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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

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



2015 BVM Easter Appeal: BVMs Mary McElmeel and Dolores Myers – Their story continues . . .

As you may have sensed from our Easter letter, Sister Dee and Sister Mary are extraordinary women. They have lived their religious lives in service to others while carrying out the BVM core values of freedom, education, charity and justice with limitless passion and enthusiasm.

Sister Dee Myers is currently a spiritual advisor to individuals seeking a deeper relationship with God. Her counseling skills, deep-listening abilities, and knack for getting to the heart of what is troubling someone allow her to guide those who seek her assistance. She also facilitates prayer days and short retreats at parishes in her area and leads prayer vigils and interments. “All of this keeps me in touch with what is important as a BVM and keeps me energetic for life,” she says.

The core values have defined Sister Dee in each chapter of her life. “They are like four children I am meant to nourish and care for all of my BVM life.” From her time at a segregated school in Tennessee in 1963 to her work as a pastoral associate at St. Matthias Parish in California, and now in her current spiritual ministries, Sister Dee spreads the word of God’s love each day and fulfills her promise to serve where the need is greatest.

As expected, there have been difficult times in her ministries, but as she says, “I can rejoice and be glad because every day is blessed in some way.”

A longtime friend of Sister Dee speaks of her fondly. “Her greatest desire is to bring a sense of wholeness, integrity, joy and deep peace to the people she serves,” Mary McCauley, BVM (Mercedie) says. The fire that drove Sister Dee to join the congregation remains lit to this day.

Sister Mary McElmeel is a BVM through and through. Her humble demeanor and gentle spirit have guided her in each of the many ministries she has been part of.

The 16 years she spent in Kankakee, Ill., were eventful. Cooperativa de Mujeres, the women’s co-op she started from the ground up with her fellow BVMs, remains open today. It serves the women of the community who are striving for a better life. The Azzarelli Outreach Clinic attends to the healthcare needs of the underinsured. A newly established St. Vincent de Paul Society responds to the outreach calls that Sister Mary herself used to answer.

An important source of funding came from Campaign for Human Development grants that Sister Mary applied for. This money was instrumental in supporting the co-op, a youth ministry, workshops on Hispanic leadership, and the outreach clinic.

Other BVMs that worked in Kankakee over the years include Judy Callahan (Eugene Mary), Mary Crimmin (Agnes), Eileen Powell (Robertrese), Mary Kelliher (Maurita), and Isabel M. Conchos. This past September they were presented with the St. Teresa Parish Rose of Spirit award. At the ceremony, the BVMs were praised for fostering leadership in the Kankakee parish and community.  The systemic changes they implemented resonate today in the lives of the people who reside there.

A familiar scriptural verse that states, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad,” speaks deeply to Sister Mary. “The quote speaks to me of new life. I give thanks to the Holy Spirit who urged me into religious life and to the BVMs for opening windows to a new life for me,” she says.

After speaking to Sister Dee and Sister Mary, as well as friends who have known them throughout their lives, a theme emerges. They are responsible for changing lives. They are the reason why individuals are fulfilled, families are strengthened, and communities are thriving.

The Sisters of Charity, BVM congregation is blessed to count these women among our own.

Click to read appeal:

Click to make an online donation:


Interested in Religious Life? Area Convents Offer Tour

Join us for an inside look at religious life. "Dubuque's Got Sisters!" is a unique experience for those interested in exploring a call to become a Catholic Sister. Dubuque-area Sisters will accompany you on a 24-hour tour of four tri-state area convents and share experiences through praying, dining, and storytelling. Local transportation will be provided, and there is no fee to attend.  

The "Dubuque's Got Sisters!" event begins Friday, April 10 at 5 p.m., and ends Saturday, April 11 at 6 p.m. To register or for more details, e-mail Sister Rita Cameron, PBVM, at or call her at (563) 590-8144. "Dubuque's Got Sisters!" is sponsored by the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Dubuque Franciscan Sisters, and Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters (Wis).  

