“We’re living in a truly contentious time right now, but I do believe we have the capacity to find common ground if we have the right information.”
– Michael Bonfiglio, director of “From the Ashes”
One of the many challenges facing our country is our reliance on energy to keep us moving, working, operating, communicating, living. Do we fully understand where the energy comes from that illuminates a room when we flip a switch? What are the costs for this energy – not just from our wallets, but also our air, our water, our planet, our health and our jobs?
On June 15, SC Ministry Foundation hosted an advance preview screening of the National Geographic documentary, “From the Ashes,” to provide an opportunity to learn more about the coal industry and its effect on our lives. The screening was offered in partnership with one of the foundation’s grantees, Ohio Interfaith Power & Light(OhIPL), an organization which empowers a religious response to climate change by promoting energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy with communities of all faiths. Sara Ward, executive director of OhIPL, facilitated a discussion with attendees following the film.
SC Ministry Foundation offered this learning opportunity as a way of promoting the mission of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, whose mission calls to “care for all creation,” and whose vision compels members to “live simply in a complex world.”
“From the Ashes” features coal-mining communities across the country and the compelling and often heartbreaking personal stories from residents, environmentalists, and activists, to “put a human face on the complicated issues tied to coal production, such as the future of the energy sector, the risks to people’s health and livelihood, and the environment,” as stated by the film’s director Michael Bonfiglio.
The film explained the coal industry’s impact on health, evidenced by hazardous drinking water and increased cases of asthma from polluted air. The environmental impact of surface mining displaces plants and animals and leaves the land unusable for agriculture and/or development. The burning of coal not only pollutes the air we breathe, but is the single largest contributor to the greenhouse gases that fuel global warming.
As the coal industry suffered from decreased demand with the rise of natural gas use, and many coal mining jobs were replaced with technological advances, hundreds of coal mining towns and their residents felt the impact deeply, as was poignantly demonstrated in the film.
Hope for the Future
Despite the challenges surrounding the coal industry, there are alternatives and viable options for energy sources and for sustainable jobs. The film shared how organizations are taking action to help coal communities transition to renewable energy industries and create sustainable economies by producing solar panels and wind turbines.
Other groups, such as the Sierra Club, are strong advocates in the movement to end coal pollution and promote alternative energy technologies. They initiated the Mayors for 100% Clean Energy campaign, a nonpartisan initiative for local leaders to commit to leading their communities toward 100% clean renewable energy sources. Cincinnati’s Mayor John Cranley recently joined this initiative.
Director Michael Bonfiglio stated, “After making this film, I’ve concluded that the idea that we must poison our air and water and render our planet uninhabitable to have jobs in this country is a falsehood. Hopefully this film will be part of a sane and rational dialogue about how to move forward as a nation in the 21st century.”
In the discussion that followed the screening of the film, one participant remarked that “the future of energy is not an either/or decision—clean energy or jobs—but that it is possible to have both clean energy and jobs through industries creating solar, wind, and other clean energy solutions.”
It is important for all of us living in the United States – no matter our political ties or region of the country – to support the efforts to transition to clean energy. The future of our children and many generations after them depend heavily on the decisions we make at this critical time in history.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring,” shared Kyle Damen, a senior biology major from Mount St. Joseph University, as he quoted from Martin Luther King, Jr. to his peers who participated in the Mount’s Summer Employment Program. This unique program gives students the opportunity to gain awareness of social justice issues and make an impact in the local community by working with nonprofit agencies. Through the support of the SC Ministry Foundation, the program incorporates the Mount’s mission of integrating life and learning as well as community engagement, all the while helping to alleviate students’ expenses. This summer, 80 students from Mount St. Joseph University assisted 32 nonprofit agencies throughout Greater Cincinnati.
While many students identifed placements that align with their field of study, others chose to broaden their life experience. Kyle plans to attend medical school upon graduation, and while his experience as a development assistant with Working in Neighborhoods (WIN) may not have a direct correlation with his field of study, the experience has made a lasting impression. “It opened my eyes a lot,” Kyle shared. “I learned a lot about where people come from and gained a greater understanding of poverty. It really opened up a pathway to empathy.”
