Medical Mission Sisters in the UK
Healing Presence at the Heart of a Wounded World
Medical Mission Sisters' News
"I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with loving kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3
Today Sr Jayshree Macwan renewed her vows in the Society of Medical Mission Sisters for two more years. Sr Jayshree comes from Gujarat, India and lives in the intercultural Springfield Community in London. With loving kindness she reaches out to the homeless and offers meditation and yoga classes in a safe house for trafficked women. Congratulation to Sr Jayshree, such radiating joy!
The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic continues affecting our world today. People are suffering and no one is spared. Many have lost lives and families are grieving the loss of loved ones. The pandemic leaves an impact on the way people live and behave – on relationships, health system, work, education, economy, nature and how our global system operates.
The national and international authorities are sometimes at a loss on how to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, but the collaborative efforts and solidarity of support from various charities and NGO’s across the globe is having a gradual positive effect in protecting and safeguarding people from COVID-19. Nevertheless, the poor and marginalised people are left behind; they are the most susceptible sector affected in this pandemic. Together with co-workers and other charities, Medical Mission Sisters are collaborating and supporting the vulnerable people in our society in different parts of the world.
Read more about our projects in the UK and worldwide in the latest Medical Mission Sisters News Summer 2020
“We experience nature as the revelation of God’s presence and action…
Earth is the fascinating and awe-inspiring manifestation of the divine presence as creator of life, sustainer, nurturer and wellspring of healing energies.”
Reflections on Religious Life and Vows, MMS Asia
The ecological crisis urges us to hear the cry of the Earth. Increasing numbers of environmental disasters, pollution and the exploitation of natural disasters are putting the health and integrity of communities that depend on them, at risk. This disproportionately affects the poorest and most vulnerable communities. We recognize the exploitation of the Earth as one important sign of this time which needs an urgent response. Earth is our common home and we all must foster a sustainable lifestyle to preserve it for the next generations to come.
We, Medical Mission Sisters, are coming to see that in whatever mission we are involved, we have to include the awareness of being a healing presence to and with the Earth. Even our option for the poor has to be seen in connection with the lessons Earth teaches us and the resources she provides. Our choices in mission and the way we use the resources of our Earth, as persons, communities and nations must be made within the reality of our planet.
Click her to read our latest Medical Mission News
Sister Nicola Lovettt, who worked as a nurse and midwife in Kenya and Uganda for many years and who is a trained HIV/AIDS consultant, currently works with the hospice’s day team of Ealing Hospital, Northwest London.
Meadow House provides care and support for patients who have illnesses that can’t be cured offering pain management and psychological, social and spiritual support for the individual and their family or carer.
Sister Nicola also volunteers as hospital chaplain on the psychiatric work and for the Hanwell foodbank. She also celebrated recently her 90th birthday!!!
Congratulation to the well deserved award
and Happy 90th Birthday!!!
June 30th, 2019, our Springfield community London, together with Immaculate Tusingwire who is visiting, went to Winchcombe, a village in the beautiful Cotswold Hills, where the old cottage of Miss Pauline Willis still can be found. It is where MMS in the UK started.
In the early days of the MMS society, a growing interest in medical missions urged our foundress Anna Dengel to open a house that would receive young women to join Medical Mission Sisters in the UK and Europe. Miss Pauline Willis, a great supporter of Anna Dengel and fundraiser for her mission, offered her own summer cottage in the Cotswold village of Winchcombe, as a temporary 'home base'. And in this cottage, Medical Mission Sisters came into being in England on 3rd October 1931.
By chance the sisters from London met the present owner who gave a spontanous tour through the house and shared about its long and changing history, from serving as a pub, a summer cottage, a nuns' convent and then as a family home.
It all began with a small vintage photo in the museum of the old Medical Faculty of Montpellier in France. The picture showed a Scottish doctor from Edinburgh: Dr Agnes McLaren, first woman who graduated as doctor at the Medical School in Montpellier in 1878 and only 10th woman with a medical degree in th UK. She dedicated her life to improve health care for women and children, as GP in Cannes and in the St Catherine Hospital in Rawalpindi, today Pakistan, a vision that later led to the foundation of the Medical Mission Sisters.
