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Mission Stories

Enjoy this presentation of some of the extraordinary history of Medical Mission Sisters, introduction to some of the sisters and associated who are connected to Philadelphia Protestant Home.

Sister Betty Nabuguzi from West Africa has releases a brand new album.

Savarikadu villagers give thanks to MMS, standing on the left in the photo. 

Sister Jane Coyle was one of the first non-priests to be appointed to administer an urban parish in the United States!

Sister Betty Nagubuzi
Sister Betty Nagubuzi

Sister Betty Nagubuzi launched her new music album titled We Were Created to Love, January 31 in Techiman, Ghana.

Every year Sister Miriam Therese Winter and Associates Kristyn and Ed Manemeit collect and distribute thousands of toys, games, and other prizes to the children in the Hartford, CT area.

A collection of postcards discovered in our archives situates the Medical Mission Sisters in history, against a backdrop of significant world events in the twentieth century.

Sr. Mariam Julita Toppo makes vows for life in North India
Sr. Mariam Julita Toppo makes vows for life in North India
Typhoon hits the Philippines
Typhoon hits the Philippines

Typhoon Vamco slammed the Philippines early last month, including a devastating hit in an area MMS is newly accompanying. Our Filipino Sisters were able to solicit enough resources to share with four priority areas. Although Eco-HOME (Ecological – Healers of Mother Earth) Training Center is in this area it was safe as it is set on a high hill.

Associate Marge Sexton shares a delightful story of confronting grief with fun and song.

You don’t score political points on the backs of human trafficking survivors, and you don’t lie about human trafficking to scare voters. We are in this together.

It is with this collective and collaborative history in mind that we say we are alarmed and deeply disturbed by the intentional spread of conspiracy theories and disinformation about sex trafficking aiming to sow fear and division in order to influence the upcoming election. Anybody — political committee, public office holder, candidate, or media outlet — who lends any credibility to QAnon conspiracies related to human trafficking actively harms the fight against human trafficking. Indeed, any political committee, candidate, public office holder or media that does not expressly condemn QAnon and actively debunk the lies should be held accountable.

Lakota Instructions for Living passed down from White Buffalo Calf Woman 

Interfaith Prayer held by the Religious Leaders Council of Greater Philadelphia

World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, July 30, 2020

On her first trip west in the summer of 1893 the distinguished New England educator Katharine Lee Bates was inspired to write "O Beautiful for Spacious Skies." One hundred years later, in 1993, Sister Miriam Therese Winter wrote new stanzas to clearly include all of the Americas.

Residents of Philadelphia Protestant Home (PPH), including several of our sisters and associates, made a “joyous noise” from their windows and balconies last week to show their appreciation for the facility’s staff. Using bells, whistles, pots, pans and their own God-given lungs, the residents cheered the staff as they walked around the entire campus.

Around the world, the Coronavirus pandemic has transformed our daily lives, creating a host of new challenges for already vulnerable populations. In this issue, we share with you how a few of our Sisters are responding to both the concrete and emotional needs of their communities.

Medical Mission Sisters and Associates (MMS) live close to their neighbors’ harsh realities of poverty, homelessness, and social injustice. As medical professionals, therapists, volunteers, teachers, farmers and more, they are responding to the urgent needs with healing presence and inventive, practical compassion.

“It is a sight to see the colors all over the place!” MMS in Ghana write in response to the growing popularity of “Veronica buckets.” Originally invented 30 years ago by a woman named Veronica Bekoe, the buckets provide a safe and affordable option for handwashing. To help reduce the spread of COVID-19, Veronica buckets are now appearing in large numbers at the entrance of shops and other facilities across Africa!

MMS in Ghana share: “We salute Ms. Veronica Bekoe, and many like her whose little inventions make a lot of difference but who are not given the due recognition they deserve. Well done!”

