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Edition No. 99 — June 20, 2019 
Ten SSJ Pilgrims 
Walk in the Footsteps of our Founders 
Le Puy en-Velay and Lyon
May 2019
By Pat McGinley SSJ
From the first step of the six day journey in LePuy, our “spirited and eager TEN” found the holy in all the ordinary places. Greeted by the team at the International Centre, Eluiza de Andrade, SSJ and Olga Bonfiglio, Associate, gracious SSJ hospitality prevailed and the sense of welcome made all feel right at home. At the Centre, we shared beautiful views of the red clay roofs and two volcanic peaks of Le Puy. We enjoyed simple but elegant and relaxed meals, shared sessions that included prayer, Sharing of the Heart, and life-giving history, that Dolores communicated masterfully. The  Who’s Who in CSSJ history became our sisters and brothers, 17 th century spirituality rocked our souls, and the charism, with new insight and understanding, was embraced more deeply by all. The afternoons were spent walking and reflecting at the significant places in SSJ history. As we left LePuy, there was a deep sense of ownership of  this town we loved so well , a town filled with footprints of great love. Emboldened and eager, we prepared for our two full days in Lyon.

Our first stop was in Bas-en-Basset, where Mother St. John was born on March 31,1759. We then visited Monistrol, where “Mother” did her novitiate.This was the beginning of her formation as an administrator, compassionate friend of the poor, bold and courageous risk-taker and a holy and wise woman. Via public transportation, the “adventuresome TEN” next visited the Provincial House of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Lyon. There we were warmly greeted, prayed in St. Joseph Chapel and toured the Heritage Center for Mother Saint John. Here the  SSJ World became much larger than just our dear Philadelphia. Next, we visited the well cared for gravesite of Mother St. John where we each laid a rose, leaving a bit of our grateful hearts to this woman in whose footsteps we have been called to follow. Though only in Lyon for two days, it was a powerful and personal experience of the woman affectionately known as “Mother” and “Sister to us All.” 

As I reflected on those sacred days in France, there are ‘illuminated moments’ that will live on in my heart:

LePuy : The kitchen, the place where the “Little Design” was created, lived and shared with the world. We have seen photos and heard about this space, the birthplace of the SSJs, but being there was a sacred and speechless WOW.  

Lyon : Mother Saint John’s bedroom, the place where the ordinary, simple and prayerful life of Mother St. John touched my heart. She was a woman on a mission of presence. Her legacy of the 240 houses, founded or restored, points to the authenticity of the imprint her heart, hands and feet left in this world. 

Updated SSJ Tree : A visual that shows faithful rootedness and charism connection; a sacred WOW for SSJs.

As the “united TEN” bid a memory-filled au revoir to one another, grateful for this special time together, the words of Mother St.John were repeated, “My entire wish for you is that you be saints and that our communities be loving and edifying.”  And to this we said, “Amen.”

Pilgrim Impressions of the Pilgrimage Experience

Literally standing and walking in the footsteps of our first sisters has been a very sacred experience.   Joan

The fire of the Spirt went through the entire time in Le Puy. Mary Esther

My experience at the International Centre was a journey with companions into the heart of God—a changing awareness and deepening of my vocation.  Maryanne

The pilgrimage experience has been an opportunity for deepening my SSJ identity, allowing time to become more aware of the gift of PRESENCE and ministry of PRESENCE.  Rosanne

The pilgrimage has been a profound experience of heritage and hope. The bonds and memories created in these ten days will surely continue to bless us.   Merilyn

A blessing.   Sheila
Back row, from left: Sisters Mary Ester Lee, Pat McGinley, Mary Karalis, Maryanne Zakreski
and Jean Laurich
Front row, from left: Sisters Rosanne McCabe, Merilyn Ryan, Joan Suberati, Dolores Clerico
and Sheila Murray
"My entire wish for you is that you be saints and that our communities be loving and edifying." Mother St. John Fontbonne
Photos courtesy Jean Laurich SSJ, Rosanne McCabe SSJ and Pat McGinley SSJ
Sister Dorothy Apprich SSJ
Farewell and Thank You
Saint Joseph Villa
June 11, 2019
Sister Anne Myers SSJ , Congregational President, greeted everyone in the Villa Chapel, gathered to thank  Sister Dorothy Apprich SSJ for her dedication and love as she ministered at Saint Joseph Villa for the past sixteen years. “We gather this afternoon to surround you with our love, our gratitude and our prayers. We are so grateful for you and your many years of dedicated service as the Leader of Saint Joseph Villa. 

As you served here at our Villa, the desire of your heart always has been very clear. You live our SSJ maxim 18:  Live from the place of one desire—where God and you dream the same dream. Your dream and God’s dream have been for fulness of life and love for all here at our Villa, for the unity of people with God and with one another, our SSJ mission, and you have done this so well, Sister Dottie. You have been an instrument of God’s dream for fullness of life through the move to person-focused care, the Revitalization and Renewal of our Villa, our Golden Anniversary and so much more! Your warm attentiveness to relationships each day has made all of this possible. You have led the Villa through times of great change, challenge and innovation with a steadiness and clarity of vision. You have ensured that we will be a healing presence for many—through the next 50 years.”

Sister Eileen Marnien SSJ , Council Liaison, offered a reflection with the theme,  How does she do it? Eileen shared: “I was baffled by Dottie’s ability to juggle so many aspects of the Villa with her visible compassion and concern, peaceful countenance, calm manner, laughter and joy—and of course, her commitment to our mission and the mission and values of our Villa. How does she do it? One day I was praying with the words of Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ about falling in love and how that love decides what you do. That’s when I figured it out. Dottie fell in love with the Villa and all that it embodies, so many years ago. This was the only explanation for Dottie’s faithful service, generosity and enthusiasm, loving manner, attention to every detail and her tireless energy to be a healing presence. Dottie, we are so grateful that you  fell in love and stayed in love  with the Villa and all it embodies.”
After the prayer service, everyone gathered in the auditorium for refreshments and a 
This is Your Life presentation, directed by  Sister Fran Kane SSJ . It was a lot of fun and captured the day-to-day life of Dottie during Renewal.

As she thanked everyone Dottie shared that the last 16 years have been some of the most meaningful years of her life. “The answer to Eileen’s question,  How does she do it ? is  you —all of my co-workers and residents. I thought I was responding to God’s invitation to give to others—to be of service to others. What I didn’t realize was that the real gift was in receiving from all of you and in learning from all of you. What I have learned from you is what is going to make a difference in my life in the years ahead. Please know from the bottom of my heart, and let it sink into your own heart, that I am so grateful and love each and every one of you. Thank you.”

How wonderful to celebrate Sister Dottie, and the beauty of her life and ministry among us. Thank you, Dottie, for dreaming God’s dream and letting your love direct your service here at Saint Joseph Villa. We are grateful for you and we love you! 
"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 | |