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BVM News

For more information on any of these news articles contact Angie Connolly, Director of Communications, at 563.588.2351 or by aconnolly@bvmcong.org.

BVMs, Catholic Sisters ‘Get in the Habit’ of Kindness


The Sisters of Charity, BVM, together with other Catholic Sisters of the Upper Mississippi River Valley, will launch a new campaign, “Kindness: Get in the Habit,” during the fourth annual National Catholic Sisters Week, March 8–14.

The message, to encourage people to be kind toward one another, was created to counter the continued divisiveness seen throughout the country, and will be shared on billboards, in movie theater ads, through social media posts, and in Catholic school classrooms.

BVM President Teri Hadro says, “Those of us in the U.S. sometimes take water, food, shelter, clothing and respect for granted. Our sisters and brothers in need help us understand the real meaning of the Gospel and gift us with the opportunity to live Jesus’ message today and every day.”

The billboards feature an image of a homeless person receiving a cup of coffee, with the accompanying text: “Kindness: Get in the Habit.” Billboards will be displayed in six communities from the Quad Cities to La Crosse, Wis., including Dubuque.

Six similar images, all illustrating the “Kindness” theme, will be featured both on social media sites and on the big screen in local movie theaters, including Dubuque.

“Sometimes it’s easy to take the simple acts of kindness that are a part of daily life for granted—the smile, recognition of hard work, the ‘I’m praying for you,’” reflects BVM First Vice President Lou Anglin. “Those moments bring out the best in people. I don’t want to ever stop noticing them or being a part of paying them forward. They make a world of difference.”

LaDonna Manternach, BVM second vice president, agrees. “People I meet are generally kind and considerate toward their neighbors and those they meet each day. This is not what makes the news, yet it is the biggest deal out there—it’s even radical. We live in a world that longs for kindness and kinship with one another. Kindness connects us, consoles us, and inspires us at a very basic level. Let’s hear again God’s call to ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ and be people that make a difference.”

The Catholic Sisters of the Upper Mississippi River Valley represent 12 congregations whose collective mission is to spread the Gospel message in the 21st century. They are the Sisters of St. Francis—Clinton, Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary—Dubuque, Sinsinawa Dominicans, Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, Benedictine Sisters of St. Mary Monastery—Rock Island, Sisters of Mercy—West Midwest Community, Congregation of the Humility of Mary, Sisters of St. Francis—Dubuque, Sisters of the Visitation, Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey and the Carmelite Nuns.

Watch the video at: http://bit.ly/2mTyTe5

Visit them on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/catholicsisters.

Post date 3.7.17


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‘Am I a Human Trafficker?’


Chris Cox, campaign manager of The Human Thread, explored this question with an audience of 230 in a presentation on Feb. 27 at Clarke University.

Cox was hosted by the Coalition Against Human Trafficking in the Tri-State Area, a faith-based network that began at the request of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), encouraging all religious community members and associates to work together against human trafficking through education and advocacy.

After working in multicultural, low-income parishes in the United States and Latin America, Cox began to manage The Human Thread campaign last year, an outgrowth in part from the Bangladesh clothing factory fire, which killed more than 1,100 people and injured 2,000 more. The workers were paid $50 per month.

Long committed to faith-based advocacy and the work of justice, Cox reflected on where our clothing comes from and how living in right relationship with our brothers and sisters on distant continents helps us to lead more joyful, faith-filled lives.

While most think of human trafficking in terms of sex trafficking, Cox challenged the audience to think about how their technology, food, and clothing purchases from countries with “horrific practices” are also forms of human trafficking.

He notes, “. . . the reality is so many things that are the basis of making our lives comfortable—cell phones, chocolate, coffee, clothing—can grossly be at the expense of other human beings.” He shares that approximately 98 percent of clothes sold in America are made overseas and that only between .5 percent and 3 percent of the cost of production for the average item goes to the worker who made it.

