As 2021 began, still deep in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the Sisters of the Holy Names welcomed a new leadership team in the U.S.-Ontario Province. Members of the team started their term like no other team before them – setting their priorities, meeting with committees and directing lay staff all via Zoom for the sake of health and safety.
Even the leadership transition ritual in January was virtual, with Sisters and Affiliates ringing bells at home and waving at one another from their computer screens instead of chapel pews.
The Province Leadership Team, selected through a long discernment process that unfolded through most of 2020, includes six Sisters with diverse backgrounds, ministries and interests. Here are brief introductions to each.
Diane Enos, SNJM was born and raised on the island of Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands. Sr. Diane came to California to attend Holy Names College in Oakland, CA, then entered the SNJM community after graduation in 1966. She taught at Holy Names High School and Holy Names College, both in Oakland, for about 20 years before earning a Ph.D. in clinical psychology at St. Louis University in Missouri. She worked as a clinical psychologist in the Northern California for another 20 years before retirement. For the past several years she has been active in a variety of USON committees.
A native of San Francisco, Marcia Frideger, SNJM was educated by Holy Names Sisters at St. Anselm’s School in San Anselmo, CA and Marin Catholic High School. She entered the novitiate in 1963, had her juniorate at College of the Holy Names, earned a master’s degree in organizational behavior at Brigham Young University, and a Ph.D. at University of CA, Irvine. She taught at St. Ignatius Elementary School in Sacramento, Holy Names High School and Holy Names University in Oakland, and Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania. She previously served on the Province Leadership Team from 2011-2015. In recent years, she ministered as SNJM liaison with the Sisters of the Holy Family and as Candidate Director.
Originally from Eugene, OR, Carol Higgins, SNJM entered the SNJM community in Portland. She taught at Holy Cross and Holy Redeemer in Portland and St. Peter’s in Ontario, OR, where she became principal. After getting her Master of Divinity degree from Marylhurst University and Doctor of Ministry in Christian Spirituality degree from Washington Theological Union in Washington, D.C., she taught and worked in campus ministry at Marylhurst University, later joining the faculty of St. Mary’s Academy in Portland.
Linda Patrick, SNJM was born in Portland, OR and grew up in Holy Redeemer parish, taught by Holy Names teachers. After entering the Sisters of the Holy Names in 1967, she obtained an education degree from Marylhurst College and taught at St. Ignatius, Holy Redeemer and The Madeleine School in Portland. She spent 20 years as an administrator at St. Mary’s Academy, while serving on SNJM committees including taking the lead in organizing the Sisters’ most significant recent events, the provincial Chapters held in 2018 and 2020. She is a longtime volunteer with Saint André Bessette Church’s ministry to guests who live on the streets or in single rooms in downtown Portland.
For decades, St. James Cathedral in Seattle relied on the calm and analytical mind of Mary Slater, SNJM, who served as their longtime bookkeeper. With a degree in Accounting from Western Washington State College, she is a valued member of the HNA Board of Trustees and Finance Committee, as well as a trustee of the SNJM Charitable Trust. A Sister since 1983, St. Mary served on the Leadership Discernment Committee that guided the process of discerning the incoming PLT.
Maureen Delaney, SNJM, who has served as provincial leader since 2016, is continuing in that role. Sr. Maureen attended Holy Names High School in Oakland and after becoming a Sister, taught at St. Augustine’s, Our Lady of Lourdes, Old Saint Mary’s and St. Francis de Sales schools in Oakland. She became active in supporting community leaders in East Oakland and did that work for years, including her time on the staff of St. Francis de Sales Cathedral. In 1987, she visited the Mississippi Delta, which led to her founding the Tutwiler Community Education Center and leading its educational and recreational programs for nearly 30 years.
We, the Sisters of the Holy Names U.S.-Ontario Province, a community of women religious who place great value on care for Earth, concern for immigrants, racial justice and respect for all people, are grateful for executive actions which President Joe Biden took during his first week in office that are aligned with our Gospel values.
