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Follow Sylvania Franciscans as they blog about living their mission of joyful service to all people. Each week you can read a new entry from the personal journal of a Sister and how she applies Franciscan values to her ministry and the impact they have on the community where she lives. If you like what you read, comment back. We’re always looking for a good conversation.

Healthcare Legacy Continues to Grow

By Sister Lois Anne Palkert

There are few events held in the Bryan/College Station area of Texas where the name of Sister Gretchen Kunz does not come up. Her legacy and that of the Sisters of St. Francis is deeply imbedded here. Sister Gretchen knew the leaders in the community and the leaders in the community knew and respected Sister Gretchen.

As a visionary leader she was always about meeting the healthcare and related needs of the community, a vision she constantly shared with leaders in the community and members of the Hospital Board. Conversations about meeting the healthcare needs of the adult population, especially the baby boomers who are approaching retirement, have been going on for some time.

On April 29 an announcement of a partnership with long-term implications for health and wellness in the Bryan/College Station, Texas area was made. St. Joseph Health System in Bryan is partnering with Texas A&M Health Science Center to develop a health and wellness center in Bryan devoted to seniors. The two-story, 23,000-square-foot center will be a “one stop shop” for seniors who want to manage chronic conditions, stay well and lead an active lifestyle. An array of retail and business entities will complement the center.

The complex will offer a single destination for both healthy seniors to achieve their wellness goals as well as those who need to manage chronic conditions. The center will contain a swimming pool, gym, exercise area, as well as a pharmacy and labs to do testing. Staff includes three geriatricians, six nurse practitioners and a part-time geriatrician serving as a medical director.

Bryan and College Station are prime destinations for retirement, especially if you went to Texas A&M. As more seniors move to Bryan/College Station to retire, and baby boomers continue to age, this new center puts St. Joseph at the fore front of changing the way these individuals can achieve their wellness and life style goals, along with managing chronic conditions that come with aging.

Dr. Kia Parsi, a family medicine physician, acknowledges that “we want to manage chronic diseases differently. Doing so can be complex, especially as we age and often face multiple conditions – such as arthritis, diabetes and hypertension. Consumers are more educated than ever and, unlike days gone by, they want to be active participants and decision makers in their care. At the Mature Well Lifestyle Center, physicians and clinicians from St. Joseph and Texas A&M Health Center will help them manage their health and achieve their wellness goals.”

This exciting project on the part of St. Joseph and Texas A&M Health Science Center furthers a common mission of the two institutions of supporting the overall health and wellness of the community. The introduction of the Mature Well Lifestyle Center will change the way seniors can achieve their health wellness and lifestyle objectives in Bryan/College Station.

Brett Giroir, M.D., CEO of Texas A&M Health Science Center, recognizes that “as we continue to develop Texas A&M bio corridor as a national center for innovation and health transformation we remain committed to advancing programs that benefit our patients and the health of our community.” Dr. Giroir acknowledges that the partnership with St. Joseph enables the highest quality inter-professional resources from Texas A&M to significantly improve the longevity and quality of life for the growing senior population. The effort represents the first of many new initiatives for faculty and students that will develop and implement novel clinical care delivery initiatives.

The legacy of the Sisters of St. Francis in healthcare continues. Our participation in the healing ministry of Jesus expands as we partner with those who share our vision of meeting the health and wellness needs in new and creative ways. Who would have envisioned this collaborative effort when five Sisters traveled an hour east of Sylvania to care for 98 victims of influenza in 1918?

A rendering of the MatureWell Lifestyle Center courtesy of St. Joseph Health System.

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Meet the Sylvania Franciscan bloggers. We invite you to join us helping the Christian community commit themselves to works that reverence human dignity, embrace the poor and marginalized, and respect the gift of all creation.

Sister Lois Anne Palkert
Health and Human Services

Sister Lois Anne has had the opportunity to serve in a variety of ministries, initially as a teacher in Detroit and Toledo.  She transferred her teaching skills into formation ministry in Sylvania, then to Lourdes College where she was Director of the Lifelong Learning.  She then moved into parish ministry and served as a Director of Faith Formation and as a Pastoral Associate in two rural parishes in Minnesota.    From education she transferred to healthcare ministry and currently serves as the Director of Mission Services at St Joseph Regional Health Center in Bryan, Texas.

