In this episode, Rocky Pierson shares her conversation with #NCSW2017 mini-grant recipient Sister Mary T. Naccarato, PBVM. Sr Mary talks about community, prayer, and celebrating NCSW during the Sister of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary event, Proud To Be Presentation.
My name is Sr Mary T Naccarato. I am a Sister of Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, from New Windsor New York. The Presentation Sisters have a variety of six different events happening this year. Our congregations spread from Massachusetts down to the New York and New Jersey area. So, we have a variety of different events going on.
Two events are what we call more private events, just for specific organizations. Such as: we're kicking off National Catholic Sisters Week on Wednesday the 8th at Fordham University, sponsoring an evening of praise and worship, which happens every Wednesday, as part of their campus ministry. One of our sisters, Sr Mary Katherine Redmond is involved there's a campus minister and a mentor for the small Christian community. So, she'll be speaking a little bit on the vocation. And, then, we’ll sponsor the pizza after praise and worship. And, a good number of our presentation sisters will be there in attendance. The second event, which we will call a private event, is an ice cream social at St. Leo's elementary school. Our sisters were on staff at the school for many many years. We are no longer on staff, but one of our other houses is on the backside of the property. We have a wonderful relationship with the school children. They come several times throughout the year. So, this will be for the seventh and eighth graders. They will sit down and the sisters kind of share their story with them at the table over ice cream sundaes.
Our next events, ones we consider it public events, you know, events that are for the public. We have two open houses happening simultaneously. One is happening up in Pittsburgh, Massachusetts. And, that will take place after noon Vespers, at 2:00 p.m. And then, the second Open House will be at our newest convent that we've opened. We've been very blessed this year. We've opened four new houses, and this Open House is that St. Francis of Assisi Convent. And, our sisters and associates will be on hand to share who we are as Presentation men and women, and how we're serving in our respective communities.
The fifth event that we have going on is an evening of praise and worship at our Mount St. Joseph Administration Center. And, that's an evening of praise and worship music that's going to be conducted by the band of volunteers from Capuchin Youth and Family Ministries in Garrison, New York. Their Cap Corps volunteers are going to join us, for the second year in a row, for an evening of praise and worship, from which one of our sisters will give the reflection during that evening: Life as a Presentation Sister. Afterwards, all in attendance will be invited over to join us for refreshments.
The next event is taking place on Saturday, March 11th, also in the Newburgh New Windsor area. It's one of our Serving With the Sisters Service Saturdays. We are up to having three of those a year. One of the fall, and one in the spring, and one during National Catholic Sisters Week. And, we are inviting families and young adults in the area to join us as we are joining Habitat for Humanity in building homes for families in the Newburgh area who otherwise would not have an opportunity at homeownership. This particular ministry is very near and dear to our heart as many of our sisters are involved with Newburgh Ministries, which is another agency in the area that serves a lot of these families who are seeking homeownership.
This is our second National Catholic Sisters Week and our third year of embarking on these service and outreach programs. And, I have to tell you, the relationships that were built when when these young adults come and spend time with our sisters. . . I mean some of our sisters continue to write to them in college. You know, one young lady just got accepted into the Master's program two days ago, and e-mailed the senior sister who she became pen pals with, and thanked her for her prayers and shared with [the sisters] her good news. Our lives have become intertwined, which is such a gift. You know, there is a young lady who participated in our New Orleans service outreach four years ago and then the last two years in our service outreach in May. And, you know, she is in med school in St. Louis, and continues to keep in touch with our sisters and come back and visit with us on a break once a year. And, what a gift that is, you know! And, you know, her desire is to serve the poor in the medical profession. And so, we've been able to, when she comes home, put her in touch again with our friends at Newburgh Ministry and the Medical Van, and she is able to spend some time serving there. So, it’s such a gift when we can connect people’s gifts and talents with the ministries that we’re involved in. It's really a joy. It truly is.
So many NCSW events successfully engage young adults, putting youth and women religious together. These events create an opportunity for them to connect and even make lifelong friendships. That was the case in these events held by the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. After the six events were held, I called Sr Mary back, and we talked about how the events went. And, as she shares, many friendships were made, joyful experiences were had, and ministries and charisms were shared.
