Poor Handmaids Celebrate Jubilees

Monday, 20 June 2011

Jubilee Celebrants: Sr. Johnilda Mannhard, Sr. Carmeline Parisi, Sr. Joan Fisher, and Sr. Magdalen Hellmann

Though they are a small class of celebrants this year, the Poor Handmaid jubilarians commemorate 275 combined years of service to the poor and underserved. Below they reflect on their lives.

Sister Carmeline ParisiSister Carmeline Parisi, PHJC is being honored for her 80-year jubilee. She reflects: For most of my PHJC life, my ministries included serving and caring for children at PHJC orphanages and helping the elderly with their needs. By doing this work, I was privileged to follow in the footsteps of Blessed Mary Catherine.

I have very fond memories of the days I spent in Thailand. I cared for the children, played with them and told them stories about Jesus. They were so grateful for any little thing I did for them. It was indeed my delight to have had this experience. During this jubilee year, I thank God for my life as a Poor Handmaid.

Sister Johnilda Mannhard

Sister Johnilda Mannhard, PHJC celebrates her 75 jubilee. She remembers: My dream and goal has always been to help slow learners in school, which I did for 20 years. After that I was sent to care for a group of boys in Cottage 25 at Angel Guardian Orphanage for 17 years. There I continued to help children in their educational endeavors.

I was always interested in helping others in need. That interest continues today, and will always be present in someone who can serve God and mankind. Now I help people with memory loss. I hope and pray that we will always continue to help the poor, which is basic in our community.

Over the years my desire to help others has progressed from the helping of children in the classroom, to caring for children from broken families, to helping the elderly in their homes and volunteering to help mentally ill in a social therapy session, to assisting people with memory loss. We need to continue to reach out and share what God has given us.

My greatest joy is to visit with family and friends.

Sister Joan FisherSister Joan Fisher, PHJC, previously known as Sister Colette, a 60-year jubilarian reviews her life. As calendar’s pages turn over quickly this Jubilee year, it becomes a time to pull back a bit and reflect on what it all means.

In 1948 I began my journey with the Poor Handmaid Community and we moved together arm-in-arm for these many 60 years. It has been a journey of up mountains and down hills, slow curves and sharp turns, some unforgettable. My ministry began with teaching little first graders and then into outreach to the poor and powerless. Despite all the struggles I wouldn’t change any of it for a moment. Now at this time of my life I am grateful for all those opportunities and wish I could have done more, but that is in the Lord’s hands.

A question is asked: What is your hope for the future, for the community and yourself? I am excited that we grow more and more as an international community; we are reaching out to third world countries, touching the hearts of the poor of this world. It is just what Blessed Catherine Kasper dreamed. I am in a first world country and see this growth from afar. Even though aging brings its disabilities, my spirit is alive and kicking. I would love to participate in the ministry of these new countries.

Now I have more years in the past and how many in the future is unknown (not too many I suspect.) My heart runs way ahead to reach the moment when I come to meeting my Lord and God, Father, Son, and Spirit. In the meantime I live in the present moment. The very best way to close this reflection is to use Blessed Catherine’s quote: “It is a great honor to be a Poor Handmaid of Jesus Christ” and that has made all the difference.

Sister Magdalen HellmannSister Magdalen Hellmann, PHJC reflects on her 60 years as a Poor Handmaid of Jesus Christ. As I reflect on my life I feel so much love and gratitude to God for His continued protection, guidance and blessings. I’m grateful for all the wonderful people who have touched my life and the many special opportunities I’ve experienced.

I have always enjoyed being helpful and of service to others, especially the little children. For 25 years I ministered at St. John’s Children Home in Bellville, Illinois and Angel Guardian Orphanage in Chicago. Now I continue caring for children as a volunteer at Nazareth Home in East Chicago, Indiana.

I feel I have grown in my hopes and dreams to become more prayerful and peace-filled. God will protect and guide our community in His way. My hopes and prayers for the future will be to continue to love, pray and enjoy life in a simple Poor Handmaid way.

Being a Poor Handmaid of Jesus Christ will always be a great honor and privilege.

Congratulations to our Jubilarians!