It’s No Secret Santa,

It’s No Secret Santa,

Manuel Casias, vice president of development for St. Felix Pantry in Rio Rancho, NM, really believes that “Every child deserves a little joy, a toy!”

And that is exactly what is going to happen for many children this year, thanks to St. Felix Pantry and its annual St. Felix Pantry Christmas store. The Christmas Store provides moms and dads with the opportunity to purchase gifts for their children that they might not otherwise be able to purchase on their own.

“Christmas store is successful because of many generous donations that come to the Pantry from people all over the country,” Casias said. He added, “We still have a few mittens left over from last year that were donated by the Felician Sisters from Immaculate Heart  of Mary Convent in Buffalo, New York.”

“Toys, coats for kids, and other items are donated all year long for this one very special festive and most humbling event called Christmas Store,” explained Casias. Pantry volunteers, including many Felician Sisters, lend a hand during the week, helping families navigate through a mountain of toys.

“We never tell the parents what to select for their child. We create a fun shopping experience for all our clients. This is a wonderful example of everyone involved demonstrating respect for human dignity.”


Felician Sisters Honored

Madonna University Honors Felician Sisters

The noon liturgy ended, and guests made their way to Madonna University’s dining area for the Deo Gratias Celebration of Appreciation Brunch.

A freshman majoring in voice entertained the guests with two Christmas carols. Following the delicious brunch, the University honored the Felician Sisters in a special way on the occasion of their 140th anniversary in North America.

Honorees and guests listened attentively as SM Christopher Moore, provincial minister, presented the history of the Felician Sisters who left their home in Poland and traveled to America in 1874.

Following the address, benefactors were acknowledged for helping Madonna reach its fundraising goals. On behalf of all the sisters of Our Lady of Hope Province for continued generous support for scholarships for Madonna students, Sister Christopher accepted a crystal box for the Ambassador Award for continued annual giving; a plaque featuring the picture of the stained glass window in the Franciscan Center, and a certificate for the Mother Mary DeSales Lifetime Giving Award; a dozen roses; and a handmade afghan.

Felician Sisters from Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Livonia as well as local convents thanked Sister Christopher and councilors S Nancy Marie Jamroz, vicar, and S MaryAnne Olekszyk, for accepting this honor on behalf of the Felician Sisters.

At the closing of the Deo Gratias Celebration of Appreciation Brunch on Sunday, December 7, honorees and guests were enjoyably surprised at the unveiling of a beautiful oil painting of Sister Rose Marie Kujawa, presented by Ray Okonski for her retirement.

Sister Rose Marie will retire in June, 2015, as Madonna’s 16th President, and the delightful portrait will be a reminder of her many accomplishments over the years.

Appalachian Mountains of Virginia

Yes, Sister Mary Theresann Zywicki  and I will be in the ‘Angel Haven Shoe Box’ caravan on Friday, December 5, traveling to the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, carrying the 702 boxes that were packed over the Thanksgiving weekend.

We surpassed last year’s goal by two boxes!  And many of these boxes are carrying the 275 scarves and 244 caps that were crocheted by YOU sisters from all across our province!  MANY, MANY THANKS to every one of you who participated in this “heartwarming” project!

We will take pictures and inform you of our “adventurous” trip upon our return. And prayers are asked for a safe journey upon the mountain ridge!

God Bless!

Sister Jane Marie Lebiedzinski

Outreach Club

For the past several months, S Maria Louise Edwards has been coordinating a school-wide volunteer day known as Giving Tuesday.

At Holy Name of Mary College School in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, the Outreach Club held a sock drive and winter gear drive. She said students brought in more than 1,000 pairs of socks and more than 100 items of winter gear.

Finally, the day to give back arrived. On the morning of December 2, buses, cars, and volunteers rolled out to 14 different locations in

the Greater Toronto Area for a day of Giving Back. 147 people volunteered for a total of 577 hours! Students, teachers, and parents all agreed that it was a wonderful experience to give back to those in need, whether they were serving at a food bank, a parish,

St. Felix Centre or Habitat for Humanity.


