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Edition No. 211—July 8, 2022 
Pilgrimage to Le Puy en-Velay and Lyon
A Dream Come True
April 2022

By Jean Laurich SSJ
On April 20 the long-awaited pilgrimage to Le Puy and Lyon, France was underway for 11 Philadelphia pilgrims. We were the first group to come to the International Centre after 2 years of the Covid pandemic and for the first time, 3 Associates in Mission were part of the pilgrimage. 

We spent 17 hours flying from Philadelphia to Frankfurt to Lyon and then were met by the tour bus for another 2-hour drive. However, neither the long trip nor the Covid requirements dampened our spirits or our energy. The gracious welcome and generous warmth of Olga Bonfiglio, Associate and Eluiza de Andrade, SSJ embraced us from our first moments at the International Center.  We were truly home!
The pilgrimage was a dream come true!  It was a profound experience of our heritage and the grace we are called to live as the Congregation of the Great Love of God.

Traveling with Pilgrim Companions was a blessing and joy in our daily living and sharing together.                                                        
Trudy Ahern SSJ      
Pilgrim Companions Front from left:  Ally Monteiro, Maria Metzger SSJ,
Fran Ratay SSJ and Kathy Burton SSJ                                                                      
Back from left: Trudy Ahern SSJ, Lisa Breslin SSJ, Kerry Rusak, Jean Laurich SSJ, Lillian Devlin SSJ, Lourdes Kennedy SSJ and Pat Dunn
The Pilgrimage to Le Puy and Lyon was so overwhelmingly powerful it will take months to fully process. As I stood opposite the Jesuit residence where Father Medaille stayed when he was in Le Puy, something touched my heart. Medaille has become a strong, loving, real father figure. I am so very grateful for this opportunity.      
 Lillian Devlin SSJ    
I came home from the Pilgrimage with a heart filled with love for the SSJs and Associates. Not only do I have 10 new friends but a deeper understanding of our Mission. I will always treasure walking on the cobblestones and "standing on the shoulders" of our founders and leaders.  Thank you so much for my lifetime experience.                   
 Pat Dunn SSJ Associate in Mission
My pilgrimage journey was a privileged experience of walking the cobblestone path of our first Sisters and FEELING their spirit and vitality enter through the soles of my shoes. It also invited me to an enhanced admiration of the courage, dynamism, and simplicity of Mother St. John as I traced her steps. I am very grateful. 
 Lourdes Kennedy SSJ
Inspired by the sacred spaces and stories of our founding sisters (and brothers) as well as my pilgrim companions, I am drawn by the desire to share our charism of unioning love.                                                  
Jean Laurich SSJ
The highlight of the trip of course is that simple kitchen where our original sisters worked and prayed. To stand on that hard uneven stone floor as we prayed together, to see the austerity of the room and the working conditions, and yet to realize how much life emanated from that simple place.
Maria Metzger SSJ
Another place that touched me deeply was the place of the martyrs, the place where our sisters were guillotined because of their faithfulness.     
Maria Metzger SSJ
The pilgrimage to LePuy and Lyon was an exhilarating experience for me. We not only visited significant sites of the early SSJs, but we felt the sisters' presence—a longing to be one with the "dear neighbor." It was empowering and deeply spiritual—a presence that defied time.                                                               
Fran Ratay SSJ
Please visit the blog for the International Centre to see more about our journey: 

Living Out the Chapter Mandate
Sister Trudy Ahern SSJ & Sister Carol Beevers SSJ
St. Augustine, Florida
Every five years the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Philadelphia gather for what is called a General Chapter to discuss priorities for the next five years and to elect congregational leadership. When we met in 2019, we came up with several priorities, one of which was to “deepen and broaden our relationships.”  In this article, Sister Trudy Ahern SSJ and Sister Carol Beevers SSJ share one way they lived out the chapter mandate to “deepen and broaden our relationships.”.

Last year, Sister Jane Stoeker SSJ Director, and Sister Florence Bryan SSJ, Assistant Director of the St. Joseph Renewal Center in St. Augustine, Florida invited Trudy and Carol to give a directed retreat to some of their sisters. We both responded with an enthusiastic yes to the invitation. It was a wonderful experience for all, and we were invited back this year. The sisters truly have the SSJ gift of hospitality and went out of their way to make us feel welcome.

The retreat center is lovely. It is Spanish style single story building with ten bedrooms, around a lovely courtyard with a fountain, plants and flowers. There is also a kitchen, dining room, and small prayer chapel. It is an ideal setting for retreats with many places for prayer. On the Motherhouse grounds across the street, there is a large screen enclosed in-ground pool that Trudy and Carol managed to enjoy in the evening trying to be good examples of caring for body, soul and spirit. It was a wonderful retreat filled with abundant graces and blessings. 
The Sisters of Saint Joseph from St. Augustine have an interesting history.  They are a small congregation of only 37 sisters. Like us, they were founded in LePuy in 1650 and eight sisters came directly to St. Augustine in 1866 to teach children of recently freed black slaves.  As their numbers increased, they expanded their work of education, care of the sick and orphaned. They were established as a diocesan congregation in1899 and became statewide pioneers in the fields of education, health care and social services.

