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December 2012 Meditation: A Season of Hope & Anticipation

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?

Holy Child Sister Creates a Website for Ecospirituality Resources

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!

Does serving your community matter?

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.

Businesses & Charities Working Hand-in-Hand

Bruer Kershner of Kershner Office Furniture with Sandy Lovascio, Director of Development for the Society of the Holy Child Jesus - American Province at the Executive Leaders Radio and Entrepreneurs Forum of Greater Philadelphia at the CEO Philanthropy Awards Breakfast in Philadelphia.

Bruer Kershner of Kershner Office Furniture with Sandy Lovascio, Director of Development for the Society of the Holy Child Jesus – American Province, at the CEO Philanthropy Awards Breakfast in Philadelphia.

“The more I learn about the Society of the Holy Child Jesus (SHCJ), the better it gets,” says Bruer C. Kershner, President of Kershner Office Furniture in King of Prussia, PA. In June, Mr. Kershner was honored by the Executive Leaders Radio and Entrepreneurs Forum of Greater Philadelphia at the CEO Philanthropy Awards Breakfast in Philadelphia.

Mr. Kershner was recognized for his personal accomplishments, but perhaps more importantly, he was recognized for his commitment to supporting charitable causes, one of which is the Society of the Holy Child Jesus.

Mr. Kershner was asked to select a charitable organization to which he is committed to present him with the award. “The Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus (SHCJ) were the first to come to mind,” he says. Sandy Lovascio, Director of Development for the SHCJ, presented Mr. Kershner with his award, stating, “Bruer enthusiastically extends his time and expertise, generously supports the Society’s efforts, and graciously serves as a wonderful advocate. As an organization that has witnessed his leadership, devotion, and commitment, it is a privilege to present this award.”

Mr. Kershner came to know the Society of the Holy Child Jesus in 2009, when the organization’s offices were being relocated from Drexel Hill, PA to Bryn Mawr, PA. The expense of moving the office was quite costly and there were not a ton of funds left over to buy furniture. The furniture the organization was using was school furniture such as teachers’ desks and chairs from several decades ago. It was falling apart and not functional for an office.

Mrs. Lovascio contacted several furniture companies to see if they could help. She knew there was something different the minute Mr. Kershner answered the phone. “He could not have been more helpful. He was excited to learn about our work and those we serve. He worked with us on cost and did all he could to provide us with economical solutions—such as by providing refurbished furniture—that would help to make our office presentable, functional, and affordable. And then he made a personal donation to help us cover some of the costs. He went above and beyond.”

Since then, Mr. Kershner has continued his commitment to the Society, such as by helping to find event sponsors for the Society’s Annual Awards Dinner event. “We are so grateful to Bruer,” said Mrs. Lovascio. “His support makes it possible for the Sisters to advance their mission and continue to bring faith and hope to some of God’s most vulnerable.”

2012 Jubilee Celebration

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Last Saturday, more than 100 Holy Child Sisters, friends, and family members gathered to celebrate the Jubilees of 12 Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus during a special Mass and luncheon reception at St. Thomas of Villanova Parish Church in Bryn Mawr, PA. Special thanks goes out to Sister Margaret Mullin and Sister Claire Smith who coordinated and managed the event, with Sister Margaret Doyle serving as the liaison with the Society’s American Province Leadership Team. Jubilees mark significant anniversaries in the lives of sisters—it means the person has been a Sister of the Holy Child for 75, 70, 60, or 50 years. During Mass, the Jubilarians renewed their vows. (To see more photos from the event, click here.)

Combined, this year’s Jubilarians have served for close to 700 years. Their ministries have ranged from teacher to school principal to artist to African missionary to administrator and to everything in between! They have served all over the world from the east and west coasts of the U.S. to Europe and to Africa. To read bios of each of the Jubilarians, click here.

2012 SHCJ Jubilarians

75 YEARS
Theodosia (Rita) Linus, SHCJ (M. M. Theodosia)

70 YEARS
Margaret Naab, SHCJ (Sr. Margaret Alacoque)

60 YEARS
Elinor Callanan, SHCJ (Sr. Dolores Mary)
Elizabeth Fitzmaurice, SHCJ (M. Thomas Mary)
Elizabeth Loomis, SHCJ (M. Christopher Mary)
Jay McCann, SHCJ (M. John Cantius)

50 YEARS
Marlene Brownett, SHCJ (Sr. M. Magdalen)
Margaret Crowley, SHCJ (Sr. M. Mark)
Margaret Doherty, SHCJ (Sr. M. St. Thomas)
Barbara Linen, SHCJ (Sr. M. St. Kevin)
Elizabeth Muir, SHCJ (Sr. David Mary)
Ann Murray, SHCJ (Sr. Ann Catherine)

Hopes Comes Alive!

By Kim Cavallero

Last night, I had the privilege of attending the 10th Anniversary celebration of Hope Partnership for Education, an educational center founded by the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus and the Sisters of Mercy in North Philadelphia. Hope is a middle school serving fifth through eighth graders, as well as the families of the students.

I have worked for the Society of the Holy Child (SHCJ) for the past 10 years. When I began with the SHCJ in 2002, Hope was just a dream. Now, it’s a reality. It’s been amazing to watch the transformation—not only in the school becoming a reality (though funding is still greatly needed for the school to have a building of its own), but also in the students who have had the benefit of attending Hope Partnership.

One of those students is Tyrik Harris, a seventh-grader. Last year, I had the privilege of interviewing Tyrik and his grandmother, Elaine Selby, for a video we created for our Annual Holy Child Awards Dinner Event. At the time, Tyrik shared with me that he went to the local public school in his neighborhood until fifth grade. He told me it wasn’t a good school—there were bullies, food fights, and “writings on the wall—mean things.” His grandmother shared that Tyrik’s behavior was worsening in the public school and she feared he would hurt himself or someone else. She learned about Hope and was able to get Tyrik enrolled. Today, the staff at Hope reports that Tyrik is one of the most well-behaved children there.

Tyrik’s story inspired me last year. But I beamed with pride last night at Hope’s event when I saw him, along with several of his classmates, perform an incredible drumming presentation, that had the more than 300 attendees at the event on their feet! (Please excuse the video quality. Seeing the talent of the students, I quickly shot a video with my iPhone camera!)


In addition, Mayor Michael Nutter stopped by the event last evening, offering his congratulations to all who have made Hope Partnership a reality. He shared that education is the most important gift we can give to our young people today, noting that it is the way out of poverty. At the event, Rose Gray was honored with the Igniting Hope Award and Karen Rowley was honored with the Embracing Hope Award. Both women have been integral to Hope’s success and powerful advocates for education and its power.

Hope is changing lives, but they need our support to do it. You can make a donation online through our website and designate that your gift is for Hope.

Kim Cavallero is Director of Communications for the Society of the Holy Child Jesus – American Province.

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