Latest News from the Sisters of Saint Joseph

E-NEWS replaces the SSJ Newsletter and will be published "as the news happens."

E-NEWS is available for viewing on the SSJ website.

Edition No. 2     March 23, 2016

Sister Donna Minster SSJ Honored

by Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark SSJ

Women’s History Month was celebrated in the New Jersey State House in Trenton, New Jersey on Monday, March 14, 2016. The New Jersey Senate and Assembly awarded Sister Donna Minster SSJ with a resolution for her dedicated work over two decades in Early Childhood Educational Administration.  

Sister Donna was among the nine women honored in the State of New Jersey on the floor of the Assembly Chamber in the Capitol Building. Among the recipients was a representative from Catholic Charities, as well.  
Within the wording of the resolution were the phrases:
  • to commend her as a woman of outstanding character and exceptional  determination;  
  • shares her wisdom and expertise as a leader within the New Jersey Early Care and Education Alliance;
  • her knowledge and breadth of experience have contributed immeasurably to the success and acclaim of this childcare resource and referral agency for Camden County;  
  • hard-working and concerned citizen;  
  • time and energies are devoted to improving the effectiveness of communities and the quality of life for so many.
These phrases capture some of the tremendous work for which Sister Donna was honored. As a Sister of Saint Joseph, sitting in the visitors’ gallery, I felt great pride and hope for our congregation as this resolution was presented to one of us. “This honor,” Donna said, “is for all those women religious working in the State of New Jersey over many years. The service to children in their early years bears fruit through a lifetime for thousands of men and women.”  

Congratulations, Donna, for your leadership and your dedication to the children of New Jersey and beyond!

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Saint Joseph's Day
Service Project
Once again, as part of the celebration of Saint Joseph Day, the sisters and staff at the Motherhouse participated in a service project. On March 17, 2016, everyone was invited to help make sandwiches and pack lunch bags for our ‘dear neighbors’ at St. John’s Hospice in Philadelphia.  

“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”                                                                                                                                     Matthew 25:3

Saint Patrick's Day
Nancy Catterall is the niece of Sister Eleanor Catterall SSJ and a familiar and welcoming presence at Saint Joseph Villa, where Sister Eleanor resides. To add to the fun and festivity on Saint Patrick’s Day, Nancy planned some “Irish Entertainment” complete with cake and decorations. John Catterall (Nancy’s brother) and Paul Kenney, known as The King Brothers, sang and played their guitars, providing a delightful afternoon of Irish music for the sisters and staff on the fifth floor.   

Honoring Joseph

Saint Joseph’s Day, March 19th, is a major celebration for the Catholic Church and for the Sisters of Saint Joseph. This year, at the Motherhouse, the celebration began with a morning in-service given by Sister Dolores Clerico SSJ, Director of the Ministry of Spirituality.

Dolores began by speaking of saints in general. “People of faith, especially in the Catholic tradition, have always looked to identify individuals who lived discipleship well…not perfectly nor easily, but well enough for us to take notice and learn from them. When looking at the saints, we hope to notice how they related to God and lived their lives in God’s ways. We can then reflect on their life and discover if it has anything to say to us as we live our own lives.”  

Dolores then spoke of Joseph in the historical and social context of first century Galilee, giving us a clear and realistic picture of who, we can imagine, he was. Among the many interesting facts she shared, are the following:
  • regarding age: between 17 and 24 (Mary was likely between 13-15)
  • occupation: carpenter in Greek means one who works with hard substances  Joseph was most likely a builder of some sort (perhaps wood or stone)
  • roles of mother and father: in first century Galilee one of the most sacred duties a father had was to form and educate his sons in their religion and integrate  them into society and the family trade.  

Speaking of the major role Joseph had in Jesus’ life, Dolores continued, “No doubt Jesus learned by watching Joseph live the rhythms and deal with the dilemmas of ordinary life. He saw him interact with Mary and others in their village. Jesus watched as Joseph collaborated with co-workers and negotiated jobs, prices, bartered, etc. Through this, Jesus learned to take his place in family and society, much as children do today ­–– by watching their parents.”  

