Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Updates from Haiti!

As she has for the last few years, Sr. Vicky Della Valle returned to Haiti in late summer to continue her work with the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania,  Ohio, a congregation with whom our sisters have been partnering in the Haiti mission. Recently Sr. Vicky sent us the first of this season's email updates. Hope you enjoy learning about her experiences and about the great work she and Sr. Jo are doing in Ferrier.


September 26, 2014

Well, we’ve been back in Ferrier for two weeks now.  It’s nice to be with our people again—  very warm and welcoming.  Actually we’re all very warm!  The humidity is really high right now. Thank God that at least we have fans.  The good thing is that the bugs haven’t been nearly as bad.  We only had one really close encounter—with a huge tarantula!  I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that the body was about two and a half inches in diameter and with the legs, it was about 10 inches. I screamed—taking a picture, as I did with the snake, didn’t enter my mind! 

Yesterday Madame Chery, the pharmacist from our clinic, came for supplies.  She and her little son rode in on a donkey.  She has no official training to be a pharmacist but has been doing it for many years. After a nice visit, she and her son loaded all the supplies on the donkey.  I was petting him.  He was very soft and gentle but didn’t like when I touched his ears.  He didn’t seem to mind the heavy load.  He just continued eating grass until they were ready to leave.  Oh, how much we can learn from animals about taking life as it comes and just being ourselves!
Sr. Jo welcomed Madame Chery, her little son, and their donkey.

We’ve had so many people coming to us this month for medical needs, help with education for their children, money for home repairs which are still damaged from Hurricane Sandy, and food for the week ahead.  We try to help as best we can through our KPA Leadership and our clinic personnel in Abriko.  It’s difficult because the needs are so much greater than what we’re able to give.  It breaks our hearts when we have to turn people away, but sometimes there’s just no other option.  When we come together for prayer in the evening, we remember them and pray that God will provide for them in some other way.
Clare Rose, a friend of Sr. Jo, told the sisters about the extensive damage on her house resulting from Hurricane Sandy. The sisters will help with repairs after Christmas.
 
October 2014

In October Bill Plaza returned twice to our visitor’s house with two different groups.  When the first group of 10 were on their way to our house, some of the women were traveling in a truck with the Haitian driver.  Six Haitian men came out onto the road.  At first they helped them with some problems the driver was having with the vehicle but before leaving, the men asked for money and one of them stole an empty but expensive suitcase.  When the visitors arrived, they told us what happened.  Although they were shaken up, they had a very good attitude about the situation.  That was Sunday.  Then yesterday, Wednesday, one of the six young men showed up at our gate with the suitcase. He spoke with one of the visitors and told her that he was sorry about what happened and that it would never happen again.  She forgave him, and even shared some cookies with him as well as a Haitian New Testament.  It was a very touching experience of forgiveness and reconciliation between people of different cultures but of the same human family.

 Throughout the week the visitors talked about their experiences in the villages.  One village was so remote and so deep down in a valley that, when they tried to climb back up, they were exhausted.  One of the younger women couldn’t make it so they had to rent a donkey from a villager in order for her to make the journey.  They also met several different people whose bodies were covered with scabies, a parasite which people get from dirty water.  Two of the visitors were nurses and had brought some medicinal sprays which they used to treat it.  One man had been walking around for five months with a broken arm.  The team splinted it to keep it motionless in order to facilitate healing process.
 
Sr. Jo and Sr. Vicky gathered with one of the visiting teams who helped with both medical care and structural repairs.
The second team of visitors began immediately to repair gutters after a nine-hour drive.

 
Apart from medicine, however, the team’s main purpose was to bring water filters to the villagers to provide clean water for themselves and their children.  They are also hoping to build a community cistern in an area that is far away from any water source.  It was really inspiring to hear all about the good they are doing here.  Bill returned   at the end of the month with another group which included an engineer.  They were able, with his expertise, to fix our gutter, put up a gutters for our neighbors, and redirect the overflow of water from the cistern in our visitors’ house into the cistern in front of our convent.  This will allow us to have more water to share with our people during the dry season.   They are also working on a solution for the leak on the roof of our visitors’ house.  Yesterday we had a very strong storm and one of the visitors mentioned that “the River Jordan” was flowing through the upstairs community room.

 
Wilgens, Simeone, and Banave work with the sisters on a daily basis doing repairs and, in Banav's case, serving as interpreter.

