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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

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):

Read this reflection by Peggy Geraghty, BVM about last year's trip to Ecuador.



DAVA Receives Mustard Seed Award

The Dubuque Area Vocational Association (DAVA) was honored with the Mustard Seed Award at the 15th Biennial Convocation of the National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC), held in Overland Park, Kan., Oct. 27–31. The award recognizes those making a significant impact on vocation ministry through small, local initiatives that have grown to include other groups.

“Lou and I were blessed to work with a wonderful group of men and women in DAVA for the past nine years,” says Kathy Carr, BVM who, together with current BVM First Vice President Lou Anglin, served as Initial Membership Coordinators.

“Our collaboration with the other 11 congregations was truly supportive of our own efforts. We all encouraged each other and there was great respect for the charism and traditions of each congregation. One of the common responses DAVA would receive from program participants was how inspiring it was to see the congregations working together so enthusiastically. While the “fruits” of vocation work are often invisible, it is an honor to have our efforts recognized with this award from the National Religious Vocation Conference.”

Post date 12.13.16


BVM Lynn Winsor Named Golf Coach of the Year

Photo Credit: Golf Digest

Photo Credit: Golf Digest

The Arizona Sports Awards, presented by Arby’s, has named Lynn Winsor, BVM and Tui Selvaratnam ‘Girls Golf Coaches of the Year.’ At Xavier College Preparatory in Phoenix, Lynn and co-coach Tui led their golf program to its 34th championship since 1980.

Lynn has coached the girls golf program at since 1974 and has received numerous accolades, along with the girls’ golf team, in her 43 years of coaching at Xavier. “It’s that tradition of excellence that has followed us,” says Lynn. “We call it the Xavier golf experience.” Read the article at:

Lynn is also featured in Prep Golf, Golf Digest, on Nov. 7, as the ‘coaching nun’ inducted into the Arizona Women’s Golf Association Hall of Fame in 2000, who does not play golf! Read the article at:

Post date 12.13.16


BVM Honored as Paul Harris Fellow

Cindy Sullivan shares a special moment with a graduate of the Working Boys’ Center.

Cindy Sullivan shares a special moment with a graduate of the Working Boys’ Center.

‘Madre’ Cindy Sullivan, BVM is the recipient of an International Humanitarian Service award as a Paul Harris Fellow, presented by the Rotary Club of Petwawa, Canada. Five award recipients were recognized on Nov. 12 in Petawawa. Rotarian Norm Edwards accepted the award on Cindy’s behalf and she will receive her pin, certificate and medal at a later date.

As volunteer director of the Working Boys’ Center in Quito, Ecuador, Cindy says, “Norm brought a group of Rotarians to the Center some years ago and they are great benefactors.” She adds, “I am humbled and honored by this award which really belongs to our whole team here in Quito and our team at the Center for Working Families. It also is an award for all BVMs.”

Faye Reid, of the Petawawa Rotary Club, notes that “the symbolism in this recognition is to say thank you for making a difference in your community and in the lives of less fortunate people in the world . . . the Rotary Club of Petawawa, Canada recognizes these efforts and has made a contribution to the Rotary Foundation in your name.”

This fellowship was named after Paul Harris, who founded Rotary in 1905. The Rotary Foundation contributes to helping make the world a better place in which to live through education, food, potable water, shelter and much more.

Post date 12.14.16


BVMs and Staff Unite for Alzheimer’s Research

Sisters and staff at Mount Carmel were honored with an award for the Top Fundraising Team for the 2016 Alzheimer's Walk in Dubuque, Iowa. The award was presented on Nov. 1 by Alexandra Barton, program and event coordinator at the Alzheimer's Association, Dubuque. In all, staff and sisters raised over $9,000.

The fun began when the “Working Unitedly Team” at Mount Carmel held their own “Olympics” in early August. Teams representing 10 colors, each made up of 30 employees and sisters, competed for one week to raise funds for Alzheimer’s research—a cause near and dear to the Sisters of Charity, BVM!

