Celebrating our Jubilarians – Part II

At our annual congregational meeting in June, Mission Helpers celebrated seven Jubilarians.  Ranging from 25 years through 75 years, collectively these Sisters have dedicated 375 joyful years of service to the people of God.  Last week we profiled four Jubilarians. In this issue, we profile Sr. Dolores Beere, Sr. Barbara Wills and Sr. Mary Margaret.

Sr. Dolores Beere – 75 Years

 Born and raised in Baltimore, Sr. Dolores entered the Mission Helpers Community in 1942.  Within the first years, her ministry began to focus on the deaf, beginning at the Mission Helpers School for the Deaf in Irvington, Maryland.

“I took to that ministry right away,” Sister Dolores recalled in a 2012 interview.  “The Sister I worked with was quite the talker, and she talked and signed at the same time, so I learned quickly.”

In 1948 she was called to Puerto Rico and taught at St. Gabriel School for the Deaf, the first such facility on the island, begun by the Mission Helpers in 1902.

Following a year there, Sr. Dolores moved on to serve in New Jersey, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Massachusetts, West Virginia and New York.  In all these places, she managed to minister to the deaf in the community, even if that wasn’t her primary ministry.

Assigned to the Diocese of Detroit in the Apostolate to the Deaf in 1969, Sr. Dolores and the Cardinal established what was essentially a parish totally devoted to the deaf community.  Finally she was able to work with the deaf full time, establishing a seniors’ program and training deaf Eucharistic Ministers and lectors.  “I was determined that the deaf would be able to do everything in the church that anyone else could do,” she said.

She served there for 16 years. Returning to Baltimore in 1985, Sr. Dolores established a relationship with the deaf community in the area.  Well into her 90s, she held monthly luncheon meetings for a group of deaf seniors; she usually did the cooking and baked the bread.  Now, at age 94, she lives at Mercy Villa, but comes to Mission Helper Center once a month to meet with the deaf.

These words from scripture (John 10:10) have motivated her ministry: “I have come to bring you life and to bring it in abundance.”

“That’s what I want to bring to the deaf—I want them to live their lives to the fullest.”

Sr. Barbara Wills – 65 Years

 A native of Baltimore, Sister Barbara first met the Mission Helpers while attending Baltimore’s Catholic High School. “Sister Justina came to talk with us about vocations,” she says, “and I visited the Motherhouse for a day of recollection. I thought that if I ever entered a religious community, it would be the Mission Helpers.  I loved children, and I knew the Sisters ran orphanages and worked with children.”

Still, it was seven years before she joined. During that time, she worked for Studebaker, the automobile manufacturer, first in Baltimore, then in Washington, D.C., before joining the Mission Helpers in 1952.

By the time she began her ministry as a Mission Helper, the orphanages had been closed, “But,” she says, “I loved being a Mission Helper from the beginning.

I sent my clothes and suitcase home on the very first day, and never, ever thought about leaving.  I loved it. And I still do.”

She has taught religion at all levels from elementary school to programs for adults, serving as Director of Religious Education (DRE) in many parishes and dioceses in Florida, South Carolina, Virginia, New York, Colorado and Arizona.

“I loved it out west,” she says, “especially Arizona, where I worked with the same priest in three different locations.  I had children’s classes—pre-school through high school, and adult education, which I especially loved.”

She served for 39 years as the Mission Helper Archivist, painstakingly maintaining the records of the Community’s long history and the lives of the hundreds of women called to service as Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart.  Anticipating the sale of the Mission Helper Center, the Archives have been moved to Catholic University of America’s Archives in Washington, D.C.  The Archives staff at CUA has praised Sr. Barbara’s diligent and meticulous care of this historic treasure.

Sister Barbara holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a master’s degree in Doctrinal Theology from LaSalle University in Philadelphia.

Sister Mary Margaret – 60 Years

 Growing up in Indiana, Sister Mary Margaret says that one of her early memories was a “strong nudging that kept coming back to me.  I knew I wanted to spend my life with what is really important, and that seemed to be knowing that God loves us and that we are invited to love God in return.”

After researching religious communities specializing in teaching religion, the name and spirit of the Mission Helpers stood out, and she entered the Community in 1957.

