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August 14, 2013

This year’s Birmingham Ethnic Festival book is dedicated to Sister Madelena Pohlman, SND.

Sr. Madelena, who was born in Delphos, Ohio, began her ministry in the Birmingham neighborhood about 30 years ago at Holy Rosary Parish. During much of her time at Holy Rosary and living in the convent there, Sister was a full time religion teacher at
Notre Dame Academy and volunteered in the parish. However it seemed she spent more time volunteering than at her “real job.” Sister was in charge of the R.C.I.A. (the
process for those wishing to join the Catholic Church). She also helped with visiting the sick, helping with the sacramental program and liturgy, the Renew program and adult education, and whatever else needed to be done. After Holy Rosary was unfortunately closed she continued to carry on her involvement in the same types of ministry at St. Stephen and Sacred Heart. She was also dedicated to taking communion weekly to those Catholics in St. Charles Hospital. At the heart of her ministry was her concern for social justice and ministry to the those in any kind of need. But her service was not limited to the “spiritual” sphere. Wherever there was a festival or dinner Sister could usually be found washing dishes or helping serve or whatever was needed.

But Sr. Madelena’s ministry was not limited to the Catholic parishes. She was the catalyst behind many of the ecumenical activities that took place along with Zion Hill and Calvin United such as the joint Thanksgiving service and other ecumenical services and the
neighborhood Christmas caroling. And she was aided by the prayers of the three churches as she struggled to carry her ministry in the neighborhood. She was also active in the Birmingham Development Corporation especially in assisting with planning the service activities of the Catholic Heart Youth Camp, the beautification contests, and other projects.

Sister Madelena formally retired from parish ministry at St. Stephen and Sacred Heart this past June. But there have been many sightings of her in the neighborhood. Our Churches and our community are certainly richer because of the dedication of Sister Madalena.

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