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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Felicians and the poor

During the month of December, the employees and sisters of the Blessed Mary Angela Care Center along with Sharon Secrist, director of nursing, and Melissa Green, clinical supervisor, collected items that mothers could use for their children at Gerard Place in Buffalo, NY. Gerard Place assists mothers with their children until they get themselves established.
SM Nicolette Wichrowski and SM Patricia Tomasik, mission awareness coordinators, sponsored the project  which was aligned with the Felician core value for ministry of “solidarity with the poor.” They helped procure baby bottles, bibs, diapers, wash cloths, formula, blankets, and little outfits for the children.
SM Shawn Czyzycki,  a board member for Gerard Place, accepted  gift bags containing these items as the care center’s donation and delivered them to Gerard Place.
Sister Nicolette said, “We enjoyed finding things that would help those most in need during this most joyous season of the year, Christ’s Birth.”

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.

One Sister’s Concern for the Poor

SMGeorgette's 063The Food Pantry at Villa Maria College, in Buffalo, NY,  began in 1986 when it became evident that a number of students and employees were in financial difficulty.   Inspired by a magazine article from the Los Angeles Times describing student outreach at Palomar College in San Marcos, California, Villa Maria Professor Joseph Yonder, conceived the idea of outreach to those in need.  Beginnings were small; a single table in the cafeteria near a door for easy access and anonymity, and a few bags of donated non-perishable goods became the base for student and neighborhood outreach to the poor and hungry.

In 1987, Sister Josette Smigielski , campus minister at that time, recognized the growing need for expansion, and moved her office to make way for enlarging the Food Pantry.  Soon donated items made the room a storage area and a hospitality space to provide a refreshing cup of coffee to clients as they waited for service.

In 2008 the Villa Maria College Food Pantry was renamed and dedicated to Sister Mary Josette Smigielski, who passed away suddenly on January 17, 2008.

Under the direction of subsequent campus minister, Frank Antonucci the pantry grew and expanded to its present service of approximately 560 households and 1200 individuals per month.  From one table in the cafeteria, to a quarter of the basement floor of the College’s Music Building in just over 20 years is testimony to the community outreach and ministry of Villa Maria College.

Picture1In 2013, Sister Mary Michaelanne Galas, through prayer and discernment, thought it might be time to change her ministry from the classroom to another venue.   Today, Sister Mary Michaelanne Galas, a cherished friend of Sister Josette, manages the Sister Mary Josette Food Pantry to carry on her vision of serving needy students and members of the community.  This is not only a wonderful tribute to her friendship for Sister Josette, but also an example her true Felician Francican service.