Mary grenough appeal 2-17-16

“In Myanmar, it is difficult for people to count on a steady income, land, even food or education.” Sister Mary

The joyous celebration of Christ’s Resurrection brings us a deep sense of hope in our Risen Savior.  All of our Maryknoll Sisters pray that this Holy Season brings you much peace. I also wish to thank you for your faithful support of our ministries. Your gifts mean that our Sisters – like Sister Mary Grenough whose story I bring you today – can help people immobilized by poverty, suffering with HIV/AIDS or struggling with righting wrongs.

Sister Mary joined the Maryknoll Sisters in 1956 and then completed a Masters Degree in Nursing. This year she will celebrate her 60th Jubilee in the Community. Early in her ministry Sister Mary served in the Philippines, where she met and worked with the farmers in the sugar cane fields.

“Poverty is extreme in many areas of the Philippines,” says Sister Mary. “I spent one week working with the women in the sugar cane fields who earned only $3 per week. I asked, ‘Do you ever get used to the work?’ And the answer was: ‘Oh, yes, we get used to the work. What we’ll never get used to are the cries of our children who cannot sleep because they’re hungry.’”

“In Myanmar, it is difficult for people to count on a steady income, land, even food or education. When families cannot meet their basic needs, they rely on their faith in God. One thing is true: their faith is essential for survival,” reflected Sister Mary.

Her mission, which started with only three Catholic groups helping HIV/AIDS patients, eventually became the Myanmar Catholic HIV/AIDS Network and grew to include almost all the dioceses in Myanmar.

Before these initiatives, patients diagnosed with HIV/AIDS were shunned by their local communities. They were afraid to even go to Church. With the dedicated commitment of all the staff in this program, people were educated about the disease and learned what precautions to take. Because of Sister Mary’s personal experience of the struggles of poor people in the Philippines, she was able to go beyond providing health care and education in Myanmar – to obtaining basic human rights for the people.

Sister Mary’s ministry is vital to making sure marginated people have a better life. She has lived through many changes and is seeking even more that will help the children and their families reach new heights. The people are hopeful and working for their own survival.

Sister Mary reflects on her mission…“The God that brought me to Maryknoll is no longer the God that keeps me here. My understanding of creation, of God, of the meaning of life has all changed. Now God is speaking to me through so many people and so many circumstances!”

Please do not forget to send us your prayer intentions so we may remember them. Also, please remember to keep Sister Mary, the staff in Myanmar – and all our Sisters – in your prayers. Thank you for your gifts – they truly help our Sisters and they help keep alive their vital ministries. We continue to count on your help so we may reach out in love to poor people in many different parts of the world. Happy Easter!

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Sister Honora Felix, Maryknoll Sister for 60 Years

Sister Honora Felix, Maryknoll Sister for 60 Years
Maryknoll, NY – Sister Honora Lucilla Felix, an educator in Guatemala and Panama, died Wednesday, January 6, 2015, at Phelps Memorial Hospital, Sleepy Hollow, NY. She was 81 years old.

Born in Worcester, MA, on November 7, 1934. She graduated from Attleboro High School in 1952 and Trinity College, Washington, DC, in 1956 with a B.A. in history, specializing in government.

Sister Honora entered the Maryknoll Congregation from St. John the Evangelist Parish, Attleboro, MA, on September 2, 1956 and was given the religious name Sister Christiana Maria. She made her First Profession of Vows on June 24, 1959 at Maryknoll, NY, and her Final Vows on June 24, 1965, in Panama.

Sister Honora began her work with Maryknoll in 1959, serving in the Publicity Department at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, during which she appeared on the Archdiocese of New York’s children’s program, “Let’s Talk About God,” on WNBC-TV.

In September 1960,  she embarked on her first foreign mission to Central America. Her first stop was Guatemala, where she spent five months studying Spanish. She then arrived in Mexico, where she taught English and religion for the next two years, at both the elementary and high school levels.

In 1963, Sister Honora traveled to Panama, where she continued her teaching, expanding into classes on history, geography, math, art, and religious education. During the next four years, she worked steadily and with great love, even in the face of the Canal Zone riots.

Sister Honora returned to Guatemala in 1967, remaining there until 1981, forming Christian leaders, doing parish field work, teaching at Monte Maria School, and training fellow instructors – all despite the guerrilla warfare raging since two months after her arrival.

After ten years in the U.S., during which time she took care of her ailing mother and offered Congregational Service in the Center’s Development Department and Archives, Sister Honora returned to Guatemala in 1993. She ministered to the poor and marginalized in the growing shantytown of Mezquital, outside Guatemala City for eleven years.  Sister Honora was involved in pastoral work, religious education and literacy.

Sister Honora returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center in 2004, where she served as an office assistant for the congregation’s Eden Community until 2014.

A vespers service will be held for Sister Honora on Monday, January 11, 2016  at  4:15 p.m. in the Main Chapel at Maryknoll Sisters Center.  A funeral Mass will follow on Tuesday, January 12 at 11:00 a.m. also in the Main Chapel at the Center. Interment will follow in the Maryknoll Sisters Cemetery on the Center grounds.

The Power of Healing: By Sister Euphrasia Nyaki

power of healing 1
Sister Efu on the left performs body
and mind healing.

