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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
BVM Sisters Grateful for Pope Francis' Encyclical
We applaud the publication of LAUDATO SI’, Pope Francis’ new encyclical, and look forward to reading it, praying it, and discussing it with our sisters and friends. We commit to joining with like-minded people to live in ways that reverence our common home, work towards reversing the negative impact of our collective human footprint, and demonstrate our gratitude for all creation as God’s gift. -BVM Leadership Team
Join us in Pope Francis' prayer for the Earth as we reflect on the Encyclical on climate control:
A prayer for our earth
All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures. You embrace with your tenderness all that exists. Pour out upon us the power of your love, hat we may protect life and beauty. Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor, help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes. Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the earth. Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light. We thank you for being with us each day. Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace.
BVMs Receive Governor Volunteer Awards
Two Sisters of Charity, BVM were among other Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Dubuque volunteers presented with the Governor Volunteer Awards on June 11 at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. Each volunteer dedicated over five years of service to the program.
“Mary Agnes and I volunteer as members of Circles of Support and Accountability, a project of the Archdiocesan Jail and Prison Ministry,” says Sara McAlpin, BVM (Philip Mary). “We meet in groups to support women and men of various ages who have been arrested on drug charges.”
Mary Agnes O’Connor, BVM (St. Agnes) adds, “We volunteer in Dubuque’s Restorative Justice Program—with some of us visiting men’s prisons and others involved with the Dubuque Drug Court Program. All of this is under the auspices of Catholic Charities.”
The Governor’s Volunteer Awards (GVA) program was created in 1982, with inaugural awards presented in 1983. “Iowa is recognized as a national leader in volunteerism and service because of the steadfast devotion of our volunteers,” states Governor Terry E. Branstad. “I am pleased to have an opportunity to personally thank this year’s Governor’s Volunteer Award recipients for contributing their priceless time and talent in ways that make an enormous difference in our state.”
BVMs Celebrate Diamond Jubilees
Currents of Change Features News for Alumni, Friends of BVMs
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Celebrating the Year of Consecrated Life Through Service
In celebration of the Year of Consecrated Life, more than 40 BVMs and associates joined in ministry to prepare and serve a meal at St. Patrick Parish in Dubuque, Iowa, on July 22. This meal is an ongoing ministry at the parish—offered every Wednesday to those in the community who are in need. Each religious congregation in the area collaborated through service ministry at various other sites.
Area BVMs and associates brought desserts, assisted with preparing and serving the meal, visited with the 121 adults and children who were guests, or made a financial contribution. The dining services staff at Mount Carmel, Dubuque, prepared a fruit salad to serve guests.
BVM Associate Marilyn Heinz (pictured) was the driving force behind the organization of BVM and associate volunteers for the meal. Marilyn and her husband Bob, together with several regular volunteers, have kept the parish’s free weekly meal going for almost three decades—gathering donations, planning menus, shopping, cooking, and lining up volunteers to serve people in need. BVMs (pictured, l. to r.) Dolores Becker, Audrey Juergens (Raymond Ann) and Anita Therese Hayes help prepare the meal.
Feedback on the event has been positive, and similar opportunities for service will be explored!
—Tricia Lothschutz Outreach/Volunteer Coordinator
Check out the latest issue of SALT!
“As women of the Church, we are called to give strong public witness against oppression brought about by unjust political and social structures . . . (BVM Constitution #17).” In this issue, learn how BVMs continue to embody this guiding principle in ministry and care for others and our earth. Photo: Activities staff member Annie Birch assists Paul Francis Bailey, BVM as she sews diapers from recycled T-shirts.
New Director Takes Helm at Mount Carmel’s Roberta Kuhn Center
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.
Summer 2015 Associates Retreat: Living with Uncertainty and Change
The BVM core value of freedom led us on a journey of exploration at the associate retreat at Mount Carmel in Dubuque, Iowa, July 17–19. How are we being called? And what keeps us from this freeing experience?
Facilitators Virginia Stone, BVM (Alice Rose) and Associate Joann Crowley Beers provided us with an extraordinary process using the river as a metaphor. This quote by the Hopi Elders led us on our own exploration:
My fellow swimmers: There is a river flowing very fast. It is so great and swift, that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly. Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, and keep our eyes open and our heads above the water. And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate . . . All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration. We are the ones who we have been waiting for. (Oraibi, Arizona Hopi Nation)
A significant part of the journey included four powerful and moving panelists: BVMs Catherine Dunn (Catherine Michele) and Mary McCauley (Mercedie) and Associate Co-coordinators Kimberly Emery and Lori Ritz, who shared their stories of change and uncertainty.
This in turn gave us permission and an invitation to listen to the river within ourselves. Are we ready to let go of the shore? What edge are we clinging to? Associate Kathy Weishaar shared, “My whole life I followed the river; my Dad always drove the roads that did that. So a river as a metaphor for uncertainty and change made the weekend so personal and enlivening.”
An opportunity for a new relationship was given to us at the retreat when we each received the name of a BVM sister living at Mount Carmel, with whom we could talk and listen, and share stories of uncertainty and change.
“I came not sure of what I might give or receive. It took not long . . . that I knew my trip from Montana had been more than worthwhile and there was more to come before the retreat ended,” shared Associate Jim Tackes. “I had been waiting to decide what I might do next after my wife Rosemary died. The weekend gave me some possibilities.”
Perhaps a quote from Irish poet John O’Donohue sums it up best: “I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.”
—BVM Associate Jeanie Fritscher
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From the Mount Carmel Archives: BVMs Partner With Clarke University for USO Tours
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 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.”
 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
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.
Read all the Wonderful Thank a Nun messages you shared with us
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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 (http://www.dbqarch.org) 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.
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
Women and Spirit, Smithsonian Exhibit and Study Guide (excellent classroom resources)
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
https://lcwr.org/publications/sisters-documentary (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: http://scu.edu/ic/publications/videos.cfm?b=474&c=20186
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:
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: email@example.com
Diocese of Arlington, Va.
The diocese held a Mass and reception in February in celebration of the Year of Consecrated Life.
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.
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
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