Union: NL – Sister Frances Pennell Greeting Card Ministry

05 Apr, 2020

As the Psalmist says, “70 is the sum of our years … or 80 if we are strong.” What about 94?  Among those that wonderful age would be Sister Frances Pennell, one of our Newfoundland and Labrador sisters, a very young-at-heart, vibrant woman who has been lovingly and tirelessly redirecting her energies again and again and again in various ministries over her 75 years in religious life, and this time making greeting cards.

After 30+ years on mission in various places in Newfoundland and Labrador in education as teacher, administrator and at the school board level, she then moved on to minister at Xavier House, a residential setting we had opened in collaboration with social services and provincial health for mentally challenged adults. Sister then began ministry at our mission in Dominica and later became engaged in parish religious education.

When Frances then again “retired,” she spent the next year caring for her sister, Nora, who was recovering from cancer and is still attentive to her today.

For a long time, spanning several decades, Frances had enjoyed making greeting cards for every possible occasion for family and friends who in turn would give her donations for the “missions” and other local charities. She and her Print Master computer program had long since become very good friends! Below she recounts the touching story of how she was inspired to wholeheartedly engage in what has become her current full-time “greeting card ministry,” again, “re-wired” not retired, as I call it.

“Having taught in Dominica a number of years ago, I returned sometime later for a visit. One day I went back to the waterfront, my favorite walking space. There I encountered a young mother selling small gift bags; I was curious as the designs looked familiar and asked where she got her designs. She replied with a smile, ‘From a Presentation Sister who taught me at college.’ It was here that I was inspired to do something to help these young mothers … thus the creation of these greeting cards, as my on-going ministry in support of Dominica.”

Frances constantly reminds me that great credit is due to our sisters at the motherhouse especially, and to the others beyond our motherhouse, including family and friends, all of whom continue to generously support her ministry, which in turn generously supports the people in our on-going mission in Dominica. “I continue to do it for the sheer joy of it!” says Frances.

Pictured here, delighting in her cards with her, and delighting in supporting her, is Sister Mary Molloy, the other half of their community of two.

Submitted by Sister Sheila Leonard and written in collaboration with Frances Pennell and Mary Molloy.