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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.

Words to Live By

By Sr. Ann Carmen Barone, O.S.F.

I received a rare gift today – a letter, a beautifully handwritten letter from a Lourdes alumna.  She had written to fill in the gaps since our last meeting.  It was a thank you for taking time with her as she navigated her way through a long list of serious challenges and difficult choices.  If anything could go wrong, it did for her during her senior year.  It was her faith, the understanding of her elderly parents and the support of her church community that sustained her.  I was sometimes the voice of reason, sometimes the voice of gentle and persistent assurance and more often the listening ear as she voiced her own answers. 

The letter was full of good news about her daughters, her brand new granddaughter, her move to be nearer them and discovering new employment opportunities.  And she’s getting married.  I’m still smiling and giving thanks as this happy chapter of her life unfolds. 

Her letter included the last verse from this section Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians.Letter

May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith, and may charity be the root and foundation of your life.  Thus you will be able to grasp fully with all the holy ones, the breadth and length and height and depth of Christ love, and experience this love which surpasses all knowledge, so that you may attain to the fullness of God himself.

To him whose power now at work in us can do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine – to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations, world without end.  Amen.

Why do I let myself get tripped up over what I can’t do, what’s beyond my skill or talent, what doesn’t seem to have an easy or simple answer?   Why can’t I be satisfied to take the small steps that move me toward the bigger goal?   Perhaps the focus is wrong.  The scripture clearly reminds me, and us, that if I allow God to work in and through me, I can do more than when I try it as a solo act.

This reminds me of the story when Francis was asked by his dear friend Masseo why the whole world was running after him.  Masseo pointed out that Francis was not very wise or learned, he wasn’t good looking nor was he a nobleman.  The saint humbly stated that God had chosen someone so weak, sinful, and vile so that it was clear that every virtue and every good is from God and not from the creature.  Francis truly believed that whoever boasts must boast in the Lord.  Masseo focused on what Francis was NOT as he tested the saint’s humility.  But he also knew what Francis was – a man committed to living the Gospel, to embracing the poverty of Christ.  And his passionate response drew others to believe and follow.

I’m looking at the letter I received and remembering that in every meeting with this student I never thought of what I couldn’t do.  I placed us both in God’s loving care and trusted God to help me get out of the way.  And God helped me do what was mine to do.

By the way, the student included her email address in the letter.  I was tempted.  Just for a second.  I’d better go find my pen.  Right?

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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 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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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 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 Julie Myers
Religious Vocations

Why did you come to religious life….why do you stay?  As Vocation Minister for the Sisters of St Francis, Sister Julie addresses these simple questions that hold deep meaning and more in her blogging and in her monthly “Letter from the Vocation Minister” found on the Vocation link of the Sister’s Website.  We are all called by God to be our best selves and to serve God in ways far beyond our imagining.  Sister Julie has lived her calling as a Franciscan through the ministries of Vocation Minister, Physical Therapist Assistant, and as Sacristan for the Motherhouse Chapel.

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