It’s been a year since the National Catholic Sisters Project launched its diocesan partnership program to share resources and assist in building awareness of women religious. Among the 10 dioceses on board is the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, led by Sister Carolyn Puccio, CSJ, the delegate for religious.
We asked her to reflect on the fruits of the first year. Chief among them, she said, was her connection with Sister Ann Oestreich, IHM, national coordinator of the National Catholic Sisters Project. She also appreciates the greater sense of accountability that has come with this partnership. “I feel honored to be among the first to participate,” Sister Carolyn said.
What signs do you point to of initial success?
We sponsored An Afternoon With the Archbishop at the new location of our Pastoral Center and invited all in consecrated life. There was a great turnout of sisters representing our diverse expressions of religious life who engaged with one another and really took the lead in extending hospitality to all.
What are your goals for the next year, in terms of building a greater awareness of religious life in the archdiocese?
We have submitted two mini-grant applications for events in National Catholic Sisters Week and had the first meeting with members of a think tank who will explore ways to develop some kind of council or commission on consecrated life for our archdiocese to highlight women religious Women Religious and all expressions of consecrated life in the archdiocese.
Tell me about the event you're planning for this April.
Oh my! We are hosting Sister Nancy Schreck, OSF, in April! We would never be able to fund such an event without the grant and we are so grateful.
What have you learned about the importance of telling the stories of Catholic sisters? How do you try to do that yourself – and encourage others to?
I am increasingly aware of the last and current generations, who have had little to no interaction with women religious. While the drama of the college and beyond women make me a little crazy, I try to take advantage of every opportunity to interact with the women of St. Catherine University, who are fascinated by who we are and our stories.
One of our events for National Catholic Sisters Week will be An Afternoon with the Sisters, held at Carondelet Village, the retirement community in which I live, which is occupied by about 60 percent sisters and 40 percent men and women from the broader community. They know us as neighbors and friends but don’t know much more. The afternoon will expose them to our history, our ministries and ways for them and their families to engage with us in our mission, both formally and informally. I’m very excited about it!
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
I feel so blessed to be so close to Molly and Kjerstin [National Catholic Sisters Week staff in Minneapolis]. We had a great visit last week in their new digs at Saint Mary's University. I feel very supported by them – and, of course, Sister Ann.
The Catholic Spirit interviewed Sister Carolyn in June to learn more about the diocesan partnership program.