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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

Giving Tuesday a Great Success!

The Caritas Dining Room at Mount Carmel, Dubuque, Iowa, is the hub of socialization for our resident Sisters of Charity, BVM. There, they experience the daily blessings of good food and warm companionship. There, sisters chat during meals, host friends and family, and enjoy special community events.

“Since I’ve been here at Mount Carmel,” says Dining Services Coordinator Laurie Noel, “the staff and I have been concerned about the safety of the sisters as the dining room chairs have deteriorated over the years. They don’t slide easily, or provide leverage to assist sisters in getting up out of the chairs.”

We are grateful for and blessed by your contributions on #GivingTuesday (, Nov. 28!

The BVM sisters received over $35,000 from more than 250 donors, which will help in the purchase of 250 new chairs for the Caritas Dining Room, providing safety, support and comfort for our sisters.

The current chairs are 20 years old and many can no longer be reglued, reconditioned or repaired. New, stackable chairs will feature durable frames with longer arms for ease in getting in and out of them. Chair backs will be shorter to keep from tipping over when moved backward, and chair feet will slide more easily. Current chairs that are still usable will replace the chairs in the sisters’ smaller dining room in Marian Hall.

“The sisters are very excited about the new chairs,” says Sarah Rentz, Mount Carmel administrator. “They appreciate being involved by indicating their own individual preferences on style, comfort and ease of use. I am as excited as the sisters are to see the end result!”

Laurie adds, “The sisters were great participants in the whole process and the dining staff enjoyed watching them select the chair design that was ‘just right.’”

The Sisters of Charity, BVM are grateful for your support this year, helping to improve the quality of our sisters’ lives with safe and comfortable dining chairs. We thank you, as well, for your past participation in #GivingTuesday.

See what our sisters have to say! Watch the video:


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


Read the latest issue of Salt magazine!

Autumn—Miracle of Transformation
As we rejoice in the life of Helen Maher Garvey, BVM (Robert Joseph), we share her spirit and love, reflected in this issue by the mission and ministries of her BVM sisters. As they gather to envision the future and celebrate jubilees, the sisters continue to foster education, inclusivity and the right of all to live with dignity.

Click here to download magazine.


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 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 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


‘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


Former BVM President Sister Helen Garvey, BVM Dies at 82

Helen Maher Garvey, BVM

Helen Maher Garvey, BVM


Helen Maher Garvey, BVM
Sharing of Memories and Funeral Liturgy
Thursday, August 17

Wake Service: 11:00am-noon (CDT)
Funeral Liturgy: 1:30-3:00pm (CDT)
Video will be available through Aug. 28


Sister Helen Maher Garvey, BVM (Robert Joseph), former president of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), died Aug. 6, 2017. Visitation will be from 9–11 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in the Motherhouse Chapel at Mount Carmel, Dubuque, Iowa, followed by a prayer service at 11 a.m. Funeral liturgy will be at 1:30 p.m. Burial is in the Mount Carmel cemetery.

Sister Helen was born in Hempstead, N.Y., on Jan. 17, 1935, to Clarence and Ruth Maher Garvey. She is survived by brothers Joseph (Warwick, N.Y.) and Eugene (Tinton Falls, N.J.); sisters Therese Fox (Brecksville, Ohio) and Kathleen (James Kearnz) Garvey (Warwick, N.Y.); sister-in-law Pat Garvey, East Marion, N.Y.; nieces; nephews; and the Sisters of Charity, BVM, with whom she shared life for 65 years.

Her leadership spanned decades and found expression in a broad diversity of ministries and locales. 

Equipped with a Ph.D. in Organizational Development from Columbia University, she moved from serving as principal of two BVM elementary schools on Long Island, N.Y., to BVM leadership in 1976.  Only 41 at the time of her election, Sister Helen served 16 years as president and vice president of the congregation. 

In an address to the BVM congregation in August 1994, Sister Helen shared: “I hope in religious life because I experience God in religious life. I experience God in prophetic witness. I experience God in faithful relationships. I experience God in history. Mostly, I believe in religious life because I encounter the mystery of God in the total experience of religious life, personally and communally. God is here.”

