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

Hearing Loops at Mount Carmel Enhance Sisters’ World

Thanks to the generosity of donors Cathy and Bob Everhart, hearing loops have now been installed at Mount Carmel in the Motherhouse Chapel and St. Joseph Hall. The Everharts’ gift enables our hearing impaired sisters to participate fully in the liturgy and in community presentations and meetings. Read the entire article here.



Read all the wonderful Thank a Nun messages you shared with us


From the Mount Carmel Archives: BVMs Partner With Clarke University for USO Tours

Xavier Coens receives a salute as the 1964 USO tour begins.

Xavier Coens receives a salute as the 1964 USO tour begins.

As we approach Memorial Day, once again attention turns to the men and women who have served in the United States military. Many members of the military remember with fondness the various entertainers who, through the United Service Organizations (USO), traveled overseas to bring a little piece of home to them. BVMs Xavier Coen[1] and Therese Mackin (Jeremy) made several USO tours to Europe with members of the Clarke University drama and/or music departments. Xavier wrote extensively about her USO travels and several of these articles are found in her file in the Mount Carmel Archives.

In 1964, Clarke University was one of seven schools invited to tour European bases under the auspices of the American Educational Theater Association (AETA) and the USO. Fourteen girls from the drama department, two male musicians (one from Clarke and one from Loras College), and Xavier and Therese flew to Europe on a military air transport service plane. Over the course of eight weeks, “Coffee House Theater” was presented 75 times, primarily in southern Germany. Three years later, Xavier took a similar group to tour bases in Iceland, Greenland, Labrador, and Newfoundland. The group performed 50 shows in 50 days and traveled over 15,000 miles. However, this group was not the first from Clarke to visit the frozen north; in 1965, Meneve Dunham, BVM and Therese took “13 X13,” a 13-act musical review by 13 members of the Clarke Music Department, to the Arctic circle.

The production consisted of songs, dances, skits and improvisations. Attendance would grow throughout the show as the GIs realized the production wasn’t “churchy.” But perhaps the biggest attraction for the GIs was the dances that the girls would have after shows or on their nights off. By necessity, each dance was “ladies choice” and the girls would change partners every two minutes to make sure as many young men as possible had a chance to dance. Xavier relates the story of how one young man looked at a girl, shut his eyes for a few moments, and then looked at the next girl—he was trying to memorize each face so he could have pleasant dreams that night.

Xavier often found herself serving as a counselor to the GIs, Catholic or not. One young man asked for her counsel on “mixed marriage”—he was Baptist and his girl was Lutheran. Xavier reassured him that “it’s the same God, isn’t it?” Another asked her if she thought he had “the call,” as he was contemplating entering Union Theological Seminary after he was discharged. After their discussion, Xavier commented that she felt very ecumenical and that Pope John (and surely Pope Francis!) would approve.

Others came to her with more serious concerns. One young man asked to make a promise to her, because he knew if he promised a sister something, he would keep it. When Xavier agreed, he promised her he would not go AWOL that night; his father was ill and he did not have permission to return to the States. Another young man wanted to know if he could still go to heaven if he killed a man with a bayonet. He had had bayonet practice earlier in the day and was convinced that he could never kill anyone. Xavier emphasized how his job was to protect the peace and that he might be called upon to defend others. She wrote that she wasn’t sure she persuaded him “of anything, but I think I comforted his doubts, at least for the moment.”

Xavier Coens, Therese Mackin, and their troupe managed to bring a little bit of “home” to young men far from their families. One GI wrote to Clarke, after seeing one of the shows, that he and his fellow GIs often asked themselves: “Do the people in the United States really care? I cannot think of a better way of showing appreciation than by what Clarke’s ambassadors gave us.”

[1] BVMs Xavier Coens (author) and Mary Paulita Kerrigan (illustrator) collaborated on a book about this unusual venture. GI Nun was published in 1967 by P.J. Kenedy.

By Jennifer Head
Mount Carmel Archivist



BVMs Collaborate with Others to Promote Events for Year of Consecrated Life

Pope Francis has proclaimed 2015 as the Year of Consecrated Life (November 2014–February 2016)—a year to express gratitude to women and men who have committed themselves to this lifestyle and to encourage others to consider responding to the call of religious life.

BVMs throughout the United States are involved at the local level in promoting events to raise awareness of religious life. In Dubuque, Iowa, the communication and initial membership offices have helped the Archdiocese develop a special section on their website dedicated to information on religious life and the leadership team is collaborating with other religious congregations on three events proposed by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR): an open house on Feb. 8, a collaborative service project during the summer of 2015, and a day of prayer on Sept. 13.

