Catholic Sisters

Strengthening Congregations of Catholic Sisters

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation works to enable Sisters to advance human development more widely and effectively.

Sisters contribute to human development through their spiritual witness and service to those in need. They are recognized as resourceful, efficient, and powerful agents of social change, with over 700,000 Sisters around the world educating our children, caring for the vulnerable, standing with the oppressed, promoting peace, and advocating for justice.

Conrad N. Hilton counted Sisters among his teachers, friends and partners in serving those who are most disadvantaged. Throughout his life, he drew inspiration from their commitment to alleviate human suffering, and various congregations of Sisters were frequently conduits for his giving. He ensured continued support for Sisters through a provision in his last will and testament:

"Give aid to... the Sisters, who devote their love and life's work for the good of mankind, for they appeal especially to me as deserving help from the Foundation... It is my wish... to have the largest part of your benefactions dedicated to the Sisters in all parts of the world."

In February 2013, the Hilton Foundation launched a new strategic initiative to broaden and deepen the impact of Sisters by strengthening the congregations to which they belong.

Vision

Enhanced vitality of congregations throughout the world, enabling Sisters to advance human development more widely and effectively.

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation will support programs that develop three capacities essential to the on-going vitality of congregations.

Membership:  attract, form, educate, and retain members
Leadership:  exercise leadership effectively and develop new leaders
Resources:  attract and steward resources (not only physical and financial capital, but also knowledge and social capital)

These capacities, found in all congregations in varying degrees, are interrelated: strong capacity in one area is predictive of strength in others, while weak capacity in any area is predictive of weakness in others. In the Global North, for example, membership in most congregations has been declining for decades, and this has contributed to decreased revenues and a small pool of potential leaders. In the Global South, vocations are more plentiful; however, many congregations lack the resources to prepare their members adequately for effective ministry and leadership.

Approach

The Foundation's strategy is global in scope; however, it will be implemented in phases, with initial emphasis on Africa and the United States—places where the Foundation can build upon existing relationships. By 2015, the Foundation expects to be actively assessing needs and identify promising partners in Europe, Latin America, and Asia.

Resources

Foundation Strategy (pdf)

Research Paper:  Capacity Building: A Phenomenological Study of the African Women Perceptions and Experiences in the Leadership Training Program (pdf)

Our Partner: Conrad N. Hilton Fund for Sisters

The Conrad N. Hilton Fund for Sisters, established in 1986, supports the ministries of Sisters worldwide in the areas of education, the environment, health care, and social services with grants averaging $10,000. It is an independent organization from the Hilton Foundation. For more information regarding the Conrad N. Hilton Fund for Sisters, please visit their website.