An Inner Chapel for Mom

By Sr. Donna Fannon, MHSH

I just came across a new book* that invites the reader to imagine one’s prayer space as an inner chapel where God speaks to each of us personally.  Pondering this as Mother’s Day approached, my mind was flooded with images from the infancy narratives described in the Gospels of Luke and Matthew.  In my imagination, I beheld scenes of the Incarnation…Visitation… trip to Bethlehem…Jesus’s birth… Flight into Egypt—and all of this Mary held in her heart.  She must have had a great heart to accept what God was asking of her during some perilous times.  That would require a large inner chapel!

During this global pandemic with its dangers and upheavals, mothers are asked to accept, and to do, quite a lot. Perhaps you are working from home while home schooling your children, looking after elderly relatives or neighbors, trying to keep some sense of normalcy for your family. Whatever your own situation is, what do you need from God or from Mary during these days?  What do you wish to ask of them?

If you can, find a quiet time and place to pray, perhaps before the rest of the family is up or after they’ve gone to bed. Bring your hopes, fears, concerns, and questions to Mary, or Jesus, or other person of the Trinity. Talk with them as you would to a good friend. Then, just sit quietly and notice what you are feeling. Perhaps jot down your thoughts in a journal. Start with a 10 minute prayer period if you can, and increase the prayer time later, if circumstances allow.

Be assured that the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart are holding you in our prayers. We give thanks for all mothers…all women who have shared life and love with us. We pray for God’s abundant blessings on you and your families this Mother’s Day and every day.

 

 

*“The Inner Chapel: Embracing the Promises of God” by Becky Eldredge.  Available at Loyola Press.

 

 

 

 

 

A Mother's Day Reflection

By Sisters and Friends of the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart

Loretta’s Mother

I could always pick my mom out in a crowd of moms.  She was the one with the prettiest hair—all white. My mother had 11 children and she treated each one of their needs.  She was named Mary Rosalie but went by Rose and what a Rose she was!

I can remember one time asking her, “Why aren’t we normal?”  She laughed and said, “We are.”

She taught me a great lesson when I was in the second or third grade.  I volunteered her to make a cake for my class.  She got all the ingredients and the cook book and she put them in front of me and said, “You are going to make this cake.”  I learned to make a cake from scratch and to never, ever volunteer my mom for anything again without her permission.

Mom had a deep faith, a great prayer life and trust in God. These were the best gifts she gave our family.  She had a good sense of humor, a compassionate heart and a love for all people.  She was involved in church, social action, civic and community associations.  She taught us to reach out to those in need, to invite people to the table, and to see Jesus in each face that we met.  She also had a devotion to the Blessed Mother and would have us pray the Rosary on our knees or in the car.  I chuckle when I remember this because as my Dad drove faster and faster, Mom’s voice became louder and higher in pitch.  It went like this:

Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.

Hon, slow down!!

I can’t help but smile.  I’m not sure if she thought it was the hour of our death, but sometimes it sure felt it.

Our Mom loved us and she let us know it.  Because of her witness of love to God, Mary, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, I am a better person.  Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

–Sister Loretta Cornell, MHSH

Darla’s Mother

My fondest memories of my mother are of the times we have spent together, just the two of us.  I was six years old before I was blessed with a baby brother, so I have always had a close bond with my mom.  My husband, son and I have been blessed to have had my mom (and dad) living under the same roof with us for the last 25 years, so the bond between all of us is even stronger today!

To this day it is her love for her family and our one-on-one times that I will remember, and cherish, for the rest of my life.

–Darla Benton, daughter of Millie Stuchinsky

I first met Jesus, really met him, when Sister M. Anonymous dismissed me, a precocious second grader, from my First Communion class and forbade me from receiving Communion with my classmates, including my identical twin sister.  Despite my mother’s representation to “Sister” and my parents to “Father,” I was not permitted to return.

I remember, as if it were yesterday, sitting under the willow tree in our backyard, anxiously awaiting my parents’ return from meeting with the pastor.  After what seemed an eternity, my mother appeared, bearing a plate full of toll house cookies and a glass of milk.  She sat on the grass next to me. I can still retrieve the scent of White Shoulders.