As I celebrate 25 years as a missioner, I celebrate with a grateful heart the development of this wonderful project that brings health to people of all classes, race, nationality, sex and age.

I co-created the second organization (NGO) know as Afya, a Women’s Holistic Healing Center that begun working with poor women in the poor communities in the periphery of a North Eastern City of Brazil known as Joao Pessoa. At Afya I taught the women how to use the healing methods that are within their own capacity to heal their physical, emotional and spiritual being. Some of these methods are; herbal medicines grown in their own back yards, therapeutic massage, reflexology, reiki, the use of mud therapy, somatic experiencing for trauma healing, family constellation, and balanced/natural diets.

Afya begun in the year 2000 and it has developed in a very interesting manner.

It started serving only poor women from the neighborhood, however, as time went on those who were healed at Afya they told their stories to others that had the same needs, and more people came from other parts of the city, regions/state, other parts of Brazil and even other parts of the world. Also we started receiving other people from the working classes who needed Holistic healing and the women from the community who were first healed are the ones attending those who continue coming.

Sister Efu shows women how to make holistic medicine.
Sister Efu shows women how to make holistic medicine.

Afya Women Healing center became a Healing Center for all!

Many women from the neighborhood who came for healing were able to change their situations of pain and suffering for themselves and for their family. Then their husbands, who probably were their source of brokenness, saw that their wives were doing well and asked them if they could take them to this place which gave them life again. A number of women came and ask asked us if they could bring their husbands to Afya for healing. Since these women have experienced healing they also wanted to see everyone else in their family healed as well. Some of them had their grown up sons involved with drugs and wished to bring them to Afya for healing. We had to talk about this serious issue in order to make a decision of opening up Afya for all. It came to my mind that; “A half of the world population in the world is Women, and the other half is the product/offspring of the women”.  With this phrase we decided to change the statues of Afya from only attending women to “Transformed Women attending the community/Society/planet earth with Holistic healing means.

Afya begun with a team of 5 women and now, 15 years later we have 20 women attending as team members. For the first 6 years, Afya relied on grants from different organizations including Maryknoll Sister’s Project Funding. Eventually, in the last 7 to 9 years, Afya has been in the process of creating a cooperative which helps women to be self sustained. Now we have the cooperative COOPAFA within Afya as an NGO. Through COOPAFYA, women divide up among themselves the earnings of every month as they attend the community.

The word Afya means Health in my native Swahili language spoken in Tanzania. So, I am very happy to have found Afya in Brazilian people with the roots in my own country.

Sister Helen Scheel, Maryknoll Sister for 69 Years

Sister Helen Scheel, Maryknoll Sister for 69 Years
Maryknoll, NY – Sister Helen Scheel, an educator and social justice worker, died Monday, January 4, 2016, at Maryknoll Sisters Center, Ossining, NY. She was 87 years old.

Born November 30, 1928, in Baltimore, MD, to Joseph A. and Julia Hintenach Scheel, Sister Helen graduated from Shrine of the Little Flower School, Baltimore, in 1942, and the Catholic High School of Baltimore in 1946.  She then worked as a bookkeeper and stenographer at The Boone-Elder Company, Baltimore, for 15 months, prior to entering Maryknoll Sisters at their Valley Park, MO, novitiate on October 30, 1947.  She called Community of the Most Precious Blood Parish, also in Baltimore, as her home parish.

Following her entrance to Maryknoll, Sister Helen was given the religious name of Sister M. Paul Gerard.  She made her First Profession of Vows on May 8, 1950, at Valley Park, MO and her Final Vows at the Maryknoll Sisters Motherhouse (now the Maryknoll Sisters Center), Maryknoll, NY, on May 8, 1953.  She completed a bachelor’s degree in education at Maryknoll Teachers College in 1955.

Following her graduation, Sister Helen was assigned to the congregation’s U.S. Western Region.  She taught Grades 2-8 at San Juan Capistrano Elementary School in California from 1955-1962, then became the school’s principal from 1962-1966, after which she was appointed Assistant Juniorate Mistress at Maryknoll, NY, a position she held from the summer of 1966 to the summer of 1967.  From 1967-1973, she served as Local Superior at Monrovia, CA, and Regional Superior of the US Western Region. During this time, 1971-1974, she studied for a Master’s degree in adult education at California State University, Los Angeles, and worked as a teacher and coordinator of the Adult Basic Education Program for Monrovia Unified School District.

In 1974, Sister Helen was assigned to the congregation’s U.S. Eastern Region for family ministry in Baltimore, MD.  While there, she worked in the Adult Education Program of the Baltimore County Education Department until 1997. During this same period, she worked at the Alliance for Justice, a third world advocacy project in Baltimore, funded by the Medical Mission Sisters.

Following her retirement in 1998, Sister Helen continued her involvement with justice and peace work and tutoring on a volunteer basis, until her return to the Maryknoll Sisters Center in 2007, where she lived until her death.

Sister Helen is survived by her brother, Brother Nivard Scheel of Elm Grove, WI.

A vespers service will be held for Sister Helen on January 7, 2016, at 4:15 p.m. in the Chapel of the Annunciation at the Maryknoll Sisters Center. A Memorial Mass will follow on January 8, 2016, at 11 a.m., also at the Center.