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.
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