December 3, 2012

Foundations sponsor eighth annual statewide conference for women religious

Nearly 70 women religious (Sisters) attended the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina and Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland, co-sponsored conference, “Being Present,” held in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in November. The annual gathering is a part of the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina’s Collaboration for Ministry Initiative (CMI), which supports congregations of women religious efforts with the poor and underserved of South Carolina. These Sisters have ministries across the state and the conference is one of the few opportunities they have to connect and discuss their ministries together.

Sister Macrina Wiederkehr, OCB, keynote speaker for the conference, drew from her Benedictine spirituality, shared the message that being present is an art and that each hour of the day holds a special message if we pause to listen. Sisters were encouraged to take breathing spells for their souls, to set the clock of their hearts, to look at their work as service, to find ways to care for themselves and to remember that every day is an opportunity to lean forward to receive each day’s miracle. Sister Macrina closed by sharing, “I’ve been moved by this group, the light and wisdom that is present in this room. Each of you are beacons of light, an encouraging presence and disciples of joy, this is who you are. As you leave this gathering, continue to expect miracles each day.”

The Catholic Diocese of Charleston Bishop Robert Guglielmone also participated in the conference. Bishop Guglielmone opened his remarks by saying, “I offer a silent prayer in my own heart of thanksgiving for all of the Sisters here, their ministries in South Carolina, for the good each of you do in this Diocese. I am eternally grateful for the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine and the foundation for bringing us together, for your vision and foresight to provide a space to overcome the isolation many Sisters face across the state and to offer this opportunity for the sharing of stories and support.” Time with the bishop included engaging in conversation with the Sisters, listening and responding to their questions and thanking them for their service. Bishop Guglielmone also celebrated Mass with the Sisters.

Women Religious Advisory Council members, Sister Margie Hosch, OSF; Sister Nancy Hendershot, CSA; Sister Susan Pugh, DC; and Sister Roberta Fulton, SSMN, planned several prayers and rituals for the conference. The conference concluded with a powerful and moving closing ritual and the sharing of “Soul Pictures.” Foundation board members, Yvonne Orr, Sister Miriam Erb, CSA, and Sister Sandra Makowski, SSMN were present, along with foundation staff and CMI consultants, Mark Small, Ph.D. and Kathy Csank.

Sisters of Charity Foundation President Tom Keith offered closing remarks, “I thank you, Sisters, for your presence, unity of spirit, daily ministry and tireless service across South Carolina. This Initiative is one that is very special and dear to my heart, and the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine.”

Sister Miriam Erb, CSA, summarized the conference by saying, “My prayer leaving this gathering is ‘May each of us be a loving presence to ourselves and to all we serve.’”

For more pictures from the conference, visit the conference photo gallery.

The Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System.

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