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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.

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.


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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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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, 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

For more information go to:www.soaw.org


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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 http://www.bvmcong.org/whatsnew_jubs.cfm

 


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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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BVMs Join Sisters to Promote Care of Earth


BVMs and other Catholic Sisters of the Upper Mississippi Valley joined together in issuing a call to action to care for the environment—through legislation to reduce carbon emissions, developing clean energy policies, and providing financial assistance to developing countries.

More than 20 billboards with the message “Standing with Pope Francis; Caring for our Common Home” have been placed in Iowa from January through early February in advance of the caucuses to remind delegates, potential presidential candidates, and voters of this critical issue. Billboards are also placed in Illinois and Wisconsin.

In Dubuque, Iowa, about 50 sisters, associates and friends carrying placards with the billboard message gathered at 8th and White Streets for a prayer service on Jan. 27, where one of the billboards is displayed. Watch the video at: https://youtu.be/6broFbs0heY

Prayer services were also held by the sisters in Davenport, Iowa, on Jan. 27, and will be held at the other billboard sites listed below on Jan. 31 and Feb. 2. 

Catholic Sisters for a Healthy Earth Committee (CSHE) initiated the plan for the billboards and prayer services. Made up of representatives from the sponsoring women religious communities, CSHE urges others to heed the cry of Earth and of those who suffer from the effects of climate change, just as Pope Francis called us to take action to care for our Common Home in his recent encyclical, Laudata Sí.

CSHE Committee Member Carol Marie Baum, BVM (Joseph Louis) says: “It is our belief that we can make the difference with a change of heart and the realization that as ONE PLANET, ONE FAMILY we are capable of making the choices that can change the trajectory of the future.”

Catholic Sisters in collaboration on the billboard campaign are: Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa, Wis.; Benedictine Sisters of Rock Island, Ill.; Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Community; Notre Dame Sisters of the Central Province; Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, LaCrosse, Wis.; Sisters of the Humility of Mary, Davenport, Iowa; Sisters of St. Francis, Clinton, Iowa; Sisters United News (SUN); and Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Franciscan Sisters, and Visitation Sisters, all of Dubuque, Iowa.

The Sisters’ “Care for our Common Home” message and image was first shared in September 2015 during Pope Francis’ visit to the United States, when ads were placed in USA Today and local diocesan papers.

Des Moines, Iowa
January 31
12:00 p.m. 
808 42nd St.

Cedar Rapids, Iowa
February 2
4:30 p.m.
242 Blairs Ferry Rd. NE

 

Press Release billboard and prayer service locations
Prayer service: Standing with Pope Francis
Billboard blessing
Poster
Flyer


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‘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.


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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.


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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.”


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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


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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: http://www.bvmcong.org/whatsnew_pubs.cfm

 

 

 

 


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Local Art Gallery Features Work of Margaret Mear, BVM


Margaret Mear, BVM (Jacoba) is one of the artists whose work appears in the current show “Creatures Great and Small” at Outside the Lines Art Gallery in Dubuque, Iowa, from January through February. Her exhibited artwork entitled “The Leap” received a Best of Show award.

Margaret also has a sculpture on display for the Art on the River exhibit at the Port of Dubuque. “Always the Horrors of War” is one of 10 pieces selected by a jury of experts that will be on display in the exhibit for a year. Margaret is the first woman religious to have her art chosen for this event. View a video of this exhibit here.

In addition to these exhibits, she has two drawings entitled “Dumbarton” and “Gironde” on display in the online show with Colors of Humanity Art Gallery at www.colorsofhumanityartgallery.com. Artwork is arranged by the artist’s last name and can be viewed until the end of January.

Margaret was a professor of art for over 30 years at St. Mary University in Winona, Minn.


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Diana Malone, BVM Leaves ‘Hands-on Legacy’ for Students


After nearly 50 years in the Chemistry Department at Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa, longtime department chair and faculty member Diana Malone, BVM retired at the end of the fall 2015 semester. Rather than “watch someone else do it” during classes, Diana insisted on hands-on use by students in all chemistry class levels, fostering her philosophy of competitiveness for the future. Read her story at: http://bit.ly/1VJccAK


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Remembering the Sandy Hook Victims


"What we're doing here tonight is just try to raise consciousness so we can end violence in general, and in particular, gun violence," said Carolyn Farrell with the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. View the KWWL news story and a short video clip of BVM Judy Callahan about why she participated in the vigil at www.facebook.com/bvmsisters.


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Former BVMs Remain ‘Sisters’ for Life


A remarkable group of women—known as former BVMs—are living out the BVM charism and still walking with their "sisters" in spirit along diverse and rewarding paths.

Their roots in the congregation served as a foundation for the lives they went on to lead, and many of them return to Mount Carmel each year to celebrate jubilees with set members or mark special events.

