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Edition No. 35  March 24, 2017 

Saint Nancy Fitzgerald SSJ Day
St. Martin dePorres School
March 17, 2017

Sister Nancy Fitzgerald SSJ receives a blessing from students, faculty, staff and friends.
The faculty and staff of St. Martin dePorres School in Philadelphia invited the Sisters of Saint Joseph who were in the area to join the school community at Mass on Friday, March 17, 2017. They wanted to recognize the service that the Sisters of Saint Joseph have provided to the school for over 100 years. However, unbeknownst to Sister Nancy Fitzgerald SSJ, Principal of St. Martin dePorres School, everyone was there to celebrate Sister Nancy and her years of dedication and loving service to the children.

Sister Nancy was truly surprised as Sister Meaghan Patterson SSJ, Assistant Principal, welcomed the visitors and the school community before the Liturgy began. “Happy Saint Patrick’s and Saint Joseph’s Day everyone…although, here at St. Martin dePorres School, we are celebrating Saint Nancy Fitzgerald Day!

At the end of the Liturgy Meaghan welcomed the three and four year olds, as well as the kindergarten and the entire staff, to join the celebration. “Now that EVERYONE is here,” Meaghan said,  “we can let you in on a little secret — WE LOVE YOU!  We love you because you are an amazing leader who calls  us to be our better selves. We love you because you are always looking for ways to help us when we need it most. We love you because you often put your own needs aside to make sure that we have what we need (especially Friday treats). We love you because you never ask us to do something that you wouldn’t do yourself (unless it has to do with technology). We love you because you are an amazing example of what it means to be a loving, caring person. Actually, I asked the students to tell me why they love you and they said — we love you simply because YOU are YOU!”

Meaghan continued, “For your entire life, you have served those who need it the most. You have sacrificed so much to be able to work in North Jersey and Philadelphia and we wanted you to know that it hasn’t gone unnoticed. 

While you may not have always seen or heard our gratitude, know that it is there. We are so grateful for the gift you have been, and will continue to be, for each of us.

As Maya Angelou said, People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. Thank you, Sister Nancy, for making each of us feel as if we are the most important person in the world — we will remember that always! We love you, Sister Nancy and we always will!

Nancy was overwhelmed with gratitude. As she thanked everyone for this wonderful surprise, Nancy spoke of Saint Martin dePorres School. “We are the miracle on Lehigh Avenuethe block of love and you are rocking my world today —and every day! God bless you and thank you!”

Congratulations and thank you, Sister Nancy, for your dedication, love and service to the community of St. Martin dePorres School.
Sister Nancy with the Kindergarten Class.
Interfaith Prayer Service
Saint Joseph Villa
March 19, 2017 
By Nancy Roche SSJ
On Sunday, March 19, 2017, sisters, associates and neighbors gathered at Saint Joseph Villa for an Interfaith Prayer Service for Immigrants, Refugees, Asylum Seekers and All who are forced from their homes. Sister Nancy Roche welcomed all and shared the appropriateness of praying at the Villa where 'healing and compassion form neighborhoods of love” at a time when the world and national communities are great need of all three. She also drew on the SSJ mission of unioning, inclusive love in offering both apology and support to members of the Muslim tradition, the Jewish tradition and the African-American community acknowledging the discrimination, violence and disrespect their communities have endured especially during the past year.

Nancy introduced those who would be leading the prayer: Imam Roberto Rashid from Mosjudullah, Philadelphia, Rabbi Nancy Fucks Kreimer, director of the multifaith initiative at the Rabbinical College, Philadelphia, Reverend Lara Stroud, assistant pastor of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Whitemarsh, PA and Elder Ernestine Hunter from Ford Memorial Temple, Pentecostal church, Germantown. Sisters Eileen McNally, Vicki DeSante, Sheila Falls and Kate McCafferty also led the prayer representating the Catholic tradition. 

The experience included the blowing of a Shofar and ringing of a prayer bowl, interspersed with Islamic chanting. The program included songs beginning with Let Us Be United based on ancient songs of India and created in remembrance of September 11, 2001. Melissa Taggart, from Villa Dining Services, was the leader of song. In his reflection Imam Rashid acknowledged the One God who unites all faiths. Rabbi Kreimer drew on the Hebrew scriptural theme of welcoming the stranger. Reverend Stroud proclaimed Matthew’s description of the last judgement. Elder Hunter led the congregation in praying the Beatitudes together.

Two guests who were once refugees shared their stories. Hadeer Saad, a dining service employee of Saint Joseph Villa recounted the journey of her family’s fleeing the violence in Iraq, immigrating to and resettling in the United States and eventually becoming citizens. Rosa Murcia Garcia immigrated from Guatemala with her husband and two children. She took classes in English and citizenship at the SSJ Welcome Center in Philadelphia. Today Rosa works as an administrative assistant at the Welcome Center. All present raised their hands in blessing over Hadeer and Rosa.

Sister Kate McCafferty concluded the prayer by welcoming everyone to enjoy refreshments in the Villa foyer. The next Interfaith Prayer Service for Immigrants, Refugees, Asylum Seekers and All those forced from their home will be Sunday, April 2, 2017, 2:30 PM, St. Teresa of Calcutta Parish, 809 Park Avenue, Collingswood, NJ 08108. For more information contact Sister Lillian Needham, 856-240-1775.

  Sisters who will make a pilgrimage to LePuy in May receive a blessing at Liturgy
Celebrating Saint Joseph’s Day
Reflecting on Active Inclusive Love
March 20, 2017      
On Monday, March 20, 2017, the sisters and staff at the Motherhouse gathered to celebrate Saint Joseph’s Day. Under the direction of Sister Dolores Clerico SSJ, Director of the Ministry of Spirituality, the day began with a panel of four of our friends who shared with us what it meant for each of them to live a life of Active Inclusive Love.

While serving on the General Council, Sister Peg Fleming SSJ thought she should get some outside experience in addition to the inside Council work. Peg volunteered for seven years, teaching GED and Math preparation, at Montgomery County Prison. This turned out to be life changing for Peg. “I learned a lot from those inmates. I learned about a whole different culture to which I had not been exposed — I had a conversion experience . Some of you may remember The Plowshares Eight who entered the General Electric RE-entry Division in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania and poured their own blood on warhead documents and order forms, and prayed for disarmament and peace. Three of them were sent to Montgomery County Prison. I looked at those men and saw what they were protesting and when they came out of prison they had rallies and I went to some of those rallies. I realized that Nuclear Power is good in some places but Nuclear Warfare is not. I had a whole different appreciation of how different it was, if you were protesting the war.

Some of us went New York City to protest the Nuclear Arms Race. We stopped to use the ladies room at a hotel. When the manager saw us he yelled at a staff member: ‘Get those people out of here and don’t let anymore of those people in here.’ It was the first time I became one of those people . I felt what we were doing in New York City, protesting nuclear war, was the right thing to do and I was happy to be one of those people ."

When Montgomery County Prison closed, Peg joined The Philadelphia Aids Task Force, becoming a buddy to many persons with Aids. She recalls taking some of the patients to Cape May to look at the ocean and breathe in the fresh air. Peg says, “I learned so much from them about their struggles. It was really heartbreaking.”

In 1999, Peg was missioned to the Dream Catcher, a literacy program established by the Sisters of Saint Joseph to help the people of Philadelphia get their GED. The people who showed up for the classes were immigrants. In 2000, we were teaching immigrants at St. Michael’s and Ascension. One of those immigrants in Peg’s class was Rosa. Peg explains, “She did not speak English and had crossed the Rio Grande with her two children in tubes. Today, Rosa is the Administrative Assistant at the Welcome Center, (where Peg teaches) paying for a house and owns a car. Her daughter is a junior at Chestnut Hill College on the Dean's List and her son attends Philadelphia Community College. Her youngest child is in fourth grade at Holy Innocents School. She is just one of the stories of our wonderful immigrants who love this country so much and she is a treasure! We have about 25 countries represented at the Welcome Center. We have 242 students who are now citizens of this country they love. They are wonderful people and we love having them. It is such a great joy for me to be able to teach there. I have learned how to accept people who are not like me.”    
Carolyn Jenkins is a mother, grandmother, educator, associate and member of the SSJ Justice Commission. In her reflection Carolyn challenged us. “Sometimes we are not really aware that we place people who are different from us in a category of others: different jobs, different educational levels, different nationalities, age differences, different accents, languages, and so on. Scripture reminds us that the grace of God is in others — to be true disciples of Jesus we must identify the others in our life. I ask you, who are the others in your life Through the intercession of Saint Joseph my we have the wisdom to be one with all the others.”
Associate Mary Vanderhoof began by saying, “I would like to share my Mountaintop Experience. In 2007, I was invited by the Director of Catholic Relief Services to go with her on an education mission trip to Uganda.

