DCs and Civil War

Sister Camilla O'Keefe (used with permission of the Provincial Archives)

Sister Camilla O’Keefe (used with permission of the Provincial Archives)

(Excerpt from Provincial Annals of 1863 used with permission of the Provincial Archives)

We have been concentrating on our current exhibit “Over There,” which highlights the history of 10 American Daughters of Charity who nursed near the Italian front during World War I. But at this time of year, we rightly recall other Daughters who came face to face with the horrors of the Battle of Gettysburg, fought just about 10 miles to the north of St. Joseph’s Provincial House here in Emmitsburg. The Sisters met Union soldiers who stopped at the Provincial House on their way to Gettysburg and then as patients in the town’s makeshift hospitals after the fighting ceased. Today, July 1, marks the 152nd anniversary of the start of the battle, so we post in remembrance a photograph of Sr. Camilla O’Keefe, who both left accounts of the Union visitors to St. Joseph’s and would then nurse at the hospital at the Lutheran Seminary in Gettysburg after the battle.

Below is a passage from the Provincial Annals which describes the arrival of the union soldiers on the Emmitsburg Campus.

First appearance to our surprise, were the Cavalry located over in the meadows on the hill, as the morning of the 29th June 1863. The large meadows were all ready for mowing, the overseer, Mr. Brawner, had the mowing machine put in one of the meadows ready for work on the following day, but the squad of Cavalry saved him, the trouble and completely cleared the grounds of very blade of grass. Well, St. Joseph’s had to make the best of the loss. About 4 o’clock in the afternoon came the troops, some on horse back, making their way up the road from the barn, some up the road from the Hill, until the grounds around were actually covered with soldiers …

Before the arrival of the Army, the Artillery passed up the road in its way to Gettysburg, such a sight of canons was terrible … Now for the great Battle of Gettysburg, the most terrific of the war. During the 30th the Armies were making preparations for the great fighting! About noon on the first of July we heard very distinctly, the cannonading, Boom, Boom, so terrific, this kept on until the afternoon of the 4th, when the Confederates were defeated and retreated away as fast as they could that night. They had crossed the Potomac before the Federals reached too late to take prisoners.

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Filed under Civil War, Emmitsburg, Gettysburg

In Memoriam: Sister Mary Junkin

We pray for the repose of the soul of
Sister Mary Junkin
Died at Seton Residence, Evansville, Indiana
June 24, 2015
89 years of age and 62 years of vocation
May she rest in peace

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Filed under Announcements, Deceased Sisters

Current DC ministries – Proyecto Juan Diego, Brownsville, TX

Sister Phylis Peters, founder and director of Proyecto Juan Diego (image courtesy of Proyecto Juan Diego)

Sister Phylis Peters, founder and director of Proyecto Juan Diego (image courtesy of Proyecto Juan Diego)











Proyecto Juan Diego, a nonprofit organization, was established in 2003 by Sister Phylis Peters. Its mission is to educate and empower low-income families to make healthy choices and become socially responsible members of society. This is done through various programs that promote healthcare, families, education, social and civic engagement.

Proyecto Juan Diego is located in Cameron Park, a “colonia” (unincorporated town) located near Brownsville, Texas.
This border city, located along the Rio Grande River, has served as a continuous migration route for the poor of Mexico, Central and South America.

Demographics and economics of Cameron Park include:

  • the population is 99.3% Hispanic
  • only 19.3% have graduated from high school
  • 58% live below the poverty level
  • 63% of children live below the poverty level; more than half of them will drop out
  • the average per capita income is $4,103 – that’s less than Mexico, El Salvador or Guatemala
  • the average family size is 4.8; most live in trailers or small homes
  • 53.5% unemployment rate
  • poorest community of its size (or larger) in the United States
  • #39 of the The Top 100 Poorest Places in the United States

One of the oldest and most successful programs at Proyecto Juan Diego has been the family program. Staff and trained volunteers make regular home visits and assist families for an extended period of time to help meet their health and social needs with the goal of improved outcomes for children and families. the home visitors serve as a link between the family and the services available through Proyecto Juan Diego, government programs and other resources.

Other programs include after-school tutoring, health screenings, citizenship classes, English as a Second Language classes, and stress management activities.

Although Proyecto Juan Diego serves families of all faiths, some Catholic programs, such as a summer Bible program, are offered in partnership with San Felipe de Jesus Church. The parish is located a few blocks from the center.

Residents and community leaders have also advocated for better public safety in Cameron Park. Street lights have been installed throughout the neighborhood, more roads have been paved and there is increased presence of law enforcement. Voter turnout has also increased by almost 20 percent, thanks to several outreach programs.

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Filed under Education, Health Care, Ministries, Social Work