The Path Towards Community

The Path Towards Community

Sister Miriam Mark Eddy, Julia Sauter and Sister Daleen Larkin.

At a time when the future of religious life has become increasingly uncertain, stories of young discerners like Julia Sauter stand out.

As a woman in her 20s, busy with graduate school at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, CA, Julia was struck by the warm relationships her roommate was developing by spending time with the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. There were shared meals. Phone calls. Supportive conversations.

The idea of that kind of belonging was very appealing. Julia became immersed in Berkeley’s vibrant local Catholic environment. When graduation came, she moved back to her hometown of Palm Springs, California. Missing her faith community, she began to visit St. Anthony’s, a culturally diverse Catholic church about two hours west in San Gabriel, California. That’s when the Holy Names Sisters came into her own life, and she was drawn into relationship with them thanks to the immense hospitality she experienced.

While her college roommate chose to become a candidate for vowed religious life, Julia sought another form of belonging – the Associate relationship, which gives her a way to interweave her life with that of the Holy Names Sisters while remaining a lay person. Encouraged by Sisters Miriam Mark (Minnie) Eddy, Daleen Larkin and others, Julia began her formation as an Associate. On Oct. 7, 2017, she made her initial Associate promises.

“I think I decided to become an Associate particularly because Sr. Minnie was very supportive during a very challenging period in my life,” says Julia. “She definitely exemplified the commitment to hospitality that the SNJMs have. There is a lot of enthusiasm and genuine support that I think is unique.” 

But after a few years as an active Associate, Julia faced another difficult transition when she accepted a position in the Development office for the Glenmary Home Missioners in Cincinnati, OH. Despite the thousands of miles that now lie between them, she and the Holy Names Sisters have found ways to keep their ties strong.

“When I moved, the Sisters in Southern California wanted to know how to remain connected and available to support me,” she says. The solution was to become one of the first Associates to attend meetings virtually. Every month, Julia connects with her fellow Associates and Sisters back in Southern California via video chat, participating in the gatherings and continuing her relationship to the community as if she had never left. Phone calls, emails and cards also help bridge the distance. “You feel like you’re there, even though you’re not physically in the same space.”

Now 31, Julia values the ability to maintain relationships with women whose charism, mission and vision she hopes to carry into the future. “There is something special about the Associate experience and the SNJMs. We’re not loosely connected but a vital part of their ongoing life and future.”

Being connected to the Sisters has given her insight into the future of religious life and informed her ministry interests. Julia is especially involved in promoting religious vocations and supporting people with disabilities, as she herself is a religious discerner living with mild cerebral palsy. When she’s not working, Julia moderates several online discernment groups to promote dialogue around religious life, and she advocates for people with disabilities and mental health conditions through conversation, writing and social media.

Julia sees the beauty in what lies ahead for men and women religious and believes that with more creativity, transparency and flexibility, religious life will continue in a new, invigorated form. “It’s going to look different,” she says. “It’s not going to be what it was in years past, but I think there is definite potential here. There are a lot of young people who are serving and searching for community, but they don’t know where to find it. I find that with other discerners that I correspond with, we have a lot of ideas and enthusiasm for the Catholic faith and vocations, but we want to find ways to share our experiences and ideas.”

Living with a disability influences her viewpoint. It’s not uncommon for people who have medical challenges to be told – and even start to believe – that they would be a burden to a religious community and to find themselves dismissed in the discernment process.

“It’s unfortunate,” she says, “because many times we could be successful… We are enthusiastic about the future of religious life.”

For that reason, Julia has a special place in her heart for the foundress of the Sisters of the Holy Names, Blessed Marie Rose Durocher, who was passionate about welcoming the vulnerable and creating paths for people on the margins to be involved in religious life. As a young woman discerning her vocation, Marie Rose was rejected by several religious orders due to her health struggles. But with great faith, passion and spiritual fire, she started her own congregation, which carries on her passion for the poor, marginalized and disenfranchised.

 “Some people forget they were vulnerable; they get their spot and then they forget to hold open the door for others,” Julia reflects. “But Mother Marie Rose didn’t forget her experience, and I see the Sisters today continuing to follow the example of that story.”

