School Sisters welcome new leadership in Wilton celebration

More than 200 people, mostly women religious, filled the chapel at Villa Notre Dame in Wilton on July 9 for a mass celebrated by the Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano during which the School Sisters of Notre Dame Atlantic-Midwest Province installed seven “spirit-filled women” to their provincial council. The installation is an event that takes place every four years and the sisters named will serve as the council’s leadership from 2016 to 2020.

Sister Charmaine Krohe, who is based in Baltimore, will become the provincial leader. The council will also include current council member Sister Celeste Reinhart, vicar; Sister Virginia Bobrowski; Sister Deborah Cerullo; Sister Jane Forni; current council member, Sister Maria Iannuccillo; and Sister Sharon Kanis.

A former teacher, pastoral associate, and hospital chaplain, Sister Charmaine is a community leader with a long and distinguished history of serving the African-American community in Baltimore. Among her achievements there, she served as president of Mother Seton Academy, a tuition-free, independent Catholic school for at-risk middle school children. She raised more than $7 million to renovate and establish a permanent home for the school.

Addressing those assembled, Sister Charmaine acknowledged, “These are difficult times in our world and in our church and in our congregation,” She said, “We are challenged by the words of Pope Francis to be energized by the spirit, to be bighearted, to let things go, to be patient with everything, to smile from the heart and be a sign of outward joy. Pope Francis says, ‘don’t let our joy stay inside.’

“He urged religious communities to live in synergy with other vocations in the church and the world. We are called to be passionate about God’s mission in our world. If we are passionate, if we are grateful for the past, there is no problem about embracing the future with hope. The world is greatly in need of leaders who can give hope, inspire courage and teach us to survive creatively in the in-between moments.”

She asked the congregation to go forward with courage, which, she said, “leads us beyond our comfort zones and urges us to act on what is worthy of our commitment.”

Bishop Caggiano spoke of the mantle of leadership in his address during the mass.

“Leadership is a two-edged sword, isn’t it? … It seems to me leadership is at its best when leadership is living among those it serves. It is those entrusted to our care ...and those in leadership, if I can put it this way, diminish in their prominence that we almost become [one] with what we do. Because leadership is never about us, it is about doing.”

During the mass, the congregation prayed for:

  • The lives and the cries of the poor and the silenced;

  • The young ones who dream of a world free of hatred;

  • The old and the fearful who hope for a new day;

  • The ones who seek peace by their witness and courage;

  • The women who suffer the pain of injustice;

  • The prophets and heroes who call us to question.

Founded in 1883, the School Sisters of Notre Dame is a worldwide religious institute of Roman Catholic sisters devoted to primary, secondary and postsecondary education with a vision that education has the power to transform the world. The sisters of the Atlantic-Midwest Province minister in the eastern United States, Canada, and England.