You Are Mission

Posted by Kacie Emmerson

May 17, 2024

“What might it mean for the world we serve if women religious lived from the belief that our mission is the call to love? You ARE Mission.”

Listening with the Ear of One’s Heart! From the LCWR Occasional Papers Winter 2024. 


In the quiet halls of the Nazareth Motherhouse, the spirit of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth remains vibrant. As many Sisters transition into retirement or are unable to travel abroad, they are finding new and innovative ways to serve the Mission, demonstrating that the call to serve knows no bounds of age or energy.

“You know, we all aren’t just sitting in our rooms twiddling our thumbs,” said Sister Brenda Gonzales, who recently led a presentation on how Sisters can continue to serve in many ways, regardless of age. “I think we would be really taken aback to realize some of our gifts and talents and hobbies actually do continue to be part of our mission.”

Sister Brenda said retirement is an opportunity to engage in hands-on projects that benefit those in need. For example, every Monday, she visits Sister Visitor, an outreach center in Louisville that offers a food pantry for residents in need, among other services. The Sisters can support such resources by volunteering their time, donating items, upcycling, or organizing the collection of necessities such as hygiene kits.

Closer to home, the Sisters actively support the Bread for Life Community Food Pantry in Bardstown. SCNs Maggie Cooper, Sharen Baldy, and Carol McKean volunteer regularly, assisting clients in selecting groceries and ensuring that the pantry shelves are stocked. The Souper Bowl of Caring, a fundraiser held annually before the Super Bowl, sees enthusiastic participation from the Sisters, whose efforts help raise essential funds for the pantry. Excess produce grown in Nazareth’s gardens is also donated to the pantry.

Some Sisters, such as Marlene Lehmkuhl and Marilyn Shea, dedicate their time to delivering meals to the homebound, ensuring they have access to nutritious, warm food.

In Bardstown, the Sisters’ commitment also extends to various initiatives under the umbrella of Bethany Haven, a homeless shelter where Sister Brenda serves on the board. These programs include the Harbour House Inn for men and Christy’s Place for women and children, providing shelter and support to those experiencing homelessness. Room in the Inn is also part of this outreach and offers temporary overnight accommodations to the unhoused through collaborations with local churches. Sister Brenda prepares meals monthly for participants in this overnight program with the help of other volunteers, including Nazareth employees, Associates, and fellow Sisters.

On a broader scale, the Sisters can help serve even from the comfort of their rooms. Those with skills in knitting and crocheting have made hats, scarves, gloves, and masks to be donated to those in need or sold to raise funds for global missions. Recently, SCNs Anne Magruder, Rosemarie Kirwan, and Barbara Joseph Lammers have taken on the task of creating “sock” covers for water filters. This supports an initiative called Water from Women, which ensures families in developing countries have access to clean water.

“If this were to fall on a cement floor and crack or break, there’s no other place for them to go to get a replacement for this,” Sister Rosemarie said, showing off the filters. “So in order to protect these, people make these socks. … This will protect it if it lands on a hard floor.”

Sister Rosemarie said a large skein of yarn can make 13 of the covers, and even if Sisters do not crochet themselves, they are invited to donate the materials to those who do. 

Other ways in which Sisters serve include sitting with those who are ill or dying, offering hospitality to visitors, and providing tutoring in English as a Second Language. Art projects and the sale of handmade items also contribute to mission support. For instance, Sister Miriam Ann’s stamp collection funds various causes, and Sister Rosemarie’s handmade baby hats and outfits support missions through sales.

Promoting volunteer opportunities and various fundraisers also allows the less mobile Sisters to stay involved. 

Together, the Sisters continue to embody the SCN Mission by living a call to love through tangible actions. By sharing their gifts and talents and supporting each other, they create a community where everyone’s contributions are valued, and their collective efforts make a significant difference. Their retirement years are not a time of inactivity but a period of flourishing dedication.

“We pray, we donate what we have — our time, our talents,” Sister Brenda said. “All of us are Mission.”


  1. Evelyn Fugazzi

    Wherever one of us is, we all are! Evelyn Fugazzi SCN

  2. Eugenie Coakley

    Indeed all of you are Mission, still and always!

  3. Joel

    Thank you for verbalising what is inmost in me – “You Are Mission”
    You have coined a life of love in these words! We will continue our mission till our last breath!!

    • Basanti Lakra

      Thank you Sister Brenda for sharing all the activities our Sisters do at Nazareth. It is true that these Sisters of ours are Mission. It is very inspiring and I express my gratitude to each one. Indeed we all are Mission.

  4. Maria Brocato

    Thank you for remembering the inspiration these good women give us.


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