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SisterStories captivate at National Catholic Sisters Week kick off

SisterStories event with The Moth Radio Hour. Left to right: Julia Walsh, FSPA; Tierney Truman, Rochester Franciscan; Soledad O'Brien; Carolyn Martin, Isp; and Julie Vieira, IHM.
SisterStories event with The Moth Radio Hour. Left to right: Julia Walsh, FSPA; Tierney Truman, Rochester Franciscan; Soledad O'Brien; Carolyn Martin, Isp; and Julie Vieira, IHM.
Rebecca Zenefski '10

The inaugural National Catholic Sisters Week kicked off with a public event on the St. Catherine University campus March 8, entitled SisterStories: How Did I Know?

Noted broadcast journalist and founder of Starfish Media Group, Soledad O’Brien, hosted the event. Acclaimed nonprofit organization The Moth, dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling, produced the event.

The event’s storytellers were sisters from various religious communities and locations. The sisters used the standard format for The Moth Radio Hour — live and without notes.

Sister Julia Walsh, a Franciscan Sister of Perpetual Adoration, told a survival story of a harrowing accident and later realization that her life isn’t dictated by God, but lovingly co-authored by her and God.

Sister Tierney Truman is a member of the Sisters of St. Francis, Congregation of Our Lady of Lourdes. Sister Tierney told stories of both tragedy and hopefulness she experienced during the 31 years she served as a teacher in Bogota, Columbia, working with children from marginalized communities.

Sister Julie Vieira, a member of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, recounted her journey to joining the sisterhood. Her stories of “nun surveillance” brought laughs from the audience and illustrated the value of belonging to a community of sisters.

Sister Carolyn Martin, a member of the Little Sisters of the Poor, told the story of how she received the call to sisterhood. Sister Carolyn also told of the sacrifices she made to follow her calling, including leaving a boyfriend she loved and had at one point planned to marry.

With a generous grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the SisterStory campaign will continue over the next several years. The project aims to bring awareness to Catholic Sisters, answering questions about who Catholic sisters are, what their lives are like, what impact they’ve had over history and what differences they are making today.  

Through the SisterStory program, housed at St. Kate’s, current college students from Catholic institutions around the country will be paired with sisters from many religious communities. The students will spend time hearing the stories of the sisters to prepare oral histories to be archived online.

The SisterStory campaign can be found online at sisterstory.org.

A photo gallery from the National Catholic Sisters Week kick-off weekend can be found on Flickr.

March 11, 2014 by Sara Berhow

See also: Catholic Identity, Social Justice