Friday, February 10, 2012

What's Up With Our Sisters?

English: Hot air balloons, San Diego, CaliforniaImage via Wikipedia
As usual our sisters are busy about many things--serving others, sometimes winning awards, other times just dealing with the ups and downs of daily living. But whatever they do, they do it with a spirit that comes from deep within and which overflows into all their daily living brings about. Here are just a few of the recent hightlights!

Sr. Angela Sutera is trying to bring the spirit of the Italian tradition of the Presepio to Assisi House. An encyclopedia describes the Presepio as a three-dimensional representation of the birth of Jesus Christ composed of mobile figures arranged according to the artistic sense of the builder as well as realistic elements such as houses, rocks, plants, etc. Traditionally the Presepio is prepared for Christmas and removed by the  February 2. Sr. Angela plans to construct the Presepio every year in Clare Hall.  It will go up right after Thanksgiving and will remain until the Epiphany.  All the figurines are made in Italy. The background is made of simple brown paper which Sr. Angela wets, shapes, and then allows todry.  The material hardens to a rock-like state. It is very involved and definitely something you need to see.  Plan to visit next year to see this beautiful arrangement. 

Sr. Marguerite O’Beirne was recently recognized with a Certificate of Appreciation for her efforts on behalf of our troops in Afghanistan. Over the Christmas holidays, Sr. Marguerite assisted students from the Neumann University Ice Hockecy Club Team, the “Knights,” in providing care packages to our troops in Kandahar. The battalion ommander wrote to the team in gratitude, thanking the students for their patriotic support of the troops and their kind words and sentiments.

Saying “good-bye” is never easy and the good-byes are particularly difficult when they involve ministry that carries with it an 85-year-old history. This was our sisters’ experience when Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Convent in Passaic closed recently. In 1926 the Capuchin Sisters (Franciscan Sisters of Ringwood—a congregation which later merged with the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia) purchased the convent which served as their motherhouse until they moved to Ringwood in 1931. Over the ensuing years the sisters continued in various ministries in the parish as well as at the neighboring St. Anthony Parish. As Sister Apollonia said, “We did every kind of ministry there was. It was missionary work and we were very successful in our relationships with our parishioners.” With the convent’s closure, the four remaining sisters, Sisters Francis Madaio, Apollonia Morelli, Clare Agnes Conforti, and Berard D’Amato, moved on to other ministries. Sister Berard will move to Jersey City and Sisters Francis, Apollonia, and Clare Agnes will live and minister in Aston, Pennsylvania.

This year’s Catholic Schools Week brought Sr. Anna Maria Cosgrave a special reason to celebrate. Each year the development committee at Our Lady of the Angels School in Columbia, Pennsylvania, sponsors a reception at which two people are inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame. The inductees are individuals who possess “the values of the Catholic faith and its reflection in their accomplishments and dedication to Catholic education.” The individuals are also chosen because of the degree to which they reflect the spirit of stewardship in answering God’s call to serve.  Both Sr. Anna and Mrs. Theresa Burg live out the criteria for induction. Anna is the religion coordinator of Our Lady of the Angels and also ministers to the sick and elderly of the parish. Theresa Burg is the principal of Our Lady of the Angels. The article announcing the Hall of Fame induction ceremony explained the reason for their selection: “Our honorees for 2012 truly have a ‘servant’s heart.’” The article went on to explain how each woman answered God’s call in different ways. For Theresa the call was to marriage and to serving the Church family. For Sr. Anna the call was to leave her home in Ireland and to answer the call to religious life. The article went on to say that “the differences pale in comparison to the shared mission: to love and serve our parishes and the children of our school.”

Congratulations to Sr. Elizabeth P. Murphy. Elizabeth, principal of St. John Vianney School in Orlando, Florida, recently received the Most Reverend Norbert M. Dorsey Award for Distinguished Service to Catholic Education. Earlier this year Elizabeth was also named Moderator for Religious for the Diocese of Orlando.

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