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Edition No. 204—April 5, 2022 
Sister Bethany J. Welch
Novice, Sisters of St. Joseph
April 2022
I met the Sisters of Saint Joseph in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia in 2003. I had made my way to the city from my hometown of Rochester, NY to complete a one-year AmeriCorps volunteer program that involved opening a community center affiliated with Visitation BVM parish. I was struck by the quality of the sisters’ presence in a place that had been downright abandoned by some institutions and slowly failed by others. The sisters accompanied neighbors in both suffering and joy. They advocated for changes to dysfunctional systems.They lived what they said they believed about God, the inherent dignity of each person, and the liberating power of the Gospel.

That year of service changed my life in almost every possible way. I fell in love with Philadelphia and made a home here. I accepted a position at the University of Delaware for graduate studies to stay nearby and conduct dissertation research on the adaptive reuse of church property to further community revitalization in urban neighborhoods. I was received into the Roman Catholic Church through RCIA at Visitation. My connection with the Sisters of Saint Joseph continued through friendships, collaborative projects, spiritual direction, and advisory board service for the Welcome Center and Mission at St. Joan of Arc.

After many years of graced life experiences, including committed relationships and a season of parenting a teenager through a guardianship arrangement, I felt a distinct tug to re-explore consecrated life. I had journeyed alongside women religious for most of my career and had, at times, participated in vocation discernment, yet pushed it to the background when other adventures beckoned. 

My year of residential candidacy was spent in Pennsauken at Christus House and then I entered the novitiate on February 13, 2022 in a beautiful face-to-face gathering in the motherhouse chapel. I now reside at the St. Luke convent in Glenside, which is doing double duty as a location for the congregation and the CSSJ Federation novitiate. As such, I live with Sister Michelle Lesher SSJ, the novice director who facilitates my local experience, and then with the larger community assembled for the federation program. These three sacred companions from Albany, Buffalo, and Wheeling congregations of St. Joseph have brought wisdom, joy, and loving presence to this time. 
Bethany's local community is gathered in the chapel at St. Luke Convent.
Pictured from left: Michelle Lesher SSJ, Jeanne Marie Gocha CSJ (Carondelet,
Albany), Marguerite O'Brien CSJ (Congregation of Joseph), Bethany Welch and Judy Justinger SSJ (Buffalo)
For now, Mondays find me at Chestnut Hill College assisting in campus ministry, usually with something that involves art and spirituality. Wednesdays are spent at the Villa where I attend Mass, visit with sisters, and learn from the pastoral care team. Most of my Thursday is at InSearch, a wonderful learning community comprised of candidates and novices from several different congregations of men and women religious. The rest of the week involves classes such as Ignatian Spirituality, SSJ history, a book study on Quest for the Living God, and a dedicated prayer day. I prepare reflections in the context of the theology of ministry and participate in discussion groups on topics ranging from the vows to the constitutions. My joy in these face-to-face gatherings cannot be overstated after nearly two years of pandemic formation on screens! However, Zoom proves useful for staying connected with other women in formation across the Federation. We gather regularly for Theological Reflection and State of the Heart sharing.

Entering religious life at 43 years of age might seem curious. Yet I take courage from Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ, who writes in his most recent book that “We are endlessly being created in love.” I see a distinct thread of fidelity that extends from the kitchen at Le Puy to the one in Glenside. God has not stopped creating—or calling. We are all invited to respond in our own unique way—for love, in love, and with love.
Wednesdays are spent at the Villa where Bethany attends Mass, visits with sisters, and learns from the pastoral care team.
SSJ Associates in Mission
Monthly Series

Dannah Addalli, Program Coordinator, SSJ Associates
Welcome to our recent "Mission Monday" post. This monthly series introduces our SSJ Associates in Mission as they give heart to our mission of unity in their daily lives.

