On the day after the canonization of John XXIII and John Paul II, Sr. Izabela Świerad, Superior General and Sr. Maria Landsberger, Vicar, arrived in St. Louis, Missouri to begin the Visitation in the USA Province. Florissant was the first place on their agenda. There, the Pallottine Missionary Sisters have an active Retreat Center run by lay staff members. The days went quickly as our visitors took time to meet with the Director, Cindy Costello, and the staff, to tour this well-known Center and its large property, and to participate in a Board Meeting.
Accompanied by Sr. Gail Borgmeyer, Provincial, they drove from St. Louis, MO to Huntington, WV, where we have our largest community; this drive took almost a full day. A few days after their arrival, St. Mary’s Medical Center held its annual Employee Recognition Dinner at the Education Center.
It was an honor to have our Superior General and her Vicar join us for this special evening event. It is a time when the Medical Center Administration, the Pallottine Missionary Sisters, and the St. Mary’s Medical Center Board of Trustees, as well as management staff, come together with employees to honor and recognize them for their service and dedication to St. Mary’s Medical Center. This is St. Mary’s 90th year of service to the people of the Tri-State area (Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia States), through providing quality, compassionate health care to the people, who come for medical care.
Sr. Diane Bushee, Vice President of Mission Integration, spoke of the joy of being present during the celebration of the years of service, as well as to recognize the monthly winners of the Spirit of St. Mary’s Award for the year 2013, who have been at St. Mary’s giving many years of dedicated service, not only to the hospital, but to patients and the community at large.
Mr. Michael Sellards, President and CEO of St. Mary’s Medical Center, offered congratulatory comments to the employees, and applauded the staff for their untiring dedication, their living-out of the mission and values of the founding Sisters, who began this work in 1924, for their belief in team work, no matter what their position in the facility, whether it be in a service area, or in patient care, stating that it takes everyone to operate the Medical Center on a daily basis. He also spoke of the reality of change, be it in technology, new service lines offered, etc. but one thing that has remained a constant at St. Mary’s, is the dedication and excellent patient care they provide, and the hospital’s reputation for compassion, which has made St. Mary’s what it is today, a place like no other.
Every day of the visitation was accompanied by the prayers of the Sisters gathered at the Holy Hour, in the main convent chapel. After one morning Mass in the hospital chapel, Sr. Izabela gathered the Sisters, from the community and from the Infirmary along with St. Mary’s Medical Center Chaplain, Fr. Godwin, for a group picture. It was a joy to have both Sr. Josefina Alamilla and Sr. Rosalyn Novelo from Belize, who are in the States for medical care join in the group photo.
As the first week of their visitation at Queen of Apostles Province, USA, came to a close, Sr. Izabela and Sr. Maria and the Provincial Council, Sr. Gail Borgmeyer, Provincial, Sr. Diane Bushee, Vice Provincial, Sr. Mary Grace Barile and Sr. Francesca Lowis, councilors, spent the day in meetings discussing the ministries of the Province, and sharing observations and suggestions from our General Administration. The group joined the local community for lunch as the Feast Day of Sr. Mary Grace was celebrated. Our sisters from Rome had the opportunity to meet Salvatore Barile, Sr. Mary Graces’ brother who came to share in the celebration of his sisters’ name day. During the evening meal, a beautiful double rainbow appeared in the sky after some heavy rain and the appearance of the sun. Both leadership team members felt this to be a sign of hope, a good omen for the end of their meetings. Sr. Izabela continued her interviews with the Sisters, and spending some time with the Sisters in the Infirmary.
While in Huntington for Confirmation, Bishop Michael J. Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston, took time to meet with Sr. Izabela and Sr. Gail. They discussed the ministries that our Sisters are involved with in WV, especially discussing our two hospitals. He gave his blessings for what we have done for the people of WV since 1912, and the manner of service we will continue to give to the people of God in this state, as it may look a little different than what it has been. His promise of prayers for our Province was greatly appreciated.
On another day Srs. Maria and Francesca traveled to Buckhannon, WV where Sr. Francesca is serving the people of that area. This gave Sr. Maria a chance to meet the CEO, Mrs. Sue Johnson-Phillippe, and take a tour of St. Joseph’s Hospital. Later in Huntington, we attended the PHS Board (Pallottine Health Services) meeting.
This board is made up of local business leaders, supporters of Sr. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s leadership from both hospitals, as well as five other Sisters. It was an interesting experience for both of our guests from Rome, as the meeting gives a detailed report of financials, President/CEO reports, discussion of both of our healthcare institutions, the past and current events, growths, as well as looking into the future of Sr. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s at length. This gave both Sr. Izabela and Sr. Maria a better understanding of the business of healthcare in the USA, and what changes in health ministry are being dealt with on a daily basis. Following the board meeting, the Provincial Council and Srs. Izabela and Maria had a joint council meeting.
On May 12th Sr. Izabela met with the St. Mary’s Community to summarize her visit with the local community and the Sisters in the Infirmary in Huntington, before she and Sr. Maria traveled to other communities. Meeting with the Sisters helped them to understand the situation of our province, as we continue our life and apostolates according to our charism. Sr. Izabela gave us hope and life for the future of our province.
On Thursday, May 14th it was time to bid a final farewell to our Sisters from Rome, as they moved on to Buckhannon, WV to visit with Sr. Francesca and Sr. Phyllis Carpenter. On the way, accompanied by Sr. Gail and Sr. Phyllis, they stopped in Richwood, to see the first place where our Sisters from Germany came in 1912.
While at St. Joseph’s Convent and Hospital, our visitors joined the local St. Joseph’s Hospital Board of Trustees for their monthly Hospital Board meeting. As this meeting took place during the annual Strawberry Festival in Buckhannon, they also had a taste of the Strawberry shortcake and homemade ice cream, which is a yearly treat for board members. After the board meeting the Sisters enjoyed a relaxing evening with the Provincial Council, listening to music, and sharing stories.
Both Sr. Diane and Sr. Mary Grace were happy they spent the evening in Buckhannon, taking time to enjoy the company of our Sisters from Rome.
The next day two Sisters accompanied by Sr. Gail, drove on to Laurel, Maryland-the last community- for their visit with the three sisters living there and to have a tour of St. Vincent Pallotti High School.
We are grateful to our Sisters from the General Council for being with us at this not so easy time of our province, for their understanding, listening and support as we face the future.
Sr. Mary Grace Barile, SAC