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2018 Beginnings

Sisters, Home Visitors of Mary

121 E. Boston  Detroit, Mi 48202        313 869-2160                                                                            www.

Founded in 1949 to bring the Good News of Christ to the poor.

 December 27, 2017

Blessings as you move into a new year.  The time between Christmas and New Year often gives us a quiet moment to reflect and perhaps make resolutions.

AMERICA magazine, in its Dec. 11th issue has several articles relevant to destructive “isms” in the United States today.   Fr. Brian Massingale in his article, THE SICKNESS OF THE AMERICAN SOUL, ask us “How can we help heal our nation” of racism fueled by white supremacy thinking.

… we are living in a time of racial tension, polarization and division worse than this country has experienced in over two generations.”

The society we live in is the result of human choices and decisions. That means that human beings can change things. For what human beings break, divide and separate, we can—with God’s help—also heal, unite and restore. What is now does not have to be. Therein lies our hope and our challenge.

Last August, 25 at Sacred Heart Church in Detroit, the HVM sponsored a dialogue on racism and encouraged the 145 participants to keep a conversation about white supremacy and racism going in their circles.  So as you review 2017 and plan 2018, what have you done, or are planning to bring hope?

We’d love to hear from you – your dreams, ideas, accomplishments in talking about the reality of racism in the United States with your co-workers, parish family, friends.

Our prayer for you and yours is a  Year filled with Hope and  Love

Wonderful gifts of our God!

 We go forth with a song to follow the Lord Jesus as He lights our way.


Christmas Message from Sr. Barbara

The Spirit of Christmas around the World

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas…” “Dashing through the snow…”  Our HVM Sisters in Nigerian may sing these songs though they have never seen snow (except on TV).  There is no need for them to don winter coasts, gloves and boots. The Christmas season is the hottest season of the year in Abuja, Nigeria.  But the spirit of Christmas fills the air.

The Nigerian Sisters make the house sparkling clean, creatively decorate and make ready the Formation Center for a gathering of all the HVM Sisters.

The Sisters gather in Gwagwalada, our HVM Nigerian home, for singing, laughter, small gift sharing and a delicious festive meal together.  The Christmas spirit is also alive at the diocesan gathering of priests and Sisters of the diocese at a Mass with the Cardinal followed by meeting, greeting and eating and a specially wrapped gift.

The Christmas spirit comes to life as the Sisters participate with the parishioners at Midnight Mass in their respective parishes.  There is splendid décor of lights and draping cloth, the joyous singing led by the choir and ending with the visit to a simple crib.  At the crib everyone dabs powder on their face, a common custom when visiting the home of a newborn baby.

The coming of the Three Kings reminds us “all nations bow down in adoration.”  There is a feeling of oneness around the world and here at home in Detroit.   The wonder that the Word of God emptied himself and became part of the human family as a tiny baby, Jesus!

May the peace, joy and awe of the spirit of Christmas abide in you and your family at Christmas and through the New Year. 

Merry Christmas and all the blessings of the New Year!

                                                                         Sr. Barbara, HVM

 Sr. Barbara lived the past seventeen years in Nigeria and is now living most of the year in Detroit.

Sr. Monica and Sr. Barbara

Other HVM Happenings in 2017:

The chapel in Gwagwalada formation house is built!

Chapel window in HVM Formation House shows the Sprit in midst of Nigerian town.

Sr. Chioma took lst vows on Sept. 2nd and now teaches at Little Angels School in Ichama.  Photo of Happy First Communicants at Little Angels School.


Three women entered the religious congregation as candidates at the formation center in Gwagwalada.  They started theology studies, serve as catechists and began the journey into praying, serving and living as religious women in the spirit of the HVM community.  Photo of Patricia, Magdalen and Rita making commitment in newly blessed HVM chapel at Gwagwalada Formation House.

Sr. Nnedfreke opened vocational training center at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria parish for young men and women in the young population that often cannot find employment.  Photo from Vocational Training Center off and running under direction of Sr. Nndefreke.