Most of Sister Mary Margaret’s ministry has been in diocesan or parish missions with a focus on religious education.  She has served in Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Indiana and Texas where she visited small, rural parishes where a priest was rarely available.

“There weren’t many Catholics in those areas,” she recalled in a 2007 interview.  “We had adult classes in which we just taught the basics of the Bible and prayer.  We visited the people in their homes; everyone was so open and faith-filled, hungry to learn more about their faith.”

She remembered another special mission in Baltimore: “I had the unique opportunity to spend time in St. Martin’s parish, where our foundress Mary Frances Cunningham began.  We rang every doorbell and welcomed the people to the parish.  Some of them remembered our Sisters from the old Biddle Street convent, and a few had even known Mother Demetrias!”

Sister Mary Margaret holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a Master’s degree in Catechetical Theology.

To read the profiles of our other 2017 Jubilarians,  click here

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in A Woman Inspired, Announcements, Events & News, Past & Present | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Mission Helpers Celebrate Our Jubilarians!

Part 1 of 2

At the annual gathering of the congregation in June, the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart celebrated the jubilees of seven Sisters.  Ranging from 25 years through 75 years, collectively these women have devoted 375 years in  joyful service to the people of God.

In this first of two installments, we profile Sr. Princess Mary Dawson, Sr. Celeste Burgos, Sr. Clare Walsh and Sr. Susan Engel.

Sr. Princess Mary Dawson – 25 Years 

Sr. Princess Mary was born and raised in Philadelphia and began to think about religious life during her high school years at West Catholic Girls High School.  There were Sisters from various communities at the school, and she began to visit them and participate in prayer days and weekend retreats.

She visited the Mission Helpers and felt more “at home” with them than with other communities.  She joined the Sisters for a two-week Vacation Bible School program in Hattiesburg and Lucedale, Mississippi, and became even more interested in joining the Community.

“I saw the Sisters in action there—having fun and sharing our love of God. I was particularly taken by their hospitality and acceptance of the people they served—they were down to earth and just themselves no matter what they encountered.

Sister Princess Mary joined the Mission Helpers in September 1992. She trained as a Medical Assistant and worked in healthcare in Altamonte Springs, Florida, before becoming a teacher’s aide at a Child Care Center there.  She has also served as an advocate for the elderly homeless and was a residential caregiver in Boston and in Baltimore.

She says that her most meaningful ministry so far is the one she has had since 2012 at Catholic Social Services of West Alabama, where she manages the food pantry and assists in many other services to the poor.

“This ministry has helped me grow in so many wonderful ways,” she says. “It is my responsibility to ensure that there is enough food and other supplies to share with the poorest of the poor who come to us.

“I am privileged to be able to serve these sisters and brothers, and I feel blessed daily because I feel valued here.  I am serving God where it really counts.”

Sr. Celeste Burgos – 50 Years 

Sr. Celeste was born in Puerto Rico and joined the Mission Helpers in 1967.

In her early years she worked in parishes in Hispanic communities in Florida, Arizona, Baltimore and New York, followed by five years as an assistant for Catholic education to the Archbishop of Venezuela in Barcelona and Caracas.

In 1984 she was called to ministry with the Hispanic community at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston.  As director of religious education and pastoral associate to the Hispanic community, Sr. Celeste spent more than 22 years teaching religion to children and young people, conducting RCIA programs and preparing deacons and laity to teach religion at all levels.

Since 2007, she has been the Pastoral Associate and Social Services coordinator for the Hispanic Community at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where she serves the critical needs of the growing and underserved Hispanic members of the parish.  Most of the 250 families are undocumented and are very wary of seeking help from official agencies; instead they turn to the church and to Sr. Celeste.

She conducts bilingual catechetical programs for pre-school through confirmation; oversees the liturgies at the church, works with the choirs, and often sings at weddings and quinceaneras.

As the only Spanish/English translator in the community, she frequently serves in an advocacy role, communicating with immigration lawyers and other local officials on behalf of the Hispanic people.

In looking back over 50 years of service, Sr. Celeste believes that she has learned as much from the people she has served as they have learned from her.

