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.

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“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.

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.”

National Migration Conference

Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras gave the opening keynote address at the National Migration Conference in Washington, D.C.

S MaryAnne Olekszyk, provincial council member, and S Maryann Agnes Mueller, coordinator, Justice and Peace,  participated in the National Migration Conference in Washington, D.C., July 7-10.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishop’s (USCCB) Migration and Refugee Services, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) and Catholic Charities USA hosted the conference at the Renaissance Washington DC Downtown Hotel.

The goal of the conference was to advance the life and dignity of immigrants, migrants, refugees, unaccompanied migrant children, victims of human trafficking and other vulnerable people who need to leave the nation of their birth.  Keynote speakers included Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras, and Ambassador Luis CDeBaca, U.S. State Department, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, as well as Senator John McCain.

United States Government and United Nations officials and USCCB, CLINIC and Catholic Charities Projects Managers offered more than 60 workshops over a two-day period covering issues of cultural diversity and pastoral care, policy and advocacy, Catholic teaching on migration, human trafficking, children’s services, and program development.  The most gripping presentations were by young and old persons who were refugees, asylum seekers, or victims of labor trafficking.

The participants traveled to Capitol Hill on Thursday to advocate for Catholic values to be integrated in legislation focusing on immigration reform, refugees, unaccompanied children and labor trafficking victims.

Blessed Mary Angela Parish Celebrates Patronal Birthday

ttyttThe Felician Sisters of Blessed Mary Angela Parish in Dunkirk, NY, along with several parishioners, celebrated Blessed Mary Angela’s birthday a day later–on Saturday, May 17–by serving lunch at the local food pantry, “Friendly Kitchen.”

SM Andrew Wiercinski and SM Rachel Mikolajczak brought homemade cupcakes donated by parishioners and friends, along with ice cream cups and groceries from the sisters and parishioners and distributed them during lunch on Saturday.

Sister Rachel said the sisters also distributed Blessed Mary Angela prayer cards along with a greeting card from the sisters!

Reaching out to the Church in the Northwest Territories:

tttSM Jeanine Heath, faithful caretaker of the alms collection throughout Lent at Mother of Good Counsel Convent in Chicago, IL, presented the alms collected there during the Holy Thursday Liturgy.

Each day during Lent, she counted the money and then transferred it to a safe place, after placing a little note with the amount written on it by the collection bowl so that all knew the rising total.

The sisters united with one another and prayed for SM Celeste Goulet and the needs of the Church in the Northwest Territories:

As we bring up our alms for the poor, for Sister Celeste and the Slavey Dene Indians of Tulita, Northwest Territories, Canada, we pray . .


That through our Felician ministry there, the Slavey People may continue to uphold their native traditions while welcoming God within their lives, we pray . . .