What are some of the ministries you have tended to over time? I taught for 36 years on both elementary and secondary levels. I taught at St. Clement School in Rosedale, Maryland, for six years (Grade 5, 7, 8); St. Bernadette School in Silver Spring, Maryland, for three years (Grades 6, 7, 8); St. Paul School, Wilmington, Delaware, one year (principal); Pensacola Catholic High School, Pensacola, Florida, for three years (English Grades 9 to 12); Towson Catholic High School, Towson, Maryland for three years (Grades 9 to 12), and Padua Academy, Wilmington, Delaware, for 20 years (English Grades 9 to 12). I loved teaching—but did not enjoy being principal! While I believe that I’m a creative teacher and particularly enjoy working with students who learn differently, I don’t have the management skills needed for principalship.
During the summers when I was teaching at Padua, I also volunteered in the pastoral care department at St. Francis Hospital in Wilmington for about 10 years—visiting patients, bringing them communion, and praying with them. I also served on the Diocesan Board of Education in Wilmington and on the Council of Religious in Pensacola, Baltimore, and Wilmington.
Since 1999 I’ve ministered as the associate director of communications for the Sisters of St. Francis. I do a great deal of writing and editing for our publications: Good News and Community News. I also help to maintain our intranet. I have a blog called Franciscan Life and do a great deal of work with social media: Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In. We have an enewsletter that comes out twice a month and for that, in addition to editing, I select a poem either by one of our sisters or one of my own and write a brief reflection to accompany it. Since I’ve been in this position, I’ve also been a member of Communicators for Women Religious (formerly National Communicators Network for Women Religious) and served for three years on their board. I’m currently on two of the CWR committees.
What does it mean to you being a sister in this 21st century? What do you envision for women religious in the 21st century?Well, I’ve lived through many changes in religious life—particularly the changes that followed Vatican II (in the years shortly after I was professed). That was a particularly exciting time for me. I truly welcomed the changes—in fact, was really impatient for them to happen sooner than they actually did (probably because I was young
and didn’t grasp the alue of doing things slowly!). When I look at religious life today, I think we might be in a somewhat similar position although for different reasons. We are certainly smaller in numbers and older in age—and that fact in itself will necessitate changes. And I see that as a healthy thing. This is why I chose to combine the two questions. Numberwise, I see religious congregations becoming more what they were prior to the period of rapid growth from the 1940s through the 1960s. Prior to that, most religious congregations were simply smaller groups of women carrying out their life together and working to help others. But I see new growth both in greater involvement of the laity in our mission and in congregations finding various ways for women to make commitments to religious life—whether that be through temporary vows for some members, through great involvement of associate groups like our companions, or through some other creative visioning of ways to live out our mission. We’ve called ourselves to be midwives to the many aspects of our commitment—and that is both creative and life-giving---and holds within it a very definitely exciting future!
Do you have a favorite passage from St. Francis or St. Clare?
“Preach the Gospel at all times and if necessary, use words.”
“Most High, glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart and give me true faith, certain hope, and perfect charity, sense and knowledge, Lord, that I may carry out your holy and true command.” (Prayer before the Crucifix)
“In whatever way it seems better to you to please the Lord God and to follow His footprint and poverty, do it with the blessing of the Lord God and my obedience.” (Letter to Brother Leo)
“What you hold, may you always hold. What you do may you always do and never abandon. But with swift pace, light step, unswerving feet, so that even your steps stir up no dust, may you go forward securely, joyfully, swiftly on the path of prudent happiness.”
“May you always be with God wherever you may be and may God be with you always.”
How do you think Pope Francis is doing? I think Pope Francis is a very wise man who will bring about many positive changes in our lives—and I think he is so wise that others will think they have created the changes! One thing that he has already done is to get people talking—maybe not always agreeing but at least talking—about issues that people haven’t really talked about in years, at least not when multiple sides of the issues have been heard. I am also delighted about the steps he has taken—primarily through his own actions—to draw attention to the plight of the poor. Although he does talk about serving the poor, he has, I think, actually done more by his actions. St. Francis would have loved him!
Anything else we should know? I’m a member of the Aston Companion Faithsharing Group and I also serve on the Companion Advisory Board. I hope someday I will get to meet all of you in person!