In 2000, Sister Catherine Ferguson invited members of the U.S. Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) to form a coalition Non-Governmental Organization to advocate at the United Nations on behalf of women and children. In December 2001, six congregations met to develop a mission statement and budget, as well as to create the new organization’s name: UNANIMA International. The name begins with “UN” to represent the United Nations. “Anima” is from the Latin word for feminine “spirit” or “life principle.” It also represents a group acting with one heart and one mind.
Now with 22 coalition partners, UNANIMA works at the UN for structural change on behalf of women and children living in poverty, immigrants and refugees, and the welfare of our planet. At the center of its mission are women and children around the world, especially those struggling to overcome disadvantages and discrimination.
After more than a decade as UNANIMA’s Coalition Coordinator and five years as SNJM Congregational Leader, Sister Catherine returned to Spokane, WA. These days she continues a ministry of advocacy as Chair of the Board of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby based in Washington, DC. In addition to NETWORK’s advocacy for federal policies to eliminate wealth and income gaps and to improve the well-being of our communities, leaders of the group have committed to an anti-racist focus and worked to include a diverse variety of people among its growing staff and board.
At home in Spokane, Sister Catherine is involved with The Fig Tree, an ecumenical newspaper committed to peace journalism by telling stories about people of faith. In its mission, The Fig Tree strives to support community efforts by connecting people through story-sharing that builds understanding, explores ideas, and promotes dialogue. Sister Catherine contributes as a board member and as part of the writing and editorial team that creates the monthly publication.
In all she does, Sister Catherine remains steadfast in her commitment to facilitate the cause of justice through transformative education.
More: Sister Catherine discusses the work of UNANIMA International on the SNJM’s Women on a Mission podcast. Click here to listen.