The president demonstrated care for God’s creation with his swift steps to rejoin the Paris climate agreement and to re-examine policies that promote exploitation of natural resources. He showed compassion for our immigrant brothers and sisters by supporting DACA protections for immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children, revoking an order aimed at excluding undocumented people from the U.S. census, reversing a travel ban targeting primarily Muslim nations, halting construction of a wall along the southern border and calling for an end to “harsh and extreme” immigration law enforcement. His initiative to advance racial justice and end the “1776 Commission” will help to combat “entrenched disparities in our laws and public policies” that have devastated underserved and marginalized communities throughout the U.S. In the midst of the pandemic, President Biden has acted to promote public health and assist people facing great economic stress and fear. His executive orders seeking to mandate mask-wearing and social distancing, accelerate vaccine distribution and extend eviction/foreclosure protections will help keep families afloat, give them hope and save lives. Finally, he has modeled the value of dignity for all people by calling on us to treat one another with civility and respect.
These actions are important steps in beginning to address the human suffering caused by the multiple crises that President Biden identified in his inaugural address. We pray for the success of these efforts, and we add our voices to the many others now calling on Congress to work quickly to approve legislation and funding to move our nation toward a fair and equitable recovery.
We, the Sisters of the Holy Names, U.S.-Ontario Province, are appalled by the violence that took place in our nation’s capital on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021.
We join with our Sisters, priests, bishops, the World Council of Churches and all people of good will across the United States to echo the words of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious: “We are deeply concerned about the state of our country and the future of our democracy. Our hearts ached as we watched these despicable actions that threaten not only to destroy the seat of our government but to rend the bonds that unite us.”
We stand by statements from:
Maryknoll Sisters: “We condemn all acts of violence and attempts to subvert the exercise of democracy through a free and fair election.”
Adrian Dominicans: “We pray that this shameful moment in history will spur us all to come together as a people, e pluribus unum, committed to the ideals of our democracy, united in our diversity.”
Union of Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary: “We mourn the needless loss of life and are desolated by the lack of accountability of those who hold positions of leadership… We will work with others to do justice and proclaim the Gospel message of hope and peace during this time of great pain and division.”
Simone Campbell SSS, Executive Director of Network: “We the people are for the common good. Our nation is better than this, and I expect all of our elected officials to denounce these crimes.”
As we continue to learn more about the events which occurred on Jan. 6, we are also aware of potential violence aimed at state capitols across the United States, and the risk of a second attempt to take over the U.S. Capitol and/or to disrupt the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20.
We ask that you join our Sisters in prayer, whether you live near us in the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Hong Kong and Peru, or anywhere else in the world. Political violence and disruption of democracy in the United States has an impact on us all. We invite you to pray the following prayer every day at noon, your time, until Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are officially president and vice president of the United States.
Prayer for Peace in National Violence
God who is beyond politics and nations,
Christ who transcends the power of violence,
Holy Spirit who animates all people,
Be with our country in this moment of violence, division, and turmoil.
Transform our rage and hate that we might see our brothers and sisters with your eyes.
Break our hearts of stone, give us hearts of love and understanding that your peace might prevail.
(Prayer from the Catholic Health Association of the United States)
Together for a peaceful transfer of power…
Province Leadership Team
Maureen Delaney, SNJM
Diane Enos, SNJM
Marcia Frideger, SNJM
Carol Higgins, SNJM
Linda Patrick, SNJM
Mary Slater, SNJM
We, members of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary and concerned citizens of Portland, OR, would like to add our voices to those of people all over the U.S. and beyond, who are in the streets protesting the grave injustices and indignities the Black community and people of color suffer because of dual systems of education, law enforcement, employment opportunities, health care, housing opportunities and many others.
We abhor and condemn the violence that some people have brought to these peaceful demonstrations, which does nothing to advance the cause of the Black community and people of color seeking to achieve parity in housing, education, employment, law enforcement, etc.