The future of religious life may remain uncertain – but Julia believes that with open doors and an open mind, exciting possibilities lie ahead.   

By Heather Rockwell, Communications and Events Coordinator

Gleeson, Sister Helena

Gleeson, Sister Helena

Sister Helena Gleeson, SNJM

(Sister Mary Christopher)

March 16, 1924 – February 7, 2020

Sister Helena Gleeson, SNJM departed this life on February 7, 2020 at Huntington Drive Health & Rehabilitiation Center, Arcadia, California.

Sister Helena celebrated 95 years of life and 75 years of her religious profession.

Mass of Resurrection was celebrated Monday, Februrary 17 2020, at 11:00 a.m. at Saint Mary Parish Church, 407 South Chicago Street, Los Angeles, California.

Memorial Mass will be held on Sunday, March 1, 2020 at 2:30 p.m. at Holy Spirit Chapel, 65 W. Rincon Avenue, Campbell, California.

Internment will take place on March 2, 2020 at 10:30 a.m. at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, 1051 Harder Road, Hayward, California.

Look What God Can Do

Look What God Can Do

Sister Barbara Spears drinks water from a donated filter to demonstrate that it’s clean and safe.

In 2017 I traveled to Lesotho bringing 60 water filters and a desire to provide clean water for 60 women with children. Each of the women would pledge to filter water for three other women with children, bringing the total to 240 families being served for 10 years.

In 2018, I asked our U.S.-Ontario Province to help me return with 60 more filters to serve another 240 families with children. I also traveled to Brazil and trained 15 women to use the filters, providing clean water to 60+ families. Many donors helped to make our SNJM Water Project possible.

I am not sure I know how to share with you the profound gratitude of the women who received the filters or the impact this project has on their families, but I’ll share some of their remarks and pictures with you.

I returned to Brazil in September 2019 and to Lesotho in October 2019. An article about the Water Project in our newsletter SNJM Now inspired very generous donors. I specifically remember one donor asking me if I had more resources, would I be able to expand my reach? I did not hesitate to answer because of an experience I had in Lesotho last year.

We arrived in a village for our last meeting. We only had 15 filters left. Over 100 hopeful people showed up. I cannot tell you the pain I experienced in the pit of my stomach. Many of these people had walked a long way in hopes of getting clean water to keep their children from sickness and perhaps death from contaminated water. All we could do at that time was to put everyone’s name in a hat and have a little boy draw 15 names. To this day, I have a vivid picture of the look on the faces of those who left very disappointed. I asked God to make a way for us to return to that village in Peka with more filters.

Well, this past October we were able to do three training in Peka, which allowed us to reach about 180 families. I asked each woman to sign a commitment that she would not only help three other women with children, but to also help at least one elderly person. I had noticed that many of the elderly live alone and could use clean water.

My goal this year was 200 families in Brazil and 500 in Lesotho. I am very happy to say we reached the goal in Brazil and we surpassed the goal in Lesotho. When I left Lesotho, we had reached 510 families. While there, I worked with local Sisters who serve on the SNJM Justice Network and trained them to lead the training sessions. I left with them enough filters and materials to do three additional trainings, which will bring our total there to 735 families. This is why I say, “Look what God can do!”

The women and the Sisters in both places are so grateful for the SNJM Water Project. They just kept thanking me and saying, “We cannot believe that you would come all the way here to help us” and “We cannot believe that people who do not even know us would make it possible for us to have clean water for our children.” They thanked me and asked me to please thank everyone back in my country for them. People had big smiles on their faces when they left, and many would hug me and say, “We love you.” It was so humbling to see their reaction to something we take for granted every day.
Women receiving water filters from the project have two requirements: they sign a covenant to provide clean water for three other women with children and one elderly family, and they also agree to meet once a month for at least six months to support one another and continue to build community.

In the photos, you’ll see that many of these women are very young. They walk a long way to get to the site where we hold the trainings, often bringing their little children. What we have been able to do so far has had an enormous impact on their quality of life.

But there are so many more wanting and needing our help. At times, we are still turning some people away. Let us continue to ask our good God to make a way for us to continue this much needed project, and perhaps expand it in the near future.

