Sister Jeanne Koehler, PHJC
“Gratitude is the heart’s memory!” (A French proverb.) As I reflect on the span of 75 years as a Poor Handmaid of Jesus Christ, an avalanche of memories pours down. A resounding THANK YOU GOD rises up in my heart. I’m grateful for all those precious years—the graces God gave me through so many wonderful people and happenings in my life. My family, my Sisters, my many friends and associates along with those who challenged me are all a part of those memorable years. I thank God for ALL that has brought me to this peak celebration.
For 75 years I have been a teacher and still love it. From a first grade teacher to a college professor, I feel I have been an enthusiastic instrument of God’s love and caring.
As for the present and future, I feel I am God’s ENERGIZER and I hope He will keep recharging the batteries. I don’t think religious retire. Instead they recycle. They may slow their pace but they carry on, bringing God’s love and touch to others.
My prayerful hope this jubilee year will be to share the joy I feel and to be a living token of appreciation. A quotation from the book, SIMPLE ABUNDANCE clearly expresses my sincere sentiments. “Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
Sister Vivian Brand, PHJC
My years as a Poor Handmaid of Jesus Christ have been a time of joy, peace and challenges. In all of it I have found God’s loving Providence directing me, sometimes obscurely, but always surely. The community, my family and friends were a constant support for which I am most grateful.
Serving God’s poor in the education ministry was rewarding, especially at Ancilla College. Helping the students attain marketable skills to support themselves and their families was very fulfilling.
Our community works with “attentive ear and courageous heart” to discern where we are needed today and I believe, our loving God will direct us for the good of his people.
Sister Julienne Smith, PHJC
One of my recollections is that after living in Donaldson for high school I would return home for summer vacation and every night I would turn in the direction of Donaldson and knew that would be my home in the future. My early experiences in high school and living in community have always made me feel that I was called to this life at a young age and I never doubted God’s call. Prayer continues to be the binding force in my life and I am grateful for the opportunity for daily Mass and prayers with the community.
After many years as a teacher and principal, as the vocation director and local leader at the PHJC Motherhouse and as the person responsible for the Ancilla High School girls for 10 years, I am still able to volunteer at St. Joseph Hospital in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I have been there for more than 20 years and I contribute to the ministry that continues there.
I am proud to talk of our ministries and how they have continued with lay leaders who continue the work begun by the Sisters with the same spirit as when we had sisters in every leadership role. Our international Sisters share that spirit around the world and all this because of how Mother Mary touches their lives.
Sister Inez Wilmering, PHJC
It has been a long journey since 1922 when God called me in baptism and gave me the wonderful gift of faith. Faith has been my guide and support through the years and continues to grow as I experience God’s love for all of His creation.
The desire to serve God as a PHJC began when I was an aspirant for four years in Donaldson. After high school, I entered and spent the next 35 years ministering in hospitals, in the business office, nursing and teaching. I served in nine PHJC hospitals, even in the hospital where I was born.
In 1977, I returned to Donaldson and spent eight years living and working with our Sisters at the Catherine Kasper Home. These were joy filled years living with those who had spent years following Mother Mary in helping the poor, sick and children eagerly and joyfully.
I cherish this Year of Faith in which my jubilee is celebrated as special since my precious gift of faith has brought me to this time of my life. I hope and pray that God will continue to lead the community in faith and fidelity.
Sister Magdala Oswald, PHJC
As I reflect on my 60 years as a Poor Handmaid of Jesus Christ, I am filled with gratitude for the many years of service with young children at Angel Guardian in Chicago and at St. John’s children’s home in Belleville, Illinois. They are good memories of helping the children grow up in a world that gave them many challenges.
In more recent years I have ministered in various positions at The Center at Donaldson. I have enjoyed many years of service at the Lindenwood Retreat & Conference Center. It is a delight meeting so many folks who come to the Center and we have shared many joys and blessings as we continue to share in the charism of Blessed Mary Catherine’s way of service.
My hope and prayer for the future is that we will continue to grow as an international community in loving service wherever there is a need.
Sister Patricia Belting, PHJC
Throughout my 60 years as a Poor Handmaid I have been in contact with people in very special ways. I worked in ministry as a teacher, given private retreats and eventually became a Spiritual Counselor earning a Doctorate in Ministry Degree in Pastoral Counseling. In each of these blessings, I was allowed to touch people’s lives through spiritual direction, giving me great joy.
