Category Archives: Sisters of Charity of New York

Two Iconic Sisters of Charity of New York

Guest post by Sister Maryellen Blumlein, archivist, Sisters of Charity of New York

Sister Immaculata Burke

Sr. Immaculata Burke, S.C. (Image courtesy of Sisters of Charity of New York)

Sr. Thomas (Trude) Collins, S.C.

Sr. Thomas (Trude) Collins, S.C. (Image courtesy Sisters of Charity of New York)

Within the space of twelve days, two iconic women, both Sisters of Charity of New York, who served the people of God on different continents went home to their loving God. Sr. Marie Immaculata Burke, a nurse, served in Guatemala for 43 years. She began and ministered in several different clinics and served the Mayan people in many different ways. She was beloved by the people, and she loved them in return. She brought the healing touch of Jesus to so many as well as comforted those families who lost loved ones during the Civil War. Nothing was too difficult for Sr. Immaculata to do for “her people.” She recognized needs and did her best to meet them, at times placing herself in possible danger. With the help of other missionaries she worked to help the people regain their health, receive an education, and return to their villages to serve their own people. Her death brought sadness to all who knew and loved this Sister of Charity who clearly practiced “every service in her power.”

Sr. Thomas, a.k.a. Trude, Collins left the classroom in 1967 to work among the people of St. Athanasius Parish and the surrounding area in the South Bronx. Sister’s bright smile and exuberance made her beloved by all of the residents and business people as well. She was a hard worker and staunch advocate for the needs of the people of the South Bronx. She served on various boards and was elected to the Community Board which she remained a member of for many years. Sr. Thomas saw the needs of the people around her and offered them whatever assistance she could. No task was too great, or too small; she was available day or night. Her fun-loving nature was equal to her compassion. She could burst into song at any moment and entertained the senior sisters every year around St. Patrick’s Day at the Convent of Mary the Queen’s annual party. Noted for her large earrings and often colorful clothing, Sister Thomas was a Sister of Charity to her very fingertips. Ask anyone in the South Bronx about her, and they will tell you she was the kindest, funniest, and most loving person they had ever met.

These two women, daughters of Elizabeth Ann Seton, though working thousands of miles apart, were fulfilling Jesus message to go and preach the gospel to all of my people. Their preaching was through their many actions of love and kindness to all whom they met. The Sisters of Charity and the world have lost two marvelous ambassadors of God’s love.


Filed under Sisters of Charity Federation, Sisters of Charity of New York

National Catholic Sisters Week: Sisters of Charity of New York, part 2

Guest post by Sister Maryellen Blumlein, archivist, Sisters of Charity of New York

Sr. Patricia Quinn

Sr. Patricia Quinn, SC

Sister Patricia Quinn
Sister Patricia Quinn is a born teacher who loves being in the classroom surrounded by her first graders. Hers is the awesome privilege and grave responsibility to lead the children into the world of learning. She knows how to awaken their curiosity as she introduces them to the magic of words and numbers and teaches them the simple lessons that will have a lasting impact on the values that will mark their lives for years to come. Best of all Sr. Patricia’s warm personality enables the children to discover that school is a good place. These little ones are off to a good start and will in time make a difference in society. Sister Patricia’s ministry over many years has been a gift to hundreds of children.

Sr. Mary Catherine Cleary, SC

Sr. Mary Catherine Cleary, SC

Sister Mary Catherine Cleary
Sister Mary Cleary, currently the assistant principal at St. Raymond Elementary School in Parkchester, had been the principal of Our Lady of Angels School for 29 years. Throughout her many years serving in the schools in the Archdiocese of New York, she was readily identified by the students, teachers and parents as a dedicated and compassionate educator. Students sense her care for them as she strives to know each one by name and works to develop their God-given potential. She advocates a strong academic program that includes music, art and the newest technology. Under her guidance, students grow in the confidence that enables them to find their niche in society and to become effective leaders in their communities. Parents, too, appreciate her sensitivity to the pressures they face each day and her willingness to seek ways to ease their burdens and help them to play a significant role in their child’s education. The bright and cheerful atmosphere she creates as she assumes her awesome role as Sister of Charity and educator is an additional blessing to the school community.

