Who We Are
Jesus calls us friends: “I do not call you servants anymore, because the servant does not know the Master’s business. I call you friends because I have made known to you everything I have learned from the Father. You did not choose Me. No, I chose you to go out and to bear fruit that will last.”
John 15: 1
The Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine (CSA) is a vowed religious congregation committed to God, each other and a life of service to the world. You will find us in prayer settings, healthcare, parish life, ecology, and community outreach ministries, such as food pantries, homeless shelters, and immigrant services. We strive to remain open to where God is calling us to be.
Below we are featuring three of our sisters, as they share in their own words the work they perform in their respective ministries.
Sr. Marian Durkin
I have been privileged to work part-time as a CSA Councilor for the last four years. This has allowed me to engage in a number of volunteer ministries:
I volunteer for the Ignatian Spirituality Program (ISP) and on an occasional Wednesday I visit the Edna House for Women where, with another ISP member, we pray with women in recovery. I have been doing this ministry for many years. I also assist in facilitating a weekend retreat with these women once a year.
I was a graduate of the Ignatian Spirituality Institute (ISI) in 2005 and since that time I have been a spiritual director for a number of individuals; directed students in the Busy Student Retreat at Kent State University once a year; and directed a number of summer weekend retreats at the Jesuit Retreat House.
Every year I facilitate an Emmaus Retreat weekend at the Jesuit Retreat House for LGBTQ individuals. 2017 was our 18th annual retreat weekend. I also meet monthly with a group of gay men for prayer and reflection.
On a monthly basis I have also visited an incarcerated woman as part of the “Friend to Friend” program of the Women’s Lutheran Metropolitan Ministries. My “friend” Rosalie is my fourth “match,” and I have been part of the “Friend to Friend” program for over 15 years.
In the area of Social Justice, I convened a JPIC (Justice, Peace and the Integration of Creation) group consisting of sisters from 6 different communities and a lay woman who works for CYA. We have been meeting for over 2 years and are engaged in prayer, education, and action around a variety of social justice issues.
Finally, I volunteer on two boards that are not part of our CSA ministries: at Lakewood Catholic Academy and CYA-Catholic Young Adults.
These volunteer ministries have been very life-giving for me and provide a broader experience that I hope I can bring to my role as Councilor on the leadership team of CSA.
I am very grateful.
Sr. Miriam Erb
My ministry as Vice President for Mission and Ministry at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center (SVCMC) began in April of 2014 after a short sabbatical–and a fractured metatarsal which brought me home from Michigan to Regina Health Center for a couple months of healing. During that time, the position of VP became vacant. I was called to the ministry through my basic commitment to CSA, to serve where I am needed and to bring a joyful, compassionate presence to that ministry. When Sr. Judith Ann asked me to consider this ministry, I knew it was important to have a CSA presence in the hospital. I believed I could make a difference, so my answer was yes. It has been a privilege being at SVCMC.
My ministry at SVCMC encompasses many facets, but central to what I do is to try to live the CSA charism and give witness to the mission of the hospital by bringing compassionate and loving care to all I encounter. These interactions may be visiting patients, supporting our hospital staff, or attending staff meetings for various committees and functions which I oversee. They include: the Mission and Values Committee, Ethics Committee, Pain and Palliative Care Committee, Mission Outreach Programs, and many more.
Other important aspects of my ministry include conducting mission education and focus groups; providing staff education; coordinating events; recognizing the diversity of religion and culture; and attending all hospital functions.
I represent CSA by being a listening presence with our caregivers and patients in both times of need and support as well as in times of joy and gratitude. Whether praying with a patient or stopping to see a caregiver who has a sick or dying family member, whether offering spiritual advice or comforting prayer, whether being part of an ethical consult or a medical decision, the support is felt. Caregivers will tell you this is why they minister in a God-centered environment.
My hopes for the future are that SVCMC will continue to serve the people of the area, especially the underserved and marginalized. I hope that we will continue to be known because of our mission of loving service to all, and that we always provide compassionate, quality care.
Sr. Regina Fierman
Over the past five years, I have been blessed with my ministry at Regina Health Center as Coordinator of Programs and Transportation.
Following the completion of my term in CSA Leadership in July of 2013, I had been praying for God to call me into a new ministry. When the opening in Programs and Transportation came, I felt that it was the right fit for me and interviewed for the position. This has been a most rewarding experience.
I feel that I represent CSA well, as I am in contact with staff and residents in all areas of Regina Health Center; I am also in contact with families, religious communities and other visiting groups. Through my interactions with those who require the services of this department, I wish to convey God’s love and compassion. By doing this, I represent both CSA and Regina Health Center in emulating our mission of love and hospitality.
This ministry has had its challenges as well as its rewards, and I welcome them both as I continue my outreach to those we serve. This continues to be a grace-filled and fulfilling ministry for me, and I thank both CSA and Regina Health Center for the opportunity to be a part of God’s mission.