Caroline Debladis, a scottish woman, living in France discovered this small photo and and after some research, founded the Agnes McLaren Association. She was fire and flame to make this inspiring woman known to the public. On 10th April 2019 the Medical Faculty of Montpellier dedicated a new delivery teaching room to Dr Agnes McLaren, to commemorate her first medical graduate and to inspire future generation of medical and midwifery students.
Sr Simone Herrmann from London took part in the inauguration ceremony as representative of the Medical Mission Sisters.
Migration and Refugees in Europe. Potentials and Challenges for Mission and Spirituality, a European Study Day in Duisburg, Germany.
Fr Klaus Pfuff SJ, Director of the Jesuit Refugee Service in Germany, gave an encouraging talk on the current situation and JRS's support for migrants and refugees. He shared from his personal encounters with refugees facing a very complicated and often traumatising beaurocracy in order to claim asylum in Germany. Often media headlines and politicians refer to migrants and refugees a scrisis and creating problems. We need a shift in our own thinking that behind each face there is a very personal story and talents and often a long and dangerous journey to seek shelter in Europe.
In small buzz groups we discussed how we as MMS want to further shape our mission involvements and how to improve networking across borders.
"Listening and being with my patients in A&E is important. But it is only the surface and opens the space for this deeper dimension, the existence of this inner core that can be found in each of us - name it God’s presence or sparkle or life giving power or simply human dignity."
Medical Mission Sister Simone Herrmann works as an emergency physician in a busy inner city hospital and had an interview with the Conference of Religious in England and Wales about her mission in the emergency department.
We regularly receive heart breaking news from our sisters in Kerala who are reaching out to the victims of recent floods. Our Hospital in Kottayam provides clean drinking water as part of the emergency relief.
Sr Rose Pottanany writes " Some families of our sisters too were affected but not so extensive. The compound wall of IHM hospital came down because of heavy rain and flood but the buildings and people are safe. The IHM staff and MMS are reaching out to the affected people through relief camps. We gave shelter to families of our employees in Ushus and Sayujya communities. In Kottayam area, Unit house community reached out to three relief camps providing supplies.
The positive thing that happened is that people started helping out one another. All barriers of caste, creed, political or religious affiliation, rich or poor, boss or employee -all these boundaries were flown off by the powerful water currents! Individuals, fishermen, government, military, navy ordinary people, youth, church people, Hindu, Muslim all were together in extending a helping hand either as rescue operators, volunteers reaching food, water, medicine and essential supplies or accommodating in their own houses, relief camps, seeing to it that the people are registered in the camps so that they can avail the government aids now as well after they return to their homes."
Medical Mission Sisters joined the Refugee Tales Walk, a walking solidarity event with refugees, asylum seekers and ex-detainees , now in its 3rd year (30th June to 5th July), to campaign to end indefinite detention in United Kingdom
Refugee Tales is an outreach project of Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group, inspired by the Group’s experience of 20 years of visiting men held in immigration detention in Gatwick. In July 2017, the Group walked from Runnymede to Westminster; in the evening, there were presentations of narrative stories of asylum seekers, refugees and detainees, as well as the stories of those who work with them. This event has been creating and building a community of welcome, hospitality, courage and hope. The stories communicate the experiences of migration and of being detained indefinitely. (visit www.refugeetales.org).
Here in the UK, Sisters Magda Pittaro, Rosalinda Maog and Simone Herrmann are directly involved, working with migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, trafficked women and homeless people through collaboration with other charities supporting them.
N.B. A group photo break taken on 3rd July 2017, during an 11 miles walk from Kingston to Brentford, (Sarah Hicks - Photographer)
At the beginning of July, young sisters from different stages of integration/formation in Medical Mission Sisters in Germany, together with their formation coordinator, Beate Glania, made their way over the channel to London for their summer integration workshop. The theme was 'interculturality'. London is the most ethnically diverse city in the world , with 300 different languages spoken - it is the presence of so many cultures that gives London such a vibrant atmosphere.
