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Sr. Ellen Marvel, CSR
Sr. Ellen Marvel, CSR
Province Leader - Sisters of the Redeemer
What women have inspired you in your life?
From a very young age, my mother and grandmother inspired me with their deep faith, courage, and strength as they managed difficult times. I witnessed their faith and their love of God and I knew that their example contributed to my calling to become a Sister of the Redeemer.
I also am inspired by our 12 founding Sisters who came to the United States from Germany in 1924. Trusting deeply that God called them to America, and having the courage to emigrate to a country in which they did not know the language, is a story that has strengthened me throughout my life as a Sister. It is because of these courageous women that we are a presence in America and continue to carry on their work of service to those who are poor, aged, sick and vulnerable. The mentoring of senior Sisters over the years, especially their love, honesty and guidance, has helped shape my life. I would not be where I am today without their good and holy influence.
What achievements are you most proud?
Having the ability, with God’s grace, to say “forever I will serve and remain faithful” is something I am very grateful for. I professed my first vows in 1968, and for 54 years, God has supported me in remaining faithful to these vows and to our Congregation.
I am drawn with joy to continue the cultural traditions of our German Sisters and am proud to be instrumental in helping our Sisters today to carry on these traditions. Having a background in food and nutrition, I am naturally inclined to enjoy preparing meals and including in our holiday celebrations German specialty foods and festive holiday cookies with original recipes from our German Sisters. These traditions are now continued by the lay women who cook and bake with us. While perhaps not seeming like a great achievement by some standards, I believe that the power of tradition and story is so important in keeping our legacy alive. Not only the prayers we pray and the songs we sing tell the story. Also the way we decorate tells the story, the way we welcome tells the story, the foods we prepare tell the story…yes, even a cookie or German Fastnacht can tell a story! I am proud to continue to carry out some of these traditional German practices with our Sisters and partners-in-mission.
Do you have a favorite inspirational quote or verse?
My favorite theme is emphasized in the verses of the book of Isaiah, “Do not fear, for I am with you always.” These words speak to me, because as I face challenges, I know that I am not alone. God is always with me. In times of challenge, I try to slow down, pause and feel God’s presence within me and around me. This helps me to continue doing God's work as I am reassured that God is helping me every step of the way.
What's the difference between what you see now that you didn't see then?
I see women using their God-given talents by assuming more leadership roles in our world and by advocating for themselves and others in the workplace. I love seeing women’s advancements in roles of leadership. Redeemer Health started with women. For years, I have witnessed the recognition of the talent of women in our organization and am grateful that Redeemer Health supports our professional development in various ways including advanced educational opportunities.
How many years have you been with Redeemer Health, and what positions have you held?
Since I entered the Sisters of the Redeemer 57 years ago, I have worked within the Sisters’ ministries that now comprise Redeemer Health. My first role as a very young Sister was that of a nursing assistant at Drueding Infirmary. This former nursing home for the aged was owned by the Drueding Family and managed by our Sisters. The home was transitioned 35 years ago to Drueding Center, a ministry in service to homeless women and children. Many years after my experience as a young nursing assistant, I returned to Drueding Center as Executive Director and served in that role for 12 years. In 1976, I oversaw the transition of St. Joseph Manor’s kitchen to its then-new location, and I did that with the help of our Sisters who worked in the kitchen. I also was Assistant Food Service Director, and shortly after obtaining my master’s in nutrition education in 1989, I became a Dietitian working with Holy Redeemer Hospital’s nutrition department.
While Executive Director of Drueding Center, I enjoyed seeing the growth of the mothers — many of whom went on to earn their education. Helping them to realize and actualize their potential to become independent was a great gift for me. I remember various times when a mother would proudly share a diploma with me after completing her GED or other courses of study.
Now I am in my third year as Province Leader for our Congregation, and in elected leadership of the Sisters for the past 20 years. I have been blessed with the ability to serve in various meaningful ministries, including religious formation of our younger members. All of these positions have caused me to stretch and grow.
What brings you joy?
Creating a welcoming environment for others brings me great joy. I enjoy meeting and spending time with people of all faiths and cultures and I am so grateful to serve on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee for Redeemer Health.
Little children bring me great joy. The children of Drueding Center totally won my heart over just as did the children who came to St. Francis Inn in Kensington, and just as do the children I meet along the way in the hospital or our nursing facilities, or who visit our Redeemer Valley Farm, or the great nieces and nephews who are in my own family. All are a source of joy for me and they are my best teachers. I am never so happy as when I have a little one in my arms.
I am called to serve God by being a healing, hope-filled presence to those in need. This is where God lives – not only in our churches but even more so in those who are most vulnerable. Helping those in need is my heart’s passion and brings me tremendous joy.
I also take great joy during my personal reflection time with Jesus. I love listening to the birds, working with plants, and walking in nature. I greatly enjoyed volunteering at the St. Francis Inn for many years and look so forward to a time when I can do that regularly again.
What lessons would you like to pass along to other women?
Since entering the Convent, I have continued to live my life with faith and perseverance, just as my mother, grandmother, and Founding Sisters of the Redeemer have done and just as our Founder, Blessed Alphonse Maria Eppinger did. I encourage other women to have courage, keep moving forward in faith, to follow their dreams even if they seem impossible, to never give up and to hold fast to Hope! And I love to quote our Founder: "Have Courage, God is with You"!