Faithfully Green: Harnessing Green Energy for Nonprofit Communities

Faithfully Green: Harnessing Green Energy for Nonprofit Communities

In his encyclical, Laudato Si’, On the Care of Our Common Home, Pope Francis expresses, “We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, at the same time protecting nature.”

A key component of the mission of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati is to “care for all creation,” a message which was reaffirmed with their 2015 Chapter Direction: “Called from the beginning of our foundation as Sisters of Charity to address the needs of our world, we move intentionally and creatively toward the vulnerabilities of our Earth and our sisters and brothers.”

This Spring, in recognition of Earth Day, SC Ministry Foundation invited three Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, Sisters CJ Willie, Marge Kloos, and Barbara Busch to share how they are fulfilling the call to environmental stewardship. Staff from 20 nonprofit organizations joined in the conversation to learn how to adopt “green” practices, reduce energy costs, and inspire their community to do the same.

The Legacy of the Solar Nun

Sister CJ spoke from her varied experiences as the program director for EarthConnection, a member of environmental committees for both the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and Mount St. Joseph University, and a board member for Ohio Interfaith Power and Light (OhIPL). Sister Paula Gonzalez, SC co-founded Ohio Interfaith Power & Light in 2007 as the statewide affiliate of the national organization. Before her passing in July 2016, Sister Paula had spent 45 years of her life advocating for renewable energy, earning her the recognition as the “solar nun.” Sister CJ shared how OhIPL is continuing Sister Paula’s mission by partnering with energy assessment experts to help faith-based nonprofits obtain low-cost energy audits and implementation plans to reduce energy costs. She included information about financing options that are available to support energy conservation projects, such as the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) funding mechanism.

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Ohio Interfaith Power & Light connects faith-based organizations with resources to become more energy efficient. Founded by the late Sister Paula Gonzalez (pictured center), the organization continues its mission through leadership of executive director Sara Ward (left) and board member Sister CJ Willie (right).

Moving “Off the Grid”

As the co-founder and executive director of Working in Neighborhoods (WIN), Sister Barbara discussed how WIN is providing energy-efficient home renovations, and developing plans to utilize solar and geothermal energy in newly-constructed affordable homes. For many years, Working in Neighborhoods has been providing energy-efficient renovations for low-income homeowners, which includes Energy Star rated furnaces, water heaters and appliances, insulation and replacement windows, as well environmental remediation to manage issues with lead or asbestos. In addition, WIN builds new homes with the same principals of energy efficiency and sustainability. WIN’s latest project will create a “Net-Zero” Urban Village in South Cumminsville, one of Cincinnati’s oldest, predominantly African-American neighborhoods. Within a targeted area, WIN will build 25 net-zero or near net-zero energy usage homes using energy efficient design and green energy technology such as geothermal and/or solar. WIN’s goal is to move low-income residents out of costly, inefficient and often unhealthy rental properties into affordable, sustainable homeownership. Within the same targeted area, 25 current homeowners will receive weatherization and energy efficiency upgrades.  Sister Barb shared, “We think we can help those in poverty… we’re not going to increase their money, but we can increase their ability to use their money differently.”

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Sister Barbara Busch, SC Executive Director and co-founder of Working in Neighborhoods, has been presenting keys to first-time homebuyers for nearly 40 years. 

