WE ARE ALL IMMIGRANTS
Catholic Sisters across Western Pennsylvania have been called to action by their faith to minister to immigrants and refugees, especially as our country faces a humanitarian crisis at the southern border. Driven by their vows to serve all of God’s people and their immense sense of mercy, sisters from various congregations have joined the cause in various ways. Whether it be with their sleeves rolled up on the front lines or through the simple power of prayer, the Catholic Sisters of our region are meeting the moment with compassion and care.
SISTERS OF ST. JOSEPH
A commitment to caring for immigrants and all those displaced by poverty, violence, and natural disaster has been a foundational part of the Sisters of St. Joseph 150-year history. They have welcomed Cambodian refugees to their Motherhouse, served as missionaries in Brazil and Liberia, worked with migrant farmers, and, most recently, they established Casa San José in 2013. The resource center is responding to the increasing needs of Latino immigrants making their home in the Pittsburgh region. In August 2019, Sisters Janice Vanderneck, Patti Rossi and Jeanette Bussen felt called to travel to the Southern Border Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, Texas, to serve our neighbors in need. They worked to triage the confusion, anxiety, and exhaustion of migrants who may have been separated from loved ones, not slept or eaten well in days, or even been able to shower or change into clean clothing. Read more.
SISTERS OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE
The Sisters of Divine Providence (SDP) began ministering in August 2018 to refugee families who have applied for asylum. The families served – most of whom are from African and Central American countries – are provided with safe housing, food, clothing, health care, transportation and assistance with cultural integration.
Through a collaboration with the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth (SCN), the SDP Sisters operate Charity House, a previously unoccupied house on the SCN campus, as a residence for refugee families. It is provided to rent-free and utility-free by the SCNs. Sister Hilary Hooks, CDP, works directly with families as program coordinator, while Sister Betty Sundry administers the program. Associates volunteer alongside the sisters.
In addition, La Posada Providencia, a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Divine Providence, provides safe, emergency shelter and resettlement assistance to legal asylum seekers. It is located in the Rio Grande valley in south Texas near the border.
SISTERS OF CHARITY OF NAZARETH
The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth welcomed their first families onto campus this summer to utilize the Stone House as temporary housing. The Honduran families stayed with the Sisters until mid-July, when another family came to stay for three months. Sister Linda Soltis and others are collaborating with non-profit organizations, as well as with the Sisters of Divine Providence who have a shelter on the border of Mexico and the U.S. The group is also working with Casa San José to assist the refugees.
The SNCs also made available rent-free and utility free a home on their property for use by the Sisters of Divine Providence as safe housing for refugee families. Charity House is thriving, even recently hosting baptismal services for immigrant children.
SCHOOL SISTERS OF ST. FRANCIS
Sister Adelina Garcia, who serves as assistant director of Evangelization & Catechesis with the Diocese of San Angelo, has accepted an invitation from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to take part in a pastoral encounter with migrants at the southern border in September. She will visit El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez and Las Cruces in New Mexico to offer pastoral support to migrants.
Along with Sister Hilda Marotta, Sister Adelina leads bi-lingual spiritual programming at the Franciscan Resource Center in San Angelo, Texas.
SISTERS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The Sisters of the Holy Spirit maintain contact with and provide assistance as needed to two families of immigrants (now citizens) from Vietnam.
SISTERS OF MERCY OF THE AMERICAS
The Sisters of Mercy in Pittsburgh identify definitively with pro-immigrant efforts in concrete ways. They’ve affirmed the Mercy Institute policy of openness to immigrants — documented or not — by providing services in their healthcare institutions and schools. In addition to a political action work that includes protests, letter-writing, voting and other means, the Sisters are involved in border work in Texas, especially Brownsville, Laredo and El Paso, and in Anthony, N.M. Sister Beth Yost, a Pittsburgh Sister of Mercy, is principal of an elementary school in Laredo, Texas. Carlow University, founded and run by the Sisters of Mercy, assists Muslim women and hosts prayer space for them in the University Commons. Prayer about mistreatment of immigrants and asylum seekers at the U.S. border with Mexico is part of the Sisters’ daily lives.
This listing will be updated on an ongoing basis to reflect the current activities undertaken by Catholic sisters in our region. Check back often.