Marywood Celebrates National Catholic Sisters Week


In celebration of the first-ever National Catholic Sisters Week, Marywood University is recognizing the many contributions of The Congregation of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) who founded Marywood in 1915 and have played a leadership role in higher education for almost 100 years.

Marywood was founded in the spirit of dedicated service characteristic of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Congregation undertook its ministry in Northeast Pennsylvania in 1858, operating schools and social services facilities throughout the region.

As educators who were concerned with the needs of the women in Northeast Pennsylvania, the sisters began plans for a women's liberal arts college in Scranton. The idea, conceived by Mother M. Cyril Conway and endorsed by the Most Reverend Michael J. Hoban, D.D., bishop of Scranton, was realized by Mother M. Germaine O'Neill, who formally opened Marywood College in September 1915.

In recognition of its academic excellence as well as its significant contributions in research, cultural activities, educational outreach, service and importance to the community, the Pennsylvania Department of Education granted Marywood College university status. Today, Marywood University consists of four colleges and the School of Architecture: the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; the College of Health and Human Services; the Insalaco College of Creative and Performing Arts; and the Reap College of Education and Human Development.

In addition to their work with Marywood, countless institutions across the country, including hospitals, schools, and churches, would not have come into being or remained in operation were it not for the blood, sweat and prayers of Catholic sisters. This March provides an opportunity to recognize their widespread contributions.

The Congregation of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) is a community of more than 400 Catholic women religious whose roots date back to 1845. The IHM Congregation, which was founded by Theresa Maxis Duchemin, one of the four founding members of the Oblates Sisters of Providence, and Louis Florent Gillet, a Redemptorist priest, began the IHM legacy of commitment and social responsibility, whose hand reaches into every facet of life, including: education, healthcare, social services/services to the marginalized, and pastoral and spiritual ministries.

The IHM Congregation sponsors the following entities: African Sisters Education Collaborative, Scranton, Pa.; Catholic Health East, Newtown Square, Pa.; Friends of the Poor, Scranton, Pa.; Marywood University, Scranton, Pa.; Mother Seton Academy, Baltimore, Md.; Our Lady of Grace Montessori School and Center, Manhasset, N.Y.; and Saint Joseph's Center, Scranton, Pa.

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation awarded a grant to St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minn., to launch National Catholic Sisters Week during March in conjunction with Women's History Month. The purpose of this week is to raise awareness of the contributions of women religious by highlighting their lives and legacies.

This week, we celebrate not only the contributions of Sisters who have served Marywood but who have served and continue to serve in the education, healthcare, social services/services to the marginalized, and pastoral and spiritual ministries:

Carrie Elizabeth Flood, IHM

Profession of vows: 2007
Current ministry: Systems Analyst II, TMG Health

What is your hope for the future of religious life?

My hope for the future of religious life is that women religious will continue to be led by the Spirit to find creative, new ways to be instruments of God's unconditional love in our world.

Why do you like being a Catholic sister?

I like the freedom that comes with being a Catholic Sister, freedom to serve God and God's people with whatever gifts and talents I have. I also enjoy being part of something bigger than myself. As a religious, I can do and be much more than I could as an individual person.

Sister Lisa Perkowski, IHM

Profession of vows: 2009
Current ministry: Visual Arts Teacher, Academy of the Holy Names, Tampa, FL

What is your hope for the future of religious life?

My hope is that through and for our relationships with one another, God's people and creation, we can continue to live as a sign of God's unconditional love and inspire others to live that out as well.

Why do you like being a Catholic sister?

Being a Catholic sister has taught me many truths about God, love, joy, suffering, and humanity. It has been discovering and sharing in the depths of these truths with God's people, sharing my faith, and being a sign of God's love for others that has gives me joy.

Sr. Jane Snyder, IHM

Profession of vows: 1967
Current ministry:
Assistant Director of Financial Aid, Marywood University

What is your hope for the future of religious life?

That sisters will continue to be known for joyful service with the poor, neglected, and oppressed.

Why do you like being a Catholic sister?

Answering the Spirit's call to be a member of a congregation of Catholic women religious has given me tremendous freedom in making choices for ministry, for personal development, and for developing sustaining relationships. I don't know of any other life choice that would do that.

Sister Maryalice Jacquinot, IHM

Profession of vows: 2001
Current ministry: President/CEO, St. Joseph's Center

What is your hope for the future of religious life?

That gift of religious life will continue to be a presence in our Church and world. For every religious to fulfill the vision of the founders in each new generation with conviction. That men and women will continue to experience religious life as a viable vocation in responding to God's call.

Why do I like being a Catholic sister?

There is a great blessing in living the vocation to which you have been invited by God. I feel very fully alive as an IHM Sister. My gifts and talents have been put to good use and I have also been challenged and encouraged to develop new abilities. The experience of community with my Sisters has strengthened me during difficult times and also been a source of celebration and pride. We have unique opportunities to experience life with different peoples and cultures and to create ways that people can come to new understandings of one another and God.

Sister John Michele Southwick, IHM

Profession of vows: 1968
Current ministry: Assistant Director of Campus Ministry, Marywood University

What is your hope for the future of religious life?

My hope for religious life is that we stand together to witness the Love of God to all people, regardless of difference. I believe we have a special option for the poor that comes directly from Jesus and His Gospel. We need to live a life worthy of that calling and witness what God is calling all of creation towholeness. Religious life is changing and nobody knows what it will look like down the road, but as long as we follow the Gospel and Jesus' message, we have nothing to be concerned about.

Why do you like being a Catholic sister?

I love being a Catholic Sister because I love being a part of something greater than myself. I love belonging to a community that shares the same vision and reaching out with the Mission to follow Jesus and bring God's Love to all I meet.