Living the Mission

Sister Marge’s background in environmental studies and global travel experiences have prepared her for the responsibility of coordinating environmental initiatives on the Sisters of Charity properties, through her role as an executive councilor with the Sisters of Charity Leadership Council. She shared how Pope Francis’ call to “integral ecology” led the Sisters to consider “what we were doing with our own properties to protect our ‘non-human neighbors’.” Sister Marge shared that when we utilize any energy, we “have to look at the ecological cost as well as the economic cost. As long as I can remember, Sister Paula has been encouraging us to do this.”  She described how the Sisters of Charity are on the leading edge of the renewable energy efforts in the Greater Cincinnati area through geothermal, solar, and other energy-efficient initiatives in order to transform their properties into “ecological models of sustainability.” One example Sister Marge cited was their effort to switch 10,500 lightbulbs in the Motherhouse to LED lighting. This has resulted in an estimated cost savings of $62,000 a year. Beyond the Motherhouse, the Sisters have installed geothermal HVAC technology for two of the Sister’s residences and solar technology for six of the residences. The combined impact of these renewable energy solutions is anticipated to reduce carbon emissions at the equivalent of 120,000 miles driven by a passenger vehicle in one year, or 54,000 pounds of coal burned each year.

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The Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati contracted with Melink Corporation to utilize solar and geothermal energy on their properties. 

A recording of the “Faithfully Green” panel presentation as well as additional resources are available at: www.scministryfdn.org/programs/faithfully-green.

 

Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati statement on Care for the Earth:
http://www.srcharitycinti.org/opjcc/earth.htm

 


 

Contributors: Brittany Hein, communications assistant with SC Ministry Foundation and English major at Mount St. Joseph University; Amelia Riedel, director of communications and program officer with SC Ministry Foundation. 

Neighbors Helping Neighbors – The Vincentian Volunteers of Cincinnati

FeaturedNeighbors Helping Neighbors – The Vincentian Volunteers of Cincinnati

At a time when most of their peers are focused on climbing a career ladder or advancing their education, five young women and men from around the world have chosen to live in Cincinnati in a lifestyle challenged by poverty as they devote a year of their lives in service for others. They share a home in Cincinnati’s West End neighborhood, share modest meals and utilize public transportation. They serve in full-time positions and earn only a small stipend for living expenses. They are a uniquely special group of young professionals called the Vincentian Volunteers of Cincinnati.

The Vincentian Volunteer program was created by the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Cincinnati in 2012 to expand the Society’s mission of “neighbors helping neighbors.” The program engages young adults in 11 months of full-time service to neighbors in need, while living in intentional community with each other and growing in faith. Though similar programs such as AmeriCorps exist across the country, at the time the Cincinnati Vincentian Volunteer program began it was the only faith-based, residential service opportunity available in the area.

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As program manager for the Vincentian Volunteers of Cincinnati, Maura Carpinello enhances the program through her wealth of personal experience as a Colorado Vincentian. Here she is discussing the “Getting Ahead” mentorship program with Fare Olagbaju.

The St. Vincent de Paul Society has served Cincinnati-area neighbors in need for nearly 150 years, and is the largest provider of emergency assistance services that prevent homelessness. The need is great, since approximately one in three Cincinnati residents fall below the federal poverty line, according the 2015 Ohio Development Agency’s Poverty Report. In 2014, 69% of homeless families in Cincinnati were turned away from shelters, largely due to lack of capacity. As requests for services became monumental, the additional assistance from the Vincentian Volunteers has helped to meet the increased demand.

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The assistance from the Vincentian Volunteers has helped to meet the increasing demands for services. Vincentian Volunteer Molly Gibbons coordinates the Choice Food Pantry and is pictured here with Tim Barr, a former Vincentian Volunteer who currently serves as volunteer coordinator for St. Vincent de Paul. 

The SC Ministry Foundation has supported the Vincentian Volunteer program since its inception in 2012. Several Sisters of Charity serve as volunteers, including Sister Mary Ann Humbert, as spiritual advisor and advisory committee member, Sister Christine Rody, as pharmacy volunteer and board member, and Sister Nancy Bramlage, as an advisory committee member.

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Sister Mary Ann Humbert, SC, serves as a spiritual advisor for the Vincentian Volunteers. She is pictured here (back row, second from left) with the 2016 cohort of volunteers and Sisters of Charity Associate Liz Maxwell. 

