Vocation appreciation: 100-plus sisters honored

Julie Filby
Sisters who won a plane ride over metro Denver with pilot and Serra Club member Sam McGlamery: Sister Pearl McGivney, Sister Cathy Mueller and Sister Mary Ellen Roach. Photo by Corie DuChateau

Sisters who won a plane ride over metro Denver with pilot and Serra Club member Sam McGlamery: Sister Pearl McGivney, Sister Cathy Mueller and Sister Mary Ellen Roach. Photo by Corie DuChateau

Religious women in the archdiocese were recognized April 18 at an event that organizers believe to be unique to the Archdiocese of Denver.

The annual Religious Sisters Appreciation Day, hosted by the Denver Serra Club at Risen Christ Parish, honored 74 sisters by showering them with gifts and gift cards, flowering plants, and cash donations. Some 30 cloistered sisters, who live a private monastic way of life, received gifts as well.

“What we do is unique,” according to Jim Hilger, chairman of the appreciation day, a 20-year tradition.

It is truly a great gift to the religious of the diocese, said Religious Sister of Mercy Sister Sharon Ford, director of consecrated life.

“We are grateful for all the Serra Club did to make Saturday such a grand event,” she said. “It was so nicely decorated, a wonderful liturgy, delicious food, and great company. The gifts were extraordinary. Everyone had a great time.”

“I don’t think there is any other diocese that receives such a gift,” she added.

Hilger hopes other dioceses will start up the annual tradition.

“This year’s event benefitted over 110 religious sisters,” he said. “Thanks to our generous donors, we were also able to benefit the cloistered sisters in the convents of northern Colorado.

“Our Denver Serrans and friends benefit from this day as much as the sisters.”

The Denver Serra Club is part of an international network of clubs that foster and promote vocations through prayer, awareness, affirmation and support.

The day included Mass celebrated by Father Doug Grandon, followed by a social hour and luncheon. Each sister received a cash gift ranging from approximately $150 to $650. In addition, they were awarded merchandise, gourmet food bags, a quilt, opera tickets; and gift certificates to religious stores, department stores and restaurants. Three sisters received a special gift—a plane ride over the Denver metro area—from pilot and Serra Club member Sam McGlamery.

There are nearly 200 religious sisters in the archdiocese overall, according to Sister Ford.

COMING UP: St. Isidore Online Curriculum expands, will be offered again for 2021-2022 school year

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The Archdiocese of Denver’s online Catholic curriculum, St. Isidore, has been a true blessing to many families with children in grades K-8 who wanted a strong Catholic curriculum this past year but didn’t feel comfortable with their students attending school in person because of the pandemic. This included families like the Buckmeisters and Janisses. 

“St. Isidore has been an incredible blessing for our family this past school year. Not only are the teachers and administrators knowledgeable and accessible but engaging and exceptional in fostering the love of the Catholic faith for our son. Moreover, the online curriculum at SICC was wonderful as it was adaptable for our son who needs to be challenged above his grade level in certain academic areas,” said Kristen Buckmeister, parent of a St. Isidore student. 

“Our girls have benefitted immensely from the SICC curriculum and instruction. They enjoyed the guided learning through creative and engaging subject presentations followed by assignments they worked on their own,” said parent Lisa Janisse. “They felt very connected to their teachers. The religion teacher asked for daily intentions and that made the class very personal. Our children were able to share their concerns and pray for the intentions of other classmates as well. The girls were greatly assisted through two or three live tutorial sessions per day. They would start with prayer and pick up right where the teachers left off. The tutors were very patient and facilitated the group dynamics, so everyone had an opportunity to speak up and learn.” 

This past year, the program was only offered to families like the Buckmeisters and Janisses who were already enrolled in one of our Catholic schools. The students were learning through St. Isidore, but also remained connected to their local school.  However, this year, because of the increasing interest in a strong Catholic online curriculum program, the program is expanding to any interested family, regardless of enrollment in one of our schools. They don’t even have to live in Colorado to participate.  

“Every family has such unique dynamics, and what we learned this year with our virtual program is that Catholic virtual education is a gift of assistance to parents desiring a Catholic virtual option. We’ve learned this year that we can indeed educate well in a virtual setting, and we want to offer that to anyone in our archdiocese, or outside of our archdiocese, who desires an excellent Catholic virtual option for their children,” says Abriana Chilelli, Associate Superintendent of Academic Renewal.    

For those not familiar with St. Isidore and its strength as an online curriculum option, Kristen Lanier, assistant organizational leader at St. Isidore, has helped start online schools in public school districts and has been extremely impressed with what St. Isidore offers. 

“I have been blessed to help in the conception and implementation of several remote schooling models and St. Isidore is truly unique,” Lanier said. “St. Isidore’s approach to remote learning blends the very best strategies in virtual education and brick-and-mortar classrooms, all while honoring the gifts endowed to each student, family, and staff member. Students receive a program filled with both flexibility and rigor that provides access to teachers via catered, program-specific lessons, real-time small group guided instruction, and daily meaningful interaction with peers. Mission truly drives this work and it is a gift to watch what the Holy Spirit inspires in our team, students, and families.”

As long as parents still desire an online Catholic curriculum for their students, the Office of Catholic schools wants to help provide it.

“For a lot of parents, this past year has caused them to now see some real advantages of having their children at home learning virtually,” Chilelli concluded. “We’ve heard from lots of parents who want to continue with their children learning at home. We realized the archdiocese could help. We always want to support parents in the formation of their children as they grow in wisdom and friendship with the Lord.”

For more information, visit denvercatholicschools.com/st-isidore-apply today.

St. Isidore is available to:  

Any family enrolled in an Archdiocese of Denver participating Catholic school who may not want to send their children to in-school learning this upcoming school year due to the ongoing social distancing, masking requirements that will be in place because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as potential virus variants. This program is intended to be a support for local schools and enable those families to remain enrolled at their current school during the pandemic, but receive all curriculum and instruction digitally.  

Any family not enrolled in an Archdiocese of Denver Catholic school who wishes to have the support of the Archdiocese of Denver in educating their children virtually. 

Enrollment deadline is May 23, 2021 at 10 p.m. If you are interested in registering and or want to learn more, please email Sarah.Heaton@stisidoreonline.org