Mary’s Little Flowers:  The Nigerian Home Visitors of Mary continue the HVM mission “anointed by the Spirit to bring good news to the poor.” Lk 4:18.  Five years ago they published a culturally sensitive religion text book.   This year Sr. Martha Mary, a full time student at the Catholic University in Abuja and director of faith formation at a parish, created, published and began distribution of the Sisters, Home Visitors of Mary Bimonthly Catholic Children PublicationThe booklets are called: Mary’s Little Flowers.

 A colorful, attractive, hands-on presentation of our Sunday Scripture readings that not only form the children of Nigeria but enter the home and touch the entire family.  Your financial help will put these impressive booklets into many more hands.

Today people are still searching for Jesus and the star we have today that leads us to Jesus is the Bible.  We find the way to Jesus by reading the bible and doing what His word ask us to do.”  Words Taken from Mary’s Little Flowers


Refugees Welcomed:  Sr. Barbara and other HVMs visit with internally displaced adults and children at a town near Gwagwalada that had welcomed  into their community refugees who had fled to “camps”.  Because of the violence experienced in Nigeria, for the last few years, people made there way to Abuja, seeking safety.  May we be ones with a Welcoming Spirit -especially as we welcome the Child born in a stable.

We give Thanks to all who support with their gifts of money and prayer the HVM Nigerian Mission. 


A Thanksgiving Letter

May the good things in Life

Be Yours in Abundance

 At Thanksgiving

  And throughout the New Year.


His Eminence Daniel Cardinal DiNardo is the Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.    His Thankgiving Message is copied in full below …

“… ever-greater sense of alarm—and urgency to act—in the face of policies that seemed unthinkable only a short time ago.”

    “As we do every year, we will pause this coming Thursday to thank God for the many blessings we enjoy in the United States. My brother bishops and I, gathered last week in Baltimore, were attentive in a special way to those who are often excluded from this great abundance—the poor, the sick, the addicted, the unborn, the unemployed, and especially migrants and refugees.

My brothers expressed a shared and ever-greater sense of alarm—and urgency to act—in the face of policies that seemed unthinkable only a short time ago: the deportation of Dreamers, young hard-working people who should be the lowest priority for deportation; the anxiety and uncertainty of those with Temporary Protected Status from countries like Haiti, El Salvador, and Honduras, which are still recovering from natural disasters and remain ill-equipped to humanely receive and integrate them; and an unprecedented reduction in the number of people we will welcome this year into our country who seek refuge from the ravages of war and religious persecution in their countries of origin.

One common feature of all these developments is their tendency to tear apart the family, the fundamental building block of our, or any, society. These threats to so many vulnerable immigrant and refugee families must end now. My brothers have urged me to speak out on their behalf to urge the immediate passage—and signature—of legislation that would alleviate these immediate threats to these families.

Another common feature of these policies is that they are symptoms of an immigration system that is profoundly broken and requires comprehensive reform. This is a longer-term goal, one that the bishops have advocated for decades to achieve, and one that must never be overlooked. Only by complete reform will we have the hope of achieving the common goals of welcoming the most vulnerable, ensuring due process and humane treatment, protecting national security, and respecting the rule of law. We are committed to such reforms and will continue to call for them.

So this year, I give thanks for the gift and contributions of immigrants and refugees to our great nation. I also pray that next year, families now under threat will not be broken and dispersed, but instead will be united in joy around their tables, giving thanks for all the blessings our nation has to offer.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving all!”

Photos from Oct 8 Gala

A rewarding evening was enjoyed by all at the 13th annual Sisters Home Visitors of Mary gala at beautiful St. John Armenian Church in Southfield, MI, on October 8, 2017.   A star cast of speakers and entertainers filled the agenda.   Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence. a woman of lifelong accomplishment and service, was this year’s special honoree and keynote speaker.  WXYZ news anchor Carolyn Clifford highlighted proceedings from the head table.   A program of wonderful music, singing and dancing ended the evening.  All proceeds from the gala went to support Sister Home Visitors of Mary mission activities in Nigeria.