You know, we were so blessed this year. I mean, we had a few snags because that was the week that we had the bitter cold and lots of snow. We had 24 inches of snow dumped on us within two days, which we didn't plan for right? So, you know, there is that phrase that says we make plans, and God laughs. We were able to kick off with a wonderful evening of praise and worship and sharing of vocation stories. And then, when we came to Saturday, when we were supposed to do our service day with Habitat for Humanity, it was too cold. Wind chill factor had us below zero. So, we had to we had to cancel that function. And then, we welcomed a group of college women from Fitchburg State University to join us for spring break week on Sunday. And then, we had to start scrambling to rearrange our schedule because we were going to have an evening of praise and worship on Tuesday, which is when the storm was due. So, we had to move it to Monday. And, even though we moved it, we have a fantastic turnout of almost 70 people. Sisters, associates, families, and young adults from the places that we minister in surrounding community joined us for an evening of admiration, and praise, and worship. Afterwards, we had fellowship, and, because it was on the eve of Pi Day, we had pizza pie and a variety of pies. So, we were still able to keep the celebratory tone of all the fun that we have planned.
And then, we were snowed in for two days, which was unfortunate because it brought our Young National Pittsburgh's and their plans of service to a halt. But, you know, the good news in all that was, you know, college students are always running from here to there. So, it offered them a little time a sacred rest, and we talked about that. We talked about the fallow times of our lives; we actually used the afternoons as an opportunity reflection. Snow was coming down at like one or two inches an hour. We actually had to shovel our ourselves a path over to the assisted living the convent so we could have afternoon a root beer floats and sharing of the stories with the sisters, which is wonderful because, in the backdrop of the snow, everything seems to really take on a very soft low key tone, which is wonderful.
So, Wednesday we dug ourselves out. Thursday, we had a trip to the United Nations with a group of young adult women, and we were talking about systemic change. You know, how are we involved in that? And, how are we how we called individually to systemic change? So, that was wonderful. And then, in the New England area, the sisters had a variety of events that also got shifted around. Because of the snow days, we weren't able to do the ice cream social with the students because we had state testing that had been put off. But, it was actually kind of nice because we sent ice cream over for them to have a quick treat after their exams, and our sisters and associates gathered at the convent for that.
We also had a wonderful open house. We opened a new convent. You know, we often hear of all the closings that congregations are having and all the downsizes we have to do, but we've been blessed. Even though we have closed three convents this year, we've opened two. So, one of our new converts had an open house with about 90 people who came through. It’s a newly established convent, St Francis of Assisi in Newburgh. And, it was wonderful. We were able to share with new neighbors and new parishioners who we are as Presentation women and as Presentation sisters. And, I have to tell you, last year we did a few events, this year we doubled, and we're already talking about next year. I mean, it's been a catalyst for my congregation. My ministry team has really expressed gratitude for this opportunity and for the new life that it has stoked within our own congregation. It’s just an opportunity for our sisters to see that even those who are retired and not in active ministry anymore still have a lot to give in the sharing of the stories and in their presence and in the joy and the interchanges with the young people. In fact, I just put a package in the mail today from the New York sisters to our guests from New England. We sent them some packages for finals week. You know, we’ve let them know we'll be praying for them and put in some little snacks and things. So, it is built a relationship. In fact, I’m in Massachusetts right now. As we speak, I’m going over to meet with the Pittsburgh speech students to plan a gathering in October so we could do another day of service to continue that relationship. So, it has really offered us some opportunities we might not have seen ourselves. It's kind of been a catalyst for us to say, “you know what, how can we do this?” You know, because we've never done a spring break before. And, we said, “you know what, we're going to do another spring break next year, and we're going to bring a different college.” You know, we're just going to keep the ball rolling. So, you know, this week, people think it's a new Hallmark holiday or “where did this come from,” but it has really opened us up to another opportunity and another avenue to celebrate religious life and celebrate charism. You know, it's not about recruitment for us, it's about sharing who we are, and getting more people involved in our ministries and in our charism. And, it's working by golly!