Citing a desire to be firmly “Rooted for Tomorrow,” representatives of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) announced a decision on May 19 that changed the future of the institution.
The college’s board of trustees unanimously voted for the college to become fully co-educational during its May 1, 2015, meeting.
Beginning in the fall of 2015, men will be able to apply to the college in a commuter capacity and by the fall of 2016, they will be able to live on campus.
SMWC President Dr. Dottie King said the decision was not taken lightly. She said the board had discussed it for the better part of a year.
“We’re about to move forward in a new way,” she said.
During the May 19 press conference, King offered several eye-opening statistics. For example, she said that across the nation, women’s colleges that made this decision had experienced an increase in enrollment of women.
She added that in 1960, there were 230 women’s colleges in the United States. However, only 55 years later, 52 of those have closed, 22 have merged with other colleges or universities, and 39 have become co-educational. King also said 34 of the approximate 45 remaining women’s colleges admit men to select undergraduate and graduate programs.
King said that according to statistics, less than 2 percent of college-aged women will consider attending a single gender college or university.
“We cannot be relevant to all women when 98 percent of women will not consider us,” King said. “No one doubts the power of the single gender educational experience.
However, the number of women who will perceive such a choice hinders its relevance in today’s world.”
Sister Ellen Cunningham, a graduate who was a faculty member at the college for 40 years and currently volunteers in the advancement office, said initially, she was surprised by the announcement.
“I was sad, of course, and angry,” Sister Ellen said. “It was kind of a shock.”
However, after reading information provided by King from “beginning to end,” she felt more at ease with the decision.
“It just made so much sense,” Sister Ellen said. “I appreciate that Dottie and the trustees have determined to not just survive, but thrive.
“I really do trust Dottie and the trustees. I think that she is very much in tune with Saint Mother Theodore Guerin. And the trustees I know, I can say the same.”
Sister Marie Grace Molloy, who also graduated from the college, said she believed the decision will help the college in the long run.
“I think it’s great,” Sister Marie Grace said. “And it was necessary to do this. I knew it was going to come sometime. I just think it was time.”
Sister Rebecca Keller did not attend the college. She, too, was surprised by the decision, but agreed with Sister Marie Grace.
“As a Sister of Providence, I think it’s a great idea,” Sister Rebecca said. “For me, it’s more realistic coming to the college because women will be in the workforce with men.”
Men have been accepted into the school’s graduate programs since 1984, and men were granted acceptance into the college’s undergraduate distance program beginning in 2005.
Board member Randy Adams echoed King’s sentiments.
“This is a great institution,” Adams said. “And this was a multi-year process for our board of trustees.”
Sister Denise Wilkinson, general superior of the Sisters of Providence, said the General Council supported the college’s decision.
“We’re used to change,” Sister Denise said. “And we love the college so much. This is a decision that is rooted for tomorrow.”
Saint Mother Theodore Guerin established SMWC shortly after arriving in the United States. The Academy – as it was known – officially opened its doors on July 4, 1841.
Until the May 19 statement, SMWC was the oldest women’s college in the United States.
“May God continue to bless Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and the Sisters of Providence,” Adams added.]]>
The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they all saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.
Then Jesus approached and said to them,
“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)
Inspired by the gift of the Holy Spirit received on Pentecost, the disciples had the courage needed to go forward into Galilee to preach the gospel. Jesus Himself met with them in person on the mountain and gave them further strength. Although they believed, their faith was not without some doubt. It was not that they refused to believe, it was just that there was too much for them to comprehend. In spite of this, Jesus still sent them forth to make disciples of all nations. He promised that they would not act alone. The guidance of the Holy Spirit would accompany them and Jesus would be with them always.
One can be a faithful believer and still have doubts. Faith means the acceptance of God’s word even though it is not fully comprehended. It is not necessary to be perfect as disciples of Jesus. It is only necessary to rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the knowledge that Jesus is with us always.]]>
She was 89 years old and had been a Sister of Providence for 71 years.
Funeral services for Sister Dorothy will be Sunday, May 31, and Monday, June 1, in the Church of the Immaculate Conception.
A wake will take place from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., on Sunday, May 31, with Vespers at 4:30 p.m.
Mass of Christian Burial will take place at 11 a.m., on Monday, June 1.