The Vincentian Volunteer program engages a range of 4-6 participants each year. The current 2016-2017 cohort includes a diverse group of five members (pictured at top, from left): Mary Ellen Ostrowski from Eau Claire, Wisconsin; Olafare “Fare” Olagbaju from Lekki, Nigeria; Sarah Spech from Willoughby Hills, Ohio; René Betance from Chihuahua, Mexico; and Molly Gibbons from Margate, New Jersey.

 

Giving More than Medicine

A variety of reasons may influence a young adult to choose to give a year of their life to service. Mary Ellen’s decision to become a Vincentian Volunteer was tied to her career goal to become a physician’s assistant. Her position as a patient advocate for St. Vincent de Paul’s charitable pharmacy has provided Mary Ellen valuable experience with patient interactions. The charitable pharmacy provides low-income individuals access to prescription medications free of charge, due to donations from pharmaceutical companies, doctor offices and nursing homes, and donated service from volunteer pharmacists and pharmacy students. Before any prescriptions are filled, Mary Ellen and other patient advocates meet with each patient confidentially to document the cost of their medications in addition to other living expenses that exceed the patient’s income.

Sometimes a patient needs more than medication. Mary Ellen shared a poignant story about a woman who had recently lost her spouse and then was diagnosed with cancer. Mary Ellen could tell the woman was struggling on many levels. “I asked her if she would like me to pray with her, and she agreed,” shared Mary Ellen. “We prayed for strength and peace, and shared a hug.” Experiences such as this, Mary Ellen shared, “provide a different lens for me to see and better understand the struggles of underserved populations.”

One of the unexpected benefits of Mary Ellen’s experience has been the friendship developed with her co-worker, Sister Christine Rody, SC.  Mary Ellen has had friends who have chosen religious vocations so the idea of working closely with a Catholic sister was not strange to her. “It has been fun to see how our friendship has grown,” Mary Ellen said, reflecting on her relationship with Sister Christine. “It was surprising for me to learn of her experiences, especially when she ministered in El Salvador. She has done some crazy, awesome things by making a radical, counter-cultural choice.”

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Vincentian Volunteer Mary Ellen Ostrowski and Sister of Charity of Cincinnati Christine Rody have enjoyed working together as patient advocates for the Charitable Pharmacy. 

During the nearly 60 years through which Sister Christine has been a Catholic Sister, she has been a math teacher, ministered in violence-afflicted El Salvador, earned her license in canon law, and became a member of two religious congregations. Sister Christine became a Sister of Charity of Cincinnati in 2004 when her previous congregation, the Vincentian Sisters of Charity from Bedford, Ohio, assimilated into the Cincinnati congregation. “When our two congregations were discerning our options, we realized that the spirit and the charism of our communities had a connection,” she shared, referring to the model of St. Vincent de Paul in caring for the poor, and how that model was later adopted by St. Elizabeth Seton when she founded the Sisters of Charity. “St. Elizabeth Seton ‘American-ized’ the Vincentian charism.”

Sister Christine shared how the Vincentian Volunteers are continuing to live out this model. “Their generosity of spirit and willingness to live in poverty and in solidarity with the poor is remarkable. Most people their age are focused on their career and/or finding a life partner. These volunteers are so spiritually-minded at an early age.”

The additional assistance the Vincentian Volunteer program provides has allowed St. Vincent de Paul to effectively serve more neighbors in need, specifically reporting a 135% annual increase in individuals served. As the emergency needs of more neighbors are met, evictions are avoided and homelessness is prevented.

 

A Year of Service, Impact for a Lifetime

The program has also proven to be beneficial professionally, developmentally and spiritually for the participants, with 100% of the program’s alumni reporting that they secured employment or advanced education opportunities following completion of the program. Two of the volunteers have become full-time employees of St. Vincent de Paul after their service, and all of the program’s alumni remain actively engaged with St. Vincent de Paul and/or with other nonprofits.