Sr. Grace Henke, SC

Sr. Grace Henke, SC

Sister Grace Henke
Sister Grace Henke studied at St. Vincent Hospital School of Nursing, Manhattan, after completing her time in novitiate. She then worked as an R.N. in the charity wards, eventually becoming head nurse, until she was assigned to teach sciences in the School of Nursing. Sister Grace continued teaching in the Nursing School and initiated several new courses of study. She authored several professional texts and, through grants she obtained, was able to begin a Tutorial Assistance Program designed to bring educationally disadvantaged candidates into the Nursing School. This program proved successful as 75 students over a 10 year period graduated and achieved RN status.

Upon receiving her PhD in education, Sister Grace began teaching at the College of Mount St. Vincent. She was appointed to the Ethics Committee of St. Vincent Hospital. When the Nursing School closed in 1999, Sister Grace became certified by the New York Office of the Aging and worked as an ombudsman to champion the needs of the elderly. In 2001, she was appointed to the Board of Directors of Lifespire, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping individuals with developmental disabilities meet life’s challenges. Sister has been the recipient of the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award from St. Vincent Hospital, a Certificate as a New York State Nurse of Distinction, as well as several scholarships and fellowship grants.

Presently, as a “retired” Sister of Charity, Sister Grace volunteers her time and energy helping the immigrant, the ill, and many others in need. She continues her work with Lifespire and provides advice to sisters who seek her help. Throughout her life she has served God and others with great knowledge and a joyful heart. As a Sister of Charity of New York for the past 63 years, her kindness, compassion, dedication and wonderful sense of humor have enabled Sister Grace to serve all in need, especially the poor.

Sr. Barbara Ann Ford

Sr. Barbara Ann Ford, SC

Sister Barbara Ann Ford, SC. (1938-2001)
Entered the Sisters of Charity September 8, 1956.

Sister Barbara, known by all simply as ‘Bobbie,’ was killed on May 5, 2001.

That morning, she had driven to Guatemala City to do some shopping. As she got out of her jeep, she was approached by two men and shot twice in the head. Her vehicle was taken, and then abandoned several blocks away. In all the intervening time, despite ambiguity about reasons and motives for the killing, one thing is clear: the people consider her a martyr who gave her life for them.

Bobbie joined the Guatemala mission of the New York Sisters of Charity in 1978. She and the other Sisters ministered high in the mountainous regions of northwestern Guatemala, providing physical and mental health care and spiritual support, often carried on in dangerous, life threatening circumstances.

Between 1980 and 1996 a civil war raged that in the end claimed more than 200,000 lives, most of them indigenous Mayan men, women, and children, people to whom the NY Sisters were committed to serve.

In the war’s aftermath, Bobbie joined with others to help the poorest of the survivors reclaim the memories of what they had endured, find mental and spiritual release, bury their dead with dignity, and move on with their lives.

Bobbie’s calling in life was to be a missionary. Previous experiences on a remote island in the Bahamas and on the Altiplano of Peru helped prepare her for the tasks she undertook in Guatemala.
She was a deeply reflective woman, passionate in all the activities she undertook in the name of charity about which Oscar Romero said: “charity calls us to fix a steady gaze on those who still lack the help they need to achieve a way of life worthy of human beings.”

Bobbie never lost the will to turn her steady gaze of affective, effective charity on all those she felt privileged to call brother, sister, family.

1 Comment

Filed under Sisters of Charity Federation, Sisters of Charity of New York

National Catholic Sisters Week: Sisters of Charity of New York, part 1

Guest post by Sister Maryellen Blumlein, archivist, Sisters of Charity of New York

National Catholic Sisters Week is being celebrated for the first time in 2014. We, as Sisters of Charity of New York, members of the Sisters of Charity Federation, would like to celebrate and recognize a few of the ways in which we contribute to the mission of Jesus.
The Sisters of Charity of New York

The principal end for which God has called and assembled the Sisters of Charity is to honor Jesus Christ our Lord as the source and model of all charity by rendering to him every temporal and spiritual service within their power…” Thus begins Elizabeth Seton’s adaptation of the rule of St. Vincent de Paul.

