“After bidding adieu to our good Sisters in Carondelet, we started on our long and perilous journey to Arizona.” (Sister Monica Corrigan, Trek of the Seven Sisters)
by Jeanne Marie Gocha, CSJ
In some ways, there are a lot of similarities between the journey of Monica Corrigan and her six companions to Tucson, Arizona and the journey Sisters Carol Brong, Chizuru Yamada and I began on March 27th of this year. Both required a spirit of adventure, complete trust in God’s providential graces, the support of our Sisters and a reliance on the goodness of those we journey with to begin a new mission within the congregation.
Though Carol and I prepared for months to welcome Chizuru Yamada into the newly formed Congregational Novitiate here in Porter Ranch, California, it all became real when Sister Miriam Ukeritis, in the name of the Congregation, accepted Chizuru Yamada’s request to enter into the next step of her discernment journey to become a Sister of St Joseph of Carondelet. The candidate became a novice whom we now call “Sister.”
After celebrating the Triduum and great feast of Easter, our first “field trip” took place as we set out on a “half Trek,” echoing the trek of seven Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet to begin a mission in Tuscon in 1870. We drove out to Phoenix to celebrate with Sister Adele O’Sullivan and other Sisters in the annual Circle the City Tea. Then we took some time to see for ourselves the wonderful ministries that Circle the City supports to serve the homeless population of Phoenix.
Sister Mary Murphy, the aficionado of the history of our first sisters in the West, joined us to begin a “mini-Trek” through the deserts between Phoenix and Tucson to visit the holy places where our early Sisters first ministered back in the 1870s, some of which continue today. We rested at Picacho Peak, felt the presence of our early Sisters as we prayed in the chapels of St. John’s in Komatke and San Xavier del Bac, and experienced first-hand how our charism continues to be lived in the staff and patients at St Mary’s Hospital in Tucson. Our journey was sweetened by the gracious hospitality of our Sisters in Tucson: Marge Foppe, Michelle Humke, Irma Odabashian, and Barbara Sullivan. A wonderful mixture of past history and present realities all lived for the sake of the Mission!
Returning home, novitiate life began to find its rhythm of prayer, classes, community life, and personal reflection. Sister Darlene Kawulok offered Chizuru insightful classes on Vatican II and its documents. Sister Ingrid Honore-Lallande shared her expertise on Ignatian Spirituality and Discernment. We are in the midst of weekly classes with Sister Anne Hennessey, CSJ from the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange on Fr. Jean Pierre Medaille and our first Sisters in France in the 1600s.
We grow in relationships with those who come share a meal and insights too. The Northridge Caritas community of Associates meet at Caritas for their monthly gatherings. A Readers Circle of Sisters meets monthly for a meal and sharing highlights of their latest spiritual reading. There is also a Friday night gathering once a month of Sisters who come for dinner and theological reflection.
Sally Koch, a candidate here in Los Angeles, will join us in July as a novice. Both novices will be heading out to Rochester to participate in the Federation Novitiate beginning in August. Though you all can’t come to visit, share a meal, or teach a class, we certainly need and rely on your prayer-filled support. We promise you our prayer-filled support in return and will keep you updated on our journey.
“Now that we are settled in our new home, we trust our good Sisters will continue to pray for us, recommending the success of our mission… to our dear Lord, to the end that we may labor earnestly to promote His greater glory, and have this, alone, in view, in all our undertakings.” (Sister Monica Corrigan, Trek of the Seven Sisters)
Sisters Carol Brong and Chizuru Yamada prepare for their journey creating a timeline of events of our early sisters. and missions.
Off we go! Sisters Jeanne Marie Gocha, Carol Brong and Chizuru Yamada begin their “half trek” to Arizona.
Sisters Mary Murphy, Carol Brong, and Chizuru Yamada at St. John’s Mission in Komatke, Arizona.
Sister Adele O’Sullivan tells stories of patients who have received care at the Medical Respite Center for those experiencing homelessness in Phoenix.