Donate Now

Event Calendar

26 27 28 29 30 31 1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 1 2 3 4 5 6
Mary Francis Clarke Photograph
Members Login

What's New

View Archived News

BVM News

For more information on any of these news articles contact Angie Connolly, Director of Communications, at 563.588.2351 or by


Clarke Physical Therapy Students Provide In-service at Mount Carmel

Students from the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa, presented an Aquatic Training Program for use by Mount Carmel and the Roberta Kuhn Center (RKC) instructors in leading aquatic-based exercise.

Instructors gathered on Nov. 18 for the in-service in the Caritas Center studio, where RKC Director Carolyn Farrell, BVM (Lester) introduced the students, who provided a newly designed, updated instruction manual along with a short video featuring fresh ideas for the women’s arthritis exercise class. Combining their knowledge of physical therapy, how the body and muscles work together, and an understanding of the benefits of water exercise, each student presented a specific area of the program and answered questions from the instructors.

The students noted that though the training manual contains many suggestions, instructors will modify these according to each individual participant’s needs. Key to the program are exercises that help provide balance, coordination and strength, aiding in a person’s ability to function independently in daily life. Feelings of wellbeing and decreased depression are additional benefits of aquatic exercise.

After the studio presentation, students and instructors moved to the pool for some hands on training and exercise. The doctoral student presenters included Becky Steffens, Kate Ramza, Maria Pitz, Stef Morland, and Nick Brimoskas. They expressed the hope that all current and future aquatic instructors will benefit from the new manual and video in order to keep the aquatic exercise classes safe, functional and fun!




BVMs Participate in Holiday Decoration and Silent Auction

The 2014 Roshek Holiday Decoration Event began Nov. 17 at the Roshek Building, 700 Locust St., Dubuque, Iowa, and continues through the month, concluding with a silent auction on Dec. 5, from 4–7 p.m.

Area nonprofits have been invited to create holiday items that will be on display for bids during this time. Community members are welcome to view and bid on the items, with proceeds going to each nonprofit organization. The winners of each themed item will be announced at the silent auction on Dec. 5.

The Sisters of Charity, BVM are participating in this special event and have a beautiful, hand-crafted wreath on display. The wreath’s theme is Ecuador, with the stories and mission of BVM sisters woven into it with colorful adornments and handmade decorations.

The beginning of the BVM mission in Ecuador dates back to 1967. Miguel Conway, BVM began her partnership with Father John Halligan, SJ working with the Shoeshine Boys of Quito. The once-small operation that fed 250 boys lunch each day now serves 35,000 meals to parents and children weekly.

Called the Working Boys’ Center, the purpose has expanded from teaching only boys to the vocational training of their parents and graduates of the high school as skilled workers in a vast array of fields. Since 1967, more than 5,000 families have graduated from the program and moved out of poverty. BVMs, associates and volunteers remain active in Quito, participating in the ministry of helping those in need.

The BVMs also work closely with Damien House, a residential hospital and community outreach program for persons with Hansen’s disease, in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

Proceeds from the purchase of the Sisters of Charity, BVM wreath will go towards BVM ministries in Ecuador. The BVM community supports the sisters working there and asks you to join in supporting this nonprofit mission and other area nonprofits at the Roshek Holiday Event.

Visit to learn more about current BVM international ministries, including the Ecuador missions.

Have a joyous holiday season!


BVMs Recognized for 20 Years Participation in Rush Study

On Friday, Sept. 12, a group of the staff members of the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center in Chicago came to Mount Carmel to thank all the sisters who have been and are currently participants in the Rush Religious Orders’ Study.

The overall goal of the study is to obtain reliable clinical and psychological information as well as a brain autopsy on individuals age 65 and older with no prior findings of Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. David Bennett, M.D., our speaker for the afternoon and principal investigator of the study, shared the information that 146 BVMs have been enrolled in a variety of time spans since the study was begun in 1994. Of that total, 101 have already died and their brain tissue continues to be used for further medical research.

Each participant present for the afternoon received a certificate which listed the total number of years in which she has participated in the study. Special certificates and pins were presented to four BVMs who have been part of the study for all 20 years: Mary Ellen Caldwell, Sue Rink, Dorothy Gaffney and recently deceased Katie McHugh.

Dr. Bennett repeated several times, “We couldn’t do this without YOU!” Since January 1994, when 350 individual religious were enrolled, the records show that a grand total of 1,250 religious (men and women) have participated. In the Dubuque area, both the Dominicans and the Trappists are currently involved in the study.

What have the scientists learned? Are there specific symptoms which might predict the disease? Do depression and loneliness play an important role in the disease? Is extreme stress a factor? If an individual remains cognitively stimulated does he/she lessen the chance of developing the disease? The scientists continue to look at the “missing pieces” and the study has proven “extraordinarily valuable for medical advancement around the world.”