 This has certainly been a busy month.  We reopened our little village school, St. Rose de Lima, on October 15.  There have been a lot of changes made for the good of the children. I think the parents are very happy, too. We have 12 second graders and 18 first graders.  Other parents would like to send their children but for now we just don’t have the space.  We have also hired a Haitian from our parish to be assistant director.  Both he and the teachers have been working very hard.   I think they are excited about this new beginning.  Thank God for that because enthusiasm is the key to success!
First graders at St. Rose de Lima School enjoy playtime during a classroom break.
 

Monday, October 27, 2014

In 1993 our congregational peace and justice committee published a small pocket calendar. Our theme was care for creation and we used St. Francis’ “Canticle of Creation” as the basis. On each month’s page, we alternated verses of Francis’ “Canticle” with verses of a poem that I wrote trying to depict our current relationship with creation—a relationship that holds both the possibility of future promise and the threat of destruction. Each page also had an artistic representation done by one of our sisters. The introduction to the calendar reads:
“In his “Canticle of Creation,” Francis not only uses nature to praise God but also finds “Godness” in nature. In 1855 Chief Seattle, in a letter to the president of the United States, stresses that same sacredness in nature. He points out that, contrary to the way we attempt to claim and control nature, we humans are not the weavers of life but merely strands in life’s tapestry. Concerned about what will happen to nature if left in our hands, Chief Seattle states, ‘Your destiny is a mystery to us.’

I’d like to share that two-fold poetic endeavor here. The stanzas in regular type are St. Francis’ “Canticle.” The ones in italic print are my reflections on them.As I reflect on this 20+ years later, I wonder, “What have we learned?”

 The Canticle of Creation

Most high, all powerful, all good Lord!
All praise is yours, all glory, all honor and all blessings.
To you alone, most high, do they belong.
No mortal lips are worthy
To pronounce your name. 

We hold the Earth
God-birthed
God-graced,
In hands that choose
To share its life
Or close and choke that life with human greed. 

All praise be yours, my Lord, through all that you have made.
And first, my Lord, Brother Sun…
Who brings the day;
And light you give to us through him. 

We hold the sun
Whose powered rays can light our world
And power Earth
For evil
Or for good. 

How beautiful is he, how radiant in all his splendor!
Of you, most high, he bears the likeness. 

Whose rays can burn five billion years
Beyond the finite worlds
Our hands control. 
 
All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Moon and Stars; 
In the heavens you have made them, bright and precious and fair. 

We hold the heavens,
Sparkled with a God’s clear gaze,
That light the nights of Earth since time began
And tremble as we cloud that light
With strident glares of bombs’ displays. 

All praise be yours through Brothers Wind and Air,
And fair and stormy, all the weathers moods,
By which you cherish all that you have made. 

We hold the wind and air
Whose cycles power Earth with energy and life
Whose being now is choked and burned
By human power’s threat. 

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Water,
So lovely, useful, precious, and pure. 

We hold the waters of the Earth
And weeping, share
Not tears
But hope
With half our globe
Where water’s pure and cleansing forces do not flow. 

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
Through whom you brighten up the night.
How beautiful he is, how gay!
Full of power and strength.

We hold within our hands
The power to caress and nurture Earth,
To kindle from Earth’s hearths a world of peace,
Or fan the holocaustic flames of nuclear war. 

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Earth, our mother,
Who feeds us in her sovereignty and produces
Various fruits and colored flowers and herbs. 

We hold with reverent awe the fruitful Earth
That mothers all,
That makes us one,
And weep to see the face we mar
Is ours. 

All praise be yours, my Lord,
Through those who grant pardon…
For love of you. 

We hold with humbled hands our tangled tapestry
The sin
The shame
Of centuries and worlds that mar our Earth… 

All praise be yours…
Through those who endure sickness and trial. 

We hold the threads of pain,
The fears,
The tears we wove… 

Happy those who endure in peace,
By you, Most High, they will be crowned. 

We hold the fringe of hope
That lives at-one with Earth
And with Earth’s God
Will one day live in peace. 

All praise be yours through Sister Death,
From whose embrace no mortal can escape. 

We hold them all
The shame…
The pain…
The tears
That birth the hope… 

Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Happy those she finds doing your will!
The second death can do no harm to them.

…The hope
That Earth so graced by God
Will mother once again
A home where God can dwell.

 

 

 

 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Bit of This and That About Our Sisters!