The sisters visited the Springfield International MMS Community, founded in London in 2012 for the purpose of intercultural living. The sisters from Springfield community shared what it means for them living and working with people of different cultures and how their mission was shaped by their own experience of being migrants in a foreign (European) country, while the elderly sisters shared their stories of being assigned to African and Asian countries for many years: this exchange about common cultural misunderstandings made everybody laugh!
The group also had the opportunity to visit the Generalate of the Medical Mission Sisters in London, and to meet our Society Leadership Team consisting of women of five different cultures. Internationality is a wonderful heritage and an indispensable aspect of MMS life – challenging, joyful and enriching. This was felt throughout the whole visit to London.
Next to a busy shopping mall more than 500 young people from UK and all over Europe gathered for a Taize weekend in Birmingham. Beautiful prayers and inspiring workshops inviting to discover the "hidden treasure" of faith based communities and groups who are involved with those most in need in our society.
In one of the workshops, "Praising God with Nature" Sr Jyoti Kujur shared about her worl with the Indian homeless and shared about life and spirituality in her Indian tribal culture.
Thanks to the members of the Chotanagpur Londoners Cultural Association (UK) who nvite everybody to join your dancing.
With great gratitude and joy the Medical Mission Sisters in London celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of Vows of Sr Margaret Inglis. At this festive day sisters and friends joined Margaret for a meaningful prayer and tea in Maryville Residential Home and listened to various stories of her 60years as a faithful Medical Mission Sister. Thank you Margaret for this witness!
"He showed me a little thing, the size of a hazlenut in the palm of my hand. I thought "What can this be?" And the answer came "It is all that is made. It lasts and ever shall because God loves it."
In this little thing I saw the three truths.
The first is that God made it...
The second is that God loves it...
The third is that God looks after it...
And so I saw full surely that before ever God made us, he loved us. And this love was never quenched, nor ever shall be." (Julian of Norwich)
On Monday 15th August Srs Gill Horsfield and Francine Poondikulam celebrated their Golden Jubilee as MMS and shared precious memories. Sr Gill writes:
"We were rather small group who met at the Generalate to celebrate with Francine and Gill but it was still a great success. We started with a simple prayer service of thanksgiving, we sang all the traditional profession songs, "Christ Who is my Joy""Give me onl,y your love and your grace".
After the prayer we drank Prosecco and ate cake, we shared many old memories and laughed a lot and really enjoyed ourselve."
It's a historical week. In the shadow of Great Britain's referendum result to leave the European Union Medical Mission Sisters in the UK also held a historical meeting: after many changes with sisters repatriating and new ones joining,we met for the first time as the new MMS Unit UK.
We discovered and valued anew the richness of having MMS from so many different parts of the world in our small group. Looking at our present reality we reviewed our governance structure followed by a vivid discussion about the needs of today.
With great joy we announce the election of Sr Lynne Rooker, Sr Rita Syron and Sr. Simone Herrmann in our new Unit UK Team who will work together with our Interim Unit Coordinator Sr Maria Goetzens. We are grateful for 8years of dedicated service of the previous team, coordinating us through such a challenging time of transition.
As MMS Unit UK we celebrate the gift of unity and journeying together as Medical Mission Sisters.
After much discernment and discussion the 14th general chapter held in Pune, India elected Sr Irene Fernandez as new Society Coordinator and a new Society Leadership Team. From left to right: Bernadeta Rini Dwi Astuti from Indonesia, Irene Fernandez, Society Coordinator elect, Edith Dug-yi from Ghana, Rosemary Ryan from the U.S., Maria Fernanda Ramirez from Peru. The new team will start in April 2016.
Heartfelt congratulation to the new Society leadership team!
On September 30th 2015, Medical Mission Sisters celebrated the Community's 90th Anniversary of Foundation.
Touched by the suffering she witnessed while working as a doctor in Pakistan, Dr Anna Dengel felt called to establish a religious community of medically trained women who would dedicate their lives to the care of the sick, especially in third world countries.
Anna was joined by Dr Joanna Lyons and two nurses, Miss Mary Evelyn Flieger and Miss Agnes Marie Uulbrich and the Society of Catholic Medical Missionaries was born in Washington DC in 1925.
