Called by Spirit, United by Love: Sisters of Charity Associates Celebrate 50th Anniversary
In September 2023, the Associates of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati will commemorate their 50th anniversary. It was on Sept. 5, 1973, that Blasa Rivera made her commitment in Pueblo, Colorado, as the first Associate of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. Almost 50 years later, the Associate program is comprised of 204 lay women and men who feel called to partner with the Sisters in responding to the gospel in the spirit of St. Elizabeth Bayley Seton, the first American-born saint and foundress of the first American community of women religious.
This milestone has only been marked by a handful of other Associate programs in the United States and demonstrates the swift response of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati to the documents of the Second Vatican Council urging religious communities to envision new ways to embody their mission and spirit.
S. Rita Hawk, who was an advocate of the program from its very beginning and served as director from 1992-’97, said upon the program’s inception, “The primary focus of the program is for co-members [now called Associates] and Sisters to exchange prayer, energy and support with one another in their commitment to live the gospel, especially with regard to a shared vision of the Church and womanhood.” This has been borne out over 50 years of shared mission and vision.
Associates are women and men, single, married and divorced, Catholic and Protestant, even vowed members of other religious communities. All search for meaningful spiritual life enhanced and informed by the vision of Elizabeth Seton. Some Associates volunteer directly with sponsored ministries of the Sisters of Charity Community, some work in parishes, schools, hospitals, and in social justice activism. Others are quietly the caretakers of their families where they bring the legacy of love and service to the next generations.
Director of Associates Chanin Wilson shares, “In my years as an Associate and now as director of the Associate program, I have witnessed the deep-rooted commitment of the SC Associates as they individually live out their own personal call to the mission and spirit of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. Each is on their own spiritual journey and have found strength, enrichment and support from the Sisters willing to walk with them.”
A special gathering and Mass is planned at the Community’s Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse on Sept. 2, 2023. With Associates living in 23 states across the country as well as the United Kingdom, various celebrations will take place regionally throughout the Labor Day weekend to commemorate the occasion. The theme for the anniversary celebration is “Called by Spirit, United by Love.” Additional events, information and feature articles will be included on the Sisters of Charity website and social media pages (www.srcharitycinti.org). For additional information about the Associate program and its history, please visit: https://www.srcharitycinti.org/join-our-mission/become-an-associate/.