Sisters have a Story to Tell!

The GNSH Communications Committee has developed a new section on the website entitledSisters Memories of Ministry.” Thank you to the Sisters who have shared their memories and to our wonderful Archivists who have found special photos to illuminate the stories.  If you would like to share a memory, please contact Eileen Dickerson.

We are beginning an overhaul of our website. Generally, a website has a life-span of 5-7 years until the platform requires updating. Part of the overhaul will integrate this external blog into the website. Changes will also enable a larger audience to find our website using various search engines such as Google.

We encourage you to check out the Global Sisters Report , an initiative of the Hilton Foundation designed to increase the visibility of Sisters in the media. The stories are on a variety of topics important to religious women in the United States and throughout the world.  If you subscribe, they will send you occasional reminders to visit the page.  Make it part of your regular reading to truly be informed about the good works Sisters are doing across the globe!


National Catholic Sisters Week – March 8-14, 2014

NCSW Flower (facebook)The first National Catholic Sisters Week is scheduled from March 8-14, 2014 as part of Women’s History Month. The purpose of this observance is to bring greater awareness to Catholic sisters and to make their presence more widely known and visible on a national level.

In addition to highlighting the significant role that Catholic sisters have had historically, National Catholic Sisters Week will focus on a contemporary view of these women — their lives, their mission and their works. The goal is to shed light on the tremendous impact Catholic sisters continue to make today. National Catholic Sisters Week is possible because of a generous, three-year grant provided by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to St. Catherine’s University, St. Paul, Minn., where the initiative will be launched.

The Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart invite you to share your stories of our Sisters.  We are featuring our Sisters Memories of Ministry on our website for the next few months.  Please check in often! Sisters Memories of Ministry

For more information about National Catholic Sisters Week visit the website

Humble Servant

Sr. Anne Boyer

Sr. Anne Boyer

Every week, our Sister Anne Boyer (Sister Mary Mark):

  • Reaches out to the stranger, teaching English to immigrants
  • Celebrates a communion service for residents of a retirement home
  • Brings the Blessed Sacrament to the infirm and the homebound
  • Comforts the dying and the families of the dying and the dead
  • Drives our sisters to their medical appointments
  • Does pharmacy runs to pick up our sisters’ medications
  • Assists our sister sacristan with Motherhouse chapel duties

At age 83, Sister Anne is the ultimate multitasker, traveling yet another path on her ministry journey as a Grey Nun of the Sacred Heart. Over the years, she has successfully served as an educator, an assistant dean, an administrator, an organizer, a parish minister and a hospital chaplain. She has worn many hats, in service to many people.

Today, in retirement at the Motherhouse, Sister Anne is still doing many things, in service to many people. Though the most meaningful thing she does, she says, is to be fully and quietly present to those to whom she ministers: the elderly, the sick, the grieving, the fearful, the aspiring American.

     “I feel so blessed,” Sister Anne says. “I know I receive more from the people I meet than they do from me. I can’t solve their problems but I can listen when they need to talk and hopefully that gives them some peace of mind. I don’t have an agenda. I pray before I go out and then I just try to be present in the moment and to be aware of God’s presence.”

Even as Grey Nuns age and retire from paid ministries, we continue to serve, in our own way, to the best of our abilities. Our mission remains the same,  “to be signs of God’s unconditional love as we collaborate to create a more just and compassionate world.”

We live our mission in keeping with who we are today, addressing the needs of those who need our prayers, our service and our advocacy. To do this, we need you, your prayers and your  support more than ever!

Will you help us to live and spread the Gospel message and continue the legacy of Saint Marguerite d’Youville? Will you join us in sharing this legacy, by becoming a GNSH Associate, by your financial support, or by joining your heart to ours as a member of the Congregation? Our website has information should any of these paths appeal to your heart

We are deeply grateful for the support of your prayers. May God bless you abundantly!

World Day of Prayer for Vocations

Fifty years ago, Pope Paul VI designated Good Shepherd Sunday as a world-wide day to pray for Vocations to the Church in the form of ordained ministry and consecrated life.  This year’s theme is “Vocations as a sign of hope founded in faith.” In the words of Pope Benedict, “…what exactly is God’s faithfulness, to which we adhere with unwavering hope? It is His love!…this love, fully manifested in Jesus Christ, engages with our existence and demands a response in terms of what each individual wants to do with his or her life, and what he or she is prepared to offer to live it to the full.  The love of God sometimes follows paths one never could have imagined, but it always reaches those who are willing to be found.”

