Category Archives: Catholic sisters

March 3, 2016

National Catholic Sisters Week is March 8-12

Engaging, Supporting, and Exploring Life

as a Catholic Sister

During National Catholic Sisters Week

As we prepare to celebrate National Catholic Sisters Week March 8-12, we are reminded of how American Catholic Sisters are integral parts of our communities and our Church—generously serving, leading and praying in communities and ministries across the country. We invite you to become part of the hopeful and inspirational story of Catholic sisters and to share this message during National Catholic Sisters Week! One way you can do that is by tapping into a new report and website.

A new report (PDF) from Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities (FADICA), Understanding U.S. Catholic Sisters Today, helps to tell Catholic sisters’ story by challenging stereotypes, revealing a new narrative about Catholic Sisters, and drawing greater attention to the lived reality of Catholic sisters today.

Launched alongside the report is the website, designed to encourage engagement with sisters, support for sisters, and exploration of life as a sister. This website has a toolkit of recources and ideas for #NCSW2016. One resource in the toolkit is the poster pictured here. NCSW FADICA poster

Understanding U.S. Catholic Sisters Today distills mountains of studies and data to produce something accessible yet sophisticated, representing both a resource for learning about religious life and a bridge between women religious and the general public. The report identifies 10 key themes of religious life today, candidly presenting the challenges, opportunities, treasures and relevancy of religious life for today’s women.

The comprehensive report and website ignites the past, present, and future of religious life by answering Pope Francis’ call to men and women religious to remember the past with gratitude, live the present with passion, and embrace the future with hope. Understanding U.S. Catholic Sisters Today and is part of a larger effort to recruit and retain new members who will become young leaders, carrying congregations and service to the Church into future generations.

July 15, 2013

Mission and Ministry in the 21st Century

Check out these questions being asked by participants in the
Giving Voice conference going on in California.
It seems that all of us could benefit from pondering these 
questions…and all of us have much to learn from
these women who are our future.

A Sister of St. Joseph’s Blog
Connecting Neighbor with Neighbor and Neighbor with God

February 24, 2013

What American Nuns Built

There is a well written article the February 24 issue of the Boston Sunday Globe.
The title is: 

What American nuns builtThe online version is already available at:
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Some will recognize our sisters and others from back in the early 1960s. As a child and teenager, I recall this kind of picture being on the front page each year when Cardinal Cushing had “Baseball Day” for all the sisters in our archdiocese. I’m sure The Globe has quite a treasure trove of these kinds of pictures.

When you read the article, perhaps you will wonder, as do I, how many pictures they have of the amazing work of sisters that is so well discussed in this article.

A Sister of St. Joseph’s Blog
Connecting Neighbor with Neighbor and Neighbor with God

April 20, 2012

LCWR and the Vatican

Well, to say there has been a flood of news coverage about the Leadership Conference for Women Religious [LCWR] during the past 48 hours, would be an understatement.
While I don’t want to ignore this coverage, I want to respect and support the statement from the Presidency of Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) stating their need for time to review a mandate from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and prepare a response.
Another helpful blog post just came from “A Nun’s Life” blog. It links to the statement above and has links to a few other resources. Since I hardly feel I can add to what is said in that post, I’ve offered a link to that as well.
A Sister of St. Joseph’s Blog
Connecting Neighbor with Neighbor and Neighbor with God

November 21, 2010

Sisters of St. Joseph celebrate Mother St. John Fontbonne

This Monday, November 22, is the anniversary of Mother St. John Fontbonne’s death. Some people have written and asked if I had a prayer for her anniversary. Rather than re-invent the wheel, so to speak, I’m sharing what I sent last year at this time.

2008 year marked the 200th year since Mother St. John Fontbonne officially refounded the congregation after the French Revolution. The French Revolution violently disrupted the lives of the Sisters of St. Joseph. The Congregation was outlawed, the right to teach was withdrawn and the sisters were denounced as unpatriotic, fanatics and enemies of the people and the Revolution. Mother St. John Fontbonne was among those imprisioned for remaining faithful to the church and refusing to go along with the attempts of the revolutionary government to make Catholicism into a state religion.

Many religious congregations experienced similar upheaval as a result of the revolution. In 1807 while France was still rebuilding in the aftermath of the revolution, Jeanne Fontbonne was asked to gather together a diverse group of women, from several Congregations and to shape them into a new Congregation of St. Joseph in Lyon, France. In time, she also sent novices to America to establish a new mission in what was considered an uncivilized land.

