Sister Christina Murphy
Sister Christina Murphy was recently awarded the 2012 South Carolina Religious Woman of the Year by the South Carolina Council of Catholic Women. Since 2004, Sister Christina has been missioned to Our Lady of the Hills Church in Columbia, South Carolina as a pastoral associate. There she works with incarcerated women, making weekly visits to maximum and minimum security facilities in the area. Sr. Christina prays with these women, gives them hope, and helps them learn about the Catholic Church. Sr. Christina also started a Dismas Ministry program in her community to help the women inmates transition successfully following their release. In 2004, The South Carolina General Assembly adopted a Senate Resolution recognizing Sr. Christina’s “numerous and significant contributions.” Sr. Christina also began a respite care program at Our Lady of the Hills Church in 2009, in effort to help loved ones caring for the sick and elderly.
Sister Monica Belber was recently recognized with the Saint Agnes Hospital Amazing Service Award after being nominated by her peers. Sister Monica has been ministering as a Board Certified Chaplain (National Association of Catholic Chaplains) for the past 15 years and as a Staff Chaplain at St. Agnes Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland since March 2005. As part of an interdisciplinary health care team she primarily provides pastoral/spiritual support to patients, families, their loved ones and Staff at St. Agnes Hospital. Her responsibilities include the support to oncology patients (in- patient and out-patient), a surgical orthopedic unit and a medical-surgical unit. Sr. Monica facilitates a staff support group once a month for the Oncology Nursing Staff of St. Agnes nursing staff and coordinates an ecumenical prayer service that is part of the hospital’s annual National Cancer Survivors Day Celebration which is held nationally the first Sunday in June. Sister Monica states “my ministry has been a great gift and blessing for me, as I am a witness to grace in the lives of those who let me share in their journeys.”
Sister Barbara Worn
Sister Barbara Worn, formerly Sister Mary Martin, is currently missioned to Saint Agnes Hospital as the Associate Advisor. Her many tasks include assisting hospital staff members of all levels who need assistance with spiritual or financial guidance. Sr. Barbara has worked at St. Agnes Hospital for 21 years, previously as the Director of Pastoral Care before becoming the Associate Advisor 10 years ago. Sr. Barbara has been a Certified Addiction Counselor since 1975 and assisted in the implementation of the Stepping Stones Program for drug and alcohol addiction in the Department of Corrections.
The staff members who have come to Sr. Barbara for guidance express their gratitude with letters and cards; noting how she has changed their lives for the better.
“Thank you for everything you have done for me and my two daughters. I hope one day I would be able to help you as many times as you have helped me.”
“Thank you so much for giving so much to us through your dedication and steadfastness to others as God’s servant Sister Barbara, I am so grateful for you.”
Sister Vivien Echekwubelu, SND
Sister Vivien is currently a nurse at Saint Agnes Hospital in Baltimore, but her career in the medical field began when she was 29, long before her arrival in the U.S.
Sr. Vivien’s rich personal and career history began in the city of Adazi- Ani Nigeria, where she was born, and continued in Onitsha where she was raised by her uncle. Sr. Vivien felt a strong religious calling but chose instead to complete nursing school in Nigeria before committing her life to a congregation. She became a nurse midwife, delivering more than 600 babies—even one set of triplets!
In 1997, a good friend submitted 35 applications to a green card lottery in the U.S. Sr. Vivien, who was the single winning applicant out of all 35 entrants, viewed it as an opportunity and moved to America in October 1998. She studied diligently and passed her nursing board examination in 1999 in Durham, N.C., then returned to nursing school at the University of North Carolina to receive her bachelor’s degree in nursing. Sr. Vivien worked at the UNC hospital in a medical-surgical unit for six years before she continued her pursuit to enter religious life.
After extended communication with a prospective congregation in Nigeria, Sr. Vivien reached out to the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Sr. Carol Symons shed the vision of St. Julie Billiart onto Sr. Vivien; she moved to Baltimore in 2007 to enter the order, later moving to Connecticut for her novitiate in 2008. Sr. Vivien returned to Baltimore and took her first vows as a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur in October 2010.
Sr. Vivien is now the charge nurse of a 30-bed cardiac nursing unit at Saint Agnes Hospital. Sr. Vivien describes the scene at the unit as solemn, but she is encouraged by the team and the network of medical professionals she is part of. She takes great pride in her work, saying, “It is a great feeling to see patients regain themselves after various types of therapy even when you believe they may not recover.”
Sr. Vivien is interested in pursuing her education in public health and volunteers at the Good Shepherd Center. When asked what our readers should know about the Sisters, Sr. Vivien responded, “Many of our Sisters have retired. But, we have newer members who are in the community and continue to do the good work of St. Julie.”
Sister Cornelia Curran, SND
Sister Cornelia Curran, SND had dabbled in the medical field for several years since retiring as an educator. Sr. Cornelia was formerly an assistant at Villa Julie in Stevenson, Md., “performing whatever jobs needed to be done while the facility was for skilled nursing care,” she states. She was working with certified nursing assistants and registered nurses and felt that she, too, should obtain professional credentials to remain competitive in the medical field.
Sr. Cornelia attended the Johnston School of Practical Nursing in Baltimore from 1989 to 1990. Following her education, Sr. Cornelia returned to the Villa Julie as a nurse, highlighting her enjoyment of working with the elderly, and the “hands-on work with other human beings … and the opportunity to provide a dignifying experience for those who are nearing the end of their jouney.”
Sr. Cornelia now works and volunteers at Maria Health Center in Towson, Md. This 32-bed facility administers patient care to the elderly religious with long-term illnesses as well as to those who are in shortterm rehabilitation. Sr. Cornelia finds great pleasure in providing care to her peers and accepts that she has become a trusted figure to many of the patients at Maria where “many of my patients are extremely gracious to receive care from one of their own.”
Sr. Cornelia has no intentions of slowing down; she just celebrated her 89th birthday in April, and has been a member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur for more than 71 years. “I feel that since my career changed not that long ago, I’m just getting started!” Sr. Cornelia attributes the longevity of her ministry to the love of her job and working with people.
Sister Patricia Hoeflich, SND
Sister Pat Hoeflich has been working in her current ministry of patient advocacy for 10 years.
As a medical advocate to the Sisters, Sr. Pat is named the responsible party for Sisters in a variety of medical settings ranging from emergency room visits to long-term rehabilitation or even palliative care. She has learned a majority of her advocacy skills through osmosis, prior experience caring for her own parents, and on-the-job training while caring for the religious community. Sr. Pat assists Sisters who are ill and incapacitated with interpreting medical direction and making decisions for their care.
She considers herself a partner in the medical care of the Sisters, as she is an integral part of the long-term plan for many of the Sisters, even accompanying some of them to their follow-up medical appointments to further aid in the patient outcomes process.