HERE AM I LORD!
“For the mission, Mary of the Passion wanted us to be disponible and strong in faith, ready to leave everything and to go wherever we were sent”. (Cont 40).
This was our feeling before coming here in United States. Each one with her task, we were working with our enthusiasm, Sister Kim Anh Le in Vietnam and Sister Minh Huong Pham in Canada. Suddenly, we were invited to leave our places and to go for a new mission: to study at Benedictine University in Illinois for four years. Our response was “yes,” believing that the Lord would lead us.
We would like to share to you our short journey in this moment of change. Before final vows in 2013, Minh Huong was already sent to one community in Vietnam to work as bookkeeper in a kindergarten, as well accompany the catholic youth at DaLat College. And me, I was sent to Canada after final vows in 2012. I spent 1½ years studying French and adapting to this new culture where I supposed I would continue in mission. But the Lord wanted differently. He invited us to let our plans go. We said “Yes” to this new call, although we did not know our future.
The documents came very fast and both of us got visas without any problems within about 2 months’ time. We arrived in Stickney, Illinois in the middle of winter. The climate was extremely cold but the love of Sisters was warm. We have experienced the spirit of FMM everywhere: kindness, care, tender love, comprehension…we feel the sense of belonging. With these experiences, they have helped us get around to complete paperwork, to buy the tickets for transportation, to go shopping before school began. We have also sensed the kindness of people around us in this parish of St Pius X.
Then school started on 15th Jan. on the campus of about 11,000 students. We can see that they organize very well. There are about 120 international students, so the international staff helps us step by step to know the rules as well the laws in United States. The University has a place for Mass and adoration, so we can pray also. Now we are studying English, each session is about 8 weeks long. After each session, our teachers will give us a TOFEL exam. If we pass this exam we will start our academic courses, if not we have to enroll for another other session of English until we pass. We have to study hard to obtain a score of 550 out of 677. It is not easy but we do our best each day.
We are slowly settling into our life in this new place with our new mission. We experience God’s hands leading us through many signs around us. And we believe that He is there always with us through your love, our dear sisters. We give Him big thanks from our hearts. We thank you too for your love, care and support. Do continue to accompany us in prayer so that we can grow in His Love and the love of Institute.
Minh Huong, fmm and Kim Anh, fmm
– Blessed Mary of the Passion -,
Celebration of 105th Birthday
Sr. Helen Anna Klumpp, Franciscan Missionary of Mary, celebrated her 105th birthday at St. Antoine’s Residence surrounded by her Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, and staff members. Sr. Helen entered the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary in North Providence, RI June 1935 and pronounced her final vows in 1940. Here ministries included a licensed practical nurse, laboratory technician, Pastoral visitation to Navajo people in Arizona, and in other missions in the United States.
Helen was born in Greenwich, Connecticut, a small town where her parents owned and operated a bakery. There were six children born to her parents; twin boys died in infancy. Although Helen was born after her twin brothers had died she always thought about them. Her mother was a Catholic but her father had no religious belief. At a very young age Helen had what she describes as a deep experience of God, which remained with her during her formative years. Her attempts to share this experience with an older sister were not understood.
At age five Helen began violin lessons and became an accomplished violinist. Music was always an important part of Helen’s life. After graduating from Greenwich High School she began nursing studies and obtained her license as a practical nurse. Upon the death of her mother she inherited a house of her own. Later she cared for her ill father until he died.
Helen was a joyful outgoing person who enjoyed the friendship of both men and women. She loved dancing and socializing. She had a few suitors but felt in her heart that she was not called to the married life. One of her friends was a champion swimmer and diver with whom Helen shared her love of swimming.
On one of her trips to New York City she injured her ankle and felt unable to continue walking. Providentially she was close to Divine Providence Shelter at 45th St., so she limped in to rest. It was there that Helen met the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. At first she found them strange but later returned to have a long conversation with one of the Sisters. She started attending daily Mass. On a subsequent visit to 45th St. Helen asked hypothetically what a person needed to do to enter this religious community. Eventually she entered the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary June 12, 1935 at the age of 24.