Mary McCauley, BVM Reflection on Nuns on the Bus

By 9 a.m. on Thursday morning the “Nuns on the Bus” arrived at New Horizon Presbyterian Church in Council Bluffs, Iowa. We were greeted warmly by a number of Mercy and Notre Dame Sisters from Omaha, as well as supportive and curious residents of Council Bluffs.

Sister Claudia Robinson, the Director of Interfaith Response, welcomed us. A number of the people present were longtime volunteers for this service agency, whose major goal is to prevent homelessness.

Sister Simone then introduced the Iowa Bus Riders, explaining the reason for this 10-state tour. Those assembled resonated with the focus of our tour . . . that we are about living the Constitution . . . that our bus ride is about “We the People have the Power!  We the People have the privilege and responsibility to vote!”

Following Sister Simone’s comments we entered into a Town Hall process. Through honest and at times hesitant sharing those gathered identified the following issues as issues of concern:


  • Gap between the rich and the poor
  • Unemployment
  • Violence in society
  • Too much government
  • Power of big money
  • Polarization . . . hence the need to dialogue across party lines
  • Lack of communication and openness to those who do not share similar views/values

Our dialogue led us to action. All present were invited to sign the “I am a Voter” pledge cards and in turn, to invite family, members of their faith communities, and neighbors to do the same.

Finally, all present were then invited to “sign the bus” assuring their presence with us through the entire 10-state tour.

- Mary McCauley, BVM


To view pictures from the Nuns on the Bus recent visit to Dubuque, visit our Facebook page: 


Mary Ann Zollmann, BVM Co-Edits/Authors ‘Power of Sisterhood’

Power of Sisterhood: Women Religious Tell the Story of the Apostolic Visitation, co-authored and co-edited by Mary Ann Zollmann, BVM, Ph.D. (Clement Mary) has now been published. The book was initiated by a group of women religious in leadership during the time of the Apostolic Visitation, which originated in 2008 by the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, to examine the quality of life of women religious in the United States.

The book serves as an historical record of the event and describes the experiences of the women who participated in it, gleaned from a survey of many congregations of women religious. Though an official Vatican response to the Apostolic Visitation is still pending, Mary Ann writes: “In this time of Vatican silence, we women religious have found our true voice and pierced the silence by our firm and courageous word and action . . .”

After framing the Visitation as a story, situating it in an historical and theological context, tracing its chronology, and detailing the experience as revealed in the survey, the book delves into the deeper meaning of the Visitation for women religious as they experienced it and as they move into the future.

BVM Barbara Cerny’s artwork, a depiction of the Visitation, is the cover illustration for the book.

Power of Sisterhood: Women Religious Tell the Story of the Apostolic Visitation, co-edited by Margaret Cain McCarthy, Ph.D. and Mary Ann Zollmann, BVM, Ph.D., is published by University Press of America, ® Inc. and can be ordered at

For additional information visit


Catholic Sisters for a Healthy Earth

Too often when we hear the word “house” we only think of a physical building and its rooms. But what if we began to think of Earth as our house—with various rooms—what would we need to do to make this house a true home?

The Sisters of Charity, BVM have joined the Catholic Sisters for a Healthy Earth in preparing a reflection booklet on the various rooms of a house, placing each room and its activities into the broader context of our Earth-home. The booklet is available as a free download here.

“We are excited to make this publication available in time for Earth Day on April 22,” says Joy Peterson, PBVM, the group’s coordinator. “Our intention is to take a new look at how everything we do, no matter where we are, is interconnected and tied to the well-being of all living things.” The booklet includes suggestions of simple actions for families to take in order to live more sustainably and walk more gently on Earth. 

The word ecology has its roots in the Greek words “oikos” meaning house or household and "logos" meaning to gather, count, recount, say, speak. Ecology is understood as the legend or logic of the dwelling place. In its essence it is the story of where we live. This story of the house instructs us and informs our actions in managing this household we call Earth.

Catholic Sisters for a Healthy Earth is made up of representatives from congregations of women religious from the upper Mississippi Valley in eastern Iowa and southwestern Wisconsin including: Congregation of the Humility of Mary, Davenport, Iowa; School Sisters of Notre Dame, Central Pacific Province, St. Louis, Mo.; Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters, Sinsinawa, Wis.; Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Dubuque, Iowa; Sisters of St. Francis, Clinton, Iowa; Sisters of St. Francis, Dubuque; and the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Dubuque. The mission of the group states: “Respecting the interdependence of creation, we will promote eco-literacy and influence a just relationship with the environment.”


BVMs Continue to ‘Welcome the Stranger’

From marching in Washington, D.C., to sending a letter to the editor of the local newspaper, the Sisters of Charity, BVM demonstrate their support and shared vision for comprehensive immigration reform.

