Put Your Faith into Action!

The Advent and Christmas season is upon us. As you watch this meditation, reflect and share your thoughts below: How are you preparing yourself to be someone who brings love into the world this Advent season? Where are your actions dictated by love?

Our world is filled with need, but look deeper and you will also see millions of people working to meet those needs. Our Foundress, Cornelia Connelly, described this as “meeting the wants of the age” or in everyday terms, responding to the needs of our time. As we celebrate Thanksgiving later this month, consider these questions: What are you thankful for in your own life? Are there ways you are being called to make a difference in the lives of others? What is your first step to taking action? Share your ideas below our meditation.

Sister Terri MacKenzie, SHCJ (Mother Ellen Mary) has created a web site— www.ecospiritualityresources.com—that contains examples of her ministry to deepen understanding of how God lives and acts within us and our united world. (The mission statement of the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus reads: For this is our mission: to help others to believe that God lives and acts in them and in our world.) The new website site houses six free Advent and Lent reflections, written by Sister Terri, that have been used by groups in many countries.

Click here to visit the EcoSpirituality Resources site

Sister Terri MacKenzie has created a website dedicated to EcoSpirituality Resources.

The resource for Advent 2012 is “Paths to Peace,” and Lent 2013 is “Spirituality of Soil.”

Guides for future years call us to ponder the life systems of air, water, and light/energy. The last deals directly with Incarnational Spirituality. Besides these reflections, this site also includes a brief explanation of:

  • Ecospirituality
  • Background stories
  • Suggested books and sites
  • Videos including Time for an Energy Change that connects global warming and fracking, the justice focus of the Sisters of the Holy Child in the American Province
  • Single items such as prayer rituals for occasions and pertinent Earth justice facts, especially about fracking (the Province’s justice focus for its celebration of serving in America for 150 years in 2012).

Web contents help readers better understand, in light of new scientific discoveries, the mystery of Christ among us in our interconnected world.

While ecospirituality is not a topic of interest to everyone, this site seems to be meeting a need. It had more than 700 hits in its first month, climbed to first place in the “google order,” and had more than 1,800 hits by early September. Viewers have left positive comments, such as the following:

  • Amazing and beautiful site… So much to return to and to ponder. Thank you!
  • This is awesome! I shall return again and again.
  • So much to see in the ordinary elements of life. Thank you for opening eyes to possibilities.
  • I am happy and lucky to be linked to this wonderful site.

Viewers are invited to contribute reviews for the suggested books and media, and Terri welcomes all comments and suggestions. She can be reached via e-mail at tmackenzie@shcj.org. Visit the site today!

As the presidential election reaches the final stretch, we are reminded of the importance of each and every vote. As you make your choices, consider the far-stretching ramifications your choices hold. Think of all those who will be impacted by your choices. Consider the following and share your thoughts below: How do my choices reflect the needs of the common good? What are ways I can respect and be tolerant of the beliefs of others?

Mayfield Senior School, Society of the Holy Child, Volunteering

Michelle Mohr (left) with her best friend on the day of their graduation from Mayfield Senior School.

By Michelle Mohr

Editor’s Note: In 2011, Ms. Mohr graduated from Mayfield Senior School of the Holy Child Jesus, which was founded by the Sisters of the Holy Child, in Pasadena, CA. Today, Ms. Mohr is a sophomore at Georgetown University in Washington D.C., where she is pursuing a double major in American Studies and Economics. She took the initiative to contact the Washington Middle School for Girls, which the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus co-founded in 1998, to see how she might be able to help.

To be honest, I was not sure originally that Mayfield Senior School of the Holy Child Jesus was “the place for me.” I was worried about the all-girl atmosphere and doubted whether I would enjoy being in such a small environment. In fact, even after being admitted to Mayfield, I nearly accepted an admission offer from another school, thinking that it would be a better fit. However, at the very last second, I changed my mind and committed myself to four years of plaid skirts, and, now four years later, I know that I made one of the best decisions of my life.

At Mayfield, I loved my classes, participated in Student Government, and developed friendships that I know will last a lifetime. However, most importantly, I was surrounded both by an atmosphere that was supportive and nurturing and by people who helped me become who I am today.

In particular, my experience at Mayfield impressed on me the notion of ‘Actions Not Words,’ which is the motto of the entire Holy Child Community. Whether it was through school-wide service days in the community, fundraisers for various causes, or even just promoting the idea of caring for one’s neighbor, I came to value the notion that every individual has the power to make a difference in the world, as well as the responsibility to actually do so. While having compassion and empathy is no doubt admirable, it is far better to act upon those sentiments in order to improve the life of another, even if it is just in the smallest of ways.