Charissa Qiu, a member of the first Vincentian Volunteer cohort, currently works as Campus Ministry Coordinator at Mount St. Joseph University alongside Sister Nancy Bramlage, SC, who will retire from her role as Director of Mission and Ministry at the end of June. (See related article)  When reflecting on her experience, Charissa shared, “It made me question what it truly means to love one’s neighbor. It sharpened who I am and who I want to be in the world.”

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As a member of the first cohort of the Vincentian Volunteers, Charissa Qiu (above left) highly recommends the experience to all young adults. For the past year Charissa has worked closely with Sister Nancy Bramlage, SC, (above right) at Mount St. Joseph University. 

Sister Nancy, who serves on the advisory committee for the Vincentian Volunteer program, shared how the St. Vincent de Paul Society reflects the mission of the Sisters of Charity and the spirit of St. Elizabeth Seton. “St. Elizabeth ministered to everyone, whether they were rich or poor,” she explained. “The Vincentian charism recognizes the dignity of all people. The Vincentian Volunteer program is a concrete expression of that charism.”

The Vincentian Volunteer program has played a vital role in building the capacity for the St. Vincent de Paul Society to meet the needs of the neighbors they serve. But perhaps its greater role is in laying the foundation for passionate, committed Vincentians who will continue to serve their neighbors in the spirit of St. Louise de Marrilac and St. Vincent de Paul, as well as St. Elizabeth Seton for many years to come.


 

Contributors: Brittany Hein, communications assistant with SC Ministry Foundation and English major at Mount St. Joseph University; Amelia Riedel, director of communications and program officer with SC Ministry Foundation. 

Healing the Sick

Healing the Sick

Healing the Sick: Bayley

Cincinnati, OH  | www.bayleylife.org

When Pope Francis declared the Jubilee Year of Mercy, he wrote,“The mercy of God is his loving concern for each one of us. He feels responsible; that is he desires our wellbeing and he wants to see us happy, full of joy, and peaceful. This is the path which the merciful love of Christians must also travel.”

Since 1990, the staff at Bayley have been dedicated to the wellbeing of community members experiencing various stages of the aging process. Located on rolling hills across from the Sisters of Charity Motherhouse campus in Delhi Township, Bayley’s retirement community is home to more than three hundred residents with needs ranging from independent or assisted living, to skilled nursing or memory support care. In addition, hundreds of local senior adults participate in Bayley’s adult day program and fitness club. As a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, Bayley is committed to providing compassion and quality of life to all those they serve.

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Sister Patricia Malarkey, SC (left) serves as a pastoral minister for Bayley residents including G. Ron Hall (right). Staff member Vicki Moore (center) is one of many dedicated personnel who carry on the spirit of the Sisters of Charity in their daily work.

Continue reading “Healing the Sick”

The Founding of a Foundation

The Founding of a Foundation

What led to the establishment of SC Ministry Foundation more than twenty years ago? Two Sisters of Charity share their insights below, beginning with Sister Judith Metz, SC, Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati Historian, who shares the history of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati and their mission that paved the way for the foundation.

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St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, foundress of the Sisters of Charity

“St. Elizabeth Ann Seton founded the Sisters of Charity here in the United States in 1809 and she was really carrying on the charism of charity that had been founded by St. Vincent de Paul. Within just a couple of years after her death, in 1829, the Sisters were invited to come to Cincinnati to start a girls school and a girls orphanage here. We started with seven sisters and very quickly began to grow and as more sisters came we were able to take on more missions or ministries,” shared Sister Judith.

“From the very beginning our constitution always said the sisters should always be able to respond to whatever the requests were, whatever the needs of society were. St. Vincent de Paul at one point told the sisters back in France, “go where you are needed, do what needs to be done.” And that’s been our way of responding to the various requests that we have received,” she added.

“The main work of the community has historically been in health care and education. But we were always involved in other types of work as well. We sponsored a number of hospitals, we also had a number of orphanages, boarding academies, and then as we moved into the 20th century we began to have a series of foreign missions,” Sister Judith explained.

