Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Associates: A 50 Year History 1972-2022 (Part 02)

by | Aug 1, 2022 | Formation | 0 comments

Mother Lucille’s Proposal Approved
On January 25, 1972, Mother Lucille’s proposal was approved by the Executive Committee, thus formalizing the SCN Associate relationship.[15] A few days prior, at a meeting that ran January 20-23, the Board of Trustees accepted Martha Cullen as an Associate member and Marie Ferretti as an Affiliate member, shifting from her position as an Associate to an Affiliate. (Affiliates, at this time, had the ultimate goal of joining the SCNs in vows).[16] Over the next two years, the Sisters and the SCN Associates took small steps to formalize and develop the Associate relationship. A membership card for Associates was discussed at a March 1972 Executive Committee meeting.[17] Paula Henkel was admitted to Associate membership in April of that same year.[18] By the summer of 1972, the “SCN Associate Member Program” was loosely defined as having the goal of “effective collaboration in the Spirit by sharing in the spirit of the SCN Community, [and through] support for [the] associate’s personal call from Christ.” Membership was open to, “former SCN members and other committed Christians.” SCN Associates of this era could expect to be in relationship with the Sisters through communal prayer, personal contact with Sisters, access to SCN newsletters and other communications, and by assisting in ministry. In some cases, Associates also supported the work of the Congregation through financial contributions.[19]At the end of 1972, on December 1st, Sister James Ellen Huff expressed a particular interest in the fledgling Associates.[20] A month later, she submitted a proposal to the Executive Committee, offering to create a more structured program for the SCN Associates.[21] She was encouraged to move forward with this proposal, in addition to her other duties. Sister James Ellen’s progress with an Associate program was somewhat hampered by her fulltime ministry as librarian at La Salette Academy in Covington for one year, but by August 1973, Sister James Ellen was back at Spalding College (now Spalding University). In January 1974, she was joined in her efforts by Sister Marilyn Spink, who was equally determined to create a program for the SCN Associates.[22]The First Associate
On the 15th of February 1974, Toni Vano made her first commitment as an SCN Associate at St. Patrick Church in Brockton, Massachusetts; she was the first SCN Associate from the East Coast.[23] By this time, approximately six people had been named SCN Associates, beginning with Barbara Houston, though she was an Associate of an earlier understanding. As a result of the organic and winding path the SCN Associate relationship took as it came into being, there has been some confusion over the years regarding who, exactly, was the first SCN Associate. Different sources and different individuals assert different views. The Executive Committee minutes of the 19th of October 1970 clearly refer to Barbara Houston as the “first associate.”[24] By the end of 1971, the Executive Committee reported two active Associates – Lynda Dwyer and Marie Ferretti.[25] Three days before the Executive Committee approved Mother Lucille’s proposal for a formal Associate relationship, Martha Cullen was approved as an Associate – the fifth Associate, according to the records that we have available.[26] In April 1972, Paula Henkel became the first recorded Associate after the formal approval of the Associate proposal.[27] Sister Barbara Thomas, in an address given at the first SCNA Core Council meeting in 1982, referred to Toni Vano (made Associate in February 1974) as the first Associate.[28] This, at least, it seems safe to say, was done in error. The individual most consistently referred to as the “first SCN Associate,” is Martha Cullen. A brief list of historical facts about the SCN Associates and the caption on a photo of Martha Cullen, both located in the Nazareth Archives, state that she was the first SCN Associate. Sister Mary Ransom Burke also stated that Martha Cullen was the first Associate.[29] It would be easy to say that Martha Cullen was the first Associate under the new, formal relationship, but for the fact that she was named an Associate three days before that relationship was formalized. In which case, one could argue, based on the records, that Paula Henkel was the first formal Associate. While confounding for timelines (and desperate archivists), the ambiguity surrounding the “first Associate” aligns well with the reality that the SCN Associate relationship grew out of life and the SCN family merely claimed it and gave it a name. Perhaps it is fair to say that Mr. Morgan and Mr. Wesley of Old St. Thomas days were the first SCN Associates. Regardless, it is clear that for nearly as long as there have been Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, there have been loyal friends and associates of the Congregation.

Sister Barbara Peterson and Emily Pugh help Toni Vano celebrate becoming an SCN Associate on February 15, 1974.

