Sisters making mainstream headlines

This article appears in the Sisters Making Mainstream Headlines feature series. View the full series.

Just try to resist reading a story under this headline: “Golf cart nun to retire at 93.” I couldn’t do it this week. So read on.

A papal meet-and-greet?

In all the news about Pope Francis coming to the United States next year, it hadn’t dawned on me to wonder: Will he stop and visit Mother Angelica?

But the question occurred to Al.com in Alabama, home to the world’s largest Catholic TV network and (arguably) the most famous woman religious of all.

Apparently Birmingham’s mayor, William Bell, has invited the Pope to visit the state, where Mother Angelica lives in Hanceville and EWTN is headquartered in Irondale.

But don’t get your hopes up, Mother Angelica fans.

"I think Mayor Bell's invitation to Pope Francis to visit Birmingham is a wonderful gesture and really shows how much the Holy Father has captured the attention of the world,” EWTN President and CEO Mike Warsaw told Al.com.

“Realistically though, papal visits are huge international events that usually take a year or more to coordinate and also typically cost tens of millions of dollars. While it is highly unlikely that we will see the Pope in Birmingham, one of the great things about Pope Francis is that he is always full of surprises, so you never know."

Yep, you just never know.

A plea answered

KTVB, a TV station in Boise, Idaho, has helped relatives of the late Sr. Marlene Miller re-examine the cause of her death last year.

“She was killed October 10, 2013,” Miller's niece, Linda Rinne, told the station. “She died a day before her 71st birthday.”

Miller, who had retired to Caldwell, Idaho, was driving her Volkswagen when an onion truck driven by 22-year-old Katelyn Bergland ran a red light and hit her, killing Miller instantly.

Until Rinne contacted the TV station, local authorities had apparently done little to determine what, if anything, Bergland, should be held responsible for.

The county prosecutor’s office would not return the TV station’s calls for comment. After reporters kept asking questions, Idaho State Police located Bergland and arrested her for misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter. She was due to make her first court appearance this week. If found guilty, she could spend a year in prison.

Rinne said she was only looking for justice, not vengeance, for her aunt.

An oasis in noisy times

The Dominican Sisters of Peace have opened a community gathering place called the Peace Center in New Orleans’ Broadmoor neighborhood.

An old grocery store was renovated into a space where people can find computer training, Bible study, counseling, tutoring and gather for neighborhood events, Nola.com reports.

Srs. Suzanne Brauer, Patricia Thomas and Ceal Warner, who volunteered to run the center, live in apartments on the second floor.

“We wanted to create a place of peace so that peace will flow out to the people," Brauer said.

“We know so many people’s lives are troubled in so many ways. We certainly aren't the answer to all of it but, you know, if they know somebody cares and somebody's willing to listen maybe even make some connections for them that would be really great. So we're not the saviors, we’re the companions.”

They need an oasis, too

A sure sign of the times: The Capuchin Poor Clares in Denver are raising money so that they can move into a more peaceful, quiet neighborhood.

The Denver Post reports that the neighborhood on the city’s north side where the sisters settled in 1988 has grown in population and built up greatly, forcing them to find quieter environs for their contemplative life.

They’ve spent a few years looking for a site outside of Denver and have raised $200,000 toward the $1.5 million they need to repair and upgrade a building they’ve chosen.

“It's kind of sad. Most of us have lived here many years. Some of our sisters died here,” Sr. Teresa Angeles, abbess of the order, told the newspaper.

“It's been a good experience, we love this place and love St. Patrick's, but at the same time, it's something we need to do to improve our way of life."

To raise money, the sisters are selling raffle tickets to a Denver Broncos game in December and will continue their popular Christmas cookie sale. They’re also gladly accepting donations at their capuchinpoorclares.org.

A jubilee Q & A

To mark Sr. Elaine Davia’s 50th jubilee celebration with the Sisters of Ben Secours in Maryland, Fredericksburg.com sat down with her for a question-and-answer session.

Davia, a registered nurse and family nurse practitioner, became a nun when she was 18. Here are a couple of things she talked about in her interview. To read the entire conversation, click here.

On becoming a woman religious as a teen: “Back in those days I think in general we made life decisions at a younger age. There were probably fewer recognized ‘life choices’ for women at that time, too. It seems more difficult today for young people to make permanent commitments – they happen much later.”

On what has influenced her on her journey: “The first one who always comes to mind is Sister Theophane, who used to say, ‘It is for the poor that we are here.’ When others were moving their hospitals and programs out of the inner city, she made the decision in the 1960s with her staff that Bon Secours would stay there, because that is where the need was.”

Hanging up her keys

And finally, here is the story of Sr. Ann Catherine Burger in Wichita, Kan, whose health has caught up with her, forcing her to stop delivering meals to those in need.

She is 93 and drives a golf cart to make her deliveries.

KSNW-TV in Wichita caught up with the driver for the Lord’s Diner food program to mark the end of her mission. She plans to stop the deliveries in December and begin tutoring instead because she has no plans to quit working until God stops her.

“Why do I do it? I guess ‘cause I care about the people,” said Burger, a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph. “I believe in justice for all and these people really need somebody to help them with their needs.”

In recent days she’s been making sure that the families she serves have food for Thanksgiving.

“We’re all children of God, and we’re all here together,” she said. “We all need to reach the same place in our life.”

And for her, we give thanks.

[Lisa Gutierrez is a reporter in Kansas City, Mo., who scans the non-NCR news every week for interesting pieces about sisters. She can be reached at lisa11gutierrez@gmail.com.]

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