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SOCF Cleveland invests in young adults to carry forward Catholic sisters’ commitment to serve

CLEVELAND, April 11, 2019 – The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland (SOCF) this month held its latest working session for the Ministry Leadership Program, a new initiative to pair young employees in Catholic school settings with Catholic sister mentors, in order to generate wider understanding of sisters’ core values and approach to social justice work.

Participants include 10 young adult staff members from sister-led or sister-founded schools throughout greater Cleveland, and 10 sister companions representing the congregations of those selected schools. Over the course of the next year, the pairs will collaborate through workshops sessions and one-on-one meetings. At the end of the program, young adults will have a complete mission integration program, designed to instill in students the values and mission of the sisters.

Young adult participants and their sister companions include:

Laura Antel | Fifth/Sixth Grade Teacher

Metro Catholic School

Sister companion: Mary Jane Vovk, SND

Michelle Bennett | Career Coordinator

Ursuline College

Sister companion: Ritamary Welsh, OSU

Charles Bohnak | English Teacher

Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin School

Sister companion: Rose Falorio, SND

Aaron Calton | Theology Teacher

Trinity High School

Sister companion: Jane Blabolil, SSJ-TOSF

Brendan Corrigan | Accountant

Saint Martin de Porres High School

Sister companion: Mary Pat Cook, HM

Alexis Flinn | Third Grade Teacher

Incarnate Word Academy

Sister companion: Rosemarie Burke, SIW

Michalena Mezzopera | Theology Teacher

Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin School

Sister companion: Lisette Petelin, SND

Molly Schneider | Social Studies Teacher

Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin School

Sister companion: Jacquelyn Gusdane, SND

Brianna Wilson | English/Religion Teacher

Villa Angela – St. Joseph High School

Sister companion: Virginia DeVinne, OSU

Anita Yoder | Assistant Director of Campus Ministry

Notre Dame College

Sister companion: Carol Brandt, SND


“For more than 160 years, Catholic sisters have served the most vulnerable in our Cleveland – whether through schools, hospitals or other ministries of health care, education and social service,” said Susanna Krey, SOCF president. “They are called to serve those at the margins of society, and they work with diligence, humility and no expectation of recognition, despite their generous contributions to so many. Sisters form a critical part of our community’s history of service, and they demonstrate an effective model to help those most in need.”

The Ministry Leadership Program is a pilot initiative of Generative Spirit, SOCF’s collaboration with Conference of Religious Leadership (CORL) and Coalition with Young Adults (CYA) to develop the next generation of lay leadership and support sister-led, sister-founded ministries into the future. SOCF developed the program in collaboration with Sister Kate Hine, SND, of CORL, and Michelle Gilbert, PhD, founder of MAGCo consulting.

Of the many Catholic sister-led ministries in Northeast Ohio, schools and universities have some of the most connected sister networks, and many are sponsored by congregations of sisters. Campus ministers and faith formation staff at these schools are most often lay educators tasked with developing programming and engagement activities that bolster the mission of the school and its leading congregation.

“By pairing a young adult working in a Catholic school with a religious sister, we aim to provide an opportunity for a positive intergenerational formation experience around faith, spirituality and the call to serve,” said Margaret Eigsti, senior program officer at SOCF. “As more than half of Northeast Ohio’s 600 active Catholic sisters are expected to retire in the next five years, partnerships between sisters and lay leaders can help sustain ministries throughout periods of transition.”

The pairs had their first working session in March, with a professional development workshop focused on maintaining work-life balance. This week, they meet again to better understand mission and ministry resources available to them through their schools and representative congregations. Participants will receive a stipend of $2,500 from the foundation for their commitment to the Ministry Leadership Program. Each participant’s school is eligible to receive a one-time grant for $1,000 from the Sisters of Charity Foundation for implementation of the mission integration project.

Workshops continue monthly through December 2019, and pairs will meet monthly at the young adult participant’s place of employment to plan the mission integration project.

The Generative Spirit initiative is made possible through a generous grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation with matching support from SOCF. To learn more, visit

Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland

Since 1996, the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland has partnered with residents, nonprofits and community leaders to change the trajectory of poverty in Cuyahoga County. Its nearly $100 million endowment includes the first health care conversion foundation and first foundation formed by a congregation of Catholic sisters in the United States.

Through grantmaking, collaboration, advocacy and more, the Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland works to improve the lives of those most in need with special attention to families, women and children living in poverty. The foundation works to end homelessness in Cuyahoga County and to reduce health disparities and improve educational opportunities in Cleveland’s Central Neighborhood. As a Catholic organization, the foundation extends the values of Jesus Christ through the mission of its founders – the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine – and also works to sustain the ministries of women religious.

The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System – a family of Catholic health care, grantmaking and outreach ministries healing individuals, families and communities in Ohio and South Carolina.

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