Since July 22, 2010, with the enactment of the BVM Senate Affirmation of Comprehensive Immigration Reform ( BVMs continue to show their solidarity in myriad ways. One of the BVM Constitutions is included in the affirmation, reflecting BVM values: “As women of the Church we are called to give strong public witness against oppression brought about by unjust political and social structures locally, nationally and internationally.”

BVMs partner with 10 other religious sister communities—the Catholic Sisters of the Upper Mississippi River Valley—who have called upon the president and congress to enact immigration reform. They invited other people of faith to join them in becoming “Immigrant Welcoming Communities.” Sisters United News (SUN), comprised of communicators from these congregations, supports and promotes the sisters’ efforts. SUN created billboards, taken from the Gospel of Matthew, with Jesus’ words: “I was a stranger an immigrant and you welcomed me.” The billboards were put up in six cities across Iowa and shared with other organizations across the country. An image of the billboard is available; contact BVM Director of Communications Angie Connolly at:

In July, nearly 300 people, including BVMs Rose Mary Meyer and Gwen Farry, participated in an interfaith vigil for broad administrative relief for immigrants in the Kenwood/Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. The candlelight procession ended outside President Obama’s home. The event was sponsored by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and the Chicago New Sanctuary Coalition/Welcoming Communities. Representing the BVMs and 8th Day Center for Justice, Gwen presented the scripture reading and reflection.

In August, Gwen and Rose Mary boarded one of the “undocumented Illinois buses to D.C.” to join with representatives from many states who gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., where the group held a rally before beginning the “Not 1 More Deportation National March.” The march to the Freedom Plaza culminated in a program that featured personal stories from immigrant detainees, music, dance and drama. During discussion on the long bus ride back to Chicago, participants agreed that combined advocacy is key to the issues. “Everyone felt encouraged and emboldened to continue the struggle for compassionate, humane, comprehensive immigration reform,” Gwen shared.

BVM Nancy McCarthy and Associate Sylvia Martinez volunteer at “Marie Joseph House” for men in Cicero, Ill., which houses immigrants released from the detention centers who need a place to stay while awaiting a court date. Nancy relieves weekly staff by serving as a presence at the house on Saturdays, while also instructing the residents in English; Sylvia prepares the residents’ evening meal once a week. Marie Joseph House, which also has an immigrant women’s shelter in a dormitory at Catholic Theological Union (CTU), was named for an immigrant who died while trying to come to the U.S.

Former BVM President Mary Ann Zollmann sent a letter in late July to the editor of the Telegraph Herald in Dubuque, Iowa. Referencing the sign that greets people entering the state: “The People of Iowa Welcome You,” Mary Ann notes that the governor of Iowa has refused to grant a home to some 130 immigrant children already here in Iowa and is considering their deportation. “Committed to act with a global consciousness,” Mary Ann shares, “I live restlessly in my Iowa home that will not be home to me until our border greeting rings true: ‘The People of Iowa Welcome You.’”

Crossing Borders, a group of Dubuque priests, women religious and lay people, meet regularly to address comprehensive immigration reform. Speaking to the issue, BVM Mary McCauley, who was pastoral administrator at St. Bridget Parish in Postville, Iowa, during the 2008 Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid, shares this statement: “In light of the humanitarian crisis at our border, we the members of Crossing Borders—Dubuque stand in solidarity with the children and families who are fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries. It is our deepest hope that they will be welcomed warmly, that their dignity as persons will be respected, that all will receive the assistance they need to live without fear and that those who have families in the United States will be reunited. This is our opportunity in Iowa to ‘welcome the stranger!’ May we do so with integrity, justice and compassion.” Mary was among those from Crossing Borders who were featured in July on local news station KCRG, asking Iowans to welcome refugee children.

Mary also helped to organize a discussion hour at River Lights bookstore in Dubuque in August, featuring Luz Maria Hernandez, author of Shattered Dreams, depicting the life stories, told in their own words, of some of the workers affected by the 2008 immigration raid at Postville.

And “back at home,” Mount Carmel sisters and staff participated in the “Comfort the Children Project,” collecting over 200 stuffed toys for immigrant children. Three large boxes with colored pens and toys, as well as monetary donations, were sent to agencies working with the children in Texas, Arizona and California. On Aug. 15, Mount Carmel sisters and staff will gather in Loyola Hall to make soft, comforting teddy bears to send to the immigrant children.

BVMs, associates and friends are invited to participate in the upcoming Immigration Immersion experience at the Arizona/Mexico border Oct. 15–20, where participants will gain a deeper awareness of the challenges and reality of migration and its effects. For more information and registration, contact BVM Outreach/Volunteer Coordinator Tricia Lothschutz at:

In their hearts, prayers and actions, BVMs continue to find ways to welcome the strangers in our midst, reflecting part of their 2010 Affirmation of Comprehensive Immigration Reform: “You shall treat the stranger who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you; have the same love for that person as for yourself; for you, too, were once strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Lev. 19:34.)


View Archived News