Women religious meet to discuss collaboration and their future
MYRTLE BEACH—Over 80 women religious working in South Carolina met in Myrtle Beach for the fifth annual Statewide Seminar for Women Religious, sponsored by the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina, from Nov. 20-22.
The annual gathering is a component of the Foundation’s Collaboration for Ministry Initiative, which supports congregations of women religious in their efforts with the poor and underserved members of society.
Sister Nancy Schreck, the president of the Sisters of St. Francis of Dubuque, Iowa, facilitated the seminar which centered around being gathered, graced and given.
According to a press release, the group examined the layers of grace and was reminded that one’s existence is not defined by successes, but by doing one’s part. The sisters also discussed what it meant to be “given” as women religious and the vision for the future as the number of women religious decline. Sister Pat Kozak, of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, led the prayers and rituals throughout the seminar.
Sara Sanders, Ph.D., professor of English at Coastal Carolina University, spoke about how writings from the 2008 seminar with the theme “Sharing Our Stories, Transforming Our World,” led to a published collection of pieces by women religious in the state. Copies of the book, “Eruptions of Amazement,” were given to the participants.
The first piece in the book, “Oceanside 2008: Gathered, Graced to Give Again” by Sister Kathleen Ryan, of the Sisters of Notre Dame of Cleveland, Ohio, inspired the theme for this year’s seminar.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone participated in part of the gathering. He noted that the gifts of the sisters working in South Carolina have been and continue to be tremendous ones in outreach to the poor through education, health care and pastoral care. On Sunday morning, Bishop Guglielmone celebrated Mass to close the gathering.
Historically, sister-affiliated efforts have a strong and successful record in reducing poverty in South Carolina. Sisters have established schools, hospitals and social service ministries that have served hundreds of thousands of people in the state over the past 200 years.
Today, due to the decline in new recruits, there is an accelerating loss of sisters’ ministries in South Carolina.
Additionally, the few active women religious remaining are scattered throughout the state and they, along with their ministries, are frequently alone in their efforts to address poverty.
The foundation began an initiative five years ago to try to understand and assist these ministries in South Carolina. Working to strengthen and sustain them, the Collaboration for Ministry Initiative conducts a variety of activities including convening meetings, providing technical assistance, facilitating transitions of leadership of sister-affiliated ministries, providing grants and evaluating these efforts.
“These sisters are called and work daily to address poverty in South Carolina, and are invaluable to our community,” said Tom Keith, president of the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina. “The foundation is committed to these sisters who are serving the poor for the long term. Working together, we can continue to make a difference.”
During the seminar, Sister Connie Fahey, of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary, was honored for her service on the foundation’s board and for her years of work in South Carolina. She is moving to Wisconsin in January. Sister Roberta Fulton, of the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur, was celebrated for her new role as president of the National Black Sisters Conference.
Also, six jubilarians were celebrated including: Sister Mary Gallagher, of the Sisters of Mercy of Americas, for 60 years; Franciscan Sisters Catherine Noecker and Patricia Rogan, for 50 years; Sisters of St. Mary of Namur Kathleen Kane and Maryjane Golden for 50 years; and Sister Lupe Stump, of the Sisters of Mercy of Americas, for 25 years.