Friendships Memories Never Fade

BabyI was looking at some old pictures and this one caught my attention. The baby’s Mother, Virgie, was a Social Worker. We were working together in Manila at the Philippine Agency for community and Family, Inc. (PACAF). Virgie told me her baby’s birthday was April 13…the year was 1983. She said her little girl would be called Hannah Vi. The Vi, she said, was for Virgeen. I felt honored to have her as a namesake. I would be “Lola” (Grandmother) to her and she would be my “Apo” .Years have passed, Hanna Vi is now a Social Worker in Manila.

Seeing this picture again brought back so many happy memories of that time of my life. I am aware that life is filled with so many precious moments. Just one little picture brought back so many mental pictures of our PACAF Staff and the people we served in Quezon City and Navotas. Being a Maryknoll Sister has given me friends near and far and for this, I am grateful.

Sister Virgeen Healey, MM

News 12 – Maryknoll sister prays to see pope during NY visit

Sister Noel Divine suffers from ALS and lost the ability to speak 15 years ago. She communicates by writing on a board. (8/19/15)

OSSINING – A Maryknoll sister is praying to see the pope during his visit to New York next month.

Sister Noel Divine suffers from ALS and lost the ability to speak 15 years ago. She communicates by writing on a board.

Her disability has not stopped her from fulfilling missions at Maryknoll Sisters Seminary.

The nuns have taken to Facebook to fulfill her dreams of seeing the pope. So far, the page has gotten more than 1,000 shares.

The pope will be in New York Sept. 24 and 25.

ABC 7 – Elderly Westchester Nun, Battling Rare Disease, Issues Plea To Meet Pope Francis On His NYC Visit

An 88-year old nun from Ossining is battling a rare disease and can’t walk or talk.

And on her bucket list: She wants to meet Pope Francis when he makes his journey to New York City next month.

Her plea has been posted on Facebook and shared more than 1,000 times.

At the tender age of five Sister Noel Divine already knew there was a great calling on her life. So at 17 she joined the Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic and began her journey in ministry.

“Divine is my surname so I was destined,” she said.

Now after 70 years of service teaching and helping people around the world and back, Sister Noel would love nothing more than to meet Pope Francis on his visit to New York.

Although she cannot speak or walk due to a rare disease called PLS, she still spreads the good news with the help of this tablet and a smile.

“Pope Francis is more outgoing and in touch with the people, he has great understanding and compassion,” she said.

Just last week Sister Noel’s longtime wish to meet the pope was shared on their Convent’s Facebook page, and it’s since gone viral with more than 1,000 likes and shares and 80,000 views!

“I think it is wonderful people share the same dream so they are rooting for me,” said Sister Noel.

So far there’s no word yet from the Vatican but Sister Noel remains hopeful and certainly prayerful.

“I would like to thank all those who are praying for me and I would like to invite young people to join Maryknoll mission,” she said.

If you want to help Sister Noel see her dream of meeting Pope Francis come true you can go to the Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic Facebook page to like and share the post.

Late Thursday afternoon, the Archdiocese of New York told us that the Maryknoll Sisters will be among the religious orders invited to join Pope Francis at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral for Vespers.

Rome Reports – Nuns launch social media campaign for ailing Sister to meet Pope Francis

Pope Francis will have a busy schedule when he comes to the United States in September, but one group of nuns is hoping he can find time to make someone’s dream come true.

Sister Noel is an 88-year-old nun with the Maryknoll Sisters, a group of American nuns who focus on charity work. She has been a nun since the Pope was a child in Argentina.
She suffers from a rare disease that affects the movement of her arms, legs and face. She said, “The highest priority on my bucket list is meeting the Pope, it would be a dream come true.”

The group launched a social media campaign to make her dream a reality. The campaign has been covered by local media in New York, and the Facebook post has received more than 70,000 views.

Although she can no longer speak, Sister Noel continues living a productive life of service. She said that she tries to bring “comfort and joy” to the other nuns whom she lives with.

2015 International Bazaar

Thank you for being our partner in faith and mission as we share responsibility for the living Earth, the well being of the community of life and the good of all people around the world.

