Friday March 9, 2018

Why We Celebrate National Catholic Sisters Week

By Lindsey Bronder

What personal experiences do you have with sisters?

As we celebrate Women History Month, it’s only fitting that we celebrate National Catholic Sisters Week (March 8-14). Just as we celebrate the works of women this month, National Catholic Sisters Week is to honor women religious and to recognize all they have done for us. We wanted to share some of our personal experiences about how sisters have impacted our lives to spark your memories and thoughts as we begin National Catholic Sisters Week.

During my junior high and high school at Notre Dame Academy (NDA), I met and grew especially close with some of the Toledo Sisters of Notre Dame (SND). From living with the sisters as part of a service program, I learned the importance of community and surrounding yourself with faith-filled people. I also learned that sisters are just as human as we are: they eat, sleep, work, and play like we do! What sets them apart is how they “do ordinary things with extraordinary love,” as Mother Teresa said. The sisters are always so joyful! I have so many happy memories of spending time with and working alongside the sisters, even when washing dishes. The SNDs have shown me what it means to be a joyful witness.      - Lindsey Bronder

'Once a Mercy girl, Always a Mercy girl." This phrase became a huge part of my life as I went through my four years at McAuley High School in Cincinnati. The Sisters of Mercy were always constant beacons of the light of Christ and witnessed always to divine love. I was lucky enough to be part of a program called Alive in Mercy that created deep and lasting relationships with the Sisters who lived on our campus in the retirement convent. This meant having dinner with the Sisters and engaging in dialogue that taught us about the charisms of the Mercy order. What has always spoken to me most from the witness of the Sisters of Mercy was their powerful devotion to the divine mercy of Jesus and His mission to create a world that reflects the Kingdom of His Father. This means responding to the call to serve those most in need. From my experience with the Sisters of Mercy, I grew and became a woman of faith and love that always sought to reach out and show Christ's mercy to all those I encounter.      - Emma Grace Geckle

Religious Sisters have been impacting my life in beautiful ways since I was in high school. I attended Notre Dame Academy in Toledo, OH which is an all-girls Catholic high school sponsored by the Sisters of Notre Dame. The wonderful and faith-filled women that I encountered at my high school stirred in my heart a desire to know more about religious life and, most importantly, growing into a holy woman of Christ. These women were my role models and continue to be great friends to me that support me through all of the transitions, struggles, and joys I have encountered since high school. Coming to college at UD gave me another great opportunity to encounter women religious as I met the Marianist Sisters here. I met a few of the Sisters from the Annunciation community and instantly wanted to learn more about the Marianist charism. The Notre Dame Sisters sparked my love for Mary and the Church as the Marianist Sisters continued to strengthen that love as I transitioned to Dayton and college life. I have had many joyous and personal experiences with the Marianist Sisters that have moved me to discern life as a Marianist Sister myself. That is still an unknown path for me but their support and love of their charism has inspired me to enter a Lay Marianist community, the Eudokeo community. Through my relationships with both the Marianist and Notre Dame Sisters, I have been able to take steps to becoming the person that God is forming me to be with confidence and a prayerful support system of other strong women in the Church.      - Tori Schoen

My relationships with Catholic religious sisters span my entire lifetime. Sisters were among my family members, my teachers at every level of my education, and now my colleagues and my friends. In eighth grade, Sister Alexiana asked me to teach a third grade class when the teacher was called away suddenly. I remember feeling very anxious, but somehow wrote multiplication tables and the students did what I told them to! Although this would be illegal today, it was incredible in the moment and helped confirm my vocation to teach. My UD coworker Sister Angela Ann Zukowski has been an amazing influence in my life. The longer I know Sister Angela Ann the more she stretches my religious imagination. The longer I know Sister Angela Ann the more I am convinced that her “relic” status, source of hope, creativity, and brilliance is due to her willingness to say “yes” to God’s call. My relationships with sisters has shaped my faith development, vocation, religious imagination, and my drive to serve and care.      - Professor Susan Ferguson

This week we invite you to reflect on the influence of sisters in your life. Consider sharing your gratitude with a sister or celebrating with sisters as part of National Catholic Sisters Week. Consider sharing your story with others. If you have not yet had an experience of your own, try to seek out a sister this week to learn more about them and their order. Remember that you can spend time with sisters without having to make a commitment to religious life. However, I do want to challenge everyone to prayerfully reflect on your vocation and if you are called to religious life this week. We hope that you will take this opportunity to engage more with sisters and become part of this living history.


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