Latest News

Latest News

Word Gathering (Spring 2015)

Wednesday, 11 March 2015 00:00


  • Bowen Fund Reception
  • A Legacy of Faith and Family
  • My Friendship with Sister Mary Baird, PHJC
  • Upcoming Events at MoonTree Studios
  • Conversations That Save Lives
  • Celebrating the Year of Consecrated Life
  • Through the Magnifying Glass
  • Poor Handmaid Volunteer Program Update
  • The Halls Are Alive at The Center at Donaldson
  • An Update from Nazareth Home
  • Nursing Instructor Beth Bailey Serves in Haiti
  • Fracking: The Facts You Need to Know
  • Coming Home to Mishawaka • South Bend Schedule of Events
  • Caring Place – Widening Perspectives
  • In Memory of Our Sisters


The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ have a rich and lengthy history of serving the people of the Mishawaka and South Bend area.  To celebrate this history they are reconnecting with friends, family and people they have known, served and worked with in this area.  The event called, PHJC Coming Home Mishawaka/South Bend, will be held April 10-12, 2015.


Several events will be included in this weekend celebration. On Friday, April 10 from 6:30-9 p.m. EDT, a collaboration of the St. Pius X, Granger, young adult group and the Poor Handmaids will gather for a young adult evening of praise and worship, silent reflection, input, conversation and dinner. This gathering, for young adults in their 20s and 30s, will center on discernment and ways to find God’s guidance in relationships and work.


On Saturday April 11 at Marian High School in Mishawaka, a reunion for former Poor Handmaid Sisters and alumni of Ancilla Domini High School, Donaldson will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. EDT.  At 2:00 p.m., the public is invited to a festival for all ages with food, children’s games, music and a variety of fun activities. Come and meet or reconnect with Poor Handmaid Sisters.


On Sunday, April 12 at 9 a.m., a prayer service will take place at Catholic Cemetery on Liberty and Jefferson Avenues in Mishawaka honoring the Poor Handmaids buried in the cemetery.  At 10:30 a.m. a Eucharist Liturgy will be held at the Bishop Crowley Activity Center at Marian High School.  Father Ted Franzman will celebrate Mass.  A brunch will follow at 12 p.m. in the main gym. There is no charge for the brunch but please register for easier planning. Besides the weekend events, Poor Handmaids are also visiting several schools in the South Bend and Mishawaka area this spring.


For more information and to register for any of these events click here or call Julie Dowd, PHJC Communications Director, at 574-935-1768.

Join Ancilla College in its new adventure 4 p.m. March 10 on 9B Road to witness groundbreaking on two buildings.

“It’s going to be beautiful,” said President Ken Zirkle. “We will house nearly 100 new students and have a student life center with dining open to the public. It’s a great time to be at Ancilla College.”

Building plans, managed by Michael Kinder and Sons, Inc., of Fort Wayne, will include three stories of double rooms with full bathrooms. Additionally, there will be a two-story open lobby with fireplace, meeting rooms and a prayer room. The $6 million project also includes a 150-person capacity student life center and dining facility with coffee bar, fireplace and fitness center.

The buildings are on schedule for an Aug. 1 opening, Zirkle said. “Ancilla College has long been the best deal in the state but now we’ve sweetened the deal.”

Room and board will be frozen for two years at $8,500, which includes a meal plan. This rate is better than most colleges in the state.

The opportunity to expand Ancilla’s enrollment and build a learning community on campus has enthusiastic supporters across campus but maybe none more than vice president of enrollment management Eric Wignall. ““It’s incredible. Ancilla College can now open its doors even further, to more students, and to people from across the country. And we are truly a great deal for students. We were already the lowest cost private college in Indiana, but we’ve managed to keep a full year of full time tuition plus room and board under $23,000,” Wignall said. “That’s less than the tuition-only cost of most private colleges in the United States. Ancilla students can get an associate degree in any of our 17 academic programs, play on one of our 10 athletic teams and live on campus for less money than any other independent college in the state,” he said.

Vice President of Development, Todd Zeltwanger, said Ancilla College will be conducting a room naming fundraising campaign for the two buildings.  More information will be forthcoming in the new future.

Zirkle said the buildings will have keyless entry and 24-hour security. “This is a beautiful, safe campus with gorgeous historic buildings, a lake and an art center. I would have sent all five of my daughters here if it had been possible back then,” he said.

Wignall said, “Students can apply for housing online at the college’s website: Room reservations are first-come, first-served with preference given to freshman. If you have questions about living here next year, just call 1.866.ANCILLA!” 

