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July 7, 2021, Chicago – In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sister Xiomara Méndez-Hernández, OP, ministered as Chaplain at Loyola Medical Center in Chicago and was present when the hospital’s first patient died of the virus. Sister Xiomara is part of a group of graduates from Catholic Theological Union (CTU) in Chicago who discuss their role as Chaplains – Spiritual First Responders – who are present in compassion to patients, family members, and medical staff suffering because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Sometimes we cannot cure, but we continue to care,” Sister Xiomara said. Watch the CTU video on Spiritual First Responders.
May 20, 2021, Henderson, Nevada – Sister Victoria Dalesandro, OP, recently received the monthly Act of Humankindness Award from Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican Hospitals for her dedicated service to two outreach programs at the hospitals’ Siena Campus.
“Sister Vicki has done an exceptional job of growing and maintaining the Senior Peer Counseling program throughout the past 12 months despite COVID-19,” wrote Holly Lyman, Director of Community Health for St. Rose Dominican Hospitals, in her nomination. “She kept all her counselors engaged through Zoom and they continued to [counsel] their clients over the phone during a time when loneliness, fear, and isolation were a huge concern for the seniors in our community.”
Sister Vicki’s work with the Senior Peer Counseling program involves training and coordinating the work of Senior Peer Counselors – volunteers, at least 50 years of age, who receive 51 hours of intensive training to prepare them to offer informal counseling to seniors suffering from a variety of challenges. “I really enjoyed counseling seniors and especially forming wonderful relationships with the Senior Peer Counselors,” she said.
Holly, an Adrian Dominican Associate, also nominated Sister Vicki for her help with the hospital’s Responsible Early Detection (RED) Rose Program, which provides detection, diagnosis, treatment, and, at times, financial assistance to uninsured, underinsured, and undocumented women facing breast cancer. When the RED Rose coordinator left on maternity leave, Sister Vicki offered support to Victoria , who was new in her work for the program. “She also helped call clients and coordinate services to make sure our RED Rose clients didn’t fall through the cracks,” Holly added.
Sister Vicki, who is retiring from St. Rose Dominican Hospitals, spoke with gratitude during her retirement party for her many opportunities to minister to people in need. She taught in elementary schools in New Mexico, Arizona, and California, including in her native city, Los Angeles. She has also counseled first-generation Mexican Americans, worked with immigrants in the Social Action Office in Los Angeles, and coordinated the Christian Service Program for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Sister Vicki began ministry at St. Rose Dominican Hospitals in 1992 as the Mission Services Director and has remained in hospital ministry since. During that time, she worked with Sister Robert Joseph Bailey in the hospital’s community education programs. Highlights of that time, she said, included the installation of the TV Care Channel in patients’ rooms and her relationship with Co-workers who wanted to become Adrian Dominican Associates.
She left St. Rose Dominican Hospitals at the end of 2000 to serve as counselor at a Catholic hospital in Apple Valley, California, but returned 10 years later as the Director of Caring and Healing at St. Rose Dominican’s San Martin Campus. She also served as the Interim Director of the RED Rose program from 2018 until April 2021.
Sister Vicki noted with gratitude that the celebration of her retirement, April 29, 2021, marked the 65th anniversary of the day that she decided to enter the Adrian Dominican Congregation.
Sister Victoria Dalesandro, OP, seated, and Senior Peer Counselors Brenda Kassan, left, and Joan Harper, middle, attend a celebration of Sister Victoria’s retirement from Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican Hospitals. The event also honored the hospital’s Senior Peer Counselors.