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October 2016

Dear Friends,

When we wake up each morning and either listen to or read about what is going on in the world, it can be unsettling. The world as we knew it in the past was quite different from our world of today. The advances of social media bring the sufferings of humanity right into our homes. As a result, for persons such as ourselves who believe that we are our sister and brother's keepers, we find ourselves perplexed and feeling helpless. We come face to face with hungry and maimed children, heartbroken parents, bewildered youth and, at times, those who are angry.

As I pondered these happenings, I recalled the Gospel story of the Good Samaritan. First, the priest walked by and even moved to the opposite side of the road. Next, a Levite walked by and he, too, moved to the other side of the road. The Samaritan stopped when he saw the beaten human being in the ditch in front of him. He treated his wounds and then loaded the suffering man onto his donkey and took him to the local inn where he made arrangements for his care.

He responded to the pain in front of him. It was not an earth shattering moment, but a moment of caring for his brother in need.
I ask myself: What can I do?

We hold you in the Spirit,

Sr. Michele Walsh, SSS
General Director

Visiting Refugees Behind Bars:
A Sister's Journey through Adelanto Detention Center
by Bryanna Benedetti-Coomber, Development Associate
Christ of Maryknoll Icon
by Br. Robert Lentz, OFM
Adelanto Detention Center sits in a valley in the south-central Mojave Desert - an arid desolate region two hours' drive from Encino through the Los Angeles traffic and El Cajon Pass. It is quite a trek for anyone, let alone a Catholic Sister, 10 years into retirement. But neither the trek nor the climate deters  Sr. Diane Donoghue, SSS , and her companions - a small group of women volunteers - from making the journey into the desert monthly to visit detainees. 

Sr. Diane entered the Sisters of Social Service order at 24 years old and has been committed to the religious life for 61 years. She earned a BA in Political Science and an MSW focused on community organizing. She has been working in as a community organizer for over 20 years and despite retirement hasn't seemed to slow down in her commitment to all of God's children.

"As long as I have the energy, I will exercise it," Sr. Diane explains. And exercise it, she has. Looking back on her years of social justice and work in the community, she views her work not as a step out of retirement, but as a continuation of who she  is and her promises to her community.
Sr. Diane began volunteering with the small group of women in January 2016, after learning about their work through a talk held at Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles. The modest but determined group of women, whom Sr. Diane joined in their ministry, come from a mix of Christian backgrounds, including the Presbyterian, Unitarian Universalist, and Roman Catholic churches.
Adelanto Detention Facility is a for-profit facility owned by GEO Group and subcontracted by ICE (Immigration Customs Enforcement) to house immigrants, many of whom have crossed our borders seeking asylum and have not been accused or convicted of a crime. The group is committed to visiting about 2 dozen detainees a month at Adelanto, alternating between visiting men and women, held in separate locations within the facility. Detainees at the center come from all regions of the world, including Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas, and are being held as federal immigration detainees. (Full story attached)


Website Under Construction!   

We wanted to let you know about an issue  with our SSS website and share with you when it should be functioning well again.

Recently, the SSS website's server was impacted and  our website went down, possibly due to an  electrical issue   or a virus  Our website is now backed up in multiple places to guard against this type of issue in the future.  Efforts are underway to  restore our old website , and in the meantime  we'll have  temporary site until a new one can be created. 
There are many complex parts of getting this urgent problem remedied and a lot of stress on the bright minds helping us.  I just want to thank everyone involved for going above and beyond to get our SSS website up and functioning again as soon as possible.

We always want to have the SSS Community well represented and stay connected with you. Our website serves as an essential part in our general outreach, vocation and fundraising efforts.  Unfortunately, these cyber issues seem to be becoming more and more frequent in our global world. 
We hope to have the SSS website up and going again very soon.  In the meantime we will be using the  SSS E-news  and  Facebook  to stay in touch.

Thank you for your understanding,

Jamey Fitzpatrick
Development Director
Sisters of Social Service

Remembering Sister Bertille Prus, SSS
by Jamey Fitzpatrick, Development Director and friend 
With additions by Sr. Deborah Lorentz, SSS

Pray and Work that God  may be glorified in all things.
April 4, 1919 - August 13, 2016

As a parent from Holy Family Adoptive Services shared, 
Sr. Bertille "walked beside the young, the old, the great, the small, 
the rich and the poor, embracing each as a friend."