Sister Barbara Spears

Richard, Sister Mary

Richard, Sister Mary

Sister Mary Richard, SNJM

(Sister Marian Arthur)

July 10, 1928 – January 16, 2020

Sister Mary Richard, SNJM departed this life on January 16, 2020 at Marie Rose Center, Mary’s Woods at Marylhurst, Lake Oswego, Oregon.

Sister Mary celebrated 91 years of life and 70 years of her religious profession.

Mass of Resurrection was celebrated on Thursday, February 6, 2020, at 11:00 a.m. at Holy Names Chapel, Lake Oswego, Oregon.

Burial took place following the funeral at Holy Names Cemetery, Marylhurst, Oregon.

Cruikshank, Sister Mae

Cruikshank, Sister Mae

Sister Mae Cruikshank, SNJM

(Sister Mary Lawrence)

May 16, 1925 – February 1, 2020

Sister Mae Cruickshank, SNJM departed this life on February 1, 2020 at Marie Rose Center, Mary’s Woods at Marylhurst, Lake Oswego, Oregon.

Sister Mae celebrated 94 years of life and 74 years of her religious profession.

Mass of Resurrection will be celebrated on Wednesday, March 4, 2020, at 11:00 a.m. at Holy Names Chapel, Lake Oswego, Oregon.

Burial will take place on another date at Holy Cross Cemetery, Spokane, Washington.

Carrol, Sister Collette

Carrol, Sister Collette

Sister Collette Carroll, SNJM

(Sister Eulalie Rose)

October 6, 1928 – January 19, 2020

Sister Collette Carroll, SNJM departed this life on January 19, 2020 at Villas of Saratoga, Saratoga, California.

Sister Collette celebrated 91 years of life and 72 years of her religious profession.

Mass of Resurrection was celebrated on Thursday, February 6, 2020, at 10:30 a.m. at Holy Spirit Chapel, Campbell, California.

Burial took place following the funeral at 1:30 p.m. at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Hayward, California.

Covatta, Sister Annette

Covatta, Sister Annette

Sister Annette Covatta, SNJM

(Eleanor Covatta)

August 30, 1928 – January 13, 2020

Sister Annette Covatta, SNJM departed this life on January 13, 2020 at Marie Rose Center, Mary’s Woods at Marylhurst in Lake Oswego, Oregon.

Sister Annette celebrated 91 years of life and 71 years of her religious profession.

Mass of Resurrection will be celebrated on Friday, February 21, 2020, at 11:00 a.m. at Chapel of the Holy Names, Lake Oswego, Oregon. 

A Memorial Mass will be held on Saturday, April 25, 2020, at 2:00 p.m. at the Academy of the Holy Names, 1075 New Scotland Road, Albany, New York.

Burial will take place following the funeral at Calvary Cemetery, Glenmont, New York.

Jackson, Sister Janice

Jackson, Sister Janice

Sister Janice Jackson, SNJM

(Sister Stephen James)

March 12, 1933 – January 13, 2020

Sister Janice Jackson, SNJM departed this life on January 13, 2020 at Marie Rose Center, Mary’s Woods at Marylhurst in Lake Oswego, Oregon.

Sister Janice celebrated 86 years of life and 65 years of her religious profession.

Mass of Resurrection was celebrated on Thursday, January 23, 2020, at 11:00 a.m. at Chapel of the Holy Names, Lake Oswego, Oregon. 

Burial took place immediately following the funeral at Holy Names Cemetery, Marylhurst, Oregon.

 Sister Janice Jackson, SNJM

Sister Stephen James

March 12, 1933 – January 13, 2020

Sister Janice Jackson, SNJM, age 86, died January 13, 2020. A Sister of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary for 65 years, her funeral will be held at 11 a.m., January 23, 2020, in the Chapel of the Holy Names, Marylhurst, Oregon. Burial follows at Holy Names Cemetery.

Janice was born March 12, 1933, in Salem, welcomed by her parents Louis Clark and Dorothy (Pickens) Jackson. She was later joined by two sisters and a brother. The Jackson family resettled in Salem in 1945 where Janice attended St Joseph’s Grade School and graduated from Sacred Heart Academy in 1951. 

