A Witness to Missionary Life
It was my privilege and blessing to attend the celebration of Sister Benigna Morais’ 60th Jubilee in the chapel at St. Anthony Hospital in Chicago on October 7, 2016. It was indeed a graced time for the community at St. Anthony’s and all of us Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
It was obvious that Sr. Benigna has touched the lives of so many of God’s people. It was so inspiring to see the diversity in the congregation. From Nigeria: the main celebrant Fr. Cajetan Ebuziem and concelebrants: Fr. Peter Muojekwu, Fr. Michael Okoro, and Fr. Benedict Ezeoke. From Chicago: Fr. Bob Lombardo. Present in the packed Chapel were Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Sister Benigna’s Niece Andrea Resende Morais and her Grandniece Sophia Resende Morais, the Administration, staff and employees of St. Anthony Hospital, the Missionaries of Charity of Mother (St.) Theresa and the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist of Chicago with their Founder, Father Bob Lombardo, CFR. Music was provided by Alma Molina of St. Agnes Bohemia Church and
Tony, the violinist.
Sister Joan McGlinchey gave the welcome in which she told of Sr. Benigna’s origin in Brazil and her generous response to Jesus’ call to be a Missionary. She described Benigna’s extensive travel on her missionary journey to minister to others – one year after profession to New York City to Cabrini Hospital in Harlem, NYC, studying nursing in Chicago, serving as an LPN in Seattle where she also studied for Pastoral care, ministering in Pastoral Care at St. Cabrini Hospital in Chicago as well as serving as local Superior and then her dauntless spirit as she transitioned to St. Anthony Hospital as Cabrini Hospital closed.
In the homily Father Kenneth Ekekwe exhorted everyone to “love one another” – the key to life, happiness and peace. James A. Sifuentes, Vice President, Mission and Community Development, commended Sr. Benigna for her dedication in Pastoral Care. He noted that for her it is a true vocation – not just a job. He also thanked her for the support she has given him during his time at St. Anthony’s. Perhaps the strongest acclamation came from
Guy Medaglia, President and Chief Executive Officer of St. Anthony’s. Guy stated with no hesitation his great love and respect for Sr. Benigna and asserted in no small way that she is the “soul of St. Anthony Hospital”.
At the close of the liturgy Sister Benigna thanked everyone and stated clearly that this celebration was not for her alone but for each of those present. She opened her arms wide and threw everyone a big kiss.
The Mass was followed by a simple reception in the small conference room. It was edifying to watch Elizabeth Zayas who had made all the programs and bookmarks work diligently to keep the platters of food coming for the guests. The reception was open to all the employees and as they passed through to greet Sr. Benigna and partake of the goodies. It was a magnificent witness to the dedicated, diverse and united community.
Nancy Golen, Executive Director of Cabrini Retreat Center, captured the moment when she commented that “the celebration was a tribute to a little known and recognized ministry to an, underserved population representing a variety of cultures and backgrounds.”
Thank you, Benigna, for responding to Jesus’ call, for your generosity and persistence in giving of yourself day in day out. I am sure that Sister Caritas Moscati, your first Superior and mentor at Cabrini Memorial Hospital, looked down with love and pride on you this day.
A Time to Give Thanks
On September 10, 2016, a celebration of thanksgiving was held at St. Cabrini Nursing Home in Dobbs Ferry, NY. Five Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus joined to thank God for the call to consecrated life and the graces bestowed upon them over the years enabling them to faithfully respond to that call.
Sister Adeodata Gatti, MSC celebrated 70 years, Sister Catherine Garry, MSC and Sister Romualda Molon, MSC celebrated 60 years and Sister Arlene Van Dusen, MSC celebrated 50 years. The Sisters were happy to celebrate at the Nursing Home so that the Sisters in residence could join in the Liturgy and festivities.
So many people generously assisted in the preparations and celebration of the Eucharistic Liturgy, which took place in the beautiful chapel. Miguel Pigue and Housekeeping staff set up the Chapel. Father Edwin Robinson, OFM, was the celebrant and gave a very meaningful homily. Lorraine Campanelli, CLM, provided the piano music and Susan Herceg served as song leader and soloist for the Magnificat. Sr. Susan Greene, RDC, designed the cover for the Mass booklet.
The congregation included Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, other Sister residents, Sr.Ilaria’s family, members of the administration and staff, co-workers of Sr. Adeodata and Sr. Romualda, and friends.
Pat Krasnausky, CEO, and Bonnie Burke, Administrator, gave oversight to the whole event. The cafeteria and part of the Adult Day care were magically transformed into a dining area for the magnificent reception. Lorraine Horgan made sure that each table was adorned with beautiful violets – symbols of Mother Cabrini and the logo of the nursing home. Joe Bisaccia and the dietary staff did a stupendous job in providing scrumptious hors d’oeuvres and two beautiful cakes. It was truly a family affair as administrators and staff pitched in with the serving and collecting of dishes.
We are so grateful for a blessed day in which the sense of community permeated the proceedings and gave tangible witness to God’s abundant love.
Thank you everyone at St. Cabrini Nursing Home!!