Sister Bertille Prus, SSS, passed into into God's loving hands and eternal life on August 13, 2016 at the age of 97.  She was born in Portland, Oregon, and grew up   in a close-knit family of seven siblings - two boys and five girls. Even as a youngster, she was an avid storyteller. Her mischievous smile and sparkle were infectious - and her quick wit served her well as she grew older. 

Sr. Bertille and Sr. Elizabeth, 1938
After high school, she was called to religious life  and  entered the Sisters of Social Se r vice  novitiate in Los Angeles 
in 1938, where her sister, Sr. Elizabeth Prus, SSS, was already  a part of the  community.  Sr. Bertille   received 
her B.A. from Immaculate Heart College in 1944 and later her M.S.W. from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. in 1950. She made her  first vows on May 24, 1942 and her final  vows on June 1, 1952,  adopting 
the motto, " Pray and Work that God may be  glorified in all things ."

Her strong sense of purpose, deep  family roots and her faith provided an excellent foundation for her social work education and ministries that followed in Northern and Southern California.   Indeed, family was at the core of her life and her ministries.  
She and Sr. Elizabeth regularly visited relatives in Portland, traveled with family when it was possible,  and attended family reunions.    She delighted in any time she could talk with family or friends - and even learned to use Skype in her nineties to connect more easily with her sister, Bea ( who was also in her nineties). 

Her early ministry work included family visits and group work, and supporting families as a caseworker with Los Angeles Catholic Welfare Bureau.  She spent time working with troubled teens at Stanford Home, and several years with Catholic Social Service in Vallejo and San Rafael. ( continued
- please click below to read more)

Sr. Bertille holds one of the first Vietnamese babies that Holy Family Adoptive Services helped find a home for in 1975.
Sr. Bertille visiting with her family from Oregon and Washington 


"As Gardens" 
In memoriam, Sr. Bertille Prus, SSS
by Michael O'Palko, Holy Spirit Retreat Center Volunteer

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please call (818) 285-3376
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Yesterday's Works Give Light to the Future
A Reflection from the SSS Archives
by Sr. Merita Dekat, SSS, and Sr. Michele Walsh, SSS

SSS Archivists (seated):  Sr. Rachel Shepard, Sr. Teréz Murányi and Sr. Merita Dekat with Sr. Michele Walsh, SSS and our General Director (standing)

The heritage of our past as Sisters of Social Service informs our life today and inspires  our hopes for the future.

Our rich heritage is a great treasure for us, as it is upon this that we build our lives today  and move into the future. This special history is "housed" in our SSS Archives. We are in  the process of putting our Archives (dating back to 1908) into a pristine and easily  accessible order.

To facilitate this, during these past six months we were gifted with the assistance of Sr.  Ter é z Mur á nyi, a Sister of Social Service from Romania. Sister Ter é z has done incredible work in the Archives of the Eastern European branch of the Sisters of Social Service.  She organized their archives which dated from the turbulent times of the early 1900s  through the many years of Communism and beyond, up until the present - quite a monumental task!

Sister Ter éz brought her special skills with her to Los Angeles where she organized and  put in order a great deal of the early history of our Community, much of which was in  Hungarian. We are most grateful for her generous contribution to the organization of our Archives here in Los Angeles, We are now well on the way, continuing with the organizing  of 90 years of historical documents of the Los Angeles Foundation.  

Thanks be to God - and Sister Ter éz!

Sisters and staff 
wish Sister Teréz
a safe journey
home and
much gratitude for
all her help!

Reflection on Camp Suzanne 2016
by Sr. Naomi Cornejo, SSS
Thank you, thank you to all who kept Camp Suzanne 2016 and our families in prayer. During our first session on July 10th, we loaded a passenger van with nine children and three staff and drove to northern California to visit their incarcerated mothers for six days. It was a long journey to Hayward, CA (8 hour drive), as we had several stops to pick up children along the way. We left North Hollywood at 6 am and the children were very tired and nervous to meet each other and their mothers. At breakfast, they started talking to one another and making new friends.

We arrived to CSU Eastbay in the late afternoon and the campers were excited to see where they were going to sleep for the next several nights. They each shared a room with another camper and stayed in suite-like rooms that included a bathroom and shower for every four campers. They also had access to a small kitchenette, living room and balcony with an amazing view of Hayward. 
They enjoyed stepping onto this balcony in the evenings and also at night before bed.

