Sisters of Charity of Nazareth Associates: A 50 Year History 1972-2022 (Part 15)

by | Sep 17, 2022 | Formation

The COVID-19 Pandemic
In March 2020, the Associates, along with the entire world, were faced with an incredible challenge when the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic sent the world into quarantine. Events were canceled as people the world over began to realize the situation would not be solved by a simple two-week quarantine. Nazareth was closed to the public and the majority of its employees were instructed to work from home as much as possible. The entire world was gripped in the fear of uncertainty surrounding the new, pervasive disease.

SCN Associates from Chandapura in India meet virtually in August 2020.

Gradually, the world adapted. The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth and SCN Associates learned new ways to connect. In a time where video conferencing technologies like Zoom became an essential means of maintaining contact, those members of the first virtual Faith Group found themselves at a bit of an advantage, having already learned how to hold their Faith Group meetings via Zoom. The new Initial Formation Study Guide, which had been formally approved by the Western Province Board by December 2019, provided flexibility with initial formation that was even more necessary now than it had been originally.[192] As the Associates learned how to navigate the dramatic changes caused by quarantine, they continued to live the SCN charism and ministry.

Sisters and Associates maintain social distancing at a gathering in Mokama in August 2020.

In the summer of 2020, Andy Meyer formally announced that he planned to retire from his role as Associate Director on the 10th of September. The discernment process had already begun for a new Director.[193] Over the course of two short years, Andy had guided the SCN Associates through a time of renewal, led them to greater structure, the development of a formation program to fit modern day needs, and brought the entire global community together to focus on clear goals in a strategic plan. By the promised date of Andy’s retirement, a new Director, Associate Beth Vetter, was ready to step into her new role, and the first fully virtual SCN Associate Retreat had been planned.[194]

Beth Vetter, SCNA

Beth Vetter Commissioned as Associate Director during the First Virtual Associate Weekend
Over the course of a historic weekend, from September 18-20, 2020, the SCN Associates and SCNs met virtually via Zoom, webcast, and closed-circuit television. Over 100 Sisters and Associates from multiple states and Belize participated. For the first time, all first commitments and commitment renewals were made virtually. Sister Barbara Flores presented on the topic of “Transformative Spirituality: Forging a Hopeful Path.” Far-flung attendees were able to participate directly via chat options and breakout groups in Zoom. Andy Meyer was wished the best in his retirement and Beth Vetter was commissioned as the newest SCN Associate Director. The virtual event would not have been possible without the talented Communications team at Nazareth, Patsy O’Toole, SCNA, Diane Curtis, Dana Hinton, and Spalding Hurst. The event was praised by all and requests were made for future virtual events. One of the highlights of hosting a virtual event was that far more people could participate, including those who would not normally be able to do so due to an inability to travel all the way to Nazareth. This blessing was clearly displayed when Associates from Belize led those assembled in an opening prayer for the event and all present could see and hear them as the birds in Belize sang in the background.[195]

The momentum brought to the Associates during Andy’s time as Director was carried forward into Beth’s term despite the challenges of the pandemic. Virtual events were planned for February and April of 2021 as the world waited for COVID-19 vaccines and the abatement of the pandemic.[196] In June 2021 the SCN Associate Handbook revisions were pronounced complete. It includes sections on SCN Associate history, the application process, the new formation process, Associate governance, communications, mission opportunities, Faith Groups, and more, all revised to reflect the changes in the SCN Associate Relationship and new processes better suited to the present needs.[197]

Chattanooga Associates gather virtually in May 2020.

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.

[192] Martin, Mary. Letter to Kelly A. McDaniels (email). 4 Jan. 2022.

[193] Meyer, Andy. “Andy Meyer’s Retirement.” SCN Associate Newsletter. Summer 2020. p. 4.

[194] “Upcoming Events.” SCN Associate Newsletter. Summer 2020. p. 14; Cecil,Sharon. “Director’s Transition.” SCN Associate Newsletter. Autumn 2020. p. 3.

[195] “Associate Events: September 2020 SCNA Gathering.” SCN Associate Newsletter. Autumn 2020. p. 5-6.

[196] “Upcoming Events.” SCN Associate Newsletter. Autumn 2020. p. 8.

[197] SCN Associate Handbook. 16 June 2021.