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Posts tagged ‘inspiration’

Monthly Meditation: October 2012

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?

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)

Monthly Meditation: July 2012

We don’t know what the weather is where you are, but here in the Northeast, we’re sweating it out through the dog days of summer! That got us thinking about a cooler time for this month’s meditation–Christmas! After watching, we invite you to reflect and share your thoughts below by clicking here. Here are some questions to get you started: Do you see the reminders of Christmas around you? What are they? How are you able to allow the “Light” into your life? What are the ways you can celebrate Christmas every day of the year?

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.

Fourth Annual Holy Child Awards Dinner: Celebrating Where It All Began!

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Last Thursday, more than 200 people gathered for the Fourth Annual Holy Child Awards Dinner at Bridgewaters in New York, NY. The evening began with an inspiring video that highlighted some of those who embody Holy Child spirit in their lives.

Sister Mary Ann Buckley, Leader of the Society’s American Province, thanked the many members of the laity who have partnered with the Sisters of the Holy Child, while touching on the 150th Anniversary of the SHCJ in America, stating, “It is significant that we recognize our 2012 Award recipients in New York, as the City holds a special place in the history of the Society of the Holy Child. One hundred fifty years ago, six pioneering Sisters landed in the Port of New York. Their arrival began a new chapter in our history as an international congregation. These young women left their familiar lives in England behind to lead the Holy Child mission in the Americas. They demonstrated a fire, spirit, and commitment that was essential to the Society’s growth. These characteristics live on in the Society and are embraced and embodied by individuals like Kathleen and John, who confront the human condition with a strong faith and a passion for serving God.”

Next, Sarah Coraizaca ’14 and Chelsey Giraldo ’12, students at the Cornelia Connelly Center for Education in New York, NY, gave the evening’s invocation. Special tribute was paid to Connie Bush, who passed away earlier this year and had served as Head of the Cornelia Connelly Center for many years.

Faith in Action Honoree
Sister Mary Ann then invited Sister Terri MacKenzie, SHCJ and Sister Roey McSorley, SHCJ to the stage to introduce Faith in Action Honoree Kathleen DiChiara. Mrs. DiChiara began the Community FoodBank of New Jersey in 1982. Today, the organization feeds close to a million people annually. Mrs. DiChiara’s children both attended the Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child, where she was a member of the Mothers’ Auxiliary.

Holy Child Spirit Honree
After dinner Sister Jean Marie O’Meara, introduced Holy Child Spirit Honoree John D. Feerick. Mr. Feerick was Dean of the Fordham University School of Law for 20 years, as well as being the Founder and Director of the Feerick Center for Social Justice at Fordham University, which the University established in 2006.The Holy Child community was thrilled to honor Mrs. DiChiara and Mr. Feerick, who embody the Holy Child mission in their lives and work. To see photos from the event taken by the talented Michael Leslie, click here. You can also watch a recorded version of the live video stream from the evening. In 2013, the Fifth Annual Holy Child Awards Dinner will be held in Pennsylvania. Stay tuned for all the details.

Lessons Learned in the DR

By Kim Cavallero
With my flight back to the United States tomorrow, my week here in the Dominican Republic is winding to a close. It’s been quite an adventure and I am thankful to Holy Child Sisters Kathleen King, Mary Alice Minogue, and Ann-Joyce Peters, for warmly welcoming me into their community, along with the three Holy Child Volunteers, Brooke, Kristen, and Elle, who are living here for a year and teaching in the school at the Society’s mission site. I’m come a long way since arriving last week—and I’ve learned a few lessons along the way. Here’s a quick rundown of a few—some more humorous than others.

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Lesson #1 – Mosquito netting is important.
Make sure your mosquito netting is tucked in fully all around your bed and/or that you don’t trap any mosquitoes inside the net with you. Fail to do it right and you will wake up with at least 7-10 mosquito bites. Pack some hydrocortisone. (I could have used it.)

Lesson #2 – Hot water and water pressure are overrated. Compassion and humor are not.
When I first arrived last Saturday, Sister Ann-Joyce was showing me the “shower,” which essentially is a single stream of cold water running from a faucet. I’m sure she could see the horrified look on my face, but quite calmly and humorously, she just looked at me and said, “Well, it’s not going to win a prize or anything, but you know….”

A few days later, she showed me how to heat up some water so you could have some warm water with which to take a shower. She then showed me different pitchers you can use to pour the warm water over your head and said, “Everyone establishes her own system.” I took her word for it. After heating the water, I hopped in the shower. A few moments later, she yelled in, “How are you doing in there, Kim? You think you might stay a few more days?” I still wonder what she would have done if I had said, “No!” The point is I adapted and got used to it thanks to Sister Ann-Joyce’s humor and compassion! (I will say that hand sanitizer, cleansing face wipes, and dry shampoo are helpful to have here.)

