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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

Read the latest issue of Salt magazine!

Winter Salt 2018: Planting Seeds of Hope
On the cover: On June 11, 2014, BVM Marge Clark closed out the first “Witness Wednesday: Voices of the Unemployed” event, held in front of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. As she retires, Marge shares her belief that the future of social justice advocacy is “in good hands” and the seeds planted by BVMs and associates continue to thrive. (Photo republished with permission from the Project on Government Oversight)

Click here to download magazine.


BVM Employees Reflect Sisters’ Mission, Values

The Working Unitedly (WU) employee team of the Sisters of Charity, BVM at Mount Carmel in Dubuque, Iowa, knows how to make a difference!

Organized in 2015, the group plans outreach activities that reflect the BVM core values and engage fellow staff members. They brainstorm and implement projects, add a little competition and fun, and unite employees through service to local community causes.

In the past year, WU has provided supplies to Dubuque shelters for homeless women and children, and prepared and served a meal at another local shelter. With money raised from a “premium parking” raffle at Mount Carmel, they helped sponsor three employee teams for “Trivia Night,” a fundraiser hosted by an area nonprofit charity.

From book drives to benefit local elementary school students to a blood drive at Mount Carmel, the WU team has motivated others to pitch in and donate.

Raising awareness of Alzheimer’s disease is a cause near and dear to the BVM sisters’ hearts. WU sponsored a mini-walk at Mount Carmel that capped a week of good-natured, earnest competition as employees on different teams raised funds in a “Champions for Change” challenge. WU raised nearly $4,300, presented in a check to the Dubuque Alzheimer’s Association.

During breast cancer awareness month, pink carnations and lemonade were sold, along with chances for a premium parking spot. Proceeds of over $600 went to a local salon to provide 20 wigs to women with cancer.

The Working Unitedly group rounded out the year with a food drive, donating 20 boxes of nonperishables to the Veterans Affairs Office for local veterans and their families. In all, Working Unitedly raised over $5,000 in 2017, in addition to the books, supplies, food, blood, and hours of time donated.

Not one to rest on their accomplishments, the team kicked off the New Year with a “Souperbowl Cook Off” in which staff contributed a variety of soups and chilies to be shared and judged by a panel of discerning experts at Mount Carmel! The winners took home “Golden Ladle” awards and nearly $450 was raised to provide a meal for a local shelter.

Want to see the group in action? Check out our photos!


‘Dubuque’s Got Sisters!’ Offers Retreat

Catholic sisters have shared their talents through their mission and ministry over the years and invite you to join them in their journey of calling for justice and peace in our world.

Join Dubuque-area sisters for a one-day retreat to share life through praying, dining, and storytelling at Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey, Dubuque, Iowa, on Saturday, April 28, 2018, from noon to 8 p.m.   There is no fee to attend.

“The Sisters in the Dubuque area collaborate in many ways. One of those ways is offering you an opportunity to pray, talk, and learn together through a ‘Dubuque’s Got Sisters!’ one day retreat,” says Lori Ritz, director of the Office of BVM Life and Mission.

“Dubuque’s Got Sisters!” is sponsored by the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Dubuque Franciscan Sisters, Sinsinawa (Wis.) Dominican Sisters, Trappestines Nuns, and Holy Spirit Sisters.

The Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary are women of steadfast love called to live the mission of Jesus through the core values of freedom, charity, education and justice. For nearly 185 years, BVMs have ministered to those in need in numerous parts of the world.

To view a PDF click here.

To register or for more details contact:
Lori Ritz


From Mother to Daughter . . . Passing the Torch of Social Justice

“To have known Dorothy is to spend the rest of your life wondering what hit you.”

By the time Kate Hennessy finished her presentation on Feb. 5 at Mount Carmel in Dubuque, Iowa, everyone in the audience echoed her sentiment about her grandmother.

BVM sisters had gathered to hear Kate, writer and youngest grandchild of social activist Dorothy Day, share touching moments of her grandmother’s life.

Kate is the author of Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved By Beauty: An Intimate Portrait of My Grandmother, published by Scribner. She has traveled and worked around the world, and divides her time between Vermont and Ireland.

One of the founders of the Catholic Worker Movement, Dorothy Day’s ministry in social justice work spanned nearly half a century, encompassing the lives of her daughter, Tamar Hennessy, and granddaughter, Kate.

