A Season of Change

Summer is always a season of change for the RMC program, as we say goodbye to one group of volunteers and excitedly prepare for the next.  Though it is always difficult to part with volunteers who have become our family, there is also much beauty in this season, and much to celebrate:

  • On Monday, July 27th, the Closing Liturgy for the RMC’s was held in the Provincialate Chapel.  It was an opportunity to thank the RMC’s for all they have given us this year, and to pray for them on their new journeys. Anna, Sara and Mary Clare shared reflections on the year with the congregation, and we celebrated with Sisters, supervisors and co-workers at a reception after Mass.  RMC Kelly, who departed in June to begin PA school, surprised us by returning for the celebration!
  • Also on July 27th, the RMC’s had the privilege to join Dr. Beth Dupree and Susan Rocco on their radio show, Women to Watch.  Women to Watch reveals the personal stories behind many influential women in the Philadelphia area and nationwide.  The RMC’s had the opportunity to speak about their experiences this year and who has been an influence to them.  You can listen to the broadcast here: http://wwdbam.com/2015/07/27/wtw072715_mono/

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  • On July 31, former RMC Petra Dankova was welcomed into the Sisters’ Congregation as a Postulant. A Postulant lives with the Sisters, sharing prayer and community life while continuing to explore more deeply a vocation as a Sister of the Holy Redeemer.  Petra will now spend 1 month at the Sisters’ Motherhouse in Germany, working with refugees.

 

  • And now we look forward to welcoming a new RMC, Ashley, in less than 2 weeks!  Ashley is a graduate of the University of Dallas and will be serving as a Patient Support and Patient Care Assistant in the Bott Cancer Center/Women’s Health Center.

So much change, so much beauty, so much new life!  We keep Ashley, the 2014-15 RMC’s and former RMC Petra in our thoughts and prayers as they enter their own seasons of change.  How blessed we are to call all of them part of our Redeemer family!

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The Healing Consciousness Foundation

One of Anna’s responsibilities as a Patient Support in the Southampton Women’s Health Center is working closely with the Healing Consciousness Foundation (HCF), a non-profit organization founded by breast cancer surgeon Dr. Beth DuPree in 2007. The HCF seeks to improve the quality of life for thousands of people affected by breast cancer in the Greater Philadelphia area through education, lifestyle modification and holistic healing. They provide education on survivorship programs to healthcare providers, offer “Wellness Warrior” programs, retreats, support groups and fashion shows, and they offer healing certificates to invite persons affected by breast cancer to receive holistic services.

On Thursday, I had the privilege of attending an information session on the HCF. I learned about the education and resources that the HCF provides to patients, families and healthcare providers. Most importantly, I was able to hear first-hand accounts from breast cancer survivors about how the HCF empowered them and changed their lives.  The courage and strength of the women who shared their stories was awe-inspiring.

I often hear stories of the amazing work performed by the RMC’s in their ministries, but rarely get to meet the patients, clients and residents who are directly affected by their hard work and dedication.  To hear the powerful stories of people who have been touched by Anna’s work with the HCF can only be described as a blessing.  The RMC’s have truly lived out the mission of the Sisters of the Holy Redeemer, and I couldn’t be more proud.

For more information on the Healing Consciousness Foundation, visit www.hcfbucks.org.

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Winding Down

As we flipped our calendars over to July, the realization has hit that this is the last month of service as RMC’s for Mary Clare, Sara and Anna.  They will continue in their ministries until July 24th, and wrap up the year with a Debriefing Retreat and Closing Mass the week of July 27th. It has been a true gift to see them grow personally and professionally, and to know how many lives that they have touched through their service.  Though there are countless ways in which they have impacted others through their service, some special achievements stand out:

  • Anna worked with the Healing Consciousness Foundation* to plan and implement several special weekend retreats for individuals affected by breast cancer.
  • Mary Clare and Kelly held nutrition lessons for the children at Drueding Center* – complete with taste tests of nutritious snacks – to teach our younger generation about healthy eating
  • Sara conducted computer classes, cooking classes and weekly Rosary sessions to enrich the lives of the residents of Redeemer Village*
  • Each RMC , through her work as a Patient Care Assistant, C.N.A. and Nurse in Holy Redeemer Hospital, has provided compassionate care and a healing presence to vulnerable populations.

We have been immeasurably blessed to have Anna, Kelly, Mary Clare and Sara with us this year. Though their year as RMC’s winds down, their passion for service and love for others remains as strong as ever.  May God bless them in their final weeks as RMC’s and beyond!

