Poor Handmaid Jubilarians Celebrate

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Congratulations to our 2015 Jubilarians! In honor of the Jubilarians, the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ community recognized them on Sunday, June 14 with a Mass and celebration at The Center At Donaldson in Donaldson, Indiana.

75 Years

Sister Richilde Dettmer, PHJC

I attended high school classes in Donaldson where I met Sister Severin, a kind and gentle woman. Through her I discovered an opportunity to work at the hospital in LaPorte, Indiana. The Poor Handmaid Sisters at the hospital impressed me with their simple living and prayerful life. It was then I decided to become a PHJC.

Over many years and through the lives of other Sisters, I learned what it means to be a Poor Handmaid. As with all of us, there were hurdles in my path, but God was faithful to me as I tried to live faithfully the vows I had made. Today, I am grateful to God for the call to be a Poor Handmaid. I say thanks to God and Sister Severin who never lost hope in me. 

My hope is to see our Community grow in number. That way we could encourage Sisters to work in foreign countries where our Poor Handmaid Sisters are already involved. Traveling, seeing something new, experiencing another culture has always been of high interest for me. My experience in Thailand opened my eyes to a greater awareness of poverty in the world and my need to support those who work there by my prayers. 

70 Years

Sister Margaret Urban, PHJC (Former Sister Raymond)

Sister Angelona, a teacher at Froebel High School in Gary, Indiana taught religion and one day asked me if I was happy. I said no because I wanted to go to a Catholic high school. She told me about the high school in Donaldson but my family could not afford it.

So I got a job and paid for my own education. After I graduated I wanted to join the convent and my mother said no because she needed my help. I said I would work for one year but I made up my mind after that I would go to the convent. I wrote to one guy in the army and asked him to stop writing me because I was going to the convent. He wrote back and said thanks for letting him know because he never wanted the Lord to think that he stole his girl.

After many years in education I wanted to do something different. I wanted to visit the sick and poor. After I got my Masters and worked in a parish, I became a Eucharistic minister. 

I hope the community can continue and keep the spirit of Blessed Catherine Kasper and continue to have a great concern for the poor.

60 Years

Sister Eileen Sullivan, PHJC (Former Sister Christopher)

Over the years I have grown in my understanding that I respond best to God and life when I listen with my heart. This is sometimes expressed in the awe and wonderment I experience when I realize that every moment in my life is filled with God’s grace. My heart is filled with gratitude for my family, friends and Sisters in community who have expanded my ability to listen with my heart by their love, understanding and faith in me.

As I reflect on my sixty-year journey in religious life I see clearly how listening with my heart has brought me peace as I responded to the challenges as well as the blessings along the way.

The heart-wisdom that I glean from prayer, community living and the use of my gifts through ministry has drawn me into a close relationship with God and his people. 

My hope for myself and for the community is that we continue to respond to the many opportunities to be true handmaids by listening to the God who speaks to our hearts.

Sister Rosemary Jung, PHJC (Former Sister Dolora)

There must be a mistake! Could 60 years have flown by so quickly?

My life has been ordinary.

Most of my ministry in Community has been to God’s little ones, the first and second graders I enjoyed in so many schools. Now some of them are grandparents and I have grown older, too.

For a short time I helped at Nazareth Home and then for five years at Carlyle Healthcare Center. Now I am back with the children working as a teacher’s aide.

I love the quote: “Teaching is to touch a life forever.” Hopefully the lives of the children I taught are still enriched by the time we spent together. I know mine is.

My life as a Poor Handmaid has been a blessing I would not trade for anything. It has been a privilege to belong to Blessed Catherine Kasper’s Community and to be inspired by the lives of so many good Sisters.

Gratefully celebrating God’s goodness to me with my Sisters, family and friends will be a great joy for me during my Jubilee year.

My life has been ordinary. 

Any ordinary woman looking for a wonderful, ordinary life should come join us.

Sister Therese Irene Galarneau, PHJC (Former Sister William)

Rejoice in the Lord always! Again, I say REJOICE. Sixty years since the profession of vows is in itself a blessing and a cause to rejoice. In the past sixty years wonderful people have come into my life and shared many good times as well as sad times with me – for these people – family, friends and Sisters in Community – I give thanks.

Wow, sixty years in education is unbelievable especially, since as a young Sister, I planned to retire at the ripe old age of 60. My experiences in the classroom are treasured. I never know what exciting “gems” the children will offer. If I had kept track of these “gems,” I could have written a bestseller.

It truly is a great honor to be a Poor Handmaid of Jesus Christ. My hope of the future is that our international community will be blessed with many vocations and will follow in Blessed Catherine’s footsteps with “attentive ear and courageous heart.” 

My greatest enjoyment during this Jubilee year is to celebrate with Community, family, and friends and to cherish each day as God-given.

