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BVM Associate Stories Archive

Current Stories

Suzanne M. Wright—August 2016

 Suzie Mae Wright was born in Ottumwa, Iowa, and grew up in Dubuque, Iowa. A member of the American Baptist Community, she is executive director for Set Free Dubuque which educates the Dubuque community on modern day slavery. She is also employed as a switchboard operator by Grand Harbor Resort Hotel, Dubuque.

Companion Frances Ann Schaeffer, BVM (Louis), remarks about Suzie’s living of the core value of freedom: “Suzanne, at considerable personal sacrifice, discerned her need to take a job with fewer time constraints to allow her the necessary time to fulfill commitments she made to a part time ministry as executive director of Set Free, a position which allows her to address issues of human trafficking awareness.”

Leisure time with family and friends finds Suzie playing cards and board games. In a solitary setting, she enjoys reading mysteries, science and historical fiction. Her love of film led her to independent film making. She has honed her skills as author, editor and publisher.

Suzie will celebrate her associate commitment ceremony on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016, in the Mount Carmel Motherhouse chapel with family, friends, sisters and associates.


Elaine Reavis—July 2016

Elaine Reavis chose to become a BVM associate because she “recognized their way of life as being right for me. Their love of Jesus mirrors mine in a lot of ways.” Elaine has been living the core values as a member of her parish’s bereavement ministry. She also is a Eucharistic minister and participates in a centering prayer Bible study.

A widow with three grown children and two granddaughters, Elaine lives in La Cañada, Calif., where she retired after working 41 years as a registered nurse. She attends the Montrose, Calif., cluster of associates, candidates and BVMs each month and was able to attend the 2016 associate summer retreat at Mount Carmel.

Elaine’s companion, associate Cheryl Hannah, says that “Elaine is a God-filled, loving person” who brings “her love of God, her desire to help people, her interest in fully participating in associate activities, and her love of the sisters and associates” to share in our Circle of Friends.



Cory Weinschenk—July 2016

Cory Weinschenk may be a new associate, but he is not new to the BVMs. He is the helpdesk specialist at Mount Carmel, working in the IT Department. Cory was drawn to formalize his relationship as an associate through his participation in the Ecuador Immersion experience in 2015. “Seeing that mission firsthand made me believe that I was truly helping by working here,” he shared. “BVMs and associates are meant to walk together.”

Cory serves as a leader in the eastern Iowa Boy Scout community and is a member of his parish choir in Bellevue, Iowa. He is a volunteer on the “Working Unitedly” employee committee at Mount Carmel and has participated in the past two associate summer retreats.

His companion, Julie O’Neill, BVM, said that Cory “frequently mentioned how often he learns about BVM ministry, justice issues, and dynamic examples of how freedom was experienced in the lives of our sisters. His repairing of a resident’s computer sometimes becomes a learning experience in BVM history past and present!”

Cory’s commitment ceremony will take place at Mount Carmel in Dubuque the fall of 2016.



Kathleen Gibson—June 2016

Kathleen Gibson is a native of St. Paul, Minn., where she graduated from Our Lady of Peace HS in the charter class of 1955. Kay and husband Fred, who died in 2012, have two children, Ann and John, and five grandchildren.

Retiring after 40 years in education, Kay taught elementary grades in both Catholic and public schools. Her leisure time includes attendance at her grandchildren activities, local library book discussions, and making greeting cards. She delights in enriching conversation.

While accompanying Kathleen in discernment, companion Patricia Thalhuber, BVM (Herbert Mary) was touched by her witness to a life opening to new possibilities and her enduring appreciation of BVM values. “Holding a love for our mission core in her heart, she will discern ways in which Spirit will speak to her as she continues this association with us.”

Kay is planning her associate commitment with associates, friends and family for Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016, in Inver Grove Heights, Minn.


Teresa Piña—April 2016

We welcome Teresa Piña to our family of BVM associates! Teri is a native of Los Angeles, currently living in North Hollywood. She is a registered nurse at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in LA, the mother of three adult daughters, and has one grandson. She stays close to her 86-year-old mother, helping with errands and visiting often. Her busy schedule still allows her to enjoy her hobbies of baking and cooking!

Teri’s first contact with the BVMs was at Loretto HS in LA, getting to know the sisters there better because she was a student council member who attended leadership and religious retreats under their guidance. Elizabeth Avalos, BVM says, “I have known Teri since she was a freshman in high school. She has always been service-oriented, generous, gracious and sincere.”

Elizabeth was one of Teri’s companions on the associate journey; the other was Marguerite Murphy, BVM. Marguerite got to know Teri through the Montrose cluster, meetings and service projects. “Teresa brings enthusiasm for sharing the BVM mission at the local level,” says Marguerite. “She participates in the local associate and outreach programs for providing service to the homeless and clothes for children.”

“Participating with the BVMs always gives me a sense of peace and feeling the presence of God,” Teri shares. In addition to the southern California service projects (including Adopt-a-Family and serving the Wednesday before Thanksgiving meal to the homeless), she has participated in the BVM Ecuador immersion experience, finding the trip “spiritual, educational and life enriching.”

Teri will be celebrating her commitment at a ceremony during the summer of 2016.



Susan Hoerger—November 2015

Susan Hoerger was born into a Preston, Idaho, family descended from Mormon pioneers who crossed the plains and settled the communities of Hyrum and Lake Town. She is married and has two adult daughters, six grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter.

A graduate of Utah State University; University of Wisconsin-Madison; and Hastings College of Law, San Francisco; Susan is currently human resources director at Stanford University in California.

In her leisure time, Susan likes long distance hiking. She enjoys “prowling” the Alameda Antique Faire with her husband, has explored leathercraft, and has taken organ lessons.

Susan’s call to association was spurred on by her friend Carmella Huser, who was in the process of discernment. Her companion Dolores (Dee) Myers, BVM (Dolore), recalls, “Susan was so enthralled with what Carmella was learning . . . she wanted something like this in her life.” Soon Susan was part of the South Bay BVM and associate cluster and journeyed along with Carmella, BVMs Elizabeth Avalos, Bette Gambonini (Esther Mary), and Marilyn Wilson (Claudia Mary).

Susan sees BVM association as “an opportunity to associate with like-minded women who have dedicated their lives to core values I believe in and ascribe to hold.” She finds nourishment in “trying to understand every person and situation I encounter as an angel with a message for me.”

Susan is planning her associate commitment for Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015, at St. Catherine Parish in Burlingame, Calif.


Carmella Huser—November 2015

Carmella Huser was born and raised in Kenosha, Wis., and also lived in Whitefish Bay, near Milwaukee, where she raised her three children. After her grown family settled in California, she joined them and is now a northern Californian.

Carmella earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Wisconsin, and obtained her J.D. at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. As an attorney, she was employed at the Stanford University School of Medicine. She was also manager and specialist in labor and employee relations and training.

Leisure activities for Carmella include time with her 12 grandchildren and traveling. She finds enrichment in reading and attending musical and theater productions. Her volunteering avocation has taken her to the Working Boys’ Center—Family of Families in Quito, Ecuador. She supports the St. Mary Partnership in Ministry in Los Gatos, Calif., and has walked with BVMs and associates in the Bay area peace, justice and education efforts.

Companion Dolores (Dee) Myers, BVM, characterizes her: “Carmella is an actively engaged person who finds meaning in family, community and significant work. I see this same commitment in her decision to become a BVM associate. She likes being a part of groups that make a difference.” 

Carmella is planning her associate commitment for Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015, at St. Catherine Parish in Burlingame, Calif.


Gina Burkart—August 2015

Gina Burkart, the oldest of nine children, was born in Melrose Park, Ill., but grew up in Dubuque, Iowa. She and her husband Steve share three children: Adam, 22, Brianna, 20, and Emma, 18.

For most of their married life, Gina and Steve lived in Cedar Falls, Iowa, where Gina earned a master of arts’ degree and a doctorate in education at the University of Northern Iowa. She taught English there for 11 years.

Now living in Dubuque, Gina is on the faculty of Clarke University, serving as a learning specialist and adjunct professor of English. She rounds out her busy life with family time and volunteer activities at St. Columbkille Parish and Clarke University.She enjoys writing and photography.

Gina’s call to association first surfaced at a presentation about BVMs given at Clarke. The call resurfaced when Gina engaged in a “Busy Person Retreat” conducted by Kathy Carr, BVM, who later became Gina’s companion in associate discernment.

Kathy describes Gina as having a “strong understanding of and commitment to the BVM core values of freedom, education, charity and justice.” Kathy adds, “As we explored these values during her discernment, it was clear that they were already an integral part of her life.”

Gina is planning her associate commitment ceremony for Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015, in the Motherhouse Chapel at Mount Carmel.


Marabeth Freund - July 2015

Marabeth Freund will be celebrating her 40th wedding anniversary in 2015 with her husband, Associate Norm Freund, along with their two sons and their families. She currently teaches English as a Second Language (ESL) to K-5 students in the Dubuque Community Schools. Marabeth received her bachelor of arts degree in sociology from Luther College, Decorah, Iowa; her master of arts degree from Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa; and her endorsement in ESL from Morningside College, Sioux City, Iowa.

At Sacred Heart ES in Maquoketa, Iowa, Marabeth was taught by the BVMs. She has met many more sisters since then, through attending Clarke and through Norm’s journey as an associate. She sees the BVM/associate relationship supporting one another “in bringing unique insights and experiences to the work of building God’s kingdom.”

Harriet Holles, BVM (Agneda) has been Marabeth’s companion on her discernment journey, and has enjoyed the “deepening of relationship with someone I’ve known for many years.” Harriet sees Marabeth as someone who will continue to live out the core values with much goodwill and desire.