During her tenure as BVM president, her compassion led to the creation of the Heartland Housing Initiative in Dubuque, and the renovation of a stately old home into apartments for 22 families, named Helen Garvey Place. 

She was elected to the three-year presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in 1986.  In this role she addressed Pope John Paul II on behalf of American women religious when he visited San Francisco in 1987. 

In 1993, she began an 11-year ministry as Director of Pastoral Services for the Diocese of Lexington, Ky. She developed lay leadership and worked with parish councils in a largely rural and unchurched area.

Her service on behalf of Catholic sisters entered uncharted territory when she chaired the LCWR History Project to create a national exhibit, “Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America.” The highly acclaimed exhibit traveled to 10 cities coast to coast over a three-year period from the Smithsonian in D.C., to Ellis Island, and westward to Dubuque and other cities on the way to the California coast.

The recipient of an honorary degree from Clarke University, Dubuque, Sister Helen also served on the Board of Trustees at Clarke, Mundelein College and Loyola University in Chicago, and most recently on the Board of the National Catholic Reporter Publishing Co.

She was a consultant for the National Religious Retirement Office (NRRO), assisting religious communities plan for their retirement needs, and worked with many individual religious communities as a meeting facilitator and speaker.  

In 2009, Sister Helen received the Outstanding Leadership Award from LCWR. The citation summarized the leadership gifts of this woman deeply loved and widely admired by all who encountered her: 

“A woman

      Who knows who she is, and where she stands, and what she believes

      Who listens to all opinions and finds consensus in divergent voices

      Who builds up everyone around her by expecting the best and acknowledging excellence

     Whose humor and charm open doors, rally troops, and disarm enemies

     Whose depth of knowledge in so many subjects, and understanding of human nature, empower her to connect with people from all walks of life.”


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:




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


BVMs, Catholic Sisters ‘Get in the Habit’ of Kindness

The Sisters of Charity, BVM, together with other Catholic Sisters of the Upper Mississippi River Valley, launched a new campaign, “Kindness: Get in the Habit,” during the fourth annual National Catholic Sisters Week, March 8–14.

The message, to encourage people to be kind toward one another, was created to counter the continued divisiveness seen throughout the country, and was shared on billboards, in movie theater ads, through social media posts, and in Catholic school classrooms.

BVM President Teri Hadro says, “Those of us in the U.S. sometimes take water, food, shelter, clothing and respect for granted. Our sisters and brothers in need help us understand the real meaning of the Gospel and gift us with the opportunity to live Jesus’ message today and every day.”

The billboards featured an image of a homeless person receiving a cup of coffee, with the accompanying text: “Kindness: Get in the Habit.” Billboards were displayed in six communities from the Quad Cities to La Crosse, Wis., including Dubuque.

Six similar images, all illustrating the “Kindness” theme, were featured both on social media sites and on the big screen in local movie theaters, including Dubuque.

“Sometimes it’s easy to take the simple acts of kindness that are a part of daily life for granted—the smile, recognition of hard work, the ‘I’m praying for you,’” reflects BVM First Vice President Lou Anglin. “Those moments bring out the best in people. I don’t want to ever stop noticing them or being a part of paying them forward. They make a world of difference.”

LaDonna Manternach, BVM second vice president, agrees. “People I meet are generally kind and considerate toward their neighbors and those they meet each day. This is not what makes the news, yet it is the biggest deal out there—it’s even radical. We live in a world that longs for kindness and kinship with one another. Kindness connects us, consoles us, and inspires us at a very basic level. Let’s hear again God’s call to ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ and be people that make a difference.”

The Catholic Sisters of the Upper Mississippi River Valley represent 12 congregations whose collective mission is to spread the Gospel message in the 21st century. They are the Sisters of St. Francis—Clinton, Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary—Dubuque, Sinsinawa Dominicans, Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, Benedictine Sisters of St. Mary Monastery—Rock Island, Sisters of Mercy—West Midwest Community, Congregation of the Humility of Mary, Sisters of St. Francis—Dubuque, Sisters of the Visitation, Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey and the Carmelite Nuns.

