Search Results for: Meet Our Sisters – South Central

Sister Martha Milner keeps ‘fighting the good fight’ in Mississippi

May 16, 2019

By Karel Lucander

Sister Martha (left) and Gabrielle Brown, Mercy Housing and Human Development (MHHD) counselor, discuss the Mercy Housing Homebuyer Education clients who have qualified for home ownership.
Sister Martha (left) and Gabrielle Brown, Mercy Housing and Human Development (MHHD) counselor, discuss the Mercy Housing Homebuyer Education clients who have qualified for home ownership.

Born and raised in Mississippi, Sister Martha Milner has stood up against racism as far back as she can remember. At 15, she drove some dear friends—who happened to be black—home from school. In response, the Ku Klux Klan adorned her family’s front yard with a burning cross. This incident, along with others that her friends and neighbors endured, ignited Martha’s lifelong battle against ignorance and prejudice. “I can smell racial discrimination, whether obvious or hidden. And I can be fierce when I encounter racism or misogynism. I have no fear; I’ll go in where fools fear to tread. My family was like that, especially my mom,” says Martha.

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Program in sister’s name helps students explore medicine

April 4, 2019

By Karel Lucander

Sister Agnese Neumann has covered much territory during her many years in ministry—producing fruit, sparking joy and serendipitously becoming the namesake of a new opportunity for future medical professionals.

Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, Sister Agnese attended high school at Mount St. Agnes. As a young girl, she dreamed of becoming a nurse. But when she entered the Sisters of Mercy in 1947, she was asked to become an educator—which, of course, she did.

Sister Agnese Neumann (center) with the “inaugural eight” participants in the “Sister Agnese Neumann Scholars” program. These students will have a hands-on opportunity to explore careers in medicine through this new joint venture between Mercy High School Baltimore and MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital.
Sister Agnese Neumann (center) with the “inaugural eight” participants in the “Sister Agnese Neumann Scholars” program. These students will have a hands-on opportunity to explore careers in medicine through this new joint venture between Mercy High School Baltimore and MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital.
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Programa con nombre de hermana ayuda estudiantes a explorar la medicina

April 4, 2019

Por Karel Lucander

Hermana Agnese Neumann ha abarcado mucho territorio durante sus muchos años de servicio: produciendo fruto, esparciendo alegría y por mera casualidad convirtiéndose en el homónimo de una nueva oportunidad para futuras profesionales en el campo de la salud.

Nacida y criada en Baltimore, Maryland, Hermana Agnese fue a la secundaria en Mount St. Agnes. Cuando era muy joven soñaba con ser enfermera. Pero cuando ingresó a las Hermanas de la Misericordia en 1947, le pidieron ser educadora, lo cual hizo sin problema.

Hermana Agnese Neumann (al centro) con las «ocho primeras» participantes en el programa «Especialistas Hermana Agnese Neumann». Estas estudiantes tendrán la oportunidad práctica de explorar carreras en medicina a través de este proyecto conjunto entre Mercy High School Baltimore y el Hospital Buen Samaritano MedStar.
Hermana Agnese Neumann (al centro) con las «ocho primeras» participantes en el programa «Especialistas Hermana Agnese Neumann». Estas estudiantes tendrán la oportunidad práctica de explorar carreras en medicina a través de este proyecto conjunto entre Mercy High School Baltimore y el Hospital Buen Samaritano MedStar.
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Vocation minister documents sisters’ stories

January 3, 2019

By Karel Lucander

Vocation Minister Sister Sue Weetenkamp holds fast to one of her favorite tools – the video camera she uses to tape the stories of fellow Sisters of Mercy. To date, she has visited and video-documented 125 sisters and counting.

Vocation Minister Sister Sue Weetenkamp holds fast to one of her favorite tools – the video camera she uses to tape the stories of fellow Sisters of Mercy. To date, she has visited and video-documented 125 sisters and counting.

As a vocation minister in Baltimore, Maryland, Sister Sue Weetenkamp travels regularly to high schools and other places, talking with young women about the Sisters of Mercy. She also spends time on the road visiting with other sisters, documenting their stories with her video camera. These two passions complement each other – her special project of capturing and preserving the sisters’ experiences can be shared with the next generation of discerning women religious. During the past four years, she has interviewed 125 sisters. “For them, it’s like being on a trip down memory lane,” says Sister Sue. Read More »

Sister Mary-Anne Brings Heart to Mission Services

October 17, 2018

By Karel Lucander

Members of St. Joseph/Candler’s Emergency Department Medical Home team (from left): Jackie Lambert (full-time E.D. Medical Home coordinator, who began as a student health coach), Sister Mary-Anne Plaskon and Selmman Padridin (Georgia Southern University M.H.A. graduate intern).

Members of St. Joseph/Candler’s Emergency Department Medical Home team (from left): Jackie Lambert (full-time E.D. Medical Home coordinator, who began as a student health coach), Sister Mary-Anne Plaskon and Selmman Padridin (Georgia Southern University M.H.A. graduate intern).

Deepening the faith of teenagers was her passion. For decades, she worked in youth ministry and religious education. At one parish, she designed a curriculum for junior and senior high school youth attending public school. With a master’s degree in theology, she also completed the layperson’s associate program through the Sisters of Mercy. She remained in the program for 17 years before becoming a sister. Read More »

An oasis for the economically disadvantaged

September 20, 2018

By Karel Lucander

Sister Paula Cockerham (right) meets with a student at St. Mary’s Community Center in Savannah, Georgia. As financial coach and adult educator, she helps those living in the area navigate a road to financial self-sufficiency.