Marabeth celebrated her commitment ceremony on Sunday, July 19, 2015, at 2 p.m., in the Motherhouse Chapel at Mount Carmel, Dubuque.


Joyce Mach—May 2015

Joyce Mach was born in Chicago to Otto and Clara Mach. Ralph was her only sibling and they were the best of friends. Ralph’s wife, Marian; her children, Carol and Paul; and grandchildren make up Joyce’s family today.

Living in Leesburg, Fla., Joyce teaches as a preschool aide and as a 5th grade catechist in St. Paul Parish. According to Colleen McGinnity, BVM, Joyce is still “amazing” after 50 years of teaching primary school children. “Joyce brings a joyful, childlike wisdom and simplicity. Preschool and kindergarten children are her whole frame of reference. She can explain the most profound ideas in simple language because she is always thinking of helping children grow and learn and understand.”

Though Joyce hasn’t had her own dog since she moved to Florida, she doesn’t hesitate to care for those of others: her pastor, a neighbor, or her sister-in-law. She loves classical music, reading the books of Thomas Merton, and creating and sewing costumes for skits at St. Paul School.

Joyce graduated from St. Mary HS in Chicago. She earned her bachelor’s degree in art and master’s degree in religious studies at Mundelein College, Chicago. She was a member of the BVM congregation from 1957–1968.

Recognizing Joyce’s spirituality, Ann DeNicolo, BVM, notes, “There is a simplicity about her that is profound. She has read some of the prominent spiritual writers of our times.”

Summarizing her discernment with her cluster, Joyce remarks, “In discussing core values, it was encouraging to see how they are actually lived out in our day-to-day experiences. Even routine and simple activities can be loving service to others.”

Joyce’s commitment ceremony will be held on July 19, 2015.


Therese Hawks—May 2015

Therese Hawks was raised on a farm near DeKalb, Ill., and attended St. Mary ES, taught by BVMs. She graduated from St. Xavier University in Chicago with a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing. Her career included work in medical offices, the health insurance field, and at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, Ill. Therese sees compassion, understanding and justice as driving forces in her calling as a registered nurse. She acknowledges that her father’s passion for social justice influenced her attitudes. Today she observes, “Justice, especially for children, is deteriorating.”

She enjoys travel, sewing and reading, and especially looks forward to one-on-one time with her four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Therese is the mother of two children, Julie and Mark.

Her discernment companion, Margaret Haas, credits Therese’s involvement, saying, “As a candidate, she was already participating in cluster and vow renewal gatherings, the Day of Contemplative Prayer, and the CARMA event in Dubuque in April.” She shares that Therese has traveled to experience the cultures of Nepal, Tibet, the Philippines, the Middle East, and Native Americans—thus practicing one of her gifts to association: “A desire to learn about others, to share interests with them, and to be a good listener.”

Therese’s commitment ceremony will take place in May in the Chapel of the Little Flower on the Carmelite campus in Darien, Ill.


Linda Carstens—April 2015

Linda Carstens was born in Norwalk, Conn., but raised her family and spent most of her educational career in California. She has two grown children who with their families live in the Bay area. Linda enjoys traveling, learning languages (Italian and French), walking, reading, and baseball—San Francisco Giants! In particular, Linda loves to visit her family hometown—Arienzo, Italy, where she teaches English as a second language in the elementary school.

Drawn by her “strong connection to the BVMs as a vital community of intelligent women who make a difference for others in the way they live their lives and do their work,” she sees association as an extension of the BVM calling. Linda respects the diversity of service that characterizes present day BVMs and believes that Mary Frances Clarke honored a variety of service in her circle of friends.

In three volunteer/outreach immersion trips, Linda was impressed by the action of social justice and inspired by the volunteers she met. She hopes, in the future, to offer more extended service in Ecuador.

Her companion, Lori Ritz, looks forward, saying, “Linda’s involvement with and support of BVMs and associates will evolve . . . she understands the BVM core values and charism. She will make them come alive in her own life through her example and her service.”

Linda’s commitment ceremony will be on Sunday, July 19, 2015, at Mount Carmel.


Andy Schroeder—March 2015

Andy Schroeder is a native of Dubuque, Iowa, as is Kara, his wife of almost 13 years. They have two children, Grace (8) and Charlie (6). He serves on several committees in his home parish of Holy Spirit and is on the board of directors of Dupaco Community Credit Union in Dubuque. He enjoys running, camping, singing and playing games with his family.

Andy and Kara are both 2002 graduates of Clarke University in Dubuque, where Andy has served as director of admissions and as development officer before joining the Sisters of Charity, BVM as the new director of development in April 2015.

Andy’s companion for his discernment journey was Catherine Dunn, BVM who says that he “brings a deep spirituality that he lives each day” to the associate community. She sees his gifts as those of someone who “follows in the footsteps” of Mary Frances Clarke.

Andy brings his ability as a storyteller to help the history and message of the BVMs live on, believing that his “values align with the BVM core values. I want to further support the congregation and its mission by offering my time, talent and treasure.”

Andy will be celebrating his commitment with his former Clarke co-workers on April 26, 2015, at 1:30 p.m., in the Motherhouse Chapel.


Roxanne Morse—March 2015

Roxanne Morse was born in Oceanside, Calif., and now resides in Oakland where she is a practicing psychologist and psychotherapist. She received her B.S. in education and her M.S. in counseling psychology from Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, and her Ph.D. in counseling psychology from Ball State University, Muncie, Ind.

Roxanne met the BVMs when she was in high school. Dee Peppard, BVM was her freshman religion teacher, and has served as a friend, mentor and spiritual advisor. Roxanne has been companioned by Associate Marilyn Highlander-Pool, and met with BVMs Elizabeth Avalos, Dee Meyers and Marilyn Wilson as part of her journey to association.

Roxanne sees association as “a lifetime commitment to pursue a community with depth, spiritual guidance, shared social values, and a foundation of love, care and concern for one another.” She believes that social justice is “pursuing a place for ‘everyone at the table.’” Marilyn Highlander-Pool speaks of Roxanne as “a woman who truly lives out the core values in her daily life . . . a woman who spends almost every day of her life working for social justice.” Her commitment ceremony will take place in spring 2015.


Adelaida Tanagras—February 2015

Adelaida Tanagras, born in Malabon, Philippines, has been in the United States since 1992. She became familiar with the BVM community in 2005 when she met Ann Chaput, BVM, at St. Dismas Parish in Waukegan, Ill. Adelaida lives in Park City, Ill., and plans to have her commitment ceremony on April 12, 2015, at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Gurnee, Ill. Her companions in the discernment process, Ann Chaput, BVM, and Associates Pat Dieveney and Joann and Bob Yerkes, will join her in planning her commitment ceremony.

Adelaida is a private caregiver. She is a Eucharistic minister, catechist, and a promoter of Filipino rosary and devotions within her parish. Adelaida’s spirituality is reinforced by a deep conviction of God’s love and presence in her life. Ministry to others in her caregiving role was instilled early in life with a love of family, care for others, and sharing everything with others who had greater needs.

Adelaida is proud to say, “My upbringing is an integral part of my wellbeing—great joy and assurance that I am doing God’s work.”

Companion Pat Dieveney observes, “Adelaida is open to ideas, listens well, and wants to be supportive of BVM core values.” Companion Joanne Yerkes adds, “She is very helpful with gift giving in a joy-filled way.” Ann Chaput, BVM, agrees with them, saying, “Adelaida brings an open heart and generous spirit, hospitality and joy . . . in her search to learn more of BVM spirituality.”


Sean Bradley—November 2014

Sean was born in Lancaster, Pa., and lives in Dubuque, Iowa. He and his wife, Elizabeth (Betsy), are parents to three daughters: Meg (21), Jane (19), and Grace (15). His leisure pursuits include reading, cooking, walking and backpacking. He knows the meaning of volunteering, as he has been active in parish and civic organizations. From 1987–89, he served in the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone. Sean and his family volunteered in the diocese of American Samoa from 2002–04.

Sean first met BVMs in 1996 when he was hired at Clarke University in Dubuque. He is associate professor of math and heads Clarke’s Catholic Identity Committee, which promotes BVM core values at the university.

Reinforcement for Sean’s spirituality is drawn from prayer, reading, service and community. He sees Christ’s call to service as: “Be ready, offer myself; ‘love one another;’ and remain grounded in a loving relationship with God.”

Characterizing his discernment with BVMs Sue Rink (Michaela), Helen Maher Garvey (Robert Joseph), and Mary Ellen Caldwell (Eugenio), Sean says, “Our conversations helped me to be more intentional and responsive to a call I’ve felt for a long time.”

Sean’s commitment ceremony will be in the spring of 2015. 


Terry Kruse—November 2014

Terry Kruse was born in Manchester, Iowa, and grew up on a dairy farm just outside of Dyersville, Iowa. His family has a strong Catholic base, with a brother and an uncle who are priests and an aunt who is a Franciscan sister.

He received a B.A. from Loras College, Dubuque, Iowa, and a master’s degree in education from Iowa State University. Terry is the assistant director of career counseling at Clarke University in Dubuque, where he shares his home with his wife Emily (also an associate), and their two sons, Scott (8), and Aaron, who is almost 3 years old.

Terry’s companion during the association process was Julie O’Neill, BVM, who shares one of the ways that he is living out the BVM core value of charity. She relates how he and his wife encouraged their son to collect canned goods instead of presents for his birthday, and then took him to one of the local food centers to donate the items.

Terry enjoys cooking, gardening, and watching football, as well as acting in community theatre. He played Fred Gailey in the Grand Opera House (Dubuque) production of “Miracle on 34th Street.”