We welcome you to share your memories of Sister Dorothy in the comment section below.]]>
I’m often asked to write a blog for feast days or holy seasons — Christmas, Ash Wednesday, Easter; and I’m okay with those. However, I’ve been asked a few times to write for the feast of Pentecost.
I dread it. My theology of the Holy Spirit definitely needs some development. When expressing this concern to my colleagues, the general councilors, we somehow got onto naming the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit which naturally led to the 12 fruits of the Holy Spirit.
We were — among the five of us — able to list all seven of the gifts. We fared not as well with the 12 fruits. So we did what almost everyone does these days. We “Googled” it.
Stop a moment before reading more. Can you name the 12 fruits of the Holy Spirit? Try. (Pause)
They are: charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity. I found these on www.loyolapress.com. The listing was good and satisfied my curiosity.
What captured my attention however was this sentence from the website entry:
“…the fruits of the Holy Spirit … are the observable behaviors of people who have allowed the grace of the Holy Spirit to be effective in them.”
A big light bulb went on in my head and heart! What has probably been crystal clear to everyone else finally made sense to me. When we open ourselves to the presence of the Holy Spirit, there are tangible results, gifts given to be received and passed on.
Since reading this line, I’ve spent time each day praying about one of the fruits — asking myself if patience is an observable behavior in me. Charity? Joy? Kindness? Goodness? Gentleness? The list goes on, does it not?
For the first time, these were not just words — the definitions of which I knew. I finally caught on they are behaviors, actions and attitudes guiding my life, my choices, my approach to others. Perhaps this has been perfectly obvious to you for years. I’m happy it became so in me within the past couple of weeks.
In celebrating the season of Pentecost, let charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, chastity be “observable behaviors” in us — letting the whole world know that we have “allowed the grace of the Holy Spirit be effective” in us.
Sister Denise Wilkinson
“Not in Iraq, not in Afghanistan, not in Guantanamo, but in the City of Chicago,” more than 120 African-American men and women were subjected to racially motivated torture, including electric shock, mock executions, suffocation and beatings by now former Police Commander Jon Burge and his subordinates from 1972 through 1991.
(Note: The above quote was augmented from a statement by Joey Mogul of People’s Law Office).
After decades of grassroots struggle, in which the 8th Day Center for Justice has participated, the Chicago City Council passed the reparations package for the Burge torture survivors and their family members on May 6, 2015!
The Reparations Ordinance was drafted to provide compensation to approximately 120 African-American men and women subjected to racially motivated torture, including all of the above mentioned maltreatment.
The Reparations Bill included a formal apology for the torture; specialized counseling services to the Burge torture survivors and their family members on the South Side; free enrollment and job training in city colleges for survivors and family members (including grandchildren); a construction of a permanent public memorial to the survivors; and it set aside $5.5 million for a Reparations Fund for Burge Torture Victims that will allow the survivors to receive financial compensation for the torture they endured.
Chicago is the first municipality in the history of the United States to ever provide reparations for racially motivated law enforcement violence.
In doing so, the City of Chicago is agreeing to acknowledge the City’s responsibility for gross human rights violations and to commit significant resources to begin to help repair the harm inflicted on the torture survivors, their families and the communities they come from.
The enactment of this legislation sends a strong message that activism and organizing matter in the ongoing struggle for human rights and social justice is necessary.]]>
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” (John 20:19-23)
What do you think about when you hear of locked doors? … the need to keep things safe? … fear of harm? Supposedly, for Jesus’ disciples, it was for fear of the Jews. Was it also fear of facing their guilt after abandoning Jesus? It seems only John remained at the foot of the cross.
After His resurrection, Jesus passing through those locked doors, took away their fears when He said “Peace be with you.” In fact, He said it twice to convince them that He understood their frailty and forgave them. In that moment, when they realized their sins were truly forgiven, Jesus bestowed on them the power to forgive the sins of others. In that moment, the Sacrament of Reconciliation was instituted by Christ.
Have you ever known the fear of facing someone whom you hurt or let down? Imagine how the disciples felt when Jesus gave offered them forgiveness and peace instead of anger. Remember, Jesus offers you that same forgiveness and peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.]]>
Some of the photos from the album were just too fun not to share. So I offer you a sampling here.
