‘NCSW is changing the world’: ambassadors dive into event planning

While the nearly 50 NCSW Ambassadors are located across the country, they are all connected by a shared mission to coordinate events that celebrate women religious in their own communities.

Larry Massey, governor of Serra Club District 10 in Houston, “had never heard of NCSW until Sister Mary [Soher] came to Houston.” Since his introduction to the program, Massey’s efforts to promote vocation in the Houston and Galveston area, the mission of the Serra Club, have increased.

“Learning about NCSW has intensified our efforts to shine a light on women religious and their life’s work,” said Massey.

Massey has helped coordinate a number of events to celebrate women religious in the community, including a Nun’s Luncheon, and has  invited Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist to the Serra Club’s board meeting to discuss their mission and experience as sisters.

“NCSW is changing the world for the better by increasing awareness, promoting discernment and increasing the number of Catholic sisters,” he said. “The world needs more sisters.”

Rosie Chinea Shawver of Los Angeles is the director of campus ministry for the University of Southern California Caruso Catholic Center. When she’s not busy hosting undergraduate retreats and helping college students in the campus ministry office, Shawver has dedicated time to brainstorming creative ways to celebrate the unique women religious in her community.

With the help of Sister Cecilia Canales, the vicar of women religious at the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the two have planned a viewing of Women & Spirit, a documentary about the contributions of women religious, both past and present.

In New Orleans, a group of sisters are collaborating with several institutions to connect directly with youth and young adults to share their work and providing insights to religious life. Planned events include:  

  • Sisters converge on Abbey Youth Fest in Covington, LA.  The Sisters from Magnificat House will be at a booth at the Abbey Youth Festival the morning of March 12 visiting with youth, youth leaders and other attendees interested in learning more about the vocation of women religious. 
  • “Cookie with a Sister” at Loyola University and Xavier University of New Orleans. Students are invited to enjoy a cookie with a sister with one caveat – in order to take a cookie, students must ask a question about the Catholic faith or being a Catholic sister. Students will be invited to take a NCSW prayer card and button and take a Selfie with a Sister.
  • A Discerning Faith – NCSW Webinar. Presented by Sister Mentors and Discerners of the Magnificat House of Discernment, through Loyola University Institute for Ministry, will discuss discernment in the spiritual life and how this gift is lived out in the Magnificat community.  Mentors and discerners will share practical tips and personal examples.

“NCSW supports me,” said Sister Theresa Pitruzzello, CSJ. “It’s a win-win. NCSW supports what I and many other sisters and associates are striving to do in our ministries and it greatly helps in spreading the word that Religious Life is a viable, joyful, and fulfilling option for women in our world today.”

While spread across the country, the NCSW ambassadors are all closely connected in their dedication to supporting and showcasing the important work of women religious. We are grateful for the continued efforts and dedication of our ambassadors!


NCSW Ambassadors by market:


Ali Dutson, Mission Grammar School

Erika Cedrone, Catholic Extension

Debbie Rambo, Catholic Charities

Christopher Bilodeau, Medicines for Humanity

Sister Marian Batho, Archdiocese of Boston

Sister Katherine Caughey, SND, Saint Jude School

Jen Robbins, Anderson Robbins

Sister Barbara Gutierrez, School Sister of Notre Dame, Emmanuel College



Sister Bernadine Gutowski, Hospital Sisters of St. Francis

Sister Diane Marie Collins, Chicago Franciscans

Sister Sharon Kerrigan, Presence Health

Linda Beverly, WFH

Angela D’Antonio, Catholic Extension

Dougal Hewett, Presence Health

Darren Henson, Presence Health

Lisa Lagger, Presence Health

Robert Scarola, Presence Health

Venus Brady, Presence Health

Briana Cox, Presence Health

Sister Joan McClinchey, MSC, Archdiocese of Chicago


New Orleans

Sister Ily Fernandez, Congregation of St. Joseph

Sister Theresa Pitruzzello, Congregation of St. Joseph

Deacon Dennis Adams, Christopher Homes

Father Dave Caron, OP, Office of Evangelization

Deacon Jeff Tully, Archdiocese of New Orleans

David Doyle, Office of Evangelization

Chelsea Colomb, Catholic Youth Organization/Youth & Young Adult Ministry

Sister Beth Fitzpatrick, Vicar for Religious

Dr. Jan Lancaster, Superintendent of Schools

Paul Gagnet, Knights of Columbus



Father TJ Dolce, Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston

Sister Anita Brenek, CDP, Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston

Claire McMullin, Newman Center at the University of Houston

Larry Massey, Scanlan Foundation

Matt Johns, Catholic Charities

Sister Heloise Cruzat, OP, Vicar for Religious


Los Angeles

Karina Plascencia, Director, Religious Education, Archdiocese of Los Angeles

Sister Terry Maher, CPPS, Dignity Health

Nancy Jurecki, OP, Providence Health

Janice England, Lay Mission-Helpers

Sister Cecilia Canales, Vicar Women Religious

Sister Carol Brong, Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet

Cambria Tortorelli, Holy Family

Rosie Shawver, Catholic Center

Isaac Cuevas, Knights of Columbus

Kevin Baxter, Superintendent of Schools


Photo caption: Sister Mary Frances Coleman, RSM, laughs with her cohorts at the Diocese of San Bernardino as Sister Mary Frances prepares for National Catholic Sisters Week, March 8-14.

About Molly Hazelton

Molly Hazelton is the site director of National Catholic Sisters Week, headquartered at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. She credits her love, respect and admiration for Catholic sisters to her grandmother, Isabel, who was educated in nursing by the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph at Fanny Allen Hospital in Colchester, Vt. Molly is also a trained librarian, so please feel free to ask her for book recommendations.