Meet Our IHM Associates

 

Patricia Rohs 2016

Patricia Rohs

On February 19, 2009, five women from Queen of Peace Catholic Community, Gainesville, Florida were commissioned as IHM Associates.  Among those women is Patricia Rohs, whose dedication to her relationship with God and the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is beyond ordinary.

Pat was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio where she attended Catholic Schools from kindergarten through college.  From the Sisters of the Sacred Heart she learned the value of prayer, meditation and silence – although she believes she was a difficult student! Her marriage to her husband, Tom, brought the blessing of four children and nine grandchildren.  Pat’s life has taken her in various directions from homemaker to a high school Health and Home Economics teacher to a member of various boards.

Most important to her is the relationship she now shares with the IHMs as an associate.  Pat met the IHMs in 2001 through the ministry of school secretary at Queen of Peace Catholic Academy.  As part of the Queen of Peace Catholic Academy community, she was led to enrich her spiritual journey through the implementation of the IHM Core Values, thereby extending the charism and spirit of the sisters.  Pat served on the initial Advisory Committee for the IHM Associate Relationship from 2011 until 2014. She not only attends the gatherings for the commissioned associates in her Circle of Grace, but also embraced and supported other women their introductory period that culminated in their commissioning.

Two years ago, Pat expanded her IHM focus to the formation of a teen group, the Theresa Maxis Circle.  She was a key member of the committee to set the agenda, brainstorm ideas and implement a program that energized young teens so that they, too, could speak and live the IHM Core Values.

Whether assisting her family members in need, serving as a Eucharistic Minister at church or preparing for a Circle meeting, Pat lives, prays and articulates the values of our Congregation.


Alejandra Marroquin   Alejandra Marroquin

Alejandra Marroquin is Guatemalan by birth, a U.S. American by adoption, and a citizen of the world.

Alejandra describes herself in these words with a keen sense of the many ways in which our God has gifted her.  Alejandra’s covenant that she wrote for her commissioning on July 30, 2011, gives expression to her desire to share in the graces she sees in the IHM Congregation—community support, social justice, teaching, and assisting the less fortunate.

Born in Guatemala City, Alejandra lived there until the age of thirteen and moved to New Jersey in 1993. Later she found her way to Penn State University and earned a degree in Psychology.  After graduation Alejandra volunteered for 16 months with the Friendship Mission in Mexico (girls' home, women’s prison, and daycare).

A resident of Scranton for eleven years, she has spent her life here in service to others.  For the past ten years Alejandra has worked closely with IHM sisters in serving the local Hispanic community in an effort to help gain access to resources in the greater Scranton area.

For seven years, Alejandra ministered with Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Scranton as a Relief Assistance Caseworker, providing resources to clients in need of various types of material assistance.  In 2012 she assumed responsibility for the Hispanic/Latino Program of this agency where Alejandra provided translation/interpretation services as well as assisting clients with medical, legal and personal appointments.

A lector at St. John Neumann Parish, Alejandra also serves on the parish council there.  As a member of the IHM Congregation Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Committee, Alejandra was instrumental in planning the 2013 Nuns on the Bus Immigration campaign visit to Scranton. She is now working on the 2016 Nuns on the Bus campaign.

In May Alejandra will receive her Masters in Social Work from Marywood University. She will be awarded the Sister Eva Connors Peace Medal for her involvement in the pursuit of peace, participation in community activism and commitment to peace and social justice.

In her written covenant as an IHM Associate, Alejandra concludes with these words, “Thank you, Mary, for saying ‘Yes’ and letting yourself be the first tabernacle; may your courage always remind me that with faith in your son there are no obstacles. I pray that Mary always guides me… with the assistance and encouragement of the IHM Congregation”.


Debra Hardison 2016

Debra Hardison

When I asked Kieran Williams, IHM, to tell me about IHM Associate, Debra Hardison’s involvement in Holy Trinity Parish, Williamston, NC, and in the local community, Kieran described with enthusiasm some of the ways in which Debbie serves there. A wife, mother and grandmother, Debbie has for years given her heart and soul to her parish and her community. From the very beginning in the early 1980s, Betty Bullen, IHM and thereafter Kieran involved Debbie is just about everything. Debbie says that she loves them both for it.

