Sister Maxine Peppenhorst, PHJC
Celebrating my profession as a Poor Handmaid of Jesus Christ is a treasured gift from God. It brings to mind the countless blessings, joys, and challenges that I have experienced through these many years.
My greatest blessing was my call to religious life. From the time I was in second grade I wanted to become a Sister. My ministry was teaching in elementary schools. After fifty years, my active ministry ended.
For the next number of years I was missioned to St. Mary Convent in Trenton. These years were happy and helpful in aiding me to live a more relaxed life. Presently I’m enjoying life at the Catherine Kasper Home where life is quite different from convent life. It is a learning experience to live with lay people of different beliefs. This I enjoy because it stretches me as a person to accept various ways of thinking, of believing and it enables me to realize how loving and good God has created us.
A treasured blessing in my retirement is the spare time I have. This I can use for prayer, reading, and enjoying the outdoors. What joy will be mine when God welcomes me home with open arms saying, “Well done, good and faithful Sister Maxine, a Poor Handmaid of Jesus Christ.”
Sister Florence Kuhn, PHJC
With a grateful heart I praise God every morning because of His love for me. Now that I’m retired, I can appreciate the beauties of nature, like observing the cycle of the monarch butterfly from egg to birth at least 20 times.
Having Poor Handmaids as my teachers from grades 1 to 8 was another blessing at St. John’s School in Quincy. Their personalities and virtues attracted me, especially Sister Virginia, my eighth grade teacher. She encouraged me to be a Sister. After I pronounced my vows I asked to be a primary teacher. After 48 years as an educator, Mr. Wayne Messick invited me to come to Quincy to bring back St. Vincent’s Home and promote the charism of Mary Catherine Kasper. Her charism of simplicity, listening prayerfully and serving joyfully were my goals too as a Poor Handmaid.
I feel that I’ve touched many lives after 70 years. All my friends know I’m a St. Louis Cardinal fan since 1964 so my wish is that they win the World Series. Shout with joy to the Lord all the earth!
Sister Mary Edward Mason, PHJC
As I reflect on my childhood and family, I felt loved by my sisters, brothers, Mom and Dad. As a child, I attended Washington School and P.H.S. High School in Quincy, Illinois. Gardening was one of my hobbies.
I entered the convent on September 8, 1941. My main ministry was caring for children at Angel Guardian Orphanage, teaching primary grades and being hostess at our hospital. The beatification pilgrimage for Blessed Catherine Kasper was wonderful for me. I think we’re so blessed to have our foundress beatified.
I’ll never forget my sky diving experience. It was a gift from my family for my Golden Jubilee and now on my 70th Jubilee, I would enjoy seeing more vocations to our Poor Handmaid Community.
Sister Lucy Megaro, PHJC
As I reflect on my past 60 years as a Poor Handmaid of Jesus Christ, I am most grateful to where the Lord has led me, and where he continues to lead me.
I have been blessed and challenged in many ways in the sharing of my gifts with people in the various stages of their lives. My ministries have taken me to Chicago, several towns in Iowa, and Cincinnati, Ohio. As a preschool teacher, a house parent for grade school boys and adolescent girls, a Nursing Assistant to the elderly in their homes, and a volunteer with children in the inner city, I always felt, when one door closed, the Lord was there to open another.
The many people I have met and served have been a gift to me, with the support of my community, family and friends. I continue to be a part of the support and prayer ministry as well as a caring presence to others during my retirement days at our Catherine Kasper Home.
My hopes, prayers and dreams for our community, is to pray and listen to where the Spirit is leading us in sharing our blessings with those most in need.
Sister Julia Huelskamp,PHJC
When I reflect on my earlier years in community, I recall how structured we were. We dressed alike, lived a scheduled routine, did not read the newspapers, watch TV or drive a car. We visited our family for three days every five years. We were experts in our works of teaching, nursing and taking care of children in orphanages.
In the 1960s we went back to our roots as was encouraged by Pope John XXIII. We studied the life of our foundress, had many meetings, lots of discussions, and we gradually changed. We returned to the charism that inspired Catherine Kasper to begin the PHJC Community.