Sister Louise said, “Clearly, our girls made a difference, as shown in the feedback we’ve received:

“It was indeed delightful to have a group of energetic, engaged, and committed volunteers in our warehouse when the girls from your school came in. They worked in excellent coordination, exhibiting exemplary team spirit and generosity. They will go on to become ideal citizens of the future.”   —Mississauga Food Bank

“We really appreciated the time and the effort that your students put in. It was hard work and they did it with no complaints and a lot of compassion for those that they were helping. What stuck with me was the one student who gave her gloves off of her own hands even though she was out in the cold, handing out gloves and coats. That gesture alone speaks volumes. — St. Felix Centre

And here’s what some of the students had to say about their experience:

“I went to Holy Rosary and we gave back to the community by making packages for the less fortunate consisting of toothpaste, tissues, body soap, and shampoos. This was my first Giving Tuesday and I learned so much. While volunteering I didn’t think I was making a big difference, but now I realize that even the smallest things like those small bags will make a big difference in someone’s life. This trip helped me realize how fortunate and grateful I should be for everything I have. I should use everything, not waste items, and try to reach out to others by donating and giving, especially during this time of Advent.” —  Rebecca Gritti ’18
“Team W ventured to a placement at Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Never had I known that helping people I had never met – in a completely new environment – could be so fulfilling. Whether we were moving furniture, unloading things from a truck, sweeping the floor, cleaning cabinets, or organizing building materials, the smiles on each of my fellow students’ faces truly made my day. Giving Tuesday wonderfully opened my eyes to seeing that the joy of giving is something that comes from within and it indeed is more rewarding than receiving. I realized that together as a group, we are just like the hands and feet of Christ. We are able to do great things and make a huge difference to help create a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live. What else can we do to give more?”

— Rebecca Lau ’17

The ministry of feeding the hungry

The ministry of feeding the hungry requires a lot of help from many people, especially during the holidays.

St. Felix Pantry in Rio Rancho, NM, is proud to say that it has more than 110 volunteers who are the backbone of the organization. Each volunteer has her/his own personal reasons for devoting more than six hours of unpaid work weekly. Combined, Pantry volunteers contribute nearly 25,000 hours a year, and during the holidays, that number grows.

People want to give back and be part of something that is meaningful and there is absolutely no age requirement. Actually, of all the volunteers who showed up during the St. Felix Pantry Community Thanksgiving dinner, almost half of them were young women and men

St. Felix Pantry partners with friend Julian Garza, owner of the local McDonald’s, to feed hundreds in Rio Rancho and has supported the Pantry for 21 years.

Manuel Casias, vice president of development, said, jokingly, “That requires a lot of turkeys and I am not just talking turkey.” Besides turkey, guests were served dressing and all the trimmings.

Manuel said that all of the volunteers, as well as those who came to observe the festivities, were very happy and appreciative of the opportunity to participate in this ongoing tradition to provide a meal to those in need.

Wilnor gets a cast on his arm!

Felician Sisters Haiti

We want to let you know what happened to Wilnor after his Friday accident. You may recall, in our last blog, we shared with you our trip to the city hospital in Jacmel. Wilnor got an x-ray but no doctor was there to read it. The poor are at such a disadvantage since they have no money or means to get the assistance needed when it comes to illness and accidents. His mother, Francine, said she would look for someone to help him. The weekend passed by and still no word, so we knew we had to do something today. With the help of our creole teacher, Madam Omanie, we found someone.

Dr. Paul is a Haitian orthopedic surgeon who lived and studied in New York for 38 years. He read Wilnor’s x-ray and said it was definitely fractured but Wilnor needed the other arm x-rayed to compare the two…

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We’d like you to meet Francine and her family!

Felician Sisters Haiti

Francine is a young mother of two boys. Her husband is dead, and she is illiterate. Francine works in a restaurant 12 hours a day, 18 hours on Saturday. She earns $50 a month. She is not able to pay her rent nor send her kids to school. They live near us in a shack with one bed for the three of them. Francine is allowed to eat in the restaurant, but her kids eat in our Manman Angela Kitchen. She is very depressed. Both of her boys failed to pass school last year, and she is not able to help them. They participate in our Pay-it-Forward Program. The boys are dirty and do not have clean clothes. They often ask us for soap. We try to help them as much as we can. Now Fenol, the oldest of the two boys, is doing well in school. He is second…

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