CWR 2018 Board members and staff in Grand Prairie, Texas. From left: CWR Executive Director Nick Schafer; Sister Beth Kress, PBVM; Cecilia Rupell, Jane Strittmatter, Jan Parrott, Jean Merry, Spalding Hurst, CWR Coordinator Susan Oxley; Kathy Gatliff, Sister Angela Szczawinska, CSFN; Stephanie Hall, Jennifer Brandlon, Sister Maxine Kollasch, IHM.

Dear CWR Friends,

In the interest of keeping you informed, the Communicators for Women Religious Board of Directors shares highlights of our monthly meetings. The Board met in person in January at Nazareth Retreat Center in Grand Prairie, Texas, and Feb. 6 by videoconference.

Sister Beth Kress, PBVM and CWR Executive Director Nick Schafer led morning and afternoon prayers for the January meeting. Sister Angela Szczawinska, CSFN, read a prayer to begin the videoconference.

Minutes from the Dec. 12 board videoconference, and the Jan. 23–26 meeting, were approved.

New board members Sister Maxine Kollasch, IHM; Janice Parrott, and Jane Strittmatter were welcomed. Sister Patricia Lenihan, RSC, was excused from the January meeting since she was attending a congregational meeting in Zambia. She was present for the Feb. 6 videoconference.

Board liaisons Carol Schuck Scheiber (National Religious Vocation Conference) and Sister Annmarie Sanders, IHM (Leadership Conference of Women Religious), will attend the May CWR board meeting at Siena Center in Racine, Wisconsin. Carol and Annmarie provided written reports for the board for the January meeting.

Kathy Gatliff, Board Chair, shared updates from the Executive Committee.

  • Philippa Turney resigned from the CWR Board (she is retiring). Stephanie Manseau has been appointed by the board to serve the remainder of Pippa’s term.
  • Board development: At the January in-person meeting, Sister Amy Hereford, CSJ, was invited to present on “Legal Issues for Nonprofit Organizations.” Michael Steinberg will present at the May board meeting on “Governance and Leadership.”

Sister Maxine and Stephanie Hall presented a report on the Cycling with Sisters event that was held prior to the 2017 conference in Niagara Falls, Canada. The event generated a lot of energy and excitement, especially on social media, based on a comprehensive analysis of tracking statistics. A recommendation was made to the board to consider continuing this event into the future. A Cycling with Sisters Task Force was established, with Max and Stephanie Hall as co-chairs.

Nick shared highlights from his Executive Director’s Report.

  • Handbook for Communication for Women Religious: CWR has been asked to contribute to this project, which is a collaborative effort with the International Union of Superiors General (UISG). The handbook, funded by a grant from the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See, will be printed in English and Italian, and distributed in March at a seminar on communications in Rome, Italy.
  • National Catholic Sisters Week prayer service and video project: CWR is collaborating with other organizations at the Catholic Theological Union, including the National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC), Religious Formation Conference (RFC), Giving Voice, and the Center for Consecrated Life. The group is hosting a prayer service at CTU on March 13. “Sisters Speak,” a video series featuring interviews with sisters in the Chicago area, is also underway.
  • Strategic Plan Update: CWR is preparing for the next grant cycle with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. A convening of Catholic Sisters Initiative grant recipients is being scheduled for the fall.

Jean Merry, CWR treasurer, shared a written report on CWR finances.

Membership Committee Chair Jennifer Brandlon reported that the committee is focusing its work on hospitality at the conference and support/mentoring for new CWR members. The committee is working with CWR staff to develop a membership survey (the last survey of CWR members was done in 2007). CWR Coordinator Susan Oxley shared an update on membership activity at the January meeting. CWR total membership as of Jan. 15: 218.

Jane will serve as chair of the Conference Scholarship Committee. The committee met in early February. Up to four conference scholarships will be awarded this year. Scholarship applications and information will be made available to CWR members in March.

The Conference Site Selection Committee is looking at locations on the West Coast for 2020. Site visits to San Diego and Palm Springs will be scheduled for late March. The 2019 conference (CWR’s 25th anniversary) is scheduled for Oct. 1–4 in Mesa, Arizona.

Beth reported that the Nominating Committee is working on a list of names of potential CWR board members. If you are interested in serving on the CWR Board, please contact Beth at

Angela and Patricia are working on scheduling the first meeting of the CWR International Outreach Committee. The purpose of this committee is to expand the scope of CWR membership to communicators working for congregations in other countries. If you are interested in serving on this committee, please contact Angela at

Stephanie Manseau has agreed to serve as chair of the CWR Education Committee. The purpose of this committee is to evaluate and expand the educational offerings provided as a benefit to members. If you are interested in serving on this committee, please contact Stephanie at

Cecilia Rupell, chair of the 2018 Conference Committee, reported on event planning for the conference Oct. 2-5 in Fort Worth, Texas. Presenters are being contacted. The Development Committee is working on exhibitors and sponsors. Stephanie Hall, Development Committee chair, and Nick met in person with the Diocese of Fort Worth in January.

Susan presented an online demonstration of MemberClicks association management system. CWR will be launching MemberClicks in February. The system provides integrated finance and database management as well as event registration, among other functions.

Next Board Meeting: Videoconference Tuesday, March 6 at 10:30 a.m. Central.

CWR 2018 Board of Directors
Kathy Gatliff, Chair
Jennifer Brandlon, Vice Chair
Jean Merry, Treasurer
Stephanie Hall
Spalding Hurst
Maxine Kollasch, IHM
Sister Beth Kress, PBVM
Patricia Lenihan, RSC
Stephanie Manseau
Janice Parrott
Cecilia Rupell
Jane Strittmatter
Sister Angela Szczawinska, CSFN
Annmarie Sanders, IHM, LCWR Liaison
Carol Schuck Scheiber, NRVC Liaison

CWR Staff
Nick Schafer, Executive Director
Sondra Grover, Finance
Susan Oxley, Coordinator