a 100+ year story of service

On June 19, we had the delightful experience of dedicating a bench and 3 cherry trees in Eastside Park, Paterson, New Jersey. The Province of the Immaculate Conception donated these to the people of Paterson,   as a symbol of our 100 plus years of presence to and with the city and its needs.

17 SMICs were joined by the Bishop of the Diocese of Paterson Arthur Serratelli, his priest secretary and Vice chancellor Fr. Kevin Corcoran, Chancellor and Delegate for Religious Sister Joan Daniel Healy, SCC, current mayor Jane  Williams-Warren, the mayor elect Andre Sayegh, as well as Gianfranco Archimede, Executive Director of the Paterson Historic Preservation Commission, Joanne Wiley of the Eastside Neighborhood Association and a commissioner of the Historic Preservation Commission as well as several officers and members of the Eastside Neighborhood Association.

Several years ago while attending another dedication in the Park of a bench donated by the Islamic Center of Passaic County, Sister Barbara Fried remarked that this would be a wonderful way to commemorate our time in the city when we would be leaving for senior housing elsewhere.

So began a 3-year process navigating the inner workings of city government, historical commissions, and various civic councils to bring about this moment.  Thanks to the able guidance of Joanne Wiley and the on-going efforts of Mr. Archimede, it was finally accomplished.  In addition to the bench for rest and relaxation of park-goers, we added the flowering cherry trees to not only enhance the beauty of the park but to back up our province environmental stance on constructively helping with climate change.

As we started to name the various ways we have been present to the people of Paterson through the years we realized that we were involved on the west side, through St. Bonaventure parish and Don Bosco High School, center city at Martin de Porres, Eva’s Village, St. Joseph Hospital as well as Paterson General, several elementary schools, the Paterson Public library, on the north side with Associate Ethel Williams, on the east side through Barnet Hospital, St. Therese parish, the Eastside Neighborhood Association, and Paterson Catholic High School.

In recognition of all this, the city council of Paterson presented a plaque to our leadership team. The Historical commission also honored the Missionary Sisters with their annual award citing people who treasure the city and its people in their actions and presence.

Following the ceremony which ended with the Sisters blessing the bench and trees with holy water and a prayer for all those who would use the bench and enjoy the trees, billed by the historical as a place of contemplation, all adjourned to Joanne Wiley’s home in the neighborhood for tea and sandwiches and sweets.

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Franciscan Peacemaker Award


Franciscan Federation Peacemaker Award

The Franciscan Federation of the Third Order (Brothers and Sisters) join annually holding a Federation Conference. During the gathering a special Peacemaker Award honor is presented to  a member whose individual Community  has cited  her/him as exemplifying  the specific  theme selected for that year .  The theme for this year’s Conference  was “Franciscans and Muslims: lessons from the Past and Prospects for the Future”.  The USA Province chose to recognize  Sister Joanne Riggs for this Peacemaker Award. Joanne met the criteria for selecting a nominee: a Franciscan who embodies openness to the other and someone who, in their service, transcends prejudices, engages in interfaith dialogue or cross-cultural ministry and witness to unity in diversity. The following is a summary of what the sisters named as the reason for nominating  her for this Peacemaker Award.

“Sister Joanne Riggs, smic, has been active in Interfaith dialogue as a member of the Archbishop’s (Newark) Commission on Interreligious Dialogue through ongoing conversations with Islamic leaders in Passaic County, She has also been appointed as an attendee to the Parliament of World Religions.  Through her efforts she has raised the consciousness of her sisters regarding Islam, the need and value of interfaith dialogue, and the needs of Muslim refugees. Where ever she has lived and worked she  has brought needed information and health services as a professional nurse, to not only the Muslims, but the homeless and undocumented persons and to those speaking languages other than English.  She has  stood staunchly against prejudices toward the Muslim community in conversations, committee work, and Christian/Muslim dialogue both as participant and organizer. She has been a voice of conscience for years  in the north New Jersey area where prejudice against so many of the above mentioned is rampant. As a Franciscan she embodies the spirit of Francis through humble service, a wry sense of humor, and a spirit of joy and leadership skills as she exhibits the desire: “that all may be one.”

During the Franciscan Peacemaker Banquet, on June 13, 2018, over 50 sisters and brothers were recognized by their Congregations and received the Peacemaker Award.   Throughout the conference a power point  with a peacemaker photo as well as photos that were taken to show how they are active in the ministry specifically with the conference theme was continually rolling for all the participants to see.

Though Sister Joanne was not able to be present at the conference or Peacemaker Banquet, Sisters Beatrice Yang,  Eleanor Goekler and Saundra McKeta  attended and  when Joanne’s name was called,  Sister Eleanor accepted the Peacemaker Award in  Sister Joanne’s name.  We are grateful to Sister Joanne for all of the good work that she does especially in the area of the Muslim-Christian Interreligious Dialogue.

After returning to Denville, NJ and following Evening Prayer, Sister Joanne was presented her award with all of the sisters at Our Lady of Sorrows present

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