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Thursday, 13 October 2022 12:23

Closure of Catherine Kasper Life Center

(Donaldson, Ind.) – 2022 marks a significant milestone for one of Larson-Danielson’s earliest and, for the time, largest construction projects. The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ are celebrating 100 years of living and serving at Ancilla Domini Convent and Motherhouse. Today, the building and associated ministries are known as The Center at Donaldson.

The roughly 150,000 square foot convent building took approximately three years to complete and includes a Tudor-Gothic style chapel on the second floor that can seat more than 400. The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ moved into the Motherhouse in August of 1922.

“As the Poor Handmaid congregation grew in the United States, the Sisters needed a place to call home. So, when the opportunity came up to buy a resort with 63 acres of land, the Sisters found a place that would allow them to continue their life and service,” said Sister Shirley Bell, PHJC.

“The plans for the Motherhouse construction called for an E-shaped building with three divisions that included a medical center in between. The building was to be 5 stories high with a tunnel and a tower.” “This was a huge project for Larson-Danielson and remains one of our largest and most iconic projects,” said Brian Larson, President of Larson-Danielson Construction. “We are honored to be joining the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ in celebrating Ancilla Domini Convent and its legacy in Donaldson.”

In 1919, Larson-Danielson was awarded the contract for the first phase of construction for the Ancilla Domini Convent. A year later, Larson-Danielson negotiated the contract for the superstructure, and later, for the interior finish. The Ancilla Domini project was a huge undertaking for the construction firm, which, at the time, was just 10 years old.

The resort was home to Lake Galbraith hotel, a dance hall, bowling alley and small chapel. Some of the Sisters occupied the hotel building during construction and Sister M. Bertha Brommel kept a day-to-day account of the construction progress.

“Sister Brummel’s diary containing her observations and impressions provides us with many colorful details and stories. Without her, we wouldn’t have such a strong historical record of the Motherhouse building,” stated Sister Shirley.

Larson-Danielson obtained laborers not only from the immediate vicinity but because of the size of the project from as far away as Chicago. All the mechanics, supplies, masonry and wood needed to be transported. About 30-40 workers were employed at one time and, since the jobsite had to be reached by way of a train going to Plymouth, one of the existing frame structures was repurposed as a bunk house for the workers. A second frame building was used as a kitchen and mess hall and a local couple were employed to do the cooking.

“One story that we still like to tell at Larson-Danielson is about the cook at the job site,” said Larson. “Most of the workers from Larson-Danielson were Swedish and preferred bland food, but the cook was Italian and liked her seasonings, especially garlic. One day when she went out, the workers including founder Emil Danielson, threw out her garlic. Naturally, she got very angry. A compromise was reached so both the cook and the workers could be satisfied with a bit less seasoning.

The Ancilla Domini Convent was designed by Herman J. Gaul of Chicago. In 1989, the convent was recognized by the Marshall County Historical Society as a historical landmark. Next year, the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ will recognize the 100-year anniversary of the building’s dedication.

About Larson-Danielson Construction Co., Inc.

Founded in 1908, Larson-Danielson Construction has been one of the most trusted contractors in Northwest Indiana for over a century. A design-build commercial general contractor located in La Porte, Indiana, we provide elite building contractor services including state-of-the-art construction management, pre-construction planning, and skilled labor in all commercial construction trades. Our long history and vast experience have allowed us to build strong lasting relationships with many clients across Northwest Indiana who have learned that they can achieve the greatest value and quality by working with Larson-Danielson as their full-service construction partner. For more information, visit www.ldconstruction.com.

About Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ

Called in Baptism to proclaim by our lives and our works the presence of God in the world, we Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ accept the invitation to live a vowed life in community. We are inspired by Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and Saint Katharina Kasper, our foundress, to listen prayerfully, live simply, serve joyfully.

The American Province of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ calls for common sense gun laws in the wake of the school shooting in Uvalde, TX

Wednesday, 04 May 2022 14:04

A Humble Heart

Excerpt from WORN OUT SHOES: Walking in the Wisdom of Saint Katharina Kasper
written by Sister Nkechi Iwuoha | PHJC

The virtue of humility is one of the most outstanding qualities of Saint Katharina Kasper in all her search for the divine will of God. She was committed to God in humility and simplicity of heart. She was truthful and transparent to her Sisters and to God in all her endeavors to promote the reign of God.

