♦ Precious Blood Sister Joan DeChristopher (M. Christine), who recently retired from the spiritual care team at St. Margaret Hall in Cincinnati, received the Flos Carrmeli Sanctity of Life Award from the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm and the Avila Institute of Gerontology. She was recognized during a dinner Oct. 10. The award is presented to a person who exemplifies characteristics of Mother M. Angeline Teresa O. Carm. the foundress of the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm.
Since 2005, Sister Joan offered Healing Touch therapy to residents at St. Margaret Hall, particularly to patients at the end of their lifespan. She also worked with patients and their families. She retired in May.
In an essay nominating Sister Joan for the award, St Margaret Hall administrator Janet Murphy wrote that she is dedicated, caring and thoughtful.
“In addition to the wonderful work that she does for our residents, she is also there for the staff,” Murphy wrote. “Last winter a number of longtime residents passed away, and she was conscientious about checking in with the staff to see how they were coping with the stresses that come along with such a loss.”
Though Sister Joan retired, she continues to serve as a volunteer.
“I was really stunned,” Sister Joan said of receiving the award. “I never expected this.”
♦ Feast Days involving Mary are also feast days at Salem Heights. Sister Carolyn Henkeius (M. Fabian) prepares more than five dozen pecan rolls to celebrate. A few days before the Feast Day, Sister Carolyn is busy in a Salem Heights kitchen preparing the tasty treats, which feature a topping of pecans, brown sugar and butter. Sometimes she will place a roll outside each bedroom door at Salem Heights. Sweet!
♦ Sister Martha Bertke and Liz Schindler, a friend, attended the Sept. 8 Notre Dame football game vs. Purdue. They joined more than 80,000 other fans to watch Notre Dame kick off the season with a 20-17 win. In addition to the game, they spent Sept. 7 touring the campus and enjoyed dinner at Holy Cross Village. They visited Sacred Heart Basilica and Museum before the game. Sunday Mass was at the Basilica.
♦ The Sisters of the Precious Blood website continues to evolve. Planned upgrades include changes to the home page that will make it more readable and provide links to popular features. Under the News and Events page, a digital copy of Sharing & Caring offers individual stories in an easy-to-read format. Another new feature, Sister Quips, will be found under the Life as a Sister page. These amusing stories are compiled from Sisters’ experiences in ministry. Also, our Facebook page continues to grow. If you haven’t ‘liked’ the page, do so today.
♦ Statues of our Lady of Fatima with three children were moved from the grounds of the former Fatima Hall, Precious Blood High School to Salem Heights on June 22. The statue of Mary and the boulder, weighing 28,000 pounds, was moved by Miller-Valentine Construction Company while the statues of the three children were moved by Salem Heights staff. The statues, made possible through Our Lady of Fatima League, were originally dedicated in 1951.
Fatima Hall was dedicated as Precious Blood High School on July 2, 1950 and the first class arrived in September. The last class graduated in 1966. After Fatima Hall closed as a high school the building was renovated and used as a House of Formation from 1968-72. Professed Sisters who ministered in the area then lived in Fatima Hall for a number of years. Congregational offices were also housed in Fatima Hall. An Early Childhood Center was in the basement of Fatima Hall from 1973 until 1995. The Sisters sold Fatima Hall and the Maria Joseph Center in 1985. Demolition of Fatima Hall began last November.
♦ Deacon Omar Bertke, brother of Precious Blood Sister Martha Bertke, celebrated his 25th year in the diaconate June 10 with a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. John the Baptist Church in Maria Stein, followed by a reception and open house. Missionary of the Precious Blood Father Eugene Schnipke celebrated the Mass. Deacon Bertke has been assigned to St. John since ordination. The parish is part of the Marian Catholic Community.
As a deacon, he particularly enjoyed baptisms and has baptized two generations of families over the years. Deacon Bertke said he also enjoyed working with parishioners, assisting at Masses, preparing Eucharistic ministers and RCIA. Deacon Bertke spent five years visiting patients in Hospice or their families.
He is retired from Minister Farmer’s Cooperative (now Trupointe Cooperative) in 1994. He has been a groundskeeper at Maria Stein Shrine since 1994 and was also the groundskeeper at Maria Stein Retreat Center from 1994-96.