News

Building a Bridge for Immigrants

June 4, 2021

Sister Susan Wells, while working in Washington’s Skagit Valley north of Seattle, witnessed the needs of the immigrant community every day. She got involved with Immigrant Resources and Immediate Support (IRIS), serving on its Community Advisory Board and volunteering. She saw first-hand the positive difference the organization made for people who need help.

Last spring, with Sister Susan’s recommendation, the Sisters of the Holy Names provided a grant to IRIS to fund the Immigrant Bridge Support program. The goal of the program is to provide immediate assistance to immigrants facing a temporary crisis. Many of the IRIS clients are women and children fleeing violence in their countries of origin. Some are recent arrivals; others have been in the U.S. for a longer period of time but are experiencing a temporary economic crisis, such as a job loss or medical issues.

COVID-19 has made struggles for immigrants even more significant, causing lost income, loss of childcare and health emergencies. SNJM funding provided assistance with rent, food and household needs for more than 60 people.

One asylum-seeking mother and her three children, including a baby with Down syndrome and a heart condition, could not find housing. Local shelters were at capacity due to COVID restrictions. IRIS, thanks to SNJM support, provided interim housing and a bridge to a better future. The family moved into their own apartment in January 2021.

The SNJM Immigrant and Refugee grant program is made possible by benefactors who want to “welcome the stranger” by caring for newcomers to our country. Sister Susan said, “I am excited by our SNJM collaboration with IRIS and to see firsthand how that collaboration is providing urgently needed resources for our immigrant sisters and brothers.”

IPJC Honors Linda Haydock, SNJM with Thea Bowman Award

May 11, 2021

Sister Linda speaks at IPJC’s virtual spring benefit.

The Intercommunity Peace & Justice Center has established an award in the name of pioneering educator Sister Thea Bowman, and Holy Names Sister Linda Haydock is the first recipient.

At the center’s spring benefit event on May 2, IPJC Board chair John Hickman recalled how Sister Linda, the center’s founding executive director, led the organization for over 25 years “to speak truth to power with love in chanceries and boardrooms (and) gathered youth in community and women on the margins to act for social change.”

When IPJC had its second convocation in 2001, Sister Thea, a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, was part of its celebration of significant women in Catholic history. They were, Hickman said, “women who have shared their dreams for our church, trusted their vision, tended their faith and lit the fire of transformation.” He added, “We raised up Thea Bowman, a voice for justice and racial understanding. Tonight, we raise up and honor Sister Linda Haydock, a voice for justice who believes and lives, ‘If you dream it, you can do it!’”

Sister Linda gave the keynote address at the spring benefit, and Holy Names Sister Mary Rita Rohde joined with Franciscan Sister Pat Millen to open the virtual gathering with prayer. A recording of the event is available on YouTube.

In the 1980s, Sister Linda brought Sister Thea to Holy Names Academy in Seattle to meet and inspire her students. The students learned about her influential work to advance the education and life of black Catholics in a society dominated by white-controlled institutions and frequently racist attitudes. Sister Thea became a national presence as a teacher, preacher and powerful voice for multiculturalism and educational opportunities for disadvantaged Black people. Global Sisters Report published this story about her legacy in 2015.

Holy Names Sister Helps Select NETWORK’s New Leader

April 23, 2021

Catherine Ferguson, SNJM speaking at the NETWORK leadership blessing ceremony.

Over the past decade or so, Catholic Sisters have become more visible in the U. S. political arena under the leadership of NETWORK and Sister Simone Campbell. When Sister Simone announced plans last year to retire from her position as executive director, a search committee led by Holy Names Sister Catherine Ferguson stepped up to identify who should lead NETWORK into its next stage.

The search ultimately led to Mary J. Novak becoming the organization’s new executive director this month. Sister Catherine, who has served on NETWORK’s board since 2018, says the process provided a good opportunity to articulate and affirm the values that mobilize members.

Sister Catherine says the search committee recognized the likelihood that a lay person would end up succeeding Sister Simone simply because there are fewer Catholic Sisters now. The committee’s primary focus was therefore on NETWORK’s core leadership needs – strategic vision, commitment to Catholic Social Justice teachings with a desire to work for an anti-racist system, a personal passion for mission and connections with politically influential people in Washington, D.C.

In addition to strong relationships built during many years of working among Catholic Sisters and Jesuits, Novak has been deeply involved in restorative justice. She was the founding Board Chair of Catholic Mobilizing Network (CMN), and helped it become an influential advocate for ending the death penalty and promoting restorative justice. An attorney who has worked on behalf of men on California’s death row, she also has served the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and has made a lifetime commitment as an Associate of the Congregation of St. Joseph.

