The concept of total wellness recognizes that our every thought, word, and behavior affects our greater health and well-being. And we, in turn, are affected not only emotionally but also physically and spiritually.
-Greg Anderson, author of "The 22 Non-Negotiable Laws of Wellness"

"Catholic Sisters and Holistic Pioneers" from Spirituality and Health magazine (March/April 2004) by Marielena Zuniga:

Catholic Sisters practicing Reiki and massage? Some might find that pairing unlikely, but 20 years ago — well before it was common in the U.S. — Sisters were providing holistic health care.

"Who else would you expect to be on the vanguard of holistic healing?" asks Sister Anita Schugart, O.P., director of the Heartland Center for Holistic Health in Great Bend, Kansas. "After all, who started the hospitals in this country?"

In fact, Sisters have been on the forefront of caring for the sick for 1,600 years, says Sister Schugart, a former hospital administrator, who founded the Heartland Center because she had experienced the current health care system as more of a "sickness system." Today, the ministry of the Dominican Sisters of Great Bend offers massage and homeopathy, among other therapies, as well as workshops.

Sister Mary Em McGlone, M.M.S., who in 1981 founded the Center for Human Integration (CHI) in Philadelphia, moved into holistic health care after witnessing the health care practices of another culture. As a nurse-midwife in Uganda in the 1960s, she saw how health care providers there treated the whole person. In this country, specialists divide the person into categories and treat each accordingly.

While many holistic healing modalities can now be found at most health clubs and spas, Catholic Sisters pioneered their work with a different focus: on Jesus as healer to people of all faiths.

"Jesus didn't just heal the body, but also the spirit," says Sister Helen Owens, O.S.F., founder and executive director of the Lourdes Wellness Center in Collingswood, New Jersey. "When you're talking holistic, that’s what we mean.

People come to us not just for physical healing, but healing of the spirit." Healing modalities help people get in touch with "what God is speaking within their hearts and bodies," says Sister Celeste Crine, a certified massage therapist and Reiki practitioner at the Franciscan Spiritual Center in Aston, Pennsylvania. "Then they can become the person God created them to be."

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