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Word Gathering (Fall 2020)

Thursday, 03 December 2020 14:57

In Memory of Sister Julia Barry, PHJC

Wednesday, 25 November 2020 09:16

Sister Julia Barry (Catherine), Poor Handmaid of Jesus Christ (PHJC) died on November 23, 2020 at the Catherine Kasper Home, Donaldson, Indiana. She was 95 years of age.

Sister was born in Belleville, IL to Patrick and Julia (Geehan) who preceded her in death along with her only sibling, Sister Christine Barry PHJC. Her parents were born in Ireland. Sister is survived by very special cousins.

Sister Julia entered the Poor Handmaid Community on September 8, 1943 and she professed her vows on June 25, 1946. On the occasion of her 70th Jubilee sister stated: “As I reflect on my life, I am grateful for the 70 years of my vowed life as a Poor Handmaid of Jesus Christ. Seventy years ago, I did not realize the journey God had for me, or the plan of ministry He had for me. Now after many years of living in Community, I would gladly do it all over again.”

Sister Julia ministered in a variety of ways over the years, including homemaker, childcare, parish ministry, care for the elderly and community service. Places of ministry included St. Henry, Chicago IL; Angel Guardian Orphanage, Chicago IL; St. Vincent Villa, Fort Wayne IN; St. John Orphanage Belleville IL; St. Boniface Edwardsville IL; St. Mary Edwardsville IL; St. Augustine Chicago IL; Holy Angels School Gary IN; and 24 years of community service at the PHJC Motherhouse in Donaldson, IN.

She officially retired to Catherine Kasper Home in September 2016 at the Center in Donaldson, IN.

A private visitation will be held at the Ancilla Domini Chapel Friday, November 27, 2020 from 9:30 am to 11 am EST. The Mass of Resurrection will follow in the Chapel at 11:00 a.m. EST and burial will follow the Liturgy in Mt. Carmel Cemetery, Donaldson, IN. The services will be livestreamed at:

Memorial contributions may be made to the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, PO Box 1, Donaldson, Indiana 46513 or on

The Provincial Leadership of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ congratulate Archbishop Wilton Gregory on his appointment as a Cardinal in the Catholic Church. As members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, we support the below statement.

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious rejoices over the news of the appointment of Archbishop Wilton Gregory as a cardinal in the Catholic Church. Over the years we have been grateful to Archbishop Gregory’s leadership within the church where he has not only been a strong pastoral presence, but also a fearless outspoken critic of injustice. His public stances on many critical matters such as the repair of the US immigration system, race relations, climate change, sexual abuse within the church, LGBTQ matters, and much more reveal his deep integrity and courage.

In making this historic appointment of the first African-American cardinal, Pope Francis is clearly giving a message about the importance of assuring racial diversity at all levels of society and within the church. We are pleased that the African-American voice will be represented in this important decision-making body.

As an organization headquartered in the Washington archdiocese, we are especially pleased to have the opportunity to work closely with Archbishop Gregory. We look forward to this continuing relationship and congratulate him on this important recognition of his gifts and abilities as an outstanding leader.

The Provincial Leadership of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ endorse this statement as members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

The presidency and staff of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious congratulate President-elect Joe Biden, and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris and promise to work with them to build a society worthy of the values to which our imperfect union aspires.

After a difficult election season, it is time for us to take up the twin tasks of reconciliation and healing. In these challenging times it is critically important that we break through that which divides us one from another, repair fractured relationships and reclaim our essential unity.

The people of this pluralistic nation form a diverse community characterized by different beliefs, experiences, and interests. We know that our differences can be our greatest strengths; our disagreements, opportunities to seek the truth. Our challenge is to embrace those differences and together seek the common good lest we rend the bonds that unite us.

Now is the time to make space in our hearts and our communities for the needs and concerns of all God’s people, the undocumented mother, the Midwest farmer, the unemployed steel-worker, the suburban business woman, and the children and elders consigned to live in poverty. It is time to tear down the walls, real or imagined, which divide us by gender, race, class, geography, lifestyle, ideology, political party, and religious belief and to make room in our body politic for all who have been disaffected, disenfranchised, and discarded.

Now is the time to banish the fear that infects our souls and diminishes our hope. There is no room in this nation for fear of the other; no need to fear change; no reason to fear the future. This is a nation built on the dreams of our ancestors and the visions of our children. Our task is to make room at the table for every voice and every vision.

We thank those who turned out in record numbers to exercise their right to vote in a peaceful and respectful way. Their clear commitment to this democratic experiment of ours bodes well for the success of the difficult task that lies ahead.

We know that the work will be slow and arduous, and yet with Catholic sisters across this nation we renew our commitment to exercise courage in the face of injustice, fear and division. We will not shrink from the challenge before us to protect the sacredness of all human life, to dismantle white supremacy, welcome the stranger, care for creation, and to stand with those who have been exploited and marginalized by our throwaway culture.

We promise once again to be the healing presence of God. We pledge to hold the needs and concerns of all in the heart of a loving and ever faithful God. We recommit ourselves to the sacred task of building the Beloved Community of which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke so eloquently and we invite all people of good will to join us.