For several students, this was their first time working for a nonprofit. Alex Combs, a senior majoring in financial economics, worked as a business office intern at DePaul Cristo Rey High School. Alex revealed, “Before working there I always thought about working for a bank or some company. Due to this experience, I now think I would also enjoy working for a nonprofit.” Alex further elaborated, “Working for a nonprofit lets you know that you are really part of something that is making a difference in the world.”
Kenneth Mitchell, a sophomore majoring in history, shared that sentiment Alex expressed. Kenneth worked at Cincinnati Works as an employee relations assistant. He revealed, “I came to this hoping to be able to say I made a difference. Little did I know that the people I would cross paths with would make such a difference for me.” Kenneth added, “The people here build lasting, loving relationships with each other. It is a beautiful thing.”
A number of Mount students spent their summer assisting grade school students at summer learning camps coordinated through the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. These camps, also supported by the SC Ministry Foundation, provide learning enrichment and/or credit recovery for students who attend schools supported by the Catholic Inner City Schools Education Fund (CISE).
Mount sophomore Dominesha Washington-Colvin spent her second summer as a classroom aide with the CISE Summer Learning Camp hosted at DePaul Cristo Rey High School. As a former student of St. Francis de Sales School and a 2015 graduate of DePaul Cristo Rey, Dominesha enjoys the opportunity to help other students and reconnect with the community. “My experience at the camp helped me to decide to major in Early Childhood Education,” Dominesha shared.
Senior Michelle Bushle, a special education major, worked toward her career goal as an intervention specialist through her role this summer as a classroom aide in the Price Hill Summer Learning Camp, hosted at Seton High School. Michelle specifically worked with third grade students who needed extra assistance with reading skills. “This job gave me more experience in working one on one with students,”shared Michelle. “I have also built relationships with the students and the faculty.” Amanda Schrand, [pictured top, left], a senior majoring in early childhood education, was also a classroom aide with the camp. She shared, “I have learned tips for teaching in my first years, ideas for lesson plans, how to differentiate instruction, and the importance of manipulates.”
Leandra McCrary, a junior, also worked as a classroom aide at the Price Hill Summer Learning Camp, which was a valuable experience pertaining to her major in early childhood education. Leandra said, “I have wanted to be a teacher since I was young and this summer experience has only reassured my decision.” Leandra further admits, “The program was designed to provide quality instruction to students in need of remediation…I only wish I could aid the students more, that I could give students more one on one instruction throughout the entire summer.”
Toria Black, a sophomore majoring in early childhood education, worked at DePaul Cristo Rey as a technology office intern. Through her experience, Toria said, “I have learned a lot more about computers than I could imagine.” In addition to learning how to repair computers, she also gained valuable organizational and communication skills. “I am now a better employee because I have worked on so many different skills and I have improved some skills that I already had.” Toria also shares the insight, “I have realized that the more you are able to learn, the more you can help others in the community.”
Adam Dick, a senior majoring in social work, worked at Community Matters as a thrift store assistant. He shared, “This summer job has impacted me by showing me what poverty in real life looks like when you are being faced with not getting the resources that you need for you and your family. It also made me think about how I shouldn’t take life for granted and that you need to earn it and live life to the fullest.”
Beyond Work Experience
The work experience is only a small segment of the many benefits the students receive from this program. The students strengthen values and realize the joys of service while contributing to the betterment of the Cincinnati community. They obtain knowledge of the world beyond their home and campus, an invaluable quality for future professionals. Kyle emphasizes, “While poverty is commonly known to all, it is often overlooked when it doesn’t directly affect you as an individual. This habitual tendency of looking the other way is the fuel that drives things like poverty in our country, and one of the greatest impacts that working through the summer program has had on me is just how important community involvement is.”
By assisting non-profit organizations through the summer employment program, the students become part of the change they wish to see and feel empowered because they know they are making a genuine impact—and that is something that cannot be taught.
