When a Medical Mission Sister (MMS) invited Bonnie Templeton to a Sunday liturgy back in the late 60's, she couldn't believe her ears when, as she drove up to the building, she heard bongo drums, guitars and tambourines.
"It wasn't like any music I'd heard in a church before," Bonnie said. "I felt right at home and I'll never forget that."
Life soon took Bonnie all around the country. A native of Northeast Philadelphia, she earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in nursing and started working for the Air Force, where she met her husband, Monty. Bonnie ultimately retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1995, having served as a civilian nurse in a total of eight states and, for a little while, in England. After retirement she spent ten years establishing and promoting satellite hospices in Montana and South Carolina.
Throughout her experiences, Bonnie never lost the connection she felt with MMS. As a nurse, she identified even more strongly with the Sisters she'd met while volunteering at MMS in high school, helping to pack medicines to ship overseas. "MMS were in my backyard," she said. "I felt like I've always been a part of their landscape. I've always thought about the beautiful liturgies I was exposed to." No matter where she went, she kept copies of MMS music with her. She has always been especially fond of "Joy is Like the Rain" by Sister Miriam Therese Winter.
While Bonnie and her husband were visiting in Philadelphia in 2014, she took him to the MMS headquarters. There she ran into Loretta Whalen, who told her about the Associate membership program she had helped to start. That conversation with Loretta never left the back of Bonnie's mind. In fact, her curiosity grew stronger, so she started researching Associate membership and even attended an Associate commitment ceremony. Her husband, who was a member of the Vincent de Paul Society that offers services to those in need, was also considering becoming an Associate before he passed away in 2016.
Bonnie's grandchildren, who live in Montana and Colorado, have been a consistent source of joy in Bonnie's life, particularly as she grieved the loss of her husband. She also has been grateful for the support offered by our Sisters and Associates over the past two years. She grew particularly close to Associate Jane Jones. Bonnie says she wouldn't dream of missing a zoom meeting, when she and Associates from around the country share on-line with each other about their faith and the paths they are taking in life, supporting and affirming each other in their personal journeys. Bonnie reflects: "You don't always have to be doing something, but just by your very presence you can be available to [someone] during a very difficult time."
In just a few days, Bonnie will make her first Associate commitment on May 6. Having grown up so close to Medical Mission Sisters, she feels as if she is now coming home. As an incoming Associate, Bonnie looks forward to "integrating the charism of healing presence more deeply into my life, embracing it a little more deeply and doing more self-examination as to how I'm living that out in my everyday life. I'm hoping to live the healing presence more fully as a mother, a grandmother, a sister-in-law, a friend.
Bonnie currently lives in her husband's home state of South Carolina. She serves as a eucharistic minister for St. John the Beloved, taking communion to Catholic hospital patients. Three times each month, she volunteers as a "docente," or tour guide, who explains the origins of monastic life at Mepkin Abbey.