In a voice filled with tenderness she said, “Honey, you are not going to receive Communion with your class.  That is Sister’s decision and we must respect that.  But Dad and I believe the reason is bigger than Sister.  We believe that Jesus wants you to himself on your Communion day because he has something special to say to you.”

Immediately, for this seven-year-old, raw disappointment was transformed into a sense of being special and anxiously awaiting what Jesus would say to me. To this day, I believe that my relationship with Jesus was born from my mother’s words.

–Sister Clare Walsh, MHSH

Rosemary’s Mother

Mary Burke Maguire is a wonderful and loving mother.  We (her children) feel it is both a privilege and an honor that she lives at The Villa in Baltimore.  The Villa is a retirement community of religious women—Sisters of Mercy and the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart.

It is fitting that she spends these years of her life in such a community.  Mary Maguire is one of the holiest women I have ever known.  Holy in the sense of God first in everything she says and does.  Our mother bestowed on us faith, hope and love that know no bounds.

–Rosemary Thompson

Mariel’s Mother

My mother was beautiful.  My friends always said that they had never seen such a beautiful woman.  It was not her physical beauty, however, that impressed me the most. We had many religious items that graced our home; these did not impress me the most.  What truly influenced me throughout my life was Mom’s steadfast faith.  Through many difficult times, Mom trusted unwaveringly in God and set an unforgettable example for all of us. Even at age 80 she continued to attend daily Mass.  I remain forever grateful to her for having encouraged me in my decision to become a Mission Helper. Mrs. Helen Rafferty, mother of Sister Mariel.


–Sister Mariel Rafferty, MHSH

Among my favorite memories of Mom is this: I was seven or eight, my sister 12 or 13.  We had a big doll the size of a two-year-old child.  She wore real baby clothes.  Neither of us played with her anymore, but she was one of my prized possessions.  One day in the cold of winter my mother said, “You don’t play with that doll anymore. How about giving it to Rosie up the street?  She may not have a doll.”

I immediately tensed up and got possessive, but my mother reasoned with me.  “You have other dolls, but Rosie doesn’t have any.  God wants us to share what we have.”

After a while she wore me down and I agreed. I took the doll to Rosie.

Sometime later I was at Rosie’s house, and I was hoping to play with the doll.  But Rosie said, “My mother threw it in the stove.”  I was horrified and sickened.  That doll was as big as a baby who could walk, and I pictured a child being thrown into the flames.  I must have left right away because my next memory is of running home and bursting into the house crying.  Mom asked what was wrong and I sobbed, “Rosie’s mother burned the doll up in the stove.”

Mom always had a calm way about her. She thought for a moment, then said, “Maybe she needed to do that because they didn’t have wood for the fire.”  That stopped me for a second, but then came another onslaught of crying and I sobbed, “But it was MY doll.”

Mom triumphed again.  “No, it wasn’t your doll.  You gave it to Rosie. When you give a gift, it’s not yours anymore and you can’t tell people how to use it.”

My mother taught me many little lessons like that, and I’m grateful for every one of them.

–Sister Kathleen Lehner, MHSH

I have so many memories of my mother, Theresa Gertrude Hubich Bunn.  I remember her sitting on the side of my bed and teaching me to pray “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” and “Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, bless the bed I lie upon, four angels to guard my bed, two at the foot and two at the head…”

I remember lemon meringue pies so delicious that I picture heaven including pie, coffee and watching the sun rise over the ocean.  I remember walking toFortMcHenryin our Easter outfits and hats on sunny Easter afternoons.  I remember Uncle Wiggley stories and if the sky doesn’t turn green and trees don’t grow upside down, I will tell you more memories next year.

–Sister Susanne Bunn, MHSH

Donna Fannon’s Mom

Some of my favorite memories of Mom center around being “always ready for a ride” and “dressing for the occasion.”  Until recently, Mom has always been ready to go on an outing, but only with the proper attire.  This photo was taken at the Red Lion Inn a few years ago. My sister and I took her there for a spring getaway.  For us it was a time to relax, but for Mom, it was an event.

Mom continues to greet each day as something worth dressing up for.  She had the same outfit on this week for a visit to the doctor’s office for a routine blood test.  “After all,” she said, “one never knows whom we will run into on the way.”