We call upon our Portland city officials, the police department and others to use legal, non-violent means to “weed the trouble makers out” so real progress can be made in advancing the betterment of the lives of the Black community and people of color.
We believe Black Lives Matter. This saying shines a light on the racial injustices that have been inflicted on our African American sisters and brothers for centuries.
We ask that steps be taken to peacefully address economic disparity, unfair housing practices, police reform, systemic racism and educational and employment inequity. To do this:
- We ask that a racially diverse group of public officials, civic and religious leaders, and community members come together to publicly address and take actions on these issues and others that impact the daily lives of African Americans and people of color in our city.
- We call all members of the Portland community to join together to examine and change systems that have enabled racial injustice to take root and fester in our city and in our country.
- We are eager to join with others in the Portland metro area to bring the power of justice and peace to end the destructive violence that feeds on hatred and detracts from the Black Lives Matter messages.
Inspired by the words of Congressman John L. Lewis and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, both of whom recently died and who all their lives stood up for the underserved, let us continue to join together and speak up.
“When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something, you have to do something.” – John Lewis
“You can disagree without being disagreeable.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Sisters Mary Breiling, Maureen Delaney, Guadalupe Guajardo, Margaret Kennedy and Mary Rita Rohde
Sisters of the Holy Names U.S.-Ontario Province Leadership Team
Christian Cahill received her SNJM pin and Constitutions on Saturday, August 8, 2020.
Christian Cahill stepped forward wearing a black facemask and bowed her head as the congregational emblem of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary on a slender chain was slipped around her neck. Holding her new copy of the congregation’s Constitutions, she looked into a video camera that transmitted her broad smile to her family, friends and Sisters in three countries.
It was the Sisters’ first novice reception via Zoom, and behold, it was good.
In a powerful affirmation of God’s ongoing call to religious life, the welcome ceremony for Sister Christian on Aug. 8 combined the traditional sounds and sights of a religious ritual with the videoconferencing technology that has become an everyday part of shelter-in-place life during the coronavirus pandemic. Far from an experience of isolation, though, it was filled with music, encouraging words and joyful support for the next step in Sister Christian’s deepening exploration of the spirituality, ministries, history and evolving future of the Sisters of the Holy Names.
“When the date was originally set, we were expecting to have a full chapel and others on Zoom,” explained Sister Maureen Delaney, U.S.-Ontario Provincial. “But as, we know, things have greatly changed. As we also know, it is our custom to take what is given to us and make it work the best we can. You know the saying – ‘When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade!’”
With Sister Christian in the Holy Spirit Chapel in Campbell, CA were Sister Maureen and several other members of the community, including novice director Sister Elizabeth Liebert and Sister Marcia Frideger, who delivered a reflection that highlighted Sister Christian’s passion for social justice and willingness to follow God’s call. “At a time when fewer are seeking religious life as an option, Christian has traced the SNJM journey and already contributed her many gifts in ministry with the wider Church, society and SNJM community,” Sister Marcia said.
Sister Christian’s sister Michelle, via Zoom, participated by reading the beloved passage from the Gospel of Luke that recalls the Virgin Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth, who hails her as the Mother of God. Mary’s gratitude for God’s favor shines through the “Magnificat” text: “Surely, for now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”
In thanking the Sisters for their warm welcome, Sister Christian described how their deep spirituality interwoven with music and art initially drew her to the congregation. “Then I got to know the community more and really connected with the social justice focus and advocating particularly for women and marginalized communities,” she said. “I continue to be impressed with the individual women, from the very beginning until now, who have courageously and boldly stepped out and tried new things.”
Christian Cahill leads a prayer service at the Catholic high school where she works in campus ministry.
On Saturday, Aug. 8, the Sisters of the Holy Names will joyfully welcome Christian Cahill as she begins her Canonical Novitiate.
Sisters, Affiliates and family members will rejoice with her via Zoom during her service of welcome with a small group at the Holy Spirit Chapel in Campbell, CA. At the simple ceremony, Christian will receive her congregational pin and a copy of the Constitutions of the Sisters of the Holy Names.
