Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Associates: A 50 Year History 1972-2022 (Part 07)

by | Aug 20, 2022 | Formation

SCNA Ministry Corps
One question remained for the Ad Hoc Committee studying the various types of Associate membership and ways that lay people wished to be in community with the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth – how to address those who wished to make temporary commitments to share fully in the life and ministry of the Sisters. On January 6, 1988, with full support of the Executive Committee, the SCN Associates founded the SCNA Mission Corps, which would eventually be known as the Ministry Corps. This program was designed to give SCN Associates and others new opportunities to share in SCN community life and mission. The Ministry Corps was specifically designed for those with a temporary commitment to the SCN way of life in mind. Successful applicants would live and minister full-time with SCNs for one to three years. The Mission Corps was open to both men and women aged 21 and older who were recommended by three people (including minister and employer), and able to participate in a thorough orientation.[74]

The summer of 1988 witnessed a milestone for the SCN Associates when the first United States based Associate visited Belize. Carol Toon, SCNA, and six teenagers, of St. Jerome Parish in Fancy Farm, Kentucky spent a month in Belize. They were welcomed by Sister Amina Bejos, the first of many SCN hosts the group had during their stay. Eager to experience life in Belize and minister alongside the Sisters, they first spent two weeks in the village of Seine Bight. After their time in the village, they moved on to travel the country, working in various Bible Schools.[75]

Carol Toon, SCNA, and Sister Mag Riggs with others from St. Jerome Parish in Fancy Farm who traveled to minister with the SCNs and SCN Associates in Belize for several weeks

By the end of Sister Mary Lynn’s time as Associate Director in mid-1990, membership types had been clarified, new policies and procedures had been put in place, and the Mission Corps had been founded. Since 1974, more than 500 people had been received as SCN Associates.[76] The Associate relationship was thriving.

Sister Marilyn Shea, Vice President, becomes Associate Director
In 1990, the SCN Congregation made the decision to combine the administration of several offices under central leadership – the Offices of On-going Formation, Social Justice, and Director of Associates. These duties became part of the responsibilities of the Vice President for Community Life and Mission. Thus, when Sister Marilyn Shea was elected Vice President in 1990, she became Director of Associates.[77]

Sister Marilyn Shea

After a lengthy application and orientation process, the first two Ministry Corps participants began serving as volunteers. Karen Anderson, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, spent six months in the fall of 1990 teaching at an alternative school for high school dropouts in David, Kentucky and Laura Thomas, from Houston, Texas, served in multiple locations in India and Nepal from October 1990 through March 1991.[78] The overwhelming number of applicants inspired the Ministry Corps Advisory Board to take a step back in order to add more structure to the program – chiefly in the form of identifying more opportunities for ministry. As a result, only two applications were processed for the year 1991-1992. Jack and Eileen Zuber of Columbus, Ohio wished to serve in Appalachia and arrangements were made for them to minister in Pennsylvania.[79] Not long after this, however, the Ministry Corps Advisory Board made the decision to stop accepting applications until a more structured pool of possible volunteer sites could be organized.[80] While this program never resumed after this time, lay volunteers, including many Associates, continue to work closely with the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth through the SCN Lay Mission Volunteer Program, founded in 2003 and currently directed by Sister Luke Boiarski[81].

In 1992, Sister Marilyn conducted a survey of the SCN community, the results of which indicated widespread, enthusiastic acceptance and support of the Associates and their participation in every region. Two suggestions from the survey further aided her in moving the program forward: greater communication regarding the program and the Associates and that the position of Associate Director be made full-time.[82] With this data in mind, Sister Marilyn requested that the Executive Committee appoint a full-time Associate Director. As a result, Sister Marlene Lehmkuhl was named the first full-time Director of the SCN Associates in July 1993.[83]

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.

[74] Doyle, Mary Ellen and Burke, Mary Ransom. “Ad Hoc committee devises SCNA Mission Corps plan.” SCN News. Jan. 1988, Vol. XVI, No. 4, p. 6.

[75] Toon, Carol. “Third World Experience: Dreams come true during trip to Belize.” SCN News. Nov.-Dec. 1988, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 10-11; SCNA Connector, Sept. 1988, p. 6.

[76] Kelley, Patricia. “SCN Associates Recognizing the Spirit.” SCN News. May 1988, Vol. XVI, No. 7, p. 13.

[77] Shea, Marilyn. Response to Interview Questions. 14 Sep. 2021.

[78] Shea, Marilyn. “SCNA Ministry Corps: Origins and Experience.” SCN News. July 1991, Vol. XIX, No. 4, p. 11.

[79] Ibid.

[80] Martin, Mary. History of the Associates of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth 1972-1997. 1997, p. 6.

[81] “SCN Lay Mission Volunteer Program.” Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. Nazareth Literary & Benevolent Institution. Accessed December 16, 2021.; Beckett, Christine. Permanent Record Card. SCN Archival Center; SCN Directory. 2004-2005, p. X.

[82] Shea, Marilyn. Synthesis of Comments under each section of the 10/92 Survey on the Associate Program. Oct. 1992; Martin, Mary. History of the Associates of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth 1972-1997. 1997, p. 7; Shea, Marilyn. Response to Interview Questions. 14 Sep. 2021.

[83] Lehmkuhl, Marlene. Permanent Record Card. SCN Archival Center; Lehmkuhl, Marlene. Response to Interview Questions. 20 Aug. 2021. Shea, Marilyn. Response to Interview Questions. 14 Sep. 2021; Martin, Mary. History of the Associates of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth 1972-1997. 1997, p. 7.


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