I enjoyed all my ministries. I taught in schools, worked in group homes for troubled teens, served three terms on Provincial Leadership, volunteered in a Cambodian refugee camp for three months, and was a food service director for a program in Chicago for juvenile sex offenders.
My last ministry was working with our Sisters in the Catherine Kasper Home. Now I am retired, but keep busy doing things for and with the Community. The Holy Spirit is my guide and comfort.
Sister Catherine (Katie Bobber, PHJC
I feel so blessed growing up in a family of deep faith. Saint Augustine’s Parish, Chicago was our “center” for church, school, social and parish involvement. Back then, the PHJC Sisters were my teachers and very influential in my life and my vocation.
Besides a few years in child care, the majority of my ministry years has been educating younger children. As a teacher, my students have enriched my life and hopefully I have influenced theirs to meet many of the challenges of today. In recent years I have become the School Campus Minister sharing my faith and gifts with the staff, parents and students from Pre K3 to Junior High.
As an American Poor Handmaid I take pride in all we do as an international community. I pray we continue to share our gifts and risk for our Church and society, especially among the poor. I believe in the message Catherine Kasper shared with us, “Our loving God always helps us if only we trust in Him.”
Sister Ann Linzmeyer, PHJC
As I review my life I have so many memories of the Spirit touching and molding me. Both in my family as well as in my community life, the Sacred Presence planted many seeds within me through my life experiences of joy, sorrow, laughter, failure, absence, wonder, loneliness, brokenness, beauty and forgiveness. I have had opportunities to experience such a variety of ministries both within the United States, as well as living and ministering in other countries. Such blessings!
As community, as women, and as Church, I hope that we continue to foster and enhance the sacredness of all peoples and all of creation, the healing of our world, and call people to justice, peace and love through our living.
Ministry is about bringing the Sacred Presence of God into the world in which we live, and welcoming the Presence we find in each person we meet and in all of creation. I hope to continue to be God’s blessing to others, especially the poor and under served, and to care for our environment.
Sister Melanie Rauh, PHJC
My vocation has been as a religion and music education teacher followed by pastoral associate, faith formation and liturgy. Today I continue liturgical music ministry in Michigan City, Indiana.
I dedicate this Jubilee year to my immediate family: aunts, uncles and cousins, who have vowed their lives to the call of religious life. The American legacy began in 1863 with my great uncle, Father Ignatious Rauh, CPPS. Eight family members became priests, all members in the Precious Blood Order. My cousin, Father Harold directed me to “be at home in my heart.”
Seventeen people in my family became Sisters, six are deceased Poor Handmaids buried in Mt. Carmel cemetery: Sisters Geraldine, Consolatrix, Consolata, Louanne Muhlenkamp and Sisters Priscilla and Carissima Rauh.
I continue the legacy of dedicated ministry to the Catholic Church. I am proud of these who have ﬁnished their Magniﬁcat journey and honor their blessings.
I celebrate the parental faith foundation of these 25 vowed people with their families. I wish to remember the individuals who these 25 people have served. My prayer celebrates 100 years when the ﬁrst relative, Sister Geraldine, entered the congregation in 1914 and six of us have followed as PHJC.
Sister Edith Schneider, PHJC
I was born in a Catholic family of ten children in 1943. Often, when I reminisce on happy family times, I go back to the years when we lived on the farm where I felt very happy and secure. Vocation was never mentioned, but I know that the seeds of my vocation were planted during this time. I was happy as an aspirant, postulant, and novice, and professed first vows in 1964. I was very happy for six years as a primary teacher, but I was convinced that God wanted me to work with the poor in some other way and so my new dream was to learn Spanish and work with migrant workers.
I was not to work with migrant workers, but to go to Latin America. My ministry in Guatemala (1971) and Bolivia (1972-1976), changed my life irrevocably.