Christian has been a candidate for vowed membership in the SNJM community since September 2018. Her novitiate will be a time of getting to know the Holy Names Sisters better and exploring many aspects of religious life and how the Sisters live out their mission.
To learn more about the SNJM formation process, please click here.
Some of the Sisters who gathered for the 2018 Chapter in Portland, OR.
Religious life, just like any other way of living, has its cycle of predictable events. Whether it’s a regular gathering for Mass, an annual feast day celebration, or a once-in-a-lifetime Jubilee milestone, Sisters follow the beloved traditions they’ve always known. Until this year.
At the beginning of 2020, the Sisters of the Holy Names were filled with happy anticipation of holding a Chapter, their largest gathering, with the important purpose of selecting a new leadership team for the next five years. Chapter brings together Sisters from every corner of our sprawling Province – from Lima, Peru to Windsor, Canada – to see each other in person for joyful hugs, catch-up visits, worship and a week of deep conversations and prayer about the direction of the community.
Suddenly, as COVID-19 drastically rewrote the rules for traveling and gathering, the SNJM community faced the realization that Chapter could not go on as planned this summer. But go on it will, thanks to the tireless work, mutual support and ingenuity the Sisters always bring to a challenge.
Without forgetting their existing ministry commitments to people on the margins of society, the Sisters started charting a new course toward Chapter. Instead of gathering in small groups to share insights about their pre-Chapter readings, Sisters of all ages learned how to click on a videoconference link and talk to each other on a computer or iPad screen. Chapter leaders recognized one advantage that technology offers – Sisters could meet with Sisters from different regions, rather than with their accustomed conversation partners.
Providentially, a group of technology-savvy Sisters who are committed to expanding the use of digital communication tools had already equipped and started training many Sisters to use Apple iPad devices for staying in touch with each other. As a result, an increasing number of committee meetings, surveys and information-sharing initiatives have taken place with the use of iPad apps. Now, the iPad is part of the Chapter preparation process in which Sisters invite one another to consider taking on the responsibility of leadership for the next five-year term.
When the 2020 Chapter begins on July 9 with the theme “Hope Rising,” it will be the first to happen virtually. Instead of sharing a huge meeting hall, Sisters will stay home and log into a secure video stream to hear from their leaders and each other. Using the technology skills they have worked to develop for more than a year, they will do what they’ve always done – find a way to live religious life in the present age. There are no traditions to follow, except the one established by SNJM foundress Blessed Marie Rose Durocher: “As we tread the same path, let us extend a hand to one another to surmount the difficulties that present themselves.”
We can hardly find words to express our horror at witnessing George Floyd beg for air as a Minneapolis policeman restrained him by kneeling on his neck until he died.
As Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary of the U.S.-Ontario Province, we join with those who condemn this outrageous act against a restrained and helpless black man.
We stand with those who advocate for the dignity and respect of every human life. We strongly reject the racism and hatred reflected in this action.
While we support peaceful protests against rampant racism, we condemn the destruction of property and the harming of persons involved. We call on our president and all leaders to exert moral influence by promoting peaceful means to deter the violence happening in so many cities.
We grieve with and for the families, friends and black communities that have endured so many traumatic killings and for whom George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor’s deaths are yet another harsh reminder of repeated injustice. We pray for urgently needed reforms in our society and our hearts, so that we may learn to live Jesus’ message to “love one another.”
Mary Breiling, SNJM
Maureen Delaney, SNJM
Guadalupe Guajardo, SNJM
Margaret Kennedy, SNJM
Mary Rita Rohde, SNJM
U.S.-Ontario Province Leadership Team
Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary
Since meeting with important stakeholders last year about their hopes and dreams for the former Marylhurst University property, the Sisters of the Holy Names (SNJM) have begun to explore options for possible uses of the property that would serve SNJM values.