Her ministry at Holy Trinity in Williamston includes among other things conducting religious education, directing the parish’s food pantry, working with mission and youth groups, leading Sunday morning Scripture and communion services in two languages and serving on the parish retreat committee. Debbie also serves with the Raleigh diocese as a certified master catechist (among the first in the diocese) and is a certified lay minister. Debbie partnered with Kieran in building a strong faith formation program in Williamston which became a model in the deanery and within the Raleigh Diocese in how to teach laity formation.

Debbie’s commitment to diversity is evident in her outreach at her parish and Martin Community College (MCC) where she manages the bookstore. One of the ways in which she demonstrates this at MCC is the creation each month of a window display dedicated to globalization and diversity. The display is intended to broaden and challenge the diverse student population’s view of their world. The students range from recent high school graduates to displaced workers who have spent 20 or more years in companies that have closed. She uses this project for outreach to students who may feel isolated on campus and in their communities.

After Kieran left Holy Trinity Parish, Debbie assumed responsibility for facilitating the Circle of Grace begun by Kieran—she continues to work with these associates; they are the IHM presence in Williamston. When a young woman who was considering becoming an IHM Associate asked Debbie what she likes best about being an associate, Debbie responded with this sentiment - "It is the sense of community and being connected to something deeper in my life. Being an associate calls us to expand who we think we are as a daughter of God."

Debbie’s covenant with the congregation at the time of her commissioning makes clear to us her commitment and love of the IHM Sisters. "I am a daughter of the Most High God. I am constantly being called Home every minute of every day. Some days I hear His voice calling me.... Some days I search for His voice walking in silence. Other days I run from His voice, feeling unworthy. On these days, I miss the companionship and return trusting in the promise of enduring mercy. Through the IHM Sisters, with them and in God, I am being called into a relationship that will make me a better woman of God…a daughter capable of fulfilling the mission, the journey He has created for me. In the companionship of these amazing women, rooted in the life of our Holy Mother, May, in the cision of Mother Theresa Maxis and Father Louis Gillet, empowering all  around them to recognize their own dignity and self-worth, I offer thanksgiving to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit."

The sprit and charism of IHM is alive and well at Holy Trinity, in the Williamston community and the Diocese of Raleigh.


Barbara KaneBarbara Kane

In the passionate spirit of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, we joyfully participate in the redeeming love of Jesus which impels us to proclaim the Good News of God’s unconditional love for all. -The Charism of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

The word joyful doesn’t begin to capture the essence of Barbara Kane, one of our associates from Binghamton, New York. The photo of Barbara in this article gives us a sense of the manner in which she radiates the love of Jesus to all with whom she comes in contact. Barbara has been an IHM Associate since 2012 in one of several Circles of Grace facilitated by Sister Robert Mary Murphy. Barbara graduated from Binghamton North High School and went on to get her Bachelor’s degree from SUNY in Oswego, NY. She first met the IHM Sisters in the RCIA ministry in the Binghamton area during the 1980s. Barbara’s introduction to Marywood came when she attended a music conference about liturgy for children. Later Barbara returned to Marywood as a graduate student. She wrote her thesis on the evolution of ministry and was awarded a Master of Arts degree in Theological Studies. She speaks with deep respect about Marywood University and treasures the education she received there.

In 1992 Barbara began 21 years of service in St. Ambrose Parish in Endicott, NY. There she served as Director of Religious Education, Parish Life Coordinator and Director of Faith Formation. She has also taught in diocesan programs and facilitated days of reflection and retreat. Currently Barbara serves as the Parish Life Director for the Catholic Communities of Eastern Broome County, N. Practically speaking, she manages the day-to-day programs and activities of four parishes: St. Mary’s, Kirkwood; St. Joseph’s, Sanitaria Springs; Our Lady of Lourdes, Windsor and St. Joseph’s in Deposit. An important dimension of her pastoral work in the e parishes is the opportunity to engage in and lead a number of regional ecumenical endeavors. She is the executive director of the Sophia Center for Spirituality in Broome County, NY. The Sophia Center is a local ecumenical center off ring resources and programing for people and faith communities seeking to deepen their relationship with God.