He feels that his Catholic faith has been deepened through his attending services with his wife and sons, and that Emily’s Jewish faith traditions have shed light on his own traditions. Terry believes that living the core values of education, charity, justice, and freedom “transcend religious affiliation and strict doctrine.” He will be sharing his commitment ceremony with his wife Emily in December 2014.


Emily Kruse—November 2014

Emily Kruse grew up in the northern suburbs of Chicago. She holds degrees from the University of Iowa and the University of Dubuque, in Iowa. Emily is the assistant director of admissions at Clarke University in Dubuque, where she shares her home with her husband Terry (also an associate), and their two sons, Scott (8), and Aaron, who is almost 3 years old.

Her Jewish family raised her with values very reminiscent of the BVM core values, which she believes are applicable to everyone. She says, “Social justice is similar to the Jewish teaching of tikkun olam—repairing the world.”

Emily’s companion during the association process was Lou Anglin, BVM, who says Emily “‘gets’ BVM—the commitment to living as justly as one can, the beauty of community, dedication to living a faith-filled life.” She is fascinated by the faith displayed by the BVM founding sisters as they traveled across the world and across the country.

Spending time with her family, teaching her sons about their Jewish heritage and identity, and witnessing her husband’s practicing of his Catholic faith are things that nourish her spiritual life. Emily enjoys playing the French horn (since fifth grade!), reading, baking, and listening to music. She will be sharing her commitment ceremony with her husband Terry in December 2014.


Pat Maddux—November 2014

Pat Maddux is a native of Phoenix. His family found their way to Dubuque, Iowa, where he graduated from Wahlert HS. Pat received his B.S. from Iowa State University and his M.A. from Clarke University in Dubuque, where he is presently the director of academic technology and a recipient of Clarke’s Gold Star Staff Certificate. He married his high school sweetheart, Jennifer Wubben, and they have three children, Grace (16), Joseph (14), and Evelyn (9), whom he considers the center of their lives.

Pat met Lynn Lester, BVM (Ann Joseph) 14 years ago when he applied to Clarke; that relationship grew to include her companioning Pat through the associate discernment process. Lynn has “witnessed Pat’s generous and gracious response to faculty, staff, and students . . . always accompanied by patient willingness to help in whatever way is possible.” Pat provides technical support for off-campus BVMs.

His connections with the community have grown through his completion of Norm Freund’s course on BVM heritage and his reading of BVM Ann Harrington (St. Remi)’s Creating Community. Pat believes that “making the world a better place doesn’t have to be a grand strategy. Small efforts can have powerful and far reaching benefits.” As Lynn has stated, “He is faithful and faith-filled by living values that reflect BVM values and mission.”

Pat’s commitment ceremony will be held in the spring of 2015. He looks forward to continuing his experiences with the community, growing in association through helping others find success, which he feels “is not an obligation, it’s a pleasure.”


MaryLane Blomquist—October 2014

MaryLane was born in Moline, Ill., an only child of John and Betty Neubauer. She currently resides in Geneseo, Ill. She has five children, Laurel, 41, Holly, 39, Jacob, 36, Justin, 31, and Kate, 29. A 1972 graduate of Clarke University, Mary Lane sent three of her children to Clarke.

She enjoys reading, finding inspiration in the “Upper Room” and the “Daily Word,” as well as Ann Harrington, BVM’s Creating Community. MaryLane keeps her eye on her 90-year-old aunt, who suffers from macular degeneration and glaucoma, reading her the mail and the newspaper obituaries, doing her laundry, and sharing her own hobbies with her. An activities person by nature, MaryLane spends much leisure time with handiwork such as crocheting, cross-stitching and embroidery. She is particularly fond of a “Circle of Friends” pattern she created with BVMs in mind.

She has been companioned by Harriet Holles, BVM, and is now connected with a cluster in the Rock Island area. The core value of education resonates strong with MaryLane as she is an advocate of education for women. She sponsors three girls in The Plan and Compassion Programs. She plans a commitment ceremony in the spring of 2015.

MaryLane sees association as a “special subset of the BVMs. I can pray, retreat and build community with them as I serve God and become the person I am.”


Christine Olsem—August 2014

Christine was born in Dubuque and lives in Luxemburg, both in Iowa. Single, she is one of the busiest persons in town! She loves to vacation in national and state parks. She’s participated in RAGBRAI, the (Des Moines, Iowa) Register’s Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. She wishes she had more time for reading, composing music, photography, crocheting, embroidery and board games. That’s difficult to achieve because she, on many occasions, is called to help out at the family farm, and to sing in the parish, pastorate and archdiocesan choirs.

Christine made BVM friends during her college days at Clarke University in Dubuque. She’s added a few more since beginning her position as administrative assistant in the Office of the Secretary. One of her tasks is writing the introductory reflections at the funeral of BVM sisters, each capturing the uniqueness of the sister about whom she is writing. On her personal time, she maintains a separate data base for associates.

In her discernment towards association commitment, Christine’s genuine spirituality and understanding of BVM charism revealed itself as she shared her hardships, joys, and faith experiences. In their discernment sessions with Christine, companions Sarah McAlpin, BVM (Philip Mary) and Associate Mary Chapman saw her openness to share her spiritual growth as a step in the right direction toward developing new relationships in association.

Christine characterizes her spiritual nourishment: “. . . good liturgy, meaning great music, active participation by the congregation, and a good homily, in that order.” While she seeks out nature’s beauty at dawn and dusk or a quiet place with centering prayer, she will turn to her favorite authors, Henri Nouwen and Ron Rolheiser, when time allows.

Christine’s commitment ceremony will be Nov. 15, 2014, in the Motherhouse Chapel at Mount Carmel.


Debbie Rivera—May 2014

Deborah L. Rivera was born in Omaha, Neb., and lives in Pueblo, Colo. She has been married to her husband, a Vietnam combat veteran, for 20 years. He has early onset Alzheimer’s dementia and for the past four months has lived in a residential facility. Debbie has been a registered nurse for 37 years, first practicing in newborn nursing and intensive care. In 1995, she moved into hospice and palliative nursing. A Reiki Master, she is also seeking certification in integrative aromatherapy. Debbie hopes one day to minister in the medical missions in Vietnam.

Debbie was introduced to the Colorado BVM cluster by Associate Mary Agnes Leonard, who companioned her on her discernment journey, along with BVM Betty Voss, Associates Nancy Van Anne and Tess Malumphy, and the Colorado cluster.

In her application, Debbie states, “I wish to be in community with loving, welcoming, joyful people who share the universal truth that ‘everyone who loves is begotten of God and knows God’ (1 John 4:7).” As shereflects on the BVM core values, she says that she“approaches all of life with a sense of wonder, good humor and openness to experience the Divine presence/Great Mystery that is everywhere.”

Hiking, gardening, Tai-Chi, reading, cooking, and enjoying her dog and three cats are among Debbie’s favorite ways to spend her time. She sees service and social justice as Matthew describes near the close of his gospel (Matthew 25): “I believe we are here to serve in love and to give more than we take from this life. God is everywhere and everything is holy.” Debbie says her mantra is, “Everything you meet is the path.” As such, she finds the core values resonate with her spirituality as she has witnessed them lived by the Colorado BVM cluster and while at the summer associate retreat at Mount Carmel which focused on justice.

When Debbie began her discernment journey, she was not sure where it would lead. She says, “I have found that adversity in life—the loss, sadness and sufferings I have experienced have deepened my ownpersonal spirituality.” She plans to celebrate her associate commitment with her Colorado cluster at the annual September retreat in the Rockies at Estes Park.


Nancy Anne Niles—May 2014

Nancy was born in Los Angeles. A widow, she is the mother of two adult daughters and grandmother of six. Nancy is a registered nurse and has spent the last 33 of her 34 years of nursing in the operating room. She presently works at Huntington Memorial Hospital.

Nancy was introduced to the BVMs at Holy Family Parish in Glendale by her good friend, Associate Grace Mendez, who will be joining her for her commitment celebration.

Nancy states that she has “a strong belief in the core values of justice, freedom, education and charity.” She sees her relationship with the BVMs as helping her focus on growing in faith “through prayer and action and commitment to others.” For Nancy, BVM association is a “relationship based on mutuality.”

With her “love for justice and freedom, her belief that everyone deserves a good education, and above all, her capacity to love,” Nancy hopes to continue to serve in her own nursing ministry—and also in outreach to the hungry with BVM Vicki Smurlo, as well as continuing to support Habitat for Humanity.

She enjoys singing in the Holy Family choir along with reading, theater, movies, travel, and visiting with family and friends.

Nancy is grateful to her companions at Holy Redeemer Parish in Montrose, but especially to BVMs Mary Jean Ferry and Suzanne Stopper during her discernment towards BVM association.

Nancy will celebrate her commitment ceremony on May 10. She describes living the BVM charism as using “God’s gifts of freedom and love to help inspire others to be free to live and love in community with each other.”


Marguerite Gail Wray—May 2014

Gail was born in Milwaukee, is the mother of three adult children and grandmother of four. She attended Georgetown University, Trinity College, and Marquette University. Gail created a career in environmental issues. Although now retired, Gail continues her work with families in mental health issues, especially prison inmates with brain disorders, as well as her ministry to promote the environment.

Gail is “on the road” often. Her travel began early on when she attended some of her elementary school years in Phoenix, and then went on to two years of high school at Xavier HS. Many of her best friends attended Holy Angels HS in Milwaukee. It was in Milwaukee where Gail came to meet and continue a lifelong friendship with BVM Janet Desmond. Gail also knows the BVMs in Ecuador since she has traveled there with BVM Miguel Conway’s sister, Pat Parks.

