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Issue 3.19
October 12, 2015
Blessing of the Animals

On October 2, 2015, the St. Elizabeth Motherhouse held a Blessing of the Animals. Several staff members, partners in ministry, and sisters brought their furry companions to be blessed. Motherhouse Sisters came to the event and enjoyed some time with the animals. Pictured is Sr. Concilia Flaherty and Carmelo, owned by Activities Director Monica Colts. 
Tree planted at Motherhouse in honor of Dr. Oliver Sacks
By: Sr. Rosemary Higgins, OSF

   Dominick Brisley, a 14-year-old client of the Rehabilitation Center located at St. Elizabeth Motherhouse, planted a tree in memory of Dr. Oliver Wolf Sacks at the Motherhouse on October 9. Dr. Sacks, a renowned neurologist and acclaimed author, died in August 2015. He impacted the medical world and the Department of Mental Health of Cattaraugus County greatly. The skill builders at the Rehabilitation Center wanted to honor Dr. Sacks simply because he was able to illuminate patients' characters.
   Jessica Hiller, a representative of the Rehabilitation Center, told the maintenance men from the Motherhouse that Dominick wanted to be a farmer. So, the men bought him a John Deer hat and helped him to prepare the ground for the planting of the tree. Some of the Sisters and staff supported the event. It was a joyful occasion because one could see that the youths that each of the skill builders work with, in the words of Oliver Sacks, "shows great promise and incredible potential for the world we live in today."

St. Joseph's Hospitals Founder's Day Mass

Opening Remarks
By: Lorraine Lutton, President, St. Joseph's Hospitals

   Hello, my name is Lorraine Lutton. I am the President of St. Joseph's Hospitals and, on behalf of administration, we are delighted to welcome all of you to this Founder's Day Mass. 
   As some of you may know, the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany recently hosted a number of leaders from Saint Joseph Hospital, Tampa and Saint Anthony Hospital, St. Petersburg,for a pilgrimage to Assisi to deepen our understanding of the lives and works of St. Francis and St. Clare.  This once-in-a-lifetime experience has affected us both collectively and individually. 
   For me personally, the pilgrimage helped me better understand the context and depth of conviction behind the Franciscan charism, that is, hospitality to all, commitment to the poor and marginalized, faith that even in lean times, God will provide what is needed, joy in all living creatures, and the courage to adhere to those convictions in the face of incredible challenges.
   In 1934, the Franciscan Sisters who founded St. Joseph's Hospital faced incredible challenges.  They and the many Sisters who came after them, serve as living examples of these beliefs.  Whether they work in leadership, on the Board or in direct patient care, in support roles or in other areas of public service, the Sisters have been and remain role models of Franciscan values and service to others.
Building on their accomplishments, today at St. Joseph's, we are proud of the work we do to improve the health of the community we serve.
  • In the past five years, we have improved health access by opening two new hospitals: St. Joseph's Hospital North and St. Joseph's Hospital South.
  • We have the area's busiest emergency and trauma center with more than 140,000 visits each year;
  • At our Women's Hospital, we deliver about a kindergarten class worth of new babies each day; 
  • We provide a hospital dedicated exclusively for kids right here in Tampa.
   In conclusion, I offer a prayer of gratitude for the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany for all that they do and all that they have done.  And I pray that all current and future leaders of St. Joseph's Hospital have the same discernment, the commitment to service and the courage to follow the values of St. Frances.   Thank you.

Closing Remarks 
By: Arlene McGannon, VP for Mission, St. Joseph's Hospitals 

   Eighty-one years ago, the doors of the original St. Joseph's Hospital opened and the healthcare ministry of the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany found a home in Tampa. Eighty-one years is not that long a period of time, really! Yet in that short span, St. Joseph's now includes five incredible hospitals serving all of Hillsborough County, and the beautiful service provided to our elderly sisters and brothers by John Knox Village. How rewarding it must be to you, Sisters, to see the fruit of so much labor and love.
   But our history really goes back over 2,000 years, to the healing ministry of Jesus, to the example he provided of compassionate concern for the poor and the suffering; those broken in body, mind or spirit; those undergoing some agony in this garden. We are here because of him, because he asked us to be here, to carry on his healing ministry. The Sisters embraced that call, and we share in it and continue to carry it forward.
   We do that in a very particular way - in the way of Francis and Clare, in the Franciscan tradition. Our service is characterized by hospitality, by respect for all, by love of the poor, by humility and simplicity. Having had the opportunity recently, thanks to the Congregation, to walk the streets of Assisi and travel through the Umbrian Valley, to stand on the cliffside edifice of Greccio and experience the beauty of La Verna, to stand inside San Damiano and the Portiuncula - where the "Franciscan way" is palpable, all of us in leadership who were privileged to participate in that pilgrimage now understand more deeply how it is that we are to carry out our mission. It's a mission shared by many other traditions and charisms -- that is the richness of Catholic health care. We carry out that mission in the spirit of Francis and Clare, and we are to inspire our colleagues do the same. That charge is much clearer now and we are so grateful for the grace of that pilgrimage experience. It was an investment in us that will bear fruit for years to come.
   Two thousand years since Jesus showed us what we are to do. Nearly 800 years since Francis showed us how we are to do it. Eighty-one years of the example of the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, showing us how to live out the mission of Jesus Christ in the Franciscan spirit in this time and place. It's a thing of profound beauty, this Mission of ours, and we are so privileged to be a part of it.