She has a B.A. in Theology and a master’s degree in Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry.

Sr. Clare Walsh – 50 Years 

Born in Stoneham, Massachusetts, Sister Clare grew up in Wakefield, just north of Boston.  She went to public schools, was active in the CYO and taught religious education while in high school.

She thought about religious life but didn’t want to teach.  “I didn’t want to be in an institution,” she says, “and I wanted to be with lay people.”

A magazine advertisement for the Mission Helpers caught her eye—the featured Sister—Sister Felicia—“had a warm, open and loving expression.  Also I was impressed that they were a Community without walls—no institutions.” She entered the Community in 1967.

Early ministries in religious education and faith formation took her to North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and upstate New York. In 1980 she returned to Boston and joined the staff of the New England Medical Center, serving as Director of Pastoral Care for eight years, and helping develop and co-lead the Ethics Consultation Center for 19 years.

Feeling that she was being called to something else, in 1999 she enrolled in the Jesuit School of Theology, earned a Master’s Degree in Spiritual Direction, and served for three years at the Center for Religious Development, a Jesuit training center for spiritual directors.

After serving on the founding committee of The Jesuit Collaborative, in 2005 the Jesuit Provincial asked Sr. Clare to be the Provincial Assistant for Ignatian Spirituality and the Associate Director of the Jesuit Collaborative where she served until 2015.

Today she teaches a practicum in spiritual direction at Boston College; she also offers spiritual direction and directs retreats in the Ignatian tradition.  Recently, she felt a “nudge” to do something that she had no formal preparation for—fundraising to support the Mission Helpers’ commitment to the Asylee Women Enterprise.

“For 50 years I have loved loving God and being loved by God,” she says.  “And I am so grateful that God has surrounded me with my Mission Helper sisters, women of the heart, as well as loving family and friends who do this so well.”

Sr. Susan Engel – 50 Years

Sr. Susan was born in Hollis, New York, and joined the Mission Helpers in 1967.  At the time she was a buyer for an upscale women’s clothing store on Long Island, where life, she recalls, “revolved around the clothes you wore, the people you knew, the places you went and the things you owned.  I wanted something else.”

She spent a volunteer year with the Mission Helpers among the poor in North Carolina.  “Those Sisters were happy, full of life and did an unusual ministry,” she says.  “They had the freedom to roam.  And they did.  They went out and worked among the people.”

In her first 18 years as a Mission Helper, Sr. Susan lived in 9 different states doing faith formation at the diocesan level and a summer in Germany giving workshops for a Master Teacher Program, sponsored by the Army.

In her last 32 years, as Pastoral Associate, at Annunciation Parish in Rosedale, Maryland, Sr. Susan’s faith has been influenced and shaped by the joys and sorrows in the lives of parishioners; by the 8 talented pastors and skilled staff with whom she has worked.

During those 32 years, Sister has also served as a Counselor at the Archdiocesan Counseling Center and is currently on staff for the Baltimore Marriage Tribunal.  While fulltime in the Parish, Sr. Susan also served the Mission Helpers as Vocation Director, Novice Director and Treasurer.

“Fifty years ago, she says, “religious life, the Catholic Church and Society were vastly different than today.  None of us ever knows what lies ahead, but how fortunate I am to have met the Mission Helpers and spent all these years among an amazing group of women I call Sister. We are still roaming around out among the people of God!”

Sr. Susan has a B.A. (Summa Cum Laude) in Philosophy and Theology from Loyola College and a Master’s Degree (Summa Cum Laude) in Behavioral Science from The Johns Hopkins University.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in A Woman Inspired, Announcements, Events & News, Past & Present | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Our First and Most Important Duty Is Love…

…for without love there can be no service“.
Mother Demetrias, Founder of the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart.

By Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart

On Sunday, April 23rd, Sr. Elizabeth Langmead, MHSH President, joyfully welcomed approximately 60 people to the annual Donor Appreciation Mass and Brunch at the Mission Helper Center.  Sr. Liz thanked our donors for their continued loving accompaniment and support of the ministries of the Mission Helpers, confirming that these are vital to the continued thriving of our varied works.