It was beautiful and very touching to see the children reunite with their mothers on Monday morning. After many hugs, kisses, tears and more hugs, the mothers and children were able to begin their journeys to make a "Recipe Book" through a variety of art techniques. They worked on various recipes, like  Recipe for A Perfect Meal ,
Recipe for a Perfect DayRecipe on How to Celebrate , and a  Recipe on What to do When I Miss You

Women from many cultures celebrate a lighter moment at Wellspring Women's Center in Sacramento, circa late 1980s. Photo by Sr. Catherine Connell, SSS
Guests at Our Tables - 
Planting Seeds of Hospitality and Hope
by Jamey Fitzpatrick, Development Director
As we celebrate the 80th Anniversary of SSS in Sacramento this year - and soon the 90th of the Sisters of Social Service Los Angeles - we'd like to pay tribute to some of the forme r and current works of Sisters and Associates. We rediscovered several interesting photos this summer from the start of Wellspring Women's Center. We wanted to share these images with you, and also interviews that Wellspring conducted last summer with their Sisters of Social Service foundresses, Sr. Catherine Connell and Sr. Claire Graham.
Tales from the Heart of Wellspring
Many wonderful interviews are featured in a blog on Wellspring's website called
Tales from the Heart of Wellspring.  They've created a colorful mosaic of perspectives and stories from guests, staff, Sisters and volunteers who make up the many hands and hearts of Wellspring from the past and present.  (continued - please click below).

To read the interviews
please click below:


To visit the full story collection from Wellspring, please click on: 
Tales from the Heart of Wellspring 

For the full 2011 story written on Wellspring's 25th Anniversary by Andy Thielen in the
Valley Community Newspaper, please click here:   Wellspring's 25th Anniversary
To learn more about  Wellspring Women's Center, please   visit: 

Why I Support the Sisters: Quotes from Donors

Sr. Diane Donoghue,SSS and Sr. Marianna Halsmer, SSS   
"I support the Sisters because I greatly value
the ministry they do and have done throughout their
lives, especially the older sisters who have done so
much work for humanity. I want to support them in
their retirement and thank them for their gifts."
 - Penelope Tafoya, SSS Associate
Sr. Maria Isabel Garcia Rodriguez, SSS and
Sr. Leticia Tapia  Espinoza, SSS


"I believe so deeply in the work the
Sisters do and I admire these
 special and wonderful 
women in the community" 
- Kathie Montserrat, SSS Associate

Pax, Our Bell
by Jamey Fitzpatrick, Development Director

Pax is more than a word in our lives, or an ornament on these grounds.  As its toll rings through the air, it can serve to remind us who we are - our own ripples of influence - and that each moment offers us a chance to reach out to connect with others and bridge the divides between us - 
if we choose to listen.

September 21, 2016 - The bell sits quiet now.  Many could look at the aged iron covered in patina and not recognize its tremendous power.  The stones that surround it are so solid and reassuring, in a world that sometimes feels so temporary or unstable.  We have pictures in the SSS Archives of the many hands, crates and pulleys that it took to lift it off the truck that brought it here in 1963 .
To day, a group of giggling teens trying  to be silent rush by me  on retreat.  A staff member pushes a cart a few feet from it, hurrying to get ready for another group.  Even a squirrel in a nearby tree, looks at the bell briefly, but really takes no notice of
In a few minutes it will ring.  Its sonorous ripples will fill the ears, the vibrations shaking the ground beneath me, and the echoes afterward calling all together.  In a hectic, noisy world, Pax, the bell, drowns out everything else.  For a moment, there is nothing but the toll of "peace", the release of sound.  Like a story shared from long ago, its echoes  tie together the past and the present in one instant.
As I sit here writing near the bell, it happens to be  International Peace Day . There are so many complex issues that bring people together today, and that surround the ongoing work towards social justice, conflict resolution, mediation, justice, and anti-discrimination every day of the year.  I wanted to share this moment and this very simple symbol of peace that sits on the grounds of Holy Spirit Retreat Center and the Sisters of Social Service property in Encino.  
It is Pax, our bell.
For all who gather here on the Encino grounds, it calls us together:  for meals, for prayer, to celebrate and to remember.  It welcomes you, whether you are a part of the SSS Community, a retreatant, a friend, a new guest....
For those of you who know its origin - and the two women for whom it had a deep and special meaning from their childhood days - it also reminds us of their works of peace and commitment to social justice - and for the community's decades of work in this area. 

With the help of many hands, Pax arrived safely in Encino on the feast of Saint Isidore, October 25, 1963.

