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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.

Change as Blessing

By Pat Mills, Sylvania Franciscan Associate

An often heard lament is “I need a change” or “something needs to change.” But change can be a source of stress and fear in our lives.

Psychologists say that times of change: of job, of family structure, of residence are some of the most stressful times for us. I have experienced this many times. I have longed for the elusive qualities of stability, certainty and security … seeking to capture and retain them.

The Jews of Jesus’ day longed for a conquering savior who would bring the certainty and stability they sought for generations as a people. Little did they suspect that the greatest changes would be theirs to make. This is true for us, too.

Especially during the time of Lent, we are invited to reflect on our lives as they are and seek God’s grace to draw closer to him, to “turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.” God himself calls us to conversion, to metanoia. Powerful change can come from unexpected directions.

The first three steps of any 12-step program are (a paraphrase):

  1. Admitting that I am powerless over many aspects of my life.
  2. Believing that only God can make right what is wrong in my life.
  3. Making a decision to turn my will and life over to Gods loving care.

This Lent, I unexpectedly found the fellowship of a 12-step program to be a powerful practice for personal reflection and action. My powerlessness opened a space for God’s healing grace and power. Said another way, “I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.”  2 Corinthians 12:9 NAB

In Richard Rohr’s book, Breathing Under Water (St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2011) Fr. Rohr compares 12-step programs to Christian spirituality and the teaching of Jesus Christ. He speaks of the “trustful intimacy” with God that is the intent of a 12-step program, and also the outcome of turning our life fully over to the will of the Father.

Fr. Rohr sums up the similarities of a 12-step program and Christian spirituality as:

“We suffer to get well.”
“We surrender to win.”
“We die to live.”
“We give it away to keep it.”

Fr. Rohr says we will resist, deny and avoid this truth until “it is forced on us by some reality over which we are powerless.” That’s powerful and unexpected change.  As we conclude our Lenten practice, may our loving Lord always give us the grace and challenge necessary to turn fully toward him and embrace his will for us.

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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.

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 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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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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