Current Events

Current Events

DONALDSON – Graduating at the top of your class often means being honored by your high school and giving a speech at graduation. This year Ancilla College will add one more way to honor these high achieving students—free tuition.

Beginning in 2015 Ancilla College will be offering full tuition scholarships to the top high school graduates from schools in 10 north-central Indiana counties.

“Ancilla wants to reward high achievement and help local graduates get started on their college journey with the Ancilla College Valedictorian-Salutatorian Scholarship,” said Ancilla president Ken Zirkle.

Ancilla’s ‘Val-Sal Scholarship’ represents free full-time tuition, as much as $13,500 each year to local graduates who attend the college. It will be offered to the top students from public and private high schools in Marshall, Fulton, Porter, Pulaski, Jasper, Starke, LaPorte, St. Joseph, Elkhart, and Kosciusko counties.

Local salutatorians, traditionally students who graduate second in their class, will be offered up to $10,000 in free tuition to attend the college.

“Valedictorian and salutatorians are chosen by many local high schools. These are academic titles used to honor the top two students who are then traditionally chosen to deliver the farewell speech at graduation. The valedictorian is the student with the highest rank among his or her graduating class, the salutatorian is usually second highest rank by grades,” said Zirkle.

Some regional schools have stopped naming valedictorians as part of graduation while other schools sometimes name three or four with high GPAs.

“We know there have been cases where there is more than one student chosen for these honors and we plan on offering the scholarship to each student chosen by their school based on class rank,” Zirkle said.

Offering scholarships to top graduates is just one more way Ancilla is supporting students in pursuit of higher learning, Zirkle said.

In 2013-14 the college provided over $900,000 in academic, need-based, and athletic scholarships to students alongside what they qualified for in federal and state education aid. Over 93 percent of students at Ancilla received financial aid of some kind.

“Many of our students come from families that don’t have very much set aside for education. We work with students and their families to make college affordable. We know that investing in them will pay off not just for them but for the communities in which they live and work,” said Mike Brown, Ancilla’s chief financial officer.

“As with other Ancilla scholarship programs, the award for each student is coordinated with the student’s eligibility for federal and Indiana grants. The Val-Sal is just one more way we are supporting students who want to earn a valuable college degree at a place based on solid values,” Brown said.

Fast Facts about Ancilla College:
• Founded in 1937 by the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ
• Indiana’s only junior college (private two-year college)
• 400 students enrolled in 18 degree programs
• Host to ten athletic teams in men’s and women’s sports; NJCAA

Poor Handmaids Come Home to Fort Wayne

Wednesday, 17 September 2014 00:00

Fort Wayne, IN -- The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ Sisters are organizing several events called “PHJCs Coming Home” in various cities over the next few years. The purpose of these events is to reconnect with the people in some of the areas in which Poor Handmaids have ministered and share who they have been over the years, who they are today, and who they hope to be in the future. You are invited to “PHJCs Coming Home to Fort Wayne-Hessen Cassel,” the second of the PHJCs Coming Home weekends, on October 24-26, 2014.

• On Saturday, October 25, 2014, at 2:00 p.m. a reunion will be held for former Poor Handmaids and Ancilla Domini High School Alumnae at the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory in downtown Fort Wayne.

• At 5:00 p.m., Eucharistic Liturgy held at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception will celebrate the Poor Handmaid presence and ministry in the Fort Wayne area. Mass will be followed by a 6:00 p.m. reception at the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory.

• On Sunday, October 26, 2014, at 10:30 a.m., Eucharistic Liturgy will be celebrated at St. Joseph Parish, Hessen Cassel with Bishop Kevin Rhoades as celebrant. Brunch will follow at St. Joseph Parish hall. Hessen Cassel is the first ministry the Poor Handmaids started after arriving in the United States in 1868.

The public is invited to join the Eucharistic Liturgies and the free reception.

In addition, “Get to Know A Sister” Vocation Days will be held at some Fort Wayne area schools and a Theology on Tap style event is planned.

