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Feature Articles

Continuing to Serve: S. Noreen Ellison
By AJ Keith, Communications intern

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S. Noreen Ellison (far right) serves the needs of others through her work at St. Vincent de Paul Society in Detroit, Michigan.

In her retirement, S. Noreen Ellison has carried out the mission of the Sisters of Charity by responding to the needs of the community around her. Through her work with the St. Vincent de Paul Society in the Archdiocese of Detroit, Michigan, Sister has shown that the Sisters’ care for their neighbor exists well beyond serving Cincinnati.

August 2015 marked S. Noreen’s Jubilarian status at 60 years of service, and it also marked her retirement from active ministry. Years of service in the ministry of education taught her the value of community, a value that eased the transition into her current ministry with the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Detroit. As the Associate Spiritual Advisor for the institution, which serves an international community, Sister enjoys her new ministry because she says, “It gives me formal ways to share my spirituality.”

Her work with the St. Vincent de Paul Society sometimes allows her to reach out to the community by making home visits to those in need of the institution’s resources. She also is able to respond to their physical needs because of her familiarity with healthcare resources to more thoroughly serve the needy. She responds to the spiritual needs of others through her formation work with new or renewing members of the society and the community.

S. Noreen also takes an active part in her community by facilitating a women’s group, in which the participants can continue to hold meaningful conversations. This group began as a widow’s group, but time has allowed it to evolve into a fulfilling experience for all who participate. As needed, Sister also helps with the funeral rites of the deceased and the mourning families.

Because of these ministries, Sister has found that her faith has been the subject of growth. “I think I’m still being formed by the Scriptures, by my personal prayer and my shared prayer,” she says. Seeing the face of Christ in those experiencing poverty has become a gift that she has used to help others and to grow in her faith. She describes herself as a primarily relational person and celebrates her chance to share the gifts of compassion and hope to those less fortunate. “It helps me to live out the Sisters of Charity’s mission and Gospel values that we strive to live by,” she says. “It helps me to act justly and to build new and loving relationships.”

The smallest act of kindness can sometimes be the greatest part of someone’s day and serving the community through the St. Vincent de Paul Society has given S. Noreen the chance to touch many lives. Through her work, she is able to spread the mission of the Sisters of Charity beyond Cincinnati and prove that everyone belongs to a singular, unifying community as children of God.