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. Evelyn Flowers
After my term in CSA leadership, I completed a sabbatical program at the Sophia Center. Their guidance indicated a leaning towards ecological pursuits, so I followed this leaning by volunteering my assistance with the St. Joseph Sisters in that field. Upon completion of my time there, I was “missioned” as the volunteer Coordinator of Ecological Concerns by the CSA leadership. I endeavor to keep the care of God’s earth in our consciousness by writing for CSA Today, overseeing recycling at Mount Augustine/Regina Health Center, planning Earth Day celebrations, and encouraging earth care, especially among our employees.
I was invited by Sister Miriam in 2010 to represent CSA on our Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland Board of Directors, and completed my service in 2018. I felt especially called to keep our charism and Catholic Social Teachings in the awareness of our board members. It is the charism which calls members to choose how best to respond to those in need, and to develop ways to influence systemic change. Being able to respond to the disadvantaged and marginalized sends the message that the least among us is priceless in the eyes of God. Those who benefit are aware that their aid is religiously motivated. My hope is that our foundations will be able to continue this work as part of our legacy under our charism.
My ministry in music has been an outgrowth of my youthful interest and training, and continued in CSA when I was “called” by Sister Marie Cecile to sit at an organ for the first time and learn to play foot pedals. To me, it is both a ministry in beauty and a ministry in prayer, not only for CSA and the residents, but for friends attending Mass. Along with the most excellent care which our RHC residents receive, I would hope that a means will be found to provide excellent service in liturgical music.
Additionally, I volunteer on the Gift and Donation Committee because it can respond meaningfully to those whose needs are best met with small donations, and because it enables the CSA Sisters to personally respond to these needs. I also volunteer as a part of the Associate Core Committee and the Associate Committee. It has been rewarding to discern with Associates what their role might be in the future unfolding of CSA’s charism.
Sr. Joan Gallagher
Our ministry is focused on people, particularly those who are spiritually, socially, psychologically, physically, or materially neglected in any way. We are especially committed to minister in the areas of health care, education and social service.
As a retired Sister of Charity, I continue to be associated with St. Vincent Charity Medical Center through my membership on the board. I was elected to the Board of Directors in January 2010 and will be ending my term in December 2019. I currently serve as chair of the Quality Committee. I also serve on the Finance and Executive committees. The commitment of other board members and staff is inspiring and gratifying. I have a deep respect for the administration and their appreciation for the Catholic mission for the healthcare of the neighborhood.
My favorite volunteer work is Collinwood Neighborhood Catholic Ministries (CNCM). This organization serves the residents of the neighborhood in a variety of ways, including issuing vouchers for birth certificates, state identity documents and driver’s licenses. Each of these IDs are invaluable when looking for housing, applying for SNAP the food stamps program, furthering education, registering a child for kindergarten, and for access to Medicaid. I have become a grant writer for the BC/IDs and other general grants.
As part of CNCM, I also coordinate the Creative Painting Program for which I provide canvasses, paints, brushes and other supplies for the classes. We run two sessions, one in the spring and one in the fall, each consisting of 6 or 7 classes per session. William Denihan is the master teacher and with his assistant, Doug Rothschild, conducts these classes every other Saturday. One participant has attended all 36 classes and has established her own studio in her home.
I am also a Eucharistic Minister, an altar server, and a member of the St. Luke Parish Social Concerns Committee. I attend Mass daily, serving on Thursdays and ministering on Wednesdays and Fridays. The Committee meets once a month; last year we sponsored an alcohol and drug education program that involved services from Catholic Charities, Rosary Hall and the Lakewood Police Department.
When a specific need arises, if I can, I will say yes to the opportunity to help. Supporting others who need just a little push is most important for me.
Sr. Xavier Gorman
I am writing this at an especially happy time in my 80th year as a CSA. But, I should say that all my years have been special and happy. I hope the dear Lord agrees!
When I retired at 75 years old, several Sisters said, “That is early; you could still continue working.” However, I wanted to come to Mount Augustine and help give some assistance to our Sisters and the other residents of Regina Health Center. So, I came to volunteer where I could help. Over time, this included volunteering at the switchboard, on the Jubilee Committee, at the chapel as a sacristan, cleaning rooms when a Sister died, checking and washing the clothes of the Sisters on 2nd floor, along with many other small but needed jobs to serve others.
Now, I am retired—and it is a quiet time where I have no rush and no stress. I still have time for prayer, time for listening; this is a very special time where I minister in a new way. I pray, “Gracious God, you have given me all I am and all I have. I have been called by you into old age, a blessed time of prayer, acceptance and joy!”
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.
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.