Barbara is delighted to be an HM Associate. She describes the IHM Sisters as “strong, compassionate and prophetic women of faith” and believes her own spirituality is enriched by the mission, charism and core values of the congregation. She firmly believes that our “gracious and bountiful God” called her to become an associate. For Barbara being an associate is a vocation

Barbara says that her incredibly supportive family of husband and, four adult daughters and two grandchildren gives her the energy and freedom she needs to fulfill her parish administrative and pastoral responsibilities. A lover of music and baseball, Barbara also enjoys reading historical novels and books about theology. She is avid reader of Richard Rohr, among other spiritual writers.

Barbara says that her incredibly supportive family of husband and, four adult daughters and two grandchildren gives her the energy and freedom she needs to fulfill her parish administrative and pastoral responsibilities. A lover of music and baseball, Barbara also enjoys reading historical novels and books about theology. She is avid reader of Richard Rohr, among other spiritual writers.

With joy and thanksgiving Barbara celebrates her association with the congregation. Her desire is that through her ministry, prayer, and an ongoing relationship with the sisters and other associates, she may contribute to the rich and dynamic witness of the IHMs.


BobShaw

Bob Shaw

Bob Shaw personifies these core values of Marywood University in his role as Director of the Counseling/Student Development Center and in his life aside from the university. As Bob says, "Serving young women is what called Marywood into being a century ago." Today Bob serves people at Marywood who struggle with being in higher education. He believes that he and other Marywood faculty and staff are here to receive, welcome and serve others just as the IHMs initially welcomed and helped young women attain a college education. In his personal life, Bob very publicly lives the university’s core values as the pastor of a small rural congregation at the Harding Church of Christ in Harding, PA, where he has served since 1978. Bob is married for forty-four years to Karen who shares his commitment to the parish and the local community. Karen and Bob have two adult sons and one grandson.

A Pittsburgh native, Bob received his undergraduate degree and a Masters in Theology/Doctrinal Studies from Abilene Christian University. He went on to earn a Masters degree in Psychology/Clinical Services from Marywood in 1986 and his doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from Immaculata University in 2000. Since the mid-1980s Bob has ministered in a variety of mental health facilities, engaged in private practice, participated in a pastoral care program and served as chaplain to residents in homes for the aging. Additionally, Bob has taught at Marywood for the past 18 years.

A Pittsburgh native, Bob received his undergraduate degree and a Masters in Theology/Doctrinal Studies from Abilene Christian University. He went on to earn a Masters degree in Psychology/Clinical Services from Marywood in 1986 and his doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from Immaculata University in 2000. Since the mid-1980s Bob has ministered in a variety of mental health facilities, engaged in private practice, participated in a pastoral care program and served as chaplain to residents in homes for the aging. Additionally, Bob has taught at Marywood for the past 18 years.

Bob’s first encounter with Scranton IHMs occurred in 1990 when he worked with Sisters Patty Tippen and Terry O’Rourke in a program entitled "Widening the Space of our Tent." The program was intended to enhance the sisters’ experience of community. At the time Bob was a young Protestant minister who felt called to a deeper engagement with the sisters. Bob mentions, in particular, three IHMs at Marywood who were an early influence on him – Sisters Elizabeth Pearson, Gail Cabral and Mary Talbot Kelleher. In addition to teaching Bob in class, Gail and Beth also taught parenting classes to some members of his parish community in Harding. While completing his pre-doctoral internship at Allied Services here in Scranton, Bob met Sister Amanda Del Valle, who was in training to become a physical therapist. At the time that Bob assumed his position as director of Marywood’s Counseling Center, he met Sister John Michele Southwick who has been engaged in campus ministry at Marywood for 30 years. Bob describes these IHMs and other sisters at Marywood as the most welcoming people he has ever known. He was drawn by the spirit of hospitality that is so evident in the sisters. Over time his relationship with the IHMs continued to unfold and deepen. Bob felt called to bear witness not only to Marywood University’s Core Values, but also the core values and charism of the IHM congregation. Five years ago Sister John Michele invited Bob to participate in a Circle of Grace after he shared with her that he had, for decades, felt "a harmonic resonance and kinship with the IHMs." Bob’s experience in his Circle of Grace has been, in his words, "very rich." In a word, Bob captures the essence of his relationship with the IHMs as "sacred.

