Monday, June 18, 2018

Life is a Balancing Act

Sister Cyndi and Thunder
“Everyday is different. It is a balance between taking time to reflect and pray, to teach, and to contribute in my role on the leadership council”, shared Sister Cyndi Nienhaus. “It is always a thrill to teach. I strive to present a world view that broadens the perspective of my students.” Sister Cyndi has taught for the past ten years at Marian University, Fond du lac, Wisconsin, as an Associate Professor of Religious Education.

Sister Cyndi has been a member of the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes for the past 23 years. Cyndi shared that she lives on her own with a therapy dog named Thunder. She takes lots of dog walks and Thunder loves visiting the retired sisters at St. Francis Home and Nazareth Court and Center. Sister Cyndi states, “Being in community means having dinner with other sisters several times a week and praying together.  We enjoy going to the movies or bike riding or taking walks together as well.  My other hobbies include playing the flute in the Fond du Lac Symphonic Band and taking piano lessons.”

Cyndi continues, “Everyday I take time to be still and to listen for God’s voice.  I unplug, away from computer and phone. I meditate.  Some days God’s voice is clear and other days not, but in taking the time to listen and breath I am able to pray and surrender to the grace that is waiting for me.” Sister Cyndi adds,” This is very important to me. I live in hope. I want to bring the best out in myself and others.  My desire is to be empathetic and compassionate in my teaching and leadership.” Cyndi concludes, “I care about the suffering people endure, and not only do I want to help, but really see the people in my daily life and value them fully.”

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Meet Sister Georgeann

Bugles! Batons and Badger Honor Flights!

Sister Georgeann plays taps on her bugle for Veteran’s Day. She recalls serving as a drum majorette, twirling her baton for her high school band.  She has recently accompanied veterans on Badger Honor flights to Washington DC. In Autumn on Friday nights she can be found at the local high school football games. And she jogs three to five miles a day and ten miles on weekends!

Not your everyday sister, Georgeann lives in Madison, Wisconsin and is a hospice chaplain.  In a recent interview, she smiled and shared, “For me, my ministry is not work.  I feel privileged to provide spiritual support and caring presence to hospice patients, their families, and their friends, welcoming them and letting the mystery of their lives fill me.”

“Sister Georgeann is the calm in the storm, so positive, compassionate, and understanding,” shared Rick Bourne, President and CEO of Home Health United, where Sister currently works.  “She has a wonderful sense of humor and is a great comfort and calming presence to both staff and patients.”

Sister Georgeann’s idol is Mother Teresa…no surprise.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Living a Life of Purpose

“Three years ago I attended a program called “Getting Ahead, Moving Out of Poverty”.  It has changed my life and my view of people who live in poverty,” stated Sister Rose.  “I became a facilitator with Jack Braun, Program Manager, who initiated the program through St. Vincent de Paul in Fond du Lac. I have learned so much and have met some very courageous families who want to make a better life for themselves and their children”.

The Fond du Lac program has graduated 14 families since it began. It is an eighteen-week course with childcare provided and a meal served.  “When people are in poverty their network of relationships are often limited” continued Sister Rose.  “The first thing that occurs in class is creating an atmosphere of trust where people can share their daily struggles and stress. It is beautiful to witness as the participants open up to one another.  They gradually become more confident as they believe they can have a better future.  They want to get off food stamps and government help and move beyond the barriers they are experiencing. People in poverty live day to day, they are afraid of tomorrow and what it will bring.  We strive to give them options and more control over their futures, we walk with them and challenge them, and we see them grow in self-confidence.  Most of our participants are single parent mom’s and some are finishing their GED, others are graduating from college. They have hopes and dreams and we witness the risks they are willing take to make them come true.”

Sister Rose has been a member of the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes for 62 years.  She sparkles with energy and enthusiasm when sharing about her volunteer work.  In addition to facilitating for Getting Ahead she is a Hospice Hope volunteer and tutors students in literacy at the public library.  She is living a life of purpose and faith.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

“We strive to minister with simplicity and hospitality” ~ CSA Mission

Sister Edie in peach-colored top with students.
“I love my JOB! “shares Sister Edie.  Her enthusiasm for working with college students is apparent in her voice and her laughter.  “The students who come to Campus Ministry are a great group.  I am a spiritual and personal guide to them.  This center is a place of welcome.  We have a drop-in dinner each week, it is a relaxed atmosphere of telling stories of daily life and what challenges they are dealing with. We are like a family, a family that creates a safe place to share”, shared Sister Edie.

“Part of my work is to lead a retreat for the students, the name is “Retreat on the Go”. This year we had 19 students and five faculty participate.  Each day participants commit to pray, reflection and meeting for a brief time with a spiritual director”, continued Sister Edie.

“You don’t normally think of students going hungry on a college campus but there are some who cannot afford a meal ticket.  We have a food pantry and we have food drives for staples such as peanut butter and macaroni and cheese and personal hygiene items. Every two weeks students in need can select items plus two prepackaged meals. We have about 12 students who come regularly, five of them have children.”

“My love relationship with the Sisters of St. Agnes began in high school and it hasn’t stopped.  It is so life giving, I am very much at home in this way of being.  The whole sense of spirituality, fullness of life and vibrancy continues to affirm my choice”, concluded Sister Edie.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Meet the Sisters, Living the CSA Mission!

“Alone we can’t do much, together we can change the world”

“Everyday I get to help people hear!  This past year through the Starkey Foundation we provided over 14,000 new, high quality hearing aids to people who could not afford them.  My greatest satisfaction is to give the gift of hearing to so many people throughout the world.  This is a family owned business and the founder will often stop by my office and say “Joanita are we doing more than last year?” He knows a lot of people can’t afford hearing aids and he wants them to have the latest technology can produce. My job is to make this happen.  The men and women I work with are so committed, it is a calling for them to serve people with a hearing loss. The work environment is one of tremendous community, it is truly a warm, caring family place to work. 

Our program provides the hearing aids at little or no cost based on a person’s income.  For a person to get a job or maintain their job they need to be able to hear.  We are serving the working poor who cannot afford the price of hearing aids, they are rarely covered under insurance plans.

As a member of CSA daily prayer is very important to me.  I am a firm believer in prayer, our lives need to reflect what matters to us.  When I pick up the phone at work and hear the pain and despair of people’s stories I ask myself “how can I help this person?” I see myself as an instrument of Christ and I want to serve in the best way possible.” 
                                                                                   Sister Joanita Stelter, CSA
                                                                                   Hear Now Manager for Starkey Foundation
                                                                                   Eden Prairie, Minneapolis, MN