Women of Wisdom, Giving and Receiving

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You are invited to listen to Sisters reflecting on their experience of receiving care after a lifetime of giving it to others. Sisters Muriel Cooney, Natalie DeNatalie, John Rose (Peggy) Hartling, and Mary Reynolds are facing forward with hope and integrity. These women of wisdom disprove the notion that we ever stop giving. Rather, we give and receive in a never-ending circle of care and compassion. Similar to Jesus’ friends in Luke 10, sometimes we are more active like Martha and other times we are more contemplative like Mary.


– Sister Muriel Cooney, OP

Sister Muriel is a retired Pastoral Minister and former
Dominican Sisters Leadership Team member.


Sr. Natalie DeNatale– Sister Natalie DeNatale, OP

Sister Natalie is a retired Administrative Assistant
currently residing in Dominican Convent.


Sr. John Rose– Sister John Rose Hartling, OP

Sister John Rose served in the ministry of Education for over 50 years, specializing in college-level math.  


Sr. Mary Reynolds– Sister Mary Reynolds, OP

Sister Mary Reynolds served on the Dominican Sisters Leadership Team as team member and president and was Director of Dominican Center.

The following Transcript follows with the audio.

Sr. Jeanne: You’re four amazing women who have given so much service and so much care for others, and now your life journey comes to a place where you have to receive. So, Muriel, can you begin? When you think of the circle, the path of your life, and you’ve come to this point, what are some of the things it makes you think about?

Sr. Muriel: Yes, it’s true that all of us, just for choosing this way of life that we all gave, that we were all givers, and then you find yourself in a position where all of that changes and then you are receiving. But when I think about that, the thing that really impresses me is the wonderful care that I have received in the Infirmary. I’m just amazed. Those aides and nurses were just so loving and caring and so professional, that I’ll never forget that. I will never forget the care and concern that they had, and not only for me, but they’re concerned about the next person that they’re going to be helping. But it’s a big adjustment, because you want to get up and go over and help others.

Sr. John Rose: My best experience being here is mass and communion every day, and I can go down at 4:00 with some members of the Community. That’s my best thing. I can say my stations of the cross, all the things I did in Saugerties. Now as Katie said, when I was in Pembrooke, I kind of gave to the people because I talked to them. Pembrooke is a Rehab in Kingston. It was the best place, it really was.

Sr. Jeanne:  It sounds like the prayer when you’re really desperate, it’s like the final prayer we all have, “Please help me.” Right, all the other words just…

Sr. John Rose:  Jesus take care of it.

Sr. Jeanne:  Now!  Like I know the whole time I remembered you from Saugerties you had a tremendous devotion to the stations of the cross. But does it mean more even more now because of your life situation? You’re there.

Sr. John Rose: I could put myself in each station.

Sr. Mary: Well, it’s interesting, lately I have been having remembrances of my mother and father and they lived till they were close to 90 years old. And while I was their caretaker, especially for the last year of my mother’s life I was very conscious of being responsible and of being there and of talking to the rest of the family and keeping connected that way. So, I’m not sure if I took full advantage of where they were and their need for presence. In fact, I remember my mother saying, as we were sitting watching Jeopardy or something, and I got up to make a cup of tea. And my mother said to me, “Don’t you ever sit down?” So those memories which I didn’t appreciate so much when they were happening, are almost renewing my relationship with my parents. It was a learning that I wasn’t looking for, but it’s something that came up. So, I guess in terms of where I am today, I think it’s of value that I can only appreciate at this time.

So where else have I been on this journey? Well with my own illness, a neurological problem, and it’s not going to be cured, but I live with it every day and find a lot of support as you would imagine. And it’s teaching me about other people who are not well. I live in Siena Hall on the second floor. And I’m living among, there are about 9 of us that are a core. You have someone like Marie Daugherty, Miriam Joseph, and Lois who have reached 100 and beyond. I have a meal with them a couple of times a day. And while they’re not able to participate as much as they’d like to, they’re happy, they express gratitude for your visit. I’m learning more. I thought I was important and that it would be important for me to be present to each one of them in a special way. Well, that’s part of it. And that’s only part of it. I need to continue to look and be grateful. And they’re helping me to connect the dots you might say because it is a circle, there is no beginning point and no end point. We’re all there because we’re not in the best of health. People are at different levels, and that’s fine, and there here because they need to be here, but they’re here for other reasons than that, and they’re grateful people. And even when there’s a little fight going on, there’s always someone saying, “I’m sorry I started that” or whatever.

Sr. Natalie: I’m just so grateful that I’m here in Sparkill number one. I look at all that Sparkill has to offer me and has offered me through all the years. And to be in Sparkill in the infirmary, it’s a blessing. How many congregations don’t have an infirmary like that? I have a lot of companions. I’m still able to take my walker and annoy everybody during the day. I am enjoying myself because I can still move around a little bit.

Sr. Jeanne: And you can go down for your meals and be with other people, be with the community. So, it’s integrated.

Sr. Natalie: That’s very important.

Sr. Jeanne: Is there anything as time has gone by and you’re a little less active or had health challenges, is there anything that helps you? What helps you in your life to get through?

Sr. Natalie:  All I know is praying and asking God to be with me as I go. I enjoy just going around socializing with the nuns on my floor. I really do. I make some of them laugh.

Sr. Jeanne: So being social is important to you.

Sr. Natalie:   Very important.

Sr. Jeanne: That’s good advice, try and stay social as much as possible.

Sr. Natalie:   I try to give them a laugh every now and then.

Sr. Muriel: So, being with all kinds of people, at different levels of disability and all, I learned from that, and I found that was a blessing. And they were giving to me just by being who they are and being in that day room.

Sr. Jeanne: So once again the circle. So, if I’m a Sister sitting in Siena Hall with severe memory loss, I’m still giving.

Sr. Muriel: Yes.

Sr. Jeanne:  So, it’s not that the giving ever ends, it’s just different. So, it’s a misnomer that you ever stop giving.

Sr. Natalie: Your presence among the nuns is giving and that’s very important, let me tell you.

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