Associate Pat Nagle shares how our Mission of Unity is an expression of her life. “I became an associate about nine years ago and have often reflected about how and what our Mission of Unity means in my life. I have come to realize that I enjoy helping and giving of myself and my time to and for others. I now know how to look for opportunities to help when the need arises. I just recently discovered that my personal life insurance company believes in giving back to the people. In reviewing my policy, I discovered the many benefits that they offer. One is for a $200.00 Care's Grant to help those in need. As an SSJ Associate at Bethlehem Village, I took the information to our coordinator, Eileen Dumsha, to find out how this money could help our community. We thought of Sister Eileen McNallySSJ, the SSJ Refugee Coordinator, and the Afghanistan people who come to the United States. I have learned to “seek” what I’m reading because one never knows what unexpected opportunity is knocking at one’s door or heart. I saw the offer, looked into it, asked where the need was and then acted on it.

God's humorous feedback to me; I only THOUGHT about requesting the application to apply, but God inserted the application into my inbox two days later. I knew then, it was no longer just a thought, it was meant to be put into action. We are a congregation of ACTION!”
Pictured above: Pat Nagle, SSJ Associate in Mission
The African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC)
Brave Change: Transforming Communities Takes Courage
We spend a lot of time explaining the changes that come about when ASEC Sisters transform their communities using education, but there’s a specific aspect that makes it all the more special—the bravery it takes to create change at all.

It’s easy to look at the pictures of ASEC Sisters—they are so happy in many of them! One might think that change must come easy. That is not true. For ASEC Sisters change is anything but easy, and in a lot of cases, it is downright brave! 
Sister Jackie Griffith
Sister Donna Jo Loeper SSJ
Vow Renewal
March 20, 2022
On Sunday, March 20, 2022, Sisters Donna Jo Loeper SSJ and Jackie Griffith SSJ renewed their Vows during the Sunday liturgy at Resurrection of Our Lord Parish in Savannah, GA.

Father Chaney, the pastor, invites the sisters each year to renew their vows in the presence of the parish community. Father expressed his gratitude for the sisters: “ The renewal of vows was a very uplifting spirit filled moment for the parish. The people were happy to witness it."
Jackie shares about our lives as vowed religious.
Donna reads from the SSJ Constitutions on Prayer Life.
Deacon Hosea Bennett blesses Jackie and Donna after the renewal of vows. 
Pictured from left: Deacon Hosea Bennett, Jackie Griffith SSJ, Donna Jo Loeper SSJ and Father Robert Chaney
Service Awards & Retirement Celebration
Chestnut Hill College
April 4, 2022
Sister Carol Jean Vale SSJ, Ph.D., President, Chestnut Hill College, welcomed faculty, students, staff, family and friends to the annual Service Awards & Retirement Celebration, held in the East Parlor on April 4, 2022.

Among those retiring:
Jean Faustman SSJ, D.M.L.  Associate Professor of French
and Spanish
Kathleen Szpila SSJ, Ph.D.  Associate Professor of Art History
Kathryn Miller SSJ, Ph.D.   Assistant to the President
for Administration and Board Secretary

Recipients of Service Awards included:
15 Years: Sheila Kennedy SSJ, Ph.D.  
Director of the Counseling Center
25 Years: Kathleen McCloskey SSJ, M.M.Ed. 
Assistant Professor of Music
Betsy Schneider SSJ, M.Ed.
Data Assistant

Congratulations to all the honorees!
Pictured from left: Carol Jean Vale SSJ and Sheila Kennedy SSJ
Pictured from left: Carol Jean Vale SSJ and Kathleen McCloskey SSJ
Pictured from left: Carol Jean Vale SSJ and Betsy Schneider SSJ
Pictured from left: Carol Jean Vale SSJ and Jean Faustman SSJ
Pictured from left: Kathryn Miller SSJ and Kathleen Szpila SSJ
Pictured from left: Carol Jean Vale SSJ and Kathryn Miller SSJ
Pictured from left: Jean Faustman SSJ, Maureen G. Erdlen SSJ, Kathryn Miller SSJ
and Kathleen Szpila SSJ
Tickets for the Celtic Golf Raffle are sold out. Thank you to everyone who supported the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Philadelphia by purchasing tickets.
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"With the help of God's grace and in fidelity to our founder's expressed wish, we live and work lovingly among all persons with a special preference for those who are poor, which calls us wherever we are to be in union with them."
                         — SSJ Constitutions #21
Editor, Sister Carole Pollock SSJ | 215.248.7269 | |