Monday, February 10, 2014

Traveling in France

I am in France for the meeting of the Executive Committee of the Sisters of St Joseph International Center board.  I have spent the night in Lyon at the Motherhouse of the Lyon sisters.  When I went to bed last night, I was very pleased by how much my French had improved since my last trip to France.  This morning I feel like I am starting all over again, struggling for the simplist word or phrase.

At the Lyon house, I was with the leadership team, Catherine from France, Cicely from India, and Maria Elena from Mexico.  Cicely had recently returned from a visit to the Ivory Coast.  They were eagerly awaiting the return of Rita from Egypt.  Conversation about international presence were rich. ( See the global map of the Sisters of St Joseph on the International Center website
View from train to Le Puy

A decorative tree at St Etienne
). Since our first beginnings in France we have spread throughout the world.  It still amazes me to be part of this international web of sisters who share the same charism and commitment to mission.

Cicely was especially interested in how we can make a more powerfu impact at the United Nations through our NGO there.  I was able to share our upcoming plans for the Justice and Peace International Commission meeting in April 2014.  At that meeting, sister-representatives from around the world will begin working with our new Congregations of St Joseph declaration on systemic change for sustainable development.  We will learn how to use the UN tool for monitoring progress on human rights issues, the Universal Periodic Review.  Also, we will meet with the UN representative delegate from our countries to begin an even closer woking relationship.  The soon to be released CSJ-UN-NGO website will give us a vehicle to tell our global story in five languages.

The day is now drawing to a close and I am returning from Le Puy to Lyon.  I had a new experience navigating a shift from the train to the bus (trains don't run as frequently on Sundays).  It was really quite simple but was a little scary for me before I did it.  No problem and no big need to speak French.  However, it is towards the end of the day so I am at my maximum fluency (that is not saying much).    I was able to see the progress being made on the renovations at the International Center and discuss new outreach/marketing plans for the International Center in Canada and the US with the staff, Line and Valerie.  While there I had a brief encounter from two faculty from the school started by the Sisters of St Joseph in Le Puy to explore opportunities for developing a closer working relationship with Sisters of St Joseph schools around the world.

There are so many opportunities for us to explore and live more fully our international connections.  I really look forward to these opportunities to gather with our international sisters

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Announcing National Catholic Sisters Week: to ignite a movement around the lives and the contributions of Catholic sisters by Sr. Joanne Gallagher

Sr Joanne Gallagher
Gathered from various online resources

 “Wherever good things are happening, there are likely to be Sisters involved,” states the proposal from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, calling for a national campaign to boost awareness of women religious. Rosemarie Nassif, SSND is director of The Catholic Sisters Initiative which was launched in February 2013 by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. Rosemarie was inspired by her experience as a university president to fold that campaign into the well-established Women’s History Month.  She fashioned a three-year grant to propose a specific plan to raise the visibility of women religious.

This resulted in a grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to St. Catherine University, St. Paul, MN, which plans to bring national visibility to the contributions of women religious, whose far-reaching work on the frontlines of social change, women’s leadership, healthcare, education and the Church remains relatively unknown. A key initiative of the three-year project will be the launch of National Catholic Sisters Week, March 8-14, 2014, as part of Women’s History Month.

The ultimate goal is to create “fertile ground” to help more young women consider a call to religious life. “Will this mean that thousands of women will enter religious life? No, probably not,” Sister Rosemarie says. “But we’ve got to offer a chance. Even if women are inspired to live their lives differently outside the convent, the effort will be worthwhile.”

The intent is to ignite a movement around the lives and the contributions of sisters in ways that inspire girls and women to picture themselves among the ranks of these women religious. Molly Dever Hazelton and Mary Soher, OP, were named co-executive directors. Hazelton is a professor of library and information science at St. Catherine’s University; Soher, of Henderson, NV, has been a member of the Adrian Dominicans since 1996.

During its inaugural year, all are encouraged to be part of igniting this movement by announcing National Catholic Sisters Week in schools, parishes, hospitals, and local civic arenas, and more. If you have ideas of ways to promote this week, you are invited to contact Molly Haxelton at or Mary Soher, OP, at  Visit the National Catholic Sisters Week  website at to learn more!