There were certainly moments of wondering during the months of evaluating candidates, Sister Catherine said. “You have to ask, can we ever find someone who can possibly carry on? I think we’ve done a good job. Mary has great Catholic knowledge and commitment, and she’s very collaborative with staff so she can build on their strengths.” Another member of the NETWORK board wrote a prayer to use in the process, which includes this line: “We are seekers, searchers, dreamers and hopers. We are discerning together Your paths and the ways You are calling us to co-create and re-create your gap-mending vision of wholeness. We grow from the foundation laid by previous leaders of NETWORK, women who blazed new trails and took us to new heights.”

One way people can join in the work of growing that foundation is to join NETWORK and encourage friends and neighbors to do the same, Sister Catherine said. She also invites all to participate in upcoming NETWORK webinars to prepare for a kick-off rally and Virtual Lobby Day scheduled for May 11-12. Click here to learn more about how to prepare and participate.

Sisters Statement About the Derek Chauvin Verdict

April 20, 2021

As we reflect on the guilty verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, our thoughts turn to the Black communities who have for so long struggled to secure equal protection of the law, safety for their families and respect for their humanity. As Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, we pray that this verdict will move our fractured society closer to healing.

We pray for George Floyd and his grieving family and community. We also pray for police officers and their families, and for the thousands of people who have engaged in peaceful protests against police killings of people of color in the U.S. Our prayer is that all may be free from the daily threat of violence, and that all may know the sacred value of their lives. In the days to come, as people respond to the news of this verdict, we urge nonviolence and a focus on our shared humanity.

Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary
U.S.-Ontario Province Leadership Team

Maureen Delaney, SNJM

Diane Enos, SNJM

Marcia Frideger, SNJM

Carol Higgins, SNJM

Linda Patrick, SNJM

Mary Slater, SNJM

 

Sisters Denounce Atlanta Shooting and Violence Against Asian Americans

March 23, 2021

As the leadership team of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, U.S.-Ontario Province, we respond with heartbroken prayer and outrage to the fatal shooting of eight people in Atlanta, GA on March 16. Once again, communities are left to grapple with grief and shattered peace, while families are left with irreparable losses and aching hearts. This outburst of violence brings echoes of the dehumanizing public statements that have so often targeted people of Asian heritage, especially during the past year. It also reminds us that almost unfettered access to guns in the U.S. continues to cost precious lives.

We unite our voices with those who demand an end to the immoral discrimination and violence against Asian people and other communities of color. A public statement from Ramona Convent Secondary School leaders Sister Kathleen Callaway and Jacqueline Quiñones Sienkowski, JD identifies the terrible toll of this embedded racism in our society: “It’s important to remind ourselves that racism impacts communities in distinct ways, but it impacts all of us profoundly. From anti-Asian violence to the horrific pandemic death toll in Black, Indigenous, and Latino communities, to the white supremacist insurrection at the Capitol, structural racism impacts all of us. Violence, hatred, and racial slurs directed toward any group are unacceptable.”

We applaud the bishops and other faith leaders who have swiftly condemned bigotry and violence towards Asian Americans. Some of the public statements that we welcome and support include:

  • Atlanta Archbishop Gregory J. Hartmayer, OFM, Conv.: “We must, as a Christian family of faith, speak up against any aggression and we must be active in our pursuit to end racism and discrimination of every kind.”
  • Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich: “It is incumbent on all Christians, all Americans, to resist subtle and overt acts of bigotry, to build up the common good through acts of love for all our neighbors, near and far.”
  • Pax Christi: “Charleston. Pittsburgh. Atlanta. Once more we have seen what appears to be the devastating result of racial hatred and our nation’s inability to address gun violence.”

We renew our pledge to continue our efforts to bring about sane corporate policies and legislation to eliminate easy access to deadly weapons that have been used countless times by those motivated by hatred. We are committed to respecting human life and dignity, and to active collaboration with those who seek justice and peace for all people.

Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary
U.S.-Ontario Province Leadership Team

Maureen Delaney, SNJM

Diane Enos, SNJM

Marcia Frideger, SNJM

Carol Higgins, SNJM

Linda Patrick, SNJM

Mary Slater, SNJM

 

New Province Leadership Team Gets to Work, Virtually

March 5, 2021

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 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 West 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 return to the Delta to start the Outreach Department of the Tutwiler Clinic. That led to the founding the Tutwiler Community Education Center, where Sr. Maureen led educational and recreational programs for nearly 30 years.

Sisters Applaud President Biden’s Actions Aligned with Gospel Values

January 27, 2021

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.

Public Statement on Violence in the U.S. Capitol

January 12, 2021

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.
Amen.
(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

Public Statement on Violence in Our Community

October 26, 2020

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

Sisters of the Holy Names Welcome Christian Cahill to Novitiate

August 13, 2020
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.”