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Crosses that hold our prayers Feature Image

Crosses that hold our prayers

As we journey through Lent together, we asked the IHM Sisters and Associates to share photos of crosses that are meaningful to them. We’ll be sharing these photos in social media each week throughout the Lenten season.

Suzanne Sattler, IHM

“I received this cross from El Salvador as a gift when I concluded my years of service as a Board Member and Chair of the SHARE Foundation, an international nonprofit organization with a mission to strengthen solidarity with and among the Salvadoran people. Assassinated St. Oscar Romero, after receiving many death threats for his commitment to the poor and victimized of his country, proclaimed that if murdered he would rise in the Salvadoran people. Shot while celebrating mass on March 24, 1980, he is very alive in the community of Salvadoran people who are depicted on this cross along with their faith that death leads to new life.”

Joan Monsour, IHM

Sister Joan Monsour shares the cross she treasures most; One that hung in her father’s bedroom and now hangs in her bedroom:

“The love of Jesus and Mary was very important in my father’s life. The Catholic religion was strongly lived in both my parents’ lives and spread to their children.”

Donna Schroeder, IHM

Sister Donna Schroeder shares that her most treasured cross is one that was given to her as a farewell gift when she left Honduras in 1997:

“When I look at this cross,  I remember to pray for the people of Honduras. It reminds me to open my heart to feel – as Jesus did – the joys and sorrows of all people.” 

Angela Therese Meram, IHM

Sister Angela Therese Meram wears a Chaldean Cross that was handmaid in Iraq by one of her relatives over 200 years ago.

“This cross is very special to me because of my Chaldean heritage. It is a cruciform with each of the four arms terminating in a rare form of trefoil, or pomegranate, native to the Middle East. They symbolize ‘new life,’ the resurrection of Christ and by extension, the new spiritual life we claim. The four main buds in the center correspond to the four evangelists and the outer circles correspond to the twelve Apostles. I treasure it.”

Evelyn Craig, IHM

“Near Ash Wednesday, I brought this cross from the chapel into my spiritual formation class. My students are from a variety of denominations and I stood out as the only Catholic among the various ordained men and women who conducted small groups for spiritual formation. This particular cross is unique in a Protestant seminary.

The beauty of this cross was brought home to me by the sculptor (Bill Moore) and by Duke’s renowned theologian and ethicist (Stanley Hauerwas) who were responsible for its creation and the prominent place during chapel services and prayer.

Notice the hands of Jesus have wounds but are not nailed down and are presently reaching out to us. The circle supporting the arms is a reminder that redemption determines the very character of the whole cosmos. Hauerwas said, “the empty cross is a temptation to think of it as only a symbol” as he advocated for this particular cross at Duke. Lastly, I visited Moore’s art studio and he shared the experience of handling and sculpting the Body made him lose the sense of self-absorption.”

Sister Evelyn Craig shares the significance of this processional cross commissioned for the chapel at Duke Divinity School where she has worked for the past 10 years

Pat Frost, IHM

“This cross with the Scripture: ‘With God all things are Possible’ was given to me by my friend, Karen, whom I have known since second grade. She sent it to me during a time when I was experiencing health difficulties and was in the hospital. The words on the cross are the very same words on my musical Prayer Box where I place the names of all those I have promised to lift up in prayer. That both objects have the same Scripture makes each most significant to me.”

Pat Chargot, IHM Associate

 “This cross is a replica of one found at Lindholm Hoje, a 1,600-year-old Viking burial ground in Denmark and one of the largest in Scandinavia. The cross is simple and very small — less than an inch tall. But it reminds me of my beloved Danish in-laws and other Danish relatives and friends, most of whom are gone. I wear the cross on a silk cord with a chunk of Danish amber, a replica of a Viking brooch, a contemporary Danish heart and a tiny elephant charm that belonged to my mother.”

