Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Give Me A Chance: A Daughters of Charity Ministry

(Photo Courtesy of Give Me a Chance)
There's no feeling like learning to provide for one's self.

At Give Me A Chance in Ogden, Utah, they teach just that.

Sister Maria Nguyen, D.C., launched Give Me A Chance to provide the opportunity for women to learn the skills needed to acquire a job and become self-sufficient. With a variety of services, the charity also offers sewing classes, where women can learn the craft of sewing, and retail and business skills, and then carry out what they've learned at DeMarillac Formal Attire, a shop for formal occasion wear. 

Read more about Give Me A Chance and Sister Maria in this article on

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Answering 'Yes'

by Sister Sharon Richardt, D.C.

Sister Sharon Richardt, D.C.
As I approach the 56th anniversary of my entrance into the Daughters of Charity, I again marvel at the way God let me know I was being called to be a religious woman.

I think it began when I attended a Miraculous Medal Novena with my mother when I was in the second grade or so. I was in awe of the devotion to Mary of the people in the Church. After that I found myself pouring over the "medal" stories in the "Miraculous Medal" magazine my mother received. I also began to think I wanted to be someone who gave my life entirely to God for His work.

I always have had a devotion to Mary. While in grade school at St. Anthony's in Evansville, Ind., I volunteered to assist in cleaning the church. Frequently, I would talk to God while I was cleaning the vigil lights, the communion rail and the statues (as far as I could reach).

Although I had always thought I would be a religious, I did nothing about it until high school at Mater Dei. My algebra teacher, Mr. Francis Hillenbrand, asked me what I was going to do with my life. I spontaneously answered that I wanted to be a religious. When he inquired which Order, I again answered, "The Sisters at the hospital." St. Mary's Hospital was across the street from St. Anthony Church, and I observed the Sisters coming to Mass Saturday mornings when I cleaned the church. Mr. Hillenbrand said he assisted the Sisters with some of the bookkeeping and that he would introduce me to one of them.

He introduced me to Sister Stella Polheber, and she took it from there. Sister Stella asked me if I would like to visit the Provincial House in St. Louis. The visit was very helpful. When I accompanied one of the Sisters on a visit to a man who needed some reading glasses, the man's son asked me if I was going to be a nun and I again answered "yes." I am in wonder now at how certain I was of being a religious, but it just came spontaneously. I believe it was truly the grace of God.

However, when I returned home, I entered back into high school studies and events. It took another question from Mr. Hillenbrand for me to make a follow-up telephone call to start the application process. It was only after the application had been sent I began to have doubts as to my acceptance into the Daughters of Charity.

During this time, I met with Father Eugene Dewig, superintendent at Mater Dei, for counseling and direction. Again, all of these people-supports were seen by me as messengers of God supporting my very naïve understanding of religious life.

My life as a Daughter of Charity continues to be very full both spiritually and ministerially. Our community makes, besides the traditional vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, a vow of service to persons who are poor. We annually renew our vows, which always reminds me of the first time I made vows. A true renewal of our dedication.

From a ministry perspective, I am a registered nurse, and early in my life as a Daughter of Charity served as a rehabilitation coordinator. When I was about 10 years in the order, I was asked to prepare to serve in formation, retreat work and spiritual direction. This I did by obtaining a master's degree and later a doctorate in formative spirituality from Duquesne University.

With both a nursing degree and preparation in spiritual formation, I developed a role in Catholic healthcare known today as Mission Integration. Most recently, the Community asked me to serve in another new position, coordinator of spiritual transformation, which is one of being available to our Sisters in various kinds of life transitions from a spiritual perspective.

I am grateful to God for my vocation to religious life and the Daughters of Charity. After 56 years, I can testify it continues to be a most rewarding life. God has blessed me with ups and downs, but I have never doubted I have been called. God has kept His promise: the blessing has been a hundredfold indeed.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Praying as a Daughter of Charity

by Michelle Hoffman, pre-postulant
Pre-Postulants Michelle, Cynthia, Martha and Kara start their formation weekend
with a trip to San Francisco and its shoreline.
What better way to get to know those in discernment with you than to take some time away in California, right?

The four pre-postulants along with the vocations directors came together in Los Altos Hills, Calif., in March for a time away to reflect, pray, learn and have some fun.

The focus of our time together was praying as a Daughter of Charity. Sister Julie Kubasak led us through reflection on the Liturgy of the Hours, meditation, the Liturgy, spiritual reading and the rosary. The pre-postulants were able to ask questions, experience prayer and fun together in community with the Sisters in Los Altos Hills. We were together right before vow renewal for the Daughters on the Feast of the Annunciation so we heard about what it was like to renew vows and take them for the first time. We also learned about the traditions of first vows and renewal.