"We are glad to offer this opportunity to women who are interested in religious life. Sisters in the Dubuque area collaborate in many ways to offer service, speak out for justice issues, and pray together. It seemed quite natural to come together to offer Dubuque’s Got Sisters as well,” said Sister Lou Anglin, BVM, who will accompany the tour group along with Sisters from the area congregations.

Catholic Sisters, who live and work in your community, invite you to learn more about their work by visiting them online at


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.


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.


Thank a Nun

Did a Catholic Sister help you in your life? Thank her now! Email to share how she made a difference to you. You can send a note, a photo or even a video!!! We'll share your message online and in print during National Catholic Sisters Week, March 8-14!


Join BVM Sisters in Solidarity Against Human Trafficking

The Sisters of Charity, BVM, invite you to join them from Jan. 11 through Feb. 8 in awareness of and solidarity against Human Trafficking.

A special prayer service was held by the BVMs in the Motherhouse Chapel at Mount Carmel on Jan. 11 as part of National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

A link to the prayer used, “Prayer Service to End Human Trafficking,” is provided below. Included also are links to action suggestions to end human trafficking and a biography of St. Josephine Bakhita, a religious sister who was also a survivor of human trafficking.

Ever cognizant of the times in which we live, BVMs are called by the Senate of 2014 to oppose any form of human trafficking. As affirmed in this summary: “The Sisters of Charity, BVM in accordance with our mission and core values oppose the trafficking of human persons for any purpose whatsoever. We stand in solidarity with all who work to eliminate this tragic evil . . .”

BVMs believe that nonviolence is a value lived by Jesus and his followers. They pledge through prayer and study to educate themselves and others regarding the magnitude, causes and consequences of human trafficking.

National Human Trafficking Awareness Day was designated by the U.S. Senate in 2007. The United Nations sets aside July 30 each year to focus on human trafficking, and the Pontifical Council for Migrants designated Feb. 8, the feast of St. Josephine Bakhita, as the International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking.

Many religious communities and people of faith are choosing to devote the month between the January and February dates to education, prayer and action. 

Prayer Service

Suggestions to End Human Trafficking

Biography of St Josephine Bakhita


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.


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.


BVMs Extend Invitation to Open House at Mount Carmel

In celebration of the Year of Consecrated Life, the Sisters of Charity, BVM invite the public to an Open House on Sunday, Feb. 8, from 1–4 p.m. at the Mount Carmel Motherhouse, 1100 Carmel Dr., Dubuque, Iowa.

“We welcome our neighbors into our homes and invite all to join us in conversation and prayer on this special day,” says BVM First Vice President Mira Mosle. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to strengthen relationships and learn more about each other.”

The Open House at Mount Carmel will include tours, refreshments, displays and conversations with the BVM sisters. A prayer service will be held at 2:30 p.m. The event is an opportunity to learn and understand more about the BVMs and contemporary religious life.

 For additional information contact Mira Mosle, BVM at: or 563.588.2351.

Nearly 1,000 Catholic sisters live and work in the tri-state area. With six motherhouses located within a 20-mile radius of one another, the sisters have been an integral part of education, health care, and helping those in need since 1843. The Year of Consecrated Life is intended to “make a grateful remembrance of the recent past and embrace the future with hope,” said Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, the Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

Other religious congregations hosting open houses in the Dubuque area on Feb. 8 include:


Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters

585 County Road Z, Sinsinawa, WI 53824

Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Family

3390 Windsor Ave., Dubuque, IA 52001


Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Sisters of the Visitation

2360 Carter Rd., Dubuque, IA 52001 


The Cistercian (Trappistine) Nuns

8400 Abbey Hill Ln., Dubuque, IA 52003

The Cistercians will give a talk on Cistercian life at 4 p.m.,

followed by a Holy Hour for Religious Vocations at 4:30 p.m.

They have begun this practice on the second Sunday of every month.




Welcome New Associates Terry & Emily Kruse

Welcome BVM Associates Terry and Emily Kruse. Inspired by the example and friendship of BVMs at Clarke University, these dedicated employees are eager to share the legacy of Mary Frances Clarke in their lives, united with the sisters by a common bond—the BVM core value of education.

Click the link to read their commitment reflections:


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


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