Mary Ann Markel, IHM

“This cross necklace was given to me 10 years ago by a classmate before she died.  For me, it symbolizes life. I wear it in her memory.”

Elizabeth Fleckstein, IHM

“I received this necklace as a gift from my family on my Golden Jubilee. It serves as a reminder of how blessed I have been with the family into which I was born. It also serves to make me more conscious of how much God loves me with a very personal love, just as I am. It holds the promise of Hope and New Life for me and to all that God loves and is present in our fractured world – people and events. My prayer each morning as I fasten the clasp is that my heart and my eyes will be open to the opportunities each day offers for me to model the qualities of the life of Jesus that call me to live the liberating mission of Jesus in ordinary ways with extraordinary love.”

John and Chris Cavanaugh, IHM Associates

John and Chris Cavanaugh, IHM Associates’ most treasured cross is a replica of the famous San Damiano cross that figured prominently in the lives of Sts. Francis and Clare of Assisi and hangs in their parish, the UNC Newman Catholic Community in Chapel Hill, NC

“This cross represents the idea that each of us receives a call from God to vocation–that to which we dedicate our lives. For both Francis and Clare, that was captured in the question, “What is mine to do?” Equally important, Francis and Clare did this work as a team, each bringing their own unique gifts. This also serves as a model for us. Each time we see the cross, it brings back the special memory of our trip to Assisi where we saw and prayed in front of the original cross. We are also reminded of the history of the cross and of our trip each year as we place a Christmas ornament of this cross on our tree, along with other mementos from our travels to sacred sites.”

Mary Ellen Sheehan, IHM

“This Celtic Cross that hangs in my room is carved with events from the Scriptures. The monks used them to teach people who were uneducated. It has a circle behind it, adapted long ago from the Celtic peoples who worshipped the Sun. The early missionaries to Ireland incorporated the circle into the Cross to show that Christ is the Light of the World. These crosses can be found all over the Republic of Ireland today in fields – left standing to treasure the past – and in cemeteries incorporated today into headstones.”

Brigid Wade, IHM

Sister Brigid Wade, whose mother was born in County Clare, tells of her favorite cross which bears her name. She doesn’t have one particular cross that holds her heart, but moreover, a collection. Sister Brigid owns several Brigid crosses, including a necklace she wears and ones that hang in her room.  They were given to her as gifts from her students, friends and family when they return from Ireland.

Mary Ann Penner, IHM

“I bought this straw cross in the 1980s when I was ministering with IHM Sisters Julie Slowik and Marcella Regan in a small, poor community in Juarez. We were there helping the people find resources and hosting prayer groups. To me, this cross represents the people of that community and the crafts that they used to make money for their families.”

Kate O’Brien, IHM

“I received this cross when I was a student at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley. At the time, I was preparing for prison ministry and was part of a group that visited and worshipped with the men on weekends at San Quentin Prison. This simple cross was made by Al, a man incarcerated there. I received it at a Good Friday Service. As each of us entered the chapel, we were given a cross which we later placed at the altar to offer our suffering together in Christ. Later in the ritual, we received back a cross of another, carrying each other’s burdens.”

Janice Mignano, IHM Associate

“The cross close to my heart is a Rosary/Scapular that I hang from my rear-view mirror. I received it from the husband of my close friend, Jeannie, that passed away about three years ago. We went through Christ Renews His Parish retreat together. Our spiritual faith and friendship grew from that time on. I think of her almost every time I’m in the car knowing her spirit is with me.” 

Annette St-Amour

“This Jerusalem Cross is an icon from my study in Israel in 1982. During that time, while walking on the streets of Jerusalem, I experienced a call to “Go to Jerusalem.” With it was the awareness that the call was to live more “ultimately” as Jesus was called to do. Not knowing what that meant, I prayed and searched. Where is the Jerusalem you are calling me to?  Discernment of that call led to ministry in Africa for 34 years and to seek the deeper call of God, no matter where I am. It is a call to the quality of my being.“