Dolores concluded by speaking of what we learn of Joseph in the Scriptures. “For Mary and Joseph their early days as a new family would be filled with fear. Eventually they would flee to yet another land, leaving behind loved ones, homes, jobs –– hoping for survival. Finally, this young family settles down in a small town where they live ordinary lives with one another, their kinsfolk and with the people of their town. And through it all, Joseph is husband, father, neighbor and worker and, as the Gospels say: a just man. Joseph simply faces life as it comes –– living ordinary life –– extraordinarily well.”

Later in the afternoon, sisters, associates and friends gathered in the Chapel at the Motherhouse to celebrate liturgy. With great gratitude and joy, Sister Anne Myers SSJ, Congregational President, welcomed everyone, “In this extraordinary year of mercy, proclaimed by Pope Francis, we are conscious that Saint Joseph was a man of mercy and compassion, caring deeply for Jesus and Mary. As we live our mission of unity, may we do so with the mercy and compassion of Joseph. During this liturgy, as Sisters of Saint Joseph we will recommit ourselves to our God through the renewal of our vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. We will be blessed by the witness of our Associates who will renew their promises to live our mission of unity, within the context of their daily lives.”  

In her reflection, Sister Teresa Shaw SSJ shared, ‘’In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, when Pope Francis inspires us to be the mercy that our God shares with us, may we, Sisters, Associates, partners in mission and friends, be inspired by Joseph who lived love and mercy in his relationship with Mary and Jesus. Let us go forth. Let us renew our desire to embrace the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy and let us pray to be open to God’s desire in our lives and in our world.  

We are reminded in Maxim 73 to ‘Have only one desire: to be what God wants you to be.’ And so, as daughters and sons of Joseph, we continue on this journey, sustained by God’s grace. We endeavor to be faithful as we live and work so that all people may be united with God and with one another.”    

View Glorious Father, Dear Saint Joseph being sung at the Liturgy. Click here.

Good Works 2016  
UNC Chapel Hill

by Sister Julie Fertsch SSJ

Last week, a group of 10 fine, beautiful people from UNC Chapel Hill came to Philadelphia to participate in an “Alternative Spring Break” experience! They were WONDERFUL! For certain, the group was “Ready for Any Good Work.” They spent the week residing at St. Joan of Arc Convent on Frankford Avenue, and they served in a variety of ministry placements:  St. John’s Hospice, SHARE, Joseph’s House in Camden, St. Joan of Arc Afterschool Program, LaSalle Academy, St. Martin de Porres and the Inglis House. They were on fire with God’s loving spirit and definitely caught our charism! Half of the group actually stayed on for an additional service experience on Friday the 18th and then joined us for our Saint Joseph’s Day liturgy at the Motherhouse. Thanks for you! Thanks for supporting this great venture!

Photos courtesy of Julie Fertsch SSJ

Meeting at the Villa to Brainstorm  

by Sister Kathleen Pales SSJ  

The SSJ Development Office sponsored a meeting on Sunday, March 20 at Saint Joseph Villa where more than thirty sisters gathered to brainstorm about ways to keep our Chance Drive exciting and successful. 

Sister Kathleen Pales SSJ, Development Director, shared the history of the Chance Drive, and then sisters shared new ideas, possibilities, and techniques and strategies for increasing sales. Sister Anne McCambley SSJ, Chance Drive Coordinator, and Sister Barbara Farrell SSJ, also on staff in the Development Office, answered sisters' questions and helped to facilitate the conversation.   

Sister Mary McFadden SSJ said, "It was good to hear some new ideas but, even better, to feel new energy swirling around. People so appreciate being asked for their advice."  

Sister Mary Therese Toole SSJ said after the meeting, "The Villa sisters at the meeting will spread the word around, so for every one sister who attended, three or four more sisters will get the message about how important the Chance Drive is."

Photos courtesy of Kathleen Pales SSJ and Celeste Mokrzycki SSJ
Editor, Sister Carole Pollock SSJ | 215.248.7269 | |