Written by Kelly McDaniels, Archivist, SCNA

A history this multifaceted could not have been wrangled into a coherent document without the help of many. I am immensely grateful to all of those who have assisted in any way. First and foremost, a huge thank you to Mary Martin, SCNA, for giving me a solid basis for what to include in this history and for painstakingly reviewing each and every draft. Thank you to Sister Maria Vincent Brocato for interviewing multiple SCN Associates as part of this project, to Sister Malini Manjaly, Archivist in Mokama, for helping me piece together the history of the Associates in India, and to Sister Nalini Meachariyil for helping me with the history of the Associates in Botswana. My thanks as well to Tammy Mattingly, SCNA and Administrative Assistant of the Associate Office, for answering a million and more questions; and to my many wonderful readers (listed below) who have helped with grammar, clarity, and adding a richness to this story that I could not have achieved on my own. Thank you to all of those who contributed their memories and beautiful stories from the past fifty years: Evelyn Faldowski, SCNA; Mary Gene Frank, SCNA; Sister Paschal Maria Fernicola; Sister Barbara Flores; Sister Rhoda Kay Glunk; Charlotte Hazas, SCNA; Sister Beverly Hoffman; Donna Kenney; Sister Rosemarie Kirwan; Sister Marlene Lehmkuhl; Trudi Maish, SCNA; Andy Meyer, SCNA; Jo Ann Paulin, SCNA; Peggy Masterson Ryan, SCNA; Sister Marilyn Shea; and many others who shared a story in passing. Finally, thank you to each and every person whom I have peppered with questions or who has listened to me obsess over this impossibly tangled history for the past several months.

Reviewed and proofread by: Maria Vincent Brocato, SCN; Sharon Cecil, SCNA; Mary Gene Frank, SCNA; Charlotte Hazas, SCNA; Josef Jareczek, Ph.D., best friend of the Archivist; Sister Marlene Lehmkuhl; Mary Martin, SCNA; and Sister Marilyn Shea.


Note on sources: Sources used in this history can be located at the Nazareth Archival Center, SCN Center, or on the SCN Family website.

[15] “With Whom Do We Associate?” SCN News. March 1975, Vol. III, No. 2, p. 1-2; Martin, Mary. History of the Associates of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth 1972-1997. 1997, p. 2.

[16] Board of Trustees Minutes 20-23 Jan. 1972, p. 4. NLBI Supplemental Minutes and Materials 1971-1979. (located at SCN Center).

[17] Executive Committee Minutes, 15 Mar. 1972, p. 1, Executive Committee Minutes 1970-1973 box (located at SCN Center).

[18] Executive Committee Minutes, 20-23 Apr. 1972, p. 4, Executive Committee Minutes 1970-1973 box (located at SCN Center).

[19] Development Programs of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. SCN Archival Center, SCN Government Collection, General Assemblies & Chapters Box D, “1972 Reports” file.

[20] Executive Committee Minutes, 1 Dec. 1972, p. 6, Executive Committee Minutes 1970-1973 box (located at SCN Center).

[21] Executive Committee Minutes, 17 Jan. 1973, p. 4, Executive Committee Minutes 1970-1973 box (located at SCN Center).

[22] Executive Committee Minutes, 22-25 Jan. 1974, p. 4, Executive Committee Minutes 1974-1988 box (located at SCN Center).

[23] Vano, Toni. “Associate Member Received in ‘East’.” SCN News. May 1974, Vol. II, No. 7, p. 8.

[24] Executive Committee Minutes, 19 Oct. 1970, p. 1, Executive Committee Minutes 1970-1973 box (located at SCN Center).

[25] Executive Committee Minutes, 13 Dec. 1971, p. 2, Executive Committee Minutes 1970-1973 box (located at SCN Center).

[26] Board of Trustees Minutes 20-23 Jan. 1972, p. 4. NLBI Supplemental Minutes and Materials 1971-1979. (located at SCN Center).

[27] Executive Committee Minutes, 20-23 Apr. 1972, p. 4, Executive Committee Minutes 1970-1973 box (located at SCN Center).

[28] Kelley, Patricia. “SCNA Council Meets to Develop Program.” SCN News. November 1982, Vol. II, No. 2, p. 7

[29] Burke, Mary Ransom. Interview, 1991. See SCN Archival Center Card Catalog under SCN Associate Membership Program.


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