Through anecdotes and passages from her book, Kate brought her grandmother and mother to life for the audience, sharing their love for those living on the margins. BVM Roberta White (Caritas) says, “Kate appreciated Dorothy’s way of working with those ‘discarded by society’—her respect for those people was so inspiring.”

Some sisters shared their memories of ministry at Catholic Worker houses. “Kate’s presentation helped me reconnect with my experiences with Catholic Worker,” says BVM Carol Cook (Conrad Ann). Mary Jean Ferry, BVM (St. Christopher) who served at Catholic Worker houses in Denver and Los Angeles, agrees, saying, “Miracles happen when the need is there.”

Today, there are over 240 operating Catholic Worker houses and farms. The 1933 Catholic Worker newspaper, edited by Dorothy Day from its inception until her death, is still available and sells for 1 cent per copy!

Mary Jean speaks for many when she says, “I was inspired by Kate’s stories of her mother and grandmother—Kate herself emanates Dorothy Day’s spirit.”

Post date 2.13.2018


BVMs Work to Promote Awareness of Human Trafficking

During the month of January, Sisters of Charity, BVM and associates joined other members of the Coalition Against Human Trafficking in Dubuque, Iowa, to promote human trafficking awareness through many venues. Some of these include:

  • Placement of billboards with a message to end human trafficking and the national hotline phone number; placement of window display at local bookstore
  • Assisting in obtaining proclamations from the city and county of Dubuque declaring that January is Human Trafficking Awareness month
  • Co-sponsoring two screenings of the film, “I am Still Here” that focuses on the deception leading to the abduction and sex slavery of a young woman in an ordinary neighborhood; participation in Q & A panels on the film screening
  • Engaging in daily reflection and prayer at Mount Carmel

BVM Associate Coordinator Suzie Wright also held two free training sessions on trafficking awareness for the area public through Set Free Dubuque and the Coalition.

If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, call or text the HOTLINE now: 1-888-373-7888 | text 23373.

Video: Sisters and Associates Respond to the Film "I am Still Here"


BVM Director of Development Receives Outstanding Fundraiser Award

Sisters of Charity, BVM Director of Development Andy Schroeder was honored as “Outstanding Professional Fundraiser” at the National Philanthropy Day Awards Luncheon on Nov. 15, 2017, at the Grand River Center, Dubuque, Iowa.

Andy has served as director of development for the BVM congregation since April 2015. Before coming to Mount Carmel, he was a major and planned gifts officer at Clarke University in Dubuque, where he worked in development for seven years. Andy is also a BVM associate who is involved in his local parish and community as council and board member, and volunteer.

“The BVM cores values are really a guideline for how I live my life,” Andy shares. “I am proud that every day I go to work I know that I will have the ability to partner with people who are trying to make the world a better place. I love what I do and believe in it.”


BVM Scholarships Continue Legacy

Mount Carmel healthcare staff member Danielle McIntyre checks BVM Alice Dunphy’s blood pressure.

Mount Carmel healthcare staff member Danielle McIntyre checks BVM Alice Dunphy’s blood pressure.

With faith, determination and a dream to fulfill a mission of education, five young Irishwomen set sail for America nearly 185 years ago. Mary Frances Clarke and her companions set in motion a legacy that continues today through the dedication and support of those taught by the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

With fewer sisters in teaching ministries, the BVM community adjusts to the changing times by seeking ways to foster the core value of education. If they could no longer teach, then sisters would create scholarships to support Catholic education!

Changing Times Create New Opportunities

And so—the BVM Endowed Scholarship Fund was born—made possible through the support of over 1,000 donors, many of them former students of the sisters. Results of the 2016 Annual Appeal enabled the congregation to award scholarships at schools founded or primarily staffed by BVMs. Students at Carmel Catholic HS in Mundelein, Ill.; Loyola University Chicago; and Wahlert HS and Clarke University, both in Dubuque, Iowa, have received scholarships; six more will be offered to students across the country.

BVM President Teri Hadro shares, “We turn to our friends and supporters in gratitude for what you have accomplished. Your generous spirit puts smiles on sisters’ faces as they realize their legacy will live on forever in communities where they ministered.”

Wahlert HS student Rebecca Schmerbach shares, “I was excited to learn I was the recipient of the 2017 BVM Endowment Scholarship and that the sisters would be helping me throughout my high school years. It's great, in addition to the financial support, to know the sisters are encouraging me on my journey through high school. I am excited to challenge myself with honors and advanced placement classes I plan to take.”