Now, as a student at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., I have an opportunity to give back to the community that has given so much to me. The Washington Middle School for Girls (WMSG), which the Sisters of the Holy Child founded in 1998, is only a metro ride away from campus. I contacted the School’s Director, Sister Mary Bourdon, RJM and I am going to be getting involved in their afterschool programs during this upcoming semester. While there certainly are other service opportunities available in the surrounding areas, I know that I specifically want to work with WMSG. Being the product of a Holy Child education myself, I fully appreciate the importance of “educating the entire child” and look forward to helping further the goals and mission of Cornelia Connelly, the Foundress of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus.

Ms. Mohr exemplifies how the members of the Holy Child community partner together to light the way for others. We will continue to check in with Ms. Mohr as she begins volunteering at WMSG. Are you interested in volunteering in your community and helping to light the way for those in need? Check out some opportunities available through the Society.

Exploring Our Roots

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As the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus (SHCJ) continue to mark the 150th Anniversary of their arrival in the U.S. this year, several Sisters journeyed to Towanda, PA to explore the area where the first Sisters to come to America settled in August 1862 and began two schools. Jeanne Adams, SHCJ (M. John Bosco), who lived in Towanda from 2004-2007, served as the group’s tour guide.

Unique Stories
Sister Jeanne pointed out where C.L. Ward’s house had been and the Riverside Cemetery where he and the members of the Weston family are buried. Mr. Ward was the land agent for the Duchess of Leeds, who provided land to Cornelia Connelly, the Foundress of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, in Towanda. The Weston family’s connection to the Society is quite fascinating.

The SHCJ know that Margaret Christian was a postulant or volunteer teacher (records are unclear) who had trained as a teacher at St. Leonard’s-on-Sea in England, which the SHCJ founded and ran. Ms. Christian came to America with the second group of Holy Child Sisters in the summer of 1863. Dr. Henry Weston came to the Sisters’ school in Towanda to help some of the Sisters build a stage for a play. As Margaret Christian, who was teaching at the school, and Dr. Weston got to know each other they fell in love and eventually, married.

The couple moved to Philadelphia and had six children. By the time the couple’s daughters were entering high school, the Sisters of the Holy Child had opened Holy Child Academy in Sharon Hill, PA, which the Weston’s daughters all attended. Upon graduating from the school, the couple’s youngest daughter, Lucy Ignatia Weston, entered the Society of the Holy Child and became a Holy Child Sister. She took the religious name of Mother Mary Magdalen.

Fascinating Sights
Sister Jeanne also led the group to the site of the first convent, now gone, where the Sisters remembered the icy winters which the first Sisters were unprepared to face. The visiting SHCJ were experiencing a steamy Towanda summer, and they wondered how those Sisters managed with their heavy woolen habits.

Some other sites visited during the Sisters’ journey to Towanda included:

  • Weston Farm, now owed by Doris and Bill Madill, who are related to Mother Mary Magdalen Weston.
  • Dushore where the first American Holy Child Sister, Sister Joseph Thall, SHCJ, lived.
  • Standing Stone Cemetery where the parents of Sister Hilda Lynch, SHCJ, another vocation from Towanda, are buried.
  • Historical Society Museum in Towanda where Henry Farley, present day archivist, showed the Sisters treasures, among them, a doll dressed as a Holy Child Sister.
  • The house where Mother St. Michael Dunn, another vocation from Towanda, was born.

All these sites were of great interest but the best part of the trip was getting to know the generous people who hosted the Sisters:

  • Ronnie and John Moulthrop (Ronnie baked five coffee cakes and three cakes and hosted eight sisters for two tours)
  • Sandy Kasenga, the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
  • Jackie and Bob Pyznar
  • Gerry Smith
  • Sheila and Edwin Kraus
  • Dan and Sylvia Martin
  • Bill and Doris Madill
  • Father Edward Michelini, the pastor of Saints Peter and Paul Church, who gave the Sisters the church hall to use as their home base during their visit.
  • School principal Kathy DeWan helped in many hidden ways such as by preparing the Wednesday buffet and helping Sister Jeanne do the shopping.

The Sisters and many of their hosts also enjoyed dinner at the Weigh Station Café, which overlooks the Susquehanna River. It was indeed a trip to savor the past and to appreciate the kindness of the current citizens of Towanda and the surrounding areas of Sayre, Wysox, Ulster, and Burlington.

The visitors thanked God for the first six sisters who came to American. They were also grateful to Sister Jeanne Adams for her knowledge of the area and for the hospitality of her many friends in the Towanda area.

As the the 2012 presidential campaign continues, let’s find some balance! Let’s weigh the issues! Let’s be realistic! As you watch this month’s meditation, consider: What influences your choices? How can you open your heart to hear God’s voice each day? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

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