Catholic Sisters Week 2020

March 8-14, 2020

Catholic Sisters Week is an annual celebration of Catholic sisters that takes place from March 8-14. It began in 2015 as a part of National Women’s History Month and it is now an official component of Women’s History Month. It was authorized by Molly Murphy MacGregor, co-founder of National Women’s History Project, who was educated and deeply influenced by Catholic sisters. 

The initiative is now under the direction of Communicators for Women Religious (CWR) who hope "to shine the spotlight on women religious and encourage a wide range of campaigns and events that invite all who follow Jesus to expand and support their gospel witness; grow the service networks they have seeded; share their spirituality, charisms, and community; encourage young women to consider a vocation to religious life; support their pastoral, teaching and prophetic works; and focus on the new world they call into being."

This year's theme is Communities of Spirit, Hearts for Ministry. We hope that you will be inspired by how these HM Sisters live their mission of bringing more abundant life to God's people.

Sr. Mary Slattery

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Sr. Mary Slattery divides her time between three different ministries. She is a Service Coordinator with Humility of Mary Housing; one half of the HM Membership Team in the HM Vocation & Formation office; and a co-facilitator of the HM Sisters’ Just One Year (JOY) and One More Year (OMY) programs.

She has been with Humility of Mary Housing for 10 years. Sr. Mary is a service coordinator with their senior housing program where she provides programming for residents, like art experiences, speakers, and other activities, and also helps them with their benefits.

“My job is really to engage them, bring them out of their apartments, and create a community among them,” Sr. Mary said. “I’m an art therapist and I do art with the residents, usually on a monthly basis depending on what else is going on.” She also sets up other activities, like armchair travel, where she chooses a destination like Germany or Ireland, shows a video on that destination, and brings in food that would be found in that country.

For the past two years, Sr. Mary has also been half of the HM Membership Team in the HM Vocation and Formation office, where she works with women who may be interested in the HM Community or religious life. She and Sr. Sharon Cahill field requests for information, attend vocation events, and work with candidates in formation.

Sr. Mary has also co-facilitated the JOY and OMY programs at the Villa since 2013. JOY is a year-long program consisting of four prayer and spiritual formation weekend retreats for women seeking a deeper connection with God. Once a participant has completed JOY, they can return for OMY, which a three retreats a year program.

Reflecting on what connects her ministries, Sr. Mary finds a common thread running through each of them.

“I think in all of them I get to be present to people at vulnerable times. I didn’t realize what a marginalized population seniors were until I started working with them—especially low-income seniors,” she said. “And it’s the same way with women exploring religious life. It’s such a vulnerable place to be—helping them to hear God’s voice amongst all the fears and questions upon questions. So I just try to be present and listen and maybe even offer them perspective and give them questions to ponder. Hopefully I’m affirming in each of my roles where people are. And JOY’s been a place where I’ve really grown a lot. Most of the women don’t know each other when they come, but to be putting out there where you are in your relationship with God and seeking a deeper relationship with God is a vulnerable place to be—just like the women in Formation and Vocation work. So it’s an honor to be journeying with people in each and every role in the ministries I’m with as diverse as they are. I have teachers everywhere I go. I learn so much from all those I get to serve. It’s helped me to really trust that God has the whole thing in a plan. It’s God’s plan and God’s timing is not my own. And God is faithful if you just wait and have your ears and eyes open to listening for God’s voice.”

Is God calling you to religious life? Visit to learn more about the process or to get in touch with Sr. Mary or Sr. Sharon. Visit to read some of our sisters’ stories on how they heard God’s voice calling them to religious life. #sistersofhm #villamariapa

Sr. Clara Chandler

Sr. Clara Chandler currently volunteers with Sister Services in the Villa Transportation Office where she drives sisters to medical appointments and on other personal trips.

She began her service five years ago when she left active ministry. While she was searching for a place to volunteer, she became aware of the need in the Transportation Office and decided to offer her services as a driver.

“I was a high school educator and then I worked in parish ministry in a number of different dioceses, so it really is a change of pace from what I had spent most of my life doing in active ministry,” Sr. Clara said. “This ministry for me is an opportunity for 1-on-1 interactions with the sisters. I’ve learned to slow down and take more time for reflection.”

Sr. Clara enjoys being part of the team in Sister Services because it gives her the chance to work with the other members of the Transportation team, the Sister Services director, and the Health Services director. She also enjoys working with the nursing staff as they often accompany sisters to medical appointments.

“You develop a rapport with the sisters because in five years you’ve often taken the same person to the same appointments. It’s just a unique way of relating to and helping meet the needs of the sisters at this phase of their life. I’m impressed and often humbled by the Villa Sisters—the way they look out and care for one another.” #sistersofhm #villamariapa

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Sr. Margaret Ebin

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Sr. Margaret Ebin volunteers at Mercy Health-St. Elizabeth Hospital Youngstown where she visits with patients. She’s a retired RN and she had begun visiting patients and distributing communion while she was still working at the hospital; she likes to keep that connection.