As always, I love to share the "Good News" about our sisters and their accomplishments. Here are a few of the recent ones.
 

A recent issue of Greensleeves, York Catholic High School’s alumni newsletter, carried a photo of our recently deceased Sr. Dorothy Epple on the cover. The photo, dating back many years, portrays Dorothy clad in full habit playing baseball. Crouching behind her in the role of catcher is Dorothy’s friend, Sr. Marcia Marie. In her introductory letter, principal Katie Seufert expresses the sadness of the school community at learning about Dorothy’s death. Ms. Seufert went on to explain that the cover photo was used because past uses always “evoked the most positive reactions from members of the alumni.” Dorothy will also be remembered on October 19 at the alumni Homecoming Mass. The Sister Dorothy Fund is being established in memory of her many contributions to York Catholic. Dorothy’s photo and a plaque will be displayed in the school’s main office area—a significant site because many alumni recall stopping there to chat with her. The newsletter also shared a number of comments from former students as well as excerpts from her obituary.

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A recent newsletter from St. Francis Medical Center in Trenton carried an update on the pastoral care department. Among the department members noted were Sisters Denis and Maureen Maguire. Maureen, the coordinator of the Spiritual Care Department, is one of two board-certified chaplains on the medical center’s staff. She completed her CPE education for 2000 hours at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital in Upper Darby and Miseracordia Hospital in Philadelphia and recently became recertified through the U.S. Conference of Bishops. Sr. Denis is also part of the pastoral care team and brings to it 40 years of nursing home experience as a certifies nurse’s aide. She recently completed a six month certification program—Pastoral Care for Visiting the Sick, Elderly, and Dying—through the Diocese of Trenton.  
 
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Congratulations to Sr. Cass Feuerstein—a double hall of fame recipient”! In May Cass was inducted into the Little Flower High School Hall of Fame. A 1948 graduate of the Philadelphia school, Cass attended the award ceremony at a special assembly. After the assembly, the awardees enjoyed lunch at the school as well as time to tour and to visit with current students. A year earlier Cass was also inducted into the hall of fame at her elementary school—St. Helena’s School in Philadelphia (now one of the merged schools). Criteria for induction for each school indicates why Cass is an ideal nominee. St. Helena’s criteria is summed up in a single statement: “in recognition for their lifetime achievements.” Little Flower High School states that, among other things, nominees are considered for “excellence in Catholic witness, leadership, community service, volunteerism, social work, public service, medicine.” Cass’ years of service—still ongoing—in healthcare, social services, and with our elder sisters definitely make her a fitting recipient!

****************
 

The Archivum Franciscanum Historicum is described as “the scholarly journal of the Frati Editori de Quaracchi at St. Isidore’s, Rome. Since 1908, it has been a major reference tool for scholars, secular and religious, dealing with Franciscan history. AFH is issued twice a year and contains articles written in English, French, German, Italian, or Spanish with a priority given to the presentation/edition of unpublished sources.” In other words, the Archivum Franciscanum Historicum is highly valued in Franciscan circles and being counted among those published is limited to a select number. Well—recently Sr. Helen Jacobson became one of that elite number! As part of her work as congregational archivist, Helen is often contacted to provide and/or verify information regarding our history and missions. This past year she received a request to preview an article on the history of our congregation and the hospitals that we founded or staffed from 1860-1910—an article slated for publication in the Archivum Franciscanum Historicum. Helen spent several intense weeks and untold hours researching, editing, rewriting, and in some instances, adding informative details to produce an accurate and balanced account. As a result of her expertise and diligent efforts, the article, “The Hospitals of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, 1860-1910,” was published in the January-June 2014 issue with Helen designated as the coauthor along with Christopher Kauffman.

 ****************
 
Our Corporate Social Responsibility Office works closely with the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR). Recently ICCR’s Governing Board announced that Sr. Nora Nash, our director of corporate social responsibility, had been chosen as the recipient of the 2014 Legacy Award. The award recognizes individuals “whose work has provided a strong moral foundation and an enduring record of demonstrated influence on corporate policies.” Seamus Finn, ICCR’s board chair, described Nora as being “tenacious, tireless, and, some would say, ubiquitous in advancing her congregation’s commitment to integrate their Franciscan identity and vision into the management and deployment of their assets.” Nora received the award on October 2 at a special event held at the Copacabana in New York City. This year’s event, theme, “Weathering the Storm,” focused on the environmental, social, and economic challenges faced by both the public and private sectors—both at home and around the globe—as a result of climate change.