I find a great lesson in that, especially as I try to be prepared to meet God at any moment along the way…and be ready to respond.  Thanks Mom.

–Sister Donna Fannon, MHSH

*Note: we are republishing this post from 2012

Mothers Day Reflections

By Sisters and Friends of the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart

Loretta’s Mother

I could always pick my mom out in a crowd of moms.  She was the one with the prettiest hair—all white. My mother had 11 children and she treated each one of their needs.  She was named Mary Rosalie but went by Rose and what a Rose she was!

I can remember one time asking her, “Why aren’t we normal?”  She laughed and said, “We are.”

She taught me a great lesson when I was in the second or third grade.  I volunteered her to make a cake for my class.  She got all the ingredients and the cook book and she put them in front of me and said, “You are going to make this cake.”  I learned to make a cake from scratch and to never, ever volunteer my mom for anything again without her permission.

Mom had a deep faith, a great prayer life and trust in God. These were the best gifts she gave our family.  She had a good sense of humor, a compassionate heart and a love for all people.  She was involved in church, social action, civic and community associations.  She taught us to reach out to those in need, to invite people to the table, and to see Jesus in each face that we met.  She also had a devotion to the Blessed Mother and would have us pray the Rosary on our knees or in the car.  I chuckle when I remember this because as my Dad drove faster and faster, Mom’s voice became louder and higher in pitch.  It went like this:

Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.

Hon, slow down!!

I can’t help but smile.  I’m not sure if she thought it was the hour of our death, but sometimes it sure felt it.

Our Mom loved us and she let us know it.  Because of her witness of love to God, Mary, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, I am a better person.  Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

–Sister Loretta Cornell, MHSH

Darla’s Mother

My fondest memories of my mother are of the times we have spent together, just the two of us.  I was six years old before I was blessed with a baby brother, so I have always had a close bond with my mom.  My husband, son and I have been blessed to have had my mom (and dad) living under the same roof with us for the last 25 years, so the bond between all of us is even stronger today!

To this day it is her love for her family and our one-on-one times that I will remember, and cherish, for the rest of my life.

–Darla Benton, daughter of Millie Stuchinsky

I first met Jesus, really met him, when Sister M. Anonymous dismissed me, a precocious second grader, from my First Communion class and forbade me from receiving Communion with my classmates, including my identical twin sister.  Despite my mother’s representation to “Sister” and my parents to “Father,” I was not permitted to return.

I remember, as if it were yesterday, sitting under the willow tree in our backyard, anxiously awaiting my parents’ return from meeting with the pastor.  After what seemed an eternity, my mother appeared, bearing a plate full of toll house cookies and a glass of milk.  She sat on the grass next to me. I can still retrieve the scent of White Shoulders.

In a voice filled with tenderness she said, “Honey, you are not going to receive Communion with your class.  That is Sister’s decision and we must respect that.  But Dad and I believe the reason is bigger than Sister.  We believe that Jesus wants you to himself on your Communion day because he has something special to say to you.”

Immediately, for this seven-year-old, raw disappointment was transformed into a sense of being special and anxiously awaiting what Jesus would say to me. To this day, I believe that my relationship with Jesus was born from my mother’s words.

–Sister Clare Walsh, MHSH

Rosemary’s Mother

Mary Burke Maguire is a wonderful and loving mother.  We (her children) feel it is both a privilege and an honor that she lives at The Villa in Baltimore.  The Villa is a retirement community of religious women—Sisters of Mercy and the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart.

It is fitting that she spends these years of her life in such a community.  Mary Maguire is one of the holiest women I have ever known.  Holy in the sense of God first in everything she says and does.  Our mother bestowed on us faith, hope and love that know no bounds.

–Rosemary Thompson

Mariel’s Mother

My mother was beautiful.  My friends always said that they had never seen such a beautiful woman.  It was not her physical beauty, however, that impressed me the most. We had many religious items that graced our home; these did not impress me the most.  What truly influenced me throughout my life was Mom’s steadfast faith.  Through many difficult times, Mom trusted unwaveringly in God and set an unforgettable example for all of us. Even at age 80 she continued to attend daily Mass.  I remain forever grateful to her for having encouraged me in my decision to become a Mission Helper. Mrs. Helen Rafferty, mother of Sister Mariel.