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Sister Judith Metz, SC (center) standing in front of the White House in Emmitsburg, Maryland, where St. Elizabeth Seton established her early ministries. Sister Judith led the SC Ministry Foundation staff and board on a pilgrimage to Emmitsburg in March, 2016.

The legacy that the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati had forged in health care ultimately led to the creation of SC Ministry Foundation.

In 1979 all Sister of Charity sponsored health care institutions were brought together in the Sisters of Charity Health Care Systems under the leadership of Sister Grace Marie Hiltz, SC. This became one of the largest Catholic health care systems in the United States until it joined with other systems to form Catholic Health Initiative in the 1990s.

Sister Grace Marie Hiltz
Sister Grace Marie Hiltz, SC

Sister Grace Marie had ministered as a nurse and later served as administrator of St Mary-Corwin Hospital in Pueblo, Colorado and Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. She served on many boards of trustees and chaired the Catholic Health Association and Ohio Hospital Association Boards. She earned the title “Amazing Grace” through her involvement in many civic as well as health care endeavors.

The Sisters of Charity as well as the broader community suffered a tremendous loss with the untimely death of Sister Grace Marie in 1985. But the legacy of “Amazing Grace” continued to grow since the proceeds of her insurance policies were used to begin the Sisters of Charity Health Care Foundation, which later became SC Ministry Foundation.

Sister Roslyn Hafertepe, SC, served as the first chairperson of the first board of directors for SC Ministry Foundation. She recently reflected on the early days of the foundation.

“I always thought the Charities responded to the call ‘Stay true to your charism. Stay true to your roots.’  And so Sisters were responding to that and identifying new ministries, new ways of serving, new people who needed to be administered to. A number of these new ministries required funding,” recalled Sister Roslyn.

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Sister Roslyn Hafertepe, SC (left) and Sister Celestia Koebel, SC (right) were instrumental in establishing the foundation. 

“It was in that kind of environment that the concept of the foundation emerged. Because the foundation then appeared to be a vehicle that we could use to help create and encourage new thinking, and to help stabilize some of the sustaining ministries, which were equally important,” explained Sister Roslyn. “We also had a strong commitment to systemic change. Looking at not only what caused poverty, but what could we do to prevent it.”

While serving as the treasurer for the Sisters of Charity congregation, Sister Roslyn was asked to chair the first formally constructed foundation board. “But there were so many important people that helped make this implementation plan a reality. I think particularly of Celestia Koebel, who was president of the Sisters of Charity Health Care Systems at the time,” recalled Sister Roslyn. “Maryanna Coyle was on congregational leadership at the time and she always brought her unique dimension. And then, ultimately Maryanna became the first president of the foundation. And we all look back and see how the foundation was launched with creativity and the direction that it took.”

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Sister Maryanna Coyle, SC, (left), first president of SC Ministry Foundation with Sister Roslyn

Sister Roslyn added, “It was an exciting time, really exciting time. There was so much change in the wind and a lot of challenges, and a lot of opportunity for creative thinking – that was the part I thought was so exciting.”

When asked if she would have advice for Sisters facing challenges today, Sister Roslyn advised them to, “Have no fear. It’s amazing to me some of the things that emerged that we never dreamed of. But it was what meant to be for us. What’s so exciting for me is I see it today in our Sisters around us – all of these creative ideas popping up. And it just gives you all kinds of energy.”

“When we think of some of the things we have embraced as a community, it’s the hand of God in it all,” Sister Roslyn added with a smile.  “And we say Alleluia… I think that’s where we are in celebrating the 20 years of the success stories of our foundation. Amen.”

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Sister Roslyn Hafertepe, SC (left) at the foundation’s 20th anniversary celebration for Sisters of Charity, along with, (from left), Sister Brenda Busch, SC; Sister Barbara Busch, SC; Sister Louise Lears, SC; and Sister Frances Trampiets, SC. 

