Felicians in Kingstree

Sights and Sounds of Christmas in Kingstree, South Carolina
Nearer and closer to our hearts be the Christmas spirit.  –Charles Dickens
 
PREPARING. . . homemade decorations for the tree, outdoor Nativity for passers-by, props for the Nativity drama, food from food drives all over the state of South Carolina, 340 children’s jackets from the South Carolina Knights of Columbus, pillows, towels, and toiletries for residents of a boarding house from benefactors and area churches, laundry baskets filled with household items for the elderly
SM Jacqueline Benbenek
From L: SM Carol Piskor, SM Johnna Ciezobka, and 
SM Jacqueline Benbenek
RECEIVING. . . hats, glove sets, books, LCR games, toys, boxes of cereal, candy canes, Oreos, popcorn, McDonald’s gift cards, sweatshirts, body wash, crosses with Nativity scene from benefactors near and far including wives of Knights of Columbus; Our Lady of the Sacred Heart High School, Coraopolis, PA; St. Andrew Church, Myrtle Beach, SC; Prince of Peace, Taylors, SC, and many individual benefactors
SM Jacqueline Benbenek
PERFORMING . . . hand bells, jingle bells, singers, dancers, Santa, elves and the “holy story”; S Susanne read the Gospel of the Nativity on the steps of the courthouse as part of the town’s celebration, children gift the sisters with their program
At L: SM Johnna Ciezobka and SM Carol Piskor; 
at R: SM Jacqueline Benbenek
CELEBRATING . . . delights of food at the party sponsored by Kingstree United Methodist Church and Williamsburg Presbyterian Church, salad (lettuce, spinach, kale, radishes) made from the Children’s Winter Garden, the 25th anniversary gift from the Felician Sisters of North America; opening gifts from the sisters, enjoying a magic show and Santa, too.
From L: SM Jacqueline Benbenek, SM Carol Piskor, 
SM Susanne Dziedzic
Like Wise Men laying presents before the Baby, kindness begot this feast. And Jesus is the cause of it all. Thank you for 25 years of prayers and support.
May each Christmas find us more and more like Him. . .more simple, more humble,
more affectionate, more resigned, more happy, more full of God. 
John Henry Cardinal Newman
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Felician Sisters and company …

Felician Sisters, associates, and Madonna University faculty and staff brought Christmas joy to Cabrini Clinic for the Poor patients, families, and local neighbors at Holy Trinity School in Detroit, MI, on Tuesday, December  13.
Working in the kitchen

For more than 25 years,

S Victoria Marie Indyk has coordinated this annual event. This year, more than 20 volunteers wrapped presents and assisted at this special event to provide a live Nativity play, sing Christmas carols, serve a delicious spaghetti dinner, and help Santa to distribute presents to everyone.
Serving up the spaghetti

The festive spirit was alive with excitement as children and adults admired small Christmas toys and decorations on the tables that were donated for the party. As the volunteers dressed for the Nativity play, several young girls asked to be “angels” and a young boy was dressed to be the Drummer Boy.

At the end of the Nativity play, children from the audience were invited to come up and sit by Baby Jesus as everyone sang Christmas carols honoring Jesus on His birthday. Proud parents eagerly took pictures of the beautiful Nativity scene surrounded by their young children.
Shiranthi DeSilva leading the singing

Volunteers then served the participants homemade chicken soup made by Sister Victoria along with delicious spaghetti, salad, rolls, and dessert. Filled to the brim, everyone then waited for Santa to arrive.

Each person received a specially marked shopping bag that contained wrapped Christmas gifts of gloves, scarves, hats, hygiene kits, toys, clothes, candy, and age-appropriate presents. Presents for the men had been donated through St. Sabina’s Parish that had a “Giving Tree” as their special parish mission.
At the end, presents that were left over were given to local shelters and needy families in the downtown Detroit area.

He sat quietly and unassumingly

by Manuel Casias

He sat quietly and unassumingly. Although he had a limited vocabulary, his shivers on one of the coldest days of the year spoke volumes.

A wandering little pilgrim at St. Felix Pantry in Rio Rancho, NM, named Juanito was cold, and the thin wind-breaker he was wearing was hardly sufficient enough to keep him warm. I just happened to walk by when I noticed him and immediately called out. “Who does this child belong to?” I asked. His mother, who spoke broken English, told me that he was her little boy. I did not ask if he had another coat at home; rather, I simply smiled and told her that a coat had just come in for little Juanito and we were waiting for him to come in and get it. Confused and surprised, Juanito’s mom said, with incredible humility, Gracias.

This story is not uncommon at St. Felix Pantry where clothing is also provided to many families in need. In fact, just as many families who get food weekly from the Pantry also receive much-needed clothing from the Pantry’s clothing bank. From my perspective, it is hard to imagine little Juanito and other children like him in our neighborhood being cold, especially if they live just down the street from the Pantry.

This event reminded me of one of New Mexico’s oldest stories about the Santo Nino De Atocha (the infant child of Prague, the wandering little pilgrim) who sits in an old historic pilgrimage site in Northern New Mexico. Throughout the years, people from all over this great state have brought the small statue of Jesus shoes, coats, and a variety of things to wear as he goes out into New Mexico’s countryside performing miracles nightly. In ministry, we often tell people to accept strangers as though they were friends. You never know when Jesus will pay a visit. Warm and smiling, the wandering little pilgrim Juanito is indeed a new friend of Felix.