The spirit of humility enabled her openness to being the handmaid of the Lord. She listened attentively to the Bishop, the various authorities that the Sisters worked with, to her Sisters and to the spirit of God within her heart. In her work, she had the mind of Christ who humbled himself to do what his Father wanted of him till death. This was exemplified when Saint Katharina took care of children in their homes so that their mothers could have a break or work outside the home to support their family. In all her deliberations with the governmental authority she maintained a humble spirit that respectedand listened to them yet stated clearly and firmly what she needed to continue her mission. She always listened attentively to Bishop Blum and had a humble way of expressing herself without automatically submitting to his words. She obtained the best she could for her Sisters in every negotiation with the authorities. This was also evident in her discussion with Bishop Blum regarding the name to be given to the new congregation. Though he had chosen another title she stated the name she preferred for her congregation with simplicity and respect in the dialogue on this matter with the Bishop. The humble approach she always employed in dialogue teaches us the power of humility, choice of verbal and body language and the respect due when dialoguing with one another. For me it is also a learning that the best opinion may be rejected depending on the spirit with which it is presented.

Please enjoy this small excerpt from Worn Out Shoes written by Sister Nkechi Iwuoha, PHJC. Copies of her book can be purchased at the Lindenwood Retreat and Conference Center’s Christian Book and Gift Shop located at 9601 Union Rd, Plymouth 46563. Hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. For additional questions please call 574-935-1780.
Wednesday, 04 May 2022 12:52

Bem vinda a casa, Sister Cailla!

"I know no foreign countries and no foreign sisters, there are only Handmaids of Christ, filled with the spirit of their vocation and truly working in blessed ways..."
-Saint Katharina Kasper

The Language Company, located on the IUSB campus in Mishawaka, provides advancement in areas of listening, speaking, reading and writing and looks to be a good fit for her needs at this time. Because of her extended stay till mid-summer, Sister Cailla has the opportunity to complete a number of classes. When Cailla is not in class, she is sharing community life at Sarah House in South Bend with Sisters Connie and Marie. Our days together have been and continue to be filled with laughter, funny stories, tasting chili for the first time, introduction to Brazilian cooking, praying and singing in both English and Portuguese, and conversations that include our favorite APP – Google Translate!

This is such an amazing opportunity for all three of us and for our province – certainly a graced time “to see the other face of God.”
(Antonio M. Pernia, SVD)

“Interculturality must touch every aspect of our Institute’s life. Our understanding of the vows, community, ministry, and our spirituality should be transformed as we engage this process honestly and intentionally… nothing short of a transformation of the heart is required.”
(Sister Teresa Maya, CCVI)

I believe Saint Katharina was on to something when she shared her belief of knowing “no foreign countries and no foreign sisters…” She may not have known the term intercultural living, but she definitely had a vision of how her sisters were to live – with lifegiving hospitality, with mutuality in community living and with openness and appreciation for diversity. We are experiencing all this with our PHJC sister from Brazil.

Bem vinda a casa, Sister Cailla!
WELCOME HOME!

Wednesday, 04 May 2022 12:30

Casa Catalina

By Vanessa del Carmen Vergara Aguilera | Social Worker at Casa Catalina

Casa Catalina, a ministry located in Coatzacoalcos, Mexico is supported by the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ. This ministry, begun in 2012, provides temporary shelter to those most in need of healthcare services. Created and identified as a safe, caring place, it possesses all the means necessary to accommodate patients from a day up to several years. Most patients who come to Casa Catalina are suffering from chronic illness or physical trauma. However, emerging social problems such as migration, homelessness and domestic violence have brought people from all over to the doors of Casa Catalina.

Casa Catalina serves persons who have been abandoned by family and society and do not have the economic resources to cover their basic needs. Our mission is to conserve their physical, mental, and psychological stability. Our donors are critically important to this ministry by ensuring that we are able to care for all who need our services.