We thank you, Bob, for sharing your gifts and spirituality with us and for the manner in which you are living the core values of the IHMs and Marywood University.


Lynn and Bob Turner

Lynn-Bob-Turner

“I have found the community that I did not know I needed. We share the sacredness of our lives with each other when we share a meal and prayer, as the first communities of the Church would have done.”

“Our Circle of Grace creates for me the forum in which I gain knowledge, deepen my faith, and better understand the spiritual dimension of who I am and the person I am becoming.” These words spoken by Lynn Turner and her husband, Bob Turner are the articulation of the value they place on being part of a Circle of Grace as IHM Associates. Bob and Lynn have been IHM Associates in the parish of St. Anthony of Padua in North Beach, MD since 2011. Lynn and Bob were educated by Sisters of Divine Providence and the Sisters of Notre Dame respectively. They first met the IHMs when the Sisters taught their four children at St. Mary of the Assumption School in Upper Marlboro, MD. In the early 1990s they met Sister Ann Parker, IHM at St. Anthony’s in North Beach. Before long Lynn volunteered to assist with the faith formation classes and shortly thereafter as a teacher. Sister Ann prevailed upon Lynn to step up to this challenge. Lynn says that Sister Ann taught her how to teach and to rely on the Holy Spirit. Sister Ann instilled in Lynn the realization that being a catechist is a vocation. Says Lynn of this experience of teaching Faith Formation classes for 23 years now, “I know the Holy Spirit is behind me and in front of me because I have no explanation for being able to stand in front of a group of young people and make sense. I have grown into a different person because of this. In the experience of teaching our youth I have crossed the threshold into another sacred place.”

When Sister Ann invited Lynn to become part of a Circle of Grace, Bob wanted to support Lynn in this endeavor. Bob acknowledges that he had been “going through the motions” in terms of his faith and realized that he desired to deepen his faith to more effectively influence his adult children and grandchildren. Like Lynn, Bob has found a true community in their Circle of Grace. The Circle for Bob is “an immediate family of faith.” They meet every month for a meal and prayer. They share with one another their joys and their sorrows. All of the members of the Circle are very involved in parish ministry at St. Anthony’s. The Ladies of Charity, an organization greatly influenced by St. Vincent de Paul, serve the poor, the ill and the marginalized in the local area. Among other activities, the Ladies run a food pantry that serves anyone in need. Bob and Lynn are very active in the pantry, as are several others in their Circle of Grace. The outreach that Bob and Lynn offer the local community is, for them, an extension of their commitment to live the IHM Core Values and extend the IHM Mission to those in need.

In his covenant with the IHM congregation at the time of his commissioning, Bob pledged to “strive to provide a quiet example of my Catholic faith by virtue of the manner in which I conduct my life.” Lynn expressed in her covenant her intention to” trust more in God’s providence as did Mother Theresa Maxis and to always offer the joyful, loving, hospitable, and self-emptying service” that is so integral to the IHM spirit and mission.

We thank you, Lynn and Bob, for following in Theresa’s footsteps and being our pilgrim companions on our journey into the future. May our good God bless you.


Mona GrifferMonaGriffer

“In Judaism, the concept of covenant (brit) is central to the faith. In defining one’s relationship with God, each partner has responsibilities incumbent upon him or her. Through my personal friendships and professional relationships with many IHM Sisters at Marywood University and St. Joseph’s Center, I became increasingly drawn to the idea of IHM Associate Relationship.” These words from Mona Griffer’s covenant written at the time of her commissioning in 2007 readily convey that covenant and commitment are at the core of Mona’s being. Mona expresses that her experience with
IHM Sisters awakened in her the desire to form a new covenant with God through IHM Associate Relationship.

Mona, the only child of Orthodox Jewish parents, grew up in Brooklyn, New York, in a neighborhood with Catholics of Italian or Irish descent and Jews from Eastern European backgrounds. She attended public school and received her religious education at a local temple. She has fond memories of sharing holiday traditions and having rich discussions about various religious practices and interfaith worship with friends and family. She says she learned at an early age that God’s presence is everywhere, in everyone, and part of everything.

