April 04, 2018

St. Kate’s Honors Sisters of St. Joseph

On March 22, members of the St. Catherine University came together for a joyous celebration of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet (CSJ) and their lifetime of leadership and generous gift of the Minneapolis campus property to the University. The event featured a Liturgy and luncheon with the Sisters, University Board of Trustees and special guests. The Liturgy, celebrated by Archbishop Hebda, included a special reflection by Joan Mitchell, CSJ. The Mass also included beautiful music led by Lori True and Ginny McDonald, along with a CSJ choir.

Following the Liturgy, more than 200 faculty, staff, alumnae, consociates and friends joined the CSJs and Board of Trustees for a celebratory reception to honor the CSJ's. Sister Joan opened the celebration with the reading of the poem she wrote about history of the CSJs, The River, the Lace, and the Bell (full poem below). The beautiful and moving poem was accompanied by historic photos and images, and was met with great applause. The celebration concluded with a tribute from President Becky Roloff to the Sisters for their ongoing generosity and leadership:

“Your vision and commitment to establishing a college for woman has led to 113 years of growth and prosperity, and created a place that empowers women through the intellectual, spiritual, and artistic dimensions of their lives,” said President Roloff. “You have laid the groundwork for St. Catherine’s to become a pillar for change, an advocate for women, and a home that accepts all without distinction…You, dear Sisters, and all those who came before you, will forever remain as our inspiration and spiritual guide.”

As part of the celebration, special table runners were created with the names of all of the CSJs past and present. A set of the runners were gifted to the CSJs, and the University will maintain a set to display in honor of its visionary founders. The inspiring and memorable day is also the start of a new tradition. Beginning in 2019, St. Kate’s will host an annual Founders Day celebration in March to honor the CSJs and commemorate their legacy, ensuring it remains at heart of the University. This new event will be held each March close to the date of the Feast of St. Joseph, the Sisters' patron saint.

The River, the Lace, and the Bell

The river where it meets the sea
is the spine of the continent
and the trunk of the tree
the Sisters of St. Joseph have become.
There unrelenting waves become winds
stirring prairies to furious blooming
east and west of the mother waters
which the sisters rode upstream
always against the flow and the falls,
the deep eroding currents mixed with brown land
from the Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Minnesota,
the rivers have become states with time,
and in their blood the deepest current,
desire and design,
an aunt’s uncertain sending of dear kin
and four other women to a world still new
unplowed prairie, log cabin homes,
fire and sickness and hunger and cold,
so many things to die from
and so many to give life
the river dissecting a continent
many landings and buildings in the years since,
a dream moving insistently upstream.

And the lace
from the beginning an interweaving of poor
with those who have more,
reintegrating the least with the most,
the threads of women’s lives spun,
hooked, looped, encircled,
gathered, knitted, mended,
crocheted into a pattern of grace,
of openness to all that come,
a tightness in the weave
that will not come undone,
nor fray but last as an intricacy
where women cared and joined hands
with lasting friends
in entwining circles of learning and care,
love and service.

And today the bell
Rings through the air
And deep within
From this place where the rivers still flow
And the thread winds around our fingers into patterns
And the bell rings
Gathering circles of friends
A community that is open and expanding
That is solid and lasting,
That is gospel and gift
The bell rings this hour
This now,
This moment we live in the resonance
Of Word already spoken
Hearing within the call of mystery
For more
Toward all we can become

-Joan Mitchell, CSJ