Watch the video at:

Visit them on Facebook at:

Post date 3.7.17


BVM Honored by Loyola University Chicago

Mary Ann Zollmann, BVM (Clement Mary) received Loyola University Chicago’s Coffey Award on June 9 from the Gannon Center for Women and Leadership at Loyola’s annual Founders Dinner. The Coffey Award is named for the first president of Mundelein College, M. Justitia Coffey, BVM, and is bestowed by the University on alumni from each of their schools in recognition of their leadership and service to others.

Mary Ann shares, “Justitia’s founding spirit poured like concrete into the architecture of Mundelein College, endures in the Gannon Center, and permeates the whole of Loyola University. She and I stand here together testifying to the joy of being able to live life fully and to the truth that education, as the process for calling forth the gift and potential of ourselves and others, makes that happen. The education we celebrate and support at this Founders’ Dinner . . . carries on the passion of Justitia Coffey: freeing students to be who they are and do what they love and so forever transforming the landscape of our world. That is the real Coffey Award—and it belongs to all of us tonight.”

Loyola President JoAnn Rooney invited Mary Ann to “receive this award in special recognition for your dedication to advocating for women in the Catholic Church and raising awareness of peace and justice issues; your devout leadership as part of the Sisters of Charity, BVM, and the Conference of Women Religious; as member of Loyola’s Board of Trustees; and graduate of Mundelein College.”

Watch the video:

Post date 6.27.2017


BVM Honored at Mundelein Spring Mass and Brunch

“Some women were leaders in the past and maybe they were recognized as leaders and maybe they weren’t—history never really recorded women’s stories very well at all, so yes, we want to lift up women and women’s leadership . . . today we’re talking about the past, a peek at the present, and hope for the future.”

These words were spoken by BVM Carolyn Farrell (Lester), founding director of the Ann Ida Gannon, BVM Center for Women and Leadership, Loyola University Chicago. On Sunday, April 30, Carolyn was honored for her leadership at the annual Mundelein Spring Mass and Brunch in Chicago.

The Gannon Center, Alumni Relations, and the Mundelein Alumnae Board recognized Carolyn for her role in guiding Mundelein College into Loyola University and establishing the Gannon Center in 1993 as a heritage piece of Mundelein.

The Gannon Center educates and fosters women leaders to contribute in the development of a more just social order—preparing women to lead extraordinary lives.

Post date 5.19.2017


World Refugee Day Observed on June 20

June 20 was designated by the United Nations as a day to show public support for refugees. Worldwide, 21.3 million people have been forced from their home countries, seeking safety and security; half of them are under 18 years old. Last year, the United States welcomed 85,000 refugees.

A refugee is someone who fled his or her home and country due to “a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion,” according to the United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention.

BVMs joined other religious, friends and neighbors in Dubuque, Iowa, at a peaceful rally to show support of our refugee brothers and sisters on World Refugee Day and honor those who have been forced to leave their homes.

Participants heard firsthand accounts of refugees who were settled in Iowa and stories from professionals involved in the screening and resettlement process. They also learned how to take legislative action and partner with local/regional organizations providing support to refugees and asylum-seekers.

Refugees Welcome! We stand with refugees!

The Sisters of Charity are members of Crossing Borders—Dubuque, and are one of many local sponsors of the rally.

Post date 6.9.2017


BVM Ecuador Immersion Trip 2017

On April 19, a group of 17 adults traveled to Ecuador for a 10-day immersion trip sponsored by the Sisters of Charity, BVM of Dubuque, Iowa. Our group consisted of three men and 14 women (four of whom are BVM associates and three are BVMs). We all met in Miami for the flight to Guayaquil. Most of us had not met prior to this trip; as we waited for our flight, everyone engaged in positive conversation.

We stayed for two days in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and visited three important programs. Ann Credidio, BVM is responsible for Damien House, home to 26 women and men who have Hansen’s disease (leprosy). Sister Annie has made remarkable progress in caring for and offering hope to her patients. She is also securing their future by developing the staff of Damien House, who have benefitted from BVM Foundress Mary Frances Clarke Scholarships for education in healthcare, finance and administration. Our time with the patients at this clinic was rewarding and helped us understand the challenges faced by those with this disease.