The Congregation is committed to leaving their legacy for the people of St. Augustine with the establishment of the St. Joseph Neighborhood Center, to meet the needs of poor women and children offering education, job skills, childcare and whatever other needs might surface. They are in the process of renovating St. Benedict the Moor school in the Linconville section of St. Augustine, which was one of their schools for children of freed black slaves before segregation. They left the school abruptly and this new venture feels like an opportunity for healing and to complete their work. 

We had the opportunity to view several news clips about this project which was very inspiring. In addition to interviewing members of the SSJ leadership team, the reporter also interviewed a black man who had been educated at St. Benedict School, as well as a sister who grew up in the area during this time of segregation. The interview with the sister, who was the last principle, told an amazing story of being called out of class to the rectory where, to her surprise, she met Dr. Martin Luther King. He was in St. Augustine organizing peaceful marches. It was powerful to hear their first-hand experiences of growing up and ministering in the segregated south. Another interesting Philadelphia connection we learned was that St. Katherine Drexel funded the building of the school.

We hope you have enjoyed hearing about the way we have broadened our relationship with the Sisters of St. Joseph of St. Augustine and learned about their history and their legacy for the future. Please remember our St. Augustine sisters as they prepare for their general chapter and leadership election, which will be in November and April. 
SSJ Associates in Mission
Skip Whitman
Operation Sandwich
Associate in Mission, Skip Whitman, from Charlotte North Carolina, shares how he is living the Mission and sharing the charism with the dear neighbor.

Often, it has been difficult for me to see myself living the SSJ mission in my daily life. The key that has unlocked my door has been to gain a better and more complete understanding of the SSJ charism and how it applies to my “routine and ordinary” daily life activities.

As I have progressed in my faith journey, the Holy Spirit has nudged me to be more giving of my time and treasure. He has blessed me in so many ways; how could I fail to hear these urgings. Naturally, I began to develop an inner desire to share more, and I wanted to have my family develop this desire to share as well. 

In the latter part of 2021, I considered investing in a Food Truck to feed the homeless in Charlotte, North Carolina. I presented my idea to my adult children. The following week, for Father’s Day, my son Kyle presented me with his commitment to become involved with me in Operation Sandwich. This is a charitable endeavor where people, involved in their ordinary activities of daily living, take some time to provide sandwiches for “The Roof Above”. The Roof Above is a men’s shelter that provides lunch for the homeless in Charlotte. They have a need for six hundred sandwiches every day.

I looked over the program and signed our family up to provide two hundred sandwiches. In this effort, we, as a family, purchase the meats, cheese, bread, sandwich bags, and individual condiments to make two hundred sandwiches. We gather as a family, each time and work together to make these sandwiches for the homeless. Our 5-year-old grandson becomes very involved as well and he is responsible for delivering each sandwich to the packer on the team who places them in a box for delivery to the shelter. 

This activity has given my family a new perspective on the homeless, and as we spend time preparing the sandwiches we talk about and learn more about our dear neighbors. We have now done this three times and our goal is to schedule this “faith building event” each month.

Becoming an SSJ Associate in Mission has enhanced my progression along my spiritual journey. As an Associate in Mission, I am becoming more aware of the importance of recognizing the routine activities of my daily living and make a concerted effort to realign these activities to be better focused on living my life more aware of how my daily activity impacts my relationship with God, my dear neighbor, and mother earth. I must always remember to trust in the Lord as Jesus will show me the way and carry me. This is what God desires of us all and as I begin to immerse myself deeper into our maxims and spend more time meditating upon them, they are enabling me to open the door of my soul to receive God’s endless Mercy and Grace. How wonderful is that!
American Red Cross
Disaster Spiritual Care team
June 26, 2022

Sharon White SSJ
Sister Sharon White SSJ, an American Red Cross Volunteer with the Disaster Spiritual Care and the Disaster Mental Health Teams, shared the following update.

“American Red Cross, Disaster Spiritual Care Team had our first in-person meeting since Covid on Monday, June 26,2022 at the Red Cross House in Philadelphia. 