For garment workers to make a living wage, Cox says that the increase in cost per item would only have to be between .5 and 5 percent. “This white t-shirt I’m wearing that would cost $10—to pay a living wage, to triple their wages now—means I would pay $10.50 for it and frankly, I’d want to pay that if given the option.”

BVM vice president Lou Anglin says she now intends to change her own shopping habits after Cox’s presentation. “I grew up being a prudent shopper—looking for deals, but now I need to be aware that paying a just wage for people’s labor is the greater good.”

Cox advises others to do their homework before supporting a brand and to vote with their wallets. He also shares that practicing the “Four Rs” can help to make an impact—repairing our clothes, reducing our closets, and reusing and recycling our clothes by donating them to charity.

Post date 3.15.17


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Read the latest issue of Salt magazine!


Winter: 2017 Explore the Power of Solidarity
We invite you to explore in this issue of Salt—explore the power of healing and reconciliation with Joyce Cox, BVM (Petrine) as she walks “Phil’s Camino” on Vashon Island, Wash.; explore the power of music as it restores the joy of memories to BVM sisters; explore the power of unity against a wall built to divide people; and last but not least . . . explore the power of BVM Cubs fans to persevere!

Click here to download magazine.


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BVMs Unite With Others in ‘A Call to Compassion’


The Sisters of Charity, BVM and other co-sponsors in Dubuque, Iowa, will offer the presentation, “Immigrant Families Under Fire—A Call to Compassion in the Heartland” at 7 p.m. on March 30 in the Marie Graber Ballroom, Loras College. The event is free and open to the public.

Award-winning journalist and author Margaret Regan will share the heart-rending stories of people caught in the chaos of the U.S. immigration system.

One of Regan’s books, Detained and Deported: Stories of Immigrant Families Under Fire (2015) investigates the fate of undocumented immigrants who are taken away from their families, incarcerated in detention centers, or deported back across the border.

Another book, The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona Borderlands (2010), chronicles the tragic deaths of migrants in the desert. Both books are named Top Picks in the Southwest Books of the Year competition, and have been adopted in many university classrooms.

“With great anticipation I look forward to welcoming Margaret Regan,” says Mary McCauley, BVM (Mercedie). “Ever since experiencing the heartache and injustice suffered by so many men, women and children at the time of the infamous workplace raid at Agriprocessors in Postville, Iowa, in 2008, I have been convinced that the first step in transforming our immigration system is to transform hearts.”

Regan’s appearance is sponsored by Crossing Borders—Dubuque, a group of concerned citizens, including McCauley and other BVMs, who works to raise awareness of injustices experienced by immigrants and advocates on their behalf. McCauley asks, “What better way to transform hearts than to share the stories of those directly affected by our current immigration system? What better way to set our hearts on fire!”

Area co-sponsors include: Catholic Charities, Church of the Resurrection, Clarke University, Community Foundation of Dubuque, Dubuque for Refugee Families, Loras College, Nativity Church, Gwen Nilles, Father Jack Paisley, St. Raphael Cathedral, St. Patrick Church, St. Joseph Catholic Church Key West, Sinsinawa Dominicans, Sisters of the Presentation, Sisters of St. Francis, Sisters of the Visitation, and Sisters of Charity, BVM.

Regan’s books will be available at the event and at River Lights Bookstore.

Download Flyer

Post date 3.1.17


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School Celebrates BVM Roots at 125th Anniversary

BVMs (l. to r.) Sue Effinger, Terese Shinners, Virginia Stone and Janet Desmond celebrate with DSHA President Ellen Bartel (center).

BVMs (l. to r.) Sue Effinger, Terese Shinners, Virginia Stone and Janet Desmond celebrate with DSHA President Ellen Bartel (center).

Divine Savior Holy Angels HS (DSHA) in Milwaukee marked the beginning of its 125th anniversary year with a special liturgy on Feb. 1. Alumnae and former teachers joined DSHA faculty and students in celebration of both the anniversary year and National Catholic Schools Week (NCSW), observed this year from Jan. 29–Feb. 4. This year’s NCSW theme “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service” is embodied in the story of DSHA’s roots.

