The “Signature” event hosted annually by the Advisory Board of the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, USA Province, is the Journey of Hope. In an effort to acquaint friends and supporters with the exemplary works of the Sisters, each year, the Journey of Hope has focused on celebrating a significant Handmaid milestone.
2010 The Inaugural Journey of Hope, held April 14, 2010, coincided with the foundation of the congregation one hundred and thirty three years earlier on April 14, 1877, in Madrid, Spain. In a moving tribute, Philadelphia broadcasting pioneer and television personality, Liz Matt, narrated the journey of St. Raphaela Mary and her sister, Dolores, as they embarked on the establishment of the Congregation of the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Sisters in formation also shared the stories of their journeys, and their desire to commit their lives to the Handmaid mission.
2011 In 2011, the Journey of Hope celebrated the 85thAnniversary of the Handmaids’ presence in the United States. Philadelphia Eagles former general manager, Jim Murray, was the master of ceremonies for the event. The evening featured a silent auction and a live auction, conducted by Advisory Board member Ken Boyden with proceeds netting more than $140,000.
2012 The 2012 Journey of Hope was the first event held to honor a Handmaid, and paid tribute to three— Sr. Kathleen Helbig, Sr. Maureen Gillespie, and Sr. Julia Walsh — Handmaids who were lauded for their personal “journeys” in celebrating fifty years of consecrated religious life. Highlights of the evening including “roasting” and toasting the Sisters, in addition to a silent auction that featured authentic items from the 1960’s.
2013 The 4th Journey of Hope was held at Knowlton Mansion (for the 4thconsecutive year.) The evening featured guest speakers, Ancilla Domini Academy alumna Dr. Nance Dicciani, who twice has been being ranked by Forbes Magazine as one of the “World’s Most Powerful Women” and Reverend Michael Olivere, a longtime friend of the sisters, chaplain at Ancillae-Assumpta Academy, and the pastor of St. Timothy’s Parish in Philadelphia. Both spoke of the “truly life-changing” experiences that were brought about in their lives through the influence and guidance of the Handmaids.
2014 This year’s event was held in conjunction with Ancillae-Assumpta Academy’s Blue and White Ball. The Legacy Gala, held at the Hyatt at the Bellvue, was attended by over 500 guests and served as a memorial celebration honoring the life and legacy of Sister Elizabeth McCoy, the first principal and first director of Ancillae-Assumpta Academy.
Those who knew this remarkable woman will remember her as a dreamer and a doer…an innovator…a thinker…a teacher…a person with an insatiable appetite for sharing life in every sense of the word. Whether at the table, in the classroom, at home, or across the globe, there was no room for exclusion, and in that way, she exemplified the work of the Handmaid foundress, St. Raphaela Mary.
In commemorating the tenth anniversary of her passing, our hope was to continue her mission and in so doing, unite our efforts in celebrating her life and her legacy as a Handmaid, an educator, and an unforgettable human being.
Elizabeth was first and foremost a Handmaid. When she was called to religious life, her choice to join the Handmaids was not surprising. It makes sense that she joined the order of sisters who taught her in high school at Ancilla Domini. But it was not the familiarity that drew her to the order, but rather, the charism. The Handmaids’ charism of reparation spoke to Sister Elizabeth.
As a peace-filled person, she longed for unity, and their charism focuses on repairing that which is broken and making it whole. As a Congregation, the Handmaids focus on reconciliation, and I think that is what attracted Sister Elizabeth to the order. Her realization that “all life is one” came from her focus on reparation. Through reparation, the focus becomes the spreading of peace. 1 Corinthians 12:26 tells us, “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it.” Sister Elizabeth understood that as members of the Body of Christ, we are all intimately connected and that understanding led Sister Elizabeth to work to bring healing and peace to relationships.
At Ancillae, that translated into her collaborative leadership style, which included her team approach to problem solving. It is what made her such an incredible listener and communicator. It also led to her understanding of education as the means to peace. When Sr. Elizabeth installed the photographs of Earth in the classrooms, it was to help our students understand that which she knew as a Handmaid – the need for repairing and making whole. At a presentation she made in 1986 at the NCEA convention she shared, “Catholic education has within itself a vision and praxis that can significantly contribute to this common thirst for oneness, unity, and reconciliation…this is the new moral vision that the spirit is calling for the promotion of the fullness of life for everyone.” Sister Elizabeth’s vision for education had its rootsin herHandmaid charism. The Handmaid charism continues to make Ancillae-Assumpta Academy and all of the Handmaid ministries peace-filled communities.
2016 In 2016, the Journey of Hope capitalized on holding the event close in proximity to the Handmaids’ first USA ministry. Literally, only a short walk from the Handmaids’ original home in West Philadelphia, the Sheraton University City provided the perfect backdrop for a festive and memorable event.
2017 Another change of venue set the stage for the 2017 Journey of Hope as it took place for the first time at St. Raphaela Center in Haverford. Featuring a trip to St. Raphaela Mary’s birthplace – Spain, the evening provided for an extra dose of excitement and enthusiasm!
2018 This year’s Journey of Hope held many memorable moments for the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and their friends, as the sisters formally opened the House of Hope, a sixteen-room extension of the Saint Raphaela Center in Haverford. The Handmaids acquired the residence, formerly owned by the Carlino family, in April, 2018. The event was celebrated with an outstanding array of sumptuous fare (generously offered by the Carlino family) along with a silent auction. In addition to the Handmaids, their friends and supporters, many members of the Carlino family and their friends were in attendance. Above all, what made the evening so unique was celebrating the memory and friendship of Sister Philomena Monte, the retreat center’s first directress, and Angela Carlino, the family matriarch and founder of Carlino’s Market.
Each year, the Journey of Hope aims to bring to light a relevant aspect of the Handmaids’ “journey”, always focusing on the hope that continues to guide their way. This year’s celebration was particularly poignant in reflecting the serendipitous events that took place over the years. In a very tangible way, life has appeared to come full circle, giving evidence and realization that one event can be a source of hope for so many people in different, but interconnected, ways. For the Carlino family, there is hope that their home will continue to be lived and prayed in with great love, that the loving home they created will remain a place that brings people together, feeding them richly (though not with the same gravy) – a place that celebrates life, and in this way, celebrates the memories of two faithful and faith-filled women, Angela Carlino and Sr. Philomena Monte. As the House of Hope becomes part of the St. Raphaela Center, it is the hope and prayer of the Handmaids that many others will also come to experience the goodness and faithfulness of God and to look on their story as well as a journey marked by God’s grace.
2019 The Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and its Province Advisory Board hosted their annual Journey of Hope fundraiser on May 1, 2019 and featured Don DiJulia as its keynote speaker. A well-known and well-loved member of the St. Joseph University community, and its former athletic director, Don spoke eloquently to the group of over a hundred attendees about his career, the influence of his faith, and the ways in which he looks to the future, accepting whatever God offers.
His presentation capped off an evening that offered a sumptuous array of great food and wine, and a fabulous silent auction, with gifts ranging from vintage items to exquisite jewelry and travel experiences. Most importantly, the event provided an opportunity for the Handmaids to reacquaint with friends and supporters.
2020 Unfortunately, due to the emergence of the COVID 19 pandemic. the Journey of Hope was cancelled this year.
2021 For the first time in its history, the 2021 Journey of Hope will be held virtually.