The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ have served the Fort Wayne/South Bend Diocese since 1868 with a rich heritage in education, childcare, healthcare and other ministries. They continue to minister in the diocese today through their ministries St. Joseph Community Health Foundation and HealthVisions Fort Wayne.

For over 140 years, the Poor Handmaids operated or ministered at St. Joseph Medical Center in Fort Wayne.  In 1998, they sold the hospital and put a portion of the sale’s proceeds and local real estate holdings into their reorganized St. Joseph Community Health Foundation to maintain a ministry focused on continuing the PHJC legacy of helping everyone in the community, especially the poor and vulnerable, access healthcare and attain wellness. This strategy has enabled the Foundation ministry to provide over $15.2M through 999 grants to 182 Allen County community partners.  These grants have been vital in helping to secure the safety-net of low-cost medical clinics; establish health education and case management resources in neighborhoods where resources are scarce; providing for trained medical interpreters and health navigators skilled in language and culture; and establishing a network helping pregnant women secure support and resources for their yet-to-be born children and families.

At that same time, they also used a portion of sale proceeds to establish HealthVisions Midwest a community-based health improvement ministry with a location in Fort Wayne. The core principle of HealthVisions Fort Wayne is to build strong neighborhoods, through community partnerships using existing resources. HealthVisions Fort Wayne builds community capacity in order to reduce health disparities for underserved populations in need of care.  

Together with the Poor Handmaids, St. Joseph Community Health Foundation and HealthVisions Fort Wayne invite you to the PHJC Coming Home events. For more information and to register for these events, www.poorhandmaids.org/cominghome.

New PHJC Leadership Elected in Germany

Friday, 22 August 2014 00:00

On August 14, 2014, the new leadership team of the Poor Handmaid of Jesus Christ German Province was officially installed during Mass in Dernbach, Germany. Sister Simone Weber begins her second term as Provincial. Sister Antonie Wiss, Sister Patricia Stümper and Sister Jaicy Jacob will serve as council members for the next four years.

After Mass, the celebration continued during lunch where Sisters, family, friends, co-workers and other guests enjoyed “Westerwälder Potato Soup and Catherine Kasper Bread.”

Congratulations to the new Provincial Leadership Team of the PHJC German Province. We wish you God's blessings.

Honoring Our 2014 Jubilarians

Thursday, 14 August 2014 00:00

75 Years

 

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.”

 

70 Years 

 

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.

 

60 Years

 

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.

 

50 Years

 

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.

 

25 Years

 

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.

On May 1, 2014 on the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, Pope Francis reminded the world that “Work is part of God's loving plan for humanity”. Since 2000, the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation has been providing grant support to the Carriage House to advance this basic teaching of Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church, and promote their Sponsor, the Poor Handmaidof Jesus Christ, legacy of service to the most vulnerable.

One of Andy Wilson’s core beliefs that guides him on a daily basis is that “work is good.” For Wilson, his work as the Executive Director begins every day at 7:30a.m. at The Carriage House, Fort Wayne’s Clubhouse Program affiliate, that serves those with chronic mental illness. It is apparent as soon as one steps foot in The Carriage House that it is a community of equals, a feeling that Wilson works hard to foster. The Clubhouse programs practice non-traditional rehab for the mentally ill. It is not insignificant that those who come to get well are called not “patients,” but “members.” In keeping with Wilson’s belief that work is good, the members at The Carriage House work the reception desk, clean the facility, and prepare the meals served there daily for $1. Wilson’s goal is to “set the tone” and maintain a “culture of hope,” as he describes it, by which he and everyone who participates in it, especially its members, “assure that the community is healthy.” The community Wilson oversees is made up of a staff of eight atThe Carriage House and its over 400 active members, as well as their families. Through the dignity of work, the facility allows its members to be needed and, along with their families, to begin to recover their lives. In this way, the community at The Carriage House, Wilson says, is able to truly have a larger effect and “change the world.”

Since 1868, the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation’ s Sponsor, the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ have believed in the importance of respecting the dignity of the most vulnerable as well as the importance of meaningful work. Those with mental illness to whom Wilson has dedicated himself are among the most stigmatized in our communities. Simplicity, dignity and respect, and community, three of the core values of the Poor Handmaids, abound at The Carriage House in its mission of healing and rehabilitation to change the world. Wilson makes sure of it. In his words, “God honors humility and kindness.”