Holy Angels Academy opened in Milwaukee in 1892, under the leadership of the Sisters of Charity, BVM, where it grew and thrived into the 20th century. In 1926, the Sisters of the Divine Savior established another high school in Milwaukee to educate young women interested in joining their order. In 1948, Divine Savior opened to all girls in the Milwaukee area. The two schools merged in 1970 to create Divine Savior Holy Angels HS. Since that collaboration, DSHA has grown to become the number one high school for girls in Milwaukee.

“Holy Angels was my alma mater and that of most of the women in my family,” said Terese Shinners, BVM (Ellena). “The BVM alumnae at the liturgy shared memories of our high school teachers and the excellent education we received. My favorite part of the day was reconnecting with former students and colleagues from my years teaching at DSHA.”

BVM Suzanne (Sue) Effinger (Frances Carol) shared, “The event today celebrating 125 years was a powerful experience for me. The welcome all of the alums received as we processed into liturgy brought me to tears.” Janet Mary Desmond, BVM added, “The spirit of joy, service and pride filled the celebratory 125 year anniversary Mass. Students and faculty welcomed alums and all witness to their excellent academic and religious education.”

In her welcome at the Mass, DSHA President Ellen Bartels noted, “As we open our liturgical celebration, we honor those who have gone before us in our Procession of Alumnae. These women, who have graduated from Holy Angels Academy, Divine Savior HS, and Divine Savior Holy Angels, represent the over 14,000 young women who have come through the doors of our foundational institutions and have gone out to make a difference in the world.”

Post date 2.9.17


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BVM Inducted into Loyola University Athletic Hall of Fame


On Jan. 21, during the Loyola men’s basketball game against Evansville University, Jean Dolores Schmidt, BVM became the 173rd member inducted into the Athletic Department Hall of Fame at Loyola University Chicago.

At halftime during the game, Athletic Director Steve Watson and Loyola President Jo Ann Rooney escorted Sister Jean to the center of the court for her induction ceremony. After a video presentation showing Loyola men and women basketball players thanking Sister Jean for her support through the years, she received her Hall of Fame plaque amid a standing ovation.

Sister Jean, age 97, went to her first Loyola basketball game in 1962, and the rest is history! Her dedication to the towering athletes who dwarf her tiny figure is legendary. As chaplain of the Loyola men’s basketball team since the early 1990s, Sister Jean leads everyone in prayer before the games and shares her enthusiastic support, unflagging energy, and astute critiques for each one.

Thrilled by the honor, she says, “I appreciate being in the Hall of Fame with all those wonderful athletes, who have brought such honor to Loyola and have influenced so many people.”

In the past year, Sister Jean has also received an honorary doctorate from the College of Arts and Sciences at Loyola University. What could possibly be next for this diminutive BVM powerhouse?

Read the full story at Loyola Phoenix:

http://bit.ly/2kaM4og

Watch Video:

http://bit.ly/2k61NoM

Post date 2.3.17


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MUSIC & MEMORY Rekindles the Past for BVM Sisters

Activities Aide Dawn Merges shares time with a BVM sister who enjoys her special music!

Activities Aide Dawn Merges shares time with a BVM sister who enjoys her special music!

What if we could unlock the buried, joyful memories of an elderly or infirm person with just a song, helping them connect with life again through music?

The MUSIC & MEMORY program, founded by Dan Cohen and based in Mineola, N.Y., was created as a nonprofit in 2010. Its mission is to “bring personalized music into the lives of the elderly or infirm through digital music technology” (www.musicandmemory.org). Since its inception, the program has successfully implemented iPod personalized music programs in care organizations throughout the United States and Canada.

The Sisters of Charity, BVM at Mount Carmel in Dubuque, Iowa, thank you for your contributions on #Giving Tuesday (www.bvmcong.org/support_donate.cfm) Nov. 29. Over $15,000 has been raised to help enrich the lives of our elderly sisters as they enjoy the music of their memories!

Three people—a BVM associate, BVM employee, and Dubuque Senior High School student—have come together, working to enhance the lives of our sisters in the memory care unit.