“Opening Ceremonies” commenced on Aug. 3, followed by a week of fun-filled competition between the teams. Ten boxes labeled with team colors were placed at Mount Carmel entrances and all were encouraged not only to “bring their change” but to “be the change,” helping to raise awareness of the disease and the upcoming Alzheimers’ Association Walk in Dubuque on Sept. 10.

At the week’s end on Aug. 10, sisters and staff braved the heat and humidity in the Joan Doyle Garden at Mount Carmel for a “Mini Memory Walk,” followed by root beer floats. Over 128 participants walked a total of 122,250 steps. All of the teams were declared winners, as they had dug into their pockets during the week of friendly competition and raised a total of $3,934.81 for the Alzheimer’s Association!

After the Mini Walk, a grand total of $4,871.93 had been raised by sisters and staff for Alzheimer’s research, and everyone was proud to be a member of TEAM PURPLE, the real winner!

But it didn't end there! By the time the Sept. 10 Alzheimer's Association Walk in Dubuque was finished, donations from staff and sisters had exceeded $9,000.

Updated 12.13.16

Watch KCRG’s news coverage:




Read the latest issue of Salt magazine!

The new issue of Salt is now online! Read how our BVM sisters and staff come together in community.  Click here to download magazine.


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:

To view additional photos, visit:


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.


Congratulations to BVM Golden Jubilarians!

Mary Ann Cronin, BVM and Susan Coler, BVM celebrated their golden jubilees with an Evening Prayer of Jubilee and Gratitude on April 12 in the Mount Carmel Motherhouse Chapel, followed by a reception. Read more about these sisters at



‘Motherhouse Road Trip’ Features Two BVMs in Dubuque, Iowa

A Nun’s Life Ministry took to the road to visit the Sisters of Charity, BVM at the Mount Carmel Motherhouse in Dubuque, Iowa, on Tuesday, March 1.

The podcast was live-streamed (audio and video) over the internet as two BVM sisters, Lou Anglin and Paulette Skiba, joined the hosts, Sister Julie Vieira and Sister Maxine Kollasch, to discuss the traditions of religious life including discernment, prayer and spirituality. A live chat room provided online listeners the ability to interact with each other and the sisters during the podcast.

Lou Anglin, BVM became acquainted with the BVMs while a student at Clarke University in Dubuque. “The BVMs really created that sense of community,” she says. “I saw them as very capable, human women . . . I felt at home to be myself.” Asked when she finally discerned that she was called to join the BVMs, Lou shares: “I just felt I couldn’t not do this. I think God is telling us often, encouraging us to follow our hearts and to listen.”

Lou taught middle school in Iowa, Alabama and St. Louis, where she lived for nearly 20 years. She served in an all-girls high school as religion teacher, campus minister, and freshmen basketball coach. During that time, she completed a master’s degree in pastoral studies from Loyola University Chicago. She recently concluded her ministry on the congregation’s Initial Membership Team.

“The world opened up for me because of the people my life has become entangled with,” shares Paulette Skiba, BVM. “I didn’t want this to be one year, two years—I wanted it to be a life commitment.” She adds, “You don’t need to come with the skills in community . . . you grow into them.” Her first ministry was teaching third grade in Chicago. After completing a doctorate in systematic theology at Marquette University, Milwaukee, Paulette joined the faculty at Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa, where she has taught in the religious studies department for more than 20 years and serves as department chair.

Sisters Julie and Maxine, who are Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary from Monroe, Mich., founded A Nun’s Life in 2006 as an internet-based ministry promoting the belief that each person is called by God to a vocation that enriches the individual and the world.