Was it Jesus visiting the Pantry’s clothing bank, cold, shivering, and hoping that we would tend to his needs? We will never know. What we do know is that St. Felix Pantry reaches out to all of its neighbors, big and small, during their neediest moments.

For Juanito, he spent the rest of that day warm and well-fed as all children should during these cold winter days. This is the hope that St. Felix provides to individuals like Juanito and families in need throughout the neighborhoods it serves all year long. The miracle provided us this day was the assurance and confirmation that St. Felix Pantry continues to respond with compassion and the work we do every day has sacred purpose.
Annually, St. Felix Pantry makes clothing available to nearly 6,000 families whose households range from one member to several members where many of them are children. Just recently, St. Felix Pantry partnered with the Rio Rancho Baptist church, sending clothing to 60 families in Juarez, Mexico, which is approximately seven hours south of St. Felix pantry.
We serve a God without borders and boundaries. Some of the neighborhoods we serve are seven hours away.

“This is an event of family,”

oooooMore than 300 people gathered at the Laurel Manor Banquet and Conference Center in Livonia, MI, on Wednesday evening, May 20, to bid a fond farewell to  S Rose Marie Kujawa.

After serving 14 years as President of Madonna University, Sister Rose Marie will retire at the end of June 2015.

The reception offered University administrators and staff, Board members, Felician Sisters, and friends the opportunity to share memories and rejoice in the many blessings and accomplishments that have been a part of Sister Rose Marie’s legacy.

Following the opening prayer, Andrea Nodge, vice president, University Advancement, welcomed the crowd to “an entertaining program about one of our favorite people.”

In her remarks describing Sister Rose Marie’s legacy of achievement, SM Christopher Moore, provincial minister, said, “Sister Rose Marie’s ministry here at Madonna is a beautiful incarnation of the spirit of our beloved foundress, Blessed Mary Angela, whose boundless love of God and surrender to God’s will in compassionate service and total availability is what each Felician Sister strives to imitate.

The Honorable Michael Talbot, Chair, Board of Trustees, said he came to know Sister Rose Marie as the principal and chief cheerleader of Madonna University. He noted the challenges facing higher education across the country and said, “Sister Rose Marie has been living her prayer life and it’s been a lesson for me.” He announced that a rose garden outside the Franciscan Center–The Sister Rose Marie Kujawa Rose Garden–would be dedicated in her honor.

In a video entitled “Remember and Rejoice,” individuals and groups from various segments of the University community expressed their appreciation to Sister Rose Marie and also took advantage of the opportunity to say goodbye.

Jack Kirksey, mayor of the city of Livonia, was last but certainly not least among the individuals expressing gratitude, not only for Sister Rose Marie’s accomplishments at Madonna, but also for her innovative community outreach programs, building partnerships and alliances.
Just before the conclusion of the program, when Sister Rose Marie took the podium, she said “These accomplishments are not mine alone. Rather, it is about all of us working together.” She continued, “This is an event of family,” and then credited her birth family, Felician family, Madonna University family, and Livonia family for the blessings of the past 14 years.

October filled with activity and fun …

The month of October was filled with lots of activity at the Montessori Center of Our Lady in Livonia, MI. According to SM Juanita Szymanski, on Halloween, the staff and the children had a fun time singing Halloween songs at Angela Hospice, Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Convent, and St. Joseph Care Center.

Montessori families joined in the Family Fun event on Saturday, October 18, by generously donating apples to benefit Forgotten Harvest Mission to relieve hunger in metro Detroit and prevent nutritious food waste.

Not all work and no play in NM

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It’s round up time at the Ol’ St. Felix Pantry Corral in Rio Rancho, NM.

“Yes, that includes the cheese head,” said Jack Bunting, president and CEO of the Pantry.

“The cheese head is our very own Sister Paula Mary Palasz, assistant director of operations for the Pantry,” said Manuel Casias, vice president of development.

The rest, well they are just a bunch of rowdy good ol’ cowfolk volunteers.

Manuel continued, “Halloween is one of the best days at the Pantry especially as the kids light up when they see the costumes.” Last week, the Pantry was able to give away close to 300 pumpkins. Many are probably carved just in time for Halloween.

So “Giddy Up,” and Happy Halloween to all our friends, brothers and sisters of the Felician-sponsored ministries.

ffffFor more than two decades, if not much longer, SM Ramona Borkowski, founder of the Felician School for Exceptional Children in Lodi, NJ, has hosted a mid-summer crab feast/pizza party for the sisters of the Immaculate Conception Convent Complex.

This year’s party took place on Wednesday, July 16, following Evening Praise. Five bushels of crabs and approximately 25 personal pizzas–plain, pepperoni, sausage, white, white with pepperoni–brought extraordinary dining delight to the sisters of Immaculate Conception Convent, Holy Spirit Convent, Saint Felix Convent, and Our Lady of Lourdes Care Center. Dinner accompaniments included beer, soda, seltzer, and lots of candy bars.

SM Virginia Tomasiak said “Our wishes of gratitude cannot be expressed adequately to Sister Ramona who is a model of generosity, kindness and compassion. Throughout the year she remembers us in countless ways. We always promise our prayers for her and we want the Felicians of North America to hear about her goodness.”