Holy Family Catholic Schools Chief Administrator Carol Trueg says, “We appreciate the BVM support of our K-12 educational system and in helping students continue to access Catholic education. These scholarships sustain the impact of the many sisters who taught in and helped to shape Dubuque’s proud tradition of Catholic education.”

As a graduate of Clarke University who was taught by BVMs, Carol shares, “These intelligent, interesting and dedicated women inspired not only my passion for learning but also my decision to follow in their footsteps and pursue education as a career.”

The BVMs offer a Mary Frances Clarke (MFC) Scholarship to women in need of financial assistance to achieve their educational goals. A BVM sister or associate must recommend a potential candidate.

BVM Staff Pursues Educational Goals

Health care staff member Danielle McIntyre shares, “After working at Mount Carmel for two years, I realized that I truly enjoyed caring for ‘my sisters.’ At the end of my workday, I always felt uplifted because I had provided care, love and compassion for them. I wanted to continue in my profession and pursue a degree in nursing. I enrolled at Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) to become a Certified Nursing Aide (CNA), and went on to earn my Certified Medical Aide (CMA). I immediately signed up for classes to work toward a nursing degree.”

Like Katie, Danielle received BVM tuition assistance to obtain her certifications. She was awarded the MFC Scholarship twice to help pay for her classes toward nursing school.

Danielle begins the nursing program at NICC in January. “I have learned so much and received many opportunities,” she says. “I am grateful to the sisters at Mount Carmel who have provided financial, spiritual and emotional support for my education. On the BVM public website, the sisters describe their congregation as follows: ‘We are a community of Catholic women called to live the mission of Jesus through our core values of freedom, charity, education, and justice.’ I thank the sisters for sharing these values with me the past seven years.”

Like a self-fulfilling prophecy, the cycle of teaching, learning and sharing continues to inspire those who join in furthering the BVM mission of education.

Post date 12.13.2017



BVM Works to Promote Justice for Farmworkers

Mary Martens, BVM (Loras) serves as the BVM representative to the National Farm Worker Ministry (NFWM). This year’s NFWM board meeting held in September in Toledo, Ohio, coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC).

The FLOC convention provided an experience of union democracy in action. Fifty years after its inception, the union’s focus remains the same: giving farmworkers a voice in negotiating contracts and curtailing corporations’ ability to set pricing for growers and workers alike.

Participants in the joint event focused on issues that include immigration concerns, challenges to unions, farm worker organizing efforts, food certification programs, and continuing efforts to increase NFWM supporters and activists.

Soon a new NFWM logo and a redesigned website will link the organization with its Youth and Young Adult (YAYA) component. Local young people are being mentored for labor leadership and will inherit the roles now held by seasoned adult farm worker organizers.

Sisters of Charity, BVM have consistently supported justice for farmworkers and are currently using a resource, “Harvest of Justice,” offering weekly reflections between Labor Day and World Food Day for use among faith-based member groups.

Read more:

Post date 10.20.2017


BVM Remembered for Love of Community

The legacy of Therese Jacobs, BVM (Therese Carmelle) lives on as a young couple in Jackson, Miss., recently moved into a new home built in her honor. A Catholic community of volunteers in three counties in Jackson are helping to transform neighborhoods and provide homes for families to work, live and grow in as they partner with Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Capital Area.

This year, the 2017 Catholic Build House was constructed in memory of Therese, who was a longtime supporter and advocate of Catholic Build and Habit for Humanity Mississippi Capital Area. Therese served as pastoral minister for nearly two decades at St. Richard Parish in Jackson, Miss.

In an article Oct. 14 in the Mississippi Catholic, fellow parish member and longtime Catholic Build volunteer Raymond Barry says, “Sister Therese was a woman with a vivacious nature, energy and enthusiasm for her work, community, love of life, and her love of God. The spirit of giving and love of life and God demonstrated by the Catholic Build volunteers is a wonderful way to remember and honor Sister Therese.”

Read the full article:


BVM Lobbyist at NETWORK Retires

Though Marge Clark, BVM (Marie Margaret) officially put away her lobbyist shoes on Oct. 31, this Capitol Hill advocate for justice won’t be slowing down!

