Leaders of National Catholic Sisters Week awarded 41 mini-grants this month to help fund cross-country celebrations of women religious. The inaugural mini-grant program awarded sums of up to $1,000 per organization. The program is intended to expand and enhance NCSW celebrations, however big or small, formal or informal.
NCSW Co-Executive Director Molly Hazelton said she was delighted by the wide range of applications that poured in – from Portland to Charlotte, from Pittsburgh to Colorado Springs. Some events involve inviting lay Catholics to a tour of a congregation’s motherhouse. Others center on service projects. Some are retreats; some are academic in nature; and still others are physically active, including a 5k Nun Run in Connecticut and a St. Patrick’s Day parade in Pittsburgh. One group will use its NCSW grant to create a Little Free Library honoring the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, Calif. Another group is joining Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration with Wisconsin college students and grade-schoolers to create art projects.
All the grant recipients will be documenting their NCSW events and sharing them online; follow NCSW's social-media platforms (including Twitter and Facebook) to watch them unfold. SisterStory is announcing grant recipients on its dynamic Instagram account.
“We were inspired by all the great ideas,” Molly said. Among them, she pointed out, is a group of Mexican-American sisters in Texas planning a “Quincenera After-Party.” Meanwhile, a monastery in Colorado will be opening its doors March 11 to host a game night, inviting young people in for Clue, Monopoly and root-beer floats.
The diocese of Pittsburgh is preparing a grant-funded art exhibit to showcase the many contributions of women religious to the arts. “We believe this event will have a positive impact on those in attendance in that it shines a light on the often overlooked gift of artistic expression that has been shared by those in consecrated life,” wrote a Catholic sister applying for a NCSW grant. “This gift has enlivened our worship, deepened our spirituality and nurtured the souls of both the artist and those who experience their talent.”
Many recipients told Molly the mini-grants enable them to reach more people and host an event they otherwise couldn’t make it happen. Multiple recipients said they hope their 2016 NCSW event, funded by a mini-grant, will gain momentum and become an annual occurrence.
“It came from the Lord!” exclaimed one delighted grant recipient. “I never thought I was going to do this.”