Latest News from the Sisters of Saint Joseph

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

Edition No. 110 — November 7, 2019 
Villanova University Students
Day of Service
St. Timothy Convent
By Sister Rose Christine SSJ
As we waited anxiously for our volunteers to arrive, we continued to ponder the challenge of someone's having to plan and make arrangements for 4,600 students and alums to fan across the City of Philadelphia to 139 sites for their Day of Service. Who could, or would, take on such a monumental task? It soon became apparent to us that it had been achieved, and amazingly so, under the direction of Ms. Christine Quisenberry, Director of Presidential Initiatives and Events, Office of the President, Villanova University,

We had agreed to partake in this adventure after being asked during the summer, ‘Is there any way our students at Villanova can be of help to you at St. Timothy Convent?’ Each September over four thousand students and alums give service, all over the country. Never one to be daunted by a challenge,  Sister Mary Elizabeth Farrell SSJ  accepted the invitation for help as she considered the size of this large convent and how it has become increasingly difficult for our smaller community to keep up with the routine, we had previously, of cleaning every corner to have a sparkling home.

And so, here we were on a beautiful morning in September waiting for the 26 unknown volunteers who had offered to accept the difficult assignment of taking up mop, duster, cleaning fluid, dust mask, bucket, window cleaner, (all donated by Loews), to plod into the unknown of a four-story convent that needed help. A formidable task.

It would be difficult to say who was more surprised as the day unfolded: the young women, many of whom had never been in a convent or talked to a sister, or the sisters who appreciated the grace and beauty of these "cleaning ladies" as they went about graciously mopping floors, cleaning windows and blinds, dusting ceiling fans, scrubbing bathroom tiles, putting up curtains and completing various and sundry other tasks.

Perhaps being members of the  Dance Team  made it easier for our volunteers to climb the ladders, reach up to ceiling fans, and to do all the bending and movement a good cleaning requires.

And after all that cleaning, and a box lunch provided by the University, the girls performed two routines in the school parking lot to the delight of the audience. 

Whoever would have thought that a day planned around cleaning could turn out to be such a wonderful fun day for both cleaners and recipients! And, because Sister Mary Elizabeth had everything so organized, the only hitch in the day was that there wasn't enough time to come together to share more.

So, to the gracious and beautiful  Dance Team  at Villanova, a very fond thank you as we pray that your beautiful, joyful, and Christ-filled hearts will continue to overflow with love as you continue dancing through life.
Photos courtesy Sharon White SSJ
Vietnamese Sisters
October 25, 2019
Last fall the General Council shared with the Congregation that they received a request from Rev. Bao Nguyen, SJ of Formation Support for Vietnam (FSVN), to consider hosting Vietnamese religious sisters to pursue their education in the United States. Formation Support for Vietnam, a non-profit organization, was founded in 2008 to help Vietnamese priests, religious, and seminarians to have the opportunity to study in the United States. By 2018, approximately 300 religious sisters and brothers, seminarians and priests from 25 dioceses and 50 Religious Congregations in Vietnam came to the United States to study. These educational opportunities were possible only because of the generosity and hospitality of Religious Congregations in the United States.

Only a limited number of Sisters in Vietnam have received higher education. The hope of this organization is to provide opportunities for Vietnamese Sisters to come to the United States to learn English in order to pursue higher education. Through the FSVN, Sister Ignatius Nga Nguyen, Superior General of the Congregation of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, asked if the Sisters of Saint Joseph in Philadelphia would be willing and able to host and welcome four sisters in her congregation. We agreed to host these sisters for one year and to offer opportunities for them to learn and practice English. They will participate in our daily prayer, Eucharistic Liturgies and our community life. Some of our sisters have volunteered to teach/tutor English as a Second Language.

Formation Support for Vietnam (FSVN) will assist the Sisters with immigration services, health insurance, and higher education. Our responsibility is to welcome, support and accompany these sisters while they are in our care. 

On October 25, 2019, four sisters (Dung, Huong, Khuyen and Phuong) arrived at the Motherhouse and were warmly welcomed by the Motherhouse communities. After a brief tour of the Convent and a walk outside, they joined a group of sisters for a delicious Vietnamese/American dinner.