LCWR is an association of leaders of congregations of Catholic women religious in the United States. The conference has more than 1300 members, who represent approximately 80 percent of the more than 40,000 women religious in the United States. Founded in 1956, LCWR assists its members to collaboratively carry out their service of leadership to further the mission of the Gospel in today’s world.

Contact: Sister Annmarie Sanders, IHM|LCWR Communications Director This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Donaldson, Ind. and Charlottesville, Va.– September, 2020 – The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ (PHJC) is partnering with Fermata Energy to install a bidirectional electric vehicle (EV) charging system on The Center at Donaldson campus, located 90 miles east of Chicago, and 35 miles southwest of South Bend, Indiana.

Through collaboration, the Poor Handmaids sought to address the emerging needs of the surrounding communities through the lens of integral ecology, and saw an opportunity to build resilience into its sustainable agenda by installing a bidirectional charging system for its fleet of EVs.

“The Poor Handmaids keep pushing the envelope with technologies that accelerate the shift toward renewable energy. The more we can produce, monitor and manage flows of energy at The Center at Donaldson campus, the better,” said Adam Thada, Director of Ecological Relationships at The Center at Donaldson. “Fermata Energy’s bidirectional charging system provides that flexibility and will help us continue electrifying our fleet in an affordable way.”

Fermata Energy’s bidirectional charging system for EVs is the first in the world to receive UL’s new North American safety standard, UL 9741, the Standard for Bidirectional Electric Vehicle (EV) Charging System Equipment third-party safety certification. Fermata Energy’s V2G technology uses bidirectional charging and proprietary V2G integration software to turn EVs into sources of energy, giving their customers a clean and reliable alternative.

“Our patented system works by turning an EV fleet or building into a revenue-generating, clean-grid supporting energy management platform, without the need for major capital expenditures,” said Fermata Energy founder and CEO David Slutzky. “Fermata Energy's V2G solution will enable organizations such as the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ to maximize the use of renewable energy sources and reduce grid-operating costs.”

About Fermata Energy

Fermata Energy’s turnkey V2X system empowers electric vehicle (EV) owners to make money while their cars are parked. Fermata Energy makes it possible for electric vehicles to combat climate change, increase energy resilience, and reduce energy costs. For more information, visit, and follow us on Twitter (@FermataEnergy), LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram (@fermata__energy).

About The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ

Called in Baptism to proclaim by our lives and our works the presence of God in the world, we Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ accept the invitation to live a vowed life in community. We are inspired by Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and Saint Katharina Kasper, our foundress, to listen prayerfully, live simply, serve joyfully.

Fermata Energy:
Daniel Cherrin | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | 313-300-0932
Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ:
Alicia Hammonds | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | 574-935-1768

The Alliance for Catholic Education at Notre Dame sponsors a women’s vocation night every July in collaboration with the Chicago Archdiocesan Vocation Association. Sr. Connie Bach worked with Katie Moran and Taylor Kelly to plan this year’s event held virtually due to COVID-19.

Twelve undergrad and graduate students studying to become educators and volunteering throughout the country spent the evening in prayer and conversation with nine CAVA members.

During our panel presentation, topics such as community living, prayer life, the vows, discernment and “next steps” in the process were discussed. Breakout sessions were offered to ask questions of the sisters about these topics. These were followed by three sessions of “vocation speed dating,” also in break out rooms, where discerners could ask any questions of the sisters. The time was not nearly long enough as the women were very interested in the lives of the sisters!

There was great energy in the virtual rooms! Technology helped us to quickly form a sense of community despite COVID-19!

We closed with the following prayer:

Let your gift be to honor God with your heart, with your life, with every
breath you take and in every moment you are awake. May God’s will for
you be revealed in the right time and space, and may God find you ready
to follow that plan for a beautiful and precious life!

Sr. Connie Bach, PHJC
CAVA Events Coordinator

Get to know more about Sister Mary Ellen Goeller, Executive Director, System Services, in her new role as one of the four new executive directors at The Center at Donaldson.

What drew you to this new role within the ministries of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ?

As Executive Director of Ancilla Systems, Inc. (ASI), there were advantages of me moving into this new role, especially since the employees of ASI and The Center at Donaldson are entwined in their daily ministry.

What have you enjoyed the most so far in your new role?

I knew the other directors because of my work with them in their different roles and responsibilities in the past. While I always knew many of the activities that were happening at The Center at Donaldson, I especially enjoy working together with this group while we now talk about different events, listen, discuss any ideas and concerns, and come to a consensus as a team. We are really trying to make sure that sisters, residents and staff are aware and hear the same information on a timely basis.

What are your beliefs about motivating, influencing, serving and leading others?

As a PHJC, I/we are grateful to see the great leadership and care for the earth, as well as, everyone living, working and coming to The Center at Donaldson to see what a special place it is. I am so grateful and know there are many gifted individuals who share in our charism and we will journey into the future together.

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East Chicago, IN — Nazareth Home, a 24-hour group home for medically compromised babies and children has announced that it will be closing its doors after more than 25 years of service to Indiana children. Currently, there are no children living at Nazareth Home, and the organization will be officially closed on August 1, 2020.