The Year of Consecrated Life will focus on the following three objectives:

  • to express gratitude for those who live a consecrated life;
  • to embrace the future with hope, trusting in the God who calls us; and
  • to live the present with passion, helping one another to realize the beauty of following Christ in the various types of religious vocations.


A new section will be developed on the Archdiocesan website ( with links to a wide variety of resources for use in parishes, schools, prayer groups, etc. Please check this website frequently for updates. The Archdiocesan Education Resource Center will also have new DVDs and other resources available.

Monthly Adoration:

On the second Sunday of each month from 4:30–5:30 p.m., the Trappistine Sisters at Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey, Dubuque, are sponsoring an Adoration Hour for vocations to the consecrated life. All are welcome.

Links to Resources:

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
(major resource)

Women and Spirit, Smithsonian Exhibit and Study Guide (excellent classroom resources)

Leadership Conference of Women Religious (stories of women entering)

National Religious Vocation Conference (logo and new materials throughout the year)

Prayer for the Year of Consecrated Life:
O God, throughout the ages you have called women and men to pursue lives of charity through the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience.

During this Year of Consecrated Life, we give you thanks for these courageous witnesses of Faith and models of inspiration.

Continue to enrich your Church by calling forth sons and daughters who, having found the pearl of great price, seek to serve you above all things.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Information is provided by the Archdiocese of Dubuque DAVA (Dubuque Area Vocation Association).

Other Celebrations Where BVMs are Located:

Diocese of San Jose:

BVMs and associates attended a presentation by Simone Campbell at Santa Clara University, one of several events celebrating the year of consecrated life initiated by the Council of Religious. The event was co-sponsored by the Diocese of San Jose. BVM Marilyn Wilson serves on the Council. Simone Campbell, public advocate for peace-building, immigration reform, healthcare and economic justice, reflects on the integral relationship between faith and justice within her own vocation and shares her journey as a “Nun on the Bus” to ignite social change. If you would like to view Simone’s talk, visit:

The Diocese of San Jose honored and remembered the religious women and men who have dedicated their lives to the schools in the diocese at the opening Catholic Schools Week Mass in January.

For more information on diocesan events read the flyer:

Jackson, Miss.:

BVM Therese Jacobs organized a screening of the documentary, “Women and Spirit, Catholic Sisters in America,” followed by a discussion and talk given by Helen Garvey, BVM, who was chairperson of the LCWR committee that prepared the Women and Spirit exhibit.

Archdiocese of San Francisco

Through the Council of Sisters, the archdiocese has asked each parish to plan an event in their parish or join with a neighboring one to celebrate the Year of Consecrated Life. St. Matthias Church in Redwood City hosted “Celebrating Sisters” at Mass on Feb. 8.

Archdiocese of Chicago

The new Center for Consecrated Life is now in operation at the Catholic Theological Institute, with a grand opening event planned.
A BVM evening of prayer in celebration of consecrated life was held Feb. 7 in Chicago.
Our Lady of Angels will feature an evening of prayer, supper and fellowship to celebrate consecrated life on May 8, hosted by the Franciscans of the Eucharist of Chicago. For more information contact:

Diocese of Arlington, Va.
The diocese held a Mass and reception in February in celebration of the Year of Consecrated Life.


Birdies for Charity ® Benefits BVMs!

The 2015 Birdies for Charity Program, in conjunction with the John Deere Classic PGA Golf Tournament will be held July 7–13 in Silvis, Ill.

Participating is simple. Complete the pledge form provided with the gift that best fits your intentions. You can give an outright gift or designate a gift for each birdie made. We have included the total birdies from previous years to help in your gift planning. Once the pledge form is complete send it to us in the envelope provided.

The BVMs will receive every single donation made on our behalf. You can stretch your support even further as all gifts made are eligible for a match from the John Deere Charitable Foundation. John Deere has guaranteed a match of at least 5%.

2015 Birdies proceeds will be used to support a renovation project on the Mount Carmel campus, replacing existing curtains with privacy doors for the restroom and shower facilities in the Memory Care Unit of the Caritas Center. The doors will provide privacy and safety for our sisters.

We appreciate your past support and hope that you will consider partnering with us again this year. If you have any questions about the Birdies for Charity Program please contact the development office at 563-585-2854 or


New Director Takes Helm at Mount Carmel’s Roberta Kuhn Center

Carolyn Farrell, BVM (r.) welcomes new RKC Director Karen Kane-Heber.

Carolyn Farrell, BVM (r.) welcomes new RKC Director Karen Kane-Heber.