Sr. Kathy Andrews
Following my ministry for eight years as the Local Leader for the CSA Community at Mount Augustine and then eight years as the First Councilor on the CSA Leadership Team, (July 2017) I had the privilege of having extended time for “R and R Plus”… rest, relaxation, recreation, reflection and renewal. During this time I continued to be involved in community life, to serve on committees, meetings, etc. and to spend time with our sisters, attending to some of their needs. The time flew by as I enjoyed the beauty of fall and the blessings of Thanksgiving and Christmas.
This report reflects my participation in CSA’s ministry to God’s people, as well as the ministry that I received from our CSA Sisters and others during the months ahead. However, ministry is always reciprocal, many times receiving more than one gives. I definitely was blessed by this “Ministry in Reverse!”
In 2018 I had the opportunity to spend January and February in the hermitage at Our Lady of the Pines Retreat Center in Fremont, Ohio. There are “no words” or “not enough words” to express my gratitude for such a grace-filled experience! I have been refreshed in body, mind and spirit through the Power of the Spirit and the ministry and prayerful support of so many people. My life continues to be a moment-to-moment journey into the Heart of the Risen Christ where we are all one. After such an experience, I am all the more convinced that the core of my ministry is one of presence walking with others as together we own the truth that we are unconditionally loved by God, and believing that everyone is welcome on this journey.
As my future ministry discernment continues, I am using my educational, professional, and pastoral gifts to serve in the following ways:
Holy Family Hospice in Parma, Ohio
Volunteer: Spiritual Care for the residents and families
Serving hospice patients is indeed a blessed ministry, and it is indeed a privilege to be part of a person’s sacred journey home to God and to wait with them and their loved ones in prayer and support.
My past ministries as a hospital chaplain and as a member of the bereavement team at a funeral home, as well as my personal and community experience with death and dying have helped prepare me for this ministry. However, there is always more to learn and experience. My heart and my skill are being stretched as I minister to the patients and families holding each person in the Heart of God.
Sisters of Charity of St Augustine Cleveland Foundation:
Pursuing involvement in the Cleveland Central Promise Neighborhood Initiative (CCPN)
For some time I have had a desire to know more about the Promise Neighborhood, to experience it first-hand, and to see how my pastoral experience and gifts could be of service to the people living there as well as to those who serve them.
In preparation, I have been attending in-services, education sessions, etc to help broaden my understanding of the multiple and overwhelming needs and challenges that need to be addressed in order to make a difference in their lives.
I have been attending the CCPN Advisory Council Meetings and other social and educational events in the neighborhood all of which have been very helpful. The enthusiasm and expertise of the Advisory Council and the staff from the Sisters of Charity Cleveland Foundation Is very encouraging, inspiring and is full of hope for the future.
Living out of our Charism of Charity, the ministry of the work is accompanied by the ministry of prayer at every meeting, acceptance of each other, patience, and of dealing with the inevitable challenges that occur. Ministry happens all around us even when we are not aware. I believe that the Spirit works over time at meetings for the good of the project as well as for the people involved!
I am involved in the following entities:
Member of Regina Health Center Board and Member of the Board Committee for Long Range Planning
Member of the Finance Committee of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine Board
Member of the CSA Associate Committee
Member of the CSA Core Circle
Member of a CSA Cluster Group
Participant at Centering Space – A Prayer Ministry Sponsored by The Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine
Serving others is very integral to my call as a CSA Sister. Even though challenging at times, it is always a privilege and a blessing to be part of the ministry of Jesus.
Sr. Mary Grace Betzler
When I came to Mount Augustine/Regina Health Center to live I brought with me my Pastoral Counseling skills. I ministered for eight years as the Program and Transportation Coordinator. I minister to my CSA Sisters and RHC residents through prayer and visiting.
I enjoy creating community by preparing dinners for my CSA Sisters. During special sporting events, I prepare snacks to be shared with my Sisters to cheer the Indians, Cavaliers and the Cleveland Browns on to victory.
I have spent time volunteering for RHC at the Gift Shop. I am actively involved in the life of my congregation through membership on the Core Circle, the Gift and Donation Committee and the Spirituality Committee.
At this time, I am also called to be present and assist and serve my two brothers, Tom and Danny.
My hope for the future is to continue to serve my God in whatever my journey turns out to be. I plan to serve my CSA Community in whatever way I am able.
Sr. Theresa Bontempo
My Ministry started as a Registered Nurse prior to my entering the CSA Community and I have continued this ministry until I retired.
I was called to this ministry as I worked as a Home Care Nurse. I graciously accepted different assignments provided by the Community as a nursing supervisor for various positions. While I lived at the Lakeview Apartment in Cleveland, I responded to the needs of all people living in my apartment building. For example, I helped my neighbors with watching their cats, birds, and other animals and taking care of their plants while they were on vacation.
I presently reside at Mount Augustine/Regina Health Center. I volunteer at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center on a weekly basis and attend to any other needs for the Community as requested.
My hope is that CSA can continue to serve as we are. God is going to take care of us and I am not worried about the future.