In describing her gifts, Gail says,“I am an energizer bunny dedicated to living the core values of the Sisters of Charity, BVM.” Retreats, books and reflection on the daily scriptures nourish Gail’s spiritual life.

Gail is grateful to her companion, Janet Desmond, who accompanied her on her discernment journey to BVM association. Together they prayed and discussed BVM history, life and mission, learned about the charism and core values of Mary Frances Clarke, mostly by phone from Wisconsin to Idaho. As Gail plans to celebrate her associate commitment in mid-May in Milwaukee, she hopes to develop “a deeper spiritual connection with women living the BVM core values.”


Elizabeth Mitchell—May 2014

Elizabeth was born in Iowa City, Iowa, one of eight children. She has been married to her husband Doug for 34 years, is the mother of three daughters and has one grandson. Betty attended Clarke University for one year and graduated from Mundelein College in Chicago. She has been a speech and language therapist; taught third, seventh and eighth grades; and has been teaching special education middle school students for 20 years.

Betty is the niece of BVM Betty Voss. No wonder Betty says that family and college “put a place in my heart for the BVMs.”She is grateful to Betty and Associates Nancy Van Anne, Tess Malumphy and Joan Mirabal, who companioned her via conference calls.

Betty says she has “a commitment to prayer and education, especially educating my students to social justice.” She describes social justice as the “right to be respected and treated fairly.” She adds, “I grow in my faith each time I get to answer a question about God in my classroom.”

Betty enjoys reading, baking and spending time with her grandson and with friends. In praying the Prayer of St. Francis with her family each day, Betty recognized that same inspiration in the BVM Associate Prayer.

BVMs and associates will join Betty in celebrating her associate commitment at the Mount Carmel Motherhouse on the day the Senate closes, Sunday, July 20, in Dubuque, Iowa. She says, “I hope through continual study, service and prayer that I can further the BVM charism.”


Sonja L. Ek—May 2014

Sonja L. Ek and her husband Georg, will celebrate their associate commitments together on May 24, 2014, in Boulder, Colo. During Georg’s associate discernment, Sonja became interested in his deepening connection to the BVM charism and to living the core values. Companioned by Betty Voss, BVM, Josette Kelly, BVM, Associates Tess Malumphy and Nancy Van Anne, along with the Colorado cluster, Sonja felt included and “comfortable with the conversations and shared prayer.”

Humility is the first gift Sonja identifies as bringing to association. She describes herself as “quiet, warm, and welcoming.” The Colorado cluster adds that Sonja brings graciousness, selflessness, energy, courage and joy to BVM life and mission. Sonja describes her connection with the BVMs in Colorado as supportive and accepting; she senses their gentleness and humility.

Sonja shares her understanding and living of social justice as, “I think I have concern for individuals. I am overwhelmed and sensitive to the needs of so many. I try to help where I can to support community efforts related to air and traffic pollution through the development of light rail.” Sonja and Georg give employment to a homeless man and look after a neighbor. They share a deep concern for human trafficking.

“Evening prayer, nature and animals, and the beauty of this world” nourish Sonja’s spiritual life. She enjoys gardening, cooking, knitting, travel, and loves her dogs. She advocates for animal welfare as well as human rights.

Born in Stockholm, Sweden, Sonja is retired from the human relations department of the Denver Public Schools and holds a lifetime teaching certificate.


Georg Ek—December 2013

Georg remembers fondly meeting BVM Betty Voss at an annual Exxon stockholders’ meeting. When they both stood up to speak, Georg says, “Our messages were complementary.” Georg introduced himself to Betty and so the “story” began!

Born in Chicago, Georg is retired from the Colorado Division of Wildlife, Department of Natural Resources. More than 60 years ago, he met his wife, Sonja (now an associate candidate) at the University of Northern Colorado. They were married near Stockholm, Sweden, Sonja’s home. Sonja stayed in Sweden with her mother while Georg was sent to Japan with the U.S. Air Force. He then returned to Sweden and enrolled in the master’s program in Scandinavian studies at Stockholm University.Sonja and Georg returned to the United States, where they adopted their two daughters, Kristin, who makes her home in Carlsbad, Calif., and Birgitta, who lives near her parents.

Georg says, “My association with our Sisters of Charity, BVM Colorado cluster has been a spiritual enrichment.” He continues to support efforts to challenge corporations to act ethically. When possible, he attends stockholders’ meetings to express his concerns. Georg is strongly opposed to war and human trafficking. It is “. . . the core values and the way BVMs live simply with sincere, deep concerns for others (which) impresses and attracts me. To further the BVM charism, to fathom, learn and practice its meaning is a worthy challenge.”

Georg also serves on the Gold Line Advisory Committee to promote rail service to the Denver area. He describes his goal as “an American rail service that vies with Britain, Europe, Australia and Japan.”

Wildlife conservation, protection, preservation and enhancement have been a part of Georg’s life since his studies, as well as his interests in forestry, veterinary medicine, foreign affairs and education. In his leisure time, Georg enjoys restoring telephone instruments. He loves classical music and etymology. He values language and delights in identifying words in Swedish and German with their Latin roots. He sees this as a way to world peace and understanding.


Danette Bookstein—December 2013

Danette is a graduate of Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein, Ill. She “reconnected” with the BVM community when she met BVMs Maurine Therese Thiel and Ann Therese Chaput while she was a catechist at St. Dismas Parish in Waukegan, Ill.

Danette says, “I found what I had been searching for on my own faith journey.” She has participated in nearly every BVM service and outreach opportunity provided during the past year; her photo appears in some BVM outreach brochures and in the Associate Newsletter. She maintains connections with several of the outreach sites in the Chicago area, including Our Lady of the Angels and the Women’s Center, and hopes to connect her new parish youth group with both Repairers of the Breach and SET ministry in Milwaukee.

Besides being the mother of three and a grandmother, Danette has assumed various caregiving roles in her family. She has worked as a senior manager for over 20 years at Trustmark Insurance. She is an avid reader and also began quilting after becoming a valuable member of the parish environment and banner making group. Last summer, she helped bring dresses to BVM Laurene Brady for girls in Africa.

She supported her high school daughter’s leadership in service projects including collecting children’s books for the new library in Ghana, a sock drive for missions in Alabama, and a t-shirt drive at her daughter’s high school for the diaper-making ministry at Mount Carmel. In addition, Danette has worked to support women’s shelters and safe houses in Lake County, Ill.

Danette says, “My gift is ‘helping others.’” She sees association as walking “beside sisters and associates to live the charism of Mary Frances Clarke through the core values.”


Katy O'Shea—August 2013

Katy has lived most of her life connected to St. Paul Parish, San Francisco, where she went to elementary and secondary school. After graduation, Katy worked as a medical education coordinator at the Letterman Army Medical Center in San Francisco. When she retired after 40 years at Letterman, Katy became the parish coordinator for the “retrofitting” of St. Paul Church. Her ministry is coordinator for the St. Paul Preservation Fund, which seeks to repay the terrific debt incurred after the 1989 earthquake which necessitated the replacing of the church roof, closing of the elementary and secondary schools, and eventually rebuilding the elementary school, which is still open today.

Born in San Francisco into a family with a brother who died at the age of 12, Katy has lived most of her life just two blocks from St. Paul Parish. As her teachers, BVMs have been like her family. With her fellow alums, Katy was involved in the placing of BVM names on the plaque of the many vocations which came from St. Paul Parish.

When describing her connection to the BVMs, Katy says, “I’ve always been with them.” She fondly remembers Sr. Thomasette, who taught her in second and seventh grades and in high school, as well as Sr. Gilberta, who taught her in eighth grade.

Surrounded by BVMs for so much of her life, Katy accepted the invitation and companionship of Associate Marilyn Highlander-Pool to discern association. She describes how interesting it has been to learn and identify the BVM core values of education, freedom, justice and charity in her own life and experiences. She says, “The BVMs have been there for me; I want to be there for them.”

Katy admires Mary Frances Clarke as a schoolteacher who crossed the ocean and part of the United States, not knowing where she was going, but always with a love for her sisters.

Katy’s cousin is the deceased BVM Mary Ann O’Shea, whom she visited at least once a year at Mount Carmel in Dubuque, Iowa. Katy hopes that, as an associate, she will extend and share the BVM charism.


Samira Towfic—August 2013

Samira is a professor at Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa. She met the BVMs when her husband began teaching at Clarke. At the time, Samira was at the University of Wisconsin in Platteville; she joined the Clarke computer science faculty in 2006.

Samira was born in Iraq but her family is originally from Turkey. She has three adult children and is an advocate for education. She has an aunt in Iraq who is a Dominican sister and a third cousin who is a bishop in Australia.

While active at Nativity Parish in Dubuque, Samira is also a Eucharistic minister at Clarke.

In describing why she chose BVM association, Samira says, “I need you to help me stay faithful . . . honest, accountable, grounded . . . to encourage me when I have had enough and want to quit, inspiring me when I am feeling weak or defeated. I need you to challenge me.”


Mary Ann McGee—July 2013

Mary Ann has been in ministry as director of religious education and involved in RCIA at St. Rose Church in Santa Rosa, Calif., for over 30 years. She helped build shelters for the homeless in Santa Rosa and transition them into family housing and employment when she worked for Catholic Charities. Ann describes social justice as “love and mercy in action, helping others to see their value. Social justice is also acting locally, thinking globally, and changing systems so all can share in life to the fullest.”

Mary Ann says that embodying the core values of justice, freedom, charity and education “have been ways I have tried to live my life, passing on my knowledge to others and respecting others who have shared their wisdom and love of family and friends to all.” She was a registered nurse as well as program director for Catholic Charities and served on the staff of Catholic Restorative Justice for the diocese of Santa Rosa.

