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National Catholic Sisters Week and IHM Side-by-Side Day

by Mindy Welding, IHM

National Catholic Sisters Week is intended to broaden awareness of Catholic sisters, whose lives and ministries often remain behind the scenes. The hope is that those who learn more about women religious will be inspired and compelled to engage in self-reflection, service and simple acts of kindness. We also envision an outcome in which more young women consider religious life because they have been exposed to it through a personal relationship.

Mini-grants from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation were awarded to congregations who planned special initiatives in celebration of National Catholic Sisters Week.

On March 11, 2018, 45 IHM Sisters, 47 students, 7 friends and family, 5 IHM Associates and 6 IHM staff members gathered in four locations to make sandwiches and cookies to provide a full lunch to those in need. Three hundred sandwiches were made lovingly (peanut butter and jelly, turkey and roast beef), 300 bags of chips, 300 snack bags of carrots, 300 apples/oranges and more than 600 cookies/rice krispie treats were bagged up for several soup kitchens in the Scranton area.

The day began with a prayer service that incorporated stories of our IHM founding and mission. Sister Mindy Welding, IHM, Director of Vocations, led the service. The IHM Center provided the main setting for sandwich making and lunch bagging. Students, sisters, associates and friends divided into working groups to write over 300 notes of inspiration (one for each lunch bag recipient) and decorated 300 brown bags in which the lunches were packed. Sisters at Our Lady of Peace Residence also wrote inspirational notes and made rice krispie treats. Two convents, Cathedral Convent and Maria House, hosted several students who made chocolate chip and snickerdoodle cookies. All worked very hard on their tasks! In between, workers took a break to have snacks and drinks.

A creative IHM Bingo game and a questionnaire of conversation starters brought IHM sisters and participants together to learn more about one another.

The energy was high and the students motivated. What a wonderful sight to see so many come together for this day of service! The students worked side-by-side with the sisters as they chatted, sang, made jokes and talked together. The sisters enjoyed the games and conversation starters and the students learned so much about individual sisters’ lives.

At the end of the day, all stood in a circle around the table with the 300 lunches, and prayed over them extending our hands inward and outward to bless those who would be receiving the food. It was a touching experience to see the young and the not so young holding hands and praying a word of grace and then extending hands. All ended in hugs of thanksgiving, peace and gratitude for having spent such a wonderful day together.

We are grateful to the Conrad Hilton Foundation and to the NCSW Foundation for awarding the grant money to make this outreach project possible.

Side By Side Day March 2018    3-Side By Side Day March 2018   2-Side By Side Day March 2018