The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland (the Foundation) was pleased to support National Catholic Sisters Week (NCSW), an annual celebration that took place from March 8 – 14, created to honor Catholic sisters. Integral to the mission of the Foundation is sharing the important work taking place by Catholic sisters in Northeast Ohio and throughout the nation. Aligning with National Women’s History Month, and kicking off on International Women’s Day, throughout the month of March the Foundation celebrated the women that inspire our ministry every day, Catholic sisters.
“Everything we do here at the Foundation is because of the sisters. It’s because of their vision and charge to us to address root causes of poverty that we exist and we try to uphold the model of ministry that they have set for us,” commented Erin McIntyre, Program Officer for Religious Communities at the Foundation.
To celebrate these extraordinary women, the Foundation published a series of “Sister Stories,” highlighting various Catholic sisters and their ministries across Northeast Ohio. The Foundation also released a “Sister Shout-Out” video, in which they asked Foundation employees, associates and collaborators to describe a sister they know or work with in one word. Words such as “trail-blazers,” “passionate,” “brave,” “inspiring,” and “dedicated,” were just a few that were chosen.
“Catholic sisters have a long history of serving God’s people at the margins, unearthing the causes of the needs and responding creatively and compassionately. Their intellect coupled with compassion, motivated by the Gospel message and rooted in prayer has a profound impact. For these reasons, it is important we share their stories and example of servant leadership,” explained Erin.
As part of National Catholic Sister Week, events are held throughout the nation to celebrate and share in the stories of lived experiences with Catholic sisters in our communities. A crowd of over 145 people attended Cleveland’s event, “Race and Grace: Let’s Talk About It,” on March 12 at Mt. Augustine in Richfield, Ohio. This event was co-sponsored by the Foundation, the Conference of Religious Leadership (CORL), the Coalition With Young Adults (CYA) and the Office of Ministry to African American Catholics at the Diocese of Cleveland, among others.
The theme of an intergenerational dialogue on race was inspired by The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), a national group representing 80 percent of U.S. Catholic sisters, and their resolution to bring focus to race and racism in our country today.
Catholic sisters have been and continue to be pioneers in addressing hard, uncomfortable topics. “The big take-away from this event for me included a greater understanding of and appreciation of my relationships with men and women from the African American community,” commented Sr. Kate Hine SND, a co-facilitator of the event. “I continue to be convinced of the importance of ongoing conversation around issues of great value, even when those conversations are difficult,” she added.
Members of the planning committee thoughtfully discerned how to bring Catholic sisters and young adults together on a pressing issue facing our communities today. “Sisters have long been a moral voice at the margins of society. Young adults will need to figure out ways to continue that work within intentional lay communities,” commented Margaret Vogel, a co-facilitator of the event. “I think religious sisters and young adults can be wonderful partners to help bring prophetic voices to the injustices in our racially divided society and healing to fragile relationships,” added Sr. Kate.
Celebrating National Catholic Sisters Week and calling to mind the gifts and leadership of Catholic sisters, is a mission of the Foundation not only during the month of March, but year round. “I think NCSW can help people understand Catholic sisters, what they are called to today and how they carry it out. Our lives are different than they were in the past, but no less a response to God’s call for the needs of our time,” commented Sr. Kate. “We can all be inspired by the sisters’ dedication and commitment to the Church and her people, and serving the most vulnerable in our communities. Additionally, there is a lot to be learned from Catholic sisters, not only are they deeply rooted in their faith and spirituality, they show up and are present to the people and issue at hand, and they understand the important of laughing and having fun too!” added Erin.