Rev. George Witt, SJ, Provincial Assistant for Spirituality Ministries of the Maryland Jesuit Province, presided at the liturgy. He reminded the congregation  that after the Resurrection the apostles were sent out on mission to carry on the work of Jesus.  Referencing the words of Acts 1:8,  “You shall be witnesses unto me to the uttermost parts of the earth”, he noted that this is also the call of the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart. 

 

 

 

After Mass, guests and Sisters enjoyed a delicious brunch in the dining room, prepared by Carolyn Rodgers.  Patricia Dodd, Mission Advancement Director, thanked the assembled gathering for their loyal support. Two MHSH Sisters, Onellys Villegas and Danielle Murphy, spoke about their ministries, which are made possible in part by the financial support of our donors.  Sr. Onellys spoke movingly about her full-time work with women victims of domestic violence through the House of Ruth.  Sr. Danielle, now semi-retired, performs visitation ministry through Oak Crest Retirement Community, and also tutors children at the Immigration Outreach Service Center of St. Matthew Parish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attendees were given cards created by Administrative Assistant Tom Mackin, each with a quote from Mother Demetrias, including the title quote, above.

 

 

Posted in Associates & Friends, Events & News, Liturgical Seasons, Mission Helper Center | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Change That Changes Everything – A Reflection for Easter

By Sister Elizabeth Langmead, MHSH President

We live in a world and in a time of rapid change.  All avenues of social media keep us aware moment by moment of how quickly things change all around the world.  Closer to home, “in the blink of an eye” as they say, our lives change.  It could be a phone call, a medical diagnosis, news about a loved one and life is never the same.  Perhaps it’s the death of one we hold dear or the birth of a child, a grandchild, a niece or nephew.  Change is all around us; change is the one constant in life.

Recently I was struck by a phrase that I heard and shortly thereafter read in an article. The phrase – “the change that changed everything.”  I kept coming back to that as I prayed about this Easter blog.  Truly, Easter is THE change that changed everything for us who today proclaim, “Jesus Christ is Risen!” 

 Our Lenten preparation and opening to the love and grace of God that is all-surrounding, have perhaps changed our hearts to see even more clearly the awesome mystery that from death comes new life.  We come to embrace in a deeper way what the great mystics knew, that resurrection is how reality is – that nothing dies, everything is transformed.  These forty days have invited us to grow more fully into being a resurrection people.  Our faith is meant to witness a message of hope.  How does this hope allow us to stand with others in their deepest sorrow – in their deepest joy?

 

 May we, like the women at the tomb and those first disciples be surprised by the mystery of resurrection.  May we, like them, experience new freedom as the children of a God who calls us from all that entombs, entraps and keeps us bound.  May our despair, doubt and disappointment be transformed in the light of the resurrection as we find new life, hope and the gentle breath of presence and peace.  For truly Easter is THE change that changes everything!

 

Posted in Being Transformed, Liturgical Seasons, Seasonal Thoughts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

ANTICIPATING EASTER – A Holy Week Reflection

By Sr. Donna Fannon, MHSH

What are you doing this Saturday?
          Are you filling Easter Baskets?
                   …planning the Easter meal?
                             …decorating the Church?
                                      …cleaning the house?

Is there any time left for quiet reflection on the Paschal Mystery and the death of Jesus in particular?

Can you imagine yourself being with Mary Magdalene, sad, heartbroken, empty, in the garden wondering where the body of Jesus is?  Can you engage in a conversation with her about the difference Jesus has made in her life…and in yours?  Can you just be silent and grateful for Jesus’ friendship over the years?

Image result for mary magdalene at the empty tombPerhaps the tomb is too close.  Maybe you see yourself in the Upper Room with the disciples, Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the others in fear of the Romans.  How does the silence speak to you there?  Whom might you choose to engage in conversation?

Or maybe you find yourself with the travelers on the Road to Emmaus, having found hope in Jesus and now in shock that Jesus has left them dejected and hopeless and lost.  Have you ever felt that way?  How does Jesus’ appearance (and vanishing) speak to you and strengthen your hope?