“Catholics have a long history of welcoming and working with immigrants. The call to welcome is rooted in our faith and in our traditions. We are an immigrant church in an immigrant nation.” – Jeanne Atkinson
On August 31, SC Ministry Foundation hosted nearly 70 community partners and Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati for: “Immigration: the Facts, the Challenges and the Nonprofit Response,” presented by Jeanne Atkinson, Executive Director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC).
Since 2003, SC Ministry Foundation has supported the efforts of CLINIC, which provides legal, technical and advocacy support services to nearly 300 affiliates that assist vulnerable and low-income immigrants with family reunification, citizenship, and protection from persecution and violence.
Jeanne Atkinson’s expertise with immigration law stems from her current role with CLINIC, as well as her prior experience as the Director of Catholic Charities’ Immigration Legal Services for the Archdiocese of Washington. Ms. Atkinson holds a J.D. from American University’s Washington College of Law and is a member of the Pennsylvania bar.
Jeanne presented factual data to foster understanding of the immigrant population in the United States and the need for comprehensive reform of immigration policies in our country. Reports show that 41 million immigrants are living in the U.S., including 11 million people who are unauthorized. Of those 11 million people, approximately 6 million have lived in the U.S. for at least 10 years and nearly 2 million have lived in the U.S. for 20 years or more.
Who are We Talking About?
“We are talking about our neighbors, our kids’ playmates, our parents’ caregivers, our doctors and cashiers, our friends,” shared Jeanne. “As we look at the big picture of immigration, we see that we are talking about people who have made lives here and become part of our communities, participate in the labor market, and have created families.” In fact, 5.2 million children born in the U.S. live with at least one undocumented parent.
“We are talking about our workers,” Jeanne explained. “Unauthorized immigrants make up more than 5% of the U.S. labor force.” She added, “There are sectors of our economy that rely heavily on immigrant labor, including agriculture and the service industry.”
Jeanne cited a Brookings Institute Study which found that immigrants raise the overall standard of living of American workers by filling jobs that complement the jobs that employ American citizens.
She presented additional facts to dispel the misinformation that has been shared about immigrants, including:
Undocumented immigrants pay $11.6 billion a year in taxes;
Tax revenues of both legal and undocumented immigrants exceed the cost of the services they use;
Since 1990, the number of unauthorized immigrants has more than tripled. During the same period, the FBI reported that the violent crime rate fell by 48% and the property crime rate fell 41%.
How Are We ‘Welcoming the Stranger’?
Jeanne also discussed the unjust treatment of undocumented immigrants, especially concerning women and children held in detention centers. She shared how CLINIC is advocating for their needs, since many do not have access to adequate medical care, legal counsel, and language-appropriate services.
CLINIC is one of the partners involved with the CARA Pro Bono Representation Project that is dedicated to providing legal services to the women and children detained at the family detention centers in south Texas. SC Ministry Foundation has supported these efforts that have resulted in nearly 8,000 families initiating the process of seeking asylum through CLINIC’s involvement and assistance from 700+ volunteers.
In response to enforcement efforts by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) last winter, CLINIC worked with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Education to provide clear communication to immigrant communities. CLINIC created an infographic (shown below) and distributed it in English and Spanish to assure immigrant families of the locations where ICE would not conduct enforcement actions or raids.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of SC Ministry Foundation as a public grant-making organization. This important milestone recognizes the generous and socially-conscious spirit of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, who founded our organization to promote their mission of living Gospel values, acting justly, building loving relationships, caring for all creation and sharing resources with those in need.
Over the past twenty years, SC Ministry Foundation has supported nearly 1,000 nonprofit organizations locally, nationally and internationally. Our collective investment of more than $158 million in grants for these nonprofits supports the services that align with the mission of the Sisters of Charity in promoting social justice, addressing the root causes of poverty, and advocating for better lives for all people through improvements in education, income, and health, while minimizing inequity and racism.
