News & Updates

Twenty Years of the IHM Sister-Associate Relationship

In April 2004, IHM Sister–Associate Relationship was an idea—“a dream for Scranton IHM.” Today that dream has become a stream of 185 commissioned and 15 aspiring associates hailing from eight states and Peru.

In April 2004, IHM Sister–Associate Relationship was an idea—“a dream for Scranton IHM,” as described by then-Congregation president Sister Mary Persico, IHM. Sr. Jean Louise Bachetti was asked and said yes to the monumental task of creating an associate program. Today that dream has become a stream of 185 commissioned and 15 aspiring associates hailing from eight states and Peru.

This connection is best described as a gathering of men and women who share in the IHM Charism and ideals of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, witnessing their faith within their Circles of Grace and living out the charism and core values with their families and friends and through their ministries and work.

IHM Associates timeline

What follows is a journey through major milestones and events in IHM Associate history.


IHM Associate commissioning 2004

Sr. Jean Louise Bachetti starts the first Circle of Grace in Scranton, soon followed by other areas with a historically strong IHM presence: Cresco, Williamsport, and Pittsburgh.


Sister Nancy Elder, Sister Beatrice Caulson and some of the newly commissioned Gainesville Associates.

New Circles of Grace begin in Delaware and Florida under the direction of Sisters Nancy Elder, Flo Marino, and Redempta Sweeney.


Maryland adds the first of its Circles of Grace in Clinton, North Beach and La Plata under the guidance of Sister Ann Parker.


Circles of Grace spread along the East Coast in North Carolina and New York with Sisters, Kieran Williams, Elizabeth Bullen, Robert Mary Murphy


The IHM Associate footprint extends to the Southern Hemisphere to Sicuani, Peru, where IHM Sisters have ministered since 1965.


The first Sister–Associate Conference, “Journey by Heart” is held, with guest speaker, Redemptorist priest Terrence Moran. Over 70 associates traveled from near and far to join with more than 60 sisters at the IHM Center for community and fellowship.


  • IHM commissioned Associates numbered 108 with 52 aspiring associates capturing the hearts of 32 IHM Sisters who engaged the Circles of Grace.
  • Ms. Jane O’Neill becomes the Director of Associates, a position she held until her passing April 19, 2022.


  • Scranton Associates offer service at Friends of the Poor, Catholic Charities, local parishes and the IHM Educational Enrichment Institute.
  • Maryland Associates conduct Founder’s Day presentations in their parish and elementary schools. North Beach Associates manage the local food pantry.
  • Associates serve on various IHM Committees.
  • Thirteen associates committed to serving the needs of the Sisters at Our Lady of Peace in various capacities.
  • Gainesville Florida Teenagers learn about Theresa and the IHM Core Values as the Theresa Maxis Circle.
  • Several Circles of Grace planned and participated in various retreat days in their respective areas.


IHM Associates gathered annually for dinner at the IHM Center on Founder’s Day for prayer and to renew their covenant relationship and to intentionally live the IHM charism and core values.


Sisters and Associates gather in Scranton for a second conference, “Doorways to the Holy: Opening Together into the Heart of God,” facilitated by Sr. Chris Koellhoffer and featuring panelists Gale Jaeger, Barbara Kane, Alejandra Marroquin, Ann Williams and IHM Sister John Michele Southwick. Seventy associates from six states and over 50 sisters participated in this grace-filled opportunity.


  • IHM Associates joined us in bringing about God’s dream for this beautiful yet wounded world at our Chapter 2018.
  • Sisters Florence Ann Marino and Lisa Perkowski in St. Petersburg, Fla., launch the first Circle of Grace to meet in a hybrid format (in-person and Zoom).


The COVID-19 pandemic forces Circles of Grace to meet virtually and to live the charism in creative ways. During this time many commissioning and recommissioning ceremonies were conducted online.


  • The first IHM Associate Assembly, “Inspired by the Spirit’s Gift of Charism: Flowing Through the Life of IHM Sisters and Associates,” welcomes 34 associates and 34 sisters. This grace-filled weekend was planned and facilitated by IHM Sisters Jean Louise Bachetti, Grace Surdovel, Nancy Elder and Christine Mihelich; and by associates Jo-Ann Baca, Sheryl Lynn Sochoka and Maureen McCarthy.
  • Sr. Ruth Harkins becomes the third director of the IHM Associate Program.


The first IHM Associate newsletter is published.

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