Related imageEach of these stories can offer us opportunities to contemplate the full spectrum of human emotion and experience, and they all have a joyful (and challenging) ending.  Each one invites us to be real (yes, Jesus did suffer and die for us), to ponder: what does this mean in my life; how do I follow someone who died and is risen and is present everywhere?

This Saturday—Holy Saturday—can you take some time to contemplate and put yourself into one of these scenes, imagining a conversation, then asking God to help you integrate the experience into your life?

  • What did you notice?
  • What do you appreciate about Jesus’ presence in your life?
  • What are you grateful for about being called to be a follower of Christ?

This Holy Week, prepare well and enjoy many Easter Blessings.

Posted in Liturgical Seasons, Reflections | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beware the Danger of Leadership

A Lenten Reflection by Sr. M. Martha Pavelsky, MHSH

Long ago in my novitiate class, we were warned to “beware people who aspire to office.” I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I guessed there existed, even in religious life, individuals who were hoping to “climb the ladder,” acquiring authority, prestige, power.

If you’ve ever been the child, spouse or parent of an “important personage,” you’ve probably realized what a hazardous matter it is to be in charge.

Scripture readings during Lent give us several examples to ponder. Adam and Eve couldn’t resist eating that fruit: who wouldn’t want to “be like gods, knowing what is good and what is evil.” They wound up wearing fig leaves, not such a great fashion statement, but they certainly did know good and evil.

God promised to make Abram a great nation—a promise powerful enough to induce Abram to leave all that was dear and familiar. Mugs currently on sale in the supermarket proclaim, “Not all who wander are lost,” but as Abram and his folks made their way, with many misadventures, from southern Mesopotamia through Egypt (big trouble there—Abram’s own fault) to the land of Canaan, there had to have been some hot discussions about “wandering” and “lost.”

Jesus is, of course, the prime example of the dangers inherent in leadership. He chaired a committee with some truly powerful leaders—Moses and Elijah—who endorsed him along with his father in the “bright cloud,” but Jesus knew men’s hearts (it says somewhere) so he forbade Peter, James and John from telling anyone what they’d experienced “until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

Jesus was the leader, all right, but what a thankless task that turned out to be (as it had been for Abram, Moses and leaders we might think of in our own time.)

The moral of this story? Pray for all leaders. Offer encouragement to those you appreciate, but count your blessings if you aren’t cast in that role!

Posted in Reflections | 2 Comments

Begin Your Journey to Jerusalem – A Reflection for Lent by Sister Natalie DeLuca, MHSH

“TO LIVE IN HEARTS WE LEAVE BEHIND IS NOT TO DIE”

                                                                                                                            –Thomas Campbell

Lent 2017 lights our hearts with the realization that Christ suffered, died and is with us!  Thomas Campbell’s quote is a song of praise, a hymn of joy, an alleluia of faith and hope and truth.  As the Lenten journey begins, invite the presence of Christ to fill your heart.  That is the grace He wants to give us. Build your relationship in silence with Scripture – His Word of this season with an attitude of thankfulness,

lent-2017Approach Him with thanks for all His goodness bestowed on you.  Count the ways:  parents, loved-ones, family, health, sickness, friends, and all the hardships –your journey to your Jerusalem, your losses, struggles—your life as you live now.

Besides living in our hearts, Jesus is alive—risen with an incorruptible body and spirit.  Lent gives us space out of our busy and noisy lives to stop and ask: “What have I done for those I love?  What have I done lately for Christ?”

Matthew 25:35-37 goes to the heart of our reality check:  “…I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, sick and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me…”

05 School mealAt the beginning of Lent, try to live in the present moment with the Christ.  He will go to Calvary, Yes.  But He is risen and wants to walk with us—with you—on this 2017 trek to Jerusalem, a time that will never come again!

He is not dead. He lives. He lives in the broken lives and silent cries of our brothers and sisters who make up the mystical Body of Christ.

Find a quiet space.  Read or remember your favorite Scripture story of Christ.  Place yourself in the scene.  Notice His gestures, His expressions.  Hold a conversation with Him about your hopes for this Lent.   Remembering our brothers and sisters, share with the Lord your Lenten plan.

Suggested Scripture: Matthew 25:31-41

Posted in Liturgical Seasons, Seasonal Thoughts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment