Latest News from the Sisters of Saint Joseph

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Edition No. 85 — December 13, 2018 
Palliative & Spiritual Services offered an Advent Reflection 
Aging: Graced Journey of Self-Emptying Love  (Phil.2), presented by 
Sister Lillian Needham SSJ on December 5, 2018 in the Villa Gathering Place.
Palliative Care and Spiritual Services
Sister Lillian Needham SSJ
Saint Joseph Villa
December 5, 2018
By Julie Gabell
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in …

Citing lyrics from Leonard Cohen in her talk on aging,  Sister Lillian Needham SSJ weaved a series of powerful reflections on the often painful prospect of aging. The realization that we are no longer twenty-five and that the clock is ticking, brings home to all of us a sense of personal diminishment and grief. What burdens us most often is the fear of stepping into the unknown, into the daunting process of growing old. Yet it is important to be honest about who we are at this stage of life. How we handle this journey of self-emptying is key to our happiness and spiritual wellbeing.

One of the greatest blessings of community is the knowledge that  we are not in it alone , that we are surrounded by others who suffer the same fears, doubts and physical disabilities. Our gift is to know that we are part of the whole; we have each other to help us on our way. In addition, we stand on the shoulders of giants — founders who are here with us now, helping us unfold the universal mystery of who we are and what we are becoming. In that sense we are truly Advent people — becoming people.
So, it is not over. Something new is being birthed, and it is still ours to choose how we want to continue this graced journey of self-emptying love. We can opt to dwell on the dark side of our experiences, on things we cannot do or change, or we can actively choose to stand tall and feel the sun and wind on our face.

Aging positions us to be freer, more positive and innovative, more in tune with life. We can now leave our baggage behind and learn to dance again. So much depends on attitude and disposition of heart. Though there are cracks in all of us, little fissures that work their way into the fabric of our days, we cannot afford to let them destroy our zest for life. Do we walk slowly or strut? Do our cracks open us to darkness of to light? As we await the advent of the God-Light into our world, we find a perfect time to reach for Truth within our aging hearts.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in …

The SSJ Mission Fund was established to provide financial resources for
sisters ministering to the materially poor. There are a variety of opportunities in which sisters can apply for funds from the Mission Fund. These can be found on our webpage or you can have a conversation with  Sister Jane Field SSJ .
We hope to regularly share the stories in the E-NEWS of sisters who have received financial aid through the Mission Fund. Read below about
Sister Cealy Cyford SSJ and her involvement with the Asylee Women’s Enterprise (AWE).
Asylee Women Enterprise
Baltimore, MD
SSJ Mission Fund Grant
By Cealy Cyford SSJ
Asylee Women enterprise (AWE) is a Baltimore organization established in 2012 and created to assist and offer hope to anyone seeking asylum. These asylees are fleeing their countries due to persecution in some form and seeking to rebuild their lives. Eight congregations of religious women in Baltimore assisted Molly Corbett, the first Director, in the beginning years of AWE, to ensure much needed shelter, food, clothing and educational needs. 

Today's Executive Director, Tiffany Nelms, along with some paid staff members and a host of volunteer individuals and organizations, join forces providing much needed educational and legal assistance. Many counseling and recreational opportunities are provided aiding with recovery and rehabilitation. Every attempt is made to help these survivors rebuild their lives. Due to the generosity of so many, medical and dental needs are also met and case management programs and lawyers familiar with asylee needs and adjustments are offered.

This year AWE received a grant from the SSJ Mission Fund, which has been used to purchase computers. Partnering with Pratt Library the asylees have participated in formal classes which have been beneficial in so many ways:using the computers during their literacy classes (ESL), learning to locate job opportunities and write resumes. Those who work daily in the lab see the asylees' skills and confidence growing daily. Eight people have graduated the class. We are going to do another round in February and this time offer in English and French — with an interpreter! The advanced English class is also using them twice a week to type their assignments, so this has really changed the dynamic in the class. We even used them for a parenting class to present video components of the curriculum

I have been a member of the board representing the Sisters of Saint Joseph since the foundation of AWE and consider this opportunity a blessing. We meet quarterly to discuss and make decisions concerning the immediate needs of the program. Presently, we wish to expand the Board to include persons with mental health background and marketing expertise.

The clients of AWE begin as very frightened people who come to gradually heal as they form new and meaningful relationships with one another and all who minister with them. The help offered them by AWE enables them to feel safe and empowered to move forward with their life.
Lawrence Biscontini
Saint Joseph Villa
December 11, 2018
Lawrence Biscontini, long-time friend of  Sisters Agnes Leona Arnold  and 
Helen Steinmetz  traveled with his beloved dog, Biscuit, to Saint Joseph Villa from New York City on December 11, 2018.

Lawrence was taught by our sisters in Lebanon, PA, and maintained his relationships with his sister-teachers through high school, college and throughout his adult life. He periodically visits the Villa, sharing his many interesting insights, thoughts — and on this visit — his latest book:  The Life in Our Years .

Lawrence shared: “We have prayed for our entire lives, but now research shows how this is healthy stuff for our brain.”

Lawrence spoke of breathing as an essential life force and shared three breathing techniques with the sisters, which can contribute to feeling a little bit better overall. He shared some examples of different ways to pray, to meditate, and even make more brain cells while we pray.

Lawrence is a generous financial supporter of Saint Joseph Villa, donating the proceeds from the sale of his books and classes to Saint Joseph Villa.
Visit the web site  to learn more about Lawrence’s work.
CHC Associates Host Potluck Dinner
Saint Joseph Villa
December 11, 2018
Tuesday evening, December 11, 2018, the Chestnut Hill College Associate Group hosted a potluck dinner for SSJs living at Saint Joseph Villa who had worked at  Chestnut Hill College .

The gathering included sharing food and many fond memories, as well as conversation about how the mission of the Sisters of Saint Joseph is lived in their daily lives.

What a wonderful evening— thoroughly enjoyed by all!
"Rooted in the mission of Christ, ours is the same mission which continually unfolds in the Church, 'That all may be one as you, Father, are in me, and I in you. I pray that they may be one in us.' (Jn 17:21)."
                                        — SSJ Constitutions #17
Editor, Sister Carole Pollock SSJ | 215.248.7269 | |