Each year, March is designated as Women’s History Month in the United States. This is one month out of the year when we make a point to honor women’s many contributions to American society. Embedded in this month-long celebration of women is Catholic Sisters Week, which runs from March 8 to 14 recognizing Catholic sisters around the world for their longstanding devotion to working with the underserved in our society.
There are over 700,000 Catholic sisters globally – trusted community-based leaders who significantly contribute to solving some of the world’s most complex social problems; and often working on the margins of society with the most vulnerable individuals. Catholic sisters stand with immigrants, teach children, heal the sick, share spirituality, empower women and girls, defend the planet, and offer hope by walking beside those experiencing life’s challenges.
Notably, Catholic sisters are leading the fight against human trafficking, and have engaged in global efforts to bring together faith-based communities, philanthropy and governments to provide concrete and concerted solutions to the issue. One example is Talitha Kum, an organization that recently celebrated its ten-year anniversary as an international network of sisters working together to end human trafficking. Last month, Pope Francis shone a spotlight on Catholic sisters by promoting Talitha Kum’s Super Nuns Project, which aims to support and expand sisters’ work of restoring human dignity to survivors of trafficking.
Under the auspices of the International Union of Superior General’s Sowing Hope for the Planet, sisters also work hard to educate, create awareness, and analyze effective actions in matters of justice, peace, and the integrity of creation. What is meant by the phrase “integrity of creation” is the belief that we must use our time on this earth in ways that are respectful, purposeful and mindful of the needs of future generations. Such efforts require collaboration, and sisters are committed to building communities across geographic and ideological boundaries that will maximize our effectiveness and reach in this regard.
The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation invests in efforts that increase the capacity of sisters in education, leadership and service provision. As our founder once said, “a dollar invested with the sisters would pay dividends many times over – helping the greatest number of disadvantaged people – because of the Sisters’ prudent expenditure of any funds received.”
This year on Catholic Sisters Week, as we take time to recognize the contributions and achievements of sisters, let us also use our platform to amplify their voices and educate others on the lives of women religious – lives which are devoted to promoting systemic change, economic justice, and personal growth that ultimately helps individuals and their communities reach their potential.