Jesuits Celebrate Catholic Sisters

March 10, 2017 — March 8 through 14 is National Catholic Sisters Week, the perfect time to share a "thank you" with women who do such important, although largely unheralded, work.  

Around the world, the Society of Jesus is fortunate to partner with religious sisters in so many ministries, and this year we called on a number of Jesuits to share their thoughts about the sisters who have made a difference in their lives.

Here’s part two of our three-part series. Read part one and part three.

Fr. Anthony SooHoo, SJ, on Sr. Vivienne Joyce, SC

Fr. Anthony SooHoo, SJ, is in special studies in Brooklyn, New York. Sr. Vivienne Joyce, SC, trains spiritual directors at the parish of St. Francis Xavier in New York City.

Sr. Vivienne Joyce, front row third from left, with Fr. Anthony SooHoo, SJ, front row third from right.

“The religious sister that has made a difference in my life is Sr. Vivienne Joyce, SC. Vivienne has been a wonderful role model and mentor in our work together with the Charis NYC retreat program for young adults.

We first met when I was working at St. Ignatius Parish in New York City and was looking for some help with our retreats. We make a good team and complement one another with our different skills and talents. I always enjoy chatting with Viv and hearing her perspective. She has this wonderful ability to see the good in others and to empower them to be their best. I appreciate Viv’s warmth, generosity and laughter.

Whether it’s having a drink with some young adults at a local bar or giving a workshop on Ignatian discernment, Vivienne comes alive in her interactions with others. It’s her humanity and authenticity that speaks to others and meets them where they are.

Viv has shown me what it means to be a servant-leader in our work with young adults. Many have benefited from Viv’s wisdom and insights as a spiritual director. Currently, she helps to train spiritual directors through a program at the parish of St. Francis Xavier in New York City.

I am blessed to count this ‘holy woman’ among my friends and co-workers.”

Fr. Christopher Steck, SJ, on Sr. Margaret Farley

Fr. Christopher Steck, SJ, is an associate professor of Christian ethics at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Sr. Margaret Farley is the Gilbert L. Stark Professor Emerita of Christian Ethics at Yale University.

Sr. Margaret Farley

“One of my religious heroes is Sr. Margaret Farley, my mentor during graduate studies at Yale University. She embodies so wonderfully a rich and rare interplay of compassionate scholarship and pastoral wisdom. 

My classmates and I had the privilege of being graced (in the religious sense of the word) by what I call her ‘golden ears’: her ability to listen wisely to our struggles and concerns, and in doing so, to ease and lighten those burdens. Whenever I shared my problems with her, I knew that I had been heard, really heard, by someone filled with compassion and understanding.

In that simple experience of being heard, understood and supported by such a good and wise person, I found myself healed and empowered. I have hoped that in some of my own pastoral work, God has allowed me to share with others the grace of ‘golden ears.’”

Fr. Lukas M. Laniauskas, SJ, on the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist

Fr. Lukas M. Laniauskas, SJ, is vice president of mission integration and implementation at Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago. The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist work at Saint Ignatius.

Fr. Lukas M. Laniauskas, SJ with two sisters from Saint Ignatius College Prep and four from Catholic University of America.

“The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist inspire and share their great love of Jesus and charism with all our students here at Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago. We are blessed to have four such sisters gracing the campus daily.

They are a blessing to witness as they impact our students through their direct teaching in the classroom, their prayerful invitations to adore the Eucharist, their tireless work growing a culture open to vocations, and their ability to share through joy their love of the Gospel. Most recently, I was fortunate to celebrate the feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas with the sisters as we participated in the March for Life in Washington D.C. They most certainly make me a better Jesuit and priest!”

Fr. Peter Bisson, SJ, on Sr. Eveleen Forkin and Sr. Simone Vazart


Fr. Peter Bisson, SJ, is the provincial of the Jesuits' English Canada Province. Marist Sisters Eveleen Forkin and Simone Vazart (who passed away in 2002), helped take care of him and his brother when they were young.

Brendan Busse, SJ, on Sr. Montse Chias, A.C.I.

Brendan Busse, SJ, is studying theology at Comillas Pontifical University in Madrid, Spain and will be ordained to the priesthood in June. Montse Chias, A.C.I. is a Handmaid of the Sacred Heart of Jesus ("Las Esclavas del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús") in Madrid.

Brendan Busse, SJ, and Montse Chias, A.C.I.

“This is Montse Chias, A.C.I., a Handmaid of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (aka ‘Las Esclavas del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús’) who is studying theology with me here in Madrid. Montse and I work together guiding a group of university students in weekly faith-sharing meetings as a part of the Comunidad Universitaria Francisco Javier. I will sometimes refer to Montse as my ‘religious life partner’ and while this may be a playful way of expressing our relationship, it's absolutely no joke!

Montse and I study together, work together, pray together and support one another through it all. While my brother Jesuits are obviously a real support, having a sister and friend like Montse to share in the joys and challenges of my religious vocation is an absolute gift.

From left: Maria Alarcão (Portugal), Brendan Busse, SJ, Leonor Franco (Portugal), Montse Chias (Spain), and Bea Castelló (Spain)

Here are a few more of Montse's A.C.I. sisters and good friends of mine! They are studying philosophy and theology here in Madrid, and I consider them some of my closest friends since coming to Spain.

Without a doubt one of the greatest gifts of my time studying theology in Madrid has been the chance to fall in love with this impressive community of women. My superior will sometimes tease me about how much ‘las esclavas’ love me and take care of me, but the real truth (no joke!) is how much I love them!

These women have helped me to know what it means to live close to the sacred heart of Jesus; they have helped me to know what it means to live a life of healing and adoration, of service and love; they have helped me to be a better version of myself and a better Jesuit too. A week is not enough. I will spend the rest of my life giving thanks for these sisters and friends.”

Henoch Derbew, SJ, on Mexican Sisters

Henoch Derbew, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic studying at Loyola University Chicago.

Henoch Derbew, SJ, (back row, center, white shirt) with religious sisters in San Antonio

“During our novitiate Spanish studies in San Antonio, we met many Mexican Sisters who were coming to study English for assignments in the U.S. Through them, we not only gained a sort of language-immersion experience that helped our language skills, but we made great friends.

We got a firsthand look at the beauty and fearlessness within these women's vocations, how they were ready and willing to serve where most needed, in trust of God. They were always there for us to practice Spanish, chat, play music or cards, watch American movies, have deep conversations, pray, and have fun, but the biggest grace I found was having sisters that were also walking the same path (and walking it with a refreshing humility and faith) that I was just starting.”

Read part one and part three.

Do you want to learn more about vocations to the Society of Jesus? Visit for more information.

Jesuits Celebrate Catholic Sisters - Part 1
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