During this season, we Sisters of St. Joseph and Associates who trace our roots to Lyon, France, remember the anniversary of the death of Mother St. John Fontbonne who died on November 22, 1843. Last year, for the 200th anniversary of this “refounding,” there was a huge celebration in Lyon. Another sister from the Chambery/West Hartford congregation and I were asked to prepare prayer resources for use by all the sisters in the U.S. We put the resources together in a CD and it was distributed to all congregations when the Communicators met in Albany. It was a real privilege to prepare that prayer and a bit humbling to realize that sisters and associates all over the United States were using it as they joined in prayer in their local communities.

This year our Sisters in London, Ontario, shared a prayer service which was sent to all our sisters and associates. The sisters in my local community used it in our evening prayer this week. I’ve heard many other sisters speak of using this prayer as they gathered in their local communities. Not only did our sisters and associates remember Jeanne Fontbonne this week. Fontbonne Academy, one of our Sponsored Ministries, gathers the entire school together each year to celebrate the life and legacy of Jeanne Fontbonne. I was able to be present for this year’s celebration. It’s so inspiring to witness the way the young women at this school are learning about the woman of courage after whom their school is named. On this anniversary of her feast, it is inspiring to witness how the qualities of Jeanne Fontbonne and the charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph flows through the veins of the students and learning community of Fontbonne Academy. I’m pretty sure that pictures of the prayer service will be posted on their website soon.

Here is part of the prayer that the Sisters of St. Joseph from London, Ontario shared with us.

Final Blessing:

We are women who in mutual trust and respect, value the diversity of our gifts as we support one another in our daily life and ministry.
All: May our lives continue to be a response to the great gift of Life entrusted to us. May all who come into our presence and consciousness experience the blessings of Life.

We are women called to be one with the oppressed, the weak and the suffering of the world.
All: May Love be our inspiration and our action, drawing all into the communion of love.

We are women called to use our energies to respond to the needs around us
and to consider the form which our service will take.
All: May our “Yes” continue to bring healing and hope to others.

We are women who celebrate our legacy and desire to live faithfully and creatively into the future in the same spirit as Mother St. John.
All: May we be on fire with the great mission entrusted to us as Sisters of St. Joseph and celebrate our oneness in God.
Closing PrayerLoving God, you have blessed our story with great women of courage and zeal. As we continue to live our call today, may all we do be alive with the power of your love. May we discover the life that comes from the call of our times and live in faith, in hope and in love. Amen.

A Sister of St. Joseph’s Blog
Connecting Neighbor with Neighbor and Neighbor with God

July 13, 2010

Casserly House Summer Camp-a glimpse

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Casserly House is a  ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston, the mission of Casserly House is to be a living presence in the Roslindale neighborhood, one that fosters unity of people with one another and with God. Casserly House’s motto is “Rooted in Boston, Open to the World.”
Each summer Sister Annie coordinates a camp for young people in the neighborhood. The theme this year is The Ocean. All the activities: reading, crafts, field trips, computer research, and more center around the ocean. Last week participants visited George’s Island in Boston Harbor. This week they will explore a tidal pool in New Hampshire. But not before each camper has researched what they will be seeing and experiencing. Last week and this week I stopped by to take a few pictures. A number of our sisters and associates volunteer to help with the Casserly House Summer Camp. A few of the sisters and associates who were around on the days I visited are pictured here. I’m sure more will soon be available on the Casserly House Website.

A Sister of St. Joseph’s Blog
Connecting Neighbor with Neighbor and Neighbor with God

March 25, 2010

Inspiring Exhibit: Nuns Go Places Where Few Dare to Go

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit the exhibit, Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America, which is now showing at the Smithsonian. What a wonderful experience! Today a member of NCNWR sent an article about the exhibit to our member listserve. The article is titled Nuns Go Places Where Few Dare to Go and appeared in The Tablet which is the diocesan paper of Brooklyn and Queens, New York. Although I do not know Father Eugene Hemrick who wrote this article, I am most grateful for his words — especially the last sentence:

“As I exited the exhibit, I felt a deep sense of pride in the spirit of our nuns, which affirmed my belief that nuns are not only praying communities, but also down-to-earth, devoted women who bring God to places where few dare to venture.”

If you haven’t had a chance to visit this exhibit, I highly recommend trying to get there. When it leaves the Smithsonian on April 24 it will travel to several other locations listed on the Women & Spirit website.

Whether you are able to visit or not, there’s a great educational resource on the exhibit website. While it’s aim is for use in classrooms, I found that reading it before I visited deepened my experience at the exhbit. I’m still praying that it comes to Boston sometime in the future.