SHVM award recipients. Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence center.

Dorothy Buckman, Carolyn Clifford Goss (at microphone), Thelma Wilson, Bea Cochran, Esme Carson

Honorary Chairpersons Mr. Leon Dixon, Director of Ministry of Black Catholics, AOD, and wife Patricia

Sr. Chioma, HVM, at gifts from around the world craft items table

Happy friends

Mrs. and Mr. Hugh Buchanan, Chairperson of HVM Advisory Board

St. Margaret of Scotland Parish annually has a table

Sr. Barbara Dakoske and famiy

Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence

Mr. Gregory Goss, Carolyn Clifford Goss, Beatrice Cochran at head table

Sister Barbara Dakoske

Winner of 50/50 raffle with SHVM fund raising volunteer Samuel Onyene

Samuel Onyene, Charlotte Davison, Jean Merrill, Gail Bond, Linda Franklin

Charlotte Davison, Gail Bond, Jean Merrill, Linda Franklin, Janet Sapanaro

With much appreciation we thank the entertainers for sharing their beautiful gifts!  Gina Ellis is retired from Renaissance High School and on staff at Legacy Dance StudioDeblon Jackson was a flutist with the U.S. Air Force Band and certified teacher at renowned musical conservatories.   James Vincent is a graduate of Michigan State University in Music.   Dewayne Brown was the 1997 Detroit Fireworks super singer and continues to delight audiences today.  Crystall Winkler is the founder and director of Legacy Dance Studios in Southfield.  For more than 25 years Mrs. Winkler has led young and not so young dancers to new heights.  Brook Taylor, daughter of Carolyn Clifford Goss, continues to amaze with her multiple musical talents.  Brook is accomplished in not just ballet, but also tap, jazz and piano.  Bobby Green is a master social dance teacher.  He recently opened his studio, The Whirl of Entertainment, at Lahser and 12 Mile

Flutist Deblon Jackson. Background James Vincent.

Dewayne Brown

Dancers from Crystall Winkler’s Legacy Dance Studio

Dancers from Crystall Winkler’s Legacy Dance Studio

Brook Taylor

Bobby Green (left) leads dancer student learning the hustle

Star pupils


Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence

Close up of big smile!

Reflections on Racism


The Sisters, Home Visitors of Mary hosted a supper and discussion on August 24, 2017, fifty years after 1967 events in Detroit.  Racism: Yesterday and Today – and Tomorrow.  A Dialogue of Racism in Our Lives and Society in Light of Our Call to be the Body of Christ.   148 lay people, religious and priests from Archdiocese Detroit gathered at Sacred Heart parish to share their personal experiences along with their hopes of being disciples to bring the light of healing to the sin of racism – the central evil of our society.

Extra tables and chairs needed to be brought in for the overflow of participants.  Tables planned for seating 7 people became tables for 10 and 11.

Linda Franklin, Home Visitor of Mary associate, opened and closed the evening with prayer.   “In many ways, the face of racism looks different today than it did in the past.  Overt racism is easily condemned, but the sin of racism is often with us in subtle forms.  We gathered in the love of God and neighbor to examine racism in our hearts, and in our world systems.  We ask for forgiveness, conversion and greater capacity to recognize your divine image in our neighbor.  Enable us to challenge and uproot racism from our society and ourselves.   Amen.” 

John Thorne, director of Detroit Catholic Pastoral Alliance, moderated the discussion and thoughtful sharing at the tables:  How to raise awareness?  Build bridges?   How to initiate conversation about white privilege?   Make a difference – today, tomorrow, next week?

Here are some of the suggestions made around the tables.  We invite all to consider supporting and implementing these actions, both individually and collectively.