This last part resonates with the many stories of those who seek guidance about their Christian vocation.  Many claim to feel unworthy, too sinful.  Some speak of the life-long resistance to the call, and the continual nagging feeling that God has chosen them for something different.  Sadly, too many wait decades hoping the feeling will go away, rather than responding to the call, and testing it out.  If only we could let people know that it is okay to “try on” religious life.  Some people fear  feelings of shame if they should discern that religious life is not for them.  However, this would be nothing compared to the pain of suddenly realizing, when life is nearing its finish, that God was truly calling and we were too busy, too self-absorbed, too worldly to respond.

On this World Day of Prayer for Vocations we hope that you will pray with us  to the Good Shepherd to call good, strong, compassionate men and women to vocations in the Church. Not the perfect, not the fancy; but those like the shepherd in the story, simple, humble, willing to do the right thing when it presents itself.   As Pope Francis has said, we must be Evangelizers-  going out to collect that one lost sheep, not content to sit home with the 99 others.

This is the call of Vocation.  To set aside worldly things for the  love of God and neighbor.  This past week the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart have been in Chapter, discerning the direction of the Congregation for the next 5 years, and selecting the women among them who will be their leaders during that time.  Not one of the women selected for the General Administration entered the Congregation with thoughts of leading it one day.  They entered as women who wanted to put their relationship with God first in their lives.  They entered to make a difference in their own lives by making a difference in the lives of others.  What they dreamed their life would look like probably turned out to be something quite different. But what they entered with remains, they are deeply in love with their God and with the people they are called to serve.

We have only one life to live, but many choices about how to live that life.  Choose Jesus and leave the details to God.

Taking action on Human Trafficking

Recently six letters written by the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST) were signed on behalf of the Grey Nuns.  These letters, sent to the respective federal subcommittees on April 2, are intended to coincide with the drafting of  fiscal year 2014 budgets. The letters seek increased funding for services to aid trafficked persons or request stronger and broader report language to provide better protection. Below is the list of the subcommittees and the requests made to them.

Click here to read about ATEST

PRM (Population, Refugees and Migration) To express concern about lack of funding in 2013 for family reunification for human trafficking survivors in the United States; asking that they prioritize providing additional funding to the International Office of Migration (IOM) who funds this vital program to reunify the survivors many of our (ATEST) members and the organizations who signed this letter.

LHHS (Labor, Health and Human Services)To seek assistance in funding several programs related to child labor, forced labor, human trafficking and slavery in the FY 2014 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriation bill.

SFOS (State Foreign Operations Services) To ask for consideration for funding and report language for the following programs important to combating human trafficking and modern-day slavery: $6,800,000 for the Administration of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons$30,000,000 for International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement Trafficking in Persons Grants $600,000 for the Program on Migration

CJS (Commerce, Justice and Science) To seek assistance to fund a series of authorized programs in the FY 2014 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations bill that are absolutely critical to fighting the growing problem of human trafficking and slavery.

DHS (Dept. of Homeland Security)

To ask to consider funding and report language to better combat human trafficking as follows:

  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): $10,000,000 for Investigations
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): Training for Officers
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE): Rights for Human Trafficking Victims
  • Customs and Border Protection (CBP): Training for Officers
  • Customs and Border Protection (CBP): Human Trafficking Hotline Number

FSGG (Financial Services and General Government)  To request report language to highlight this crime and bring it to the attention of the U.S. Department of Treasury and, most notably, its bureau of Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

Sr. Diane Bardol coordinates the efforts of the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart based on the issues of Social Justice.  Information about our concerns in this area is available on our website

Year of Faith: Responses from Frank Cappelli, GNSH Associate

Frank Cappelli

Frank Cappelli

Mr. Frank Cappelli, a Grey Nun Associate, recently offered his responses to some questions we posed under the heading of the “Year of Faith”.

What role did faith play in your life as a child, Frank?

My Catholic faith played an extremely important role in my childhood.  The devotional life of my Italian immigrant grandparents and my mother and father nurtured the seeds of my baptism.

I was especially attracted to Eucharistic Adoration, devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and contemplative prayer, ever since I can remember.

What place did faith have in your family when you were growing up?

I was born in Wayne, PA., and attended CCD classes with the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart at Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Strafford, PA.  My parents were practicing Catholics and so were we. We observed the Friday abstinence fast, and other devotional practices.  We were considered “good” Catholics.