The idea to bring the therapeutic program to the elderly BVM sisters at Mount Carmel came from wellness department Activities Aide Dawn Merges. After staff viewed the documentary, “Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory,” (http://bit.ly/1qKvUNk) showing the results of the MUSIC & MEMORY program, they were unanimously on board to initiate the program.

Challenges include engaging in research with the elderly sisters to learn about their favorite music from years gone by, obtaining iPods for storing the music, and educating and training staff to implement the program.

But Dawn feels the challenges are well worth it. The program “helps unlock isolation, relieves worry and anxiety, and facilitates pain management,” she says. “Seeing the sisters in their rooms—singing, smiling, tapping their feet, and enjoying their lives—is incredibly moving.”

BVM Associate Sharon Scully spends time visiting with the sisters, reminiscing and sharing. “My job is to talk to each sister and identify what kind of music she loves,” says Sharon. “We need to do this now, before the elderly sisters are no longer able to communicate with us.”

Sharon grew up in a house full of music and feels that she is simply “sharing with my friends, the sisters. And they teach me as well.” She believes that MUSIC & MEMORY generates opportunities as a multi-generational project—with tech-savvy younger aides and nurses helping the sisters to find new joy in life through the music of their memories while they, in turn, learn about the older generation.

Sibani Ram is not your typical high school sophomore. Like many young people, she likes music, books and learning about the world. But she also wants to do something about what she learns.

After watching the movie, “Still Alice,” which depicts a middle-aged college professor who finds herself battling Alzheimer’s disease, Sibani shares, “’Still Alice’ left me deeply stirred and scouring the internet for a creative way to help those with mental health illnesses.”

Looking for a local care center that used the program led her to the BVMs at Mount Carmel. “I’m grateful to have the chance to work with the sisters to advocate for the 24-hour online #GivingTuesday (www.bvmcong.org/support_donate.cfm) fundraiser on Nov. 29,” she says. “This is a terrific opportunity for anyone who believes in the power and delight of music. MUSIC & MEMORY is where the arts meet the sciences, transforming the quality of life, one care center at a time.”


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BVMs Join in Making History

BVMs (l. to r.) Joellen McCarthy, Diane Rapozo and Rose Mary Meyer display their posters in front of the Capitol building.

BVMs (l. to r.) Joellen McCarthy, Diane Rapozo and Rose Mary Meyer display their posters in front of the Capitol building.

On Jan. 21, the Women’s March on Washington, D.C. marked the largest mass demonstration in U.S. history. Throughout the country and globally, 5 million people marched in cities and towns in a show of solidarity for human rights.

From coast to coast, BVMs andassociates joined the sea of participants in prayer and presence! The BVM Women’s Network sponsored three sisters to attend the D.C. march: BVMs Rose Mary Meyer (Sebastian), Diane Rapozo (Malia), and Joellen McCarthy. “I am thrilled that these rallies happened in hundreds of cities and towns in the United States, in many countries and all of Earth’s continents,” says Rose Mary. “Together we are strong.”

Both Diane and Joellen share that they were “hungry for a different way of people coming together” after the election campaign. “The experience in Washington generated in us such hope that we were encouraged to discover during the day in Washington and now in subsequent days, invitations to channel that positive energy to actions that can bring about change and work toward creating a world we can believe in.”

Associate Coordinator Kimberly Emery was also in D.C. for the march, and Associate Kathy Linhardt took part in the New York City march, while her daughters walked in D.C. and Los Angeles. Associate Coordinator Lori Ritz, during her visit to Iowa, joined her sister to march with supporters in Des Moines.

BVMs Barbara Gaul, Mary Ellen Meckley, Colleen McGinnity and Carol Cook rallied for the Chicago march. “It was a call to stand together, to use love as our strategy, to build on this day, to bring our energies to our local communities, to be involved,” says Carol. Associate Virginia Piecuch echoes Carol as she says, “The march in Chicago was an amazing experience to be one with women, men and children showing God’s diversity in our world.”

