Latest News from the Sisters of Saint Joseph

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Edition No. 170— May 7, 2021 
Sister Mary Kathleen Flannery SSJ
You are Our Dear Neighbor
Returning to the US/Mexican border had been a yearning in my heart for many years and so, when newly elected President Biden reversed the “Remain in Mexico” policy (MPP), I leapt at the opportunity to assist in some small way the thousands of migrants who had been granted passage to the U.S., after being stranded in camps of makeshift tents along the Mexican border for up to two years. Little did I know at the beginning of Lent (when I filled out my volunteer application) what a transformative experience awaited me when I arrived at Annunciation House in El Paso, Texas, in the middle of Holy Week to begin my service there. Alongside many needed services, for multiple hours each day, as a Spanish-speaker, I was assigned the privileged responsibility of doing “intakes,” which involves welcoming each new arrival (a single person or an entire family), processing their paperwork and making contact by phone with a family member or friend here in the U.S. who will assist them with their travel plans. In each of these beautiful face-to-face encounters, I witnessed the dying/rising of Jesus over and over again in the courageous, heartbreaking stories of men, women and children who have fled poverty, violence/gangs, climate disasters, persecution, extortion, etc.—risking everything to seek new life and new opportunities in the USA. “Dying to Live: A Migrant’s Journey” is the name of a film (produced by Dan Groody, CSC) that I often showed in my classes at Chestnut Hill College and its title expresses a profound truth—that migrants often risk their very lives to escape “death-dealing” circumstances in their home countries to have a chance at new life! This is just as true today as it was generations ago when millions of Europeans immigrants set forth from their shores for similar reasons.

One woman’s story, among so many others, is etched forever in my heart. Her name is María Trinidad, who escaped from Guatemala with her 11 year old daughter, Fatima, after her husband and 9 year old son had been brutally murdered by gang members. She wept the entire time I processed her paperwork, while showing me photos of her husband and son in coffins, that she is prepared to show to the judge at her upcoming court hearing. She told me that she kept Fatima (now 14 yrs. old) from going to school, out of fear for her life, during the two years they spent waiting in Mexico. I tried to assure Fatima, who sat silently next to her, that she would catch up quickly when she goes back to school. She smiled at me so sweetly and then put her head down on the table and sobbed! Her mother shared with me that we are not accustomed to this kind of warm welcome and kindness! My heart wept openly with them ... and continues to weep in hope and prayer that they will meet many more kind and compassionate people along their journey.
There is a huge mural in the dormitory of La Casa de Refugiados of Annunciation House which simply says ESPERANZA ~ HOPE! Gratefully, I was companioned by the hope-filled readings of the Easter season during my service time at the border. And one more unforgettable mantra that many border ministers echoed during my stay in El Paso: “Tú eres mi otro yo!” You are my other self!

May each of us, as far as we are able, respond in prayer and action to Pope Francis’ invitation to support migrants and refugees: “You are a brother, a sister, the suffering face of Christ, whom we are called to welcome, and with whom we are called to share the journey!” You are our dear neighbor ... “tú eres mi otro yo!”
Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker
Brother Mickey McGrath
Virtual Retreat: Go to Joseph
 May 1, 2021
Brother Mickey McGrath offered a virtual retreat to help celebrate in this Year of Joseph. Using his own paintings and the stories behind them, Brother Mickey shared contemporary insights into Joseph’s traditional titles: Patron of the Universal Church, Patron of Immigrants, Patron of Workers and Patron of the Dying.

Thanks to IT Technician, Mike Pleasants, the retreat was available to all Saint Joseph Villa residents via Channel 4.
Saint Joseph Villa
Celtic Golf Raffle a Success!
May 3, 2021
We did not have a rainbow or a pot of gold, but we did have a big basket brimming with Celtic Golf Raffle tickets that had been purchased by our generous, faithful benefactors! On Monday, May 3, 2021 at Saint Joseph Villa, Sister Eileen Marnien SSJ pulled the winning ticket and Diane Durkin of Wheaton, Illinois was the winner. 

Diane Durkin was overjoyed to learn that she was the winner of this Deluxe Golf Trip for Two to southwest Ireland.

Diane and her companion will fly from JFK Airport to Shannon, Ireland and will enjoy six days and five nights at the 5-star Killarney Park Hotel, Killarney Co, Kerry. After a full Irish breakfast, they will be welcomed to play a round of golf at a different course in the area each day.

The drawing was live streamed from the lobby at the Villa, with several sisters and Villa employees on hand to observe. “The Villa sisters always pray for the success of this raffle, and they pray daily for all of our benefactors who support our Development Office efforts,” noted Sister Kathleen Pales SSJ, Development Director. “We are so grateful to our many generous friends who support this fundraiser every year, attend our events and faithfully respond to our appeals. They make it possible for us to meet the challenge of caring for our senior sisters and helping our dear neighbors.”

“We raised over $26,000.00 this year, making this one of our most successful years ever,” said Nicole Schlein, Events Coordinator for the Sisters of Saint Joseph Development Office. “We are very grateful to Jerry and Josephine Quinlan of Celtic Golf Distinctive Travel Experiences in Cape May Court House for making this fundraiser possible.” 
All proceeds benefit the ministries and retirement needs of the Sisters of Saint Joseph.
Pictured from left: Kathleen Pales SSJ and Eileen Marnien SSJ
Zoom--Ready for Any Good Work
by Julie Gabell, SSJ Associate
Sister Eileen McNally SSJ is ready for any good work. Four years ago, she answered the Community’s call to embark on a unique venture that has since flourished under her direction. So, what does she do? Sister  Eileen “recycles” houses! As Community Refugee Coordinator, she proudly provides transitional housing for refugees and legally documented immigrants. She oversees the refurbishing and upkeep of two former convents: the SSJ Holy Child Convent on Broad Street and the IHM St. Martin of Tours Convent on Roosevelt Boulevard. She is also responsible for several single homes that house refugee families in St. Timothy Parish and in South Philadelphia. 

An avalanche of legal responsibilities goes hand-in hand with Sister Eileen’s work. From negotiating for suitable housing, to obtaining certificates of occupancy, to coordinating finances, her duties run a gamut of logistical challenges. Overseeing the welfare of residents and communicating with case managers add further demands to her day. 

Her work, however, does not end there. One of Sister’s projects is procuring furniture and supplies for the men housed on Broad Street and for those soon to live in Martin’s House on The Boulevard. This past April, Villa Zoomers were treated to a virtual birds-eye view of the spacious Martin House facility. Refurbished with rugs, bedding, and curtains, the property is set to house women and children, as well as several families. It stands as a testament to good management.

UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees)
HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society)
Laudato Sí Reflection for May 9, 2021
Sisters of Saint Joseph serving on the Chapter Implementation Subcommittee for Directive II, offer this excerpt from Laudato Sí and questions that you can use for your personal reflection, local community sharing, or another creative way you can incorporate these into your life. Enjoy this week's reflection.
Looking for Inspiration?
You can find it by clicking on images below!
"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 | |