–Sister Mariel Rafferty, MHSH

Among my favorite memories of Mom is this: I was seven or eight, my sister 12 or 13.  We had a big doll the size of a two-year-old child.  She wore real baby clothes.  Neither of us played with her anymore, but she was one of my prized possessions.  One day in the cold of winter my mother said, “You don’t play with that doll anymore. How about giving it to Rosie up the street?  She may not have a doll.”

I immediately tensed up and got possessive, but my mother reasoned with me.  “You have other dolls, but Rosie doesn’t have any.  God wants us to share what we have.”

After a while she wore me down and I agreed. I took the doll to Rosie.

Sometime later I was at Rosie’s house, and I was hoping to play with the doll.  But Rosie said, “My mother threw it in the stove.”  I was horrified and sickened.  That doll was as big as a baby who could walk, and I pictured a child being thrown into the flames.  I must have left right away because my next memory is of running home and bursting into the house crying.  Mom asked what was wrong and I sobbed, “Rosie’s mother burned the doll up in the stove.”

Mom always had a calm way about her. She thought for a moment, then said, “Maybe she needed to do that because they didn’t have wood for the fire.”  That stopped me for a second, but then came another onslaught of crying and I sobbed, “But it was MY doll.”

Mom triumphed again.  “No, it wasn’t your doll.  You gave it to Rosie. When you give a gift, it’s not yours anymore and you can’t tell people how to use it.”

My mother taught me many little lessons like that, and I’m grateful for every one of them.

–Sister Kathleen Lehner, MHSH

I have so many memories of my mother, Theresa Gertrude Hubich Bunn.  I remember her sitting on the side of my bed and teaching me to pray “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” and “Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, bless the bed I lie upon, four angels to guard my bed, two at the foot and two at the head…”

I remember lemon meringue pies so delicious that I picture heaven including pie, coffee and watching the sun rise over the ocean.  I remember walking toFortMcHenryin our Easter outfits and hats on sunny Easter afternoons.  I remember Uncle Wiggley stories and if the sky doesn’t turn green and trees don’t grow upside down, I will tell you more memories next year.

–Sister Susanne Bunn, MHSH

Donna Fannon’s Mom

Some of my favorite memories of Mom center around being “always ready for a ride” and “dressing for the occasion.”  Until recently, Mom has always been ready to go on an outing, but only with the proper attire.  This photo was taken at the Red Lion Inn a few years ago. My sister and I took her there for a spring getaway.  For us it was a time to relax, but for Mom, it was an event.

Mom continues to greet each day as something worth dressing up for.  She had the same outfit on this week for a visit to the doctor’s office for a routine blood test.  “After all,” she said, “one never knows whom we will run into on the way.”

I find a great lesson in that, especially as I try to be prepared to meet God at any moment along the way…and be ready to respond.  Thanks Mom.

–Sister Donna Fannon, MHSH

A Mother’s Day Reflection on the Mother of Jesus

By Sister M. Martha Pavelsky

Is it uniquely Catholic to speak of Mary, the mother of Jesus, as “the Blessed Mother”?

In what sense was she “blessed”?  I think of a French word that looks similar—blesse—but gives us more to ponder:  It’s a word that means wounded.

Now that is accurate.  Mary’s involvement in God’s plan was profoundly wounding.  Reread the first four chapters of Luke’s gospel, plus other mentions of Mary further on and see how obscure, terrifying, horrifying Mary’s life was at times.

If you’re a reader who can plow through some poetic excess, A Woman Wrapped in Silence by John W. Lynch might yield surprising insights into Mary’s and Joseph’s trials.

Their boy was not an easy responsibility.  Like most offspring, he made life “interesting” to an extreme extent. Parents who look on anxiously as their children navigate life’s tricky passages might find it helpful to reflect on those rough spots and converse with Mary.

A Wounded Life

How blessed exactly did she feel when her 12-year-old went AWOL in Jerusalem, or when his buddies sent word for her to come and get him because he was “talking crazy”?