 

 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Meet Sr. Mary Teresa Coll!

A few years ago Sr. Mary Teresa Coll completed a congregational form in which she described herself as a “very upbeat person.” She also wrote, “Being a Sister of St. Francis enables me to live in close union with God and his saints in heaven and his saints on Earth, especially the poor—battered women and children living in poverty who get up each day and try and try and try to live a good life.” Each of these quotes captures Sr. Mary Teresa’s sense of mission and ministry—and the interrelatedness of the two concepts. Whether she’s teaching at city schools in the Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Allentown areas, working at an AIDS hospice or at a shelter for families, Sr. Mary Teresa brings with her both her sense of humor and a sense of mission that grasps that those with whom she ministers are children of the same God whom she serves. Sr. Mary Teresa connected with that sense of mission at an early age when she first met the Sisters of St. Francis at Little Flower School in Baltimore and later at the Catholic High School of Baltimore. The connection became ever closer when her two sisters—Srs. Claretta Joseph and Anna Mae Coll entered the congregation.

Over the years being quick to respond to an immediate need seems to have been a way of life for Sr. Mary Teresa. For example, when she was studying at Washington Theological Union, she saw a notice that Christ House, an organization ministering to men who are homeless, needed a cook. Sr. Mary Teresa took up the challenge—even though she was somewhat unsure of her ability. Similarly she responded to the request of a friend to help on weekends with the Damians—men who had AIDS but who were well enough to work. “It was working with these kind, loving individuals that I learned what love can do to a person that has been scorned by his or her family,” she said.

Some years ago Sr. Mary Teresa joined a group going to El Salvador. There she learned about women who formed a coop for cattle ranching. The experience filled her with determination to be a voice for those whose voice is stifled.

Currently Sr. Mary Teresa volunteers in the Corporate Social Responsibility Office—service she rendered for a number of years. There she assists in reading the requests for social justice grants and forwarding information packets to those groups who meet the criteria. She also reads the completed proposals and does the necessary follow-up.
 
Sr. Mary Teresa copies information to send to organizations requesting grants.
 
For a number of years, Sr. Mary Teresa ministered at St. Mary’s Franciscan Shelter in Phoenixville followed by a five-year volunteer stint at a local health clinic. When she turned 80, she decided that perhaps it was time to look for a totally different kind of volunteer work. She prayed for guidance and was intrigued when she saw a sign advertising a “retired horse farm.” “That’s it,” she thought. “God has shown me a way to draw closer to him—working with animals near my age!” She stopped by the farm, was given a tour, and shown what would be required of her. That short visit—and that huge horse—quickly let her know that this was not where God was calling her to serve! What she did find was volunteer work at Main Line Animal Shelter. Although the shelter cares for animals and birds of all kind, Sr. Mary Teresa’s focus is the rabbits. There she cleans their cages, grooms them, and pets them. “I tell them my secrets and know that what I share will not be part of their conversation,” she explained. “Yes, they have ways of listening and then counseling me.”

Sr. Mary Teresa cleans one of the rabbit cages at the animal shelter.

Sr. Mary Teresa tends to one of the sick rabbits.
 
When Sr. Mary Teresa cares for a dying rabbit, she whispers a line from e.e. Cummings: "I'll carry your heart in my heart."
 
Sr. Mary Teresa’s manner of dealing with the rabbits reflects her manner and her gift of dealing with everyone. “I try to practice hospitality of the heart, allowing all others—human and animals…as they are—to make themselves at home in my heart.” Then she added, “If only I would have the means to be of service to all. That is my biggest challenge. I listen, I pray. Amen.”

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


This year’s companions retreat and gathering day was held at our motherhouse on September 13 with Sr. Mary Jo Chaves as the presenter. Companions and sisters came from as near as the motherhouse and as fart ad Oregon and Washington. Companions arrived by 9:30 A.M. and, as they socialized and enjoyed a continental breakfast, they were also drawn to the well laden table with two raffle items—a beautifully arranged hand-crafted basket and a well stuffed tote bag—both donated by Nancy Opalski and Pat Langan. The table also contained a supply of t-shirts and other items labeled simply “For a Donation” as well as a supply of free books.