MMS in Africa are working in new missions in three new areas. These new sites are in response to the great needs
of the regions as well as to the large number of women who are joining the Medical Mission Sisters in Africa. The focus in Kulmasa, Ghana is healthcare, agriculture, girls’ education, youth and women empowerment and water and hygiene. Sisters in Uganda are working with refugees in Adjumani and are developing a mission around
permaculture and eco-spirituality in Tororo.

Recently Sister Maigualida (Mai) Riera from Venezuela shared photos of children who, smiling behind their masks, remind us to look for the silver lining despite the increasing hardships brought on with COVID-19. MMS who operate the Solidarity Kitchen in Barquisimeto no longer have enough food to provide meals to the community. When local children beg them for something to eat, they sometimes assign the children a task, such as creating artwork. The children return with their completed assignment and receive a snack. Sr. Mai shares: “it is amazing to see children who can sometimes be aggressive express so much tenderness and beauty in their art.”

To combat some of the isolation produced by social distancing, Associate Pia Aporta and other families in her Frankfurt neighborhood paint messages on their windows to offer “hoffnung” (German for “hope”). It is heartening to observe the creative ways in which people are being present to others during this time of fear and uncertainty. Please be safe!

In a jubilant celebration on March 1, Sister Margaret McKenna received a humanitarian award for her loving and committed work on behalf of those struggling with substance use disorder. Sister Margaret opened New Jerusalem Now (NJN) over 30 years ago; the program now consists of five buildings that house 25-30 recovering men and women. City officials expressed glowing praise and alumni shared moving, heart-full testimonials about the healing impact Sr. Margaret has had on their lives. Thank you, Sister Margaret, for being a beacon of light for so many!

Over the decades that our Sisters and Associates spend in mission and in other healing roles, their spirituality is an ever-present part of their lives. It informs much of how they relate to others and discover their sense of purpose and meaning. Recently, three MMS took the time to reflect on their spiritual lives, kindly sharing some of the deep insights they have gained as a result of their years of experience and contemplation.  

Medical Mission Sister Margaret McKenna will be honored with a humanitarian award on March 1, 2020. A lifelong activist and healer, she was chosen to receive the award by the alumni of New Jerusalem, an addiction recovery program she founded in inner city Philadelphia in 1989. Be sure to RSVP to Georgetta (267-581-9225); the event will be at the TLO building located at 1625 Cecil B. Moore Avenue in Philadelphia from 1-5 p.m. See you soon!

When Mother Anna Dengel went to Pakistan nearly 100 years ago to provide medical care to Muslim women who were banned by the laws of purdah from seeing male doctors, she set an instructive precedent. Throughout our world, there are people whose quality of life is determined by circumstance. While technology and medicine continue to advance, those advances are too often out of reach for those made poor. Medical Mission Sisters and Associates are grateful to be among those who can help mitigate the circumstances of some of those who suffer. We humbly share with you the stories of two sisters working in Indonesia and India.

It has been nearly a decade since North American Associate Phil Pryjma founded Sawa Sawa, a non-profit that collaborates with other MMS and residents in Kenya. Together, they enrich their community through projects like building a solar water pump, teaching new agricultural techniques and rehabilitating a local school. They also provide vital medical care through a maternal child clinic, where they were recently able to purchase new ultrasound equipment that has already proven crucial in correctly diagnosing patients.

Medical Mission Sisters and Associates are excited to announce the election of new leaders in our East African and North Indian communities. In East Africa, MMS elected Gaudencia Wanyoni as Kenya Area Link, Brenda Lungat’so as Unit Coordinator, Josephine Nafula as Uganda and Malawi Area Link and New Members Veronica Njuguna and Maggie Lupiya. In North India, MMS elected Manju Joyes Ekka as Unit Coordinator, Anastasia Tete as Area Coordinator for Bihar, Usha Gaikwad as Area Coordinator for Maharashtra/Delhi and Anima Pushpa Toppo as Area Coordinator for Jharkhand.

