As Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, we pray for healing in the wake of lives lost or shattered by the ghastly mass shooting in Buffalo, NY on May 14. We grieve for each victim, and for the United States, a nation torn by racial fears and divisions that have, again and again, resulted in the nightmare of deadly gun violence.
We call on people everywhere, especially those in positions of political leadership, to turn away from the sins of racism and violence. It is abhorrent that another Black community has been subjected to trauma and loss by a person proclaiming white supremacist views. We must completely reject baseless claims about “replacement theory” and fear-based conspiracies. As a society, we must learn to live in peace with one another, with respect for our common humanity and reverence for the gift of life.
There is much to be grateful for because of the life of Sister Kay Burton. Sister Kay died on March 18, surrounded by the prayers of her Holy Names Sisters and the countless friends she made during more than three decades of ministry in the Mississippi Delta.
Near the end of her life, Sister Kay realized she’d have to leave Jonestown, Mississippi to return to Washington state, where she was lovingly cared for by family members and the Sisters in her last days. But Jonestown never stopped being home to her. It’s the place where she lived, loved, taught and built beginning in the late 1970s. Before her departure, Sister Kay visited with residents of Jonestown so they could say goodbye and thank her for her transformative work with children, teens, families and the town itself.
“Sister Kay loved being in Jonestown with the local people,” said Sister Maureen Delaney, leader of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary U.S.-Ontario Province. “She loved developing enriching programs with and for the children, teens and families, and they in turn enriched her life with their love and friendship.”
Sister Kay first came to the Delta in 1979 to teach summer school at Immaculate Conception in Clarksdale. She, along with several other Sisters of the Holy Names from the West Coast, came to love the warmth and dedication to community among the people they met. During the couple of years that Sister Kay stayed in Clarksdale, she got to know the family of a student from Jonestown. The child’s family urged her to come to Jonestown to help students there who were struggling with their lessons.
It was a perfect match for Sister Kay’s energetic and visionary talents. She had already spent years developing peace education and anti-racism programs as an inner-city teacher and administrator in Seattle, Washington. However, her Holy Names community called her to a leadership role in 1983, and that five-year commitment had to come first. But she purchased a house in Jonestown and continued to support the ministries of the other Sisters who went to Mississippi to teach — including Sisters Rose Monica Rabdau, Mildred Hein, Anne Skok and Teresa Shields.
“I will be forever grateful that Sister Kay chose me to live and minister in Jonestown for 32 years,” said Sister Teresa. “My life has been changed for the better.”
As soon as her term in leadership ended, Sister Kay drove to Mississippi in a van named “Old Yeller,” bought a second house and immediately started remodeling it to make appropriate space for tutoring. She reached out to the community to find out what people wanted, which led her to organize garden projects, softball teams, life skills classes and GED programs. A major emphasis for her was music — despite not being a musician herself, she recruited others to come to Jonestown to teach music, including Dolores Fields Mason, who passed away earlier this month. The result was joyful singing at annual Christmas celebrations and Black history presentations, as well as piano recitals and other wonderful gatherings.
Her successful volunteer recruitment campaigns led to innumerable home repair and Habitat for Humanity projects to benefit Jonestown residents. Volunteers also helped upgrade facilities for basketball, baseball and track, as well as creating a playground for younger children. Sister Kay also took young people from Jonestown on trips to meet Sisters and other people involved in service work in places ranging from the Native American community in Wapato, Washington to the Holy Names convents in Lesotho, Africa.
As difficult as it was for Sister Kay to say goodbye to a place she loved so dearly, she knew that God’s faithful presence in the Mississippi Delta would continue through the many ministries she and the other Sisters brought to reality.
Memorial gifts may be made to Sisters of the Holy Names Ministry Fund, PO Box 398, Marylhurst, OR, 97036 or online here.
Sister Lois MacGillivray’s journey – including years as an educator, a researcher and the director at the Holy Names Sisters’ Villa Maria del Mar Retreat Center – is a story of making connections and impacting lives. Today, Sister Lois makes connections as she seeks to meet the needs of people who are homeless in the Santa Cruz, CA area.
When she arrived in Santa Cruz, she learned that a serious issue in the community was the number of people who were unsheltered. With a professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz, she studied local efforts to find affordable housing for unsheltered individuals and families and interviewed formerly homeless people to learn how they found permanent housing placements.
During this time, Sister Lois began volunteering with the St. Vincent de Paul Pantry at her parish. The Pantry serves a diverse group of people providing cereal, protein, milk, staples, fresh vegetables and fruits.
Collaborating with the Association of Faith Communities in Santa Cruz, Sister Lois secured an SNJM ministry grant to support Footbridge Services Warming Center in Santa Cruz. Besides shelter and food, the Warming Center provides many basic elements that are critical to unhoused people, such as a safe organized place to store belongings, do laundry, take showers, charge devices, receive clothes/blankets/hygiene items, etc. The Warming Center is open twice daily, seven days a week. This Grant from the Sisters has expanded the Center’s ability to serve people without limits on the number of persons served or qualification of a person’s need.
In addition to these projects, Sister Lois will be an ESL tutor for a local woman who aspires to attend community college. She brings communion to the home-bound on behalf of her parish. During the COVID year, she worked with Marge Webb, a benefactor of the Sisters and programs at Villa Maria del Mar, to organize a gathering in a local park to pray the rosary each Friday morning. Sister is also a spiritual director.
Sister Lois says “This is a blessed time in my life. I am driven by the effort to go out, to serve people on the margins in ways that I can do now.”
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.”
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.