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RMC’s volunteering in the Redeemer Valley Garden for their May RMC Day

*The Healing Consciousness Foundation is a non-profit organization that seeks to improve the quality of life for those at high risk for or diagnosed with breast cancer through holistic healing modalities, education, and life style changes. 

*Drueding Center is a transitional housing program for women and children experiencing homelessness, seeking to create two generations of self-reliant adults.  

*Redeemer Village is a low-income, HUD-subsidized independent living community for people aged 62+.

Bon Voyage

On June 14th, the RMC’s, Sisters of the Holy Redeemer and friends said farewell to RMC volunteer Kelly as she departed to begin her journey with a Physician Assistant Program.

To close out her 2nd year as a Redeemer Ministry Corps volunteer in a special way, the RMC’s prepared and sang the music for Sunday’s Liturgy, and Kelly shared a reflection on her experience with the program:

In a few short weeks I will be cleaning up my room, saying goodbyes and packing away my hot pink scrubs for one final time. I will leave Philadelphia as I have many times over the past two years, but this time it will not be round trip. I will no longer spend my Sundays celebrating Mass and enjoying lunch with the Sisters, Associates, and fellow RMCs. I will no longer spend my Mondays and Tuesdays fighting the traffic on my way to Drueding Center. I will no longer spend my Wednesdays- Fridays amidst staff and patients who constantly teach me about the ups and downs of life. Yes, in a few short weeks, everything is going to change. It is a change that is welcomed but also dreaded, as it brings a chapter of my life to a close but also paves the way for the road ahead. So, as I take the time to reflect on the journey of the past two years it is not without a sense of tremendous gratitude for what I have experienced as well as deep joy for the relationships I have formed and looming sorrow for what I am about to leave behind.

Living a life participating in full time service is hard. You have to motivate yourself to go to ministry on the toughest of days without even the minimum wage paycheck to reward you. You have to find a balance between being a member of the staff and completing all of your assigned responsibilities while also keeping in mind that you are there for ministry not employment. You have to empty yourself in full service to those around you while accepting that sometimes there may not always be someone or something to fill you back up. It is exhausting. It is challenging. It is draining. It is beautiful. The challenges of participating in year of service are many, but together they provide countless life lessons, blessings, and, of course, memories.

For the past year I have been working as a Family Support Specialist at the Drueding Center, a transitional housing center for women and children. This position certainly tested me in many ways. It took me out of my comfort zone, challenged me to make the mundane meaningful and taught me about being resourceful, advocating for yourself, and finding balance. It awarded me the opportunity to find hope, meaning, and determination amongst a population that has experienced more than I could ever imagine. I was able to witness the unceasing compassion and advocacy that exists at Drueding and consider myself greatly blessed to have been a part of something so life-changing. My time at Drueding reminded me that service is not necessarily about what you want to do and when you want to do it but rather it is about willingness—about being able to fill the greatest need and to use the skills God blessed you with. I greatly admire all the staff that have put forth endless support to these families and I respect all the women who are putting in a lot of hard work to better their lives even when the odds seem stacked against them—they possess a strength and courage that is unmatchable.  

In my time as a Patient Care Assistant on 2 South I have been truly blessed in innumerable ways. I can honestly say that if you asked me 5 years ago what I would be doing after graduation, one of the last answers I would have given is toileting, bathing and feeding patients, or guarding a confused patient from jumping out of bed. So, first and foremost, this experience has been a tremendous exercise in humility. I have interacted with people when they are at their most vulnerable moments: sick, lonely, dying. I have comforted family members after their loved ones passed; I have rejoiced with patients when they hear the word discharge; whether we exchange words or not, we have become a part of each other’s lives, if only for a moment. And in that moment they have taught me patience, compassion, and strength. They have taught me how to love, even when it is difficult. They have given me an opportunity to serve in an organic and meaningful way and have taught me how to embrace life with hope, humor and humility.  It has been a true blessing to experience the wisdom, beauty, fortitude and spirit of these individuals.

Relationships have driven every facet of my time on 2 South, but no relationships proved to be more enduring, embracing and irreplaceable as the ones formed with my second family. Every one of my coworkers welcomed me onto the team and taught me something remarkable. They have invested two years of their lives into making my experience worthwhile and for that I am forever grateful. I will never forget the laughter we shared, the memories that we made, or the love that we exchanged. They taught me about medicine, about teamwork, and about compassionate, patient-centered care—so many things that are enormously essential. However, the most important thing that transformed this position from healthcare into a second home had absolutely nothing to do with being on 2 South but with a four letter word that never fails to transcend even the most mundane work: and that is love. As I embark on my PA school journey, I know that each of them will hold a place in my heart and in my mind, encouraging me and inspiring me every step of the way.