Several times we went out into the bush on patient home visits. One woman, we visited, pregnant with her seventh child, was dying of Aids. Her other six children were home. Her oldest boy knew his mother was dying and he was going to have to be the head of the household. I will never forget that desperation. It was transforming.

But, what took me most by surprise was the spirit of the people I met there. The joy — in every village —we were greeted by troops of dancers, singers, drummers and it was just a real spirit of life!

It was an amazing experience for me receiving from the people much more than I had come to give. I came home with the sense that maybe living in the first world with all our stuff, with all our busyness is really an obstacle to faith. In the simple life that they were leading — they had no illusions about their dependence on God.  You have to step out of your comfort zone. I did that when I got onto that plane to go to Uganda."    
Clayton Smith, our co-worker at the Motherhouse shared, “I know what it is like to be other. If you were judging a book by its cover — you are not going to talk to me. I didn’t have a great childhood, so I have always had this compassion for the underdog. When my niece and nephew were orphaned and needed a home — my wife and I adopted them. After that, I started to get a little more understanding. I started to go to Church and I began to see a change in myself. I joined a men’s study group. I learned about how Jesus came on the scene and went to the dredges of society. He welcomed the tax collector — who then became a disciple!

God is amazing to me — He works things out in a way that I can understand.He knows what he has put on your heart."

Clayton is passing on this faith in action to his children. He and his wife, Jennie, take the children to Kensington and they give out sandwiches to the people on the street. As Clayton says, “They need to eat, so feed them. Walk it like you talk it!”

Last Spring they took their family to Haiti. Clayton continued, “I believed my children needed to see that it isn’t about the newest phone or latest video game or your comfort zone. The kids saw people sleeping on the ground and people who don’t have a home, but a piece of tin for a roof and a straw mat for a bed. And they saw kids who are happy and content with what they have!

In my experience the common thread is submission. You need to get out of the Lord’s way and let Him do his work through you. Don’t try and figure it out or alter it or do it the way you want to do it. Just submit and obey, and it will work out. It always does for me — it always does!”
Through these profound sharings, Peg, Carolyn, Mary and Clayton reminded us that love is never static. They truly put flesh on the words, Active Inclusive Love,
a love that finds expression in deeds, in actions. 
Once again, as part of the celebration, the sisters and staff made sandwiches and filled lunch bags for our dear neighbors at St. John’s Hospice in Philadelphia.
Sister Anne Myers SSJ, Congregational President, warmly greeted everyone gathered for the Liturgy in the Motherhouse Chapel later in the afternoon. “We are so happy to welcome Sisters, Associates, our Partners in Mission and Friends! We also welcome our celebrant Father Bob Bazzoli, our Oblate brother and faithful friend from Our Mother of Consolation Parish.

Today, we celebrate the feast of Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, Patron of our Congregation and all Congregations of Saint Joseph throughout the world. In this time of serious concern over the plight of refugees, we remember that Joseph was a refugee, fleeing King Herod’s political persecution in Bethlehem. He courageously protected Jesus and Mary, as they fled into Egypt.

Today, as we joyfully invoke the blessing and continued guidance of Joseph in living our mission of unity, let us pray that his courage and strength will be with the many refugees who seek a safe and peaceful life.“

In her reflection at Liturgy, Sister Eileen Dorothy Maguire SSJ , shared, “Today, we gather to celebrate Joseph, our model, a man of faith, whose hidden life reflects an uncompromising total gift of self.  Joseph, a contemplative, a carpenter, a faithful husband, a loving father, yes, even a refugee, courageous and strong, hard working and protective— a man of God.

Recently, I discovered that Pope Francis boasts of keeping a statue of the sleeping Joseph on his desk. Often Francis scribbles a note stating his concerns and places it under the statue because he firmly believes that Joseph is God’s man of action. Shouldn’t we feel reassured that even Pope Francis joins us in proclaiming the power of the contemplative Joseph, the contemplative in action, and Pope Francis resonates with us as we proudly and assuredly declare to all, Go to Joseph.”

Sister Mary Carboy SSJ
Father Bob Bazzoli and
Sister Eileen Dorothy Maguire SSJ
"Each day we make a new beginning in this Little Institute as we move among the people in gentleness, zeal, and joy with our hearts burning within us. "
                                                                                — SSJ Constitutions #226

Editor, Sister Carole Pollock SSJ | 215.248.7269 | |

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