Celebrating Diversity

…and the equality of all people

Sister Judeen Schulte

For years, Sister Judeen Schulte knew that she wanted to have firsthand experience learning about Eastern medicine, also called complementary or homeopathic medicine. As Dean of the School of Nursing at Alverno College in Milwaukee, she also wanted to explore different kinds of nursing programs. A seed was planted in 2000 when Sister Judeen attended the School Sisters of St. Francis General Assembly in Milwaukee. She met School Sisters from India who extended an invitation to her to visit. The visit became a reality seven years later.

From September to November 2007, Sister Judeen spent her sabbatical from Alverno College traveling in Japan, Hong Kong, India and Germany. The trip was a mix of personal and professional pursuits that immersed Sister Judeen in various cultures and enabled her to learn about complementary health practices, combined therapies and the Ayurvedic approach to living and healing.

The first stop on her sabbatical was Japan, where Sister Judeen visited Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima. “I was particularly moved by the people I met in Hiroshima and how clear it was that they wanted peace in the world,” she said. Sister Judeen also consulted with the School of Nursing faculty about ability-based education at the Tokyo Women’s Medical University.

From Japan she spent two weeks in Hong Kong where she visited the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Poly U), located in Hung Hom, Kowloon Island. There she consulted with the School of Nursing faculty. “I learned firsthand about the nursing program as well as their integrative health clinic and Chinese Medicine Nursing Laboratory – both of which make use of stress management techniques and natural herbs,” she said. Sister Judeen was very impressed that Poly U opened the first Chinese medicinal labs and they include a “Chinese therapies” class and a requirement for students to know Cantonese, basic Mandarin and English. Sister Judeen also found it interesting that Poly U has “seven attributes” they want students to possess before they graduate; she likened them to the eight abilities required of Alverno students.

Once she arrived in India, Sister Judeen traveled to various cities. One of her main objectives was to visit the Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust (HIHT) in Doiwala and its College of Nursing. “The trust was founded in 1991 by Dr. Swami Rama and offers comprehensive health care and social development programs and provides several health-related education programs,” Sister Judeen said. The organization is committed to the belief that all human beings have a right to health, education and economic self-sufficiency. While there, Sister Judeen experienced the benefits of the Trust’s combined therapy program by working with a physician who is also a yoga master.

Sister Judeen also traveled to the states of  Kerala, Karnataka, and Madhya Pradesh, where she spent a month visiting with School Sisters of St. Francis in the Assisi and St. Francis provinces. In addition to learning more about Ayurvedic health care and pharmacology while with the sisters, Sister Judeen learned about the specific ministries of many of the School Sister of St. Francis missions.

“I was blessed to stay in a number of our communities which was enlightening and fun,” she said. Her travels included a visit to Palakkad where five sisters work at the Paalana Institute for Medical Sciences – a trust associated with the Palakkad Diocese. The hospital uses some Ayurvedic principles and Sister Judeen was glad to have spent time there observing and learning. “This is a major hospital for the region, and people are treated for everything from fevers, to diabetes and surgery.” Sister Judeen was struck by what she felt was an extraordinary mission statement and explained that “Paalana” means “providence” and that their motto is, “Eternal providence through human hands.”  In Palakkad, she also visited the Ayur Hospital where she experienced Ayurvedic massage firsthand.

Sister Judeen felt that it was a real privilege to see how the sisters in India serve the needs of people through nursing, education, social work, and caring for the homeless. “These are all ministries that respond to the needs of the times,” she stated. She appreciated the ability to see the international nature of the School Sisters of St. Francis firsthand. “Our sisters truly live the mission,” she said.

Adapted from an article prepared by the School Sisters of St. Francis Pastoral Ministry Network.