Celebrating National Catholic Sisters Week

Celebrating National Catholic Sisters Week

As we celebrate National Catholic Sisters Week March 8-14, we are reminded of how American Catholic Sisters are integral parts of our communities and our Church—generously serving, leading and praying in communities and ministries across the country.

Religious life is alive and thriving today within the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati Congregation, where:

  • Alex_Sally_ELL_2-25-16_700p
    Sister Sally Duffy, SC congratulates Alex, a DePaul Cristo Rey High School student and recent scholarship recipient. 

    310 members serve in 26 U.S. dioceses, with the majority (254) serving the Archdiocese of Cincinnati;

  • Sisters are ministering in 15 states and three foreign countries;
  • Sisters continue to serve in education, health care, pastoral/spiritual care, social work, congregational service and through the ministry of prayer.

What does the future hold for religious congregations?

New membership continues to bring new life and joy. Last summer, Sister Tracy Kemme and Sister Andrea Koverman professed first vows with the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. Other “Sisters-in-training,” are following their footsteps, including Sister Annie Klapheke, an apostolic novice, and three women participating in the affiliate program while they live and minister with Sisters of Charity in Anthony, New Mexico.

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Last summer, Sisters of Charity affiliate, Whitney Schieltz, (third from right), and Sister Annie Klapheke, apostolic novice, (second from right), and Sister Donna Steffen, Novice Director, (far right), visited with Seton High School students and their mentors at Good Samaritan Hospital to learn about the Seton/TriHealth Summer Employment Program. 

On a national scale, there are 1,200 women in formation in religious orders across the U.S. A recent report has revealed that the number of Catholic Sisters today mirrors the number of Sisters in the nation 100 years ago –  during a time when religious congregations were forming many of the schools, hospitals and social service centers that serve our communities today.

The report, Understanding U.S. Catholic Sisters Today, explores the life of U.S. Catholic Sisters, challenges stereotypes, and identifies 10 key themes for understanding Sisters today. The report was produced through Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities (FADICA), with support from SC Ministry Foundation.

FDC 001 ExecSumm-5.inddLaunched alongside the report is the website www.WeAreSisters.net, designed to encourage engagement with Sisters, support for Sisters, and exploration of life as a Sister.

There have never been enough and never will be enough Catholic Sisters to meet the needs of this world. The Understanding U.S. Catholic Sisters Today report and the WeAreSisters.net website are part of a larger effort to recruit and retain new members who will become young leaders, carrying congregations and service to the Church into future generations.

Join the Celebration

We invite you to become part of the hopeful and inspirational story of Catholic Sisters today. Here are some suggestions for celebrating National Catholic Sisters Week:

  • Read the full report: www.wearesisters.net and share with others
  • Join the conversation on social media using the hashtags #Catholicsisters, #NCSW
  • Ask a Sister to share her story with your group or organization
  • Pray for Vocations
  • Donate to your favorite ministry

Other resources:

 

Catholic Sisters Stand in Solidarity with Immigrants

Catholic Sisters Stand in Solidarity with Immigrants

Regardless of your religion or the location of your neighborhood, chances are very likely that your life has been influenced in some way through the ministries of Catholic Sisters. Why? Because Catholic Sisters throughout history have been dedicated in their service to all persons – regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity or economic status. Many of our nation’s hospitals, schools and social service agencies would not exist today if it were not for the courage of faith-filled women who founded them over 100 years ago.

A Legacy of Caring for the Oppressed

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Sister Blandina Segale, SC surrounded by her students in Albuquerque, NM in 1881.