Mona attended Brooklyn College, City University of New York and began her professional life as the assistant executive publisher for the international division of a major academic publishing company. There she learned to appreciate and embrace culturally diverse perspectives. She earned her master’s degree in speech-language pathology and later her doctorate in child and youth studies. After earning her doctorate, Mona accepted a faculty position at Marywood in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. She is the founding director of the master’s program in Speech-Language Pathology. This year Mona was elected a Fellow by the American Speech-Language–Hearing Association (ASHA)—one of the highest forms of recognition in her profession.

Mona views her profession as her ministry. It is also her passion. She embraces every aspect of her life with real fervor. When she is not teaching at Marywood she is otherwise advocating for children and youth with special needs. Mona has held several leadership positions in her profession and is very active in her synagogue as well as the Jewish Diversity Center in the Abingtons. She also teaches kindergarten and first grade children in her congregation’s
religious school.

Mona identifies very strongly with Theresa Maxis Duchemin and Louis Florent Gillet. She believes that her personality traits are consistent with Theresa’s convictions. Mona likens her style of being in this world to Theresa’s – a pioneering spirit and going against the establishment. She views Theresa Maxis and Louis Gillet as proactive change agents who engaged in out-of-the-box thinking.

When asked, “What is the one thing that you want people to know about you?” Mona’s immediate response was “I really love Marywood.” From the first moment she met Sisters Patricia Ann Matthews and Mary Reap, Mona felt a deep spiritual connection that she cannot explain. Her love of Marywood, the IHM Sisters and those whom she serves radiates from within her as she goes about each day “giving back.”


Jo-Ann Baca

Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Jo-Ann Baca
Galatians 6:2

Jo-Ann Baca, one of our Delaware associates, has lived her life in the spirit of this passage from Paul’s letter to the Galatians from the time she was a young girl and sensed the presence of the Holy Spirit during her  Confirmation.
Jo-Ann was educated by the Immaculata IHMs in Broomall, PA. When her family moved to Delaware she attended public high school and continued her education at the University of Delaware and Wilmington University. She began her professional life as a teacher of children with special needs and believes that God called her to this “vocation.” Over time Jo-Ann became a reading specialist. Eventually, she earned her doctoral degree in educational leadership. She went on to hold positions in state leadership, taught undergraduate and graduate education courses, and created her own educational consulting business, Service for Student Success.

Jo-Ann’s personal life challenges deepened her spirituality and she realized that she was uniquely qualified to help divorced Catholics through the arduous marriage annulment process. Jo-Ann says that the day she was commissioned as a Tribunal Advocate was a defining moment in her life.

After becoming a member of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in 2014, Jo-Ann met Sister Redempta Sweeney and participated in the parish’s adult formation committee’s book study which Sister Redempta facilitated. After the completion of the book study, Sister Redempta invited Jo-Ann and several others to consider forming a Circle of Grace. Jo-Ann and two other women were commissioned as IHM Associates in September 2016. She says that she is filled with joy and gratitude in her relationship with the IHMs and that she has never seen such joyful people with such deep passion.

Jo-Ann and her husband, David, are the parents of four adult children and two grandchildren. As a retired educator, Jo-Ann continues to respond to the many ways in which God calls her to serve others. She rejoices in the fact that she has the time to pursue whatever God is asking her to do. Jo-Ann is very involved in Stephen Ministry in her parish. Stephen Ministry is a counseling ministry that provides care and counsel to those in need. The name, Stephen Ministry, reflects the care and concern demonstrated by St. Stephen, one of the first deacons in the early church. He was selected by the Apostles to help with their mission in Jerusalem. As a leader in Stephen Ministry, Jo-Ann has trained new groups of ministers in the skills of effective listening, empathy, and assertive Christian responses. Jo-Ann is also certified to provide pet-assisted volunteer therapeutic visits to any person in the community who would benefit from interaction with a well-trained, loving pet. She values highly concern for the poor, simplicity of lifestyle, and people with disabilities. Additionally, Jo-Ann is a faithful follower of James Martin, SJ and Richard Rohr, OFM.