Today the Society has over 500 members of 24 nationalities, working in 15 countries.
Medical Mission Sister Lorraine Ryan founded Women’s Circle in 2000 with Sister Joan Carusillo, a Sister of the Holy Cross. A place for underserved women in Boynton Beach, Florida, it marks its 15th anniversary this year. Women’s Circle empowers women to be “all they can be,” while promoting an acceptance and appreciation of cultural diversity. It serves almost 300 women each year, offering classes in English, literacy, computer training, typing, sewing and knitting. It also provides job development services, including career advice, interview techniques, clothing for interviews and support group activities. All services are offered free of charge.
Medical Mission Sister Lorraine Ryan, reviews plans for an enlarged facility.
American born MMS Elaine Kohls has worked in Ethiopia for over 30 years. From 2001-2013, she was Manager of St Luke Catholic Hospital and College of Nursing in Wolisso, 112km south west of Addis Ababa. Ensuring safe and clean water was always an important part of Elaine's ministry. MMS representative to the UN, Celine Paramundayil, after attending the UN conference in Addis Abeba, was present at this special ceremony honouring Elaine.
Celine writes… "On July 19th Elaine was invited to the Orthodox Church in Wolisso where the bishop and hundreds of parishioners gathered for the Sunday service. Amidst clapping and cheers she was called to the decorated chair and awarded with a Certificate of Merit for her great contribution in providing water to that area - there are more than 140 tube wells around this area which started as hand-dug wells under the leadership of Elaine. She was appreciated for her tireless work - and gifted with an Ethiopian dress, too!
We then moved to an old tube well operated by a generator. Water gushed out of the well as people rejoiced. We were accompanied by the bishop and local leaders to the Church property where they plan to grow three crops a year using the same water. It was great to witness this occasion where there is a practical application of the Sustainable Development Goals the UN is finalizing these days."
Medical Mission Sisters Elaine (left) and Celine See Gallery
Brenda Lung’atso MMS, is the principal tutor at St Clare’s.
St Clare’s is about 5 hours car drive north west of Nairobi. Staff and students come from all over Kenya. In 2013, under her leadership, 75 newly qualified nurses graduated. In 2014, St Clare’s was recognised as one of the top schools of nursing.
Brenda writes…The staff of St Clare’s took student nurses through a community diagnosis exercise. ‘How to find the way through the mud of learning’ is a skill to be passed on to future nurses. I, as principal nursing tutor, together with my colleague tutors, see to it that the nursing education is relevant to the needs of the people, founded on the love of God and neighbour in a healing way.
‘To negotiate the potholes of ill health towards healing and wholeness’: sometimes one needs to follow where there is a footstep; other times, one has to find the way where no one has dared to step, taking on the challenge of leadership and its risks. This is just what the staff and students from St Clare’s are about.
‘Reaching out to the community’ is the aspiration of St Clare’s. We teach students to take what is learned in the classroom to the people in the community so as to offer holistic health to those in need.
Sr Jyoti Kujur, a member of the International Springfield Community in London was awarded the Marsh Volunteer Award for Outstanding Achievement in her work with homeless clients.
Jyoti is volunteering as outreachworker with St Mungo's Broadway, a Uk wide charity dedicated to the work with the homeless. In the beginning she went out early morning and late in the night to visit her mainly Indian clients in parks and remote houses together with the social workers. She shares the joys and struggles the homeless in our borough go through. Coming from their own culture and speaking their language was a tremendous help to bridge the cultural gap and make the homeless feel more comfortable and at ease. Due to her hard work and her unbelievable endurance she took over client follow ups and accompanies them to the solicitor or GP.
Jyoti holds a BA in Indian classical music and more recently she started experimenting with her tablah in empowering others. Together with one of her homeless clients she performed during various occasions and they both rocked the stage!