From Dubuque, Iowa to Milwaukee to San Jose, Calif., BVMs were present and engaged in the respective marches. Former Dubuque mayor Carolyn Farrell, BVM (Lester), joined by other Dubuque BVMs and associates, shared with the local group gathered in unity and support. “We are here, connected in spirit with the Women’s March on Washington, D.C.—lifting up positive energy, inspiring justice for all.”

Along with many others, BVMs Marilyn Wilson (Claudia Mary), Bette Gambonini (Esther Mary) and Elizabeth Avalos gathered with Associates Francis and Carol DeCarvalho and their family, and Associate Barbara Harper and her daughters, at the march in San Jose, Calif. Elizabeth shares, “Everyone was so positive—talking, laughing, holding their signs . . . our future is in safe hands.”

The Women’s March on Washington (www.womensmarch.com), urges supporters to join them in launching a new follow-up campaign: Ten Actions for the first 100 days. “Now, the real work begins.”

View Photos

Post date 1.30.17


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Join BVMs, Associates and Friends on an Ecuador Immersion Trip


The Sisters of Charity, BVM and BVM associates invite you to stand in solidarity through work, reflection and prayer with our sisters and brothers in Ecuador. The date for the trip is April 19–28, 2017. Registration deadline is March 1.

On this journey, you will live and work with BVMs Miguel Conway and Cindy Sullivan at the Working Boys’ Center in Quito, a place dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty. You’ll visit homes in the barrio and countryside. You’ll gather with the local community to help a family build a house. You will visit Otavalo’s renowned indigenous artisan open air market, where area villagers bring their wares to barter and socialize.

A two-day trip to Guayaquil is also offered, including a visit to Damien House, a clinic for Hansen’s disease patients, and Nuevo Mundo, a foundation school where poor children receive free education along with those able to pay tuition.

The Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) in Dubuque, Iowa, are a community of Catholic women religious who minister in 16 states and Ecuador and Ghana as educators, pastoral ministers, counselors and advocates for the elderly and immigrants.

For more information contact:
Kimberly Emery, ACT (Associate Coordinator Team): kemery@bvmcong.org
or bvmoutreach@bvmcong.org.

Read this reflection by Peggy Geraghty, BVM about last year's trip to Ecuador.
http://blog.bvmcong.org/post.cfm/ecuador-immersion-trip-reflection

 


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LCWR Expresses Deep Concern about Executive Orders


LCWR Expresses Deep Concern about Executive Orders

January 30, 2017

We emphatically endorse the statement issued today by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR): “We strongly object to President Trump’s attempts to limit our ability to heed God’s call to welcome the stranger (Mt. 25:35) and to care for those most in need (Mt 25:40), and we are particularly concerned about rules and regulations that deny access to refugees because of their religion, race, or nationality. It is a violation of our faith and every norm of humanity.”

With the LCWR, the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary “vow to continue to welcome refugees and minister to immigrants. [We,] LCWR, and its members will continue to press for restoration of refugee resettlement, relief for families, an end to needless deportations, and the closure of all family detention centers. We will continue to advocate for compassionate, bipartisan legislation that fixes our broken immigration system. We will continue to stand in solidarity with families, regardless of immigration status, who labor daily to provide safety and security for their children.”

Leadership Team, Sisters of Charity, BVM

Teri Hadro, BVM
Lou Anglin, BVM
LaDonna Manternach, BVM

Read: LCWR expresses deep concern about Executive Orders


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BVMs, Associates and Friends Gather in Solidarity


“No Mas! No More! Tear Down the Border Wall! Basta Ya, Basta Ya, Basta Ya!”

These were the words that rang through and around the border wall at the Nogales, Ariz./Sonora, Mexico border for the SOA (School of the Americas) Watch Oct. 7–10. BVM Associates Carol and Francis DeCarvalho, Kay Harrison and Elizabeth Fitting joined BVMs Elizabeth Avalos, Bette Gambonini (Esther Mary) and Marilyn Wilson (Claudia Mary), and friends Arline Nelson and Wally Inglis for the event.