Laura Whitford reflects on Assisi Pilgrimage 
By: Laura Whitford, President, St. Elizabeth Mission Society

   In September, I was blessed with the beautiful gift of making pilgrimage to Assisi and Rome, Italy. Among our group of pilgrims were administrators and vice presidents of mission for hospitals within the Baycare organization in Florida as well as the team from Allegany Franciscan Ministries. Three extraordinary pilgrimage leaders guided us through reflections, prayers and learning as we walked in the footsteps of Saints Francis and Clare.
    Many things made my trip amazing - the beauty of the landscape, traveling to Europe for the first time, the awe that comes when placing your hand on stone laid by the ancient Romans, fellowship with other pilgrims, delicious food (and more food), and the physical exhilaration of climbing many stairs. However, the spiritual aspect of the experience, and the personal reflection that came with it, was by far the most meaningful.
    On our first day, our leaders emphasized that we were not tourists and encouraged us to experience the land and people as they were. Our mission was to look and see what the Lord wanted us to see. Many themes were revealed as we moved among the sacred places that were significant to the life and work of Francis and Clare. Among those themes, the thought of "comfort" was unquestionably the most notable.
    On pilgrimage, being uncomfortable - meaning not in our own land - is the first door the Lord opens for us. God calls us beyond where we are to a new land. Francis and Clare rejected comfort in their fulfillment of answering God's call to love and serve the poor and marginalized. As they sought freedom from the things that enslaved them, they left wealthy families and the protection of the city's walls. Having as little as possible gave them freedom because having goods hindered them from going out and doing God's work.
    They wore simple habits and slept on humble pallets on the floor. They begged for alms for the poor and food so they could live. Clare fought off invaders outside her convent, and Francis embraced the lepers that previously repulsed him. As I felt God's presence in La Verna, the mountainous area where Francis sought retreat and finally received the stigmata, I thought about what one of our leaders said, we avoid human suffering because it makes us uncomfortable and thus we can become numb to love. When we live for ourselves we can't fully help others. I leave with you this final reflection:  what makes you uncomfortable and how would your life be different if you gave it to God and made the leap?

A Triple celebration
By: Sr. Mary Lou Lafferty, OSF 

   Some members of the two  NJ clusters gathered on October 3 at St. Clare's in Mt. Ephraim to celebrate three important occasions: Kathy Maire's birthday, the Blessing of Animals, and the vigil of the Feast of Francis.  The ongoing brunch kept our hearty appetites satisfied; the enjoyable, light-hearted conversations which brought us down memory lane was wonderful; the blessing of "Beacon", our four-legged cluster member, along with the Transistus, made our get-together most delightful.  These occasional gatherings are so important in light of the distance between our homes/ministries.  We just seem to "pick up where we left off" at the previous gathering.  Next time we will be singing "We wish you a Merry Christmas".
 From the Archives
   This month, at the Archives Seminar, we celebrated fifty years of mission and ministry in Bolivia. Gathering in our new venue, the Media Room at the Motherhouse, the sisters and I discussed the history of the sisters' ministry in Bolivia with the help of many photographs, as well as several very special videos.
   The first video was an interview conducted by the the Archives of the two sisters who continue to minister in Bolivia: Sisters Maria Miranda and Elvira Donaldson. In it, the sisters described the history of the Bolivian mission, their own vocation stories, as well as the types of ministry in which they are currently engaged. The second video, taken by Sister Margaret Magee and posted to Facebook, showed Sister Maria engaged leading a classroom of Bolivian children in song. Finally, we watched a video reflection by Sister Kathy Maire, in which she described how her time spent ministering in Bolivia changed and shaped her into a better Franciscan. The sisters in the Motherhouse were so delighted to be able to experience Bolivia and the history of the mission there through the eyes of individuals who had lived the experience! This is the sort of dialogue that we aim to experience in each Archival Seminar.
   At the end of our discussion, the sisters sang the Blessing of St. Francis in honor of our Bolivian sisters, who work tirelessly very day to improve the lives of the people of La Paz. It was truly inspiring to feel so much love being sent from our sisters in the Motherhouse to their sisters who minister so far from Allegany.
   Next month's Archival Seminar will be held on Thursday, November 5th, at 9:45AM in the Motherhouse's Media Room. The topic will be announced in the next edition of the E-newsletter! Stay tuned!
    Pictured: Alto La Paz, around 1972. Sister Maria Miranda teaches Religious Education to a class of Bolivian children.

Upcoming deadlines: 

October 21, 2015 - Second edition e-newsletter
November 15, 2015 - Winter edition Allegany Connections