And If you haven’t read Sister Cathy Campbells’s article from HOPE about Sister Jean’s amazing project at the lake, you won’t want to miss it. You can find it here.
Disposable diapers last centuries in landfills. An average baby will go through 8,000 of them!
Buy some cloth diapers or wipes for a baby shower gift. Did you know that the SP gift store, Linden Leaf Gifts, now sells cloth diapers? Learn more here.]]>
—– A reading from Philippians 1:3-11
This is my beloved daughter in whom I am well pleased!
One thing we know for certain is that God’s compassion was new each morning through the faith-filled life, caring heart and friendship of Sister Loretta Maureen, whose memory we hold in benediction. Her life was a single canticle of praise in gratitude in her provident God for the gift of her life, her baptism, and her vocation as a Sister of Providence, said Sister Barbara Ann Zeller in her commentary for Sister Loretta Maureen Gansemer, who died on Sunday, May 17. She was 85 years old and had been a Sister of Providence for 66 years.
Loretta was born in Missouri Valley, Iowa, in 1930, and was the daughter of Helen and Francis Gansemer. To best support his wife and daughter, her father traveled to California in search of good employment and when Loretta was about 6 years old, she and her mother moved to Hawthorne to be with him. It is there that her brother, Duane, and sister, Barbara, were born and raised. She adored and revered her mother and only truly came to know her father much later in her adult life. She was wonderfully proud to call Duane her brother and grew to love, treasure, and take glorious pride in Diana, his wife, and Alyson, his daughter. Loretta was equally proud to call Barbara her sister, as she relished times spent with her and her daughters, Theresa and Robin. Early in her religious life, she was privileged with becoming for all practical purposes an adopted member of the Bussing family. She loved you tenderly, Sister Richard, Frank and Jean, and your more than wonderful sisters, Francis and Eleanor and your families.
Having met the Sisters of Providence at St. Joseph’s parish in Hawthorne, Loretta entered the Congregation in January 1949. In September 1950, she was diagnosed with a grave heart illness, which required major surgery of her aorta, at which time she returned to her California home. After successful surgery and recuperation, she returned to her beloved St. Mary’s and received the habit in August 1951. The greatest joy of her heart always was to say she was a Sister of Providence. She was a devoted student, daughter and follower of Mother Theodore and avidly read every syllable she knew to be written about her; and often quoted her. And how she reveled in the glory of belonging to the Sisters of Providence bands of 1949 and 1951!
She was a person who modeled great love; trying every day to live as her best self – hoping to be a mirror of Jesus, her beloved.
She taught students in the second-, third- and fourth-grades in Texas, Illinois, Indiana and, primarily, in California. She spoke with such pride, fulfillment and joy about the blessing of preparing so many youngsters to receive their first holy communion and knew the ministry was good in spite of all the butterflies she felt prior to each community celebration.
In Los Angeles, she was a CCD Coordinator and for eight years, was the Villa Coordinator for the Sisters of Social Services Retirement Community. Because of her gentle spirit and caring heart, the Sisters at the Villa grew to become very fond of Loretta as did their congregation administration.
Long after her years of ministry with them, many of the sisters stayed in close contact with her by phone, email, cards and letters, continuing to celebrate the good times and the not-so-good times of their lives.
Following her ministry with the Sisters of Social Services, she had the treasured blessing of being a full-time caregiver for her mother until her mother’s death in 2004. Unabashedly, Loretta would name this ministry and this time in her life as the ones she cherished most. Being a caregiver was in her DNA, but the filial bond she shared with her mother was the quintessential inspiration that only one who loves with a daughter’s heart is able to understand.
After her mother’s death, she spent nine years as the Director of the Senior Center at Guerin Woods in Georgetown, Indiana. In her gentle-minded way and with her grace of presence, she had a wholesome and healing effect and left remarkably good and deep footprints on the lives of those whom she served and with whom she served at the Center and beyond.
On hearing of her death, the campus resonated with gratitude for the gift of her as so many were heard to say, “She was the sweetest person; she gave all she had; she was like a big sister to me; she was always good to everyone who came to the Center; my heart is broken.”
On leaving Guerin Woods, Loretta went to Saint Mary’s and, while in healthcare, committed herself to the importance of her prayer ministry for the growth and success of our Providence Spirituality and Conference Center. All of us can rest assured that now she can really do grand things for the Center.
