The Congregation's emblem is quite unique. It was designed by our foundress, Mother Margaret Healy Murphy.
The design includes the initials of the Congregation (SHSp), the gifts of Holy Spirit (Wisdom, Intelligence, Strength, Fear of the Lord, Science, Piety, and Advice), the dove as a symbol of the Holy Spirit, and an image of the mother of God, Mary Immaculate. The Holy Spirit and Mary Immaculate are the patrons of our Congregation.
Our website features the stories of several Sisters of the Holy Spirit in several different sections. This page includes all the stories found on the website. Our goal is to rotate the individual stories; as they are replaced with new descriptions, all of the Sisters' stories will be collected here.
"Having served in Pastoral Care at Santa Rosa Medical Center for fourteen years, I retired in June 2008. I then applied for part-time ministry at Christus Santa Rosa City Center, which is only a short distance from the Motherhouse, where I reside.
Presently I am engaged in Pastoral Ministry on a twice-weekly basis. I also serve as Eucharistic Minister once a week and occasionally substitute for other chaplains. Pastoral Ministry entails making initial spiritual assessments, developing Pastoral Care plans for patients and families, and assisting patients in completing Advance Directives and Medical Power of Attorney forms. I also document all my work within a highly developed computer system. Most recently I have been providing pastoral care for post-partum Children’s Medical, for Adult Telemetry, for Adult Intensive Care, and for Adult Rehabilitation Services."
When a fervent plea for “another Sister” came from our Zambian community , Sr. Josephine (Jo) Murray was the first person asked if she would be willing to go. True to her adventurous, trusting and open spirit, her answer was a simple, "Yes!"
Sister Jo is now in Mongu, capital of the Western Province of Zambia where she will serve as companion and mentor in our Formation Community for the next two years. Over the fifty plus years of her life as a Sister of the Holy Spirit, she has served in many different ministries — in Texas, Louisiana, Ireland, and Ghana, Africa -- as teacher, principal, pastoral minister, nurse, administrator, community superior, centering-prayer guide, home health-care provider and she has also served as a member of the Congregation’s General Council. She is also is a noted baker and gardener, and the Sisters in her communities attest to tasty brown bread, rich fruitcakes and occasional Irish coffees as well as her green thumb with indoor and outdoor plants. We rejoice in God's plans for Sister Jo and for our young, growing community in Zambia.
Almost a decade ago, Sister Bernie Barrett responded to the call from Region V of the Leadership Conference Women Religious to work with other religious communities in Lake Providence, Louisiana to live among the people in this divided racial community; as Sister Bernie puts it, “ to be a compassionate presence to the people, bringing them hope and realization of the gifts within themselves.”
In Lake Providence, Louisiana, sometimes that presence includes community organizing, working with state and parish (county) legislators, school boards, and housing authorities. “It is important to communicate with our elected officials,” remarks Sister Bernie,” at times they just need a little challenge to remind them to represent all their constituencies.”
One of the ways Sister works directly with the people is through her assistance with the paperwork that must be processed for government housing. Daunted by the application process, people used to give up trying to apply for assistance with getting a home or getting a necessary renovation.
Sister Bernie is most rewarded by her work with her elderly clients When asked to elaborate, she states,” I learn so much from the people. They are survivors who manage to live and raise their children despite almost overwhelming odds.”
"Little did I know, fifty years ago, when I took my first step into the “unknown world” of religious life that this would bring me so much happiness. Leaving New York and going to Texas was quite frightening, but the kindness of the Sisters made me feel at home. I taught for twenty-three years and served as an administrator of a nursing home for eleven years. I am currently serving the residents of the nursing home through pastoral care. I must say that the Good Lord has been exceptionally good to me. I am so grateful to the community and for the guidance of the Holy Spirit during all these years."
Sister Kathleen recommends that those discerning religious life "listen for the whispering of the Holy Spirit," as that attentiveness led her to her present state: her renewal of her temporary vows as a Sister of the Holy Spirit and Mary Immaculate.
Sister Kathleen was familiar with the Sisters and their work with the underprivileged and marginalized because when her father was a young boy in Louisiana, they taught at his school. "He cherished their friendship and asked me to contact them," remarks Sister Kathleen. She loved visiting the Sisters with him, and although one Sister kept asking her when she intended to join the convent, she heard the question but avoided the answer until the time was right.
The right time turned out to be a month after her father's death in 2002, when she attended a "Come and See" weekend. Sister Kathleen recalls: "The moment I met the Superior of the order, I knew I was home!" She entered the pre-novitiate in 2004 and in June 2011 again renewed her vows.
She currently is a teacher at the Healy-Murphy Development Center, proud to be working in "the foundation of our community, the house Mother Margaret built in 1893 when working with the newly emancipated African American people of the city."
Embracing the outrageous has characterized Sister Magdalen Kilbane’s service to others. In the true spirit of Mother Margaret Mary, Sister Magdalen’s work has usually set out to exceed the limits of what was usual! Whether she was teaching literature or managing a school or bringing life’s basic needs to those in need of care, Sister Magdalen did not let conventional expectations or arbitrary boundaries limit her service to God’s people.
Sister Magdalen’s ministry as a Sister of the Holy Spirit began as a teacher in elementary and high schools in Mississippi, Texas, and Louisiana for a number of years. She typically spent summers at the Motherhouse – until one particular summer began to change the pattern of her days.
In 1970, an invitation from the Oblate priests to work in some of their missions in Oaxaca, Mexico triggered in Sister Magdalen a desire to serve the indigenous people. She spent several summers in Mexico investigating several ministry possibilities, and in 1984, Sister Magdalen, along with her companions, decided to accept an invitation to live and minister to the indigenous people from the Sierra Nevada mountains near Oaxaca. Besides training catechists and providing for cooking and sewing lessons, Sister Magdalen also introduced some new and very creative projects that greatly benefited the people. These included rural stoves, solar ovens, ecological toilets and the introduction of glass windows in people’s homes.
The seeds for the ministry in Zambia were a joint effort of the Sisters of the Holy Spirit and the Oblates who, together, began to explore possible sites for pastoral ministry in a missionary country. Sisters Anne Finnerty (left) and Christina Mitchell (right) set out for India on the first leg of their exploration in 1986. Then they visited Zambia.
When a young girl in Kalabo, Zambia, told the Sisters that she hoped, someday, to be a member of their congregation, they took it as a sign that this was the site the Lord had chosen for their ministry. On September 9, 1988, the two “pioneer” Sister were joined by a third, Sister Jeri to begin their missionary endeavors.
A pastoral minister at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Edinburg, Texas, Sister Dorothy has served the people of the Rio Grande Valley since 1970. Although her specific jobs have changed, her message to those she serves has not: "God is the key to happiness," Sister Dorothy says. "It's just that we miss the boat sometimes and we look for love and look for happiness elsewhere. It's normal that we do that, but ultimately we are left longing." A woman of great dedication and deep spirituality, Sister Dorothy knows the value of quiet time as the opportunity to listen to God. "We need to encourage personal prayer. We need reflection of the words of Jesus in Scripture...I have a mind that searches, and it always leads me back to the Lord and to recommit myself to my ministry."