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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.

Changing the Earth – One Meal at a Time

By Sister Sharon Havelak, OSF

I’ve been thinking about food a lot lately, but not necessarily out of hunger.

Our Sisters have been studying, discussing, reflecting on and praying over environmental issues for the past couple of years. Since its promulgation in 2000, I’ve been intrigued with the Earth Charter and how it brings together environmental and social issues with the need for peace. Over the past few months the momentum was building, with more and more ideas coming to my attention. Discussions with friends who are vegetarians or vegans, attending a talk on organic food, selling our products at the Sylvania Farmers’ Market (and picking up fresh vegetables weekly), reading articles on food and health, a student’s request for help with a project on food and religion; food suddenly seemed to be a hot topic.

Everything came together when I entered the Communications Office the other day and spotted a book on the table. The book cover caught my eye first, with its bright illustration of people and animals in a landscape setting. But it was the title that really captured my attention, Faith in Food: Changing the World One Meal at a Time.

The book, by Susie Weldon and Sue Campbell, looks at a wide variety of food issues including the relationship between food and climate change, animal welfare, genetic engineering, sustainable agriculture, eating locally, to name a few. It also offers inspiring stories and recipes, in the context of the various faith traditions, as well as action plans for caring for the Earth. And – it’s just a short story, but it also features our Sisters Grace Ellen and Jeremias and their polyhouse!

Not meant to be exhaustive, the book is challenging. Its attractive design, the succinct summaries of issues, the stories of those making a difference offer an intriguing overview, but it also offers a clear call to look more closely at the food we eat in light of our faith. According to the authors, “one of the greatest opportunities to live our values – or betray them – lies in the food we put on our plates. Eating is a moral act. Our choices of what, when and how we eat have a huge impact upon the Earth, our fellow human beings and other living creatures.”

That night for supper we had a simple meal of lentils and rice, fruit and a pudding made of almond milk and chia seeds, ironically planned in advance of finding the book. It was tasty, filling and nutritious. Hopefully, we’ll continue to opt for better choices for our bodies and our planet. I’ve never realized I could eat my way to a better world!
  1. Re: The Waiting Game

    Great idea, Karen! That really puts things in perspective!


  2. Re: God Gave Me You

    I use to listen to country music a lot not so much because it is my favorite genre but because it wa


  3. Re: In Memory of Values and Traditions

    Great reflection on the values instilled by our parents!

    --Nancy Alice

  4. Re: Six Challenging Words

    Thanks, Pam, for a reflection that's both very challenging and down-to-Earth at the same time! If we

    --Sharon Havelak, osf

  5. Re: Freedom from Fear

    If we were unable to fear we would not survive as a creation of the Father very long. We would walk


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 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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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 Vocations

Sister Julie’s initial path of living and learning about life and God began in a family of seven brothers and two sisters; her parents just celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary.  Currently, Sister Julie serves as the Vocation Minister for the Sylvania Franciscans, and as a Physical Therapist Assistant for Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center.  This year, Sister Julie celebrates her Silver Jubilee—25 years as a Sister of St. Francis.  She lives with three other Sisters, and for her they serve as mentors of the importance for balance in community living, prayer, ministry, and sharing life’s gifts.

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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 

Sister Karen J. Zielinski, OSF was director of communications for the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, OH from 1991 to 2008.  She is now director of Canticle Studio, a creative office of products which focus on spirituality and health.  She lectures on chronic disease and coping strategies and has lived with multiple sclerosis (MS) since 1975.  She lectures on the spirituality of disability, women's prayer, and topics of wholeness. Most recently, Sister Karen authored Hope and Help for Living With Illness a book on dealing with sickness and disability. The book is available on Amazon.

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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 Nancy Ferguson

Sister Nancy has been involved with various ministries from elementary teacher, vocation ministry, parish ministry and as a houseparent in a children’s home.  She was recently invited to be part of the Sylvania Franciscan sponsored healthcare ministry and is presently, the Director of Mission Integration at Trinity Health System in Steubenville, Ohio.

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