She entered the Holy Names Sisters, later receiving the religious name Sister M. Stephen James. She completed a teaching degree at Marylhurst College and taught in Holy Names schools in Seattle, Portland, Lake Oswego and finally at St. Vincent’s School in Salem.

In 1971 Sister Janice received her calling to pursue a Master of Counseling from the University of Oregon. As part of her studies, she envisioned a program to serve those in the penal system. Janice started the highly successful Sponsors, Inc., in Eugene, Oregon, serving Lane county prisoners. She affirmed and uplifted the dignity of hundreds of men and women as they transitioned from prison back to the community. When she retired from Sponsors, she continued on the board of directors. Honored for her compassionate spirit and vision, Sister Janice is one of the Oregon women included on the Walk of Heroines at Portland State University.

In retirement Sister Janice served as spiritual advisor and retreat guide to women in Eugene, and marketed her photographic art. In 2014, after living in Eugene for 43 years, she moved to Mary’s Woods at Marylhurst in Lake Oswego.

Sister Janice is survived by her sisters Judy Fischer (Bonney Lake, WA) and Susan (Don) Stuhr (Salem) and her brother Stephen Jackson (Eugene). Eight nieces and nephews and numerous great nieces and nephews benefited from her caring devotion to family. She is also survived by her dear friend and adopted family member Evelyn Gerardo Challis (Michael) and the members of her religious community.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Sponsors, 338 Hwy 99 N, Eugene, OR 97402 or to Sisters of the Holy Names Retirement Fund, P.O. Box 398, Marylhurst, OR 97036 or online at

Faith Statement on Escalating Violence with Iran

Faith Statement on Escalating Violence with Iran

As people of faith, we condemn the United States’ dangerous aggression towards Iran, including the assassination of Gen. Qassem Soleimani and the deployment of additional troops to the region. We urge the Administration to step back from the brink of war.

Our faith communities see the futility of war, and its power to dehumanize. We know that human flourishing entails breaking cycles of violence, being courageous peacemakers, and focusing on the root causes of conflict. Violent conflict is a path of mutual destruction.

 Instead, all actors must move forward in a way that upholds our shared, sacred human dignity:

  • All parties must begin by re-humanizing each other without excusing unjust and violent actions.
  • The U.S. Administration must halt violent attacks and military escalations. It must return to a diplomatic process, recognizing that lasting peace requires a commitment to the shared well-being of every human, from Iran to the United States and everywhere in between. 
  • The U.S. Congress must act to reassert its war powers by refusing authorization for war with Iran and related attacks, and to block funding for war with Iran. 
  • U.S. actions and strategy in the region must address the root causes of the conflict, such as distrust, trauma, economic resources, and political influence. 
  • All of us must support nonviolent creative actions of resistance to any unjust and violent actions.

As communities of faith, we renounce the escalation of violence and call on the United States to work towards lasting peace with Iran.


American Friends Service Committee

Center on Conscience and War

Christian Peacemaker Teams

Church of the Brethren office of Peacebuilding and Policy

Churches for Middle East Peace

Coalition for Peace Action

Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach

Conference of Superiors of Men (Catholic)

Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, US Provinces

Faith in Public Life

Franciscan Action Network

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Leadership Conference of Women Religious

Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Mennonite Central Committee U.S.

National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd

National Campaign for a Peace Tax fund

Presbyterian Church (USA)

Provincial Council Clerics of St. Viator

Sisters of Mercy of the Americas-Institute Leadership Team

Unitarian Universalist Association

United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries

The United Methodist Church-General Board of Church and Society

Kern, Sister Collen

Kern, Sister Collen

Sister Colleen Kern, SNJM

(Sister Miriam Patrice)

January 30, 1929 – December 29, 2019

Sister Colleen Kern, SNJM departed this life on December 29, 2019 in San Rafael, California.

Sister Colleen celebrated 90 years of life and 71 years of her religious profession.

Mass of Resurrection was celebrated on Saturday, February 1, 2020, at 10:30 a.m. at Saint Raphael Church, San Rafael, California.

Burial took place Monday, February 3, 2020 at 10:30 a.m. at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Hayward, California.