BVMs Appointed to Dual Leadership Positions at Xavier College Preparatory

Xavier College Preparatory in Phoenix has announced that longtime Principal Mary Joan Fitzgerald, BVM (John Raymond) will become the school’s president, and Vice Principal of Academics and Campus Minister Joan Nuckols, BVM will become its new principal. Both positions are effective July 1, and exemplify an emerging administration model of dual leadership structure offering shared authority and responsibilities to better serve Catholic high schools, students, families and communities.

As principal since 1974, Mary Joan Fitzgerald has built a tradition of excellence at Xavier, winning numerous awards for academic excellence and innovation. Joan Nuckols joined Xavier in 1974 as history teacher. Prior to her current position, she served as department chair of social studies and theology and continues to teach Advanced Placement European history. She holds two master’s degrees, one in European history and one in education administration.

The school has been staffed by the Sisters of Charity, BVM since 1943, when they established the Catholic high school for girls known as Xavier College Preparatory.


For BVM Volunteers, Lent Signifies Service

BVMs Donard Collins (l.) and Judy Callahan (r.) work under the watchful eye of Associate Marilyn Heinz (ctr.) as they prepare a meal at St. Patrick Parish in Dubuque, Iowa.

BVMs Donard Collins (l.) and Judy Callahan (r.) work under the watchful eye of Associate Marilyn Heinz (ctr.) as they prepare a meal at St. Patrick Parish in Dubuque, Iowa.

BVM sisters and associates gathered with other volunteers at St. Patrick Parish in Dubuque, Iowa, on Ash Wednesday to prepare and serve a meal to those in need.

“It was an opportunity to meet and interact with over 90 guests—men and women of all ages plus some young children,” says Mary Martens, BVM (Loras). “The workers who serve this parish meal on a weekly basis provide a welcoming environment in which all can enjoy fellowship and food.”

BVM Associate Marilyn Heinz has been the driving force behind the meal for over three decades. “Marilyn and her parish crew do this every week and get donations from different churches in Dubuque,” says Associate Grace Mendez. “She knows what people will and won't eat and has recipes in her head for serving over 100 people!”

Donard Collins, BVM adds, “Marilyn has everything organized down to the last detail: I crushed potato chips for the tuna casserole! I had a few minutes to visit with the guests that came in early out of the cold, and it was a wonderful way to begin Lent.”

Serving the community meal has a deeper meaning for many of the volunteers. “Being with the dinner guests at St. Patrick reminds me that we are all a part of a world that needs one another,” shares Jean Gordon, BVM (James Miriam).

“It was a joy to help serve the meal with the sisters,” says Associate Jeanne Harrington. “There are so many needs in the world—and the BVMs are so responsive to them. Marilyn has been so amazing in her commitment to feeding folks each week and that, too, is an inspiration!”

BVM Diane Rapozo (Malia) takes it further. “Serving a meal at St. Patrick Parish gave me a chance to have conversations with a few of the people. It made me realize I must go further than serving a meal,” she shares. “I need to contact elected officials to see what we can do to break the unjust economic system.”


BVM Sisters and Associates Resolve to Work for Justice

Immersion trip participants are (l. to r.) Associates Virginia Piecuch and Kimberly Emery, Carol Cook, Joyce Rohlik, Colleen McGinnity, Sharon Rezmer, Ann DeNicolo, and Associate Nancy McCarville.

Immersion trip participants are (l. to r.) Associates Virginia Piecuch and Kimberly Emery, Carol Cook, Joyce Rohlik, Colleen McGinnity, Sharon Rezmer, Ann DeNicolo, and Associate Nancy McCarville.

The Sisters of Charity, BVM can trace their support of farmworkers to 1970s’ California, where Carol Frances Jegen, BVM was active with the farm workers and became a personal friend to Cesar Chavez. For 40 years, BVMs have been a member organization of the National Farm Worker Ministry (NFWM). Since 2011, BVM Mary Martens (Loras) has represented the BVMs in NFWM and advocated for farmworker issues.

