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Special Collection for Retired Sisters

The gift of our women religious

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On Nov. 20 and 21, parishes across the archdiocese will hold their annual special collection for the retired sisters.

The work of women religious is inextricably woven into the fabric and mission of our Church. Speaking in 2014 about the Year of Consecrated Life, Pope Francis said, "But let us think a little about what would happen if there were no sisters in hospitals, no sisters in missions, no sisters in schools. Think about a Church without sisters! It is unthinkable: they are this gift, this leaven that carries forward the People of God."

Our women religious are role models for Catholic women -- and men -- everywhere. They feed the hungry, nurse the sick, educate the young, house the homeless, give hope to the incarcerated, and care for the outcast and downtrodden. They have travelled to unknown lands, bringing Christ's love to all, often at great personal risk. Their quiet courage in the face of political unrest, poverty, disease, and persecution is an inspiration. As the world has grown more complex, so has their work. They are advocates for victims of human trafficking, newly arrived immigrants, protection of the environment, religious freedom, an end to war, and pro-life causes. And all this is done, not for their glory, but for the greater glory of God.

I have been blessed with the presence of strong, intelligent, and caring women religious in my own life. My elementary school principal and eighth-grade algebra teacher, a Dominican Sister, started me on the path to a college degree in mathematics and economics. A Mercy Sister and family friend is a scholar on Catholic-Jewish relations and worked closely with Elie Wiesel. And most especially, my favorite aunt, a Sister of St. Joseph, has dedicated her life to education and to shining a light on the most pressing moral issues of our day -- now 90 years young, she shows no signs of slowing down. These women have shaped me and countless others, and I am immensely grateful for them.

In my work with the Catholic Community Fund and Catholic Health Foundation, I have seen first-hand the grassroots work done by our religious sisters in Greater Boston. Classes in English for speakers of other languages, programs for the incarcerated, help for families with food and housing insecurity, chaplaincy programs in hospitals, support for victims of sex trafficking, care for the elderly, and education of children -- as Pope Francis says, it is impossible to imagine our community without their loving and selfless work. They truly are the "leaven" that carries us forward.

On Nov. 20 and 21, parishes across the archdiocese will hold their annual special collection for the retired sisters. Let us remember all the wonderful women religious who have guided our hearts and minds, and generously support them in their work of being the face of Christ for those most in need.

LISA LIPSETT IS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE CATHOLIC COMMUNITY FUND AND CATHOLIC HEALTH FOUNDATION.



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