As I have illustrated, one of the best things about doing a year of service is the people you are doing it with. The coworkers, clients, and patients all play a significant role in transforming the year into something beautiful. But they aren’t the only ones. There are a few more unsung heroes. People that endure the journey with you. They pray with you. They strengthen you. They experience joy and hardship with you. They are your wings when you have forgotten how to fly. They are your community. They start as your peers, they become your friends, and, in the end, they are your sisters. In my case, that last one kind of brings an intended pun as I have been blessed with a community that extends past the four inspiring women I live with and includes the Sisters, Associates, and Friends of the Holy Redeemer. Over the past two years this community has left me with nothing less than an astounding sense of admiration, appreciation, and great joy. I truly don’t think words will ever be enough to thank each of them individually for the indent that they have made on my life, but I hope they know how much they will forever mean to me. 

Coming to Philadelphia was not really in my five year plan. I never intended to journey to Southeast PA. I never intended to fall in love with my ministries. I certainly never intended to stay two years. But, looking back I would not change a single moment. The Jesuits have a phrase that describes completing a year of service. They call it “Ruined for Life”. They acknowledge that once you commit to this journey, you will never be the same. And I don’t think anyone could say it better. Because of my time with Redeemer Ministry Corps I leave Philadelphia a different person. I leave having crossed paths with hundreds of people who changed me in ways both great and small. I leave inspired to continue serving and living for others. I leave knowing that I am loved greatly by this crazy little community in Huntingdon Valley, PA. I leave with tremendous gratitude for all that I have experienced. I leave truly “Ruined for Life”. And it was all worth it.

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June RMC Retreat

The rain didn’t stop us from having a memorable retreat weekend June 5-7, as we headed to Sea Isle for a “Garden Getaway” retreat weekend.  The retreat weekend offered the RMC’s to examine the different seasons of their lives and see how God, the Master Garden, is with them in every season.

This weekend was also a chance for Kelly to begin processing her farewell to the program.  Kelly will be departing on June 14th to begin her next journey – a Physician Assistant program in Virginia. A special prayer service and farewell dinner was held for Kelly during the weekend, and her fellow RMC’s shared their prayers for Kelly, as well as fond memories.

Thank you, God, for a beautiful weekend with beautiful, inspiring young adults.  Thank you for times of sharing, reflection and laughter.

RMC Reflection…Mary Clare

I remember the anxiety I was feeling about a year ago. I had just graduated from nursing school and was beginning to think about what I wanted to do with my next year. I anxiously looked over job postings and different new graduate residency programs. There were so many routes I could take. To say I felt overwhelmed would have been an understatement. It was at this point that I paused to say a simple prayer, “Lord I am willing to do your will, you just need to show me what that is.” Two days later, Kelly, a current RMC, emailed me saying I should look into the RMC program. I was hesitant at first, as this would be a very different route than what I had envisioned for myself as a new nurse, but I took a leap of faith and applied.

So here I am. As I went to different interviews and applied to different programs, I began to feel this peace around the decision of becoming an RMC. I think that this is the biggest grace and gift that this year has given me. By opening up my heart and will to whatever Christ may put at my feet I began to realize that He will lead us places that we never expected to be, but once you are there you can’t imagine having gone anywhere else. This year I have had the privilege to live and grow in relationship with the three other amazing RMCs, who I am blessed to call my friends. I have also grown in relationship with the Sisters of the Holy Redeemer, who teach me so much about faith, love, humility and service. I serve two days a week at the Drueding Center where I am blessed to spend time with the children and their families. Holding a child, reading them a book, teaching them about fruits and vegetables, making goals with families are all ways I have encountered God through others. Three days a week I serve in the hospital on the Day Surgery unit. This floor has challenged me to grow as a nurse and has also blessed me with the knowledge of many experienced, skillful and encouraging teachers.

As this year comes to an end and I again find myself discerning what my next chapter will look like, I hope to carry this message with me:  “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29: 11 All it takes is a little bit of trust, openness to God’s will and a sense of adventure.

Pancake Breakfast

2015flyerThe Pancake Breakfast is back!  Join us Sunday, April 12th from 8 am to 1 pm for a delicious breakfast, raffle baskets, baked goods, craft tables, a flea market and more!  Proceeds from the Breakfast benefit the Redeemer Ministry Corps volunteer program.

If you are interested in volunteering or donating a raffle basket item for the Breakfast, please contact the RMC office at 215-914-4116.  Thank you and we hope to see you at the Breakfast!