Born in Pittsburgh, Pa., Mary Ann grew up with eight brothers and sisters. She has been married for 48 years to her husband Tom and has three sons, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild. She describes herself as having a “strong sense of family!”

Mary Ann recently retired and moved to Peoria, Ariz., for a needed climate change to improve her husband’s health. She expresses her desire to connect with associates and BVMs in her new home. She looks forward to deepening a prayerful relationship with mutual support and respect as a BVM associate, saying, “I am very joy-filled and feel this is a perfect time for me to do this.”


Kimberly Emery—July 2013

“I was born in Iowa City, Iowa, but grew up in New Hampshire. I attended Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., and the University of Virginia School of Law. I have worked at the law school for over 20 years, serving as assistant dean for public service and pro bono. I also teach a family mediation clinic.

“My husband, Bob, and I have four children ranging in age from 12–19. Bob also has a daughter from his first marriage.

“I found the BVMs on the internet when I was searching for an order of sisters that was based in my birth state of Iowa. It turned out that my mother and two uncles were taught by BVMs when they were growing up in Fort Dodge, Iowa. 

“In my parish, I serve on the parish council, in the RCIA program, and on the Christian Formation Committee. I volunteer as an altar server and Eucharistic minister. I am working on a master’s degree in pastoral theology and plan a "second career" in chaplaincy.

“I am also interested and involved in social justice issues. I volunteer as a certified family mediator, coordinate a medical-legal partnership to provide legal assistance to low-income patients to help improve their health, and support various ministries that advocate for education, health and nutrition services for the indigent.

“I hope to support the BVM sisters by being involved in their ministries such as NETWORK. I try to wake up every morning filled with joy and gratitude for another day to work on the virtues of faith, hope and charity.”


Susie Hope Roling—July 2013

In Susie’s application for association, she shares her gratitude to our Kansas City BVMs Berta Sailer, Corita Bussanmas, Theresa Kramps and her companion, Liz Seaman. She describes them as “four of the most amazing faith in action and spiritual people I know.”

Born in Kansas City, Mo., Susie is 33 years old, married, and raising two step-children as well as a foster daughter, now in college. She has been a full time social worker at Operation Breakthrough for nine years.

Susie says she most resonates with the core value of justice; she advocates for the poor, works to abolish the death penalty, is engaged in prison ministry, and generally describes her ministry and passion as “equality for all people.”

Susie is involved in her parish church, St. James, and with BVMs’ stance against injustice—educating herself and others about issues regarding poverty and injustice.


Katy Huntley—April 2013

“I love to write, and for over a decade I've been editing and publishing an e-zine titled Write Between the Lines at My husband and I recently published the Amazon e-book Point Doom. Between my duties as the fourth grade teacher and vice principal at Holy Family School in Glendale, Calif., I rarely have much time for these endeavors. My creative efforts go into my students, and alternate between being proud of my work as I see them progress and being terrified as I wonder, are they really learning?

“Our family of four is a tight unit, yet we are all different. What we share is a terrific sense of humor. One anecdote I love to tell is: When I was seven I read a book on the childhood of saints. I ended all my friendships, informing my peers that I had to focus upon becoming a saint. For two or three days after school, I knelt on my bedroom floor praying for hours. Once the novelty wore off, I gave up that dream—but who knew I would grow up to be a BVM associate?”


Lori Ritz—November 2011

Lori Ritz lives in Phoenix, Arizona. She has one son who also lives in Phoenis.

Lori attended St. Joseph's Academy in Des Moines and Clarke University. She was a member of the BVMs and ministered at St. Francis in Kansas City.

Lori has been involved in education for over 38 years. She has been a teacher, a facilitator for the public school district, and is presently an administrator of a K--8 School.

Lori has a strong spiritual support group in her faith community at St. Paul's parish. She is now participating in JustFaith. As part of her discernment for Association Lori invited others to join with her in prayer and sharing. This faith community is providing ongoing support to live the Core Values of the BVMs.


Christine Middendorf—November 2011

Christine Middendorf grew up in Chicago and was a student at St. Tarcissus, The Immaculata, and Mundelein College.  She now lives in Spring Hill Florida. Christine is a widow and has three adult children. One lives in St. Louis, another in New Jersey and the third in Florida.

Christine's spiritual life is nourished by the daily scripture readings, her small Christian community, and her spiritual director. She has been commissioned as a lay minister in her diocese and has a Masters in Theology.

As Christine stated in her Application for Association, "becoming an Associate for me is closing the circle that began with my early introduction to the BVMs. The nourishment I received through my formative years, and my continued connection with the BVMs. It is now time for me to help through prayer and action."


Barbara Harper - June 2012

Barbara Harper is a resident of San Jose, California. The joys of her life and her husband’s are their grandchildren some of whom live on the east coast. In spite of the distance they visit them on a regular basis.

Barbara grew up in San Jose and attended St. Leo’s grade school, which at the time was staffed by the BVMs.

Barbara’s understanding of the BVM and Associate relationship is demonstrated in the support of the Working Boys Center in going to volunteer there, in supporting fundraisers for the WBC, and through prayer with BVMs and Associates.

Barbara says that, Association “is a very special opportunity to enhance one’s spiritual life through shared prayer and retreats. It is also a way to enter into the spirit of Mary Frances Clarke and form community. The BVM/Associate relationship is a very special blessing”.

Barbara is retired and volunteers at Elmwood Correctional facility tutoring women so that they can make it on the outside. She also assists Medicare applicants for the Council on Aging, is a member of her parish Social Justice Council, and presides at Communion Services with her husband at a convalescent facility when there is no priest available. Currently she is assisting in organizing the “Get on the Bus” project that brings children to California prisons to visit their parents who are incarcerated.

Barbara participates in the BVM Silicon Valley Cluster.


Barbara Roy—July 2012

Barbara Roy lives in Overland Park, Kansas. She graduated from Our Lady of Peace High School in St. Paul Minnesota where she first met the BVMs. She attended Clarke University and from there entered the BVM Community. After leaving the BVMs Barbara taught in the public schools in St. Louis.

Barbara has been active in the Garden Center in Overland Park, volunteers in a food pantry and thrift store.

For Barbra the core value that is most meaningful to her is Charity. “Charity must permeate every moment and presents endless opportunities to make loving choices in an uncharitable world.” She hopes to be able to give of herself when meeting the needs of the BVM Community and the local community.


Eileen O'Shea—July 2012

Eileen O’Shea is from Chicago. She graduated from St. Mary’s High School, was a member of the community for a brief time, and graduated from Mundelein College.

Eileen has worked for AT&T, another telecommunications company, an Insurance Agency, and the Career Transitions Center, a small non profit that works with the unemployed.

As an Associate, Eileen wishes to share the BVM Charism, the core values of freedom, education, charity and justice and the gospel vision that Mary Frances Clarke lived out. She hopes to support and share in the work of the BVMs. She also expects to participate in the prayer and spiritual life of the community.

For Eileen, Christ’s call to service means always being ready to respond to others in whatever way they need. It’s recognizing that even the smallest kindness or service is done in service. Service is more than just doing things for people. It’s being in relationship, kinship if you will, with the people that are being served.  Being there for family, friends and strangers, listening to them to figure out what can be done to make their lives better.

Eileen is very involved with Old St. Patrick Parish in Chicago, she was instrumental in the Thank You celebration for Sisters in May of 2012 and she is head of the St. Mary’s Alumnae Association.


Nannie Allen

Nannie Allen—July 2012

Teresa (Nannie) Allen was born in San Francisco, California and now lives in Richardson Texas. Nannie is married and has 2 step sons. Nannie works as an Insurance Manager.


One of Nannie’s inspiration to become an Associate is her aunt, BVM Nan Ross. “BVMs have always been a part of my life because of my Aunt, Sister Nan Ross. Now that she is gone, I want to continue my relationship with the BVMs because I love them. I want to be able to support the Sisters in any way I can to give back to them just a little bit of all that they have given to me over the years.”


Nannie has a passion for vocations and would like to as she says, “help with vocations, I believe that there are women in the world that are being called to be BVMS.”


Nannie states that the BVM Core Values prompt BVMs “to serve others. Through their loving service others feel the love of God and can become believers.” Nannie is looking forward to being involved in youth ministry in her local church


Kathy Weishaar—July 2012

Kathleen Weishaar lives in Tinley Park, Illinois. Kathy has 3 adult sons and 3 grandchildren She is a Math Teacher and works with adults with disabilities. Kathy has known the BVMs for over 30 years, having ministered with BVMs Eileen Powell, Dee Peppard and Ann Chaput.


Ann Chaput invited Kathy to consider Association and has been Kathy’s Companion.


Justice is the Core Value most meaningful to Kathy. She states, “I see so much injustice in the schools and try to work  for justice by treating my students and colleagues justly, and changing what I can.”


In describing the meaningful experiences that she has had as a Candidate in the past few years Kathy lists the BVM service projects in Dubuque and Milwaukee, and the cluster meetings with Ann Chaput, Joann and Bob Yerks, and Pat Dieveny.


Michele Miller, Associate

Michele Miller—July 2012

Michele Miller lives in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Michele is married and has two young children. 

Michele works for The Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother who sponsor Ministry Health Care. She really appreciates working for a Catholic organization, that aspires to live out the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother's Congregational values of Presence, Service, Vision & Justice.   

Michele is a Clarkie— a graduate of Clarke University where she met many BVMs, among them, Mary Ann Zollmann, Carol Spiegel, Ginny Spiegel and has worked for the Diocese of Dubuque at Loras College.

Several years ago she moved to Stevens Point and met Mary Ann Krems through a community organization. They discussed BVM Association and eventually Mary Ann became Michele’s Companion.