Our International Bazaar presents an opportunity for our Sisters to share our rich experiences with you. Please join us in person, or by participating in one of the ways described below to make this event our best ever!

The Bazaar will be held on Saturday, October 24 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Maryknoll Sisters Center, 10 Pinesbridge Road, Ossining, New York. The Bazaar features crafts and unique items from our mission countries that make one-of-a-kind gifts for family and friends, as well as crafts lovingly handmade by our Sisters.

If you can’t join us, I hope you will consider sponsoring a Bazaar Booth to help cover overhead costs of booth operations and allow all funds raised to go directly to our mission work.


Please participate in our Cash Raffle, too. Get your tickets in early to have two chances to win. There will be an early bird drawing on Friday, September 25, for prizes of $500, $250 and five $100 winners. A second drawing for another seven prizes will take place on Bazaar day.

I am sure you’ll want to contribute to the success of the Bazaar and have a chance to win a cash prize. Below you can make a donation for a ticket. However, no purchase is required. Suggested donations are: $10 for a sheet of 12 tickets; $5 for six tickets; $1 for each single ticket. Winners need not be present to win. Prize money will be sent by check. Please note the amount of tickets you would like, entered on your behalf, in the Comments/Prayer Intentions section on the donation tab below.

A sincere and grateful “thank you” from all of us for your faithful support of our global mission outreach. Together, we are making God’s love visible in our world. We pray for you and your intentions daily, asking God to bless you abundantly.

Sincerely yours in Christ,


Sister Anastasia

Friendship Through the Ages

Friendship Through the AgesFrom July 26 to August 5, 2015, a group of 10 students from Maryknoll Convent School in Hong Kong visited the Maryknoll Sisters Center. We had a delightful time and the students experienced many events: visiting our elderly Sisters, visiting the campus of Maryknoll, trip to New York City, trip to Hawthorne where our Sisters first started, gardening in Pachmama and the Sisters’ gardens.  Can you believe that they were delighted to pull weeds!!!  (There are none where they live in Hong Kong)  As we worked together in the garden pulling weeds, poison ivy was discovered.  They were not familiar with poison ivy so I shared the article on poison ivy and also the remedies just in case someone got it.  As we talked about everything under the sun, we developed new friendships.  Once they are settled back in Hong Kong, we plan to exchange photos and share how our life is moving forward.  It has been a delight to be with this group and experience their joyfulness and youth.

Sister Julia Hannigan

Brooklyn-Born Sister Julia Hannigan,
Missioner to China with Martyred Bishop,
Dies at 99

Hannigan JMaryknoll, NY — Sister Julia Hannigan, MM, a missioner to China, died August 15, 2015.  She was 99 years old, and just six and a half weeks shy of her 100th birthday.

Born September 30, 1915 in Brooklyn, NY, to John A. and Julia McCleary Hannigan. Christened Julia Regina Hannigan, Sister Julia was one of five children, three daughters and two sons, born to the couple.  All members of her immediate family have pre-deceased her.

Sister Julia joined Maryknoll Sisters on December 8, 1933, with a passion to minister in China, a calling she fulfilled through work in teaching, catechetics and counseling in Tung Shek, Hingning, and Kaying, South China.

Following her final vows on June 30, 1939, Sister Julia was first sent to China, where, following a year of language study, she worked in direct evangelization in Hingning from 1941-1946 and Kaying City, from 1948-1951. Placed under house arrest in 1950, and taken with other Maryknollers including martyr Bishop Francis Xavier Ford to a Canton prison in 1951, Sister Julia was deported by the Communist regime to Hong Kong. Three months later, in September 1951, she went the island of Mauritius, off the African coast, having been requested to help in the evangelization of the Hakka Chinese flocking there to escape the Communist regime.

Sister Julia then did promotion work at the motherhouse in Ossining NY, from 1952-55, was engaged  in catechetical and parish work in Walterboro, SC, in 1955, then in visiting patients and instructing catechumens at Queen of the World Hospital, Kansas City, MO, from 1956-58.