Kate was born in Bournemouth in 1930 and entered Medical Mission Sisters in 1952, making her first vows in 1955. She worked in India for some years before returning to England to be part of a vocations drive, editing and selling the MMS magazine, and giving talks about our Society in schools and for parish groups all over the UK. In the '70s' Kate studied occupational therapy and returned to India for a while. Back in England she worked as an occupational therapist in a rehabilitation unit for four years. This led to a long term involvement with disabled people who were struggling to attain their place in the Church and in society. It also led to employment by the Commission for Contemplatives as Consultant to the Communities. For over 20 years she worked with the enclosed contemplative women of England, Scotland and Wales in such matters as health care, earning a living, ongoing education. Kate spent several years as a hermit in Wales and Lancaster and now lives in a retirement village in Surrey. There she tries to be a good neighbour, in a village where many live to be 100!
"Sing unto God a jubilant song, praising the one to Whom we belong.
Sing of the future, and of the past, Love everlasting, holding us fast"
Medical Mission Sister Kate Coombes, left
In the midst of a beautiful spring in England the members and staff of the General Assembly (GA) arrived in London. On Tuesday April 21 the group travelled to the Emmaus Center in West Wickham. Society Coordinator, Agnes Lanfermann, welcomed the GA membership.
The GA began with a prayer of gratitude not only for the goodness experienced but also for the gifts received in the difficult and challenging experiences of their lives. "We prayed: May thanksgiving overflow in our heart and often be proclaimed in our prayer.”
The sisters in London opened their homes and enjoyed the various encounters with sisters from all parts of the world. Together they dived into English history during a day trip to Canterbury to visit the cathedral and listen to the Canterbury tales.
Approximately one million people work under incredibly harsh conditions as bonded labour, producing bricks.
A person becomes a bonded labourer when their work is taken as a method of loan repayment. The person is very often trapped or tricked into working for very little, or even nothing at all; the total value of their work eventually far outstripping the value of the original loan. Debts can be passed to subsequent generations with entire families becoming trapped. Violence and threats against workers, to keep them in line, are commonplace.
Bonded labour is prevalent because of the extreme poverty and class discrimination that exists, making these people easy targets for exploitation. Loans are needed just for daily survival.
As a consequence of the hard work and poor living conditions, many workers suffer from poor health. Often they do not have access to medical help or can not afford it.
In response to these needs, two MMS have started a project at a kiln compound. From a small ambulance, they run regular consultations and teach the children reading, writing and basic health care skills. They have worked with human rights organisations and recently the right to a minimum wage has been won.
Medical Mission Sister Pauline Sadiq, right
On Easter Monday, April 6th 2015,Medical Mission Sisters celebrated the Profession of Final Vows by Mariotte Hillebrand.
Sisters from other countries joined MMS in Frankfurt for this very special occasion.
Our journey into the mystery of God
is linked to the journey of all earth’s people.
Our yearning for God is one with our hunger
for the transformation of the world.
(Taken from the Medical Mission Sisters Constitution)
Medical Missions Sister Mariotte Hillebrand
This project has been running for nearly eighteen months with the aim of reducing violence in the community.
The idea is to run leadership courses for young people, some of whom have been victims of violence, and prepare them to be ‘leaders for peace’. The workshops are designed to give the participants the tools to not only help themselves, but to help others.
Mission exposure is also part of the programme. Participants have opportunities to work within their communities in such ways as visiting homes, organising activities for children and youth and promoting dialogue and discussion.
(Medical Mission Sister Maigualida Riera - back row, third from left)
Sr Maigualida Riera
AYUSHYA is a Healing Centre designed to give holistic treatment and healthy living. It has an environment that balances prayer, solitude, leisure, group interaction and alternate therapies. All the programmes run by AYUSHYA help persons to enrich their body, mind and spirit. Ongoing weekly Healing and Wellness programme, Health, Healing and Wholeness Workshop and Psycho-nutritional cure camps address the chronic and Psychosomatic illnesses, through Psychotherapy and Emotional Body Work, Health Exercises and Nutrition Therapy. Meditation, Yoga, Stress Management, Laugh Therapy, Relaxation Therapy. Complementary and Alternative Therapies are integral part of Ayushya programmes.
Photograph showing zero-budget spiritual farming as part of the Psychonutrition food camp.
Tell out my soul, the greatness of the Lord!
Unnumbered blessing give my spirit voice;
Tender to me the promise of his word;
in God my Saviour shall my heart rejoice.