Working to Strengthen Communities
Within our local community, SC Ministry Foundation has been an integral part of Greater Cincinnati through collaborative efforts, collective impact initiatives and grant-making. The foundation has supported nearly 200 nonprofits within the City of Cincinnati, with significant investments dedicated to holistic community development in Cincinnati’s Price Hill neighborhoods. With the establishment of ministries such as Seton High School and Santa Maria Community Services more than 100 years ago, the Sisters of Charity share a long history with Price Hill, and the area’s revitalization has been a focus of the foundation since its inception. The current reality that 32% of Price Hill families live in poverty, according to the 2013 American Community Survey, continues to direct the foundation’s attention there.
“The Sisters were foundational in getting our organization started,” explained H.A. Musser, president/CEO of Santa Maria Community Services. “Next year will be our 120th anniversary. Sisters Blandina and Justina Segale were our founders and were Sisters of Charity. Our services have increased during the last couple decades because of the investment of the foundation. There is investment in early childhood education and kindergarten readiness, in lead prevention, healthy children, with our income and workforce areas, housing, and, in a broader context, the commitment that they’ve made to support the whole Price Hill community.”
The support for the community of Price Hill and for the people of Cincinnati was recognized by Cincinnati’s Mayor John Cranley on June 23. In a room filled with representatives from local nonprofits, funding partners and Sisters of Charity, Mayor Cranley shared, “I can tell you without any hesitation that SC Ministry Foundation has made a huge difference in the life of this community, in the life of our city and in the lives of people who don’t always have people fighting for them.” Mayor Cranley, who was taught by Sisters of Charity at St. William’s school in Price Hill, proclaimed June 23 as “SC Ministry Foundation Day” in the City of Cincinnati.
Supporting Catholic Education
Following in the footsteps of St. Elizabeth Seton, SC Ministry Foundation has diligently invested in Catholic Schools and in programs to make Catholic education accessible. While the support has been spread to many areas where Sisters have ministered from Colorado to Michigan, a significant investment has been made through the Archdiocese of Cincinnati where SC Ministry Foundation has directly supported 34 Catholic schools, including three Sisters of Charity sponsored ministries: Seton High School, DePaul Cristo Rey High School and Mount St. Joseph University.
“SC Ministry Foundation was critical to the launching of this school,” shared Sister Jeanne Bessette, OSF, president of DePaul Cristo Rey High School, which opened in 2011. “This was really the brainchild of the Sisters of Charity, who wanted to extend their mission and saw education as a natural way to do that. And when they thought about education as their next project, I think they went back to their roots and decided to educate some of the people most in need of it, and those were the kids that society kind of forgets.”
Fearless Advocates for Social Justice
In a letter congratulating SC Ministry Foundation on 20 years of service, Most Reverend Dennis M. Schnurr, Archbishop of Cincinnati wrote: “As we all know, issues of poverty and social injustice are immense and pervasive. Yet, our Catholic faith calls us to never tire from spreading the love of God through word and deed to the ends of the Earth, especially in those places where suffering is greatest. SC Ministry has provided the financial backbone for nonprofit organizations to more effectively tackle the social concerns of poverty, education, health, immigration and racism. These efforts of solidarity boldly evoke for us the enduring spirit of the Sisters of Charity’s foundress, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and her prophetic compassion for the poor and vulnerable.”
Catholic Charities agencies locally and nationally, including three in Colorado, have received support from SC Ministry Foundation, as well as other organizations dedicated to changing systems and policies to make steady progress with enormous issues such as immigration reform, racism and inequity.
“SC Ministry Foundation has been a fearless supporter of Ohio Justice and Policy Center, even when some would say that our work is controversial,” shared Stephen Johnson-Grove, program director for Ohio Justice and Policy Center (OJPC). “Going to the margins seems to be in their DNA and that speaks to their mission… Both OJPC and SC Ministry believe so deeply in the possibility of redemption.”
Faithful Stewards of God’s Resources
Sister Roslyn Hafertepe, SC served as the foundation’s first chairperson of the board of directors. She recalls, “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… A number of these new ministries required funding. It was in that kind of environment that the concept of the foundation emerged.”
