IHM Associate Assembly


Inaugural IHM Associate Assembly Held June 23-25

by IHM Associate Sheryl Lynn Sochoka

Kieran Williams and Sr. Jean Louise Bachetti

Sr. Susan Hadzima and Mary Lynn Delfino

L-R front: Joan Burlew, Olga Wardand
Sr. Redempta Sweeney.
L-R back:
Jo-Ann Baca, Mary Calderone, Kathy
Davie, Kathy Sarnecky, and
Sr. Sandy Grieco

The inaugural IHM Associate Assembly took place June 23-25, 2023 at the IHM Center. While an IHM Sister-Associate Conference took place in 2012, this is the first gathering dedicated to IHM Associates in an assembly format. Since 2018, IHM Associates have been invited to attend certain events at IHM Chapter, held every four years, as well as the annual IHM Congregation Assembly that takes place each year in late July. The goal is to make the Associate Assembly an annual event, much like the congregational assembly.

Associates traveled from Maryland, Delaware, Ohio, and different regions of Pennsylvania to attend the gathering. Others, who were unable to attend in person, joined by Zoom. IHM Sisters were also invited to attend the assembly, either in person or online, as were aspiring associates. The majority of the participants were commissioned IHM Associates.

The weekend event began with dinner on Friday, followed by a welcome and a blessing that evening and featuring the song “Enter the Journey.”

Saturday started bright and early with breakfast, followed by welcoming remarks by Sister Grace Surdovel, IHM, who introduced Sister Kathryn Clauss, IHM, Congregation President. Sister Katie welcomed associates and sisters in attendance, emphasizing the spirit of hospitality, and quoting from Tales of a Magic Monastery by Theophane the Monk, “Together, we will go into the heart of God.”

Sister Jean Louise Bachetti, IHM, the program’s founding director, recalled the history of its origins and how the program grew from the original four associates to 100+ Associates now located throughout the country and across the globe. She lovingly recalled the program’s second director, the late Jane O’Neill, and her contributions to growing the program and establishing the IHM Associate Advisory Committee, which helped plan this first Assembly. Sister Jean Louise noted that associates are a new expression of the IHM Charism, because they said YES to the call within a call, to the covenant, the charism…to live the charism and core values within the context of their own lives and engaging in evolving relationships in the global community.

Highlights of Saturday’s presentations included Sister Chris Koellhoffer, IHM, who presented “Contemplative Stirrings,” which allowed all to “gather at the well of our IHM Charism,” figuratively stirring of the waters of the past, present, and future. Participants explored charism, a spiritual gift from God, not primarily for the benefit of the recipient, but for the benefit of others.

Associate Jo-Ann Baca presented a two-part session, “Begin to Imagine,” focusing on the present experience of Associates as Charism Carriers. Her presentation allowed for reflection, discussion, and sharing, and featured the image “Tower of Women” by Sister Helen David Brancato, IHM.

A panel discussion, “The Path Forward,” was presented by Associates Pat Sheehan, Maureen McCarthy, and Sheryl Lynn Sochoka. After explaining how they were drawn to become Associates, the panel invited participants to share what their
Circles are currently doing. Then, each panelist dove deeper to share her personal story of connections with the Congregation, followed by an invitation to all to reflect their own experiences and to envision the path forward with those at their table. The session ended with the song, “Wade in the Water.”

After a Sunday morning Mass celebrated by Msgr. Tom Banick, with music by Associate Frank Walsh, Sister Kieran Williams, IHM, and a choir of Sisters and Associates, Sister Katie delivered encouraging and heartfelt remarks about the wonderful spirit and our hope for the future. She remarked, as did others, that the sisters who observed on TV at OLP and the IHM Center were overwhelmed with joy at what they heard and saw.

During the Assembly Weekend, the program’s new director, Sister Ruth Harkins, IHM, who will begin her tenure on September 5, was introduced. A new organizational structure, featuring regions and headed by volunteer coordinators, was also announced. Region 1, which includes Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Vermont, and Ohio, is being led by Patricia Sheehan. Region 2, led by Maureen McCarthy, includes Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia. Sister Nancy Elder, IHM is leading Region 3, including Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Perú.

The Associate Advisory Committee consists of Maureen McCarthy, Sheryl Lynn Sochoka, Patricia Sheehan, and Sisters Christine Mihelich, Nancy Elder, and Jean Louise Bachetti.

Sister Katie noted that our commitment is to support Sister Ruth with great confidence that the IHM Dream will continue to emerge for everyone. Sister Katie recognized, in particular, Sister Grace Surdovel, IHM, who immediately took responsibility for the Associate Program to the last detail after the elections of the new leadership team last year.

Sister Grace followed with gratitude to all involved–committee, presenters, etc.–and special thanks to Sister Jean Louise, as well as Sister Mary Ellen Higgins, IHM, a member of the former leadership team, who worked with the committee after the death of Jane O’Neill. Gifts were presented to the panel of associates and an arrangement of flowers was given to Sister Jean Louise, who offered the final blessing, followed by an encore of the song, "Wade in the Water." All began to depart after lunch.


L-R Front: Rosanne Ellis, Sr. Susan Hadzima 
L-R Back: Sandy Childress, Janice Richardson, Sr. Beth Pearson, Cheryl Kosydar



L-R: Sheryl Lynn Sochoka, Pat Sheehan, Maureen McCarthy



L-R Front: Sr. Robert Mary Murphy and Mary Kay McHale
L-R Back: Katie Kearney and Becky DePrato