2015 Honorees and Biographies

 

 Sister Elizabeth Hasselt, OP

2015 Veritas Award Recipient


Sister Elizabeth Hasselt

Sister Elizabeth Hasselt grew up surrounded by Sparkill Dominicans in St. Martin of Tours Parish in the Bronx. A graduate of Aquinas High School, she entered the Sparkill congregation in 1960 and embarked on a life of ministry. After 14 years of teaching at both the high school and elementary levels, Sister Elizabeth turned her attention to the most basic unmet needs of people in the South Bronx as a patient advocate for the poor at Dominican Sisters Family Health Services. From there her journey took her to Times Square where she joined Sr. Lillian McNamara, OP, and Fr. George Moore in 1977 in creating the Encore Senior Center, located at St. Malachy’s Church.

In order to ensure that Encore could achieve and maintain its own non-profit status, Sister Elizabeth earned a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University; following the completion of the MSW degree, she enrolled in and graduated from Columbia’s School for Non-profit Management. Sister Elizabeth advanced to the position of executive director as Encore was transformed from a modest, church-based program into a dynamic and multi-faceted organization that now serves thousands of poor, homebound, and homeless elderly in Manhattan’s west midtown community. Encore now provides over 340,000 meals annually, including 1,100 meals delivered seven days a week to homebound elderly from 14th Street to 110th Street. In addition, Encore Senior Center’s programs include social services, recreation, education, health and wellness activities, and supportive services for both onsite and homebound seniors, all with the mission of improving the quality of life of seniors in need and helping them to remain living at home with independence.

To address the critical shortage of housing for seniors with special needs, Sister Elizabeth was the driving force behind the acquisition of the Markwell Hotel in 1987 and its transformation into a residential facility, the Encore 49 Residence, which now provides safe and affordable housing for 88 formerly homeless seniors with histories of mental health issues. Then, in 2007, Sister Elizabeth acquired funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to build a new residential facility in the Clinton community for very low income seniors. Today, the Encore West Residence is a model for supportive housing for seniors. In recognition of her work at Encore, Sister Elizabeth was awarded the Brooke Russell Astor Award for her outstanding work, as well as an honorary doctorate from Providence College.

Encore Community Services has blessed the lives of countless seniors, providing them with the support necessary to maintain independence, personal dignity, and a sense of self-worth. The driving force behind this ministry for almost 40 years, Sister Elizabeth has truly brought the “good news” of the gospel to life in the lives of the men and women served by Encore Community Services.

 Sister Patricia Mary Walsh, OP

2015 Veritas Award Recipient


A native of the Bronx and graduate of Aquinas High School, Sister Patricia Mary Walsh entered the Sparkill Dominicans in 1957. After 24 years of ministry, first as a teacher, then as a counselor, Sister Patricia brought her vision and her dream to the leadership of the congregation. With their full support, in 1983 Sister founded Emmaus House, a wholistic residential treatment facility for women religious, to be a place of welcome and safety, a sacred space where Sisters would receive the support they need to recuperate from serious problems and issues.

As executive director of Emmaus House for more than 30 years, Sister Patricia has worked with her staff and other professional colleagues to provide outstanding care for more than 5000 Sisters who have come to Emmaus House for healing. In addition, she has created many wholistic programs, workshops, and retreats to respond to new needs that have emerged in recent years, including Women of Wisdom, a program for women religious in their senior years, and Memorare, a personal growth program for Sisters in transition that helps them to prepare for mission in new and energized ways. Over the years, Sister Patricia has taken on the many challenges involved in locating, acquiring, financing, and renovating several buildings, including the two buildings at Emmaus House’s current location in Ocean Grove, New Jersey, one block from the ocean.

The reach of Sister Patricia’s ministry extends well beyond New Jersey. A much sought-after retreat director, she has led retreats throughout the United States, Canada, and South America, and she has served as a consultant to religious congregations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. In 1989 she was invited by the Peace Commission of the United Nations to participate in the first Soviet-American Conference on Alcoholism with sessions held in Moscow and Kiev, and in 1991 she was a participant in the Vatican’s Sixth International Conference contra spem in spem: Drugs and Alcoholism against Life.

Far more important than the acquisition, equipping, and managing of beautiful residences is the manner in which Sister Patricia has affected the lives of the women she has served in her demanding ministry. Whether a participant in programs held at Emmaus House, family/community education discussions, retreats, aftercare sessions, or counseling conferences, each Sister resident has been the recipient of Sister Patricia’s compassion and love. The courage, creativity, and faithfulness that Sister Patricia has demonstrated in fulfilling God’s plan for her life are an inspiration to all who have been privileged to share her journey with her. She is a blessing among us, giving new life and hope to so many women religious seeking health and wholeness on the holy ground that is Emmaus House.

 Bill & Rose Werner

2015 Veritas Award Recipient

Bill and Rose Werner have known Dominican Sisters since they were children. A son of Rockland County, Bill grew up in New City, NY, and met the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill as a student in Saint Augustine’s School. Rose Kraus Werner hails from Long Island and was taught by the Amityville Dominicans at Queen of the Most Holy Rosary School in Roosevelt, NY. When Bill and Rose met in 1986, it was the beginning of a wonderful adventure. Married since 1991, together they have earned the respect and admiration of all who know them. No matter who one asks to describe Bill and Rose Werner, the question elicits the same response: words of praise and gratitude..

Bill is founder and president of Bill Werner Construction Corp., a full-service general contracting firm encompassing a broad spectrum of building specialties. The company began in 1979 as a residential carpentry subcontractor and expanded to include construction for the residential custom home building market as well as the commercial marketplace. After a 35-year career in the financial services field in New York, Rose retired from her position as executive assistant to the chairman and CEO of Bankers Trust in 1997 to work alongside Bill in managing the family business. In addition, Rose is very active in the Seraphic Society of New York and is a member of the President’s Council of St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill, NY. Together, Bill and Rose have earned for Werner Construction a reputation for high-quality work that is not only completed on time and on budget, but also accomplished through the building of relationships that reflect mutual respect, genuine caring, and trust—and always with a smile!

Since the early 1990s, Bill has been a trusted guide for the Dominican Sisters in their efforts to further their mission through wise stewardship of their properties. Over the years, Werner Construction has been responsible for building the Community Room addition to Dowling Gardens and both St. Agnes Residence and the Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary in Dominican Convent, as well as the restoration of the stained glass windows at Sacred Heart Chapel, the enhancement of the Sisters’ cemetery, and countless upgrades, repairs, and renovations in Dominican Convent, Dowling Gardens, and Thorpe Village.

Beyond his competence and impeccable craftsmanship, the Sisters describe Bill as a “bridge builder” who is able to bring people together by earning their trust and respect because of his honesty, integrity, and respect for the dignity of his workers. For this reason and because of their deep commitment to bringing the hopes and dreams of the Sisters to fruition, the Dominican Sisters recognize Bill and Rose for their generous support in furthering the mission of the Dominican Sisters of Sparkill.