They gathered together in solidarity with over 1,000 justice seekers to:
• bring attention to the injustices of the U.S. immigration policies;
• advocate for a shift in U.S. policy toward refugees;
• offer a positive narrative about immigrants and refugees;
• build bridges of understanding and dialogue;
• struggle against U.S. militarization at home and abroad;
• and to commit to continue to work for comprehensive immigration reform.

A march led by Veterans for Peace guided the group to the border wall. Stages set on either side of the wall created connections with those who have suffered at the hands of border patrol and immigration officials. Participants attended workshops on both sides of the border, studying various aspects of the issue—injustices in the U.S. detention centers, unequal economies, disastrous effects of free trade, and deportation of veterans.

They joined 40 other women religious and associates for Encuentro de Hermanas, to pray together and engage in conversation about immigration and their response as women religious. For over 20 years, many congregations have had missions on both sides of border towns in the southwest. Coming to the watch from several states, they networked and shared resources.

For everyone, it was an experience that saddened, challenged, energized and filled them with hope.

“Abre corazones, abre brazoes, abre puertas en bienvenida.”
“Open hearts, open arms, open doors in welcome.”
              from NCR Global Sisters Report – prayer at Encuentro de Hermanas, Oct. 8, 2016

Prayer by Marilyn Wilson, BVM: Ode to the Wall

For more information go to: www.soaw.org


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Diamonds Celebrate Jubilee

BVMs Carl Loras Pilmaier and Janita Curoe process from their Jubilarian Mass celebration.

BVMs Carl Loras Pilmaier and Janita Curoe process from their Jubilarian Mass celebration.

On Sept. 11, 2016, the Sets of 1943, 1944 and 1946 gathered to celebrate their diamond jubilees at Mount Carmel, Dubuque, Iowa, with family and friends. Our jubilarians have been teachers, administrators, congregational leaders, chaplains, pastoral ministers, artists, librarians and much more. They have striven to educate and promote justice and caring for others and the earth in all their missions.

BVM Vice President Lou Anglin, in her welcome, shared: "Looking around the chapel this morning, our jubilarians continue to give testimony on how to live as women of faith in our world. They touch our lives and inspire us through their lives of faithful friendship, concern for the needs of the world, and devotion to prayer. They continue to be the eyes and hands of Christ and show us how to be the same."

Thank you Sisters!

To read more about each sister celebrating her jubilee, or to send her a congratulatory message, visit: http://www.bvmcong.org/whatsnew_jubs.cfm.

To view additional photos, visit: http://www.bvmcong.org/whatsnew_album_detail.cfm?galleryID=156.

 

Set of 1943
BVMs are: (standing, l. to r.) Geneve Moran, Jean M. Byrne (Jean Francis), Karen Pollard, Julia Acosta (Lorenzo), Eleanor Craggs; (seated, l. to r.) Rita Mary Zander (Magdalene), Mary Frances Shafer (Francis Edward), and Rose André Koehler.

Set of 1944:
BVMs are: (standing, l. to r.): Mary Ann Lenore Eifert, Mary McElmeel (Eugenne); (seated, l. to r.): Mary Enid Lodding, Mary L. Stokes (Charlotte), Carol Frances Jegen, and Barbara Cerny.

 

Set of 1946
All sisters entered the BVM congregation Sept. 8, 1946, except for Mary Angela Buser, BVM, who entered Feb. 2, 1946. BVMs are: (standing, l. to r.): Marian Hurley (Willliam Marie), Kathleen O’Sullivan (Donall), Dorothy Gaffney, Joan Stritesky (Magdaletta), Mary Angela Buser, Helen Jeanne Hurley, Janita Curoe, Kathleen Spurlin (Bernardone), Carl Loras Pilmaier, Margaret Devereux (Williamette); (seated, l. to r.) Marie Neff (Charles Marie) and Dolores Doohan (Sarah James). 

 

 

BVMs Mary Ernest Rothe (l.) and Suzanne Stopper were unable to attend.


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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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