We traveled to a nutrition center run by two women religious from a Marian Order. The center was located in the barrio (slum) of Duran. It had rained for six hours the day before, and the streets were flooded and filled with trash. Some areas were impassable. The poverty was magnified in such situations. When we finally arrived at the center, we learned that the services are provided primarily to women with children ages 1–5 years old. Most of the women have few skills to earn a living. Many have escaped abusive situations. The center helps them with childcare while they learn new skills, such as sewing, to help them survive on their own. This mission encounters many challenges, but there are signs of progress, especially in terms of building the women’s self-esteem.

We also spent a morning at Centro Educativo Nuevo Mundo, a school in Guayaquil where we met BVM Associate Sonya Rendón. This school educates tuition-paying students in the morning; children who cannot afford to pay come in the afternoon. Dedicated teachers staff this beautiful facility, offering a way out of poverty and injustice through education.

We then traveled to Quito for a week’s stay at the Centro Muchacho Trabajador (CMT). Quito is a vast metropolis spread throughout the valley and up the hills of the Andes Mountains. CMT has two different campuses. We stayed at Center #2, which is equipped to house groups of our size or larger. This Center, serves over 350 families. There are three meals per day, students and parents are educated, showers and medical care are available, and there is a safe place for recreation. We could hear the joyful noises from happy children throughout the day.

While in Quito, we had excursions to visit the artisans, an open-air market, historical downtown Quito, the Cathedral, Fe Y Alegría School, and the Middle of the World. Reflecting on our experiences, there are two events that stand out for me.

The first was our interaction at CMT with Padre Juan Halligan, SJ, Madre Miguel Conway, BVM, and Madre Cindy Sullivan, BVM. Padre Juan and Madre Miguel began this ministry in the mid-1960s. Under their guidance and vision, it has evolved through decades of change.

Juan had the dream and Miguel had the organizational/administrative skills to keep it in motion. Madre Cindy has been with them since the ’70s and is a vital part of the Center’s mission. What an amazing collaboration of gifts and charisms! Rooted in prayer and love, they represent a living sign of the Spirit at work. These three especially seem to live in the tradition of Dorothy Day, who co-founded the U.S. Catholic Worker Movement. They observe, listen, and live with the needy.

“We must talk about poverty because people insulated by their own comfort lose sight of it.”—Dorothy Day.

The second event was our visit to the homes of three of the families served by CMT. Most of the families live in one room—with one overhead light, a stove to cook on, running water in the house or nearby, often no door (just a piece of material to cover the entry), a dirt floor, and minimal belongs. This was not simple living. It was poverty. Their lives are very difficult and full of struggle to meet basic human needs. The contrast with our American lifestyle was striking. Most of our group pondered this and will continue to ponder this for a long time.

Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.”—Simone Weil.

This trip allowed us to pay attention to the needs we encountered. The distractions of our American life were removed, even if only for 10 days. This allowed us to be attentive to the beautiful people we encountered and their stories changed our hearts.

There are a number of ways to change your heart. If you have a chance to make this type of an adventure, do it. Your life will be enriched in many wonderful ways.

If you would like to learn to more about the Ecuador BVM Immersion Trip, contact:  

—Ann R. Wertz

Post date 5.9.2017


School Celebrates BVM Roots at 125th Anniversary

BVMs (l. to r.) Sue Effinger, Terese Shinners, Virginia Stone and Janet Desmond celebrate with DSHA President Ellen Bartel (center).

BVMs (l. to r.) Sue Effinger, Terese Shinners, Virginia Stone and Janet Desmond celebrate with DSHA President Ellen Bartel (center).

Divine Savior Holy Angels HS (DSHA) in Milwaukee marked the beginning of its 125th anniversary year with a special liturgy on Feb. 1. Alumnae and former teachers joined DSHA faculty and students in celebration of both the anniversary year and National Catholic Schools Week (NCSW), observed this year from Jan. 29–Feb. 4. This year’s NCSW theme “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service” is embodied in the story of DSHA’s roots.

Holy Angels Academy opened in Milwaukee in 1892, under the leadership of the Sisters of Charity, BVM, where it grew and thrived into the 20th century. In 1926, the Sisters of the Divine Savior established another high school in Milwaukee to educate young women interested in joining their order. In 1948, Divine Savior opened to all girls in the Milwaukee area. The two schools merged in 1970 to create Divine Savior Holy Angels HS. Since that collaboration, DSHA has grown to become the number one high school for girls in Milwaukee.