Lesson #3 – Bring earplugs or a desire to dance the night (and day) away.
Roosters don’t just crow in the early morning hours. They like to crow at all times of the day and night. In addition, the people here love to play music—all the time. There is a constant, steady stream of noise: roosters, chickens, dogs, music, and people yelling. Silence is not important here. If it is to you, bring some earplugs!

Lesson #4 – Living without electricity isn’t so bad.
Where I am staying, the electricity is usually on from about 6:00-7:00 p.m. in the evening until 9:00 a.m. the next morning. In the U.S., when the electricity goes out—even for a few hours—it is a huge inconvenience for many of us. Here, it is a way of life and people just go about their day. They’re flexible and they adapt. Nonetheless, be sure to use a surge protector or risk blowing out electronic items such as your computer’s AC power source. (I’ll be buying a new one next week.)

Lesson #5 – Don’t jump to the worst conclusion. There are good people everywhere.
For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a very organized person (some might say in a neurotic way!), but this trip has thrown me for a loop and my organizational skills have disappeared into thin air! For example, yesterday, after doing some sight seeing in the city, we arrived home and I soon realized that my wallet was missing. I tore apart suitcases and bags—anywhere I thought it might be, but it didn’t turn up.

Within a few hours, I had canceled my credit and bank cards, assuming I had been pick-pocketed. The last place I remembered having it was in a shop where I had made a purchase. I had the receipt and asked Sister Ann-Joyce if she would be willing to call the store and ask them in Spanish if I had left my wallet there. It was a long shot, but it was my only shot.

Sister Ann-Joyce called the store this morning and sure enough they had it and were holding it for me. They explained that they didn’t have any way to contact me, which is why they hadn’t called. There are good people all over the world who do the right thing.

Homeward Bound
This week has been an adventure. It has challenged and stretched me to grow in ways I never imagined. I have seen people living in extreme poverty in Batey Lecheria and yet, they are full of gratitude for the simple gift of your presence. I arrived in fear last week, but am departing in peace tomorrow—and full of gratitude. Read Kim’s first and second blog posts.

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

Between Heaven and Hell

By Kim Cavallero

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There is a stark contrast here in the Dominican Republic’s Batey Lecheria, where the Sisters of the Holy Child began a mission site in 1995. I heard one person describe it as “being between heaven and hell.” You look up and see a brilliant blue sky, lush green palm trees, and fluffy white clouds. You look down and see dirt roads, barely habitable shacks, and half-clothed children, many who have been abused and/or abandoned. They run through the streets and cling to anyone who they think will give them attention. Today, I was almost knocked over as four children, whom I had never met, grabbed onto me at the same time and wouldn’t let go.

But this week, the children of Batey Lecheria have been getting some extra attention, as have many of the residents here. Twelve parishioners from St. Luke’s in Charlotte, NC arrived on Monday morning to give a week of their time and energy to this community. This is the seventh year St. Luke’s has embarked on a mission trip here. The parishioners each paid $400 to come, with the remaining cost of the trip ($450 per person) raised through fund-raisers held throughout the year at St. Luke’s. Click here to hear from parishioner Jamar McKoy, who is making his first trip to Batey Lecheria this week.

Inspiring Experiences

Here in Batey Lecheria, the parishioners have undertaken a hodgepodge of activities this week: painting the shacks; playing baseball with the children; teaching the children how to paint and tie-dye t-shirts; and organizing and leading classes for the women in how to make sock dolls, jewelry, and other items that are then sold in the U.S. for a fair profit, which is returned to the women.

“You get a whole new sense of poverty here,” says parishioner Amber Ockerbloom. “There is a constant need. You can’t come once and not come again. You have to be open to what you are going to do because there’s always a place to do something here.” Along with Ockerbloom, parishioners Debby and Jim Lawrence share that you get as much as you give in Batey Lecheria, noting that the love they receive from the residents is so much more than they give to them.

A “Self-Sustaining” Trip

In addition to giving their time, the St. Luke’s parishioners bring suitcases full of donated medical supplies for the medical clinic the Sisters of the Holy Child began and run at the mission site, as well as all the supplies for the different projects they undertake such as painting the houses and making sock dolls. At the end of the trip, they leave the clothes they wore during the week for the residents of Batey Lecheria, who later sell them and make a small profit. “We clean out our closets or we go to Good Will before we leave the U.S. and buy the clothes we will need for the trip,” explains parishioner Cindy Platko. The parishioners also buy the suitcases that they bring the medical supplies in at Good Will and then leave the suitcases behind.