Marge plans to increase her work with the Sisters of Charity, BVM Shareholder, Education and Advocacy (SEA)) group, pursue her photography interests, read some good books, and take a little time to see the sights in Washington, D.C., which she hasn’t had a chance to do!

That’s because Marge has spent the past 13-plus years tirelessly advocating for social justice and the common good at NETWORK Lobby, “a Catholic leader in the global movement for justice and peace—[which] educates, organizes, and lobbies for economic and social transformation.”

“Network is a good place,” Marge says. “I will miss it, but won’t disappear from the people. I’ll miss the many friends and associates working on Capitol Hill and in the coalitions with which I work.” She feels that “people my age need to move out of the way in order for the next generation of wonderful, bright young people to move up.”

Marge will share her thoughts and reflections on her years at NETWORK in the upcoming winter issue of Salt magazine, published by the Sisters of Charity, BVM. Salt is also featured online on the BVM public website.

Marge’s closing sentiment reflects the community of fellow BVMs with whom she’s shared her life and mission. “Retire? Doesn't it mean getting new tires on which to run?”

Read more about Marge on pg. 9 of Network Connection.

Well-wishers congratulate Marge! Watch the video


‘If You Want Peace, Work for Justice’

BVMs, associates and staff gather to celebrate 43 years of 8th Day Center’s mission to promote justice.

BVMs, associates and staff gather to celebrate 43 years of 8th Day Center’s mission to promote justice.

8th Day Center for Justice in Chicago kicked off its final year with a “Gathering of Gratitude” in Evanston, Ill., on Sept. 30. BVMs and associates, friends and supporters assembled for a simple ritual, shared the work of the coming year, and celebrated the past 43 years of 8th Day’s journey toward justice. 

BVMs were one of the six founding congregations of the center in 1974. Over four-plus decades, 8th Day evolved into a 35-congregation coalition that collaborated with many partners to advocate for justice in society and the Catholic Church—‘guided by a vision for a world of dignity and respect for all people and creation.’

Associate Joann Crowley Beers, former BVM and one of the first BVM staff representatives at 8th Day, reflects, “We took to heart Pope Paul VI’s words, ‘If you want peace, work for justice.’ We looked at the stories of creation and saw that God rested on the 7th day, so on the 8th day the ongoing creation was in our hands—and the 8th Day Center for Justice was born. It was such a creative, optimistic, empowering time! I learned in those years how many BVMs were already deeply involved in works of justice. Allowing me to be part of something so much bigger than any of us confirmed that God is at work in us, and God’s work must truly be our own.”

Looking to the Future

The emerging reality of the diminishing numbers facing religious congregations jeopardized the ongoing sustainability of the center. After much exploration and discernment, the 8th Day staff and council determined that closing the center with dignity was the best decision moving forward.

“I treasure my years working at 8th Day because I find this ministry integrates my fundamental beliefs,” says Joellen McCarthy, BVM, who is the current business office coordinator at 8th Day. “The Center focuses its work on any system that diminishes the ability for humans and all creation to flourish. The structure within our operations embodies the phrase ‘be the change you wish the world to be.’ We make decisions in a consensual process and depend upon the accountability from mutual relationships to keep our work moving forward. I truly believe that mutual relationships are the foundation for nonviolence.”

The Commitment Continues

Though 8th Day will close, its work will continue, fostered by the interconnected groups and coalitions that have grown stronger over the years, working together for social justice.

“The 8th Day Center for Justice has exceeded every expectation of its founding communities,” says BVM President Teri Hadro. “It has been a reliable beacon for justice, a prophetic voice in society and church, a steadfast witness to Gospel values and a teacher of nonviolence and peace for all who had ears to hear. 8th Day will be missed, but seeds of its good work are growing in fertile soil across our globe. I am grateful!”

Note: A feature length article about the 8th Day Center for Justice, including many BVM reflections, will appear in the Winter 2018 issue of Salt magazine, published by the Sisters of Charity, BVM.

Post date 10.11.2017


Three Sisters of Charity, BVM Celebrate Golden Jubilees

“Let Us Be Grateful” was the theme that three Sisters of Charity, BVM chose for their Golden Jubilee celebration this year.

BVMs Linda Roby, Lynn Winsor and Joan Nuckols (above, l. to r.)  joined fellow sisters, family, colleagues and friends at Mount Carmel July 28–30 in Dubuque, Iowa. The three-day celebration featured Hawaiian, Latino and Italian themes at dinner and in dress and entertainment.

