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Sister Carol Nolan to be honored

A phone call Sister Carol Nolan received a few weeks ago came as quite a surprise.

Sister Carol, the Director of Providence in the Desert, a ministry of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, received a phone call from the organization Democratic Women of the Desert.

Officials with the organization asked Sister Carol if she was be available to attend the 2014 Women Honoring Women awards and fundraiser, scheduled for May 17, and if she would accept being named as their Volunteer of the Year.

“Of course I replied affirmatively to both questions,” Sister Carol said. “I feel very honored to have been chosen as Volunteer of the Year.”

The event is scheduled to take place at the Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Providence in the Desert is a program of Guerin Outreach Ministries. The ministry was established in 2002 by Sister Carol.

She said in 1996, the Sisters of Providence had considered ministering in Mexico. At the time, Sister Carol, who had been at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College for almost three decades, was interested, but she had already finalized a three-year ministry in Taiwan.

When she returned, the ministry in Mexico had not materialized. However, Sister Marilu Covani, who ministers in the diocese of San Bernardino, Calif., suggested to Sister Carol to travel to southern California and explore possible ministries.

“I did, and in the course of many providential happenings, I was able to begin and continue this ministry,” Sister Carol said.

“I wanted to go where nobody was, rather than fill in at some established ministry,” she continued.

The mission of the ministry is to teach English to immigrant farmworkers at no cost. The ministry is based in Coachella, Calif., located in the southeastern portion of the Coachella Valley.

“We teach English as a second language to immigrants from Mexico who live in in the eastern Coachella Valley, and who work mostly in the fields, picking produce,” Sister Carol said.

“Sister Loretta Picucci and I oversee the program. We are assisted by a number of volunteers and also some paid teachers. A volunteer and I also teach music in two area elementary schools.”

Sister Carol said after arriving in San Bernardino, she went to the pastoral center and asked where the “most underserved area of the diocese was.”

“They all said Coachella, so that’s where I came,” she said.

Sister Carol is one of six women who will be honored May 17. Joining her are Anita Rufus (Voice of Women’s Rights), Megan Beaman (Civil Rights), Elle Kurpiewski (Lifetime Achievement), Sonja Martin (Democratic Ideals) and Eileen Stern (Humanitarian).

“I know one of the other women who will be honored at the event,” Sister Carol said. “Eileen responded to our call for volunteers in the fall. She has shared some English as a Second Language materials she used in working with gardeners and others working in her housing development.

“We have kept in touch, and she stands ready to help us when she can. We are both very pleased to be in this together!”

According to its website, Democratic Women of the Desert is “dedicated to promoting social, economic and political policies that reflect the priorities of women,” through educating members on women’s issues, increasing members’ political awareness, increasing political participation of women in the community, active recruitment of women of all ages, and raising campaign contributions for candidates who support the program.

“I very much appreciate the efforts of the Democratic Women of the Desert to further issues of justice and equal opportunity,” Sister Carol said. “This winter, for instance, they awarded college scholarships to several young women. I was especially pleased that one of them had attended an elementary school in the East Valley where I teach music.”

About the Sisters of Providence

The Sisters of Providence, a congregation of 214 women religious, with 300 Providence Associates, collaborate with others to create a more just and hope-filled world through prayer, education, service and advocacy. The Sisters of Providence have their motherhouse at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, located just northwest of downtown Terre Haute, Ind., which is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin founded the Sisters of Providence at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in 1840. Today, Sisters of Providence minister in 13 states, the District of Columbia and Asia, through works of love, mercy and justice. More information about the Sisters of Providence and their ministries can be found at SistersofProvidence.org.

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Jason Moon

Jason Moon serves as media relations manager for the Sisters of Providence. Previously, he spent more than 16 years in the newspaper industry.
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Media contact

For inquiries or information, contact Jason Moon at jmoon@spsmw.org or 812-535-2810.

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