Sister Paula Cockerham (right) meets with a student at St. Mary’s Community Center in Savannah, Georgia. As financial coach and adult educator, she helps those living in the area navigate a road to financial self-sufficiency.

She was working in research and development in chemistry and physics at a Fortune 500 company when, at age 29, she first met a Sister of Mercy. Through that sister, she connected to a group of sisters working close to her home, among the economically disadvantaged. She knew at once that these women understood her values. She would travel with several of them on mission trips to Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala before entering the Sisters of Mercy in 1994. Read More »

Nazareth House lifts hearts

September 6, 2018

By Karel Lucander

Sister Mary Vernon Gentle (center) watches while Gianna (lower right) puts the finishing touches on her tower with the assistance of catechist Sophia (left). Gianna looks forward to building a different tower each week.

Sister Mary Vernon Gentle (center) watches while Gianna (lower right) puts the finishing touches on her tower with the assistance of catechist Sophia (left). Gianna looks forward to building a different tower each week. (Photo courtesy of Catholic Charities)

The young woman was pregnant and struggling for answers. She had been told her baby most likely would have Down syndrome, and her doctor advised ending the pregnancy. But she consulted Sister Mary Vernon Gentle. “I told her I could not advise her in that direction,” Sister Mary Vernon says. After careful consideration, the young woman decided to carry her pregnancy to term and had a healthy baby without the chromosomal disorder. As associate director of Nazareth House in the Diocese of Birmingham, Alabama, Sister Mary Vernon has encountered this scenario, and many similar ones, during the 50 years she has ministered in the diocese.

“Pregnant mothers have come to me to learn more about special- needs children. We are often contacted when their babies are born with disabilities,” she says. “That’s a hard phone call for them to make, but they are glad we are here, doing what we are doing.” Read More »

Sister Ministers on “Sacred Ground” in Savannah

July 19, 2018

Sister Donna Marie consults with social worker Tammie Lovett (left) and nurse Hannah Shambayati about plans for a patient.

Sister Donna Marie consults with social worker Tammie Lovett (left) and nurse Hannah Shambayati about plans for a patient.

By Karel Lucander

As a Sister of Mercy, Sister Donna Marie Coward is part of a close-knit faith community. But Sister Pat Coward, her younger biological sibling, makes this sisterhood even more special.

“I entered first in 1965, and I think my call may have influenced Pat,” Sister Donna Marie says. “But I believe being taught by Sisters of Mercy in Baltimore, Maryland, from elementary through high school, really inspired us both to move that way.” Read More »

Helping co-workers turn Mercy charism into action

May 3, 2018

By Amanda LePoire

After years in education, Sister Marilynn Wittenauer is helping Mercy co-workers put the Mercy charism into action outside their workplaces.

Sister Marilynn Wittenauer and Sharon Neumeister, director of Community Health and Access for Mercy Neighborhood Ministry, prepare packages of toiletries and essentials. Staff at Mercy Neighborhood Ministry distribute the packages during their outreach efforts in the St. Louis community.

Sister Marilynn Wittenauer and Sharon Neumeister, director of Community Health and Access for Mercy Neighborhood Ministry, prepare packages of toiletries and essentials. Staff at Mercy Neighborhood Ministry distribute the packages during their outreach efforts in the St. Louis community.

For the past nine years, Sister Marilynn has served as the co-worker volunteer coordinator for Mercy Neighborhood Ministry (MNM) in St. Louis, Missouri. The ministry connects economically poor people with health and social service resources. In 2008, the director of MNM wanted to connect Mercy co-workers interested in volunteering with agencies needing assistance. Sister Marilynn stepped into the role, and today, more than 750 co-workers have volunteered.

“It’s a real credit to co-workers,” Sister Marilynn says. “After putting in a full day’s work—for most, not sitting behind a desk—they have to be really committed to wanting to serve.”

Sister Marilynn meets with area agencies to determine their needs and how Mercy co-workers can help. She publicizes the opportunities to co-workers and then schedules the volunteers, now with the help of an online system developed by the Information Technology Department of the hospital that MNM is connected to. She also follows up with thank-yous and a reflection tool for volunteers.

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Humor, can-do attitude go a long way at convent

April 5, 2018

By Beth Rogers Thompson

Sister Judy Gradel’s welcoming smile and warmth immediately make a visitor feel comfortable at McAuley Convent in Cincinnati, Ohio. You can feel the embrace of the convent’s homey environment.

Sister Judy has been extending Mercy hospitality and a can-do attitude as McAuley’s administrator and community life coordinator since September 2005.

Previous ministries

Prior to that, she ministered in education, as a teacher and an elementary school principal. At her alma mater, McAuley High School in Toledo, Ohio, she taught math and earth science. Later, she taught math for 18 years at McAuley High, which is next door to the convent in Cincinnati. “I loved teaching, the thinking involved, especially in calculus, and the performing aspect of teaching,” Sister Judy says.

Sister Judy Gradel (left), administrator at McAuley Convent in Cincinnati, confers with Joyce Jostworth, assistant administrator.

Born in Toledo, she met the Sisters of Mercy when she attended McAuley High School there. “I always wanted to be a teacher, and the sisters were excellent teachers,” she says. “That, their dedication, and their lifestyle were what first attracted me to religious life.” She entered the Sisters of Mercy in Cincinnati in 1963.

For two years somewhere in the middle of the teaching, Sister Judy ran an emergency service center in Covington, Kentucky. She felt she did a good job of stacking food, straightening donated clothing and record keeping, but eventually decided that the best of her talents lay elsewhere.

Today, as convent administrator, she supervises all the employees and helps to see that the sisters’ needs are met. “The employees are devoted to the sisters and treat them with such respect and gentleness,” she says. Read More »