Returning to Hong Kong in 1964, Sister Julia worked in parish ministry for the Catholic Welfare Center teaching religion to refugees at the Hong Kong Refugee School until 1971. She then taught CCD classes at a government school in Kowloon, where she also organized a children’s recreation center, serving at both from 1971-74.

In 1974, Sister Julia returned to the United States, where she worked with refugees and taught English as a second language in Boston, MA, New York City and Monrovia, CA, from 1975-81. She then worked in a Chinese church and school in Philadelphia, PA from 1984-85.

She returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center at the end of 1985, where she assisted in the house pharmacy, with clothing detail, and in the Sisters’ International Gift Shop, which she managed in 1986. She has been part of the Chi Ro Community at the Center since then.

Sister Julia is survived by her nieces, Mary Staab of Howard Beach, NY, and Julia Wachter and Ann Wagner of Glendale, NY; a nephew, John McShane of Howard Beach, NY; as well as several cousins and other family members including James Kearney of Bronxville, NY; John T. Kearney of Vienna, VA; Kevin Kearney of Belle Harbor, NY;  and Mr. and Mrs. Vincent Ridge of Brooklyn, NY.

A vespers service will be held for Sister Julia on Thursday, August 20, 2015 at 4:15 p.m. in the Chapel of the Annunciation at the Maryknoll Sisters Center at Maryknoll, NY.  A Mass of Christian Burial will follow on Friday, August 21, 2015, at 11 a.m., also at the Center.  Interment will be in Maryknoll Sisters Cemetery on the Maryknoll Sisters Center grounds.

Sister Bernice Babin, MM

Sister Bernice Babin, MM,
Nurse at Queen of the World Hospital, Kansas City and in Central and South America,
Dies at 99

Babin, Bernice 115Maryknoll, NY — Sister Bernice Florence Babin, MM, a nurse who served at one of the first racially integrated hospitals in the United States, as well as in several South American countries, died August 9, 2015, at Maryknoll Sisters Center, Ossining, NY.  She was 99 years old.

Born on August 5, 1916, in Plaisted, ME, to Joseph and Eulalia Labbe Babin, Sister  Bernice graduated from Our Lady of Wisdom Academy, St. Agatha, ME, then worked for several years as a bookkeeper and stenographer before entering Maryknoll Sisters from St. Lucy’s Parish, Frenchville, ME, on August 5, 1941, at their motherhouse in Ossining.

Following formation, she made her First Vows on March 7, 1944, receiving the religious name, Sister Rose Claire.  Following completion of studies in catechetics and religious education at Maryknoll Teachers College, Ossining, NY, in 1945, Sister Bernice was sent to Bolivia, where she worked at a clinic in Riberalta from 1946-1953.  She then worked with Mexicans in Houston, TX, the bulk of whom attended St. Patrick’s and St. Stephen’s Parishes in the city,  where her catechetical studies formed the basis for her ministry to these oft-migrating parishioners until 1956.

Sister Bernice was then sent to Queen of the World Hospital, one of the first interracial hospitals in the United States, located in Kansas City, MO.  There she completed studies in licensed practical nursing, serving at the hospital until 1957.  That year, she returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center, where she worked with elderly and infirm members of her congregation at Bethany House, Ossining, NY, until 1959.

Sister Bernice was then sent to Chicago, IL, where she worked with the Puerto Rican community until 1965, when she was sent to Guatemala, working in Guatemala City in 1965 and Huehuetenango from 1966-1967.

In 1968, her major work began, when she was sent to Chile.  There she worked in local parishes in Licanten, then Rauco, doing pastoral work, ministering in women’s groups and Christian formation, as well as with parish deacons and their families.

She returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center in 2007, where she lived in retirement, engaged in assisting various offices at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, as well as serving in active prayer for the mission sites where she served. Sister Bernice donated her body to the New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY, as a final act of service.

Sister Bernice is survived by two sisters, Mrs. Rita McGary of Reno, NV, and Mrs. Irene Meissner of Reston, VA.

