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Mission Stories

Celebrating 80 Years in Fox Chase

Celebrating 80 Years in Fox Chase

Eighty years ago, Mother Anna Dengel relocated the Medical Mission Sisters (MMS) from Washington D.C. to Philadelphia’s Fox Chase neighborhood. She knew on the first day she visited the property that 8400 Pine Road would be our home. In celebration of our anniversary, we invited the community to join us in a series of events, beginning with an opening reception on September 7. We hope you enjoy reading some of the reflections our Sisters and Associates have shared with us. 

The MMS administration building at 8400 Pine Road was abuzz with chatter on Saturday, September 7, as our Sisters happily regaled friends and neighbors with memories from their years in mission. They answered a range of questions: “why did you become a Medical Mission Sister?”, “what countries did you live in?”, “what were the people like?”

Over 100 people- friends, neighbors and MMS - attended. Visitors roamed the hallways, checking out artifacts, artwork and vintage photos depicting what life was like in those early days. 
"Life on campus was a lot more fun than people might realize," says Jenna Olszak, who works in our archive department and was responsible for developing the exhibit. She explained that, in addition to studying, growing their own food and even raising livestock during their formation, “[the Sisters] loved ice skating, taking the boat out to the lake and they played lots of sports."

The opening reception to the exhibit gave us a chance to share many of our Community’s most cherished memories with the outside community. Throughout the rest of the month, neighbors and friends continued to visit the exhibit, including a local mother who wanted to give her homeschooled child a history lesson. We wrapped up the end of our celebratory month with two workshops.  

Sister Lucy Klein-Gebbinck led a group in “Practices for Presence: A Morning of Meditation” with a friend and licensed massage therapist, Fiona Hesketh, on September 21. Among the approximately 30 people who attended the workshop, various people described feeling "a sense of gratitude," "centeredness," "a sense of connection" and "an initially really busy mind coming to a place of stillness and then joy."

“I think that the quiet that pervaded the whole group says something about the needs of the people,” Sister Martina Schaefer reflected after attending the workshop. “They need more periods of quiet; not just verbal prayer but quiet prayer. It gives you a chance to go within yourself. With a lot of external noise, that’s impossible.”

The workshop drew on the work of Donna Eden, an author and spokesperson who teaches Energy Medicine, a set of techniques- such as acupuncture, yoga, kinesiology, and meditation- that help a person balance their body's chemistry, regulate hormones and improve cognitive function. 

Sister Lucy added that, “when you do this in a group, the combined energy of the room sitting in silence is really strengthening for the individual and the group. You come face to face with yourself. You also realize your deep interconnection with the whole of creation."

 

Welcome to the Medical Mission Sisters and Associates E-Newsletter! 
October 11, 2019

Countless individuals in our world today long for healing. Medical Mission Sisters and Associates know many persons who, like us, like you, try to be a healing presence among those in need. We offer this E-newsletter as an online place to be inspired by and to share how -- together -- we are making a difference in the lives of those who are hurting, isolated or too often forgotten. 


 

A Celebration of 80 Years in Philadelphia


Eighty years ago, Mother Anna Dengel relocated the Medical Mission Sisters (MMS) from Washington D.C. to Philadelphia’s Fox Chase neighborhood. She knew on the first day she visited the property that 8400 Pine Road would be our home. In celebration of our anniversary, we invited the community to join us in a series of events, beginning with an opening reception on September 7. We hope you enjoy reading some of the reflections our Sisters and Associates have shared with us

 


The MMS administration building at 8400 Pine Road was abuzz with chatter on Saturday, September 7, as our Sisters happily regaled friends and neighbors with memories from their years in mission. They answered a range of questions: “why did you become a Medical Mission Sister?”, “what countries did you live in?”, “what were the people like?”

Over 100 people- friends, neighbors and MMS - attended. Visitors roamed the hallways, checking out artifacts, artwork and vintage photos depicting what life was like in those early days. 
"Life on campus was a lot more fun than people might realize," says Jenna Olszak, who works in our archive department and was responsible for developing the exhibit. She explained that, in addition to studying, growing their own food and even raising livestock during their formation, “[the Sisters] loved ice skating, taking the boat out to the lake and they played lots of sports."

The opening reception to the exhibit gave us a chance to share many of our Community’s most cherished memories with the outside community. Throughout the rest of the month, neighbors and friends continued to visit the exhibit, including a local mother who wanted to give her home-schooled child a history lesson. We wrapped up the end of our celebratory month with two workshops.  

Sister Lucy Klein-Gebbinck led a group in “Practices for Presence: A Morning of Meditation” with a friend and licensed massage therapist, Fiona Hesketh, on September 21. Among the approximately 30 people who attended the workshop, various people described feeling "a sense of gratitude," "centeredness," "a sense of connection" and "an initially really busy mind coming to a place of stillness and then joy."

“I think that the quiet that pervaded the whole group says something about the needs of the people,” Sister Martina Schaefer reflected after attending the workshop. “They need more periods of quiet; not just verbal prayer but quiet prayer. It gives you a chance to go within yourself. With a lot of external noise, that’s impossible.”

The workshop drew on the work of Donna Eden, an author and spokesperson who teaches Energy Medicine, a set of techniques- such as acupuncture, yoga, kinesiology, and meditation- that help a person balance their body's chemistry, regulate hormones and improve cognitive function. 

Sister Lucy added that, “when you do this in a group, the combined energy of the room sitting in silence is really strengthening for the individual and the group. You come face to face with yourself. You also realize your deep interconnection with the whole of creation."

Meditative silence was also a key component in Sister Mary Em McGlone’s workshop, where visitors were invited to complete their own Mandala, a geometric figure used as an instrument of meditation and symbol of prayer in places like China, Japan, and Tibet.

“Mandala is a very meditative experience and it reduces stress,” Sister Mary Em explained. “People really got so centered and focused on what they were doing that the time just passed very quickly.”

Just before the workshop ended, a family of four came into the room. They mistakenly believed that the workshop began at noon. Instead of stopping them, Sister Mary Em watched with a smile on her face as the kids, after beginning to color their own mandalas, coaxed their father into joining them. 

“Those two kids were so into it,” Sister Kathryn Gates observed. “They just couldn’t wait to get started. I thought ‘wouldn’t it be wonderful if they did that in school?’”

Since moving to Philadelphia, we have been welcomed by the Fox Chase community with open arms, and it is especially touching when we have an opportunity to be together. Several years ago, Sister Sheila McGinnis shared a story of a client who described experiencing peacefulness simply in anticipation of coming to our campus.  Starting with those eager footsteps of 80 years ago, we know we still walk in sacred space here at 8400 Pine Road.