In her covenant written for her commissioning as an IHM Associate, Jo-Ann pledged “to continue to grow for the rest of my days, rejuvenated by the fellowship of my sister servants who strive to recognize Your spirit in everything, welcoming and embracing all into an ever-widening and inclusive circle of Your love.”

May God bless you, Jo-Ann as you go about extending the charism and living the Core Values of our beloved IHM Sisters.


Peg DalyPegDaly

Peg Daly lives every day trusting that "God is always taking care of me and my family in every way. Trusting in God’s plan always brings me peace." One of Peg’s favorite Scripture passages is Jeremiah 29:11: "For 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."

IHMs have been involved in Peg’s family for the past 30 years—since her oldest child started school in St. John the Evangelist’s K-3 program in Silver Spring, MD. Peg’s four adult children have grown up with IHMs. Peg says that the IHM Sisters are part of the community of adults who have helped her and her husband, Tim, raise their children.

A serious automobile accident several years ago forced Peg to give up her teaching career, a career that she loved. After three back surgeries, many sessions of physical therapy and other medical treatments, Peg slowly began to realize that perhaps God had different plans for her. She easily fell into the role of being a stay-at-home-mom and became involved in many of her children’s activities, particularly those at St. John the Evangelist School. Peg speaks about this early period of involvement at St. John’s in these words, “There was one person who roped me in immediately.” That person was Sister Kay Lannak.

Peg regards Kay as her mentor and spiritual guide who gently saved Peg by asking her to help with school projects and fundraisers. Over time Peg served on various volunteer teams including the school advisory committee, the Blue Ribbon and Middle States teams, the 60th anniversary of St. John’s School committee and parish celebrations of the sisters’ anniversaries of profession, to name a few. When Kay’s requests seemed impossible to Peg, Kay reminded her that the Lord would work through her and send her whomever and whatever she needed. “Divine Providence” was Kay’s motto and she taught Peg to trust in it…God would provide everything necessary.

Among the various contributions that Peg has made at St. John’s Parish in the recent past include responsibility for Confirmation preparation, serving as a Eucharistic minister and lector, teaching Faith Formation classes and participating on the liturgy committee and the school advisory board. Kay showed Peg that she has gifts that the local church needs and helped Peg develop the confidence to use her gifts in not only St. John’s School, but also the larger parish community.

In 2010 Kay invited Peg and five other women from the parish to become IHM Associates. They were commissioned in May 2015 just two months before Kay passed away. In her covenant with the congregation as an IHM Associate Peg expresses her desire to work toward being, in all aspects of her life, a person who truly loves and forgives. She believes that her bond with the IHMs is the key to deepening and living her faith.

We celebrate her presence among us.


Madonna SmithHopeSmith

A deep desire to keep the IHM spirit “alive” in her parish is one of the reasons that Madonna Smith desired to become an IHM Associate. The other is that being an IHM Associate is the “closest thing to becoming a vowed religious at this stage of my life.” Madonna is a lifelong resident of the Mt. Washington section of Pittsburgh, PA. She is also a lifelong parishioner of St.Mary of the Mount Parish, where our IHM Sisters taught and ministered for 102 years. Madonna was taught by the IHMs for 12 years at “the Mount.” Madonna’s fi rst grade teacher, Sister Adelaide Marie, is the person who alerted Madonna’s parents to the fact that she seemed to have a hearing loss. After an evaluation at DePaul Institute in Pittsburgh, Madonna was diagnosed with a 60/40 bilateral hearing loss. The Sisters at DePaul wanted to enroll Madonna in their education system; however, Madonna’s dad insisted that she enroll in a real school. Off to St. Mary’s she went…always sitting in the front row where she learned to lip read. This was not an easy feat, says Madonna, because of the fact that the sisters wore bonnets that surrounded their faces!

