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Feature Articles

Reflections on Religious Life
By Josh Zeller, Communications intern

The spirit of mercy profoundly touches the lives of women religious, whom we are recognizing during National Catholic Sisters Week. S. Montiel Rosenthal, who is celebrating her Silver Jubilee in June, felt this spirit after she arrived in Armenia in 1997.

Sister came to assist the Ministry of Health with much-needed medical humanitarian work; this entailed providing care, establishing a clinic, and working with humanitarian organizations to aid a country only a few years released from the abuses of the Soviet Union. “We were challenged to creatively use resources to be able to meet the needs,” says Sister. There certainly were many challenges when she ministered there, particularly with the language barrier.

At the time, S. Montiel’s Russian and Armenian were a bit rusty, but she remembers that this was never an insurmountable obstacle. There was always someone around that helped her to understand, to ease this challenge in communication. She was impressed with this, as well as with the great amount of hospitality that was extended to her, during her five years in the country. “If I have been treated mercifully by someone, that’s very powerful...,” Sister says, “I remember that for a long time.”

As mercy is received, it must also be given, which S. Montiel did when she started a Faith and Light community to assist children with disabilities—this vulnerable group is considered a burden in Armenia, and often is euthanized after birth. She helped usher in a greater acceptance so that these children could come to Mass without inciting outrage and rebuke as she prayed, sung, and celebrated birthdays with them, giving them the compassion that they had been denied.     

During this Year of Mercy, she continues to experience the goodness and compassion of God while working at Christ Hospital in Cincinnati as a doctor and professor with individuals who possess a “strong sense of altruism.” She attends to her patients with an open mind and heart, and is wholly present to them, which, she says, is necessary in order to make a true difference.