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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

RKC Sponsors Presentation by Archbishop Jackels

Archbishop Michael Jackels presented “Pilgrimage to Rome” on May 6 in St. Joseph Hall at Mount Carmel. The event was sponsored by the Roberta Kuhn Center (RKC) class, “Pilgrimages: Life Experiences Shared.”

The class offers first-person presentations from guests with firsthand experiences of pilgrimage travel, offering spiritual insights, practical information and group interaction. BVM sisters, RKC students and guests enjoyed the presentation. Gathered in St. Joseph Hall are (l. to r.) class instructor Dave Vanderah, RKC Director Carolyn Farrell and Archbishop Jackels.

Details of the Archbishop’s pilgrimage experience can be viewed at


BVM's Address Featured in New Book of LCWR Presidential Addresses

DUBUQUE, Iowa—Spiritual Leadership for Challenging Times is a book of 10 addresses delivered over the years by the presidents of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), a national organization of the leaders of orders of Catholic sisters in the U.S.

Of the addresses included, one was delivered by Mary Ann Zollmann, BVM of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Helen Maher Garvey, BVM wrote the introduction and was part of the selection committee for the book.

American Catholics discovered LCWR in April of 2012, when the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) announced that, after a four-year assessment, the LCWR—whose members represent 80% of the Catholic sisters in the United States—and its pastoral and doctrinal situation presented “a matter of serious concern.”

The international storm that followed included a “60 Minutes” segment as well as tens of thousands of communications to and about LCWR, from Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Many American Catholics expressed support, finding it difficult to square the CDF’s conclusions with their experience of the sisters as teachers, healers and role models. Indeed the hunger for the type of leadership the LCWR demonstrates was one of the reasons behind the decision to publish the book Spiritual Leadership for Challenging Times.

The talks included in Spiritual Leadership for Challenging Times are extraordinary in a number of ways: presenting the challenges as well as the joys of leadership, and discerning the meaning and living the reality of religious life on the cusp of two millennia—including the seismic shift from a pre-Vatican II to a post-Vatican II understanding of faith and its impact for Catholics both lay and religious. Prefacing each address is a brief summary of the key events that significantly impacted the world and the Catholic Church at the time the address was delivered at the organization’s annual assembly. The addresses speak to the challenges these events posed to leaders at that time, as well as to the call to exercise leadership that was pastoral, discerning, and at times, exceptionally courageous.

To order the book, visit, or call Orbis Books at 1-800-258-5838, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. CST.



BVM Sisters Celebrate Jubilees

Ten Sisters of Charity, BVM celebrated 50 years in religious life on Sunday, July 13, 2014, with a liturgy of thanksgiving in the Motherhouse Chapel at Mount Carmel in Dubuque, Iowa. The Mass was followed by a celebratory dinner.

Gathered on the steps of the Mount Carmel Motherhouse are golden jubilarians: (back row, l. to r.) Vicki Smurlo, Mary Diane Forster, Mary Anne Hoope, Maria van Werkhooven; (third row, l. to r.) Donna Bebensee, Janice Mary Pertle; (second row, l. to r.) Fran Donnelly, Barbara Brooks; (front row, l. to r.) Ann Marie Dress and Regina M. Qualls.

The “Set of 1964,” was welcomed by BVM President Teri Hadro, who noted that the group is “a set of firsts and lasts.” They were the first group to have a choice of novitiates (Mount Carmel in Dubuque, Iowa, and Guadalupe College in Los Gatos, Calif.). The 50th jubilee celebration was the first time the Set of 1964 gathered together in the same place. They were the last postulants to receive religious names and the last novices to make first vows wearing the religious habit.

BVM Frances Donnelly, who gave the jubilarian reflections at the liturgy, shared,  “Even though we began our religious life on the cusp—the ‘first of,’ the ‘last of’—we were grounded in Mary Frances Clarke’s vision and sense of what it meant to live in community and to be of service to God’s people.”

More than 20 members of the Set of 1964, who had followed other paths in life, returned to celebrate with the jubilarians. Teri noted, “. . . those who stayed and those who left are forever part of each other’s formation, of each other’s lives.”

The tumultuous era of the ’60s was also reflected in the changes taking place within the BVM community during those years, and the congregation emerged with a profound sense of listening and responding to the signs of new and complex times.

In their combined 500 years of service, the jubilarians have ministered in 11 U.S. states and five foreign countries and received many awards for excellence in their work. “Let us celebrate these valiant women whose faithfulness to God’s call and attentiveness to God’s people in mission make us proud,” Teri said.

Click here to read about this year's Golden Jubilarians.