Founded in 1993 by The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ to confront the growing problem of abused or abandoned children with unique medical needs, Nazareth Home has served 230 children from newborn to age six (6). Located in a quiet neighborhood in East Chicago, Indiana, children were placed at Nazareth Home through referrals from the Department of Child Services and received the spiritual, physical, and emotional care that is so essential to early childhood development in a home-setting.

In early 2018, Nazareth Home received its license to be a group home. That same year, the Federal Government passed a bill that included the Family First Act, which drastically reduced the number of foster children placed into group homes. As a result, Nazareth Home, like other group homes, has been facing low census the past several years to the point that in mid-July there were no children in the home.

“This is a sad time for all of us. We can take comfort, when we remember all the special children, over the past 25+ years, who have better lives because they received spiritual, emotional and physical care at Nazareth Home,” stated Sister Joetta Huelsmann, Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, Provincial.

A special closing ceremony will be held for the dedicated staff and volunteers.

Nazareth Home is a ministry of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ and administered by Ancilla Systems, a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization.

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The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ are aware of the sexual abuse allegations that have been made against liturgical composer, David Haas, and stand in solidarity with the victims. As new allegations of abusive conduct continue to be reported against Mr. Haas, we hold each victim and their families in prayer.

As a member of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ support the following views and statements made by this national organization of women religious.

Click here for the latest issue.

Resolutions to Action (RTA) is a quarterly two-page resource on a current justice issue, distributed electronically by LCWR. Published by the LCWR Global Concerns Committee, this resource provides theological reflection, social analysis and suggested actions.

One of the Core Values of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ is: The respect and dignity of the individual.

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from all your Sisters in the United States!

In Memory of Sister Conrad Kirchhoff, PHJC

Wednesday, 18 March 2020 11:17

Sister Conrad Kirchhoff (Margaret), PHJC passed away on March 15, 2020 at the Catherine Kasper Home in Donaldson, Indiana.

Sister Conrad was born in Detroit, Michigan to John Henry and Wilhelmine (Schmitt) Kirchhofff who preceded her in death along with her brothers Francis, John and Edward and her sister, Mary Belisle. She entered the Poor Handmaid of Jesus Christ Community as a postulant on December 13, 1943. She professed her first vows on June 25, 1946 and celebrated 70 years as a Poor Handmaid Sister in 2016. Sister Conrad graduated from Loyola University in Chicago, Illinois in 1962 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Theology and received her Masters of Science in Education from St. Francis College in Ft. Wayne, Indiana in 1965.

From 1945 until 1969 Sister was a teacher and principal in Chicago (St. Henry School), Fort Wayne, Indiana (St. Vincent Villa) and Belleville, Illinois (St. Mary School). From 1969-1973 she ministered as the PHJC Director of novices. She insisted her ministry working with young women of the 60’s and 70’s gave her the best life experience. Sister Conrad was elected Provincial of the Poor Handmaid’s American Province in 1973 and served until 1979. She returned to teaching in 1979 in Mishawaka, Indiana (St. Joseph School). She continued Leadership in the Poor Handmaid Community as a General Councilor in Dernbach, Germany from 1983-1989. After a short sabbatical, Sister became the Vice President of Mission Effectiveness at St. Joseph Medical Center in Fort Wayne (1990-2003) where she commented that she was the learner even if she was the one in charge. Upon her departure from St. Joseph Hospital Director of Nursing commented, “Sister Conrad always says that we are the heart and the hands, and the hug of the healing Christ. Sr. Conrad embodies that philosophy every day!” Having completed her ministry at St. Joseph Medical Center, she returned to the Motherhouse of the Poor Handmaids in Donaldson to do volunteer work. She quipped she was a great paper shredder. In 2006 she joined the community at Catherine’s Cottage continuing to help out where she could. Sister Conrad officially retired to the Catherine Kasper Home in 2015.

Sister Conrad reflected, “As I look back over the years as a Poor Handmaid of Jesus Christ, I feel a deep sense of gratitude to God, my family and the Poor Handmaid congregation for providing the opportunities to minister in teaching, childcare, leadership, retreat work, etc. They called forth gifts I never realized I had. I’ve had the opportunity to find God in many people, countries, cultures and challenges.”

In 1999 Sister Conrad received the Raymond Rosenberger - Minette Baum Award Foundation. This award recognizes people for their diligent and faithful service with an exempt charitable organization(s) to alleviate human suffering or enhance the quality of life of persons afflicted with illness or injury, or to promote wellness through the prevention of illness, disease or injury.

In 2013, Sister Conrad also received the Healthy City Award for her part in starting the Super Shot Immunization program in Fort Wayne. This program provides low-cost or free immunizations to poor children and adults in Allen County.

A private visitation will be held at the Ancilla Domini Chapel Friday, March 20 from 9:30 to 11 a.m. EDT. The Funeral Liturgy will follow in the Chapel at 11:00 a.m. EDT and burial will follow the Liturgy in Mt. Carmel Cemetery, Donaldson, IN. A public Memorial Service will be held at a later date.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, PO Box 1, Donaldson, Indiana 46513 or online at

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