Story by Charlie Klingenberger, Communications Intern

Retirement didn’t last very long for Dr. Kenneth Zirkle. This week he takes over as the interim president of Ancilla College.

“I had to break it to my family carefully. My wife and daughters all thought I would take some time off, but the opportunity at Ancilla was one I couldn’t pass up,” Zirkle said.

The retirement this summer of Ron May left a gap at the college that was filled when the board of trustees sought an interim president to step in as the college’s ninth president. Zirkle, who retired as the chief academic officer at Mercyhurst University North East last fall, was approached to step in at Ancilla.

The one year appointment is an interesting assignment for the Pennsylvania native. “Ancilla is a remarkable school serving a diverse set of communities here in northern Indiana. This is the best kind of challenge. This year I will work with the faculty, staff and trustees to move the institution forward while they search for a permanent president. Even in one year we can continue to do great things,” he said. Zirkle brings decades of executive experience to his term at Ancilla. His career spanned several universities in different states including the State University of New York , University of Findley (Ohio), Becker College (Massachusetts), Post University (Connecticut), and Mercyhurst University (Pennsylvania).

“I’ve had success building programs at institutions serving the same types of students that Ancilla does. The beauty of a small college in your community is the strength of it as a resource for everyone. Adult students looking to change their careers, high school students looking to start early and build a college transcript, and traditional high school grads all have real options at Ancilla,” Zirkle said.

Zirkle’s educational background is just as deep. His own college journey began in Pennsylvania at Edinboro State College, and graduate work continued at Syracuse, Rutgers, Harvard, and Penn State where he earned his doctorate.

“I grew up and still live on a farm in northwest Pennsylvania. My wife Chris is there and this year will be a little stretch as I visit her and she visits me here,” he said.

“Ancilla College has a strong mission to provide higher education and support for learning to everyone in the region. That has been a lifetime goal of mine and part of what I have done at every place I’ve been honored to work at,” Zirkle said.

After nearly a 46 year career in education, with the past 8 years spent as president of Ancilla College, Dr. Ron May, was celebrated Saturday, June 7th as he prepares to enter retirement. Dr. May, a native Hoosier from southern Indiana, began his education at Vincennes University and eventually earned a doctoral degree from IU in Bloomington. He has had a long career in education including teaching K-12 and higher education and serving in higher ed. administration.

Saturday¹s celebration took place at The Center at Donaldson where over 100 family, friends, colleagues, and community members showed up to wish May well. The event was hosted by the Ancilla College Board of Trustees. May was presented with several honors and departing gifts including a resolution from Tusculum College in TN honoring him as an alumnus and former Dean of Faculty, a plaque featuring the Ancilla Domini Chapel from the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, the sponsors of Ancilla College, and a Captain¹s Chair engraved with Dr. May¹s name, years of service and Ancilla College seal from the Board of Trustees.

Dr. May reflected after the event: "It has been a great honor to have served as President of Ancilla College these last eight years. The mission and values of the college are close to my heart and that made it easy to serve and hard to step down. My entire career has been a blessing. It has led me and our family to many colleges and communities. That diversity has enabled us to enjoy a broad range of experiences over the course of my career. But this is not an end. It is a new beginning and we look forward to what the next phase of our lives together may bring."

On May 18, 2014 at 2 p.m. Ancilla College held their annual pinning ceremony at the Catherine Kasper Life Center. Approximately 150 people were in attendance for the pinning of 17 students who have completed the degree of ASN @ Ancilla College. Students were pinned with the Ancilla College nursing pin exclusive to the College¹s nursing program by friends, family, or faculty who are also nurses. It is a way of passing the torch so to speak to the next generation of nurses.

Donna Ignatavicius was the guest speaker for the ceremony. Donna is a renowned book author and nurse leader in nursing education. Donna spoke of the four C's of nursing care.

After the ceremony, students and guests were received by Mrs. Ignatavicius and nursing faculty. Cake and punch was served.