The “Annual Class Display and Reception” for participants of the Roberta Kuhn Center (RKC) at Mount Carmel took place on April 30–May 1. At this time the BVM Council took the opportunity to express appreciation and gratitude to Carolyn Farrell, BVM (Lester) for her eight years of service as director of the RKC. In a paraphrase of a popular lyric from the Sound of Music, they queried:     

How do you thank a leader like Carolyn?

How do you find the words to wish her well?

How do you find a word that captures Carolyn?

What would Wikipedia say, pray tell?

Those gathered responded with applause, cheers, and by presenting Carolyn with a plant, flowers and a memory book to accompany an overflowing basket of cards. As everyone bid farewell to Carolyn, they also welcomed Karen Kane-Heber, who will serve as the new RKC director.

Karen is an educator and alumna of Clarke University. She came to Mount Carmel after years of service in the Holy Family Catholic Schools in Dubuque, Iowa. She has already met many of the RKC faculty and is working with Carolyn in planning classes for 2015–16. Her contagious enthusiasm and dedication to the BVM core values will serve her well as she begins this new journey.


BVM Immersion Experience Engenders Perspective, Inspiration

Volunteers help move foundation materials to the building site for a new home.

Volunteers help move foundation materials to the building site for a new home.

Fifteen participants journeyed to Ecuador April 7–16 to share in an educational, service and spiritual immersion into the Ecuadorian culture and BVM ministries in Quito and Guayaquil. Our group included a BVM, an associate and associate candidate, one Mount Carmel employee, and 10 people newly acquainted to the BVM community,

In Quito the group learned about the ministry at the Working Boys’ Center, providing education, meals, trade school and certifications, and employment opportunities where graduates can use their trades. We worked in the trade school workshops, learning from the students. We were given a task or project to complete, and the students became the teachers, giving us directions and guidance. It was exciting to see their pride in themselves and in their work and to create something together.

We visited some of the younger classes at the Center and were greeted and serenaded by the children. In one class, the children challenged us with rhyming riddles, all in Spanish. Another class had prepared poems of love. Others sang songs. Our hearts were warmed by their beauty and friendliness.

Helping out in the school kitchen, we prepared an evening meal of cheese empanadas for the children and families. We were privileged to be welcomed into the homes of several families who belong to the Center, and witnessed the difficulties of everyday life that they encounter. We were inspired by their resilient spirits.

Our group took part in a “minga,” a traditional group work effort to build a home. Arriving at the site, we were welcomed by the family, who gave us directions and we got to work. Rocks, sand and gravel had been delivered to the site; our task was to help move it all down the hill and organize it into piles that they will use to lay the home’s foundation. The group shoveled gravel, carried buckets, and moved rocks, alongside the family members, who impressed us with their strength and agility. The day was fun, full of hard work and fellowship, and graced with the blessing of getting to know and work with the family!

Cory Weinschenk, IT Helpdesk specialist at Mount Carmel, was one of the immersion trip participants. He shares, “It was such an amazing trip that if I’d had more vacation time, I would have stayed longer. The people we met lived in substandard conditions yet they were so grateful for what they had, and very welcoming and willing to share.”

We traveled to Guayaquil and spend two days with BVM Annie Credidio and the residents of Damien House, a home and clinic for persons with Hansen’s disease. Annie provided a thorough tour and introduction to the inspiring residents, who greeted us with messages of love and blessing. We played various games and participated in group physical therapy sessions with them—kicking a soccer ball to help build leg strength, and exercising with the women.

We met the staff and volunteers—doctors, nurses, physical therapists, a researcher, and technology helpers—all working together for the benefit and support of Damien House. They have felt called to dedicate their lives to Annie’s vision. She works tirelessly to improve the residents’ lives. They all have a great love for her, because of her kindness, compassion, dedication and faith. This enthusiasm impacted us all and we will carry it in our hearts forever.

Each day ended in fruitful group prayer and reflection on our day of service, discovery and fellowship. Through this immersion experience, new friendships were formed, new perspectives were gained, and all came home with hearts transformed and inspired.

By Tricia Lothschutz
BVM Outreach/Volunteer Coordinator


Nonviolence: ‘Deepening Our Vision’

The BVM corporate stance on nonviolence is timely. The evil of beheadings, the capture of Christians and journalists, and the destruction of artifacts from an ancient culture breaks our hearts. Yet it seems the problem is so large we do not know where to begin to address it.

We may wonder if people like us can do anything to make a difference. Did Jesus wonder in His last days of suffering and death if His life had made any difference? He asked His followers to put away the sword and cried out from the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Jesus’ life did make a difference and so can ours. We may not see results. The change of heart we hope for in our “enemies” may be a long way off. Yet even as we pray for our enemies, we as Americans need to search our own hearts and that of our country.