How has the faith story of another person inspired you? 

Ever since I was in fourth grade (1959 I guess) the life of Mother D’Youville inspired me greatly.  I read the story of her life in “Hands to the Needy” and gave a report on the book to my class.  In imitation of her, I would organize little groups of children to go and minister to the needy of the neighborhood. 

How has the faith story of another person inspired your faith?

The GNSH’s were at our parish (Our Lady of the Assumption, Strafford, PA) and I witnessed the gentleness and kindness of the sisters to all the children in their care.  In particular, I remember Sr Mary Virginia and Sr Immaculata, both of whom inspired me greatly. Sr. Immaculata and I would venerate St. Marguerite’s relic together.

How has the faith journey of your youth changed in your present time?

Even though I feel the same attractions of grace are present in my soul, I have become more aware of my personal limitations and weaknesses and, thus, more sympathetic and compassionate for others’ weaknesses. Obviously, going through many personal changes (conversions) I feel my love for the Catholic faith is much greater and more mature.

What is your favorite scripture passage?

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

What special meaning does this passage have for you?

Oftentimes I am overwhelmed by my lack of abilities and much afraid of interior forces that war against me.  Reminding myself of the Divine Indwelling within my interior vessel gives me a quiet assurance that “all will be well” and a quiet strength comes to meet me when I recollect myself in Him who strengthens me.

How does this passage relate to your experience of God?

Living this mystery has given me a sense of the divine transcendence and the littleness of my person. 

How have you encouraged or supported another person in their faith journey?

I have been director of formation for my community of secular Discalced Carmelites and in this position my role was to teach, support and encourage others in their vocations as secular men and women.

I continue to do my best to evangelize and share the beauty of my Catholic faith, everywhere I go.

Has your faith journey taken any unexpected twists and turns?

As I changed over the years, there have been too many twists and turns in my faith journey to explain.  However, as I faced the confusion, the upheaval in the Church and personal crisis, my love for her grew deeper.

My call to ministry as a GNSH Associate has anchored my life of contemplative prayer (as a Secular Discalced Carmelite) and has given me the balance I needed.


When he was twelve, a young Frank Cappelli received a copy of the book about St. Marguerite’s life, “Hands to the Needy.” After reading it, he did an oral book report for his class.  At that time he had a serious stuttering problem.  As Frank was trying to speak to the class, he experienced feeling “a presence come over him” and at that moment he could speak clearly.  Now, he cannot stop speaking of St. Marguerite.  He has been an Associate of the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart since 1985.

March 22: World Water Day

March 22 is World Water Day. This year it is just one week before Good Friday when we hear those pleading words of Jesus from the cross, “I thirst” and eight days before the Easter vigil when we bless the water that will be used to celebrate the sacrament of Baptism and we hear the story of Moses parting the waters of the Sea of Reeds. Water is life and the painful fact is that in 2012, over 700 million people in the world lacked access to clean drinking water. Other facts equally astounding include:

3.6 million people die every year from water related diseases.

4,000 children die every day from diseases caused by poor water, sanitation and hygiene.

By 2025, 800 million people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world population could be under stress conditions.

Climate change, with increasing frequency and severity of floods and droughts, already impacts those in poverty in countries such as Bangladesh and Ethiopia.

“By its very nature water cannot be treated as just another commodity among many, and it must be used rationally and in solidarity with others. The distribution of water is traditionally among the responsibilities that fall to public agencies, since water is considered a public good. If water distribution is entrusted to the private sector it should still be considered a public good. The right to water, as all human rights, finds its basis in human dignity and not in any kind of merely quantitative assessment that considers water as a merely economic good. Without water, life is threatened. Therefore, the right to safe drinking water is a universal and inalienable right.” Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 2004.

Having said all this we are left with the question of what to do? As always education, which brings awareness, is the first step.

  1. Check out the Great Lakes Water Compact at to see what the eight states bordering the Lakes are doing.
  2.  See the The Water-Food Equation produced from a powerpoint by Education for Justice and enjoy learning from the slide show “How Much Water Does it Take to Make Your Dinner?”
  3. Finally, you could pray each day as you turn on the faucet for the first time, “Heart of Jesus font of life and holiness, satisfy our thirst for living waters.” This was suggested by the Eco-Spirituality group at their annual retreat two years ago.

Whatever you choose to do may it help us never to take the gift of water for granted or thoughtlessly waste it.