Ancilla College (, part of The Center at Donaldson, offers 17 associate degrees and 10 athletic programs. Since 1937, the College has been a sponsored ministry of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ. It is a small, private, liberal arts school in Donaldson, Indiana. It is located two miles south of U.S. 30 on Union Road near Plymouth, Indiana.

Associating News Spring 2015

Friday, 13 February 2015 00:00


  • Quincy Welcomes Newest Associate – Greg Schoenekase
  • Coming Soon…Companions on the Journey
  • Recommitment 2015
  • Lindenwood Retreat Offerings
  • PHJC Volunteer Program Update
  • In Memory of Our Sisters
  • MoonTree Studios Special Event – Praying with Imagination: The St. John’s Bible Experience
  • John XXIII Retreat Center Retreats and Activities
  • Timeline Tales
  • Directory Updates
  • Coming Home to Mishawaka • South Bend Schedule of Events

The Leadership Conference for Women Religious (LCWR) placed a call for volunteers to work with refugees in El Paso, Texas.  Sister Barbara Kuper, PHJC and Sister Kathleen Quinn, PHJC have responded to the invitation and are serving there from January 3 – February 3, 2015. Here is an update about their first week experience as told by Sister Kathleen.

Our main desire in volunteering to join others in El Paso was twofold.  We wanted to experience at the ground level what the new immigrant was challenged with and to be of assistance in serving their needs.  We had some idea of how our services could benefit their situation, but we knew we had much to learn.

We left Chicago, Midway Airport assisted by Sister Michele and we were on our way.  Both of us had a feeling of adventure with a little trepidation deep within and a real desire of being of service.  When we arrived in El Paso, Eina Holder, Director of Nazareth Hall, welcomed us graciously.  We then went to the Sisters of St. Joseph Convent and felt right at home after meeting Sisters. Louanne, Kay, Bernadette and Esther along with Pauline a lay missionary.  Sisters Louanne, Kay and Bernadette were volunteering at Nazareth Hall, Pauline volunteering at the Columban Mission and Sister Esther our “hostess with the mostess” who is the “house mother” and all so gracious in welcoming Barb and myself.

Words composed by Martha Aiken, OP set us on our Journey as the three Kings/ Wise Women set on theirs. “Just as the Maji followed the star and were drawn by a light as a source of their HOPE, so we too are drawn to see more clearly and ask ourselves, ‘What draws me?’ ‘Who calls me?’ ‘Where will my life’s journey take me next?’ Are we open and ready to see the light in another’s eyes, in their longing for hope and in their life’s journey?  Are we willing to travel afar, to experience unknown territory, meet people from all walks of life and from other cultures to find our God?  We have all said our “yes” through our vows and to each call that has come to us because of them. In so doing, we embody and radiate God’s love for us all.”  So we, too, have asked ourselves these questions as we begin our journey in El Paso at Nazareth Hall in welcoming the Guests who come from the Immigration department.

As we began our first week, we would like to walk you through our initial experience at Nazareth Hall and the many delightful and challenging experiences we had. Eina Holder, a very generous person and also a volunteer, gave us a thorough orientation of what was expected of us.  She was very direct in that we are not to ask the guest about their trials and tribulations in coming to the USA.  When the guests come, they are graciously welcomed “Bienvenido” and given the information that they are free to move around the building and even leave the building, but to let the receptionist know.  They are told very clearly that they are not in detention and that they would be assisted in their needs to be processed and to get needed transportation along with a shower, clothes if needed. It is also explained that all the persons assisting them are volunteers and that everything given is through the kindness of the various churches in El Paso. That Nazareth Hall is being used through the generosity of the Sisters of Loretto. These guest have papers from immigration that they may travel to family, friend or whoever will assist them.  They are to report to the immigration place in three months in the location they are situated. They are interviewed for basic information and then are assisted in their travel arrangements.  Some of the guests leave within the hour, if they have contacted a ride, some within 2-3 hours and some remain overnight.

Our responsibilities vary according to the needs of the guests.  We prepare the lunch for the guest and the volunteers.  Each evening volunteers from the various churches in El Paso bring in food for 20-25 persons.  This is four days a week.  The food left over from the evening meal is then prepared for the lunch the next day.  This is where we come in.  After checking all food available, we place in the oven to be reheated.  This has been a challenge, as for two days this first week the food did not heat up.  We did not realize this until we began to serve it, as the outside of the pan was hot.  By the end of the week we had the food situation under control, with a little sweat and words I won’t repeat.

