NCSW launches $50,000 mini-grant program to celebrate sisters

The National Catholic Sisters Week organization is unveiling a $50,000 mini-grant program to bolster the cross-country celebration of women religious. The organization is now accepting applications for mini-grants available in amounts up to $1,000 to assist in hosting events honoring the profound impact of Catholic sisters, as part of the official National Catholic Sisters Week, March 8-14, 2016. The dedicated week operates in conjunction with National Women’s History Month.

“We’re calling on people across the country to honor women religious and bring greater awareness to the lives of these incredible women,” said Sister Mary Soher, OP, co-executive director of National Catholic Sisters Week, headquartered at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minn. “Please consider sharing first-hand stories that you have about sisters to inspire the youth and young adults of today. We want to equip and empower people to host events for National Catholic Sisters Week. Our sense is that they’re not lacking in inspiration when it comes to celebrating women religious, but they may be lacking in funds to implement those celebrations. We’re happy to fill that gap.”

This March will mark the third annual National Catholic Sisters Week. Folding it into National Women’s History Month is a “perfect” fit, said Molly Murphy MacGregor, cofounder and executive director of the National Women’s History Project. “One thing we deal with all the time is how invisible women’s contributions are, and that’s often true in the church. This is the beginning of breaking through one of those veils of invisibility. Nuns are on the cutting edge of social change.”

National Catholic Sisters Week unfolds across the country through a myriad of events held the second week of March, from parties and panels to book clubs and Bible studies, including tours of a motherhouse and community service projects. The NCSW website includes a list of event ideas and planning tools.

The mini-grant program is intended to expand and enhance those celebrations to reach more people and infuse in them the spirit of service embodied by Catholic sisters. Any organization, however big or small, formal or informal, may apply for a mini-grant.

“We’re excited to see what our grant recipients come up with,” Sister Mary said. “We expect to be dazzled by their creativity. There is a wellspring of appreciation and joy around women religious, and these grants will draw that out for the benefit of a broader audience.”

And in true NCSW fashion – originator of the popular #SisterSelfie hashtag – celebrations funded by mini-grants will gain momentum through social media. Grantees will be asked to document their events to share with NCSW’s considerable online following. 

The deadline for mini-grant submissions is rolling. All applications must be received through email or regular mail no later than Jan. 2, 2016, in order to be considered. Recipients of the grant will be announced in January. To learn more and access an application, visit the NCSW website.    

About Christina Capecchi

Christina Capecchi is an award-winning journalist from Inver Grove Heights, Minn. She is the author of the nationally syndicated column “Twenty Something,” which appears in more than 50 Catholic newspapers across the country. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, America, The Chicago Tribune, The Star Tribune and The Pioneer Press. She also provides contracted editing and writing services. She holds a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and a bachelor’s from Mount Mercy University.