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Sister Julie Myers
Religious Life Reaching the Online Community

We are all called by God to be our best selves and to serve God in ways far beyond our imagining. Sr. Julie’s vocational  journey reflects this statement as she recently joined the team of A Nun’s Life Ministry—an online ministry where people come to the website and social media to talk about God, spirituality, prayer, community, ministry and more. Sr Julie’s ministry career has called her into service through Vocation Ministry and Sacristan duties for the congregation as well as Physical Therapist Assistant in an acute care/trauma hospital. 

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Sister Nancy Surma
Health and Human Services

Sister Nancy is a native of Detroit and was taught in grade school by the Sylvania Franciscans. Her early years were spent teaching and administering at the junior high and high school level. Life took a turn, as it so often does, and she served as administrator in four different Catholic colleges and universities, earning a doctorate in higher education administration along the way. She currently works for Sylvania Franciscan Health, the Sisters’ sponsored health and human service ministry, in the world of mission integration. Sr. Nancy lives with three other Sisters in a house that is filled with laughter and love.

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Sister Karen Zielinski
Health and Spirituality 

Karen J. Zielinski, OSF, is a Sylvania Franciscan who has lived with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) since 1975.  She writes, speaks and consults regularly on issues relating to spirituality and health. Her recent book, Hope and Help for Living with Illness (Franciscan Media) discusses chronic disease and coping strategies and is addressed to both caregivers and patients.  Karen also writes a blog on spirituality and wellness--Soul Sister-- for the National MS Society website.

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Sister Ann Carmen Barone

As Vice President for Mission and Ministry, Sister Ann Carmen Barone is responsible for developing consciousness of the Franciscan mission and for ensuring its implementation and integration into the community of Lourdes. Sister Ann Carmen also supports the other Vice Presidents and the President in their mission-related activities.

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Sister Nancy Linenkugel
Franciscan in the Marketplace

Sister Nancy Linenkugel has served in healthcare administration, education and leadership for the Sylvania Franciscans.  She is an accomplished cello player and a member of the Washington D.C.-based Medical Music Group, made up of doctors, nurses and medical professionals from around the country.  Sister Nancy is currently the chair of the department of health service administration and director of the graduate program in health services administration at Xavier University in Cincinnati.  She has served on the Sylvania Franciscan Leadership Team, was president of Chatfield College in Cincinnati, president and CEO of the Providence Health System and Providence Hospital in Sandusky, Ohio, and vice president of St. John Medical Center in Steubenville, Ohio.  

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Sister Sharon Havelak
Justice and Peace

Sister Sharon is an artist, educator and long-time peace activist, who currently oversees All Good Things, a store/gallery/gift shop featuring art by the Sisters, handmade soaps and lotions, and Fair Trade products.* She also serves as the coordinator of the Sylvania Franciscan’s Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation efforts, and teaches art history at Lourdes University. She keeps her creative juices flowing by painting on silk scarves.
* All Good Things gallery is located in our Sylvania Franciscan Village and many of the items are sold on our website.

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Sister Pam Nosbusch
Hospice Chaplain

Sister Pam is native of Hopkinsville, Kentucky.  She is a Chaplain with Gentiva Hospice in Nashville, Tennessee and is a Board Certified Chaplain with the National Association of Catholic Chaplains.  Previous ministries include Theater Arts and Music Education and Pastoral Associate in Catholic parishes.

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Patrick Mills
Spiritual Enrichment

Pat is a husband and father living in Sylvania, Ohio. He has worked many years for Owens Corning in Toledo and elsewhere. He leads programs there for recruiting and developing talent early in their career, primarily for engineering and operations. As Pat and his family moved around the country, he has been blessed to fellowship in Cursillo, Christ Renews His Parish, bible studies and liturgical music ministry. He presently serves on the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania Associate Advisory Board, Chairs the Associate Spiritual Enrichment Committee and is a member of the Expansion Committee for Feed Lucas County Children. Pat is a pilgrim on the journey.

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