Have U.S. values and decisions contributed to the mess in Syria, Iraq and the Middle East with our occupation, drones, military might, our destruction, and our “national interests” for oil, etc.? Do we as a country need a change of heart? Where do we begin?

Our BVM resolution encourages our “striving to deepen our vision and understanding of nonviolence and sharing that vision with others.” For me, going online and searching “Nonviolence with ISIS” has been one place to begin. The two articles in excerpts below give concrete suggestions of ways for the United States to use nonviolence.

Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourners, writes: “We should commit to a new energy future, free from the shackles of Middle Eastern oil. We should base our support for governments in the region on their respect for democracy and human rights. We should work to dismantle our empire of military bases in the region. And we should fully embrace a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine to openly speak truth to both sides regarding the many wrongs they continue to inflict on each other.”

Phyllis Bennis, fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., counsels: “1. Stop the air strikes . . . ; 2. Make real the commitment for ‘No Boots on the Ground’ . . . ; 3. Organize a real diplomatic partnership to deal with ISIS . . . diplomacy must have center stage; 4. Initiate a new search for broader diplomatic solutions in the United Nations; 5. Push the U.N. . . . to restart real negotiations to end the war in Syria; 6. Massively increase U.S. humanitarian contributions to the U.N. agencies for the now millions of refugees in and from Syria and Iraq . . .”

We might reflect on whether anything in the above statements “deepens our vision” and prompts us to “share that vision with others.”

Scripture says: “They shall beat swords into pruning hooks (Is. 2:2).” Regarding this promise from God to Isaiah, Dan Berrigan, SJ, prophet and peacemaker, wrote: “Because the task is crucial, necessary, and because it is radically impossible—therefore it must be done. The oracle will come true. God has sworn it (Testimony, the Word Made Fresh, p. 5).” Though written in 2004, Dan’s words give hope for today and for the future.

Our prayer might be that we as a people, a nation, a world, will find nonviolent strategies that will turn all of our hearts to hope and to peace—so that indeed after the death and violence of the many Good Fridays in the world, Easter and resurrection will come alive everywhere and remain with us.


BVM Scholarships Awarded at Clarke University

Students at Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa, are grateful and inspired by the BVM scholarships awarded to them in 2014, enabling them to help pay for their college educations and pursue their goals.

In 1981, BVMs at Clarke began to designate an amount of their contributed services for an endowed scholarship fund. The agreement between the sisters and the university was formalized in 1985 and the fund has grown to approximately $1.18 million. The BVM Endowed Scholarship continues to provide student scholarships each year.

The BVM Sesquicentennial Scholarship was established by the 1993 BVM Senate in recognition of the 150 years of BVM ministry and mission through education at Clarke University.

Bill Biebuyck, vice president of institutional advancement at Clarke, forwarded letters of appreciation from Clarke scholarship recipients to BVM President Teri Hadro in December 2014. Bill notes in his letter of thanks: “Please be assured that endowed scholarships make a significant impact on our students and their ability to afford a Clarke University education.”

Three Clarke students were awarded the BVM Sesquincentennial Scholarship and five students were awarded the BVM Endowed Scholarship. Here are two excerpts from the eight letters of gratitude sent to the BVMs by the scholarship students.

Business administration major Malik McCrary, of Conyers, Ga., received a BVM Sesquincentennial Scholarship. Malik says: “I want to say thank you for providing scholarships because without your contribution I would not be here at Clarke University, let alone college at all. I understand that in today’s world it is necessary to be college educated and with your help I now have the opportunity to achieve that goal. Thank you.”

Nursing major Liliana Cruz of Woodstock, Ill., received a BVM Endowed Scholarship. Liliana shares: “I would like to thank you for your generous support. I am honored and grateful for the BVM Endowed Scholarship because it has allowed me to accomplish my dream of being the first in my family to go to college. Thank you for making this dream possible for my family and me.”

The BVM endowed scholarships continue to perpetuate the core value of education at Clarke University.


Read the latest issue of SALT


In this issue, explore the many faces of the BVM core value of education and discover how, though many BVMs are no longer in the classroom, they continue to ‘make a difference and shape minds.’

Click here to read the latest issue.


Service Event for Sisters, Associates and Staff at Mount Carmel Kicks Off the New Year!

Collaboration while helping others was the focus of the first Sisters, Associates and Staff Service Event (SASSE) held Jan. 6–7 at Mount Carmel in Dubuque, Iowa.

Volunteers gathered with sisters in Loyola Hall for service outreach work while getting better acquainted with each other in the process.