Madonna believes that St. Mary of the Mount afforded her a great beginning that has lasted a lifetime. She holds the IHM Sisters in awe and reverence. Madonna remembers the Sisters as kind and patient and it seemed to her that they enjoyed a loving life with one another in community. The Sisters were Madonna’s neighbors – she grew up with them. Madonna took piano lessons from Sisters Ann Theresa and Ina and practiced the piano in the convent because she did not have a piano in her home. In her senior year at the Mount she was eligible for a full scholarship at any state college. Madonna felt that she had a religious vocation but thought that she had to go to Marywood College if she wanted to be an IHM. Her widowed mother could not afford to pay the tuition for Marywood. Consequently, Madonna went to the Community College of Allegheny County, transferred to Penn State University and graduated with a degree in Psycho-Social Science. She later attained a Masters degree in Secondary Education/Guidance Counseling from Duquesne University.

Three of Madonna’s dear friends are Sister Louis Marie Verchick; Connie Wilt, who was Madonna's classmate at the Mount; and Sister Harriet Jackson (RIP). Sister Harriet's mother and Madonna's mother were friends and Madonna and Connie correspond regularly.

Madonna has spent her adult life working with and ministering to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and children with behavioral health challenges. Until she retired in 2013, Madonna worked for 41 years as an Executive Assistant for Partners for Quality, Inc., a human services agency that serves developmentally disabled and behaviorally challenged adults and children in Pittsburgh. Working in human services with people who have intellectual and physical challenges has been very rewarding for Madonna. In her career she has lived the IHM Core Values.

In 2012 the diocese of Pittsburgh closed St. Mary of the Mount School and the last two IHMs left. In the months thereafter another parishioner of St. Mary of the Mount and a former IHM Sister, Maureen O’Neill Kitner, prompted Madonna and some of their friends to think about how they might keep the spirit of the IHMs alive at the Mount. Subsequently they made a pilgrimage to Marywood and met Sister Jean Louise Bachetti, who introduced them to the IHM Sister-Associate Relationship. A Circle of Grace was formed and the six women in the Circle were commissioned in November 2015.

Their Circle of Grace meets regularly and most recently they have chosen to refl ect on Pope Francis’ writings. Currently they are focused on how to practice the Core Values within the context of Francis’ writings about mercy. When Madonna is not working as a volunteer at Partners for Quality or St. Mary of the Mount, she enjoys cooking and entertaining guests in her home. She is an avid walker and loves volunteering wherever there is a need. Madonna says that she has ample opportunity every day to live the Core Values and the IHM Charism to which she committed when she became an IHM Associate. She is being true to her promise to keep the IHM spirit, Charism and Core Values alive at the Mount.


Patricia EcclestonPatriciaEccleston

“Oh, my God, God of awesome, indescribable love, I ask you to guide my heart and my actions, as I choose to walk as an associate with the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. You alone know what is deep inside of me. You alone know the longing I have to serve you.” These words in Pat’s covenant with God and the IHM Sisters capture Pat’s joy in being invited by God to embrace a new beginning, another new life in Christ. So it was in June 2010, Pat Eccleston was commissioned as an IHM Associate in Palm Coast, Florida. In her letter to Sister Mary Persico in which Pat asked to be accepted as an IHM Associate, she expressed her absolute faith in God’s unconditional love for her. Pat regards this conviction as God’s greatest gift to her.

For many years Pat did not know the IHMs. She and her three siblings received their elementary education from the Ursuline Sisters in Ozone Park, NY. She attended public high school and faithfully attended CCD classes. When Pat married her husband, George, he was not Catholic. When they started their family, George wanted their four children to be raised Catholic. Pat and her family lived in Freeport, Long Island, where she taught religious education for 11 years. During these years she was also secretary to their pastor and president of the Altar and Rosary Society. She and George helped sponsor a Vietnamese family, and Pat taught the children to speak English. She looks back on these years and says, “What fun! I loved raising our terrific bunch of kids!”