The pre-postulants also spent a day of fun getting to know each other better with an adventure to San Francisco. In a short two hours, we explored Fisherman's Wharf, went to Ghirardelli Square, saw the Golden Gate Bridge and lots of seagulls. We made some life-long memories we will remember each time we are together. Some of us even shared our musical abilities. Who knows–we might even start a band.

The time away together really has brought the four of us closer. We were able to create memories and share life together while on our discernment journey as Daughters of Charity pre-postulants.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

25 Years a Daughter of Charity

by Sister Nora Sweeney, D.C.

Sister Nora Sweeney (second row from top, third from left)
surrounded by members of her community during
her 25th jubilee celebration.
My story begins with my parents, whose love and own vocation inspired me in my call. My mom stayed home and sacrificed her life for each of her children–Billy, Tommy, Joseph, Jimmy, Bobby, Kathy, John, Patricia, Mary and Michael–while my dad worked to support the family, but rolled up his sleeves at night to help each of us. My parents guided my brothers and sisters from the day we were born through childhood as young adults and into adulthood.

Sister Nora Sweeney, D.C.
These past 25 years as a Daughter of Charity have presented me more joys, challenges and discoveries than I could have ever imagined. I was inspired and deeply touched by the personal gifts of the Daughters of Charity who celebrated with me this jubilee and those who have been called home. Each one of them was compassionate, took the time to listen, understood, shared reflections and challenged me on a personal level. Their life-giving presence truly made me aware of God's presence in my own life. I became more reflective, hungering for a life that was meaningful in service to others.

Prayer, especially community prayer, is my source of power and energy. As Daughters of Charity, we are "doers," but without being grounded in prayer, I could not share God's love with those I serve and with my co-workers. My ministry has provided countless opportunities to daily experience God at work in the lives of people of all backgrounds. In my ministries, I have had the opportunity of seeing, listening and touching the face of God. I have learned there is no limit to God's creativity, love and ability to bring good out of even the most tragic of circumstances.

When I said "yes" to Jesus' invitation, I could not imagine being anywhere else. I love my life as a Daughter of Charity. The Congregation of the Mission together with the Daughters of Charity are known as "the Double Family." We each are united by our charism of Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac. Our lives are ultimately committed to the service of the poor. We are dedicated to daily celebration of communal prayer, Eucharist and community life. In my experience with the Vincentians, I have felt the growth in the Vincentian charism and witnessed a deeper desire of the Double Family to live this charism in service to those most in need.

Twenty-one years ago, I made vows for the first time and Sister Mary Fran Martin gave the reflection. She said, at that time, speaking of my parents Alice and Fred, that they were still in love after 50 years of life together. And when I celebrate my Golden Jubilee it will still be obvious I am still in love with God, with my community and with the poor I have the privilege to serve.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Finding Renewal in Prayer

by Sister Julie Kubasak, D.C.

Sister Julie Kubasak, D.C., shares at the Daughters of Charity pre-postulants' retreat
in Los Altos Hills this March. 
"A highlight of their day is the time of personal prayer: listening to the Lord, praise and thanksgiving, contemplation, seeking to know his will, and presenting to him the life and needs of those who are poor." –Constitutions of the Daughters of Charity, #21
It's hard to believe it has been three months since I was in California for a retreat with our Vocation Directors and our pre-postulants, Michelle, Cynthia, Martha and Kara, to focus on praying as a Daughter of Charity. Since then, I have been praying daily for them and for all of you in discernment with the Daughters of Charity.

The quote above from our Constitutions is a great one, isn't it? Often, I'm asked this question: "How do I make it as a Daughter of Charity?" My answer is simple: Daily prayer will be your sustaining force. Daily prayer is daily renewal.
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ends. God's kindness is new every morning." –Lamentations 3:2, 23
I think daily prayer is what inspires our day–keeps us going, gets us back on track when we're a bit off. Oh, sure, there are times in life when we may be feeling like we are just "putting time in" rather than praying. And that is our big mistake! Prayer is not about feeling. Prayer is about being and a Being.

Even if during the day I forget to think of what I prayed about that morning, when I do bring it to mind it's always a great moment. During the Examen, I often see a connection to an insight from my morning prayer that really applied to my whole day. The Examen is taking time to reflect on your day before the Lord, and remembering that God was there...that you noticed. God is always there!

So how has your prayer life been going? Have you taken time every day? It's O.K. if you only do a short prayer time daily, and build it up. The important thing is to do it. Remember: God is just waiting for you. He's already there.

Which prayer style appeals to you, "works" for you? Whatever way seems right is the right way. Don't worry about trying to use a prayer style you think you should be using. Additionally, our prayer style changes over time. Just be open, try your best and God will do his part.