“It's a wonderful opportunity to be able to talk with some of the patients because they're so happy to see you and they just want to open up and to release some of the burden they're holding within themselves,” Sr. Margaret said. “It gives you a few minutes with them, but it's still satisfying and a very relieving way to show compassion for people and to show that you do love them no matter where they come from.”

Sr. Margaret also spends time with the sisters in the healthcare unit at the Villa and sometimes goes with them to medical appointments because of her own healthcare background.

“I like to do that because I found sometimes being with the sisters, some of them need a little extra help because of physical limitations,” she said. “It gives you an opportunity to make those experiences a little easier on the sisters, and it helps them because they don't want to be alone.” #sistersofhm #villamariapa

Sr. Susanne Gill

Sr. Susanne Gill currently serves in the HM Prayer Ministry. Before moving to the Villa last year, she was involved in parish ministry at Nativity of the Lord Jesus Christ Parish in Akron where, among other things, she helped organize a fundraiser for HM ministry partners in Haiti. The “Bread for Bread” project receives homemade bread from an area bakery to sell after Mass and the proceeds are then donated.

“The Ladies Guild at Nativity Parish sponsored the fundraiser, and I didn’t know if they’d continue that after I left,” said Sr. Susanne. “But they did, so I feel really good about that. It’s like you’re doing your ministry at a distance.”

Sr. Susanne is on the lookout for ministries where she can volunteer her time now that she is settling in at the Villa.

“I’m so happy to be here at the Villa because I can spend more time in prayer. And I feel that that’s a main focus of our sisters. In this prayer life, it gives me an opportunity to pray for the active sisters in ministry and for the suffering sisters, so they can bring more abundant life to God’s people.” #sistersofhm #villamariapa

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Sr. Barbara Herrmann

Two women in front of a car

Sr. Barbara Herrmann volunteers to spend her time on the road. As part of the Transportation Office at the Villa, she takes sisters to medical appointments, the airport, and on other personal trips.

Sr. Barbara began volunteering in the Transportation Office 13 years ago when she retired from active ministry in the Villa Finance Office and has enjoyed everything about it. “I feel very comfortable driving, so that’s why I went to transportation,” Sr. Barbara said. “There are some people who get frightened driving in weather, but I really feel secure driving.”

She also volunteers in the Villa Finance Office two days a week assisting with various tasks such as filing, banking, and budgets.

“I’ve learned I can’t sit still,” Sr. Barbara said. “I feel as though there’s always something that can be done as long as I have the health to do it. Whenever I can help anyone out or be of service any place, I’m willing to do it.” #sistersofhm #villamariapa

Sr. Carla Rutter

Sr. Carla Rutter certainly keeps herself busy! You can find her four days a week volunteering at Akron Children’s Hospital Boardman either working reception for the pediatric offices, assisting the Palliative Care Department, or cuddling babies in the Special Care Nursery.

She enjoys everything she gets to do in her volunteer capacity, but she especially enjoys the time she gets to spend in the Special Care Nursery, which is a step-down unit from the NICU.

“I usually go in for three or four hours and simply cuddle babies, which is absolutely the best time of my week,” Sr. Carla said. “In the close to two years I’ve been cuddling, I’ve probably cuddled about 60 different children. You have to volunteer in other capacities in the hospital and the system before they will accept you to the cuddler training. I volunteered a good year before I went into the training. They also limit the number of people they accept to the program.”

Sr. Carla also volunteers as a chaplain and Catholic studies instructor at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown. She teaches classes on Catholicism, prayer, and spirituality to the inmates incarcerated there; she also visits with them at their cells, brings in spiritual materials they’ve requested, like a bible, rosary, or medal, and brings communion to the Catholic inmates.

She had driven by the facility many times over the years when she travelled back to the Villa but never paid it much attention. That all changed three and a half years ago when she drove by one day and wondered what the prison was like, who was there, and what their needs were.

“I really believe in our mission as a congregation to meet the needs of those who are on the margins, and I've done a lot of work over my years in ministry with people who are on the margins in a lot of different ways. Maybe it was because I kept going by it. Maybe for years it was just implanting,” Sr. Carla said of her decision to pursue the ministry. “There wasn't anything really-it wasn't like this flash-it was just this sense of ‘I wonder what it would be like.’ And certainly, these people are among the most marginalized people in our society. It's certainly people that are pretty much forgotten or looked upon as less than human, and I just can't stand when people are looked upon as less than human. So, if I can do something that helps to humanize them and let them know they're worthwhile and that God loves them, then that’s what I’m going to do. I’ve come to love doing this ministry.”

When asked how her volunteer work has impacted her own faith, Sr. Carla said that it’s strengthened it.

“For me, it's a daily reminder to look for God in unexpected places. We sometimes think that God is in this place or should be in this place. Of course, I would expect to meet God in church. Of course, I would expect to meet God here in the [HM] Community,” she said. “But I think sometimes we forget that God is everywhere, so it's those unexpected places that speak to me more profoundly than the ones that I expect. I go into the prison and I meet God there-I really do. I go into the Special Care Nursery and I meet God there in the babies and the families and the staff—in the ones who are struggling with life. And it really strengthens my faith that God is with all of us and none of us are so all together that we don't need this wonderful loving God.” #sistersofhm #villamariapa

Woman sitting at desk