After Bolivia, I ministered in Chicago, Nicaragua and then 26 marvelous years in Mexico planting the seeds and seeing the congregation grow! I have loved parish ministry, and had many good years in vocation ministry. Now I look forward to formation ministry with aspirants, and feel great peace in helping foster the growth of leadership of our Mexican Sisters.
Sister Christine Styka, PHJC
As I look back over the years, I see all of life’s twists and turns. From the time I was a preschooler, Sisters and priests were a part of my life.
I thought about being a Sister a lot and eventually entered the Congregation of Sisters of St. Felix, on October 4, 1961. The Felician Sisters were my teachers in primary and high school. After I graduated from Loyola University I ministered as pastoral associate director of religious education for 15 years.
I remember being invited to a PHJC celebration. I was increasingly drawn to the charism of the Poor Handmaids. After much thought and prayer, I began the process of incorporation and in 1997 professed vows as a Poor Handmaid of Jesus Christ.
The ministry that stands out for me was my time at Daystar in Cairo, Illinois. I was involved in social work, and I loved the simplicity of living there. I remember cooking and canning 25 turkeys for the thanksgiving meal to take to seniors and shut-ins.
Sister Joellen Tumas, PHJC
I was born in Back of the Yards on the Southwest of Chicago. When I mentioned becoming a Sister, my mom was horrified and asked her friend what to do. She was advised “send her to St. Augustine High School, those mean German nuns will change her mind.” Most of the Sisters were not mean, but just the opposite.
From St. Augustine I transferred to Ancilla Domini High School to become an aspirant. The journey on the less traveled road had begun. I was missioned to Angel Guardian Orphanage as a teacher then to St Joseph’s school where I served as the Pastoral Minister.
In 1990, St. Augustine closed. There was a need for one of the remaining parishes to open a food pantry. Holy Cross-Immaculate Heart of Mary accepted this challenge, and I ran it while being the Pastoral Associate. Besides working in the pantry, I became an advocate of Annulments for the Archdiocese of Chicago and opened Kids Café. As the food pantry grew, Casa Catalina opened.
Ministry for me is walking in the shoes of Blessed Mary Catherine as I follow the path chosen for me by God to live the gospel message of Jesus. Ministry is responding to needs as they arise. It is presence, listening, caring, serving, and being the voice of the voiceless and bringing hope to the hopeless.
Sister Cathy Schwemer, PHJC
As I reflect on my life, what comes to mind are the many people whom God sent into my life. I have been blessed with family, friends, community members, coworkers and mentors. Each one has left an imprint on me; some good, some painful, all teaching me and molding me into the person I am today. My greatest joy was, and continues to be, walking with our Associate Community.
My outlook on ministry is both simple and challenging; I hope that I, as well as all my PHJC Sisters, want nothing more than to be about the mission and ministry of the Gospel in keeping with the spirit of our foundress Blessed Catherine Kasper. It is a challenge to be attentive to the voice of Spirit; it takes both communal and individual discernment and courage. But I believe that if we stay on this path, we will indeed live up to our name as the true servants of God.
My hopes for the future are pretty much in tune with my outlook on the present, being attentive to the call of the Spirit and to having the courage to follow that call, no matter where it may lead.
Sister Rosemary Snell, PHJC from the English Province
I first encountered the Poor Handmaids when I was a teenager on a school trip. The film fell out of my camera and Sister Edmunda who I didn’t know at that point, said, “Here child,” took the camera, and put the film back in.
I worked for the Sisters as the cook in St. Boniface Residential Care home in 1979. My desire was to convert these Catholic heretics to Christianity; I was in the Pentecostal Church at the time. God had different plans for me, and I entered the community as a postulant in 1985 and spent my novitiate in Germany. When I went back to England, I continued with studies in community care and welfare while working in the care home and parish.
I worked in the Residential Care home until it closed. During this time I studied and graduated with a Masters in Pastoral Theology. I then worked with an agency doing home care and enjoyed meeting the elderly on a more personal level. I am now studying level four Counseling Humanistic Integrative.
I feel blessed and very thankful to be a Poor Handmaid and so grateful for the many friends I have made in the countries in which the Poor Handmaids live and minister.