Platko, who is a school nurse, and her husband, Greg, lived with the Sisters of the Holy Child for a year, while serving the residents of Batey Lecheria. The couple had done mission trips to Batey Lecheria and felt they could do so much more by serving for a longer period of time alongside the Sisters of the Holy Child. They now return to Batey Lecheria twice a year. “Coming here is like coming home and seeing family for me,” shares Platko. During return trips, Platko spends her afternoons making house calls to residents. For example, she brings aspirin to a woman whose hip was broken and never repaired four years ago.

Platko and her husband are akin to celebrities in Batey Lecheria, though they certainly are too humble and focused on the work at hand to consider their “celebrity status.” Since the moment they arrived, shouts for “Cindy” and “Gregorio” (as the residents call Greg) never end. The residents are thrilled to see them and they bring joy wherever they go in Batey Lecheria, just as all the St. Luke’s parishioners who are here this week have. “We’re a parish of action,” says Ockerbloom. How exciting it is for the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus to see so many people committed to the motto of their congregation: “Actions Not Words.” Read Kim’s first and last blog post from her journey.

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

Holy Child Academy’s Motto “Actions Not Words” Impacts the Community

Holy Child Academy students spend time with a resident of St. Francis Country House in Darby, PA.

In 1927, the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus began Holy Child Academy (HCA) in Drexel Hill, PA. Today, 85 years later, the School continues to embody the Sisters’ motto of “Actions Not Words.” Take a look at all HCA students did during their first semester!

The school organized a host of activities that served the poor and needy, senior adults, and our furry friends! In honor of St. Francis Assisi feast day, the students asked for donated pet products for the Delaware County SPCA located in Media.  In November, Holy Child Academy Parents’ Association organized a Thanksgiving food drive for 24 families.  In December, gently worn coats were collected for the poor. Twelve bags of clothing were donated between Divine Mercy Parish in Philadelphia and the Community Action Agency of Delaware County. 

Under the direction of Holy Child Academy’s service coordinator, Ms. Anne Wood, students have been collaborating with St. Francis Country House, a skilled nursing and short term rehabilitation facility in Darby, PA. In November, five folks from St. Francis along with seven employees/volunteers spent a few hours at Holy Child Academy.  Our guests were treated to an arts and craft project, a singing performance by the Pre-Kindergarten class, and lunch with the students.  

In December, Holy Child Academy’s eighth-grade students took a short drive to St. Francis Country House for a visit with their friends. The time was spent socializing and doing a fun project. According to Ms. Wood, the students and St. Francis residents are forming a strong bond. “The visits, activities, and socialization have been a wonderful experience for both St. Francis and Holy Child. The men and women at St. Francis are lovely and gracious. They light up when we visit. For our students, I see them becoming more compassionate, respectful, and aware of the importance that elders have in our society.”  

For the Christmas season, the third- and fifth-graders decorated 60 snack bags for the Community Food Program of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Nutritional Development Services.  In late December, the older students paired with their younger “buddy” students to make Christmas cards for the patients at Delaware County Memorial Hospital.

In planning the spring service projects, the students’ openness to grow and to help others will remain a priority, and the activities will center on Holy Child Academy’s philosophy of “Actions Not Words.” Find out how you can make a difference through Holy Child programs.

Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child Jesus Celebrates Founder’s Day on October 13

Students in the Lower School at the Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child in Summit, NJ marked Founder's Day with their "prayer families."

On October 13, students at the Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child in Summit, NJ, recognized Founder’s Day, the day 165 years ago that Cornelia Connelly began the Society of the Holy Child Jesus in Derby, England. Founder’s Day is also referred to as St. Edward’s Day by members of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus because the day is also the Feast of Saint Edward.

“It’s so amazing,” said Oak Knoll student Noelle Villa ’12. “If there were no founders, no Cornelia Connelly, I wouldn’t have the education I’m getting today. Founder’s Day represents the legacy Cornelia Connelly started for us.”

Carmen M. Chavez, Esq., Executive Director of the Casa Cornelia Law Center in San Diego, CA, visited the Upper School at Oak Knoll to talk about how the spirit of Cornelia Connelly lives on not just through the Holy Child schools but also through organizations such as the Casa Cornelia Law Center.

The Casa Cornelia Law Center (CCLC) was founded by the Sisters of the Holy Child in 1993 and provides pro bono legal services for immigrants in three areas: asylum, domestic violence, and children. While Mrs. Chavez detailed some of her work with CCLC, she also spoke about spiritual growth and enrichment, encouraging each student to remember that the decisions they make today will impact them and others tomorrow.

“Having a speaker—as we have tried to do these past few years—allows our students and teachers to see that Holy Child is bigger than Oak Knoll and even bigger than the Holy Child schools,” said Kathleen Lynch, Theology Department Chair. And that’s just what students said they learned through Mrs. Chavez’s presentation.