“Holy Angels was my alma mater and that of most of the women in my family,” said Terese Shinners, BVM (Ellena). “The BVM alumnae at the liturgy shared memories of our high school teachers and the excellent education we received. My favorite part of the day was reconnecting with former students and colleagues from my years teaching at DSHA.”

BVM Suzanne (Sue) Effinger (Frances Carol) shared, “The event today celebrating 125 years was a powerful experience for me. The welcome all of the alums received as we processed into liturgy brought me to tears.” Janet Mary Desmond, BVM added, “The spirit of joy, service and pride filled the celebratory 125 year anniversary Mass. Students and faculty welcomed alums and all witness to their excellent academic and religious education.”

In her welcome at the Mass, DSHA President Ellen Bartels noted, “As we open our liturgical celebration, we honor those who have gone before us in our Procession of Alumnae. These women, who have graduated from Holy Angels Academy, Divine Savior HS, and Divine Savior Holy Angels, represent the over 14,000 young women who have come through the doors of our foundational institutions and have gone out to make a difference in the world.”

Post date 2.9.17


BVMs Join in Making History

BVMs (l. to r.) Joellen McCarthy, Diane Rapozo and Rose Mary Meyer display their posters in front of the Capitol building.

BVMs (l. to r.) Joellen McCarthy, Diane Rapozo and Rose Mary Meyer display their posters in front of the Capitol building.

On Jan. 21, the Women’s March on Washington, D.C. marked the largest mass demonstration in U.S. history. Throughout the country and globally, 5 million people marched in cities and towns in a show of solidarity for human rights.

From coast to coast, BVMs andassociates joined the sea of participants in prayer and presence! The BVM Women’s Network sponsored three sisters to attend the D.C. march: BVMs Rose Mary Meyer (Sebastian), Diane Rapozo (Malia), and Joellen McCarthy. “I am thrilled that these rallies happened in hundreds of cities and towns in the United States, in many countries and all of Earth’s continents,” says Rose Mary. “Together we are strong.”

Both Diane and Joellen share that they were “hungry for a different way of people coming together” after the election campaign. “The experience in Washington generated in us such hope that we were encouraged to discover during the day in Washington and now in subsequent days, invitations to channel that positive energy to actions that can bring about change and work toward creating a world we can believe in.”

Associate Coordinator Kimberly Emery was also in D.C. for the march, and Associate Kathy Linhardt took part in the New York City march, while her daughters walked in D.C. and Los Angeles. Associate Coordinator Lori Ritz, during her visit to Iowa, joined her sister to march with supporters in Des Moines.

BVMs Barbara Gaul, Mary Ellen Meckley, Colleen McGinnity and Carol Cook rallied for the Chicago march. “It was a call to stand together, to use love as our strategy, to build on this day, to bring our energies to our local communities, to be involved,” says Carol. Associate Virginia Piecuch echoes Carol as she says, “The march in Chicago was an amazing experience to be one with women, men and children showing God’s diversity in our world.”

From Dubuque, Iowa to Milwaukee to San Jose, Calif., BVMs were present and engaged in the respective marches. Former Dubuque mayor Carolyn Farrell, BVM (Lester), joined by other Dubuque BVMs and associates, shared with the local group gathered in unity and support. “We are here, connected in spirit with the Women’s March on Washington, D.C.—lifting up positive energy, inspiring justice for all.”

Along with many others, BVMs Marilyn Wilson (Claudia Mary), Bette Gambonini (Esther Mary) and Elizabeth Avalos gathered with Associates Francis and Carol DeCarvalho and their family, and Associate Barbara Harper and her daughters, at the march in San Jose, Calif. Elizabeth shares, “Everyone was so positive—talking, laughing, holding their signs . . . our future is in safe hands.”

The Women’s March on Washington (, urges supporters to join them in launching a new follow-up campaign: Ten Actions for the first 100 days. “Now, the real work begins.”