From the beginning of the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph in Emmitsburg, the Sisters have recognized the needs of those around them and attempted to meet them with joy and grace. The Sisters of Charity of New York continued the ministries of education, healthcare, childcare, social service, and parish ministry from their earliest days in New York (1817) until today. Within more recent years the spectrum of ministries has broadened. Sisters now work with the homeless, the immigrant, trafficked persons and others who suffer great injustices. Sisters’ Hill Farm helps to educate interested persons in the methods and practices of farming. Centers providing English language instruction, GED and citizenship classes are also available. Sisters are involved in giving spiritual direction, coordinating Houses of Prayer, and pastoral care in hospitals, nursing homes and parishes. As the numbers of vowed religious decrease, the number of lay persons who are being “trained” in the community charism is on the rise. Sisters and lay associates work side by side in the areas of our traditional ministries as well as in the more recent needs that have come to light in our world.

St. Elizabeth Seton House of Prayer

Sisters Pauline Cinquini and Nancy Keller, and the local team at St. Elizabeth Seton House of Prayer

St. Elizabeth Seton House of Prayer and Evangelization Ministries

“Our mission as a community is to share the Church’s mission of evangelization: to reveal the Father’s love, to proclaim the good news of the saving power of Jesus, and to minister the grace of Pentecost to all who know their spiritual need.”

The Elizabeth Seton House of Prayer, founded in 1975 as a ministry of the Sisters of Charity of New York, began with seven Sisters of Charity of New York. Over the past 39 years SCNY’s have shared the life of community and prayer with sisters from other congregations and many lay persons. The original seven sisters are: Sisters Pauline Cinquini, Nancy Keller, Cathy Feeney, Marjorie Walsh, Gloria DeArteaga, Joseph Mercedes Kerins and Celine Rogers. The sisters began by conducting House of Prayer Experience weekends as well as days of prayer, prayer meetings, teaching weekends, charismatic, Ignatian and contemplative retreats, and conferences. They were and are very involved with the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and both Sisters Nancy and Pauline are active on an archdiocesan, national and international level.

Not all of the original seven sisters are still part of the House of Prayer community. Sisters Nancy Keller and Pauline Cinquini are now joined by Sisters E. Bernadette Brennan and Mary Tommasino as they continue the ministry of prayer, spirituality and evangelization. For the past almost forty years this ”powerhouse of prayer and witness” has continued to bring the good news of Jesus to the countless visitors and participants involved in their many and varied programs. These sisters continue to preach the love of God and the power of the Spirit by their example in their daily lives. We look forward to this ministry continuing far into the future.

Sr. Regina Murphy, SC

Sr. Regina Murphy, SC

Sister Regina Murphy, SC
In 1997 Sister Regina Murphy was among the “Women of Justice” honored at the 25th anniversary of NETWORK, a National Catholic Social Justice Lobby. The award honored her lifelong commitment to Social Justice.

She was the first Roman Catholic Chairperson of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility in New York. In this role she was a tireless advocate for responsible corporate investments and economic justice.

She was a key international leader in the creation of and campaigning for the MacBride Principles for fair employment in Northern Ireland

She was the co-founder and Director of the Intercommunity Center for Justice and Peace.
Today in 2014 Sister Regina Murphy’s dedication and enthusiasm for systemic change is as strong as ever. As Co-Chairperson of the Global Poverty Task Force of the Sisters of Charity of New York she directs the task force in its efforts to follow Pope Francis’ lead in advocating social and economic reform.

Sister Mary Donagher
An English Major and born teacher, Mary spent her first twenty-one years on “mission” in Education. Six of those years were spent in the Sisters of Charity Mission in the Bahamas where her love of the poor and desire to help them improve their lives was nurtured and developed.

After ten years of mission at St. Barnabas High School as Teacher and Assistant Principal, she became Pastoral Associate at St. Joseph’s Parish and St. Paul’s Parish, both in Manhattan. In this ministry, Sister Mary saw her role as an example of the service of women in the Church. People came to know her as one who served especially the most vulnerable; the elderly, sick, street people, and the homeless. She was the Education Coordinator at Siena House, a transitional housing facility located in the South Bronx.

Mary’s passion for adult education of the poor led her to many volunteer services in this field. Today, she volunteers as a tutor in the Sisters of Charity ESL program. As co-chairperson of the Sisters of Charity Task Force on Global Poverty, she encourages the members to educate government leaders to work for systemic change via the new technology methods. She has been and is an educator, incorporating the media of the times. From pencils and books to all forms of internet her mission to educate has thrived.

Leave a comment

Filed under Sisters of Charity Federation, Sisters of Charity of New York