 

Once the actual program began, Sr. Mary Jo explained the day’s schedule as well as the individual aspects of her presentation’s title: “Sharing Faith, Fun, and Ministry.” As the day progressed, we realized that each of these elements plays an important role in who we are both as Christians and as women and men attempting to live out the gospel message in our lives—just as St. Francis did in his own life. During the course of the day, we had time both for personal prayer and reflection and for small group faith sharing on the following topics:

·       Why is faith sharing as companions and with the sisters important?

·       Which name for God in Francis’ “Praises of God” speaks to your heart?

·       How do you interpret ministry and gospel living as part of being companions?

·       What does being a companion mean to you?

·       How is your daily life and ministry influenced by the Franciscan charism?

·       What is your understanding of living out the Franciscan values of conversion of heart, poverty, contemplation, minority?

Sr. Mary Jo Chaves reviewed various ideas for contemplative prayer, journaling, and faithsharing.

Companion Shirley Soloman found a quiet corner for private reflection.

After a period of private reflection, Sr. Connie Davis and Companion Phyllis Petryk got together for faithsharing. 

 
At times we joined in song accompanied by music by Monica Brown. AT one point Mary Jo invited us to pray with our bodies as we danced to the  sacred songs.

At one point Sr. Jean Nisley, director of the Companions in Mission program shared a bit about this year’s congregational chapter and invited the sisters present to address their individual reactions to the chapter. Jean also introduced the members of the new leadership team—all of whom had chosen to be part of the retreat day. 

And the “fun” part of the day? Those who helped to organize the retreat had gathered toether a number of board games and card games. We spent about an hour in the afternoon simply relaxing, socializing, and enjoying being together. Some gathered in small groups for games while others enjoyed the time for conversation.

Srs. Maggie Greco, Florence Hee, Jeanne Nisley, and Companion LuAnn Cummings enjoyed a game of Phase 10.
 
As the day drew toward its close, we gathered again for prayer and to learn who our prayer partners would be for the coming year. We joined the sisters at the motherhouse for the 4 P.M. liturgy during which we prayed the “Companion Prayer” together and received a blessing from all those in chapel. As we departed from this day of prayer and sharing, we were very aware of our connectedness and our relationship both with one another and with the congregation and of the Francis Spirit and charism which we all embrace and share through our varied vocational roles.

What about you, my friends? Do you have a Franciscan heart and spirit? You might be interested in becoming part of our Franciscan Companions in Mission program--a beautiful relationship! Check it out on our website, http://www.osfphila.org/companions/about. Or email companions@osfphila.org. Or leave me a message on my blog. We'd love to have you join us in prayer or in faith or in ministry!

 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

People's Climate March


If you follow me on Facebook, you might have seen this photo of our sisters at the People's Climate March in New York City. Sr. Betty Kane, one of those in attendance, wrote the following article about her experience. I thought it was worth sharing here as well. The link in the first paragraph gives you some inclination of how vast and dense the crowd was. This is only a segment of the faith contingent!

The photo section of the People’s Climate March website has a photo of the faith contingent gathered together at the New York march on September 21. Check out this photo—with magnifying glass in hand—and you’ll be able to see the smattering of Franciscans to the left of the yellow sign indicating “Catholic.” (https://www.flickr.com/photos/peoplesclimate/15125631478/in/set-72157647432623290) We are situated between our Islamic and Jewish sisters and brothers—a few Hindus came into the group as well. If you look hard enough, you will see Patrick Carolan, Janine Walsh, Sonia Rivera, and Rhett Engelking from Franciscan Action Network (FAN) with Br. Keith Warner, OFM. You will also see Sr. Maryanne Mueller, CSSF; Sr. Sandra Lyons, OSF; and some of our own sisters. We gathered with over 400,000 others so our voice for Earth could be heard.

The experience of being with so many people was astounding. We were part of the faith contingent who gathered on 58th Street in Manhattan. We prepared with music played on a double bass—deep tones of deep Earth entered my heart. Then we heard prayers spoken and sung in many tongues. Each religion represented in the throng offered a prayer for Earth and for the children of Earth. And we sang! Do you remember Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul, and Mary?  He led us in the singing of “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” Then we sang “We Are Marching in the Light of God” and—after many stanzas—we actually began our walk, merging with the other contingents who gathered on the other Manhattan streets.

Four hundred twenty-five thousand people! And hundreds of others lined the streets where we walked! Some groups cheered us. Most groups waved or held their signs of support. New York’s finest kept the whole organism of hope moving even when we had to stop so traffic could move. All was done with great skill. Amazing! Another reality for which I was grateful is that with all these folks from all parts of the U.S.—there was no trash on the streets! That, too, is amazing. We really were there to voice and act for care of creation. 

