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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)

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.

The Legacy of Response-Ability is Celebrated

Sister Joanne Sullivan, SHCJ and Christina D'Emma share a moment during the May 15 Celebration. Christina was both a Volunteer Teacher with Response-Ability, as well as later serving on the program's staff. Sister Joanne assisted with the program for many years.

By Mike Mannix, RA Volunteer

Response-Ability (RA), the volunteer teaching program sponsored by the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, hosted a celebration in Rosemont on May 15 to honor many of those who have made the program possible for more than 20 years. Sadly, the Response-Ability program is closing its doors in the US at the end of this school year due to the economic downturn and increases in living costs. However, the program will continue at the Society’s mission site in the Dominican Republic.

Current and past volunteers, sponsors, classroom coaches, Sisters of the Holy Child, family members, and even a museum curator were all present at the numerous events of the day. The event, known affectionately as the “CelebRAtion,” began at Mass with reverence and ended on the dance floor in revelry. In between, Liz Eager, the program’s Executive Director, honored many with awards and RA keepsakes.

Also during the celebration, the Archives of the SHCJ American Province opened an exhibition dedicated exclusively to the program. Because the Archives are within walking distance of where the celebration was held, many were able to see it and meet people they had heard stories of, but never met.

The day was a fitting recognition of the legacy of Response-Ability, a program which has served cities such as Philadelphia and Washington, DC for more than 20 years and inspired hundreds of teachers.

A Lot To Be Thankful For

Recently, Mary Alice Minogue, SHCJ (M. Grace Mary) shared an update with us about some of those served at our mission site in the Dominican Republic. As we prepare for Thanksgiving, these heartwarming stories reminded us of just how much we have to be thankful for. God is most certainly at work!

“This year I can report that our school is thriving. And, like the old woman in the shoe, we have so many children we don’t know what to do! Attendance has skyrocketed. We now require the older children to have good attendance at their regular school before they participate in our program. In the past, we had about 30% who maintained attendance; now it is up to 90%. We are so proud of them, but more students are a burden on our budget.

We have 85 four- and five-year-old children in one large room. Some of the children have learning disabilities and emotional problems, and most have had no discipline at home. Sometimes we think that the only solution is to send an unruly child home, in hopes that they will be better able to handle school next year. But, that is not always an option. Diana is a good example of why we keep some of these children.

Diana’s Story
A beautiful little four-year-old, Diana seems to have a motor inside. She is always on the go. She escapes her circle, and runs to the front of the building to see the trees and flowers. We finally decided that she needed another six months at home, after which she could try our school again. However, the next day she showed up with a huge egg on her head—she had obviously been badly beaten. “Who did that?” we asked her. “My poppy,” she answered. Diane’s mother has left the family, so Diana would be in the streets while her father is at work. We decided to keep Diana with us, where at least we know she is safe.

  

Osiris’s Story
And then there is Osiris, age five. All the teachers agreed that I should tell you about him. He arrived last year with a smile and a swagger. There is nothing like a four-year-old with swagger! When he was involved in the Montessori lessons, he would become completely absorbed. But the rest of the time, he was impossible. He would hit other children—or kiss them! He was particularly fond of tormenting one little boy with Down’s syndrome. Due to the great patience of the teachers, we kept Osiris. This year, he made such progress, and is a model student (almost). He remembers all we teach him, and yearns to learn more. He asks the teachers, “What do I do next, Profe?” He gives us hope.

  

Antony’s Story
Antony is four, and his smile is like a sunrise that lights up his whole face. He seems very intelligent. He can concentrate and figure things out. However, along the way, we discovered that his ears are severely infected and that he is profoundly deaf. He doesn’t talk because he has never heard. When he doesn’t like something, he screams. Now, many other children have taken to screaming too! We have to get this child some help for the good of all! It has been a challenge getting him medical care. We went to the government’s free hospital for children, but it is months before we can get in. So, we are off to a private clinic to see what hope there is to cure his ear infections and see if some hearing can be restored. We will need lots of financial help to get this smart little boy the treatment he needs.

  

The Best Day of the Year
Last spring, the teachers made a suggestion: take the older children on a field trip to the beach. It is hard to imagine that most of these children have never been to the beaches for which their island home is famous. I decided it was worth the cost to let the six- to ten-year-old children have a field trip to the beach. The two-hour bus ride from our batey was expensive—but it was well worth it. The children were delirious with joy. They made bathing suits out of whatever they had. The teachers gave swimming lessons, frolicked with them in the water, buried them in the sand, taught them to build sandcastles and play volleyball. Everyone agreed that it was the best day of the year. The pleas have already begun for a repeat trip this year.”

 

Holy Child School Wish List
During this holiday season, please keep the Holy Child School in mind. Your donations will go toward fulfilling the following school and student needs:

  • Wage Increases for our dedicated teachers. 
  • Desks where our many children with learning disabilities or emotional problems can work alone. Most of them of them currently do their work on the floor. 
  • Children’s Story Books in Spanish for our kindergarten and first-grade students.  
  • Children’s Vitamins, enough for about 100 children per day, 5 days a week.  
  • Medical Care for Antony’s ear infections and possibly hearing aids or other treatment.  
  • LCD Projector so all the children can see. There are just too many to huddle around a TV.  
  • CD Player that will accept a memory stick.  
  • PA System (with battery option?) that we can use for parent meetings, regularly attended by more than 90 people.   
  • Photo Printer and Paper so we can record and post photos of the kids learning and enjoying school.  
  • School and Art Supplies from pencils and sharpeners, to tape of all descriptions, to folders, to bulletin board decorations, to math games, to colored sand, to construction paper, to . . . 
  • Personal and Food Supplies including tooth brushes and paste, powdered milk, hand soap, place mats and small trays.

