"The greater the work the more
important it is to establish it on
a solid foundation. Thus it will
not only be more perfect; it
will also be more lasting.”

St. Louise de Marillac

“Be diligent in serving
the poor. Love the poor,
honor them, my children,
as you would honor
Christ Himself.”

St. Louise de Marillac

 

Amplifying History

By Katelyn Rieder, Communications co-op

(From left) S. Judith Metz, congregational historian, and Archivist Veronica Buchanan were significant contributors to the permanent exhibits in the Motherhouse.

Recently, the Sisters of Charity Archives displayed a new exhibit space in the first-floor hallway of the Motherhouse, close to their offices. The various cases of artifacts and text panels tell the story of the foundational years of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati, the Mystic Seven, and the Community’s first foreign mission – China.

In 2021 when the Motherhouse was undergoing renovations, some spaces that were previously used for Archives exhibits were repurposed. This created an interest in the Archives to utilize the first-floor hallway. In an effort to cater to their audience, Archivist Veronica Buchanan connected with Sisters and Associates through many surveys and Zoom meetings to ask what they would like to see. The exhibit space is a direct result of the Community’s response.

Under Veronica’s direction, several skilled individuals came together to create this exhibit. Hannah Hoggatt was an intern out of Xavier University studying public history, and did much of the research for photos and captions. Hannah also assisted the department with reaching out to other congregations’ archives for materials, especially the Religious of the Sacred Heart in St. Louis, Missouri, and the Sisters of Loretto in Kentucky.

Natalie Lloyd, who works in the Archbishop Alter Library at Mount St. Joseph University, has been creating a detailed finding aid for the Archives’ extensive China mission collection. Natalie’s detailed work in providing descriptions of each letter and document in much of the collection helped Hannah and Veronica with the research required for the China exhibit.

S. Sheila Gallagher, a volunteer in the Archives, was primarily focused on discovering where the early Sisters were missioned throughout the world. S. Sheila also assisted in the crucial task of identifying and matching names to faces in older photographs.

S. Judith Metz, congregational historian, also made important contributions with putting all the many pieces together from the volunteers and writing the content for both the China and Early History panels. This team of dedicated individuals was able to transform the idea of the exhibit into a reality.

Veronica worked to ensure that the values of the Sisters of Charity were amplified in the project. “You can see how the Sisters set up their early ministries in the exhibit, but also how they struggled in those years,” she continued. “They were coming to terms with what they wanted to see from their community, and how they wanted to incorporate humility, simplicity, and charity.”

The exhibit is planned to be a permanent feature of the Motherhouse. This will not only allow for everyone to have an opportunity to see it in-person, but also to continue to educate others on the history of the congregation.

“At this point in time for religious life, I think it’s really important to be able to share the Sisters’ stories,” Veronica said. “It’s becoming more and more of an untold story, so there’s a big push to try to preserve that history as much as possible.”

While a big part of sharing the story comes from people like Veronica, it is also up to us to help carry out the legacy. She said, “So few people outside of our world really know and appreciate the history and legacy of Catholic Sisters in the United States and their impact all over the world. It’s very important that we share as much as possible through different social media outlets, our publications, even just through word of mouth about what the Sisters have done.”

To learn more about the exhibit, view the following video.

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