“We are excited to kick off the New Year with a collaborative service event that will make a difference to so many people,” says Sisters of Charity Human Resources Director Cari Simpson. “This will be the first of many opportunities for sisters, staff and associates to come together and experience the BVM values through action.”

Outreach projects included making diapers from t-shirts for needy families, creating plastic bag mats for homeless persons, and assembling hygiene packets for marginalized residents in Haiti.

Associate Co-coordinator Grace Mendez shares, “What a marvelous event! It was amazing to see all the sisters, staff, and associates interacting as we worked on the three different parts of the project! I met sisters and staff I don’t usually see and I got to hear some fabulous stories! It was a party with good works at the core!”

Mount Carmel employees were glad to share in an effort to help others less fortunate. Kathy Day is assistant business manager in the treasurer’s office of the BVM Center. “I appreciate the fact that so many, some in spite of their physical limitations, were able to help with the project and share their time and talent,” she notes.

Jackie Schwartz, health insurance claims examiner in the treasurer’s office, adds, “The event was a great opportunity to help others and you could just feel the joy in the room.”

Outreach/Volunteer Coordinator Tricia Lothschutz, who organized the event, thanked everyone who helped to make it a success.

“It gave me great joy and pride to look around and see so many smiling faces, working together on these worthwhile projects,” she says. “Many hands do indeed make light work! Working with the Haiti hygiene packet assembly project group, I was so impressed how quickly the task was accomplished! In a little over an hour, the group worked together to assemble 111 packets! It warms my heart to see everyone’s generosity and gifts of time come together to accomplish so much good!”

To view more pictures from the SASSE event, view our Flickr page.




BVM Leadership Team Message on Apostolic Visitation Report

We have reviewed the “Final Report on the Apostolic Visitation of Institutes of Women Religious in the United States” and are pleased with the positive and affirming report. The picture of women religious in the U.S. is presented accurately.

The points lifted up for further reflection by the report concern the essence of consecrated life. Self-reflection is not a new process for BVMs who will continue to share insights with each other and with those with whom we minister as we have always done since our founding.

We are delighted by the collaborative nature of the report and its widespread availability and transparency. This form of exchange is a new experience from the Vatican and we are encouraged that dialogue will be continued.

We are especially grateful to all of our sisters who we have shared in this process from the beginning and to the countless other friends who have shown their support in multiple ways.

President, Teri Hadro, BVM
Vice President, Mira Mosle, BVM
Vice President, Kate Hendel, BVM

Presentation of the report on congregations of US women religious

Final Report of the Apostolic Visitation


Clarke University to Feature Immigration Film ‘ABRAZOS’

Documentary filmmaker, Luis Argueta, will present his new film, ABRAZOS, the second in a trilogy of films on the issue of immigration, on Thursday, March 5 at 7 p.m. in the Jansen Music Hall at Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa. His first film, abUSED, the Postville Raid, was presented at Clarke two years ago.

ABRAZOS touches the heart and puts a human face on the issue of immigration,” says Mary McCauley, BVM (Mercedie), a member of Crossing Borders, Dubuque. “Its’ clear and soul-stirring message has the power to transform hearts. In so doing, it has the potential to influence a change in current immigration policy.” Crossing Borders is a group of Dubuque priests, women religious and lay people who meet regularly to address comprehensive immigration reform.

There are 4.5 million U.S. citizen children who are living with at least one undocumented parent. Because they have never met their grandparents or other family members, they do not have a clear sense of who they are or of their heritage. ABRAZOS is the story of 14 of these children from Worthington, Minn., who traveled to Guatemala to see their grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings for the first time. After being separated for nearly two decades, these families reunite and share stories, strengthen traditions, and begin to reconstruct their cultural identity. ABRAZOS is Spanish for “hugs.”

Following the 45-minute screening there will be an opportunity for questions and answer facilitated by Argueta. A small reception will follow.

The screening is free and open to the public. There will be an opportunity to participate in a free will offering to support future presentations of the film.

A public screening will also be held March 5 at 2:30 p.m. at the Clare House of the Sisters of St. Francis, 3340 Windsor Ave., in Dubuque.

The film’s presentations are sponsored by: Clarke University; Archdiocese of Dubuque; the Sisters of Charity, BVM; Dominican Sisters, Sinsinawa, Wis.; Sisters of the Presentation; Sisters of St. Francis; Sisters of the Visitation; Crossing Borders of Dubuque; Resurrection Catholic Church Social Justice Committee; Dubuque Federation of Labor AFL-CIO, Daniel and Ann Ernst, and individual donors.

For more information contact:

Mary McCauley, BVM

Luis Argueta


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