Michele reflected on her reasons for becoming an Associate and said “I have always aspired to be a part of something bigger than  myself. Although my calling has been to married life and motherhood, I still longed to be a part of a religious/spiritual community.  I have long been drawn to the charism, passion and perserverance of the BVM's.  The core values of charity, education, justice & freedom are values that I also aspire to live out in my own life.”


Marilyn Highlander-Pool

Marilyn Highlander-Pool—August 2012

Marilyn Highlander-Pool is a longtime member of St. Paul's Parish in San Francisco, California. Marilyn attended St. Paul grade school and high school. She entered the BVMs and left as a novice.

Returning to San Francisco Marilyn worked for the City and County of San Francisco after 35 years of service, working in the Department of Social Services, Police Department, San Francisco airport, and the San Francisco Recreation and Park Departnment.

Presently Marilyn volunteers in St. Paul's parish and at St. Martin de Porres, a soup kitchen that serves meals to those who are poor and in need.

Marilyn goes to Mt Carmel about once a year visiting her BVM friends. She says of her visits "..(it) is truly an experience of being wrapped and surrounded in unconditional love. I just treasure sharing Mass with the Sisters, I look around and know -- and feel-- that I am in the presence of some very holy women"

In reflecting on the BVM Core Values Marilyn says that she sees Freedom--to be totally open and allowed choice, this is truly a gift from God.

She says that Justice touces my heart. I am deeply concerned that everyone is treated with the love,kindness and fairness they deserve.


Stephen Haase, BVM Associate, Los Angeles

Stephen Haase—August 2012

Stephen Haase has known the BVMs for all of his life. His aunt was Katheryn Marie Reichard, BVM. He was introduced to many BVMs through his aunt and is close to Pat Taylor, BVM.

Stephen sees association as the extension and presence of the spirit of the BVMs in his daily life and in his ministry. He wants to continue in prayer and support of BVMs as an Associate.

Stephen is a Los Angeles native educated by the BVMs at St. Charles, North Hollywood. He works at the Aquarium of the Pacific as a Guest Support Specialist.

The most meaningful experiences of Stephen’s Orientation process was the 2011 Summer Retreat at Mt Carmel, his prayer and sharing sessions with the local BVMs, and his prayerful preparation time responding to the questions on the application with Mary Jean Ferry.

Stephen is hopeful and enthusiastic about the future of BVM Association and wants to contribute in whatever way possible.  


Francine Lee and Bill Lee—August 2012

Francine and Bill Lee are residents of North Hills near Los Angeles.  They are good friends of Sister Mary Lou Larkin, BVM and the many sisters at Holy Redeemer Convent in Montrose, California.

They have truly enjoyed the monthly discernment gatherings of Associates, Candidates and BVMs held at Holy Family Convent and now at Holy Redeemer Convent in Montrose.

Francine is a retired Kindergarten teacher and Bill works as a Park Supervisor for L.A. City Parks and Recreation.

Both Francine and Bill are active volunteers. They volunteer for Loaves and Fishes,  an organization funded by Catholic Charities, helping those who are in need of food.  Bill also teaches gardening to special needs children. Francine volunteers at the school library. Both facilitate a weekly Scripture Study class.  Francine sings in the choir. 

Besides their volunteer endeavors Francine and Bill fill their extra time with their adult children and the activities of their grandchildren.

Francine says that an inspiration in her life is Mary Frances Clarke’s prayer of being God’s Hands in the world today.


Nancy Van Anne - Recepient of the Outstanding Woman of Weld County, Colorado Award

Nancy Van Anne is a woman whose quiet and humble ways are a reflection of her beliefs and values. The youngest of seven children, Nancy was raised in rural Minnesota by parents who modeled humility, service to others, honest work, joyful play, and a commitment to faith in God. Her close family relationships and their shared faith lead her to believe, “There’s no one who doesn’t have some goodness in them, and I work toward understanding that.”

Indeed, Nancy has spent her life finding the goodness in others by working “for the betterment of the world around her and all that is positive in life.” 

In 1987 - 1990 (1985-86), Nancy worked with Richard Kemme co-founding the Greeley chapter of Habitat for Humanity. “Quietly and diplomatically getting people involved to accomplish a worthwhile goal,” Nancy guided initial meetings, raised money, organized workers, provided lunches, helped the families and volunteers bring new homes to completion and served on the Habitat board.

When Nancy came to Greeley in the 1950s to teach at Colorado State College, she was one of the few women faculty. Through her “quiet, unassuming, but fierce leadership,” Nancy worked to bring equity to a male dominant environment, always advocating for women, in athletics, on the faculty, and in leadership positions. Nancy was known for her “unassuming but effective leadership style.” She served as the chair of two presidential search committees, department chair of HPER, and faculty representative to numerous boards and review committees. In 1970 she was honored with the M. Lucille Harrison award for excellence in teaching. A former doctoral student of hers recently reflected on the power and value of her influence in his life as a person and (an athletic director.) professional educator.

“Nancy is a spiritually alive person.” Her kind and loving nature is a gift to all. She quietly devotes time to her parish community at St. Mary Catholic Church, sharing faith and serving others. Nancy worked for six years to coordinate the Associate membership program of the Sisters of Charity, BVM developing policies and procedures for Association and enlivening the program. After Nancy’s retirement from UNC, she attended The Graduate School of Theology in Berkeley, CA. She studied, attended lectures, retreats and prayer days as she examined issues of social justice as related to Christian beliefs and values. For her it was a year of reflection and rejuvenation, spiritually fulfilling her and reinforcing her belief that, “There is a oneness, a unity which leads to peace based on love, supporting and protecting the world, its people and all forms of life.” As a result of her year of study and reflection, she went to Ecuador to experience third world work at the Nuevo Mundo school and community centers in Guayaquil. After her return to Colorado, she attended the Catholic Biblical School, to teach Scripture and further serve her church.

Nancy’s love of recreation, sport, play, and fun, lead her to become a Black Jack dealer in order to be licensed to deal for benefits to raise funds for various charitable organizations. Her positive, fun-loving nature has made her many friends, on the golf course, in the classroom, at church, and on numerous community boards including her work with Friends of A Woman’s Place. Greeley is truly blessed by Nancy Van Anne’s can-do spirit and energy, which she shares with “gentle humility and goodness.”


Jim Plant—October 2011

Jim Plant was born in South Milwaukee, Wis. When he was a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, he met Mary Frances Reis, BVM, who was involved in campus ministry.

Suzanne Effinger, BVM has been Jim's companion. 

Jim sees BVMs and associates intersecting in a variety of ways: both BVMs and associates apply the core values of Freedom, Justice, Charity and Education in their daily lives and use these values to help themselves and others that they minister to learn to become more fully integrated human beings. Both BVMs and associates are united in Christ in this effort and work with one another to fulfill this mission.

Jim resides in Milwaukee and is a retired counselor.


Nancy McCarville

Nancy McCarville—August 2011

Nancy McCarville was born in Fort Dodge, Iowa, and was taught by the BVMs. She comes from a long line of teachers. Her mother was a music teacher and she and her two sisters became teachers.

Nancy says that Christ's call to service prompted her to teach with dedication, enthusiasm and good will. As an associate, Nancy wishes to continue the charism of Mary Frances Clarke and grow in understanding and practice of the BVM Core Values and ministry.


Arlene Wilks

Arlene Wilks—April 2011

Arlene Wilks has been accepted as a BVM associate. She is a member of St. Bernard Parish in Los Angeles., where she first met the BVMs.

Arlene has spent many years discerning association. In describing her journey, Arlene says "the stones on the walk are just pebbles, but pebbles alert you. I stopped to think many times on this journey before I said yes." Arlene made her commitment at Holy Family Convent in Glendale on April 30, 2011.


Clara Schwartz—April 2011

Clara Schwartz lives in Glendale, Calif., with her husband. She has known BVMs for most of her life. Clara was a student at St. Bernard Elementary School in Los Angeles, where BVMs ministered. One of her good friends is Marguerite Murphy, BVM, who taught both of her daughters at St. Bernard.  

Clara has four grandsons whose carefree energy bring joy to her life. Clara works at CBS as the vice president of the Law Department.

Clara says that she feels blessed to be of service as an associate and is grateful to be able to give back some of what she has been given by the BVMs.

She made her commitment on April 30, 2011, along with Arlene Wilks, at Holy Family Convent in Glendale.


Mary Elizabeth Maglione

Mary Elizabeth Luckey Maglione entered the BVMs on Feb. 3, 1949. She taught in Illinois and in Long Island, N.Y.  

After leaving the BVMs, Mary Elizabeth married. She has been a hospice chaplain, a member of her parish council, and occasionally volunteers at a nearby hospital.

Mary Elizabeth says that she wishes "to walk on a more connected way for the remainder of my life, with the women who from youth through my rusty years have so positively contributed to the person I am today."


Mary McGonigle McCourt—December 2010

Mary McGonigle McCourt is a resident of Missoula, Mont. Mary has known the BVMs since elementary school and has kept in close contact with Jane Rogers, BVM. 
Mary's ministries have included working with the the Blackfeet Indians on their reservation, where she learned about the ravages of poverty. She was a case manager for Catholic Social Services and a researcher for the Montana Catholic Conference. While working for the Montana Campaign for Human Development, she met Kathleen O'Sullivan, BVM. Currrently Mary is a community health specialist.
Mary says that she brings three gifts to association: the gift of motherhood, the gift of being a spouse, and the gift of being a social worker. In these roles she has developed patience, curiosity and hope.  Her hope is to add her expertise as a social worker to the BVM involvement in social justice issues in western Montana.
What nourishes Mary's spiritual life is liturgy, Eucharist and community. Her parish is Spirit of Peace. This community encourages women to  minister in all capacities.