The DSC team had the opportunity to meet Lisa McGee, the newly appointed Regional Lead in Southeastern, PA. Lots of meaningful conversation and fun was shared with attendees, both virtual and in-person. We toured the newly renovated and the only Red Cross House in the United States. The house accommodates 120 survivors of Natural disasters and fires."
Photos courtesy Sharon White SSJ
Villa Zoom—Freedom Isn’t Free

Julie Gabell, SSJ Associate in Mission

Each year on the 4th of July America celebrates its hard-won independence with gusto! Parades, picnics, fireworks and family fun proclaim a legacy of freedom passed down to succeeding generations from Founders who formed and fought for our liberty. Today, however, those of us who follow in their footsteps can easily take for granted the freedoms once associated with revolution, hardship, and political upheaval.

As we have so often heard, "Freedom isn't free." That we live in a country that espouses a Constitution and Bill of Rights is not entitlement; it is the outgrowth of the blood, sweat, and tears shed by those who went before us. Freedom of religion, speech, and the press; the right to vote and to a fair trial are privileges secured by these early documents. Too many Americans have come to see such liberties as their automatic "right."

So, what should this gift of independence mean to us? What freedoms do we especially hold in our hearts?

These questions are left for each of us to answer. Addressing them (particularly currently in our country’s history) is vital. We are all, regardless of age or status, part of the whole—pieces in the puzzle of our democracy and in the patriotic unity that ostensibly holds true to its motto: IN GOD WE TRUST.

We as a community are in a special position to bear witness to self-sacrifice and integrity, values upon which America was founded. Though our lives hopefully mirror this, our example does not end with a permanent room in the Villa. Today, more than ever, we should reflect our trust that God will use us to help fit the next pieces in the puzzle of our evolving nation.
Vacation Bible School
Kotzebue, Alaska
June 4‑11, 2022
Sister Dorothy Giloley SSJ was asked by the administrator of Saint Francis Xavier parish in Kotzebue, Alaska, to hold a Vacation Bible School (VBS) for the children there this summer. During her time in Alaska, as the Diocesan Director of Religious Education, she had nine VBS’s, five of which were in the native villages. From June 4—11, Dorothy was in Kotzebue, which is a native village on the Northwest coast of Alaska, thirty-two miles above the Arctic Circle. 

Ten Inupiat Eskimo children participated in the VBS. They all enjoyed the songs, the Bible stories and the art projects. Sister Eileen McNally SSJ gave Dorothy some Beanie Babies for the children in the native villages of Little Diomede Island and Kotzebue. The children in Kotzebue were so surprised and overjoyed to receive them!  

For Dorothy, it was a wonderful experience to return to Kotzebue, which was one of the 13 native villages that she would visit as part of her ministry. Dorothy reflected:” I love to have the Vacation Bible School for the children. They are so much fun, and it was a blessing for me to be able to return to my “beloved Alaska. “ 
Dorothy Giloley returns to 'her beloved Alaska'
SSJ Associates in Mission
Pt. Pleasant, NJ
Motherhouse Visit
Some of our SSJ Associates in Mission from Point Pleasant, NJ, traveled to the Motherhouse on Thursday, June 23, 2022. They wanted to learn more about the SSJ history. With Sister Jean Laurich SSJ, they a toured the Heritage Room, enjoyed lunch together and then had a tour of the Convent Chapel.
Pictured from left: Pat Dunn, Tracy Mahoney, Eileen Salsano
and Mel Van Pelt. 
Sister Rosanne Karmazin SSJ
June 29, 2022
Recognizing their integrity and generosity in service to the local Church and the community, Bishop Ronald Gainer presented twelve individuals with the annual Lorica Award, at the conclusion of the Mass to close the Diocesan Synodal Process on June 29. one of those recipients was Sister Rosanne Karmazin SSJ, Director of Religious Education and Faith Formation at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Abbottstown.

The Lorica Award is given annually by the Bishop of the Diocese of Harrisburg to persons who have contributed significantly to the life of the local Church and exemplified the Catholic Christian way of life. Named after the renowned prayer attributed to St. Patrick, the recipients demonstrate that they have “bound to their heart” the strength of the Triune God through integrity of faith and generosity in service, so that it might truly be said of them, “Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of every one who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.”
Pictured from left: Rev. Richard Lyons, Pastor of Annunciation BVM
McSherrystown, Rosanne Karmazin SSJ, recipient Mrs. Toni Weaver and
Bishop Ronald Gainer, Bishop of Harrisburg, PA
Dr. William Latimer
7th President of Chestnut Hill College
Sisters and Chestnut Hill College staff and faculty gathered for a Mass of Welcome for William W. Latimer, Ph.D., M.P.H., 7th President of Chestnut Hill College.

During the mass, there was a moment of entrusting the Mission and Legacy of the Sisters of Saint Joseph and Chestnut Hill College to Dr. Latimer. He was presented with the book Tradition and Risk by Sister Mary Helen Kashuba SSJ, Le Puy Lace and 100 Maxims of the Sisters of Saint Joseph.

Welcome to Chestnut Hill College, Dr. Latimer!
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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 | |