Efforts to sustain the ministries of Catholic sisters in two regions, northeast Ohio and South Carolina, and assist in their efforts of working with the poor and underserved, was published in the new edition of the Foundation Review.
The study, Support for Sister-Affiliated Ministries during Challenging times: Understanding a Foundations Initiative in two Regions, was co-authored by Foundation Senior Research Director Dr. Stephanie Cooper-Lewter and Dr. Mark Small of Clemson University.
The study describes the efforts of two sister foundations – The Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina and of Cleveland, in their Collaboration for Ministry Initiative work, which encourages and supports collaboration among different religious orders. Previously, sisters in different order worked independently of each other, but as the number of Catholic sisters dwindle and the average age increases, the foundations’ work to assist them in the challenges they face in collaborating to sustain their ministries.
Spanning more than 10 years, the initiative has drawn on multiple strategies – including convening sisters of different orders, grantmaking, communicating, and research – in partnership with sisters themselves to sustain a diverse set of ministries.
Catholic sisters have established schools, hospitals, and social service ministries that have served hundreds of thousands of people over the past 200 years (Leadership Conference for Women Religious, 2010). Due to the natural aging of Catholic sisters and a decline in new vocations, however, there is an accelerating loss of sisters and their ministries nationwide. The development of the Collaboration for Ministry Initiative was to primarily address the impact this loss has on beneficiaries of ministries, especially those who have few alternatives to sister-affiliated social services. Because these ministries fill an important gap in the social safety net for vulnerable populations, the disappearance of ministry-directed efforts has begun to draw the attention of foundations.
About the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina
The Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina, established in 1996, is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System. The Foundation is committed to addressing the needs of the poor and underserved in all 46 South Carolina counties, and strategically uses resources to reduce poverty through action, advocacy and leadership.