Welcome Mary, to BVM association.


Linda Plamondon—September 2010

Linda Plamondon is a graduate from Clarke University in Dubuque. She attended Loyola University Chicago as a grduate student in the IPS program.

Sister Blanche Gallagher, BVM has been her mentor and friend for many years.

Linda is very gifted as an artist musician, and writer.

She presently works at the Institute of Women Today and the Hazeldon Foundation in Chicago.

We welcome Linda to our Associate Family.


James Mueller—May 2010

James Mueller will make his commitment as an Associate on May 23, 2010.  

James is a nurse at Finley Hospital in Dubuque, Iowa. He is married and has four children. He volunteers with the fire department in his town.  

His response as to why he wishes to be an Associate is "I have discovered a passion to help those less fortunate than myself, especially those with special needs. I wanted to influence those that have negative feelings or thoughts about those that are different than themselves that everyone has a gift to share."

James attends Clarke College and has had BVMs Paulette Skiba and Sheila O'Brien as instructors. His Companion is Norm Freund, whose course, BVM Heritage introduced him to BVM Association.



Mary Lou and John

Mary Lou Reid and John Celentano—February 2010

Mary Lou Reid and John Celentano live in Arcadia, California. Presently both work for a financial planning firm. 

John served in the Vietnam War, graduated from New York University and has administered a residential group home for developmentally disabled children in California. John and Mary Lou love music, theater, and Opera.

Mary Lou was born in St. Paul Minnesota and graduated from Our Lady of Peace High School.  She was a member of the BVMs for several years. After she left the Community she went to New York and got parts in Opera and musical theater.

Mary Lou and John both chose BVM Association because they wish to deepen their relationship with God and develop their spiritual lives. 

As Mary Lou says, "Affiliating with an organization whose beliefs I share will keep me centered and on track".

John Celentano and Mary Lou Reid will be making their Commitment as Associates at the Associate Gathering in Burbank, California on February 27, 2010.


Dan Abben, BVM Associate

Dan Abben—February 2005

I am a graduate student at DePaul University’s School of Public Service, which is “International by Design.” Students are encouraged to take at least one course abroad. In the summer of 2009 I had the opportunity to do just that. I spent two weeks at All Hallows College in Dublin, Ireland, taking two different classes. One week I took a class on leadership and management, which featured guest lectures by Pat Bombard, who was also in Ireland teaching a class on values-centered leadership. The following week I took a class on human resource management.

Though the classes were intense—9:30am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday—my time in Ireland was not all work; there was plenty of time for play (and lots of Guinness) as well. One evening we went to dinner in Hoth, a fishing village north of Dublin. I also had time to tour Trinity College and the National Gallery, see the Book of Kells, and the Bodywords exhibit that I missed when it was in Chicago. One of the highlights, however, was attending my first concert ever: U2—in Dublin.

Dan Abben is a graduate of Clarke, works for Loyola Press in Chicago, and became a BVM Associate in February 2005.


Shirley Guidry—December 2008

Shirley Guidry met the BVMs for the first time when she joined 17 others on a service trip to Quito Ecuador. Her daughter Carol, her son-in-law Francis, and her grandson Jeremy were part of the delegation in April of 2008. Her son-in-law's sister Maria also joined the service trip. While in Quito she volunteered with the young boys from the Center.

Shirley is a retired elementary school teacher of special needs children and continues to volunteer in an elementary school near her home. Shirley understands BVM Association as a relationship, an opportunity to come together as a community to support one another with sharing our core values and in our various ministries. Carol, Francis and Shirley will make their Commitment on December 6, 2008 at St. Theresa's Church in San Francisco with Bob Kutter and Kay Harrison at the annual BVM renewal of vow gathering with BVMs.


Lois Nilles—December 2009

A new BVM Associate, Lois Nilles lives in Dubuque, Iowa. She and her husband, Richard, who also is a BVM Associate, are weekly volunteers at Mount Carmel. Lois describes the BVMs that she visits as kind with a good sense of humor. She says that when she is with the BVMs she feels happy and peaceful. 
Lois describes BVM Association as a complementary relationship. She says that she can learn from the BVMs ways to build an “interior life with Jesus”. She in turn volunteers and assists the sisters in any way she can. “We’re a Team”, Lois says.

Lois is a retired nurse and spent many years in California working in a Kaiser medical clinic. Her children grew up in California. Lois’s two sons live in Nevada and her daughter in Hawaii. Richard also has three children.

When asked how she nourishes her spiritual life, Lois stated that she participates in the weekly community Rosary at Bethany Home, attends Liturgy as often as possible, sometimes at Marian Hall, and participates in weekly Charismatic prayer gatherings.

By living the BVM Core Values of Education, Charity, Justice and Freedom, Lois hopes to strengthen her faith and become a better neighbor to the residents at Bethany Home where she and her husband live.

Lois will continue deepening her Association through her relationships with BVMs and Associates and most especially with Sister Donna Schauf, her Companion, Sisters Eileen Galvin, Paulino Flossi, Jean Hayen and Associates Betty Takes and Mary Tritz.


Razia Shafi Khokhar—October 2009

Razia Shafi Khokhar was born in Pakistan, as a Presentation sister she came to the United States to study at Loyola University in Chicago. It was there that she lived with the BVMs and met Alice Caulfield, Ann Ida Gannon, Vivian Wilson, Carol Frances, Dodie Dwight, and many others.

Razia has since left the Presentation Community, but she continues to use her talent and skills by giving retreats, seminars and workshops to adults. 

She has worked for peace, justice, and women’s issues. and as she says,”she brings a willing spirit to love and serve God  and his/her people.”

Razia lives with her sister Kausar, a BVM Associate, in Skokie, Illinois. She has 24 nephews and nieces.

Currently she is working as a Director of Religious Education in Our Lady of Mt Carmel Parish.


Carol De Carvalho—December 2009

Carol DeCarvalho was accepted as a BVM Associate on August 12, 2009. She lives in the Santa Cruz mountains near Los Gatos, California.  She is married and has a son in high school and one in college. Carol is a physical therapist and has worked in pediatrics with infants and school aged children. Carol is a former Jesuit Volunteer, after her year of service she continued working with members of the Navajo Nation for four more years.

Carol met the BVMs through a JustFaith group that Elizabeth Avalos, BVM facilitated. What followed was a service trip to El Centro de Muchachos Trabajador (Working Boys Center) in Quito, one of the BVM missions in Ecuador, where Carol met BVMs Miguel Conway, Cindy Sullivan, Luann Brown, and other BVMs and Associates. In 2009 Carol coordinated a service trip to Quito with Lou Anglin, BVM. Carol and her husband are members of a group from St. Mary’s parish that have committed to partner with El Centro de Muchachos Trabajador.

Carol said that there are a variety of reasons why she wanted to be a BVM Associate. She states “I would like to be a part of an intentional community in which we can support and share with one another on our spiritual journeys. Coming together for prayer and reflection is an important component of Association for me”. As an Associate Carol would like to continue to be involved in actions for social justice with other Associates and BVMs. 

Carol understands BVM/Associate relationship as an opportunity to come together in community  to pray, reflect, have fun, and support one another in ministry. Presently Carol belongs to a cluster of BVM Associates, BVMs and friends who meet once a month for centering prayer, reflection, and socializing. 


Bob Kutter, new BVM Associate

Bob Kutter—December 2009

Bob Kutter was born in New York state. and attended Notre Dame University.

He and his wife Lisa have lived in California for many years raising their two children in Saratoga. Bob works as a software developer.

Bob met the BVMs through a mutual friend. He worked with Elizabeth Avalos, BVM when Sister Elizabeth invited him to become a member of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development Committee for the Diocese of San Jose. Bob is very active in his parish. He has been a member of St. Mary’s Parish Council, has led book discussion groups and is a facilitator for a Centering prayer group in the parish.

Bob is actively interested and involved in social justice issues. Among those is a call to help mentor a  disadvantaged youth in East Palo Alto, a call to advocate for full health-insurance in America and a call to help reduce hunger in other parts of the world such as Haiti. He wishes to support the BVM Sisters, by being involved in their ministries.

Bob states, “I think that Christ calls us to service wherever we are. So I try to be attentive to God’s presence throughout the day. This leads to activities such as active listening to family members and coworkers to help them discern their path in whatever situation they are in. It also leads me to be involved with social movements that stress healing.”


Francis De Carvalho—December 2009

Francis De Carvalho was born in Tokyo Japan. He is a mechanical engineer living in Redwood Estates in the Santa Cruz mountains of California. Francis is marred to Carol and they have two sons.

When asked how he would describe BVM Association Francis said,  “I see the BVM—Associate relationship as one of mutual support—meeting on a regular basis for prayer, reflection, and sharing. As lay people, we benefit greatly from the spiritual centeredness of the BVM sisters and are given opportunities for spiritual growth. The associates, as lay people, in turn infuse a different perspective to the community, and (we) offer our talents, resources, and support where we can.” 

Another thing that resonates with Francis is the BVMs involvement in the early days with the Franciscan spirit as tertiaries. He sees some of the BVM core values as stemming from the Franciscan charism and the call to solidarity with the poor.

Francis was a Franciscan volunteer for the Navajo Nation where he taught math at St. Michael’s High School. He plays the guitar and oboe and has done music ministry in a parish.

In April of 2008 Francis joined the delegation of BVMs/Associates/Friends that went to Ecuador on the first out of country service trip sponsored by Initial Membership and Associates. There he met many other BVMs and Associates and was inspired by their dedication and work with those who are living on the margins.