If you would like more information about the Society’s mission site, click here or feel free to contact Sr. Mary Alice at mminogue@shcj.org.

Casa Cornelia Law Center Hosts La Mancha Awards Event

Clients of Casa Cornelia Law Center with Sr. Mel Loomis and Sr. Peg Doyle at the La Mancha Awards

On October 21, more than 250 friends and clients of the Casa Cornelia Law Center in San Diego, CA gathered at the Joan Kroc Peace and Justice Center at the University of San Diego for the Third Annual La Mancha Awards. The event began with a reception on the plaza and was followed by the program in the Center’s theater. The Humanitarian Award was presented to Rebecca Cammissa for her Oscar- nominated documentary, “Which Way Home.” Suamhirs, a 20-year-old client who had ridden the trains from Honduras through Mexico, accepted the award in Rebecca’s absence.

Laura Coats was honored for Outstanding Mission Support. A former faculty member and parent at Mayfield Senior School, Laura has been a generous donor to Casa Cornelia Law Center since its earliest days.  Andrea Caruso Townsend received the distinguished pro bono Attorney of the Year Award for the asylum case she saw to successful resolution after 10 years! Latham & Watkins, was recognized as the Law Firm of the Year for contributing 6,000 hours of pro bono time to Casa Cornelia. In addition, attorneys who gave 300 hours representing clients and law school clinical students were honored.

The evening ended with a tribute to Sr. Betty Drew, SHCJ who died in April. Sr. Betty was the face of Casa Cornelia’s Domestic Violence Program for hundreds of women and children over many years. To see photos from the event, click here.

Reflections from Africa (continued)

Continuing our series of reflections from some of those who went on the recent trip to Africa, hear what Kate Marlow from the School of the Holy Child in Rye, NY shared:

Sr. Mary Akinwale and Kate Marlow

“Upon arriving in Africa, I quickly learned that time moves differently there. After living in New York City for the past seven years, I was struck with the sense of calm that pulsed through each person’s movement, regardless of the immense population density. My colleagues from the Holy Child Network of Schools in the United States were there to visit and experience the Holy Child schools and ministries. However, our time in Ghana and Nigeria extended far beyond the school walls. We found friends in the Sisters and the Holy Child students and we fell in love with cultures that are very different in many ways than our own, but fundamentally the same. It was truly a transformative experience. For a world that is so often filled with corruption, greed, and hardship, I found an amazing sense of peace within myself—and that came from those around me. In Ghana and Nigeria, God fills people like breath expands one’s lungs at sunrise, thankful for a new day on Earth.”

Off To A Great Start

Forty-eight preschoolers graduated from LAMP in June.

Last month at the South Central Los Angeles Ministry Project (LAMP), a ministry of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus in Los Angeles, Calif., 48 preschoolers graduated. Parents, relatives, and friends who attended the event joined LAMP in celebrating the preschoolers’ achievements and the culmination of one year of hard work and fun. The event signaled the beginning of the educational journeys for these children, as well as for their parents, who have embarked on the journey alongside their children. This is because LAMP offers parent education and English language instruction, parent-and-child together classes, and family advocacy services. LAMP’s mission is to strengthen the entire family with education, tools, and strategies that help the parents become their child’s first and most important educator. For more information, click here.

Worldwide Rejoicing!

The New Society Leadership Team will take office this summer: (l to r) Sr. Carmel Murtagh of the European Province, Sr. Veronica Openibo of the African Province, Sr. Carmen Torres of the American Province, and Sr. Monica Adigwe of the African Province

What an exciting moment in SHCJ history! We just elected the first African to serve as Superior General (Society Leader) of the Society, Sr. Veronica Openibo. Join with us in rejoicing!

The first Holy Child Sisters from America stepped onto the continent of Africa in 1930 and have been serving there ever since. In 1962, the first African woman entered the Society. In 1985, Africa became its own Province within the Society, just as there is a European Province and an American Province. And now, in 2010, with the election of the first African as Society leader, the SHCJ are rejoicing!

In a speech to the sisters, Sr. Veronica said, “Thank you for placing this trust in me. The good feeling I have is of how we shall accomplish all the tasks ahead of us. I am encouraged by the promise of your being there for the unity and mission of the Society. The tasks may be enormous, but we will do it together for I believe in that community spirit of doing things together.”

Sr. Veronica is no stranger to leadership. She served as a member of the Society Leadership Team from 1992-1998 and was also the Leader of the Society’s African Province from 1986 to 1992. She also served as the President of the Nigerian Conference of Women Religious, which is the leadership conference of women religious in Nigeria, from 1990-1992.

Leadership Team Members
Joining Sr. Veronica is our own Sr. Carmen Torres! Most recently, Sr. Carmen has served as the Vocation Director for the Society’s American Province. She has established a Regional Vocation Team, as well as developing bilingual resources for discerners whose native language is Spanish. We are so happy for her, but she will be greatly missed as she moves to Rome for this new ministry.

Congratulations also to Sr. Carmel Murtagh of the European Province and Sr. Monica Adigwe of the African Province, who were also elected to serve on the team! Since 2005, Sr. Carmel has been a member of the Leadership Team for the Society’s European Province. For the last six years, Sr. Monica has served as a member of the Society Leadership Team and she will now continue with the new team.

Sr. Veronica and her team were elected during the Society’s 26th General Chapter which is being held in Mayfield, England from April 6-17. All religious orders hold general chapters–meetings during which the congregation reflects on its life and spirit and determines its vision and focus for the next six years. The last SHCJ General Chapter meetings took place in Rome in April 2004.

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