The last two years of her life were probably the hardest for Loretta, as she, the born caregiver, became the one who needed to be given care. During these years, she fought terribly against all odds to be healthy and independent, and even though her body became more and more tired and worn, to her last breath her spirit was fiery and strong as she held on to her desire to live the gospel message and to continue to give to her community, her family and her friends. Just before she breathed her last, she was at liturgy in the Church of the Immaculate Conception in prayerful presence and most probably remembering all of us in prayer to her provident God asking that He who began the good work in her and in each of us will see that it is finished.
Even though she lived her life in grateful response and spent precious time in so many and valued ministries touching the minds and inspiring the souls of so many, at the end of too many days with great anguish, she doubted if she were a success at what she had done for God’s kingdom. But Loretta leaned into the arms of divine providence who painted the masterpiece of her life. The chaos and beauty of her ups and downs, ins and outs, became clearer to her and God’s vision made sense to her as she looked beyond the changing circumstances, always remembering His love and provision.
She prayed every day, “I will do you will today,” while taking a deep breath and asking for the gift of peace; and, she continued to faithfully pray the words of Saint Paul, “I am quite certain that the One who began this good work in you will see that it is finished when the Day of Christ Jesus comes. It is only natural that I should feel like this toward you all, since you have shared the privileges which have been mine …”
In life, she may have believed her living left no visible trace, but perhaps in death, she now knows the poetry and the true beauty of life is nothing else but our provident God living in human souls and that that living will go on and on, and her life, though she believed it not to have left a visible trace, will most certainly not have been in vain but was grace filled for all of us blessed in knowing her.
Nearly every day, regardless of the day of the week, of her 66 years as a daughter of Mother Theodore, she would get up at 5 a.m., to pray for all of us and the intentions of our hearts and to live over and over again the words of Philippians, “I thank my God whenever I think of you; and every time I pray for all of you, I pray with joy, remembering how you have helped to spread the good news …”
So much can be said about the gift Loretta was to each of us, and we will meet her often in memory with grateful and happy hearts.
We will remember her love for the Eucharist; her devotion to Mary; her faithfulness to prayer, to her vows, to her sisters and her friends; and the pride she had in the Sisters of Providence.
We will remember the huge gift of humble generosity and her spacious welcome to everyone she encountered; and how she graciously let go of her wants to do whatever was needed to be done for another in need.
We will remember enjoying California sunsets and touring Olvera Street with her; hearing her talk about her favorite canines: Toby, Willie and Teddy; watching the entertaining rabbits in the courtyard and sipping Cappuccino; sharing her love for vanilla ice cream and New Year’s Eve parties; having breakfast at Scotties on Redondo Beach; cheering on the Dodgers; watching the delight in her eyes as she would spot a Cardinal in flight; walking together with her in spring on the sacred ground of her beloved Saint Mary’s and hearing her passionately telling Mother Nature to “think green;” Watching “Law and Order” and Saturday afternoon westerns on TV; celebrating Cinco de Mayo; taking wonderful pride in her niece’s horse having won international acclaim; her enjoyment of painting on canvas – especially those paintings of old barns; her special greetings on holidays and treasured collections; her penchant for never forgetting the names of anyone she met; beautifying God’s world by planting purple hyacinths and hibiscus; her distinguished and gracious manners; her love for the color pink; her willingness in always asking for forgiveness as she felt the need; and her celebrating her 85th birthday only a few days ago and hearing her describe the day as being so happy and lovely with so many visitors bringing cards, flowers and gifts.
Sister Loretta Maureen, our Sister and friend, you will be missed as much as you are loved. We who have known you and loved you believe our tears are less about mourning than for the breathtaking beauty of your life. Thank you for the memories of abundant grace and simple goodness. Our hearts and lives are full of remembrance. We have heard the melody of God’s great love through all the years we have known you. Now that you are with your provident God for whom you have longed, send us your blessings and pray for each of us that we will imitate the life and love we celebrate in you.
Services for Sister Loretta took place on Wednesday, May 20, and Thursday, May 21, in the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
A wake took place from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., on Wednesday, May 20, with Vespers at 4:30 p.m. Mass of Christian burial took place at 11 a.m., on Thursday, May 21.
We welcome you to share your memories of Sister Loretta Maureen in the comment section below.]]>