Francis' Companions are BVMs Marilyn Wilson, Bette Gambonini, and Elizabeth Avalos.


Kay Harrison—December 2009

Kay Harrison was born in Tonawanda, NY and now lives in Santa Clara, California. Kay and her husband Richard have 6 children and 9 grandchildren. She is a retired public health nurse.

Kay states that her reason for applying for Association is because of the devotion, dedication, integrity and intelligence that she has seen in the BVM Community. “The life and work of the founder of the BVM Community, Mary Frances Clarke, has been a great inspiration to me especially her love for her community ans her courage in coming to a new country. Kay finds that the BVM’s have a deep interest and devotion to promoting social justice for all of God's creation.

In the spring of 2009, Kay, her husband and 12 others traveled to Quito, Ecuador to participate in the BVM/Associate/Friend service trip to Ecuador. They spent 10 days at the Working Boys Center and worked along side Sister Miguel and Sister Cindy. Kay said that “this experience convinced me that there are living saints here on earth”. They also went to Guayaquil, and met BVM Ann Credido and Associates Pat McTeague and Sonya Rendon and witnessed the work they are engaged in. Kay also knows, BVM Irene Lukefahr when Irene was working for the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Santa Clara County.

Kay's Companioins are BVMs Marilyn Wilson and Elizabeth Avalos.


Mary Jean Ferry, BVM -- Member of Associate Coordinating Committee

Mary Jean Ferry, BVM—Associate Advisory Committee Member (ACC)

As I reflect on the story of my life, feelings of gratitude well up in my heart. . I am grateful for my   loving family which includes my parents, two brothers and five sisters. I left my secure home in Glendale, California when I was eighteen to become a Sister of Charity, BVM.

After teaching for thirty years and working in administration for six years, I answered the call to learn Spanish so that I could work with the materially poor.  I give great thanks to our BVM Community for calling me to work with the poor. Any actions that I have taken to help others have happened with the encouragement and support of my BVM Sisters. Together, we are committed to be agents of change.
After living with a Mexican family for six months, I went with Mary Nolan, BVM and Theresa Gleeson, BVM to the small town of Hereford, Texas where we worked and lived in a migrant labor camp. We taught school, set up a social outreach program and did church ministry. I am deeply grateful for the people of Hereford who taught me to find what is beautiful in the poorest of places.

Eighteen years ago, I began my work with hotel workers. This happened unexpectedly when I went to work with Hispanics who lived in the crowded city of Lennox which is adjacent to the Los Angeles International Airport. With the people in the area, we established small communities to study the Scriptures in a way that would lead to community action for the benefit of the people. Since most of the people in these groups worked in the hotel industry, we began working with Local 11 to help improve working conditions in the hotels near the airport. 

In 1995, I began ministering as a chaplain at LAC+USC Medical Center, better know as Los Angeles County Hospital. Now, rather than working with groups, I was meeting one person at a time in a critical moment of his or her life. My ministry became one of total presence as I listened to stories of desperation, sadness, hope and courage .Even though I retired from full time ministry in 2004, I continue to volunteer at the hospital and to teach Tai Chi to the hospital staff. I also teach Tai Chi to seniors in Pasadena, California.

For several years, I have enjoyed being with persons who are interested in becoming BVM Associates. The mutual relationship that happens in this association enriches and inspires men and women to live the BVM values in ways that touch the lives of others. BVM Associates have helped me to dream bigger and to love more.

As my autobiography began in gratitude, it now ends in thanksgiving to God for giving me spiritual gifts that shape my every day life. In God, I happily live and move and have my being.


Margaret Haas, BVM Associate Advisory Committee Member (ACC)

Margaret Haas, BVM is a member of the Associate Advisory Committee (ACC)

I have been a member of the Associate Advisory Committee for 3 years. As a BVM for over fifty years, I have ministered throughout the United States as a classroom teacher, administrator, coordinator of GED/ESL programs, and for the last nine years as donor relations staff for Mercy Home for Boys and Girls in Chicago. In all of these ministries, I have worked closely with lay persons who share the BVM values of education, freedom, justice, charity.  Now many of these co-workers have felt the call to become BVM Associates. A member of my family, my twin sister, has also responded to the call to become part of the BVM Associate Community  It gives me great joy to collaborate in promoting the BVM Associate Community as it continues to grow and expand in its participation with BVMS in a call to respond to the pressing needs of our times.


Mary Miller

Mary Miller Associate Advisory Committee Member (ACC)

My connection to the BVM Community has been long standing and in 2000 I formalized this bond by becoming an Associate. For the past two years I have served on the Associate Advisory Committee. My husband Cyr is a San Rafael Councilperson and our daughter and her family live in Boston. As an educator I have worked in both public and parochial settings. Recently I retired as a teacher from an independent study program for high risk high school students. Today, my family life and volunteering with Hospice and the local Literacy Program affirm my living of the BVM core values. Regional meetings, local prayer groups with Associates and BVM’s and meeting in more casual settings are valuable to my unique human potential and circumstances Being an Associate and identifying with the goals, values and spirit of the BVM’s is a privilege and gift that I cherish.


Norm Freund

Norm Freund Associate Advisory Committee Member (ACC)

I have been a BVM Associate for nearly seven years. My wife Marabeth is a fifth grade teacher at Marshall School in Dubuque, Iowa. We have two sons, Josh and Gabe, a junior at Clarke College. I am in my 27th year of ministry at Clarke College, where I serve as a Professor of Philosophy and department chair.

I continue to find teaching a joy and a calling, all the more so because I teach at the oldest and largest BVM mission! The witness of the BVMs, especially their core values of freedom, education, charity and justice, is both inspiring and challenging.

The core values have drawn me to service in Appalachia, participation in Christian Experience Weekends, and formal association with the community. For anyone searching for a deeper relationship with women of faith, strength, dedication and justice I wholeheartedly encourage connecting with this community.


Pat McTeague, BVM Associate

Patricia McTeague—March 2005

I am a graduate of The Immaculata, class of 1957. I have always been closely associated with the BVM Community as I was a member from 1957 to 1971.

As a BVM I was sent to Quito, Ecuador in 1965 and I have been in Ecuador ever since. All of my adult life has been dedicated to education to the point of co-founding a school K through 12 in Guayaquil in 1979.

I have enjoyed teaching from first grade through high school and also taught at the Catholic University both in Quito and Guayaquil. Now, I am an administrative vice-principal which I enjoy less than teaching, but it fits my energy level.

Our school Nuevo Mundo has a morning session for paying students, the more affluent, and an afternoon session for non paying students who come from the rural area surrounding Guayaquil. We educate 1400 students in the morning session and 700 in the afternoon session.

In an area outside of Guayaquil we run two daycare centers and two medical centers in an effort to live out the BVM Core Values. After we began our morning school in 1979 the BVMs sent us two wonderful sisters, Kathy Conway and Theresa Gleeson to help us begin our afternoon school. Later Betty Voss, BVM came to join us and our relationship continued with Ann Credidio, BVM and Luann Brown, BVM and many others for shorter periods of time.

Due to our close relationship with Ann and Luann and the BVMs in Quito we decided to join the BVMS in 2005 as Associates. Celeste de Rendon, Sonya Rendon, Sandra Molano, and I became Associates together. Sadly, Celeste died in August of 2007.

 I think all of us all over the world who have been touched by the BVMs in a way are “marked” forever with that marvelous charism of the BVMs of love and social justice and peace. I am proud to have had the formation and education given by the BVMs and especially proud to be an Associate.


Marilyn Wasmundt

Marilyn Wasmundt—March 2000

I live in Loveland, Colorado. I am married and Don and I have three grown daughters. Our family was raised in Boulder, Colorado.

Loveland is a vibrant art community where I can find many opportunities to serve and we find the community to be just what we needed. Our neighborhood is quiet and has many older members. We visit and encourage the seniors, often helping with yard work, running errands, fixing small things, and being available.

My main endeavor is promoting the creative aspect of life. I have volunteered at St. Johnas School in art and at the Thompson Valley Art League, a non-profit group established to promote the arts.

I am a BVM Associate because I find support, encouragement and community. I am a former BVM and in my heart never really left. Our daughters are also associated with the BVMs, even though at this time in their lives they are not formal Associates. We all believe in the core values of freedom, charity, education and justice. We strive to help where we can.


Jeanie Fritscher & Elberta Raschke

Jean Anne Fritscher—July 2006

My name is Jean AnneFritscher and I am very humbled to be able to say that I am an Associate Member of the Sisters of Charity, BVM.

I was born in Southwest Iowa and lived all of my childhood years in Stanton. I was married in 1975 to Eugene Fritscher.

I received a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from the College of St. Catherine’s in St. Paul, Minnesota. I have been blessed with many opportunities over the last 33 years working in various areas of nursing. The highlight has been all the people I have worked with over the years and the many things they have taught me.

I have been a Parish Nurse for the church I attend for about 20 years. Through this  ministry I became aware of CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education), which I completed, this enabled me to become a hospice chaplain.

I attended a meeting for the Iowa Hospice Chaplains in Ames where due to inclement weather only Jane Rogers, BVM and myself attended. From that day forward Jane and I have participated in retreats together and I treasure our relationship and how she continues to mentor me.

I work in nursing in a small rural hospital. I have completed a program in Clinical Hypnotherapy and offer those services through the hospital. I remain a Parish Nurse for my church and am a member of the church choir. I serve on the South West Iowa Ministries where I am a lay minister for six area churches. I practice centering prayer on a daily basis and offer information classes periodically to introduce this prayer method to others interested.

God works in mysterious ways and I marvel at the opportunities that I have been given. I am so very grateful for my link with the BVMs and the opportunities to fill my longing to be in God’s ministry.