Global Sisters Report staff poses for a photo during its December 2022 planning summit in the National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company's office in Kansas City, Missouri. Back row, from left: Ursuline Sr. Michele Morek, sister liaison to North America; Gail DeGeorge, editor; Chris Herlinger, international correspondent; Pam Hackenmiller, managing editor; Meg Nestor, marketing manager; Dan Stockman, national correspondent. Front row, from left: Presentation Sr. Joyce Meyer, international sister liaison; Soli Salgado, international editor; Sr. Helga Leija, sister liaison to Latin America; Rhina Guidos, Latin America correspondent; Doreen Ajiambo, Africa correspondent (Courtesy of Heidi Schlumpf)
We love what we do. It's that simple and that complicated. Since Global Sisters Report's start in April 2014, we have had one of the best missions in journalism: "to be a dynamic online community that reports on and gives voice to women religious around the world."
As journalists, we tell the stories about Catholic sisters globally who live out the Gospel message to care for "the least of these" in an amazing variety of ways.
In our special series, Hope Amid Turmoil: Sisters in Conflict Areas, we've recounted how sisters in Sri Lanka help those affected by the 2019 Easter bombings heal from their trauma and loss. Sisters in Ukraine assist those who have lost loved ones, livelihoods and homes after Russia's 2022 invasion while facing their own fears for family members and friends, their country, and national identity. Sisters have shared the pain they endure while aiding women and children caught in endless violence in places like South Sudan and Congo. We will have more stories and columns in this series in coming months.
This year alone, we have reported about courageous, resourceful women religious helping victims of the flooding in Malawi, ministering to those in prisons in Ireland, and getting medicine to those with HIV and AIDS in Zambia. We have written about how sisters strive for systemic change: advocating for Indigenous people in Brazil and the poor and marginalized in the Philippines; ending human trafficking; addressing the need for gender equity in accessing technology and ending gun violence. We have also chronicled the rising role of Catholic sisters at the Vatican and religious conferences, such as the Conference of Religious India, and the growing influence of the International Union of Superiors General. We've written about trends in religious life, such as new programs in formation and how sisters are transforming their assets to address environmental, housing and social needs.
Global Sisters Report has another important role: providing a venue for sisters, associates and oblates to tell their own stories.
Nuns take a photo during a break May 3 as superiors of women's religious orders meet for the plenary assembly of the International Union of Superior Generals in Rome. (CNS/Paul Haring)
Many sister-written columns have poignantly reflected on lessons from favorite Gospel passages, such as how two "no-name men" have the faith to cut a hole in a roof and drop their friend "right into the arms of Jesus Christ." A Horizons contributor wrote how omitting St. Phoebe and her role in the early church from the readings used in daily Mass obscures the history of women deacons and undermines consideration of women's place in leadership roles in the church.
A sister from Brazil recounted visiting her congregation's communities in Angola and Mozambique. Another sister columnist recently wrote how she prays for the "modern-day Mary Magdalenes — the people silenced by our church, the government, and the news when they are just trying to share the good news, announce the change needed in our world to be an authentic disciple, or dare to claim their role in the Resurrection."
Through our stories and columns, Global Sisters Report creates connections that help weave the global sisterhood. Now, we need your input to help tell our story.
We have created a survey that will be released in the form of a question or two each month that will be sent to our newsletter subscribers and posted occasionally on our website and social media accounts. Your responses will help us measure the impact of Global Sisters Report and will be used to produce an impact report for our 10th anniversary in April 2024.
Click here for the first question, and watch your email and GSR's social media accounts for upcoming ones.
Novice Alba Luz Mejia Solis, left, and Sr. Corinna Thomas participate in Evening Prayer at the InterCongregational Collaborative Novitiate in Chicago. (Julie A. Ferraro)
"Measuring impact" is an elusive and challenging goal for a publication. We know we make a difference, based on emails that readers send us. We don't solicit donations on behalf of congregations or ministries, but we hear about readers who are often moved to financially support sisters and their work. We can cite other numbers, too, such as the tens of thousands of readers worldwide who come to our website each month, plus thousands of newsletter subscribers and social media followers. Our award-winning stories and columns are reprinted in numerous publications, and last week, we won several awards from the Associated Church Press for stories and columns published in 2022. However, we need to go beyond the numbers.
Global Sisters Report has continued its record of innovative journalism since the initial vision by Sr. Joyce Meyer, then the executive director of the Conrad N. Hilton Fund for Sisters and a board member of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, and Tom Fox, editor/publisher emeritus for National Catholic Reporter.
Since our launch on April 22, 2014, we introduced a classroom edition and other special features, such as The Life, and assessed how sisters' ministries help achieve the United Nations' sustainable development goals. We honored sisters in our "Women of Faith: Honoring Catholic Sisters Killed in Service in Africa," a memorial page that will expand to include other regions of the world.
The Hilton Foundation is GSR's major funder. We thank Sr. Jane Wakahiu, a member of the Little Sisters of St. Francis, Kenya, and head of the Catholic Sisters Initiative at the Hilton Foundation, for her vision and promotion of the global sisterhood as well as the team of the Catholic Sisters Initiative for their support. They work tirelessly on behalf of sisters.
We also appreciate the support from the GHR Foundation and Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation as well as individual donors. Mostly, we thank you for reading Global Sisters Report amid all the demands on your time.
Last year, I wrote a reflection for Palm Sunday in which I said that I prayed for the sisters in Ukraine "and for sisters in Poland, Romania, South Sudan and around the world who are doing what they can to counter the forces of evil with love. In so doing, they serve as examples to us all."
As Tom Fox says, "It is not just stories. This is lived faith. Through the stories [the sisters] are telling, and through the coverage, they're forging a theology for the 21st century." I think this theology might be called: "This Is What the Gospel Looks Like."
As we come to the end of our first decade and turn our eyes toward another 10 years of telling the stories and the lived faith of sisters, it is important now to hear from you. I hope your schedule allows you to respond to our questions. We look forward to hearing from you.