Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Associates: A 50 Year History 1972-2022 (Part 04)

by | Aug 8, 2022 | Formation | 0 comments

1978 General Assembly
A notable step in the inclusion of Associates in SCN Community life was the invitation that all sixty Active Associates received to attend the 1978 General Assembly.[41] Associates were given the same role as non-delegate SCNs to listen to and discuss proposals and other matters presented over the course of the Assembly. Associates were grouped with SCNs and their comments, questions, concerns, and feedback were recorded and reported to the delegates. The opportunity to participate in a General Assembly provided a new way for Associates to learn more about the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. Ann-Marie Houghton stated that, at the 1978 General Assembly she, “…woke up to being part of a community that was international.”[42] Associate participation in the Assembly also gave the SCNs a unique opportunity to learn more about the Associates. One of the programs videotaped during the 1978 Assembly was a panel discussion in which Sister Carole Kaucic interviewed six Associates. Associates Ann-Marie and George Houghton, Mary Frederick, Liz Barry, Marian DiFiore, and Toni Vano answered questions on the subjects of why they wanted to be SCN Associates, where they saw the Associates in the future, and positive experiences they had enjoyed as the result of being Associates. During the interview, Toni Vano expressed that, “The experience of the whole week has made me feel a part. I was attached to the circle. Now I am in the middle of the circle.”[43] The entire experience served to strengthen the nascent bonds of community between Sisters and Associates.

Sister Carol Kaucic interviews a panel of SCN Associates Ann-Marie and George Houghton, Mary Frederick, Toni Vano, Marian DiFiore, and Liz Barry during the 1978 General Assembly.

The Sisters and Associates grew closer in a new way when Ann-Marie Houghton became Director of the Hospitality House (today known as the Guest House) at Nazareth. When Ann-Marie began work in her new role, she and her family – husband and fellow SCN Associate, George, and their children Geo, Maria, and David – moved into an apartment in the Hospitality House, leaving their home in Newburyport, Massachusetts.[44] The family arrived at Nazareth in January 1980, eager to be in full-time ministry with the SCNs.[45] For one year, they lived and worked at Nazareth. Ann-Marie spoke of the richness of the experience, all the many people that they got to meet working in hospitality at Nazareth, and the, “…range of opportunities for service when I was there. I loved it.”[46]

Conversion in a Community of Mission
While the Houghtons served with dedication in the role of hospitality, diligent work was also going on within the SCN Community to update the SCN Constitutions. This resulted in a series of booklets, entitled Conversion in a Community of Mission, which served as interim Constitutions while the Sisters finalized their new Constitutions and waited for Rome’s approval. Featured in these booklets was a clear definition and explanation of the Associate Membership Program, carefully honed over the years since the Congregation first began to consider having formal Associates. Following a description of canonical membership was a section on members of the Congregation who do not make a profession of vows. A revision of the description from the 1974 General Assembly proposal describing Associates, the relevant pages in Conversion in a Community of Mission read: “This is an association for women and men who wish to give formal expression to their relationship with the religious community of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. The primary bond is one of mutual support through prayer. Persons who seek a deeper experience of union with God through communication with the SCN Community are eligible for membership.”[47] The booklet went on to describe ways in which visibility can be given to the relationship on the part of the Associates and on the part of the Sisters which include things such as sharing in ministry and prayer, receiving and reading SCN communications, an official Associate membership card and pin/ring, prayer partners, inviting Associates to attend province meetings, etc.[48] In addition to providing greater clarity on what it meant to be an SCN Associate, this publication marked a historical moment for the Associates: For the first time, the SCN Associates were included in the constitutions of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth.

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.

[41] Kenney, Donna. “Director of SCN Associates reports on Program.” SCN News. May-June 1978, Vol. IV, No. 9, p. 5.

[42] Houghton, Ann-Marie. Presentation given at the SCN Associate Weekend, “A Sacred Journey: Fifty Years and Growing.” 25 Sep. 2021.

[43] “Carole questions SCNAs; learns of deep commitment.” SCN News. July 1978, Vol. VI, No. 10, p. 5.

[44] SCNA family to be in residence at Nazareth’s Hospitality House.” SCN News. Sep. 1979, Vol. VIII, No. 1, p. 1.

[45] “Houghtons enter Guest House as Year of the Family begins.” SCN News. Feb. 1980, Vol. VIII, No. 6, p. 1.

[46] Houghton, Ann-Marie. Presentation given at the SCN Associate Weekend, “A Sacred Journey: Fifty Years and Growing.” 25 Sep. 2021.

[47] Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. Conversion in a Community of Mission: Secondary Book Part II, June 1980, p. 18.

[48] Ibid. p. 18-20.



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