My time as a Poor Handmaid has given me many gifts and blessings both received with and from others. There has been back and forth learning from the individuals I have met throughout my time as a woman religious, making each relationship special.
My prayers for the future both for my community and myself are that we embrace the concept that we are all faithful to the call. My hopes and dreams have grown over the years to an endless number, so much so that I cannot begin to enumerate. I am confident in the Lord, knowing he will guide the way to peace and love.
In this Jubilee year, my greatest enjoyment was the visit from my nieces and nephews on June 1 when we celebrated our Jubilees at the Motherhouse.
Sister Coletta Wrasman, PHJC
Before I was born, God called me to be a Poor Handmaid of Jesus Christ. Growing up on a farm, unknowingly my Mom and Dad began my formation by their prayerful, simple lives. Through grade school, the Franciscan Sisters continued to cultivate the call. When I became an aspirant in my sophomore year, the Poor Handmaids helped to make the call firm for me.
Our community has grown in awareness and concern for all people around the globe, especially for the poor and our PHJC Sisters in other cultures. We are ONE in God.
I am grateful for the gift of music which Mom and Dad encouraged and the PHJC community further developed. It enabled me to help many parishes with music at their liturgies.
Through each of my ministries God secretly prepared me for the next way of being for others. God has always given faithful love in my struggles and weaknesses, and in my strengths and gifts.
The community and my family and friends will join me in praising and thanking God who has been faithful to me these 50 (really 71) years. This fills my heart with joy.
Sister Roberta Christianson, PHJC
I have been blessed throughout my life. I’ve been able to do the two things I love most: teaching and childcare. I’ve been blessed to live in Germany for 18 years. Also to have a good sense of humor and spirit of adventure, and it has been a wonderful life.
Since I returned to the USA in 2011, every day is different and certainly has not been boring. I am very happy to be a PHJC. I fell in love with the Sisters even before grade school. My love and desire to be like them deepened over the years. Mother Mary was right on target when she said, “It is a great honor to be a PHJC.”
My hopes and prayers for our community is that we place spirituality, faith and prayer above all. I pray we listen to God’s will, take Mother Mary’s words to heart, and that we seek always to serve others. For myself, I pray that I become a woman of faith. I pray I gently become old, never place myself first and that I will be kind.
I dream of a long future for the PHJCs and I believe we will have women to follow us. May we never become so business-like and big that we lose sight of the needy around us.
Sister Annemarie Kampwerth, PHJC
God has blessed me in so many ways since becoming a PHJC. I have been able to experience a variety of ministries, meet and befriend some wonderful people and travel to many places around the world.
Presently I am working at HealthVisions Midwest in mission and education. HealthVisions has given me an opportunity to network with many people in a lot of different communities to improve healthcare for the underserved. It has helped me to realize that no matter what we do, it ripples out beyond us and the influence can be far reaching.
I hope as a community we can continue to be involved in issues in the Church and in society and stand up for what we believe. We need to continue to witness especially for the poor and underserved, preserve the gift of our environment and our gift as women to the Church. We have great ministries and we need to ensure that they will continue and share with our lay leaders that same passion to serve.
My greatest enjoyment during this Jubilee Year will be celebrating with my Sisters, my family and friends this special gift in my life. I also look forward to continuing my service as a PHJC.
Sister Virginia Kampwerth, PHJC
As I reflect on my life I find it so exciting, a life of learning and experiencing how different each person is, yet how very much alike each person is.
My birth family continues to be so important to me. Among my memories is the memory of hearing my dad sing when he was milking the cows in the evening. He loved farming and the outdoors, so I think that my love for nature was inherited from my dad. The “Sisters in my religious family” delight me each day, those living and those who live on in my heart and memory. Learning German has also been an amazing part of my life’s journey!
My hope is to continue using my gifts in whatever situation I find myself, whether teaching, being part of a leadership group or a group with whom I live and share ministry. Ministry is always about bringing the presence of God into that part of the world in which we are blessed to live. Understanding more, and living out of, the awareness of creation spirituality, continues to be the challenge our loving God shares with me each day.
My greatest enjoyment this Jubilee Year will be the surprise of sharing in whatever way possible!