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Post date 1.30.17


BVMs, Associates and Friends Gather in Solidarity

“No Mas! No More! Tear Down the Border Wall! Basta Ya, Basta Ya, Basta Ya!”

These were the words that rang through and around the border wall at the Nogales, Ariz./Sonora, Mexico border for the SOA (School of the Americas) Watch Oct. 7–10. BVM Associates Carol and Francis DeCarvalho, Kay Harrison and Elizabeth Fitting joined BVMs Elizabeth Avalos, Bette Gambonini (Esther Mary) and Marilyn Wilson (Claudia Mary), and friends Arline Nelson and Wally Inglis for the event.

They gathered together in solidarity with over 1,000 justice seekers to:
• bring attention to the injustices of the U.S. immigration policies;
• advocate for a shift in U.S. policy toward refugees;
• offer a positive narrative about immigrants and refugees;
• build bridges of understanding and dialogue;
• struggle against U.S. militarization at home and abroad;
• and to commit to continue to work for comprehensive immigration reform.

A march led by Veterans for Peace guided the group to the border wall. Stages set on either side of the wall created connections with those who have suffered at the hands of border patrol and immigration officials. Participants attended workshops on both sides of the border, studying various aspects of the issue—injustices in the U.S. detention centers, unequal economies, disastrous effects of free trade, and deportation of veterans.

They joined 40 other women religious and associates for Encuentro de Hermanas, to pray together and engage in conversation about immigration and their response as women religious. For over 20 years, many congregations have had missions on both sides of border towns in the southwest. Coming to the watch from several states, they networked and shared resources.

For everyone, it was an experience that saddened, challenged, energized and filled them with hope.

“Abre corazones, abre brazoes, abre puertas en bienvenida.”
“Open hearts, open arms, open doors in welcome.”
              from NCR Global Sisters Report – prayer at Encuentro de Hermanas, Oct. 8, 2016

Prayer by Marilyn Wilson, BVM: Ode to the Wall

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Heralding the War—BVM Coverage of ‘The War to End All Wars’

April 6, 2017, marked the 100th anniversary of American entry into World War I. On April 6, 1917, the United States Congress declared war on Germany. Eight months later, the United States officially declared war against Austria-Hungary on Dec. 7, 1917. While the Sisters of Charity, BVM publication, Our Herald, did not focus on the war, it referenced the conflict several times prior to the involvement of the United States.

The earliest mention of the war came in an October 1914 article that requested prayers for the new pope, Benedict XV, “whose accession to the throne comes in times so troublous, our prayers will be earnest and unceasing.” Two years later, the April 1916 issue noted that “Eastertide this year sees war, death and desolation stalking through the world. ‘Christian Civilization has failed,’ say our enemies. We need the strong, joyful hope of triumph and of life eternal that rings out in the Easter Alleluia; but we cannot know final defeat.”

Once America entered the war, it was regularly referenced in Our Herald. The October 1917 issue, the first published after U.S. involvement, informed the reader that “at Mount Carmel adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is kept up at all the hours of the day to obtain the blessing of peace.” It also noted that “prayers have been redoubled that the Nations at war may listen to the words of the Ambassador of the Prince of Peace” (Pope Benedict XV) who had recently issued a letter calling for peace.

In January 1918, Our Herald emphasized the importance of religion in education, arguing that war “has shown in a hideous series of object lessons . . . the result of educational systems, scientific and materialistic, in which religion had no part . . . Men educated under these systems used this knowledge for the destruction of their fellowmen and themselves.”

It also heralded the capture of Jerusalem on Dec. 9, 1917, by the combined forces of Great Britain, France and Italy, and proudly noted that the chaplain who carried the cross into Jerusalem was Rev. William Raphael Ludford, OSB, who had been educated by the BVMs at St. Mary Academy in Elgin, Ill. This issue also includes a more somber mention of the war—the name of Lieutenant William T. Fitzsimmons, “one of our Kansas City boys, the first U.S. Officer killed in France.”

The October 1918 issue, which included information on the influenza epidemic, was apparently published late as it also included a short article noting that before beginning Mass on the morning of Nov. 11, the chaplain announced the armistice had been signed. “With all the fervor of our souls, we offered the Holy Sacrifice in thanksgiving” and later that afternoon the Te Deum was sung.

