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 50-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
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
Set them, forget them or regret them: At one time or another, we’ve all made New Year’s resolutions. As we say farewell to 2019, we asked the Sisters, Associates and Lay Consecrated women in the SNJM community to share their intentions – some light-hearted, some serious – for the year to come.
I will strive to live the PRESENT MOMENT with gratitude and joy!
Sister Molly Neville (California)
My resolutions are to reduce my paper use by 25% and add 25% more prayer to my day.
Sister Margaret Kennedy (Oregon)
This year I will try to be as perfect as Sister Cathy Leamy. This is my resolution.
Sister Gloria Drouillard (Ontario)
My New Year’s resolution is to spend 20 minutes to a half an hour at least 4 times per week practicing on my piano!
Sarah Lucier (Associate and Lay Consecrated, Ontario)
During 2020, I resolve to conserve electricity by removing energy-sucking cords from outlets when appliances are not in use.
Sister Joan Maiers (Oregon)
Ann Regan’s resolution is that screen time notification of games and social networking on the community-issued iPad will be less than “other” because other includes my morning meditation emails!!!
Sister Ann Regan (Florida)
A daily act of human kindness, in person, by text, by email or by phone call – one a day in 2020.
Marilyn Mackinnon (Associate, California)
Practice self-love. Notice beauty, self, others, creation. Expect uncertainty. Read 30 minutes a day. Focus on one thing at a time. Don’t miss the good things that are happening.
Sister Janet Walton (New York)
I resolve to put energy in my step! And have a welcoming way.
Sister Lydia Nikolaisen (Washington)
A tad more time for prayer and reading and little less time for eating! Sprinkled into the mix, time for some walking.
Shannon Lenet (Associate, New York)
My New Year’s resolution is to pick up where I left off in my line dancing class – still very klutzy but it’s good exercise and fun!
Sister Judy Ryan (Washington)
Keep in mind: Always be kind.
Sister Mary Annette Dworshak (Washington)
To find peace in present moments rather than entering into worry about future moments.
Therese Fenzl (Associate and Lay Consecrated, California)
My 2020 resolution: No more procrastinating!
Patricia Boroughs (Associate, California)
I often joke that New Year’s resolutions go in one year and out the other. For 2020, I plan on sharpening my listening skills, and to try to be a better listener. No more “in one ear and out the other!”
Rita Jacques (Associate, Ontario)
My resolution is more long walks and a little less sitting around watching Judge Judy.
Sandy Vroman (Lay Consecrated, Oregon)
My goal is to exercise every day and to be grateful for each moment.
Sister Lucinda Peightal (Oregon)
In the spirit and practice of living sustainably, I will wash and reuse re-sealable bags!
Sister Jo’Ann De Quattro (California)
I resolve to pray for the President … sincerely.
Judy Killion (Associate, Washington)
My resolution is to respond to personal e-mails promptly. You’re the first! Happy New Year!!!
Sister Joan Dixon (Washington)
Like many other U.S. cities, Portland, OR is facing a housing crisis. Amid the dark clouds of homelessness, there exists a light of hope and help. Rose Haven, started in 1997 by Good Shepherd Sister Cathie Boerboom, provides a day shelter and community center for women and children experiencing poverty, trauma, and mental and physical health challenges.
From nearly the beginning, Holy Names Sister Judy Bertoli was a weekly volunteer. She spent several hours most Tuesdays as a welcoming presence of hospitality among Rose Haven guests, listening to their stories with a willing ear, enjoying their company with a gracious smile, and being a spiritual companion with a loving heart. Traveling an hour each way by bus into Northwest Portland, she brought a one-of-kind healing energy to guests and staff alike.
As a regular volunteer, Sister Judy saw the impact of Rose Haven’s ID Replacement Program and secured a grant from the SNJM Ministry Fund to support it. The women and children who frequent Rose Haven are among the most disenfranchised in the city. They experience isolation and invisibility on a daily basis. Lack of proper identification makes their problems worse.
Rose Haven guest Lynne knows first-hand how important the ID program is. Living outside, her possessions have been stolen, sometimes repeatedly. Without ID, she could not check into night shelter, utilize community clinic services or access the food bank. It is a challenge to replace identification, and the fees are more than a person experiencing poverty can afford.
Rose Haven helps guests like Lynne replace lost or stolen ID. The reinstatement of her ID quite literally reaffirmed her existence and transformed her life.
Thanks to the Sisters of the Holy Names and the support of donors to the SNJM Ministry Fund, Rose Haven provided 194 IDs or vital records in 2018 for women and children experiencing homelessness or abuse.
Sister Judy’s impact is felt by the women who can take their rightful place in society thanks to the center and its ID replacement program.