Over the years, one person in particular had a tremendous impact on Pat – her longtime friend, Sister Constance Kennedy, a Sister of St. Joseph. She is the person who told Pat that God loved her more than she could ever imagine. Pat believed Sister Constance and to this day, spreads this good news to everyone she meets. A move to NJ brought Pat to a new parish where she taught religious education for nine more years – often in her home. After their children left home, Pat and George moved to Palm Coast, FL where they volunteered in the local community and the parish of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. After George’s death in 1999, Pat became even more involved in her parish and the new church and school. Dominican Sisters staffed the school and when they left, the Scranton IHMs arrived. Sister Nancy Elder was the principal and Sisters Mary C. Ryan, Mary Luke Zaleski, Ann Berendes, and Helene Hicks were there as well. Pat remembers that the parish loved having the sisters there – IHM spirituality was evident in everything they did. Pat and others wanted to work with these sisters and serve the parish as partners in ministry. The sisters, Pat and some of her friends shared meals, prayed together, visited the sick, and conducted parish retreats and other programs. Some time later, Sisters Ann Berendes and Helen Hicks invited Pat and two other women, Betti Lou Gaus and Liz Pietro, to form a Circle of Grace and consider the call to become IHM Associates. These three women were commissioned on June 15, 2010. Pat says that on the day of her commissioning, she “was fi lled with the overwhelming feeling of God’s unsurpassing love.” This past year Betti Lou Gaus went home to God. Liz Pietro and Pat still meet in their Circle to talk, pray and share their lives and God’s abundant love for all of us. Pat still facilitates a scripture study group in her parish that Sisters Mary Ryan, Ann Berendes and Helene Hicks started years ago.

Pat’s message to all the IHM Sisters is this: “You Sisters are so real. I have great respect for you. You truly know God and our God makes Himself present in each one of you. Thank you for being who you are!”


Maura Aguilar PaivaMauraAguilarPaiva
by Sister Ancilla Maloney, IHM

In 1993 the IHM Sisters were invited by Bishop Albano Quinn, O.Carm. to open a parish on the outskirts of the south Andean city of Sicuani, Peru. The sisters soon realized that they needed someone who spoke the Quechua language if they were going to minister to the people in their neighborhood. Those who knew her suggested Maura Aguilar, the principal of a local elementary school. Maura recalls one Sunday afternoon when she was invited to the sisters' house to learn about the creation of the parish and the sisters’ desire that Maura help them.

She accepted the invitation and so began her life in the parish of San Felipe. Gradually, thanks to the guidance of Sister Eileen Egan, Maura and the sisters became friends and she began to help them in their meetings with their neighbors. For the most part, the parishioners of San Felipe were families from the surrounding mountains who were accustomed to having Mass only once a year.

After Maura retired from school, she enthusiastically began to teach the Quechua speaking catechists and assisted with the Sunday masses. Maura focused on the adults who spoke only Quechua. She taught them to use the Bible, prepared them for the sacraments and taught them the value of our life in Christ. As a member of the San Felipe parish team who has responsibility for six mission chapels in the mountains, Maura enjoyed new experiences of friendship with the sisters as she learned how to be a member of the team. Maura’s responsibilities include taking Holy Communion to the sick, officiating at funerals and leading the Sunday service in San Felipe if the priest is unavailable and Sister Eileen is away. Maura also serves the community of Pampa Anza and every Sunday morning she leads the Liturgy of the Word for this mission.

Maura and her husband, Domingo, have a son, Henry, who is a doctor. Henry and his wife Marcella have two sons – Diego is completing his studies to become a doctor like his father and Gabriel is an undergraduate student who is studying political science. Maura spends her spare time offering hospitality to their family members who visit their home from many areas of Peru. She loves to cook and also enjoys weaving. As an educator, Maura taught elementary school for 25 years—10 years in the Andean mountain communities and 15 years in Sicuani.

When Sister Eileen Egan invited Maura and six other women to form a Circle of Grace in 2002, Maura says that she "took very seriously the experience of a spiritual life and felt the presence of God in a personal way." She began what Maura refers to as "a profound formation in the spirituality of St. Alphonsus... My association with the IHMs has deepened my faith and sense of responsibility as a Christian. I have learned simplicity from them and to share what I have. I am grateful for each minute God has given me. Thanks be to God and to the Sisters for accepting me, such as I am, on this journey - a thousand thanks." An associate for seven years, Maura has dedicated herself to the people of San Felipe and Pampa Anza. In the spirit of St. Alphonsus and Theresa Maxis, Maura remains true to her covenant which she wrote at the time of her commissioning. We rejoice in and celebrate the presence of Maura among us.