Ann DeNicolo, BVM (Ann Thomas), currently serving the farmworker community of Arcadia, Fla., invited associates and sisters to spend several days learning about her ministry. From Jan. 13–17, Associates Virginia Piecuch, Kimberly Emery and Nancy McCarville joined BVMs Colleen McGinnity (Rose Maureen), Sharon Rezmer, Joyce Rohlik and Carol Cook (Conrad Ann), who has longstanding ties to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW). The group looked forward to “A renewed understanding of the work of the farmworkers and the advocacy of CIW for fair food.”

At the CIW headquarters, coalition staff shared a story of unfair wages and horrific working conditions for migrant workers until 1993, when a group of six organized and protested. Goals were to eliminate abuse, guarantee better wages, and improve conditions in the fields.

Remarkable success has been realized as 14 major corporations (including McDonald’s, Taco Bell and WalMart) have come to the table to negotiate, leaving two holdouts: Publix supermarkets and Wendy’s. Workers are now guaranteed the minimum wage, rest breaks, toilet facilities, and no tolerance for sexual abuse of women at work. A major victory was achieved as corporations agreed to pay an extra penny per pound for tomatoes. CIW hopes to win the same concession for strawberries.

A visit was arranged to the Casa Santa Maria soup kitchen and to the Guadalupe Church where the initial group of six first met to plan their protest strategy.

The DeSoto Cares Drop-in Center for the Homeless was developed and staffed by volunteers with a budget under $9,000. The Center provides hot showers, laundry and mailboxes—with computers and job training slated for the future.

At the Arcadia Center for the Needy, “James” welcomed the group with his wide smile and vivacious personality. Formerly living in the woods and eating from dumpsters, this volunteer has taken charge of the facility, rising each day to prepare a hot breakfast for the homeless who line up at 4:15 a.m.

The state-of-the-art housing community, Casa San Juan Bosco, built by Catholic Charities, offers affordable living to families who paid excessive rents for substandard trailers. Amenities include gardens, a play park, community center, after-school programs, and mothers’ groups.

The day’s outing continued to Arcadia’s Catholic Charities Office, where Edith, the daughter of migrant workers, explained Links2Success, an educational opportunity program for youth. She serves as an ambassador for the program, which provided her with the resources and guidance to attend college. Formerly shy and marginalized, this young woman has found her voice and offers a helping hand to those coming up behind her.

Also at Catholic Charities was a glimpse into Ann’s ministry, answering the needs of her clients with resources including food, clothes, and financial assistance. Advocating for Arcadian farmworkers for 15 years, Ann has gained the trust and love of this community.

Participants approached this trip focused on “better understanding of” and “increased sensitivity toward” the cause of the farmworkers. As they departed, questions challenged them: how to pass on new learnings and resolve to promote justice for farmworkers.

Carol reflected, “Time in Immokalee brought back memories of work with CIW when I served as BVM representative to the National Farm Worker Ministry (NFWM). My first contact was one winter day when workers arrived in Chicago to lobby Taco Bell to increase wages to tomato pickers by a penny. This turned into a boycott which lasted three years. Next came the campaign with McDonalds. I, also, observed the development of leadership skills by the workers, watching a young man who hung back at the demonstration and who in a year or two was out front organizing the others.”

Colleen admired the deep commitment of people making life better for workers in Immokalee and Arcadia, including Ann. Joyce valued the impact one person can have, saying, “Each speaker was powerful and touched my heart.”

With new insight, Virginia admitted, “I hoped to meet more migrant workers, but instead I came to know them through those who assist them. Long time volunteers and local people, who were once helped by others, are completing the circle and forming community with each other.”

Encouraged to take action and willing to write letters in support of the Fair Food Program, participants share their positive experience at Immokalee and encourage others to take advantage when another opportunity is offered.

—Associate Co-coordinator Nancy McCarville


Check out the latest issue of SALT!

The new issue of Salt is now online! Read how our BVM sisters promote peace and nonviolence in a diverse array of ministries—Freed by Love, Acting for Justice. Find out more at:






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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