Locals invited to ‘Meet a Sister, Be Inspired’
New Orleans-based Daughter of Charity Sister Ellen Kron finds it easy to sum up the reasons behind her choice of vocation.
In her view, the religious life offers a wonderfully straightforward way to fulfill the twofold mission to which all baptized Catholics are called: to serve God and neighbor.
“The call of consecrated life allows a person to give their all,” said Sister Ellen, whose current ministry involves administration of Daughters of Charity health clinics in Louisiana and three other states.
Sister Ellen, 62, found herself drawn to the ministry of the Daughters of Charity after volunteering at St. Elizabeth’s Orphanage in Uptown New Orleans the summer before her junior year of college. She entered into formation at age 23, with her outreach over the ensuing four decades including helping abused and neglected children and the poor of Haiti.
She was bolstered along the way with master’s degrees in social work and business.
“I found in all of the orders and all of the sisters a singleness of purpose,” said Sister Ellen, recalling her earliest impressions of religious sisters as a student at St. Francis of Assisi, St. Rita, New Orleans, and St. Mary’s Dominican High.
“The sisters were about service – service rooted in faith in God,” she said. “And amongst them I found a joy. The sisters were very practical, simple, joyful and yet full of God. My values meshed with the sisters’ values. So I thought, ‘There’s something to this!’”
A glimpse of religious life
The rewarding vocational paths of Sister Ellen and her fellow women religious will be spotlighted during National Catholic Sisters Week, March 8-14. About 400 women religious currently serve within the Archdiocese of New Orleans, including 13 who are in various stages of formation both locally and elsewhere.
Inspired by the theme “Meet a Sister, Be Inspired,” the Archdiocese of New Orleans will mark the week with the following special events:
• On March 7 from 8 to 9 p.m., the Magnificat House of Discernment for Women, in conjunction with the Office of Religious and Loyola’s Institute for Ministry (LIM), will sponsor a webinar on how to discern one’s vocational call. The discussion, which will cover vocations to the married and single life as well as those in direct service to the church, will be accessible at www.lim.loyno.edu/webinars.
Dr. Tom Ryan, LIM director, will facilitate the discussion, and the resident mentors of Magnificat House – Sister of St. Joseph Theresa Pitruzzello and Sister of the Sacred Heart Cecilia Dimaku – will give an overview of the four-year old residence in which women can get a sense of the sisterhood by living in community and enhanced exposure to the sacramental and apostolic life.
“Magnificat House is a treasure that the archbishop has made available to women in the Archdiocese. It’s a hidden jewel!” said Mount Carmel Sister Beth Fitzpatrick, executive director of the Office of Religious. Sister Beth reports that since the house’s opening in 2012, three former residents have gone on to various stages of religious formation, and a fourth is a volunteer with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.
The webinar also will inform participants of the house’s “adjunct activities,” open to non-residents, including its Mmmm days and evenings (Magnificat, Mass, Meals and More) and discernment retreats. Sister Beth said the house welcomes visits from its growing “extended family” at mealtime.
“What’s a delight for me is the genuine interest in at least considering the possibility of religious life,” she said. “These young women are just so healthy, enthusiastic, vibrant and genuinely interested in our life. They love sitting around the table after dinner, talking for an hour. There is a lot of laughter!”
• Significantly, the week coincides with the March 12 Abbey Youth Fest, which draws about 3,000 teens, young adults and youth leaders to St. Joseph Abbey in Covington. Among the information booths on vocation and other aspects of Catholic life will be one sponsored by Magnificat House offering wristbands, buttons, prayer cards, brochures and newsletters.
• Finally, the Office of Religious and Magnificat House will conduct two “Cookies with a Sister” events at which college students can ask questions about being a sister and receive a cookie for their curiosity: at Xavier’s student center, March 8, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; and at Loyola’s student center, March 10, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visitors can opt to take a “Selfie with a Sister” for posting on the National Catholic Sisters Week website.
For more, visit www.nationalcatholicsistersweek.org.