News & Events


IHM 175th Anniversary Celebration Held

by Elizabeth Pearson, IHM

The virtual event celebrating the 175th anniversary of the founding of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary was held on July 9-11, 2021, and was attended by sisters and associates from the three IHM congregations (Monroe, Immaculata and Scranton) and the Oblate Sisters of Providence, Baltimore. The weekend focused on how racial injustice has woven itself into our lives in history, in institutions including the church, into our personal lives, and our attempts to promote justice for all peoples.

As we remembered a ‘heavenly conversation’ between foundresses Mothers Mary Lange and Theresa Maxis that occurred at a 2005 IHM OSP celebration, we viewed a new video conversation which brought us up to date on the activities of the IHMs and OSPs as they have used their energies to promote projects of racial justice. The script for this conversation was written by Margaret Gannon IHM (S), and the parts of Theresa Maxis and Mary Lange we played by Mary Catherine Chamberlaine, IHM (I) and Janice Curtis Greene, respectively.

On Friday and Saturday, Dr. Jeannine Hill Fletcher, a Fordham University professor who teaches systematic theology and issues of diversity, presented us with the historical, political and theological development of racial injustice. Dr. Fletcher helped the group understand the history of our congregations, church and country and how the attitudes and practices of racial injustice have unfolded. Through a sociological lens, she directed our reflection on categorizations of people which led to divisive and biased attitudes toward the designated groups for whom benefits were distributed or withheld. Dr. Fletcher provided insight into the complexities of living within a racially unjust society both past and present, and into challenges of moving institutions to address these injustices, especially that of racism. She traced the bold, courageous faith-filled steps that our congregations have made in trying to right these injustices and the painful unresolved issues that challenge us to this moment.

There were many opportunities for small group discussions in which participants voiced their reflections, and their suggestions for future projects to assist in alleviating a variety of forms of injustice. From these gathered graces, the question of “What can we do together that we can’t do alone” will be a guide as the congregations write the next chapter of their history.

Other weekend events via the virtual platform included prayer at the beginning and close of each day, availability for lunch and after session socials via Zoom, and pilgrimages to prayer spaces created by each of the four congregations.

On Sunday, a joyful celebratory liturgy was held in the chapel at Monroe’s motherhouse, with Joseph Cardinal Tobin C.Ss.R. as celebrant. A Proclamation of the Foundations of each congregation initiated the ceremony which incorporated English and Spanish readings and music. Verses of the opening and closing songs were written by the Monroe minister of music, Robert Carroll, specifically for this occasion.

The 175th celebration provided opportunities for participants to celebrate the past with a focus on the future. We shared an understanding of our combined histories which has provided a better understanding of our own racial attitudes, and recognition of the future needs of the congregations, the church and our country. We have looked back, with our feet facing forward, united in Spirit-fire, we go forth with a vision and challenge to the next chapter.

Members of the OSP and IHM leadership teams gathered in Monroe for
the 175th anniversary celebration. Pictured L-R front: Sisters
Patricia McCluskey, IHM (M), Mary Reap, IHM (S), Annette Beecham,
OSP. Middle: Ellen Maroney, IHM (S), Mary Ellen Tennity, IHM (I),
Patricia McDermott, IHM (I), Stephen Anne Roderiguez, IHM (I),
Mary Jane Herb, IHM (M). Middle: Brenda Elizabeth Cherry, OSP,
Mary Stephen Beauford, OSP, Marianne Gaynor, IHM (M). Back:
Sharon Hedrick, IHM (I), Ellen Rinke, IHM (M), Margaret Chapman,
IHM (M), Terri Jordan, IHM (S), Mary Ellen Higgins, IHM (S), and
Rita Michelle Proctor, OSP.

Euch Prayer

Cardinal Tobin celebrating the 175th anniversary liturgy at the Motherhouse in Monroe.