Feb. 20 has been designated as the World Day of Social Justice. This coincides with the UN Commission for Social Development, in session from Feb. 11–21. The theme of the commission is “promoting empowerment of people in eradicating poverty, social integration and full and decent employment for all.” However, it is ironic that we address this theme of empowerment of people in a world in which inequality is escalating and social justice seems a far distant dream, at best.
Monthly Archives: February 2014
National Catholic Sisters Week
Nearly 1,000 Catholic sisters live and work in the tri-state area. With six motherhouses located within a 20-mile radius of one another, it’s no secret that Catholic sisters have been an integral part of education, health care, and helping those in need in the area since 1843. This March during National Women’s History Month, the week of March 8–14 will be recognized as National Catholic Sisters Week, bringing visibility to the contributions of women religious in the United States.
“Catholic Sisters have made countless contributions to the tri-state area for almost 200 years,” said Dubuque Mayor Roy D. Buol. “They have cared for the sick, founding institutions like Mercy Hospital. They have educated the young, establishing numerous schools, including Clarke University. These remarkable women continue to serve people today through ministries like the Presentation Lantern Center, Opening Doors, Stonehill Franciscan Services, and many other charitable endeavors. On this week dedicated to recognizing Women Religious, we thank them and draw inspiration from their tireless service and abiding faith.”
Women religious stand with the poor and vulnerable, regardless of race, socioeconomic status, or religion through prayer and their ministry work in education, health care, criminal justice, social justice, theology, the arts, and even politics. Catholic sisters today are ministering at a variety of tri-state organizations, including the following:
- Sinsinawa Dominican Sister Mary Ellen Green, OP, serves as vice-president of the Board of Directors for Opening Doors in Dubuque.
- Dubuque Franciscan Sister Bertha Bonert, OSF, is the administrator for Stonehill Franciscan Services in Dubuque.
- Sister Carolyn Farrell, BVM, is director of the Roberta Kuhn Center that offers enrichment classes to more than 500 participants over the age of 55 in the tri-state area. The center is sponsored by the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
- Trappistine Nun Kathleen O’Neill, OCSO, is manager of the Monastery Candy factory at Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey in Dubuque.
- Sister Lynn Mary Wagner, PBVM, director of the Dubuque Food Pantry, organizes volunteers, community workers, and civic and religious groups in the collection and distribution of food for people in need in the tri-state area. A faithful crew of volunteers assists Sister Lynn in daily and weekly preparation of food baskets.
- Visitation Sister Bernadine Curoe, SVM, is assistant in academic success at Loras College, Dubuque.
Religious congregations in the tri-state area include the Franciscan Sisters of Dubuque; the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Dubuque; Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Dubuque; the Cistercian (Trappistine) Nuns, Dubuque; Sisters of the Visitation, Dubuque; and the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa, Wis.
Dominican Sisters in Committed Collaboration
The “Charitable KIDZ” community service group at St. Bernard Parish, Levittown, New York, participated in the Souper Bowl of Caring program, and donated the proceeds to a Dominican-led effort to build an orphanage for children impacted by the earthquake in Haiti. Sisters Didi Madden, OP (Blauvelt) and Valerie Lordi, OP (Sparkill) were invited to speak to the Charitable KIDZ about the orphanage building project. They were joined by Amityville Sisters Christine Sammons, OP of St. Bernard Parish and Margaret Mayce, OP, DLC-NGO Representative to the United Nations. On Super Bowl Sunday, the KIDZ stood outside church after each Mass and collected donations in soup pots. Thanks to the outstanding work of the Charitable Kidz and the generosity of St. Bernard’s parishioners, a check for $5,000 was sent to Valerie and Didi to help with the building project.
Earlier this month, five Dominican congregations of sisters joined together to host an “Albuquerque’s Got Sisters!” retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Sister participants included Sisters Durstyne Farnan, OP (Adrian), Jeri Cashman (Sinsinawa), Dolorita Martinez (Grand Rapids), Geneal Kramer (Adrian), Therese Rodriguez (Grand Rapids), Annette Lucero (Peace), Ann Thielen (Grand Rapids), Maggie Bohn (Racine), and Eva Silva (Grand Rapids).
Dominican Sister of Peace Sister Marialein Anzenberger holds a vase of “valentine flowers” created by fourth-grade students at St. Paul’s School (Westerville, Ohio), each with a message of Christ’s love for St. Valentine’s Day. The gift was given to her as part of the school’s Discipleship program, which connects religious sisters with students who might not otherwise encounter sisters in their daily lives. Sister Marialein has received several such personal and creative holiday gifts from St. Paul’s Room 14 over the past three years, and every June she comes to the class to meet the students, thank them, and offer a small gift in return.