They are very happy to be with us and their presence is a delight.
Pictured from left: Sisters Phuong, Huong, Eileen Marnien SSJ, Khuyen and Dung
Pictured from left: Joan Carey SSJ, Rev. Bao Nguyen, SJ, Sisters Huong, Dung, Khuyen, Phuong and Jeannette Daily SSJ
NAKASEC Organization
March to Advocate for the Undocumented
October 26 – November 12, 2019
NAKASEC (National Korean American Service & Education Consortium) is an organization that advocates for immigrants, people of color and marginalized communities. 

On November 12 th , the Supreme Court will convene to hear oral arguments on the Deferred Acton for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Proceedings to determine the fate of the TPS (Temporary Protected Status) program have already begun, and a decision is expected to come this month from the lower courts. More than 700,000 DACA recipients and 300,000 TPS recipients are now at risk of losing protection from deportation.

Our Congregation was contacted by Clara Kim, a member with the NAKASEC national team. “We are organizing an 18 day, 230 mile march from New York to Washington, D.C. to help protect more than 700,000 undocumented young people who are DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients and approximately 300,000 TPS (Temporary Protected Status) recipients. The march begins on October 26 th  in New York and ends on November 12 th  (the day of the oral arguments) in front of the Supreme Court. We see our “Home is Here: March for DACA and TPS” campaign as a critical organizing opportunity to re-energize DACA and TPS recipients and demonstrate to the Supreme Court the widespread public support for both programs.”

Clara continued with a request for overnight accommodations. “Would your society be able to offer our marchers a place to stay for one night? We are looking for some free floor space for the night that is handicap accessible, and possibly showers. Our marchers will bring their own sleeping bags.” 

Sisters Maureen G. Erdlen SSJ Jane Field   SSJ  and  Eileen McNally   SSJ  coordinated the stay. On Thursday, October 31st, 30 marchers arrived at Annunciation House, wet from the rain, tired, but grateful and enthusiastic. They were graciously welcomed and enjoyed a delicious soup dinner, lovingly made by  Sister Margaret Dorothy Duffy . Some of our SSJ Scholars made sandwiches for the marchers to take with them on Friday.

Before their departure on Friday morning, the marchers and sisters prayed together for their safety and justice for the thousands who will be affected by the court’s decision. Although the time together was brief, it was a wonderful opportunity to learn more specifically about the plight of the undocumented in our country and to meet and spend time with these wonderful new friends.

Their thank you to us was eloquent and from the heart.

Thank you, loving and warm Sisters.
We can’t thank you enough for all your thoughts, prayer, and support.
Your warm smiles, delicious soup and bread, sandwiches, coffee, beautiful space and nice showers really
uplifted our spirits. We’re so blessed and encouraged by your support.
We feel this must be what God’s love is about.
We wish you the best; thank you so much,
NAKASEC and Marchers
They enjoyed a delicious soup dinner, made by Sister Margaret Dorothy Duffy SSJ .
Sister Dolores Egner SSJ helps with mean prep.
SSJ Scholars made sandwiches for the marchers to take with them on Friday.
Pictured from left: Dolores Egner SSJ, SSJ Scholar Jasibel Vasquez-Gonzalez, Jane Field SSJ and Margaret Dorothy Duffy SSJ
Saint Joseph Villa
And the Saints Came Marching In
November 1, 2019
Celeste Robinson has worked at the Villa for 21 years. The first 19 were in dietary and then when the household model was begun two years ago, Celeste became the Household Coordinator on the 6 th  and 7 th  floors. 

For All Saints Day this year, Celeste wanted to do something special. “I am planning a really big celebration here at the Villa for the sisters for All Saints Day,” shared Celeste. She did just that—creating a delightful and fun evening for everyone.

Dressed in white, the sisters entered the beautifully decorated dining room to the sounds of  When the Saints Come Marching In . Balloons and streamers hung from the ceiling, waiters and waitresses dressed as angels and an elaborate ‘photo booth’ was ready in the back of the room, complete with props.

Sister Irene Dunn SSJ , President of Saint Joseph Villa, expressed her joy and appreciation for Celeste. “Wasn't last evening wonderful! The Sisters had such a great time. Celeste is really a special person and loves the Sisters. She worked so hard to make it fun and memorable for them. She truly loves the Sisters!”
Celeste Robinson has worked at the Villa for 21 years. 
"With the help of God's grace and in fidelity to our founder's expressed wish, we live and work lovingly among all persons with a special preference for those who are poor, which calls us wherever we are to be in union with them."
                                        — SSJ Constitutions #21
Editor, Sister Carole Pollock SSJ | 215.248.7269 | |