Read the latest issue of SALT

This issue of Salt unfolds with a tribute to BVM Foundress Mary Frances Clarke, whose many written letters helped her to carry on the business of the BVM congregation and encourage her sisters in ministry. As you turn the pages of this magazine, you’ll experience the evolution of the many ways in which words are used to continue to shape BVM mission.

Click here to read the latest issue.



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.”


OLP to Host All Class Reunion

The first All Class Alumnae Reunion for Our Lady of Peace (OLP) High School in St. Paul, Minn., will be held on Aug. 9, 2014, at the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul.


The day will include an open house where former classmates can gather, reminisce, and view memorabilia from the OLP days, and take a self-guided tour of the school.

BVM President Teri Hadro (’64) plans to attend and is looking forward to this first all class reunion.

Deb Swenson, reunion committee contact person, says, "OLP alumnae come from all walks of life, but we share a common pride in being alumnae of OLP and a devotion to the BVMs who taught us how to be strong women and to believe we could accomplish anything if we tried our best."

In September 1951, OLP was formally dedicated and opened its doors to 115 freshman students. By 1954 the student body totaled 752 and included junior and senior classes. A year later, the OLP Alumnae Association was formally established and officers were elected. By that fall, enrollment at OLP rose to 900.

During the 1970s, families began to move to the suburbs and demographics soon reflected a decline in archdiocesan city-wide high school population. After 21 years, OLP closed its doors in June 1973.

Joan Doyle, BVM (Leon) was president of the congregation at the time. She expressed pride in the accomplishments of the OLP students and graduates and in the sisters who served at the school, bringing to mind a favorite BVM prayer: May God complete the work begun in us!

"Our Lady of Peace alumnae continue to identify strongly with OLP although it has been closed for over 40 years," Deb shares. "Reunions are well attended and many friendships have endured."


Benefactors Partner to Enhance Motherhouse Chapel Worship

A serendipitous turn of events now enables hearing-impaired sisters at Mount Carmel in Dubuque, Iowa, to listen and hear with clarity all parts of the sacred liturgy for the first time in many years—thanks to a "hearing loop" now in place in the Motherhouse Chapel.


Hidden under the newly-installed carpet, the loop has opened up a new world of sound for our retired sisters.

The loop technology takes a feed from the PA system, transmits it through a wire loop surrounding the worshipers, and projects magnetic signals to an inexpensive telecoil (T-coil) receiver in the listeners’ hearing aids. The result is clear sound with no background noise.

While this technology is not new, it has not been readily available in the United States because hearing aids were not often equipped with T-coils. This trend is changing and assistive listening devices are gaining momentum across America, especially in places of worship.

After attending a presentation by a leading hearing loop advocate, BVM Linda Roby, director of deaf ministry in Portland, Ore. (see p. 3), brought the idea back to Mount Carmel at the perfect time: plans were underway to install new, much-needed carpeting in the Motherhouse Chapel. While the BVM leadership team was intrigued by the new technology, the next challenge was being able to support this unforeseen and unbudgeted technology.

"Our prayers were answered," BVM Vice President Kate Hendel explains about a call she received one day in October from Cathy and Bob Everhart, who were interested in helping our retired sisters (see p. 2). When they heard about the hearing loop, the Everharts quickly offered to not only fund this project but also a variety of related expenditures that enhance our sisters’ hearing.

After experiencing the new system, BVM Paul Francis Bailey says, "I cannot laud the loop sufficiently to express how truly wonderful it is. I hear the homily distinctly, grasping every little nuance and inflection."

(St.) Geraldine Moorman, BVM adds, "I used to use the hearing aids in the back of the chapel. They had to be inserted each time I came. I had to hold them tightly in my ears to get the full benefit. Since the new hearing loop was installed, I have not missed one sentence of Fr. Tom’s homily."


Other sisters are eager to share their enthusiasm. "Before the hearing loop, I was not able to hear what anyone at the microphone was saying," says Louise Marie Levandowski, BVM (Laurina). "After the installation, I was able to hear every word clearly. I am truly grateful for what has been done to help all of us with hearing aids."

"One of the things I really appreciate is the fact that I can hear the names of the deceased sisters whose anniversaries are on that particular day," BVM Carmelina Myers explains. "I can also share in the laughter when the homilist slips in a humorous remark."

Therese Frelo, BVM (Ann Carmelle) sums it up: "The hearing loop is close to a miracle . . . It is a joy to peacefully participate in the liturgy, listen to the homilist, and appreciate the total experience. Thank you."

The Sisters of Charity, BVM are truly grateful for the partnership of our benefactors in helping to meet the needs of retired sisters at Mount Carmel.

Our gratitude is extended to the Everharts, as well as the many benefactors who participated in the 2013 Birdies for Charity event. Birdie proceeds were used to install the Motherhouse Chapel carpeting.




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