On September 30th 2014, the 89th anniversary of our Society's foundation, we celebrated Sr Nichola's 50 years as a medical mission sister. The occasion was marked by Mass and a celebration meal at MMS-UK house in Clitherow Avenue, London.
The daughter of a French mother and an English-Scottish father, Nichola grew up in England, where she trained as a nurse-midwife/health visitor and worked in the bustling port of post-World War II Liverpool. She moved to Canada for several years, where she met the Sacree Indians and was touched by their innate dignity, their good manners and their gentle-sounding language. On returning to the UK she entered the Medical Mission Sisters and was assigned to East Africa. For the next thirty-four years she was part of multicultural MMS communities and worked with many different ethnic and tribal groups in Uganda and Kenya in community health. Now back in London, she works as a part-time hospital chaplain, and is much involved in work for justice and peace in the MMS-UK Local Group.
For the past 50 years, John Dixon our "stamp agent" in South Shields - who admits to being "obsessed with stamp collecting"! - has been sorting and selling stamps at market value, at auctions and stamp clubs throughout the north east of England. His wife Joan has been his able assistant, putting up with enormous inconvenience, including having a bath always full of soaking stamps, and radiators and towels covered in stamps drying off...Over these 50 years John has raised a grand total of over £50,000 for the work of Medical Mission Sisters; this year alone he raised £2,027, an amazing achievement in these days when electronic communication is so prevalent!
Sadly, the time has come for John and Joan to retire. We want to express our deep gratitude to them for their generous commitment and hard work on our behalf and wish them many happy years in retirement. Thanks also to those of you who have faithfully collected and sent your stamps to John and to us.
There was big excitement in Kampala, Uganda, with the “arrival” of the grasshoppers! They are a delicacy in certain parts of Africa.
"...everyone “flew” out of the house with “buvera” (plastic bags) and began shaking the bushes and trees and grabbing all the grasshoppers that had the misfortune of flying out of their hiding places. Then the work began of preparing them for frying. They taste a bit like fried shrimp but contain a lot of oil -one can only eat a certain amount or suffer the consequences! What excitement there was and what a treat! "
Roselyn Ninsiima and Speciosa Babikinamu preparing grasshoppers for frying
Fresh mushrooms are now available at the Sunyani Community. It is hoped that mushroom farming will encourage organic practices and other types of alternative farming that do not rely on weather. This spongy, delicately flavoured fungal delicacy, that for centuries has sent people trampling through damp and dangerous forests and fields, can now be grown and harvested in a safe and hygienic room. As a rich source of nutrients more commonly found in meat, beans or other grains, it is a better alternative for vegetarians. Our first harvest was supplied to the university students, our sisters at Techiman, Notre Dame Sisters’ novitiate community and the members of our farmers group.
We live in an area that does not have enough pharmacies to serve the needs of the people. We wanted to ease the pain involved in going far distances in search of drugs. The pharmacy will not only serve as a mission, but also a means of sustainability.
On April 10th 2014, the pharmacy was opened. We gave it the name: ‘Medimis Pharmacy’ (Medical Mission Sisters). The occasion was graced by His Lordship, Dominic Yeboah Nyarko, the Bishop of Techiman. Almost all the sisters in the district were present together with our co-wokers, parishioners and neighbours. The people were very happy with the project, for according to them, it is a healing presence in their midst.
On the Feast of the Annunciation we celebrate the patronal feast of our Society. As we honour Mary as the Cause of our Joy we also mark this special day with the convocation of the Fourteenth General Chapter of our Society.
The Chapter will be held in Pune, India, from 29th September to 29th October 2015. The insights and responses from districts and sectors about Society Renewal will be important background material.
May Anna Dengel’s spirit of inner freedom and courage inspire us to discern directions for “Freeing the potential of Healing Mission as a Journey of Mutual Transformation."
November 26-29, 2013
The permanent team of the Caritas Homeless Surgery in Frankfurt, where several of our German sisters are involved, travelled to London and visited several projects caring for the homeless. Thanks to the accommodation, planning and background work of MMS in UK who made this event possible, the group enjoyed and appreciated the hospitality of Medical Mission Sisters!