A Sister of St. Joseph’s Blog
Connecting Neighbor with Neighbor and Neighbor with God

March 22, 2010

Maxim Monday: Living the Passion…passionately

Esteem the world and its vanities no more than dung. (Phil. 3:8) Let the world be crucified to you and you to it; (Gal. 6:14) that is to say, “despise the world which is only illusion” (1Cor. 7:31) and reject its maxims which are full of deceit and impiety. Maxims of the Little Institute, #5

Perhaps because I was a lector at my parish for many years, I automatically start refecting on the Sunday readings a few days beforehand. During Lent, it seems that each week the readings have been reminding me of a Maxim for this blog post. When I read the second reading for the fifth Sunday of Lent, I thought of Maxim 5 but everything in me rebelled at the thought of using it — too graphic…too messy…too negative about the world we’re called to embrace.

Then I looked across my room at the Peruvian sculpture pictured above. It was a gift from a former student. But it also reminds me of our pilgrimages to Mexico. On two occasions we were there during Holy Week. On Good Friday we walked through the streets with the people of one of the colonias for the stations of the cross. Various groups were assigned to carrying the cross to the next station. Each time someone announced the name of the next group, clusters of men, women, youth, emerged from the crowd and proudly took their turn.  It was obvious that this was a real honor.

After the 14th station on the way into the church, I heard someone announce, “mujeres religiosas.” I tried to pretend I didn’t understand enough Spanish. For some reason I did not want to carry that cross. But I knew full-well they were calling for the women religious in the procession to carry the cross from the 14th station into the church. I attempted hiding in the midst of our students. It didn’t work. The Benedictine Sisters of Guadalupana who were the leaders of our pilgrimage sought me out and there I was, one of about ten sisters from various congregations, leading a procession of hundreds of Mexican people and carrying the cross much in the same fashion as pictured in this sculpture.

What does this have to do with Maxim 5? Carrying that cross turned out to be a profound moment of awareness. In the midst of a people who had so little the “vanities” of a consumer-driven world were stripped away. The focus was on the Passion of Christ Jesus and of living passionately in the midst of our suffering world. Is this not how we are at one with Christ crucified today?

A Sister of St. Joseph’s Blog
Connecting Neighbor with Neighbor and Neighbor with God

March 13, 2010

Volunteers in Mission: Experience a Different World View

- ARE YOU searching for an opportunity to share your life and be of service to others?
- ARE YOU interested in an experience of community living?
- DO YOU desire to share in communal prayer?
IF THE ANSWER IS YES…The Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston invite you to experience A different view of the world.
…is a program for women, college age and older, who desire an experience of ministry, community living, and prayer for one week this summer.

You will work at a local Catholic agency that welcomes poor and homeless guests. You will be part of a community that assists in providing services and support to those in need.

You will live in community with other volunteers and with Sisters of St. Joseph, pray together and build relationships with those whom you serve.

There will also be opportunities for social and cultural experiences in and around the Boston area.

If this invitation interests you, download a brochure at or contact us BEFORE APRIL 5, 2010

About the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston:
We are a community of women religious whose mission is to realize the prayer of Christ that all may be one.
We are ordinary women from all walks of life. Our special focus, our mission, is to work within our Church and society for unity and reconciliation.

Will you join us for a week
to live and pray
in the spirit
of this Gospel call?
A Sister of St. Joseph’s Blog
Connecting Neighbor with Neighbor and Neighbor with God

February 22, 2010

Maxim Monday: Maxim 3 “Empty yourself continually…”

Empty yourself continually in honor of the Incarnate Word who emptied himself with so much love for you. (Phil. 2:7) Make your commitment to live in the practice of the most sincere, true, and profound humility possible to you. Do so on all occasions, to everyone but especially to God, from whom must come all the blessings of your Institute. Maxims of the Little Institute #3

This seems like an appropriate maxim as we enter into the first week of Lent. This maxim, which based on Paul’s letter to the Philippians, chapter 2, is a touchstone of CSSJ spirituality. The call to self-emptying love is not just something we do for Lent. It is a process that takes a lifetime. Years ago one of the priests at my parish gave a homily about Lent that I’m reminded of each time Lent begins anew. Basically he said that Lent is when we “Live for a Season” in the manner in which we are called to be living our Christian life all through the year.

This is not a negative thing. When Médaille says “empty yourself,” he’s calling us to let go of the inner “clutter” of our ego in order to be free to be filled with God’s love and grace. It’s a letting go that allows us to be completely free, completely human, free to be our best selves, free to be who God calls us to be. Self-emptying love is a life-long prayerful process of coming to know ourselves as God knows us.

A Sister of St. Joseph’s Blog
Connecting Neighbor with Neighbor and Neighbor with God