In her Welcome, BVM President Teri Hadro shared, “Welcome to this golden moment . . . Our golden jubilarians have spent the past 50 years helping others grow in the freedom of the children of God.”

She noted that Linda continues to remove barriers for hearing impaired persons in the Archdiocese of Portland, Ore., and at Xavier College Preparatory in Phoenix, Joan and Lynn have expanded the horizons, hopes and dreams of their students, helping the young women to believe in themselves.

Jubilarians Joan, Linda and Lynn shared their gratitude to their fellow sisters who have accompanied them on their journey during the past 50 years and who helped in making their Golden Jubilee celebration a unique and memorable event.

To learn more about this year’s Golden Jubilarians, go to:

Post date 8.18.2017



BVM Sisters and Staff Unite Against Alzheimer’s Disease

Comprised of staff members from various departments at Mount Carmel, the “Working Unitedly Team” held its second “Champions for Change” fundraiser from Aug. 4 through Aug. 15. Funds raised help to support Alzheimer’s research, raise awareness of the disease, and promote the upcoming Alzheimer’s Association Walk in Dubuque, Iowa, on Sept. 9.

Like last year’s successful event, 10 teams joined in the fun-filled competition. Approximately 350 members, including 50 resident sisters, sported buttons with their team’s colors as they emptied their pockets, wallets, and piggy banks of excess change, vying for first place. Boxes labeled with team colors were placed at Mount Carmel entrances and moved to the dining rooms during lunch so sisters could more easily contribute.

On Aug. 16, sisters and staff gathered for a “Mini Memory Walk” in the Joan Doyle Garden at Mount Carmel, followed by root beer floats for everyone. Although Team Blue had raised the most money, everyone was proud to be a member of Team PURPLE, the real winner!

Alexandra Barton, program and event coordinator at the Alzheimer's Association, Dubuque, was presented with a check for $4,278.45 from the Mount Carmel “Champions for Change.” Funds gathered during the mini walk and at two earlier events sponsored by Working Unitedly increased the total amount given to the Alzheimer’s Association by $1,455.

Post date 8.18.2017


BVM Advocates with Others for ‘Dignity of All Immigrants’

Rose Mary Meyer, BVM speaks at the ICIRR press conference Sept. 21. Photo courtesy of ICIRR

Rose Mary Meyer, BVM speaks at the ICIRR press conference Sept. 21. Photo courtesy of ICIRR

Rose Mary Meyer, BVM (Sebastian) shares her advocacy work with others from many cultures and religious backgrounds as part of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR). “I feel enriched when they share their courageous stories. I learn from them and am moved to action by their hope for a more humane life for themselves and their children,” says Rose Mary.

She is the executive director of Project Irene (Illinois Religious Engaging in Non-violent Endeavors), an ICIRR member organization that is a collective voice seeking justice for women and children through systemic change in Illinois.

In late September, ICIRR met with the Illinois Congressional Delegation regarding the future of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.

The DREAM Act is an American legislative proposal for a multi-phase process for qualifying alien minors in the United States that would first grant conditional residency and, upon meeting further qualifications, permanent residency.

“The role of government is to protect all people. We urge the Illinois Delegation to take seriously the moral imperative of their jobs, and to do everything in their power to protect immigrants in Illinois and across the United States," says Rose Mary.

ICIRR leaders and allies gathered for a press conference Sept. 21 to report on the meetings they have had, and to deploy delegations to the offices of representatives who have yet to respond to meeting requests. Currently they have met with or have scheduled meetings with 15 out of the 20 Illinois congress people and senators to ask them to defend DACA and support a clean Dream Act.

Rose Mary, who led the group at the press conference in prayer, adds, “Bishop Seitz of El Paso, Texas, wrote in a profound pastoral letter earlier this year, ‘Every human being bears within him or her the image of God, which confers upon us a dignity higher than any passport or immigration status.’ Dignity is what we are talking about here today. The dignity of all immigrants who should not have to fight for their basic humanity. The faith community is with you every step of the way.”

Post date 9.27.2017


BVMs Celebrate Diamond Jubilees

Eleven Sisters of Charity, BVM celebrated 70 years in religious life this fall. They gathered in the Mount Carmel Motherhouse Chapel in Dubuque, Iowa, on Sept. 10, 2017, for a liturgy of thanksgiving.

Read more about these sisters:

Watch the video:




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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