Before the food preparation begins, we clean rooms, mop floors, clean toilets, showers and then anything we are asked to do like cleaning up the toy room, sorting toys, checking sheets, pillow cases and all bed wear.  We have enjoyed the children especially and Barb tells the story of the little boy who she got a warm coat for and he was so happy with it, he would not take it off.  We have received many guests from Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico.  The expression on their face when they first come is one of fear and anxiety.  As they hear the welcome and experience the kindness of all, we receive many “gracias” and their expression is more relaxed and sometimes very joyful..

We have noticed that we have many women with their children, but often the husband is maintained in detention.  When inquiring about this, we are told there is very little rhyme or reason for this, and no definite reason is given.  When this happens, the wife asks to visit her husband, and arrangements are made for this.  Beth, a volunteer is most helpful in driving them to the detention center.  We have four detention centers in El Paso.

We ended our week with a farewell dinner at “Amigos” restaurant as Sisters Kay and Bernadette were leaving to go back to Montana on Saturday morning.  Very delicious meal was enjoyed by all and a delightful conversation.



In Memory of Sister Helen Watkins, PHJC

Monday, 29 December 2014 00:00

Sister Helen Watkins, PHJC, formerly known as Sister Nicholas, passed away December 29, 2014, at the Catherine Kasper Home, Donaldson, Indiana. She was born to Elmer and E. Jeannette (Kinnett) Watkins in Taylorville, Illinois on September 21, 1934. She entered the Poor Handmaid of Jesus Christ community and professed her first vows on July 16, 1959.

Sister Helen ministered in healthcare since 1955 as a nurse, clinical instructor, nurse practitioner, community health coordinator, or in administration at such institutions as St. Elizabeth and St. Anne Hospitals, Chicago; The Center at Donaldson, Donaldson, Indiana; St. Catherine Hospital, East Chicago, Indiana and Matthew 25 Medical and Dental Clinic, Fort Wayne, Indiana. 

From 1968 to 1970 she spent 19 months in Vietnam caring for refugees and as an adviser.  Previously she reminisced, “The time I spent in Viet Nam was an invaluable experience for me, it was good learning about a different culture, a simpler lifestyle which offered a chance to think, sort things out, and figure out what’s important in life and in nursing.”

In 2009 when she celebrated her 50-year jubilee as a Poor Handmaid of Jesus Christ, she wrote, “Although our ministries have changed, we have continued to seek and find new ways to serve the poor, the sick and the children.  I’ve never served in a ministry that I didn’t come to love both the people I served and the people with whom I worked.  With each change I always thought it was the best, only to find the next change was the best.”

Sister Helen retired to the Catherine Kasper Home in 2012.

May she rest in peace!

Memorial contributions may be made to the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, PO Box 1, Donaldson, IN 46513.


In Memory of Sister Aline Clesen, PHJC

Thursday, 11 December 2014 00:00

Sister Aline Clesen, PHJC passed away December 9, 2014, at the Catherine Kasper Home, Donaldson, Indiana. She was born to John and Susan (Sampont) Clesen in Chicago, Illinois on August 10, 1916. She entered the Poor Handmaid of Jesus Christ community and professed her first vows on June 26, 1937.

For her entire career Sister Aline ministered in education.  For 64 years, she taught, or was principal, in several schools in Southern Illinois and Chicago; Fort Wayne, Indiana; and New Ulm, Minnesota. For 25 of those years she worked and volunteered in the Registrars Office at Ancilla College, Donaldson, Indiana. Sister Aline also served as organist and sacristan at several of her ministries.

When previously asked what it means to be a Poor Handmaid, she replied, “To me being a Poor Handmaid means that I should first of all search out my faith in a service of poverty, chastity and obedience and display the spirit of simplicity as I reach out to my Sisters in community and to others whom I meet or work with in loving service.”

Sister Aline retired to the Catherine Kasper Home in 2001.

May Sister Aline rest in peace!

Memorial contributions may be made to the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, PO Box 1, Donaldson, IN 46513.

Associating News Winter 2014

Thursday, 11 December 2014 00:00


  • North Region Welcomes Nine New Associates
  • Recommitment 2015
  • Meet Our New Associates
  • Poor Handmaids Coming Home to Fort Wayne/Hessen Cassel
  • Photo Gallery: Coming Home to Fort Wayne/Hessen Cassel
  • MoonTree Studios and Gallery Invites You
  • Upcoming Events at John XXIII Retreat Center
  • The First Pioneer Sisters of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ in the United States of America

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