ST. PAUL, Minn. – To shine a spotlight on the profound impact of Catholic sisters, in conjunction with National Women’s History Month, the second annual National Catholic Sisters Week (NCSW) will be held March 8-14, 2015. Through events and activities happening across the country, NCSW is intended to connect young women with Catholic sisters, who number nearly 50,000 in the United States, by highlighting their vital contributions and demonstrating that their lifestyle is relevant today. Currently, approximately 1,000 American women are in formation to become Catholic sisters, and nearly 100 will make their final vows in 2015.
“National Catholic Sisters Week celebrates the commitment, compassion and influential work of women religious from pressing the frontlines of social change or praying in cloistered chapels,” said Sister Mary Soher, OP, co-executive director of the Hilton Sisters Project National Catholic Sisters Week. “We’re calling on people across the country to join our celebration – tell the story of a sister you admire, share a photo, visit a monastery, attend an NCSW event or host your own little gathering inspired by women
As part of National Catholic Sisters Week and its related storytelling initiative, SisterStory, Sister Mary and co-executive director, Molly Hazelton, launched an ambitious oral-history project to chronicle the life stories of Catholic sisters. The goal is to produce 150 stories, each one created by a college woman who is partnered with a Catholic sister and forges a relationship through weekly visits. By spring 2015, 11 Catholic colleges and universities across the country will have participated in the project, blogging about the experience at sisterstory.org/oral-history-list and posting their official oral histories at vimeo.com/sisterstory.
“Cultural myths about nuns are so persistent,” said co-executive director Molly Hazelton. “We have taken up the cause of myth busting, which is a big charge. We’ve found the key to success is to foster personal relationships with women religious. We hear daily from college women who have gotten to know a sister and rave about how inspiring they are. For students grappling with major life decisions and exploring their spirituality, there is great strength and wisdom to be drawn from Catholic sisters.”
Alexa Harnagel, a sophomore at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minn., majoring in biochemistry and minoring in theology, blogged about her frenetic college lifestyle –a full course load, two jobs and increasing anxiety – and the “calming” impact of Sister Mary Catherine St. Martin, OP, the sister she profiled in an oral history. “Every time we meet,” Harnagel wrote, “she reminds me of what is important in life. She reminds me to spend time with the people I love, to give back to others and, maybe most important, to make time for God.”
About National Catholic Sisters Week
National Catholic Sisters Week is headquartered at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minn., and supported by a three-year, $3.3 million grant the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation awarded to the university in late 2013. Everyone is invited to participate in National Catholic Sisters Week through local community events and outreach, volunteer opportunities and social media. National Catholic Sisters Week also features community-submitted content through its Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest channels. Learn more at nationalcatholicsistersweek.org and follow the campaign on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
About the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation was created in 1944 by international business pioneer Conrad N. Hilton, who founded Hilton Hotels and left his fortune to help the world’s disadvantaged and vulnerable people. The Foundation currently conducts strategic initiatives in six priority areas: providing safe water, ending chronic homelessness, preventing substance abuse, helping children affected by HIV and AIDS, supporting transition-age youth in foster care, and extending Conrad Hilton’s support for the work of Catholic Sisters. Following selection by an independent international jury, the Foundation annually awards the $1.5 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize to a nonprofit organization doing extraordinary work to reduce human suffering. From its inception, the Foundation has awarded more than $1 billion in grants. The Foundation’s current assets exceed $2.2 billion.
About St. Catherine University
St. Catherine University is the nation’s largest undergraduate college for women. A comprehensive University, St. Kate’s offers baccalaureate, associate, master’s and clinical doctorate degrees in a variety of liberal arts, health care and professional programs. Committed to meeting the educational needs of women of all ages, as well as men in its associate and graduate programs, the university offers many of its degree programs in traditional, weekend and evening as well as online formats. With beautiful campuses in St. Paul and Minneapolis, St. Catherine University has a total enrollment of 5,075. It was founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in 1905.