Thinking along these lines about the Blessed Mother helps me to understand why my mother and so many other women (and men) raising children today still turn to Mary for inspiration.  Her life was anything but a holy card in pastels and gilt.  Even though she herself was sinless, the sin-pervading the world touched and wounded her life repeatedly, and she, like us, had no choice but to live it out moment by moment with no idea how it would end.

Sound familiar?  If you intend to follow God’s plan for living, reckon with what that might require of you, and pray for Mary’s courage to stick with your commitment!

Note:  Sisters and friends of the Mission Helpers post their reflections on their mothers on our Mothers Day Blog, Sunday, May 13.

MEMORIES OF OUR MOTHERS

In anticipation of Mother’s Day we invited sisters and staff to share brief memories of their mothers. In these reflections our posters recall moments of tenderness and joy, express appreciation for special talents that their mothers possessed and describe those personal characteristics of their mothers that they admire to this day. As you read these reminiscences we invite you to reflect on your own mother or mother figures in your life, and give thanks for the love, nurturing and good example that these women have given you. Let us also remember those mothers in areas of the world wracked by war, natural disaster, oppression, disease and poverty. We commend all mothers to the love and care of Mary – mother, teacher, healer and disciple. __________________________________________________________________________________

I think of my mother often during these spring days when all the flowers are in bloom. In a household of twelve, on an artist’s salary, there was no money for extras or frills, but my mother could make us feel rich and elegant just by decorating our large living room with bouquets of dogwood and azalea. Her love of beauty and sense of celebration that she taught us still enrich my life today.

–Sister Jane Geiger, MHSH, loving daughter of Antoinette Fuchs Geiger

When I was about four years old, on a beautiful summer day, Mom (Emily Viola) and I were in Prospect Park having a picnic near the lake. As we sat together Mom picked up some beautiful fresh green grass. She then started to teach me how to make a doll out of these stems of grass. To this day I treasure this memory of Mom and me together.            

–Sister Madeline Gallagher, MHSH

No specific word or incident captures the “who” of my mother, Anna, for me. It was the example of her unconditional love and trust in God and humanity that helped mold the “who” and “how” of what my family and I are today. Thank you, dearest one.

–Sister Agnesine Seluzicki, MHSH

My mother, Catherine, was a model of steadfastness and fidelity. Her life was unalterably changed when my dad contracted polio in the early 1950’s when my brother and I were quite young. Her own “yes” to God and her family was tested in ways she could not have imagined. Through it all she was a loving, generous and faith-filled wife and mother.

–Marilyn Dunphy

At age 58, my mother, Jeannette, retired with my dad to Florida to enjoy the Gulf and play golf.  She made time to tutor migrant children, give food to beggars on the street and always be a compassionate heart for the needy.  At age 90, she continues to bring food to the church pantry for the needy.      [Sr. Susan (left), Jeannette Engel (mom), and her sister Joanne.]

–Sister Susan Engel, MHSH

I’d like to take a moment to honor my mother, Mildred Lucian. Although she passed away three years ago, not a day goes by without me thinking of her and missing her. She was my rock and my best friend. I truly miss our “talks” and visits to the beach. God bless you Mom and may you rest in peace. Your loving daughter, Karen

–Karen Miceli

My mother, Rosalie, was a woman of deep faith. She taught my family and me about the gentle love of Jesus, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the grace-filled love of God. Mom always treated others with respect and dignity. She saw Jesus in the other. This is the message she gave to us – love one another as Jesus would love you. She was a great witness to me, my family and to so many people.

–Sister Loretta Cornell, MHSH

Mother M. Demetrias, Foundress {1930's}

Many, many years ago as I searched for a religious community to consider as a life choice, the young priest who was helping me spoke of a group of Sisters he had ministered with.  He said of them:  “Each one treats you like she’s your mother.”

That gave me a new slant on women religious.  So I drove from West Virginia to Baltimore to meet these “mothers.”  They were the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart and I liked their many qualities.  Here I am today at the age of 92 still trying to emulate and imitate them, all the while using the personal qualities they developed in my initiation and my life with them in Community.

–Sr. Joanne Frey, MHSH