Who are these women? Many have maintained close friendships with their sisters; some have become BVM associates; most all remain connected to the community in love and support.

Marianne Littau attended St. Jerome and St. Gertrude elementary schools in Chicago and became acquainted early on with the BVMs. As a student at Mundelein College, Chicago, she shares, "The wonderful BVMs who taught me were intelligent, caring women, very professional and committed to seeing us grow as women who could do and be whatever we wanted."

By her senior year, Marianne knew she wanted to join the community and teach mathematics. She taught at Mundelein, completed her master’s degree in math, and directed a program for adult women returning to college.

"After leaving the community, I worked in finance at a large corporation," says Marianne. "I guess I haven’t strayed very far from numbers in some form."

Marianne feels that she gained a lifelong interest in learning from the BVMs, as well as a commitment to social justice, an interest in other cultures, and self confidence.

"I continue to receive great support from the BVMs," she says. "Two years ago, I contracted a serious autoimmune disease . . . I have recovered almost totally. Through the long process, I have felt the support and prayers of BVMs and former BVMs . . . and am immensely grateful."

Marianne adds, "Given my feelings about BVMs and all the ways my life has intersected with the life of the community, I can’t imagine not supporting them. I value all the ways the BVMs have helped me grow and develop as a person."

Jean O’Keefe did not meet the BVMs until her high school years at Our Lady of Peace in St. Paul, Minn. "I experienced superior teaching and met many religious women who impressed me with their strengths and talents," she says. She entered the BVMs in 1964, driven by "a sense of service and commitment to something larger than myself."

Jean spent 13 years in the community. Then, "no longer feeling called to a life separate from the broader faith community" Jean decided to leave. She went to work in the marketing field. "The BVMs gave me a great sense of my abilities and of the value of community in all walks of life," she says. Jean remains close to the congregation and has stayed connected to many of the women who entered in 1964. She supports the BVMs because "I believe the community has and continues to do good work and supports the good work of others."

Like Marianne, Mary Hardiman-Desmond first encountered BVMs in elementary school, at St. Dorothy in Chicago. She remembered the BVMs as "happy women" and a group of "incredible educators." She entered the community in 1965.

"We were young women anxious to make a difference in our world," Mary recalls. "We became ‘other-centered,’ grounded, and emotionally and spiritually alive."

Mary feels that her set formed a true sisterhood which has stood the test of time for the last 50 years. "Our time in community was an incredible period of growth for all of us. My time as a BVM helped to make me the woman I am; the values, commitment, and my choice to work with the less fortunate all stem from the incredible women I had as role models."

In leaving the community, Mary shares, "I never felt that I was truly leaving, but rather, carrying with me all that I had learned from the BVMs."

Mary became a public school teacher on the south side of Chicago. "I loved making a difference in the lives of kids whom others had given up on," she says.

She married her husband Mike in 1976; they have two children and a new grandchild, who is "a special gift of love."

Mary feels that the BVMs challenged and guided her into becoming the best she could be. "I will always support the BVMs and thank God that they supported me."

 


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Dubuque’s Got Sisters Sponsors Fall Discernment Weekend

Two of the discernment weekend participants visit with Lou Anglin at dinner.

Two of the discernment weekend participants visit with Lou Anglin at dinner.

Eight young women arrived at Mount Carmel, Dubuque, Iowa, to participate in the sixth annual “Dubuque’s Got Sisters” (DGS) fall discernment retreat the weekend of Nov. 13-14.

The retreat is a collaborative event sponsored by four area religious congregations—the Dubuque Presentations, the Dubuque Franciscans, the Sinsinawa Dominicans, and the Sisters of Charity, BVM—to help women discern how God is calling them in their life.

A major focus of the weekend is the process of discernment itself, as well as general information on how religious life continues to reach out to those on the margins of our society.

Interwoven throughout the weekend are input from the sisters, time for questions and discussion, experiences of prayer and opportunities for quiet reflection, journaling, and talking informally with the vocation directors and one another. The women also enjoy their interaction with our sisters in the Caritas dining room.

This year we also had the “gift” of two current novices sharing their journey to religious life: our own Sharon Rezmer, and Christin Tomy, OP, who is a “graduate” of our previous DGS weekends.

One of the weekend’s participants wrote to us afterward, sharing what the weekend meant to her: “I am so glad you gave us the opportunity to discern our call this month. I was pleased with myself for attending—it helped me at this time of discernment. It was truly a blessing and a well-needed encounter getting to know all of you. The gift of each of you was what made the weekend so memorable. I look forward to participating in the retreat next spring.”

—Kathy Carr and Lou Anglin
Initial Membership Coordinators


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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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