I am grateful for both Sr. Bertille Prus, SSS, and Sr. Elizabeth Prus, SSS, and their works of compassion, mercy and justice throughout their ministries and lives. Each had a unique way of being, a strong work ethic, and a love for those with whom they worked.  They lived their lives fully and completely, and each day was regarded as the gift it was, even in their elder years. They treated others with respect, whether they agreed with them or not, and were passionate about life and used their gifts to help those on the margins of our communities and world.
As we look at the complex picture of social justice... continued -  please click below to read more....

Click below for:
A Reflection by Jamey Fitzpatrick, Development Director

For more photos and history, please click on: 
written by Raphael Carlo Diy in 2010 with
assistance by Sr. Bertille Prus, SSS 

Partner with the Sisters!
It is time to sign up or renew your Ralph's Community  Partnership!

How it works: 
Each Ralphs card member who links their card to the Sisters of Social Service helps Ralphs contribute 2-3 % of their earnings to the Community. You do not spend any additional money or lose any of your in store savings or coupons. Ralphs "gives back" a check to the Community.
As of September 1, 2016 the Scan Bar Codes are no longer valid. Participants are required to register for the new term online or by phone starting September 1, 2016. For your convenience, please call 1-800-443-4438 and stay on the line for a representative. All you need is your name, phone number, and the SSS  Code "91347" to register. If you would prefer to sign up online, please go to and follow the directions attached below.  

Your Ralphs card will be linked to the Sisters of Social Service until August 31 of the next year.
In addition to this opportunity, Ralphs and Shell have partnered up for additional benefits. You can now earn double points by presenting your Shell gas receipt when you shop at Ralphs. After you earn 100-200 points, you can earn up to 20 cents a gallon at Shell. For more details, please visit .

Thanks to your connection with Ralphs, the "Free" money the Sisters receive will
go towards critical social services including social justice, direct social services,
and support for those on the margins of the world. Sign up today

Thank You!

Let Us Help!

Send an email to 
to receive Social Impact and Thank Yous electronically. 

Walk in the Future, Head Held High! 
Conscious Aging: Making a Choice!
Session 2: Saturday, February 4   
  Session 3: Saturday, April 22
9:00 am - 4:00 pm 

Conscious Aging is a program developed by the Institute of Noetic Sciences and will be facilitated at Holy Spirit by Sr. Deborah Lorentz and Lala Rukh Khan. There are eight sessions in all, divided into three Saturday sessions.
Session 1: Introduction, Self-Compassion, Forgiveness, October 15, 2016   
Session 2: Life Review and Transformative Practices 
Session 3: Death Makes Life Possible, Surrender and 
                  Letting Go, Creating a New Vision of Aging

Encino Trio Concerts:  
"USC Brass Quintet Concert"  
Sunday, December 4 at 4:00 pm
In tune with the holiday spirit, a Brass Quintet of USC musicians will perform a concert of seasonal songs. Quintet members include Andrew Rodman, trumpet; Tommy Militello, French horn; Gwang Hyun Kim, trombone; Jonathan Kang, trumpet; and Cameron Holt, tuba. All are currently completing their
study at the USC Thorton School of Music.

Mark your Calendars 
and Join us for The Season of Advent!
Time to Get Ready - The Sacred Meaning of Advent
Saturday, December 3 from 9:30 am - 3:30 pm
Presented by Fr. Mark Vellano, this retreat offers an opportunity to savor the season of Advent - a time of hopeful anticipation and preparation - through teaching, reflection, Scripture and prayer. John the Baptist and Mary of Nazareth will lead us in reflecting on how the Spirit is continually searching us out, preparing us for a new appearance of Christ in the "here and now." Are you ready to stop and look at Advent again?

Advent Silent Saturday
Saturday, December 17 from 9:00 am - 12 noon
Arrival 8:30-9:00 am
Join us for a quiet morning of Centering Prayer and silence. The day is open to beginners as well as those experienced in contemplative prayer or silent meditation. The day provides time for communal prayer, a contemplative walk, private journaling, reflection and an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful grounds of the retreat center. All are welcome! A brief introduction to Centering Prayer will be offered for those new to the practice. 
or visit the Center's website at 
for registration details and fees. 
Sisters of Social Service
4316 Lanai Road, Encino, CA 91436
(818) 285-3355 

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Sisters of Social Service Development Department:

Jamey Fitzpatrick, Development Director  (818) 285-3358

Bryanna Benedetti-Coomber, Development Associate (818) 285-3376