Lessons of May
Among Ancient and Colorful Ways of Life
The United States is a land of great diversity in every way, but the most significant variety of our land is in its people.
The month of May is set aside to honor Asian and Pacific Islander heritages.
The Sisters of the Holy Family first went to the magnificent Hawaiian Islands in 1947. They ministered in the
parishes and missions on Hawaii, Molokai, Oahu and Kauai, teaching catechism to those who were
Catholic, home visiting everybody in an area, participating in all kinds of events and becoming a
part of the colorful array in the Islands. In 2021 the last sister came back to the Mainland,
ending a 79 year history of ministry in Hawaii.
In many places the Sisters have worked among Hawaiian, Tongan, Chinese, Filipino, Hmong,
Kmhmu’ and other Island or Asian communities, learning the many ways in which God is
glorified through the beauty of faith and the vibrancy of their cultures.
Recently, at the Motherhouse, we have initiated a series of workshops on diversity, equity and inclusivity, remembering our ministries among diverse groups, beginning to see where improvements need to be made in effective responses to questions of equity today. It has become clear that reparation needs to be made for the purposeful or unwitting support of oppression and injustice toward people of color by the once dominant culture of this country.
Surrounding these paragraphs are a few pictures from past and present — some of the diverse groups with whom the Sisters have ministered.
An Associate’s Perspective: The Beginnings
Groups associated with religious orders do not necessarily have to wait for a structure before beginning their association. Indeed, organizational rules and constraints may inhibit the work of the Spirit in the formation of a successful spiritual support group.
Such a group is a safe haven in which to pray, let down one’s guard, be challenged, laugh, cry, and be angry. That has been the experience of the Holy Family Associates in Rapid City, South Dakota.
Out of a mutual need, several Rapid City women were drawn together in 1982 for prayer, support, and community. The group coalesced around Sister Jacinta Fiebig, a visionary herself, who brought to her mission in South Dakota the vision of Lizzie Armer – to minister to the lonely and the forgotten.
From that mutual craving for spiritual growth and spiritual intimacy evolved a prayer and support group that continues today. Members bring to the group a variety of personal interests and occupations. We are connected to one another and to the Church by our specific ministries within the Church. We each bring the talents with which we have been gifted for the common good of the Church community. The thread that links us all is love for God, for his Church, and for each other.
In addition, we bring diverse lifestyles, which include being married, widowed, divorced and single. The group now includes a single male who has chosen a celibate lifestyle, and who has found associates to be an appropriate support system. In addition to his catechetical work, he has learned to use God-given materials around him to nurture others with his artistic talents.
Ministries performed by individual members of the group include visiting the homebound, catechesis, editing the Catholic newspaper, religious education, food pantry, counseling, teaching, nurturing, retreat work, and spiritual direction.
There was a concern when Sister Jacinta left in 1988 to return to Mission San Jose for her new ministry to those with AIDS/ARC, that the spirit holding the association together would leave with her. That has not been so. The charism of the Sisters of the Holy Family went with her, but it remained with the group also.
We look forward with enthusiasm to continuing our input into the task force on associate membership, and to the plans that may develop from that group. We continue to pray for spiritual guidance for ourselves and for the Sisters of the Holy Family as preparations continue for Homecoming 1989.
Present members of our group are Pat Petit, Pat Blesener, Margaret Adel, Eileen Sullivan Rotert, and new members Sherry Jackson and David Reinders.
Written by Eileen Sullivan Rotert who made her covenant on June 29, 1991 with the first group of Holy Family Associates. I believe this article was printed in Update before Homecoming 1989.