  1. Parish-based discussions on racism and white privilege, perhaps using a book or movie or Bishop Dale Malczyk’s excellent reflection guide: Created in God’s Image.
  2. A parish night of healing on racism.
  3. Inclusion of racism and social reality in homilies.
  4. Support for the courage to speak about racism with neighbors and on the job.
  5. Reach out to expand your circle.  Establish ways to meet someone from a different race, ethnic group – not your own.  Begin talking so to know one another.  Talk from own experiences.   Highlight common interests.  Build friendship.
  6. Field trips:  African-American Museum, Detroit Historical Museum, DIA exhibits,  Holocaust Museum, Arab American National Museum.
  7. Engage persons under age 30 in discussions of racism: college campuses, Sacred Heart Seminary, youth group workshop; ask the youth to come back and share with the adult community.
  8. Raise awareness of the racism’s affect in all social issues such as education, criminal justice, divisions in the church and society.  Racism permeates our institutions.
  9. Stay informed of books, movies, literature on racism.  Read and watch.  Spread the word.
  10. Live and be Christ.  Let our lights shine out to others.


Two Missing Pieces at Formation House

Dear Associates, Friends, and Benefactors,

In 2011, backed by your support and prayers, the Home Visitors of Mary purchased three acres of farm land two miles from the center of Gwagwalada, near Abudja, capitol of Nigeria.  In July 2012 with only the first floor completed the novitiate moved to the new but partially completed HVM Formation House campus there.   Eleven HVM sisters began living, studying there while ministering at Gwagwalada parishes and bringing religious formation to nearby outstations.

The Formation House also provides on-campus retreats for young adults and services for Fulani children living nearby who do not attend school.   In addition it houses the SHVM Theology Institute which provides religious academic programs accredited through the CIWA (Catholic Institute of West Africa).  

Construction at the Formation House is now mostly complete with class room and meeting spaces, kitchen, dining facilities and bedrooms for the sisters and guests.   

But two pieces are still missing!

  •  The chapel remains incomplete and entirely unusable.  Its outer walls are in place.  But the interior is barren – windowless and with unfinished roof, trim and flooring work still needed.  

Outside View

Unfinished Inside Chapel

Inside Chapel: Work Crew

  • The entry road into the campus remains unpaved.  The road  floods when it rains and becomes impassable dangerous mud – often isolating the sisters until the road dries out.  

Erosion and Flooding Area on Entry Road

Erosion and Flooding Area on entry road

Might you or your group be able to help?  Your generous donation would help complete the Formation House and access road as it was intended to be.   $8,000 U.S. would entirely finish construction of the beautiful chapel. 

 For further information or to discuss chapel-naming privileges, please contact Sr. Rosemarie Abate at telephone: 313-869-2160, email

TED internet presentation by Pope Francis

Let there be no doubt that Pope Francis is a man of the 21st Century.  The Holy Father just released a TED presentation on the internet!

For those who are unfamiliar with it, TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to spreading ideas on various topics of current interest, usually in the form of short, powerful video talks of 18 minutes or less.

Summary of Pope’s TED talk:  A single individual is enough for hope to exist, and that individual can be you, says His Holiness Pope Francis in this searing TED Talk delivered directly from Vatican City. In a hopeful message to people of all faiths, to those who have power as well as those who don’t, the spiritual leader provides illuminating commentary on the world as we currently find it and calls for equality, solidarity and tenderness to prevail. “Let us help each other, all together, to remember that the ‘other’ is not a statistic, or a number,” he says. “We all need each other.”

Click here > Pope Francis TED presentation < and then click again on the play button to to view Pope Francis’ TED video presentation with English subtitles.

Click here > Transcripts <  to view a written transcript of the Pope’s TED presentation.

Supporters of Sisters Home Visitors of Mary will immediately notice the similarity between the message in the Pope’s 2017 TED talk and the core principles that have guided SHVM since its founding in 1949.  Indeed, the lifetime of HVM beliefs voiced in Sr. Mary Finn’s Mosaic magazine interview published just weeks ago are a striking echo of the Pope’s Francis’ remarks:  Hope, Oneness, Service to Others.

Click here > Sr. Mary Finn interview <  to read Sr. Mary Finn’s recent interview in Mosaic magazine.

Click here > TED talk < for an article on how the TED talk by Pope Francis was accomplished.