At Casa Catalina we make an impact on the lives of our patients, but we are also touched by those in our care. A patient, an older gentleman by the name of Manuel Rodriguez Gonzalez, was referred to Casa Catalina by a local hospital. Through our ministry he found the help and compassionate care he needed from our nurses and volunteer doctor, Sister Frances Gallinatti, PHJC, all of whom were attentive to his progress, especially since he had no family to tend him.

Manuel was a patient at Casa Catalina for more than two years. In July of last year when we celebrated his birthday it also happened to be Grandparents Day. Manuel loved sharing his birthday and being a grandfather to all those who had the privilege of knowing him. After some ups and downs in his health, Manuel passed away January 4, 2022. A man of character and faith, our Grandfather Manuel, trusted in God’s providence right up to his last moments. He will always be remembered with love by every single one of us.

“Casa Catalina is a place where we offer human warmth, care, attention, respect, tolerance, and love without distinction, and we definitely receive it in return. A prime example of this was our patient and friend Manuel Rodriguez Gonzalez whose memories, blessings, love, affection, and moments of joy were transmitted to us and remain in our hearts,” said Nurse Maria Elena Sanchez Cruz.

Nurse Lesvia Leon added, “Manuel died leaving great sadness in our hearts, but also left us with the message that life is to be embraced and enjoyed despite adverse circumstances and illnesses that can appear in any of our lives. We say to this wise, cheerful man of strong character, may he rest in peace and may God receive him into glory.”

To make a gift to Poor Handmaid ministries in Mexico visit PoorHandmaids.org/Donate.

We Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ of the American Province stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers of Ukraine who are facing the unprovoked terrors of war.

Friday, 12 November 2021 16:32

You’ll find additional content and an inside look into Poor Handmaid ministries. You can also find the digital version of the Summer 2022 Word Gathering.

Sister Joetta Huelsmann, PHJC

I train people to be spiritual companions who are also known as spiritual directors and spiritual guides. One of the units we spend time on is Self-Care which is important during this pandemic. When I see my own spiritual director, he usually begins with this question. “How is it with your soul?” This is a good question for all of us. Can we slow down enough to know how our relationship with the Divine is effecting our life. In spiritual care we look at the whole person so even our mental and physical being is important since we relate with our whole self. It is primary to care for our self.

In the course the person we look to as an example is Jesus and how he cares for himself. A prayer life was important to him. He went to the garden to pray. (Lk. 22:39-42) He also went to the mountains and hills and the synagogue to pray to pray.( Mt. 14:23 & Lk. 4:14-19) This prayer life nurtured him. We need to ask ourselves: What can I do to establish a regular prayer life for myself?

Jesus also cherished solitude. He was led into the desert to pray. (Lk. 4:1) When he heard of his cousin John’s death, he went to a lonely place by himself. (Mt. 14:13). For myself during COVID walking through the woods gave me that solitude. It enabled me to let go of whatever was on my mind and be in the present. I could take in the smell of the forest, listen to the birds sing and delight in the beauty of the wildflowers. Nature has a way of calming us. I would encourage you to find some places of solitude for yourself.

Jesus also took time for rest. He allowed himself to fall asleep in the boat. (Mt. 8:24) How can you take more time out for rest? It has been proven that even a short nap can refresh us and make us more productive.

Healthy intimacy with others was also something Jesus modeled. He ate with a Pharisee. (Lk. 7:36). He spent time with Martha, Mary, and Lazarus his friends. (Lk. 10:38) Yes, it was difficult to meet face to face during COVID, but many people were engaged with others through phone calls and zoom. Healthy intimacy can be a support.

The ability to deal with emotions is important as well. Jesus wept at Lazarus death. (John 11:35-36) He expressed healthy anger with the merchants in the temple. (John 2:15). Sometimes just talking through some of our deep feelings with another can be helpful in getting our emotions out there.

Celebrations and leisure were also important to Jesus. He went to a wedding feast. (John 2:2) He allowed the children to come to him. (Lk. 18:16) Leisure is just as important as work, it refreshes us again. We need to build time in our calendars for those things we enjoy.

If nothing else works there is nothing shameful about going to a counselor for our mental and emotional health. It is important to remember that we are all in this together, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

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