Over a period of several months in 2019, the Sisters held input sessions with members of their religious community, residents and administrators at Mary’s Woods, members of neighborhood associations, former Marylhurst University students and employees and other interested groups. Overwhelmingly, stakeholders who participated in the input sessions favored uses that would help ease the shortage of housing for those in need.
In March 2020, the Sisters approached the City of Lake Oswego about considering a rezoning request that would permit use of a portion of the property for affordable workforce housing. This would help support the local workforce and increase the supply of needed housing in Lake Oswego. It could also reduce traffic pressure on adjacent Highway 43 by providing housing options for some of the 400 employees of Mary’s Woods.
The Sisters intend to continue to preserve historic resources on the property, and to maintain the remainder of the 40-acre campus for nonprofit uses and open space.
The rezoning process will begin this summer and will include a community outreach process.
The Sisters are working with Mercy Housing Northwest, a regional arm of Mercy Housing, Inc. (MHI) which is a leading national affordable housing nonprofit. Mercy Housing Northwest (MHNW) was founded nearly 30 years ago by five Catholic women religious communities, including the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. MHNW now provides affordable homes to over 5,600 people every day. A majority of MHNW housing is focused on providing homes and programs for families and children. MHNW is focused on community-integrated, environmentally sustainable design and supplements much of its housing with Resident Services including out of school time programming for children and efforts to support health and wellness. More information about Mercy Housing’s mission and history is available at www.mercyhousing.org.
Students at the Academy of the Holy Names in Albany, NY with a quilt given to a local rescue mission in 2016.
In this time of COVID-19, the Sisters of the Holy Names Educational Ministries have continued to respond to the needs of the times. With innovation and thoughtfulness, the administrators, teachers, tutors and staffs of these wonderful schools and ministries are finding new ways to carry on the Sisters’ mission and charism as they serve the changing needs of their communities.
Taking advantage of strong existing online learning systems, SNJM schools and ministries have pivoted quickly to offer remote classes, online college and individual counseling, Zoom-based and YouTube prayer services, and even social events to keep classmates connected with one another. In some areas, administrators have reached out to other Catholic schools to share expertise and model how to best channel new learning methods for the benefit of their students.
These efforts have had a positive impact on thousands of families with students at the primary, secondary and university levels, as well as adults enrolled in community-based ministries established by the Sisters to serve people with few other sources of educational support.
At a time when tuition and other financial obligations have become a challenge for some families, several ministries have taken action to support their educational programs with the help of the federal Payroll Protection Program (PPP). Congress established the program to support operational and payroll expenses from February through the end of June 2020. The program enables nonprofit organizations to receive loans through local banks. These loans cover around 2.5 times the expense of monthly payroll, rent and utility costs. If nonprofits such as the SNJM ministries use the funds as directed, the loans become grants that the institutions do not have to pay back.
As of May 4, 2020, the Academy of the Holy Names in Albany, NY; Holy Names Academy in Seattle, WA; Holy Names High School, Holy Names University and Next Step Learning Center in Oakland, CA; Holy Names Music Center in Spokane, WA; Ramona Convent Secondary School in Alhambra, CA; and St. Mary’s Academy in Portland, OR have all been approved by their banks for PPP loans.
The loans enable the ministries to keep employees on staff through the end of June. Funds are helping to pay essential salaries as the ministries transition to serving students remotely.
The ministries have sought additional ways to support their communities as well. The spring season often includes galas and other fundraisers. In many cases, advancement offices have been inventive about moving to online auctions and various means. Other ministries have had grants and funding reduced or cancelled due to cutbacks. Fundraising work has generated additional support for families who have been impacted by furloughs and layoffs, and provided resources for students who otherwise have no access to meet with their online tutors and teachers. In addition to preserving a strong academic experience for students, the ministries have worked to provide financial assistance to the families hard-hit during the coronavirus.
Holy Names University in Oakland, CA has been able to strengthen its support for students facing financial hardship with a separate grant devoted to meet emergency needs of students such as rent and food. This grant, which cannot be used for tuition relief or employee salaries, is part of a different federal program developed to provide stimulus support for universities.