The rich history and heritage of the Sister of Charity of Cincinnati contains many inspiring stories of innovative, courageous and deeply compassionate Sisters. One of those Sisters is now in the process of becoming a Saint. Sister Blandina Segale left Cincinnati in 1872 to brave the Santa Fe Trail. As a young woman in her twenties, her experiences grew from teaching children in small adobe schoolhouses across Colorado and New Mexico, to caring for the sick and the dying that others had rejected, to defending the rights of the regions’ Native Americans and Mexicans. When Sister Blandina returned to Cincinnati, she and her sister Justina Segale, also a Sister of Charity, co-founded Santa Maria Institute in 1897 to care for the poor and needy Italian immigrants in the inner-city.

 

A Nation of Immigrants – Past and Present

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Sister Margarita Brewer, SC surrounded by students who received the 2016 English Language Learning Foundation scholarships.

Today, the work of Sister Blandina and Sister Justina continues through the assistance that Santa Maria Community Services provides to immigrant families in Cincinnati’s Price Hill neighborhoods. Many of our Sisters continue to devote their ministry to immigrant families, including Sister Margarita Brewer, who has assisted numerous immigrants and English language learners in Cincinnati and beyond. As a native of Panama, Sister Margarita personally understands the challenges of immigrant families. Through her work with the English Language Learning Foundation, more than $55,000 in scholarships have been awarded to ensure that students from immigrant families have opportunities to achieve their dreams through higher education. SC Ministry Foundation was pleased to be one of the sponsors of the 2016 event that recognized these deserving students.

These young adults will have the opportunity to contribute to our neighborhoods and our region much like the experience of our ancestors from Ireland, Germany, Italy, Africa, and many other areas around the world.

As young professionals, they will have the opportunity to become our future entrepreneurs and innovators, as well as community volunteers, parish members and welcoming neighbors.

However, more support is needed to ensure that immigrant families are welcomed into our communities, our places of work and our places of worship.

A Nation Strengthened by Diversity

ImmigrationInfographicContrary to the “sound bites” that dominate mass media, immigrants have strengthened our economy and our communities. According to reports from The Partnership for a New American Economy:

  • Immigrants have added approximately $3.7 trillion to housing wealth nationally. With the rising trend of baby boomers who are downsizing, immigration reform could alleviate the shortage of home buyers. [source: renewoureconomy.org]
  • By the year 2050, the number of Americans over age 65 is projected to double the 43 million seniors in 2012. This fact, coupled with the increased educational attainment of young Americans and decreasing birth rates will leave a significant gap in the nation’s workforce. Immigration reform could bridge this gap since most immigrants are of prime working age. [source: renewoureconomy.org]

The report, “New Americans in Cincinnati,” produced by The Partnership for a New American Economy with the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce, provides local data:

  • In 2012, immigrants in metro Cincinnati accounted for 3.5% of the population, yet held more than $1.5 billion in spending power;
  • Tax contributions from immigrants in 2012 totaled over $189 million in state and local tax dollars;
  • Immigrants represent 6.8% of the high-tech workforce, and 11.3% of all information technology workers.

Immigrants are also devoted to faith, family and community. In the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, a growing number of Latino students are contributing to classrooms, with a 68% increase in Latino enrollment across 91 Catholic schools since 2011.

Sisters of Charity – Faithful Advocates for Justice

As a congregation, the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati strongly advocate for change in our nation’s unjust immigration policies, as stated in their Public Statement on Immigration, which supports the 2003 Pastoral Letter Concerning Migration from the Catholic Bishops of Mexico and the United States. Thirteen years have passed since the Bishops’ call for reform, and yet the message remains critical:

“Migrants and immigrants are in our parishes and in our communities. In both our countries, we see much injustice and violence against them and much suffering and despair among them because civil and church structures are still inadequate to accommodate their basic needs.

We judge ourselves as a community of faith by the way we treat the most vulnerable among us. The treatment of migrants challenges the consciences of elected officials, policymakers, enforcement officers, residents of border communities, and providers of legal aid and social services, many of whom share our Catholic faith.”

– Excerpt from Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope, Pastoral Letter from the Bishops of Mexico and the U.S.