“We are all united under one spirit,” said Oak Knoll student Rachael Edelson ’12.

While many students said they knew that the Holy Child Network extended beyond the walls of Oak Knoll and the other Holy Child schools, they didn’t know about the Casa Cornelia Law Center.

“I feel so blessed to be a part of this community,” Noelle said. “It’s set in tradition yet always evolving. It’s great that we have those roots to fall back on.”

Students remarked how incredible it is that the principles and values that were instilled by Cornelia Connelly are still relevant and applicable in today’s changing world, as shown by the work of CCLC.

“It’s amazing how strong the network is,” said Allison Donini ’12, saying that it’s inspiring to know that as the students graduate and move through the world, they will likely encounter others who share their beliefs and values and fellow members of the Holy Child family.

Students in the Lower School celebrated Founder’s Day with their own Oak Knoll tradition: prayer families. Prayer families are small groups of students in kindergarten through grade six that gather to share prayers and reflection. Administration, faculty, and staff are part of each group, which is led by a sixth-grade student.

Dr. Michele Dahl, the Lower School Religion Coordinator at Oak Knoll, said she decided to recognize Founder’s Day with a “prayer families lunch” because it fit in with the values on which Cornelia Connelly founded the Society of the Holy Child Jesus.

“I think Cornelia Connelly was about fun,” Dr. Dahl said. “She would want the kids to be giggling and getting to know each other and seeing God in each other.”

Dr. Dahl also said Founder’s Day is just a few days before National Mix-It-Up Day on October 18 which encourages students to sit with new people in the lunchroom to help foster tolerance and acceptance of differences. “It gives kids an opportunity to have that sense of fun and camaraderie,” Dr. Dahl said. “[Cornelia Connelly] would have enjoyed that.”

An Inspiring Evening: 2011 Holy Child Awards Dinner

Anne Healy Ayella gives her acceptance speech for the 2011 Holy Child Spirit Award.

Robert A. Pollock, 2011 Faith in Action Honoree, with his grandchildren.

Sister Helen McDonald, Leader of the Society

Last evening, close to 250 people gathered for the Third Annual Holy Child Awards Dinner at the Overbrook Golf Club in Villanova, PA. The evening was beautiful and inspiring and began with a powerful video that highlighted several of those who have been empowered by Holy Child schools and ministries in the Philadelphia area.

Sister Helen McDonald, Leader of the Society’s American Province thanked the many members of the laity who have partnered with the Sisters of the Holy Child, stating, “Our foundress, Cornelia Connelly, exhorted us to meet the ‘wants of the age.’ In a world whose needs have grown so large and so complex, this can be a daunting challenge for a Society as small as ours. However, thanks to the support and participation of the laity, the Society continues to address critical needs and have a powerful impact across the country and around the globe. We are extremely grateful to those who put their faith in action and willingly and enthusiastically respond to the needs of our time.”

Next, Amanda Capra and Crystal Martinez, two teen mentors at the afterschool program of Providence Center, which was founded by the Society of the Holy Child Jesus (SHCJ) in 1993, gave the invocation. Faith in Action Honoree
Sister Helen then invited Sister Nancy Hagenbach, SHCJ and Sister Ruth Dawley, SHCJ to the stage to introduce Faith in Action Honoree Robert A. Pollock. Mr. Pollock has spent decades serving his community, volunteering with organizations such as the American Red Cross, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, and the SHCJ. Mr. Pollock came to know the Sisters of the Holy Child while his daughters were enrolled at the Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child in Summit, NJ. He served on the School’s Board of Directors and chaired the board for four years. He then went on to raise two million dollars for the school to build a new gymnasium.Holy Child Spirit Honoree
After dinner, Sister Anita Quigley, SHCJ and Cathi Duffy, Director of the SHCJ Associates, introduced Holy Child Spirit Honoree Anne Healy Ayella. Mrs. Ayella is an alumna of the former Holy Child Academy in Sharon Hill, PA. For more than 30 years, she has worked in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Office of Nutritional Development Services, most recently as the Assistant Director in charge of community relations and outreach. Mrs. Ayella travels throughout the Archdiocese of Philadelphia advocating for the needy in parishes and schools. She is also the Diocesan Director for Catholic Relief Services and is active in the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger. She often lobbies in Harrisburg and Washington for programs and funding to address the needs of the hungry.

The SHCJ were thrilled to honor Mr. Pollock and Mrs. Ayella who have been integral to advancing the mission of the SHCJ. Both Mrs. Ayella and Mr. Pollock received standing ovations as they accepted their awards! To see photos from the event taken by the talented Michael Leslie, click here. In 2012, the Fourth Annual Holy Child Awards Dinner will be held in New York! Stay tuned for all the details.

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