army Medical Service Corps, earned a Temple University degree in Creative Arts/Recreation Therapy in 1984, and joined the Dominican Congregation. While caring for her ailing mother in 2010, Sister Selena had searched for a religious community nearby with whom to live. After meeting with Sister Jean Mouch, MMS, she knew she would be happy living with the MMS Community. She now lives with Sister Lucy Klein-Gebbinck, MMS, in Camden, NJ.
Sister Selena shares: “I believe we take our ‘healing presence’ with us or rather, it’s just a natural part of who we are. God had a plan all along and I’m so glad he chose me to experience such a glorious and strong healing presence in the spirit of Anna Dengel and the Medical Mission Sisters.”
Medical Mission Sisters congratulate Sister Lorraine Ryan, who recently received the Golden Rule Award from the Catholic Realtors & Real Estate Professionals of Boca Raton, Florida. The award was given in recognition of her work against poverty. After serving 15 years in India, Sister Lorraine founded Women’s Circle, which offers classes and job development services to almost 300 immigrant women each year.
Caption: Sister Lorraine Ryan poses with Bishop Barbarito at the award ceremony.
Many years ago, Mother Anna Dengel caught a glimpse of Sister Patrice McSweeney walking past her office and called her aside. Was there any reason, Mother Dengel wanted to know, that Sister Patrice wouldn’t want to return to Venezuela, where she had lived as a young girl, for her first mission assignment?
Sister Patrice recalls: “I just stood there like a poker and said ‘no, there’s no reason at all.’ On the inside, I was doing cartwheels!”
She would go on to spend nearly 40 wonderful years in Venezuela. She first went to Maracaibo, then to Caripito, where she served as a nurse. She later earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in public health from the University of Puerto Rico. Afterwards, she went back to Venezuela, this time working in Barquisimeto, helping deaf and handicapped children in Barrio La Paz to receive an education. In 1999, Sister Patrice repatriated to the United States after she “came down with a bug.”
“The Lord knew that was the only way to get me back here. I loved everything about Venezuela,” Sister Patrice theorizes. It took her about six months to recover and, afterwards, she became active in pastoral ministry, visiting the sick, and working as an office aide for a literacy center. Sister Patrice now volunteers part-time in our Community’s Mission Development Center.
At an early age, Sister Pauline Sadiq’s father showed her the importance of being interconnected with the Earth. The eldest of seven children raised in Sindh, Pakistan, she spent her early childhood crawling around in clay, playing with it and using it to make toys. Her father was a farmer, and he brought home fresh vegetables for supper each day. She loved the way that he always walked barefoot across the Earth, soaking up its positive energy.
“This energy made him gracious and a peaceful person,” Sister Pauline recalls. “I am proud to be the daughter of a farmer.”
Entering the Medical Mission Sisters in 1992, Sister Pauline made her Final Profession of Vows in 2002 after training as a nurse-midwife at Holy Family Hospital in Karachi. For ten years, she served in our dispensary in Faisalabad and helped to found the Lahore Community in Pakistan. In addition to serving as formation director, she regularly visits the “bonded” workers forced to work in the brick kiln to pay off family debts.
Sister Pauline shares: “I am challenged to be a voice of the voiceless. I need to trust myself and believe that I am God’s beautiful daughter. God is dwelling in me and is my co-journeyer. Then I will become the voice of the voiceless.”