This issue of Our Herald, as well as the January 1919 issue, include excerpts from letters sent home by some of the soldiers. In one letter, one of BVM St. Catherine Murphy’s brothers informs her that soldiers can receive communion any time after confession, “no matter how long our fast.” On a lighter note, he also tells her the American troops “hate the name ‘Sammie’ and ‘Yank’ is our name.”

In the past, history was often taught on a macro level—great deeds performed by great men. As the teaching shifts to more of a micro level, resources such as Our Herald become more valuable to researchers as they provide a glimpse of how history was documented “as it happened.”

—Jennifer Head
BVM Archivist

Post date 4.20.2017


BVMs Unite With Others in ‘A Call to Compassion’

Award-winning journalist and author Margaret Regan shared the heartrending stories of people caught in the chaos of the U.S. immigration system during a presentation, “Immigrant Families Under Fire—A Call to Compassion in the Heartland,” with an audience of 200 at Loras College, Dubuque, Iowa, on March 30.

The event was sponsored by the Sisters of Charity, BVM and 29 co-sponsors who comprise Crossing Borders—Dubuque, a group of concerned citizens, organizations and religious who work to raise awareness of injustices experienced by immigrants and advocates on their behalf. 

Regan noted that thousands of deportations of undocumented individuals have occurred in the last 10 years and are still happening everyday in the United States, affecting children, spouses, neighbors, employers and communities.

One of her books, Detained and Deported: Stories of Immigrant Families Under Fire (2015) investigates the fate of undocumented immigrants who are taken away from their families, incarcerated in detention centers, or deported back across the border.

Another book, The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona Borderlands (2010), chronicles the tragic deaths of migrants in the desert. Both books are named Top Picks in the Southwest Books of the Year competition, and have been adopted in many university classrooms.

Crossing Borders member Mary McCauley, BVM (Mercedie) says, “Ever since experiencing the heartache and injustice suffered by so many men, women and children at the time of the infamous workplace raid at Agriprocessors in Postville, Iowa, in 2008, I have been convinced that the first step in transforming our immigration system is to transform hearts. What better way to transform hearts than to share the stories of those directly affected by our current immigration system? What better way to set our hearts on fire!”

BVM Mira Mosle, also a member of Crossing Borders, spoke to the concerned and sober crowd, saying, "What to do? We want to pray. We want to weep. We want to do something. How will we find and encourage compassion in the heartland for our brothers and sisters?"

Area co-sponsors of the presentation include: Catholic Charities, Church of the Resurrection, Clarke University, Community Foundation of Dubuque, Dubuque for Refugee Families, Loras College, Nativity Church, Gwen Nilles, Father Jack Paisley, St. Raphael Cathedral, St. Patrick Church, St. Joseph Catholic Church Key West, Sinsinawa Dominicans, Sisters of the Presentation, Sisters of St. Francis, Sisters of the Visitation, and Sisters of Charity, BVM.

Regan’s books are available at River Lights Bookstore, Dubuque, which will contribute 10% of sales to Crossing Borders.

Post date 4.6.17


LCWR Expresses Deep Concern about Executive Orders

LCWR Expresses Deep Concern about Executive Orders

January 30, 2017

We emphatically endorse the statement issued today by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR): “We strongly object to President Trump’s attempts to limit our ability to heed God’s call to welcome the stranger (Mt. 25:35) and to care for those most in need (Mt 25:40), and we are particularly concerned about rules and regulations that deny access to refugees because of their religion, race, or nationality. It is a violation of our faith and every norm of humanity.”

With the LCWR, the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary “vow to continue to welcome refugees and minister to immigrants. [We,] LCWR, and its members will continue to press for restoration of refugee resettlement, relief for families, an end to needless deportations, and the closure of all family detention centers. We will continue to advocate for compassionate, bipartisan legislation that fixes our broken immigration system. We will continue to stand in solidarity with families, regardless of immigration status, who labor daily to provide safety and security for their children.”

Leadership Team, Sisters of Charity, BVM

Teri Hadro, BVM
Lou Anglin, BVM
LaDonna Manternach, BVM

Read: LCWR expresses deep concern about Executive Orders


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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