Lasting Impressions

This episode was inspired by the viral images of the chainsaw-wielding nun; we follow the stories of women religious who have worked/are working to help the cleanup efforts of natural disasters throughout the world.

Pa Ying:
Women religious are hospitable, selfless, strong willed, and ever-loving. They are faithful, resilient, and determined individuals who been at the forefront of many natural disaster cleanup.

Hurricane Irma developed from a tropical wave in August of 2017, by September it had been classified as a category 5 hurricane, siting catastrophic damage. Through the cleanup efforts in Florida, Sister Margaret Ann, an educator from Archbishop Coleman F. Carroll High School, made headlines as the chainsaw wielding nun. Dressed in her black habit and wielding a chainsaw, Sr Margaret Ann was shown cutting down a tree that was blocking the road.

Her virals images, showcases the aftermath of Hurricane Irma and the efforts to rebuild as a community.

“While natural disasters capture headlines and national attention short-term, the work of recovery and rebuilding is long-term.” - Sylvia Mathews Burwell

In the recent years, we saw a rise in water related natural disasters. According to an article by NASA, an increase in “temperatures over [the] land, decreased equator-versus-pole temperature differences, and increased humidity could be increasing intense cycles of droughts and floods as more of a region’s precipitation falls in a single large storm rather than a series of small ones. A warmer, wetter atmosphere could also affect tropical storms (hurricanes), but changes to tropical storms are harder to predict and track. Some scientists have speculated that a warmer climate that allows more intense storms to develop would also spawn more hurricanes.”

Claire Anterea is a former sister of the Sisters of the Good Samaritans. She is leading the fight against climate change in Kiribati, a small nation comprised of one raised coral island, Banaba, and 32 atolls and reef islands. It is home to roughly 110,000 people and have seen a rise in ocean water, lack of fresh water, and an increase in storms, damaging homes and crop-growing lands, leading to the displacement of its people.

Claire Anterea travels throughout Kiribati to talk to villagers about climate change and how to prepare for the effects of climate changes. She is an avid spokesperson against greenhouse gas emission and works as a liaison between the local communities, the parliament, the church, and foreign embassies.

“Natural disasters may be explained and even analyzed but, for the survivors, the bitter consequences may never be understood.” - Sister J. Arousiag Sajonian

Sister Michael Marie is a sister of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in Clarksburg, Ohio.

She was a veterinarian before she entered her community. In times of natural disasters, she is called upon to reach out to the animals that have been left behind.

In March of 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit northern Japan, triggering a tsunami; killing and displacing thousands of people. Families received evacuation notices and left behind their animals with one-week’s worth of food. Their hope was to return home after the week, but a nuclear emergency was declared.

Sr Michael Marie and volunteers from Kinship Circle, an animal-disaster aid organization, entered the evacuated area a month later to locate, rescue, and move the animals into shelters where they would hopefully reunite with their owners. She has been traveling the world as a relief worker, rescuing and rehabilitating the animals that were victims of natural disasters for the past 30+ years.

Over the years and around the world are strong minded, compassionate, and loving women religious who are working to mediate the effects of natural disasters. Though their stories may not go viral, it should be noted that women religious are using their platforms and working to better the world one natural disaster at a time.

Further Information:
Hurricane Irma

Sr Margaret Ann

Sr J. Arousiag Sajonian

Climate Change

Claire Anterea


Sr Michael Marie

About Curve Riders

Curve Riders is a short narrative podcast of women who didn't make the history books. Produced by Pa Ying Vang; the series presents achievements and cultural impacts of women religious. Inspired by SisterStory's coverage "Sisters of Influence" on pinterest the podcast aims to present these stories anew with an emphasis on storytelling through writing, sound design, and music. The podcast was created by Alexa Harnagel who produced it in 2015 with subsequent production also handled by EJ La Valle and Maakwe Cumanzala.