One of our sisters who had never been to New York before had a real taste of what the Manhattan subway was like. We were packed in like sardines, unable to grab onto one of the overhead bars so we held on to one another. You couldn’t go too far anyway but you certainly didn’t want to knock someone else down. Then we had to dash for the train once the track was flashed on the board. Luckily no one got hurt!
 
We were fortunate to have our sisters with us. Sr. Kathleen McCabe came in from California. She met us within that Catholic group! The rest of us—Srs. Nora Nash, Bernie Brazil, Barbara Carr, Maggie Greco, Kathy Dougherty, Marie Lucey, Maria Orlandini, and I, along with Tom McCaney, traveled from Delaware, Maryland, and Aston.  

When you look at the photo above, please be aware that not all of us huddled together. We met other pilgrims along the way who inspired us and some who challenged us—women and men whose lives have been impacted with the forces of nature that we have impacted with our dependence on fossil fuels. This we can change. This we must change for this is the only planet we have. And what a gift it is! 

The National Catholic Reporter ( NCR) caught up with a couple of folks from our contingent—Sr. Kathy Dougherty and Patrick Carolan, executive director of FAN. I believe NCR captured the true reason for our presence when they wrote, “But for Catholic organizers of the march, the solution lies in morality, not politics.Kathy referred to climate change as a life issue. “I certainly feel it’s critical—the way corporate decisions are made that affect the environment—and I feel there’s a need for a change,” she explained. “If we can’t sustain the planet, human life is not going to be sustained. Therefore, it’s very much a life issue.” 

And Patrick Carolan spelled it out more specifically: “I think of [climate change] as a moral issue,” he told NCR. “Part of the problem is we look at it as a moral and ethical issue and we're looking for political solutions. We really need to be looking at moral and ethical solutions. The only solution as Christians is to follow the teachings of Jesus where we look at all of God’s creation as our brother and sister, as St. Francis did.”

 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia: "Voices That Challenge"

Last week I was looking for a hymn/video to use as part of a reflection for my blog. I'd made a list of hymns that I thought might work but when I began searching, nothing seemed to work. Either there was no video, the video had no printed lyrics, or the song was not well performed. Then, in looking through a list of hymns by David Haas, I found one that was not on my list--"Voices That Challenge"--a song that I hadn't heard for quite a while. As I viewed it, I felt as if I were in our community room watching the evening news and experiencing--as I do more and more--the frustration, the pain, the horror, and yes, the anger at the many injustices and crimes against humanity and nature  that comprise the bulk of our news.

Then I went back online and found a copy of the lyrics that I could use for reflection before I actually began writing. As I prayed and tried to take a more positive view of the world situation, I thought of the many ways in which our sisters have, over the years, become "voices that challenge." In the early days of our congregation, the sisters brought the sick who were poor into their homes to care for them and eventually opened our first hospital in Philadelphia. A number of our sisters continue to work in healthcare, serving in pastoral care, in social services, and in medical capacities.

Those early sisters also opened their home to young immigrant women who needed a safe place to live. Today our sisters are present in the halls of justice lobbying for the rights of immigrants or working in social services aiding new arrivals.

For many years our sisters have worked in educating children--not just in the 3 Rs--but also stressing the reality of what it means to live out the reality of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy and continue to do so today.

Our Mission Statement (1986) contains a section that calls each of us--regardless of our ministry--to work for justice and to be--in whatever way our individual gifts lead us--to be "voices that challenge."
"As vowed women of the Church, we respond with diverse gifts in a spirit of collaboration and of mutual service to the needs of others, especially the economically poor, the marginal, and the oppressed. Seeking to participate in the Spirit's action in the world, we direct our personal and corporate resources to the promotion of justice, peace, and reconciliation."

Our 1996 Commitment Statement further elucidated that concept.
"We are willing to take the necessary risks to be a healing, compassionate presence in our violent world especially with women, children, and those who have no voice."

I invite you to take a look at our website, http:www.osfphila.org, and check out the many ways in which our sisters continue to be "voices that challenge." Look under Justice and Peace and review our efforts in corporate social responsibility, advocacy, environmental initiatives, corporate stands, and immigration. Visit also the section on Ministry and investigate some of the sponsored and cosponsored ministries in which our sisters are engaged!

And now...David Hass' Voices That Challenge!

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