In 1937 Helen’s first mission sending was to St. Francis Sanatorium, Roslyn, now called St. Francis Hospital, where she received tutoring on setting up and running a laboratory. These were the early challenging years of the hospital. She also worked as a practical nurse. Helen remained in this mission until 1959 when she was sent to O.L. of the Eucharist in Brighton. Here she served as receptionist, was involved in the Third Order of St. Francis, and used her musical talents in the liturgy.
She related well with young people and was able to reach out to them during the turbulent 70s. During the summer season Helen was the lifeguard at Grace Haven, the province vacation house, utilizing her skill in swimming like the proverbial fish. She also entertained her community by dancing the Charleston.
In 1975 Helen was sent in mission to St. Francis Community, San Francisco, serving again as receptionist. From 1978 to 1982 she did pastoral work with the Navajo people at St. Michael’s, Arizona. Sent again to O.L. of the Eucharist she taught CCD, was the sacristan and involved in the Charismatic movement, relating once again with young persons. From 1989 to 1992 she worked in the FMM Skilled Nursing Center and was a member of St. Michael’s Community.
She spent the year from 1992 to 1993 doing pastoral ministry in Tampa, Florida. Her next mission sending was to Trinity Community where she worked part time in the Fruit Hill Day Program until 1998. Failing health necessitated Helen’s transfer to O. L. Queen of Peace.
Presently, Sr. Helen is in St. Antoine’s Residence where at age 105, she remains remarkably alert and involved in activities.
Born in Providence, Rhode Island, Sr. Gilberte felt the first stirrings of her missionary vocation at 11 years. She was in a church where a missionary from Africa was speaking. He told the congregation about the African people andtheir needs, and spoke about the sad faces of the chi1dren. Gilberte made an inner promise that very moment to go to Africa to get the African children to smile.
Since a promise was always very important for Gilberte, she thought seriously of religious life as a young
woman, and then, in 1941, followed her sister Annette into the only missionary order she knew.
Believing that to enter in Canada, away from her hometown Providence, would be better for her
perseverance, Gilberte went to Quebec and spent her novitiate there during the war years.
Grand Allee, Quebec had a large printing press and Sr. Gilberte served there running the printing machines
for ten years. Because the French Province needed her skills for their printing press in Vanves, Sr. Gilberte
was missioned there and worked the presses for twenty years. Sr. Gilberte believed that her dream of
going to Africa was fulfilled in this very indirect way because of her part in the written word coming from
and going to Africa and many other parts of the world.
In 1971, Sr. Gilberte was missioned to Holy Family Community in North Providence. Because of her
mother’s advanced age and failing health, Gilberte received permission to be, as she described, ”a
presence in the house” to help her mother to be independent and to take care of herself. This Gilberte
did for twelve years. After her mother’s death, Gilberte was missioned to St. Francis Community in
Roslyn, NY, for a short time and then missioned to the Infirmary at Fruit Hill where she assisted in caring
for the sisters’ many practical and pastoral needs. Many who have experienced Gilberte describe her as a
”gentle breeze – a quiet, devoted presence – one who works faithfully without complaint.” Even though
she never went to Africa to make the children smile, Gilberte felt that there were many little ways in which she was able make our sick and elderly sisters smile. Gilbert’s large, loving family kept in contact with her over the years and visited her often.
Most of her life, Gilberte walked to every place she needed to go. Even after many years, when she was
able, Gilberte liked to take long walks. She believed that as a religious it was important to be a presence
in the world. Her prayer life and adoration were precious to her and she hoped that religion would
become more and more important to people in their everyday lives, not just in crisis situations.
Gilberte remembered stories of men in the trenches during war battles, crying out to God. If only they
could have this same thirst for and realization of God in other situations as well, she felt, then the Church
would be more important and alive to people. This inspiration became an intention in her daily prayer,
and we can believe that she will continue to pray this prayer now that she has gone home to God.