Sisters stand in solidarity with immigrants, and are committed to ensuring their God-given dignity. They strive to fulfill the words of Christ, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Mt 25:40).

Sisters advocate and pray for the women, men and children who seek asylum in our nation – a nation which was founded on the concept that all are created equal, with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

SC Ministry Foundation recognizes the contributions of all of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, Catholic Sisters with other congregations, and the faithful lay people who partner with them to support the vulnerable immigrant population.

We challenge our grantees and partners across the nation to join us in daring to risk a caring response, and in advocating for our immigrant sisters and brothers in Christ.

Sisters Exchange Ideas and Cultures

Sisters Exchange Ideas and Cultures

A 2014 report by the Pew Research Center revealed that the number of U.S. Catholics who are Hispanic increased by 5% since 2007. The same study revealed that only 17% of U.S. Catholic adults are under the age of 30. These stats point to a strong case for engaging with young Hispanic Catholics to encourage religious vocations to sustain the future of the Church.

CatholicExtension_LatinAmSrExchange_Group_2016However, the areas where Hispanic families often settle in the U.S. are often the areas with the fewest resources. Catholic Extension Society launched a program in 2014 to strengthen eleven of the underserved dioceses with Catholic Sisters directly from Latin America. The U.S./Latin American Sisters Exchange program places several Sisters in each of the selected dioceses to engage with Hispanic families and develop and empower lay leadership in their local parishes. The Latin American Sisters are provided fair compensation, housing, transportation, access to their local church leadership and educational opportunities. Shortly after they arrived in the U.S., the Latin American Sisters participated in nine weeks of intensive English language and inculturation training at the Mexican-­American Catholic College in San Antonio, TX.

Vocations without Borders

To provide specific training for religious vocations, Catholic Extension partnered with the National Religious Vocations Conference to provide a one-day workshop titled, Vocaciones sin Fronteras en un Mundo Cambiante / Vocations without Borders in a Changing World. The 36 Sisters from Latin America were joined by 51 additional U.S. Sisters who are also engaged in Hispanic ministry. Presentations and small-group activities were led by Sr. Elsa E. Garcia, C.D.P., who currently serves as Pastoral Associate and Social Ministries Coordinator in Midland, TX, and Sr. Raquel Ortez, SSND, a vocation team member with 15 years of prior experience with formal education in Honduras. The networking among Sisters was also valuable in sharing tools and resources. One participant shared that the workshop helped her, “to be unified in promoting vocations, to be enthusiastic and hopeful, to broaden the horizon of the reality of USA, and to discover how to share the joy of religious life.”

SC Ministry Foundation provided funding support for the vocations workshop, and has partnered with Catholic Extension since 2012 to support other national efforts in Hispanic ministry as part of the Foundation’s focus on the inclusion and integration of immigrants within communities.

Inspiring the Next Generation

As the Latin American Sisters become more acclimated to American lifestyles, they are beginning to implement the training they have received. All 36 Sisters have completed an initial inventory of the needs and opportunities for their respective communities and created a strategic plan in coordination with their parish priest and diocese.

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Sister Blanca, a participant in the U.S./Latin American Sisters Exchange Program met with a 10-year old girl in the Diocese of DesMoines who expressed interest in becoming a nun. 

As a result, all of the eleven dioceses have hosted vocational events for youth including retreats and day-long workshops. Young adults and children who may not have even seen a nun before are now given the opportunity to build a relationship with a Catholic Sister. In the Diocese of Des Moines, a ten-year-old girl who attended a vocations event with her family approached Sister Blanca and expressed her interest in becoming a nun. Together they posed for a photo that demonstrated the joy of the moment.

The U.S./Latin American Sisters Exchange program is a powerful example of how the work of the Gospel reaches across borders, languages and cultures to build the kingdom of God.

To learn more:

You Tube video highlighting the U.S./Latin American Sisters Exchange

Catholic Extension

Photos courtesy of Catholic Extension.