A vespers service will be held for Sister Bernice on Wednesday, August 12 , 2015 at 4:15 p.m. in the Chapel of the Annunciation at the Maryknoll Sisters Center at Maryknoll, NY.  A memorial Mass will follow on Thursday, August 16, 2015, at 11 a.m., also at the Center.

Mission Is A Two Way Street

Years ago I ministered to the people of the Beni, the jungle area of Bolivia, in a town called Riberalta. I was a teacher in the elementary and later secondary school of that town. After being there for a while, I realized that two of my students, who were brothers, were sons of a leper. Now I had never seen a leper. I had only read about them in the Scriptures or heard others talk about them. All I knew was that they had a terrible disease, and that they used to ring bells to announce their presence in a neighborhood. People had the idea that they might catch their disease (which is a fallacy, as leprosy, or Hansen’s disease, as it is now known, is not contagious). It was not unlike how folks treat those with AIDS in our own country today.

One day I decided to go and visit this man, let’s call him, Sr. Rodriquez. I went down to the banks of the Beni River to their house. ‘House’ is quite a word for that in which they lived! It was a shelter built of bamboo, or chuchío, as it was called, with a high slanted roof covered with palm leaves. The spaces between the bamboo strips were filled with mud. When I entered the house I found it very difficult to see after coming in from the bright tropical sun. When I became accustomed to the darkness, I saw a low wooden bed, which is called a catre, to one side. There was something in the middle of this bed. As I became even more accustomed to the darkness, I realized that this ‘something’ was the man I had come to see! Here was a man, who obviously was quite tall, sitting with his knees up to his chest, his shoulders were all purple and covered with suppurating sores; one of his ears was gone, as was part of his nose. His hands were covered with greatly stained cloths. I discovered later that the fingers of one hand were totally gone as were one or two on the other. I had never seen such a sight! My first reaction was, I think, a very human one. All I wanted to do was to get out of there! Just as this thought entered my mind, Sr.Roderiguez smiled! It was very crooked smile, given his infirmity. He then said “Sister, I want to thank you for helping to educate my children!” I was stunned!  If he had cursed and sworn and complained about his terrible illness, I think I could have understood this better. But here he was with words of gratitude to me, the missioner, who had come, I thought, to console him!

We then began to have a conversation in which he told me a little about himself. He was the father of twelve very handsome children, He had been what we call in Spanish, ‘un comerciante’, someone who went up and down the jungle rivers bringing supplies and selling things to those folks who lived upriver and couldn’t get into the pueblo where we lived.. He said, “You know, Sister, when I was working the rivers, I never had much time for God, but since I have become ill, Jesus and I have become very good friends!”

He then told me about his relationship with God and how it had grown since he became ill and could no longer work the rivers. It was then that I realized that Mission is a two-way street. I, the missioner, had come to minister to him and here he was teaching me!

A very humbling experience!

In Baptism we receive the gift of Faith. However this gift is not something to be selfishly kept to oneself. It is meant to be shared. This is what Señor Rodriguez shared with me.

*name of man has been changed
Sister Helen Phillips, M.M.



Generosity without bounds

I am a secondary high school teacher so when I was asked to ‘take care of’ a second grade class in Arequipa, Perú, while the teacher was at a meeting, I cringed! What could I do with about 50 little people? Arriving at the classroom I saw that the teacher had left work for the children to do. It was absolutely quiet. Each one was writing away except one little boy. I went over to him and said. “Why aren’t you writing like the other children?” He quickly replied, “I don’t have a pencil.” In a flash the little fellow sitting next to him said nothing but quickly broke his own pencil in two and handed half of it to his friend and went right back to his own work! I was amazed! He didn’t hesitate one moment about giving half of what he possessed to his friend. He had a bigger pencil than he needed then and his friend had none. It was so spontaneous!

I wondered, after seeing that, if my sense of generosity, of sharing, came even near to his…

What a lesson, I learned! By the way, the receiver of the pencil whipped out his little razor blade (a poor boy’s version of a pencil sharpener) and sharpened the dull end and went on with his work.

Sister Helen Phillips, M.M.