“I think the SC Ministry Foundation is a perfect expression of the charism of the Sisters of Charity, and allows our influence and outreach to be made available to many other places that the sisters themselves, at this point in history, cannot be physically present,” remarked Sister Judith Metz, SC, historian for the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati.
Twenty years and nearly 1,000 organizations later, SC Ministry Foundation continues to be a vehicle through which the mission of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati influences many lives.
“We can talk about the number of grants and the dollars that have been awarded over the past 20 years. And $158 million is significant,” reflects Sister Sally Duffy, SC, president and executive director of SC Ministry Foundation. “But it’s really the people who were taken down from their crosses that are important. Whether it’s the cross of poverty, oppression, marginalization, systemic injustice or racism, these people now have the ability to experience their God-given dignity and shared membership in our society. So I really want to thank the organizations that we have partnered with and collaborated with over the past 20 years, as well as our past and present board members, our staff and all Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati.”
Sister Sally adds, “We give thanks to God, for truly these resources are God’s resources, not ours. We ask for God’s continuing grace and guidance as we work to bring about the reign of God.”
In honor of the SC Ministry Foundation’s 20 years of service to the local community, Cincinnati’s Mayor John Cranley recognized the accomplishments of the foundation and the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati during the event hosted in June.
Mayor Cranley shared, “It is absolutely the case that I was raised by the Sisters of Charity. My grandfather was a surgeon at Good Samaritan Hospital with the Sisters of Charity. My father was educated by the Sisters of Charity at St. Williams Parish in the 1950’s and I was educated by the Sisters at St. Williams in the 1980s.”
“The best of what the Catholic Church has done in this country has come from the Sisters, and the Sisters of Charity have been a great example for me. It’s been a great impact on my life in developing my commitment to social justice and public service,” he added.
Mayor Cranley shared that during his terms as a city council member and as mayor, “We have worked to put an enormous amount of focus on Price Hill, where I grew up and my parents still live. The investment from SC Ministry Foundation over the years to support the various efforts in Price Hill has made a huge difference for our city.”
“I can tell you without any hesitation that SC Ministry Foundation has made a huge difference in the life of this community, in the life of our city and in the lives of people who don’t always have people fighting for them.”
Mayor Cranley proclaimed June 23, 2016 as “SC Ministry Foundation Day” in the City of Cincinnati. The announcement triggered enthusiastic applause from foundation guests, including Sisters of Charity, members of grantee organizations and community partners.
The complete text of the City of Cincinnati proclamation is provided below:
WHEREAS: The Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati established SC Ministry Foundation twenty years ago in Cincinnati, Ohio, as a public grant-making organization to fulfill their mission of sharing resources with those in need, with the purpose of promoting social justice and addressing the root causes of poverty; and,
WHEREAS: SC Ministry Foundation has been an integral part of the Greater Cincinnati community through collaborative efforts, collective impact initiatives and grant-making, investing millions of dollars over the past twenty years with nearly 200 nonprofits in the City of Cincinnati, with significant investments dedicated to holistic community development in Price Hill; and,
WHEREAS: SC Ministry Foundation has served as a trusted, valued partner in collaboration with other funders and organizations which advocate for better lives for all people through improvements in education, income, and health while minimizing inequity and racism; and,
WHEREAS: SC Ministry Foundation fosters professional development and opportunities for nonprofits to build capacity through sponsorship of workshops, educational programs and convenings; and,
WHEREAS: SC Ministry Foundation promotes the Sisters of Charity mission within the global community with leadership and influence to address issues of environmental stewardship, immigration reform, ending the death penalty, and ending human trafficking; and,
WHEREAS: SC Ministry Foundation will continue to serve as a dedicated community partner, promoting the mission and ministry of the Sisters of Charity for generations to come;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, John Cranley, Mayor of the City of Cincinnati, declare June 23, 2016 as SC Ministry Foundation Day in Cincinnati, Ohio.