Each year during National Catholic Sisters Week we celebrate women religious. From March 8-14 we are encouraged to remember and discover the unwavering spirit of Sisters, experience their ministries, and affirm and honor these women who have meant so much to us.
It is a time when the Dominican Sisters~Grand Rapids invite friends to join in experiences of being of service to others. More than 100 people participate in service projects during the month and two Days of Service, one in March and one in May.
“As Employees of the Dominican Sisters~Grand Rapids, we support the mission and ministries of the Sisters,” says Stacy Spitler, director of communications. “Our hands, our
hearts are extensions of the Sisters’ and, for me, the Days of Service remind me that serving others is what the Sisters preach and teach through their lives. It’s also an opportunity to learn about ministries and organizations that the Sisters founded or support.”
Initiated in 2014 as part of National Women’s History Month, the inaugural celebration of National Catholic Sisters Week was a NCSW Sister/Student conference which drew more than 50 pairs of Catholic sisters and college students from across the country to St. Catherine University and engaged hundreds more online. The week shined a national spotlight on Catholic sisters and raised awareness of their profound influence on young women. Barbara Hansen, OP, and Aquinas College student Elizabeth Richer (’15) attended the conference.
“National Catholic Sisters Week was a sweeping success,” says former Co-executive Director Sister Mary Soher, OP. “Among the sisters there was such a claiming of sisterhood. There really is this sense that we are all sisters working in the mission of Christ. The college students who got involved were delightful. They found such peer support among other young women who also have this hunger to learn more about sisters.” Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids and students of Aquinas College have engaged annually in the SisterStory oral history projects which evolved from this first gathering of Sisters and young women from around Congregations and Colleges across the United States.
In 2016 a mini-grant program launched to fund special NCSW events across the country. It helps finance a wide variety of gatherings- large and small- hosted by religious communities, colleges and universities and others. “The Dominican Sisters~Grand Rapids have received mini-grants for the past four years. The monies help us purchase supplies for our service projects including feeding the hungry of West Michigan,” says Lisa Mitchell, Director of Dominican Associate Life, coordinator of our congregation’s National Catholic Sisters Week initiatives.
“Getting together all those who contribute to Marywood Campus and the Sisters for a day of service is such a sight to see.” describes Jade Meyer, creative assistant. “So many lunch bags are filled, bowls painted, branches and twigs picked up – all in one afternoon!”
On Monday, Mar. 4, a group of Sisters, employees, and Associates came together to decorate the bags that volunteers will fill on Mar. 14 for Kids Food Basket.
“It’s a great feeling working side-by-side with employees, Associates, Sunday Assembly members, and Sisters helping all of these different organizations and contributing to the Sisters’ continued mission of being in service to others,” says Meyer.