50 Years

Sister Loretta Schleper, PHJC (Former Sister Dominic)

How Blessed I am to be a Poor Handmaid of Jesus Christ. When I was too young I said “Yes” to God and never changed my mind. I have wonderful memories of places I traveled, such as Germany, our PHJC foundation, Rome and the Holy Land.

When I was asked if I knew a Poor Handmaid who wanted to tour the Holy Land, I prayed on it and I kept hearing: “Here I am, send me.” I would say, “No really! who could go?” And again – “Send me.” I decided to ask to go and so it came to be. I loved walking where Jesus walked and ministered. I am happy I shared life with the other tour participants.

The Holy Spirit is active in the PHJC community collaborating with other women religious, being in dialogue with the church through the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, accompanying the poor, integrating and focusing on possibilities. We, Poor Handmaids, as an international community are partners in the work of the Spirit. 

My hopes and prayers for the community are that we be connected as faithful women, ministering to the poor and underserved, joining in strength and joy with co-workers, family, and friends, and listening to how God is present in our lives.

Sister Mary Carolyn Welhoelter, PHJC (Former Sister dePaul)

At nine years of age, my family moved to Tupelo, Mississippi. Since there were no Catholic schools
in the area, the only formal religion classes we had were in the summers when two Benedictine Sisters would come for two weeks to teach Catechism. They were my first inklings that I wanted to be a Sister.

Going into my senior year, the family moved back to St. Louis and to Catholic schools. One evening after graduation, I received a call from a family friend who asked me if I’d like to go with her to Chicago to visit her aunts, Sister Clement and Sister Leon, both PHJCs. On our visit they asked if we would like to go to their Motherhouse in Donaldson, Indiana. Yes!

We were totally awed by the beauty of the grounds, buildings, and friendly hospitality. We met Mother Symphoria, and she invited us to enter the Community. On the plane home, we both said we would enter. 

When returning to Donaldson, I was greeted by Sister Jeanette with arms open and a beautiful smile. My new life was about to begin that day of August 30, 1962!

Sister Mary Joan Trippel, PHJC (Former Sister Kristina)

I really enjoy getting to know PHJCs from around the world. We have a much richer life as we see how the charism of Blessed Catherine Kasper is shared by Sisters from very different cultures. One opportunity I had was my participation in the PHJC International Spiritual and Cultural Exchange Program. Again, it was a chance to meet and share with Sisters from USA, Germany and India.

Also important to me is the opportunity I have had to contribute to the growth of the Pro-Region of Mexico, to know our Sisters in Mexico, and to see them grow in leadership and in the spirit of Catherine Kasper. 

We are doing what Catherine Kasper began, working with the poor in many parts of the world today. There is always something each one of us can do, depending on our talents and our abilities at each stage of our lives. I hope that we continue to read the “signs of the times,” looking for what the Spirit calls us to do at this time in each place where Poor Handmaids are found, and that we support each other as we move into “unknown territories,” so that the theme of our last general chapter is really alive in all of us.

Sister Nora Hahn, PHJC

The memories that come to my mind as I reflect on my life are the opportunities I have been given: to travel and learn the cultures of so many different people; to care for my family members when they were ill; to study and get a Master’s from the University of Michigan; to take a sabbatical time in Texas and to have many significant retreats and the constant spiritual companionship of my spiritual director for almost 30 years.

I think the greatest ministry that we Poor Handmaids have to do and can do is to form the next generation of our ministry leaders/partners. Our ministries are really growing in helping so many people because there are so many committed persons who have learned, have caught, or already had within themselves, the spirit of Catherine, which is to serve those in great need. 

My hope and prayer for my own future is that I can continue to grow in love of God and of God’s people, especially my Sisters. My hope and prayer for our congregation’s future is much the same – that we can all grow in love of God and God’s people and to be of service where there is a need.

Sister Patricia Kolas, PHJC

When I entered the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ in 1962, I thought I had an idea of who I was as a Sister and what I wanted to do in ministry – be a teacher. Then Vatican II began – the Holy Spirit was again at work in the Church, my religious congregation, my life and the world. Vatican II, working with the Holy Spirit, continues to influence my vision of being a woman religious as I minister, pray, live and believe.

I began my ministry as a teacher. After 12 years of teaching I was missioned as a pastoral minister in a parish. Since 1985, I’ve ministered as a counselor in two parishes and a counseling center in several Chicago suburbs. 

The Holy Spirit led Catherine Kasper to serve those most in need in her small village of Dernbach, Germany. That same Spirit calls me and the Poor Handmaids, who now live in a world linked by
fast travel and technology to meet the needs of the present moment. We will continue to be surprised by the Spirit, no matter what our circumstances, ages or numbers of Sisters.