Many years ago, our Founding Mother Anna Dengel wisely said that we should “be in step with the needs of our own lifetime, into which our responsibility is set by God’s providence.” As our Society enters its 95th year in 2020, we continue to take her advice to heart. Today, our Sisters and Associates work with populations affected by issues like gun violence, forced migration and prejudice. For many MMS, their experiences in mission inspired them to become fierce advocates for change. We share some of their stories and reflections with you in this article.

Yesterday, MMS in Bukidnon, Philippines enjoyed a festive celebration with members of the indigenous TINDOGA community, sharing a meal of rice, spaghetti, fried chicken, beef steak and apples. There was also candy and various children’s games, which some parents joined their children in playing. Sister Maria Adelina Acuña Arocha-Torres shares: “It was really a very heartwarming experience. God was certainly there yesterday with us on the second day of Christmas.”

Today on International Migrants Day, we think of the variety of stories our Sisters have heard from the migrants and refugees they encounter in their work. Sister Philo Morris (pictured standing) works with the Office of Pastoral Care for Migrants and Refugees in Philadelphia. One of the highlights of her work, she says, is the many friendships she has developed with families she serves.

Sister Maria Hornung (pictured), along with other Medical Mission Sisters, are thrilled to help facilitate the reopening of the Thea Bowman Women’s Center in Kensington, Philadelphia. The Center reopened on Monday, November 9, 20 years after it was originally opened by Franciscan Sisters in 1989. Named for a Franciscan Sister who helped found the National Black Sisters Conference, it serves as a "drop-in" outreach facility. There, women who are marginalized by poverty, homelessness, addiction, trauma and commercial sex work are invited to rest, shower and have a hot meal in a safe place. Please join us in praying for healing and well-being for the women who come to the Center.

In January of 2000 a project began to help refugee women entering the United States learn English, obtain healthcare, and gain the skills and education they would need in order to make a decent life for themselves. The idea started with Sister Lorraine Ryan MMS, and she shared it with Sister Joan Carusillo CSC. In Boynton Beach, Florida, they started small, and the project grew to become known as The Women’s Circle. The grand opening of the expansion of The Women’s Circle was held on November 16, 2019. Sr. Lorraine and Sr. Joan were honored as the co-founders. The Chair of the Board of Directors gave the welcome speech and recognition to the major donors who have supported this project, including the Medical Mission Sisters and the Sisters of the Holy Cross. Sr. Joan gave the opening prayer. Sister Lorraine expressed her gratitude to God and all those who contributed resources, staffed and volunteered to make this good work happen in Boynton Beach. Sisters Mary Kirkhoff and Pat Travaline, MMS, went to Florida to celebrate the expansion of this good work with Lorraine. Lorraine has handed over leadership to the new CEO, Julen Blankenship, who shares her passion for this work.

Medical Mission Sisters and Associates in the Philippines are working with the Missionaries of the Assumption in Davao to provide relief for those affected by a recent swarm of earthquakes. At least 14 people were killed and more than 400 were injured in Cotabato, a province on the island of Mindanao. An additional 2,000 families have been displaced. Please keep this community in your prayers as they work to recover.

Medical Mission Sisters and Associates in Philadelphia recently said “see you later” to Sister Pat Gootee, who has returned to the U.S. Mexico border to work with Central American migrants. For Sister Pat, who spent 40 years in Peru and speaks fluent Spanish, the work is very close to her heart. Earlier this year, she volunteered at Caritas in El Paso for three months. This time around she will join Sister Judy MacDonnell in Tucson, Arizona.

Medical Mission Sisters and Associates in countries around the world are engaged in projects to educate and empower women, often in societies where gender inequality is especially pervasive. Young girls are statistically less likely to receive an education than young boys, even though data consistently proves the old African proverb: “when you educate a girl, you educate a nation.” Data also shows that when women made poor are given economic resources like micro-credit loans, they start businesses and invest in their children’s futures. Education and economic independence foster self-esteem and, ultimately, empowerment.