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Connecting with Younger Generations

 Catherine Slenker

Bridging generational gaps can be a challenge, but it is one that sisters from all over the congregation have taken on. Here are just a few examples of how our sisters are connecting with younger generations.

St. Louis

Our sisters have a long legacy of working and advocating for justice. It was this legacy that sparked an idea for a teacher from The College School in the St. Louis suburb of Webster Groves. For the class “A Seat at the Table: A Look at the Fight for Equality and Equity,” a middle-grade teacher at The College School contacted the St. Louis Province with the hope of creating an opportunity for his students to meet individuals with experience in working toward social justice. 

As they began to work on their winter research papers for the class, the students were welcomed for a visit to the Carondelet Motherhouse. They began the day looking over historical primary print sources with Sally Budge, assistant archivist with the Carondelet Consolidated Archives. Then, Sister Kate Filla led them on a detailed tour of the building.

After the tour, the students were placed into three groups to hear first-hand accounts from sisters. Sister Barbara Moore shared her experiences working toward racial justice in Selma with students, while Sisters Monica Kleffner, Mary Louise Basler, Joan Filla and Margaret Guzzardo shared their experiences working for immigration justice and serving at the border. 

Four students sit at a table listening to Sister Barbara Moore
Sister Barbara Moore shares her experiences working toward racial justice in Selma with students from The College School.

Ecstatic with the success of the trip, The College School and the St. Louis Province are already planning more student visits.

St. Paul

When the research of a faculty member at St. Catherine’s University discovered many students were facing food insecurity, the community leaped into action. Faculty, staff, students, sisters and consociates came together to create the Food Access Hub

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and their charism partners “have always been about meeting the needs of the time,” says Debra Sheats, a member of the Food Access Hub leadership team, professor emeritus at St. Kate’s and a St. Paul Province consociate. “So, when the demographics of St. Kate’s began to change, and we found that students needed food, it was natural that we said, ‘We can do that!’” 

Food Access Hub team members taking a group photo in the Carondelet Community Garden
Agrégée Jennifer Tacheny (second from left) and Food Access Hub student team members posing for a photo in the Carondelet Community Garden.

They began by distributing fruit and granola bars, but it was clear that there were still needs that hadn’t been met. In 2017, a food shelf opened in Carondelet Center offering proteins, frozen food, culturally appropriate foods, microwavable meals and hygiene products. 

Today, the Food Access Hub has grown to include a network of community gardens, sustainability initiatives and membership in the Cross-Campus Food Access Coalition. It also serves clients from St. Mary’s Health Clinics. The project relies on grants, donations and volunteers from throughout the community. 

Six Food Access Hub team members standing in the food shelf at St. Catherine University
A group of 2023 team members in the food shelf at St. Catherine’s University.

“We have student workers from diverse majors. We have nutrition and dietetics department faculty and staff. We have community gardeners who create such a vibrant atmosphere in the garden, and student interns and volunteers who do the same during food shelf days. I recognize how formative it has been for me to have intergenerational relationships and to be around people my own age who care about the same things so deeply,” said Hannah White, program coordinator with Young Adult Spirituality and previous operations coordinator of Food Access Hub. 

Jennifer Tacheny, director of the St. Paul Province’s Young Adult Spirituality and Community Engagement, an agrégée and a co-founder of the Food Access Hub, credits the growth of the Hub to listening to and engaging with young adults about authentic ways to build community while giving back.


Our Albany sisters have also crafted meaningful connections with students. With their presence and ministry, Sisters Rose Casaleno and Renée Adamany bring the mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet to their respective campuses. 

Sister Rose serves as the Director of Campus Ministry at Binghamton University Newman House in Binghamton, New York. She works closely with these students who have developed a tight-knit Catholic community. 

Sister Rose Casaleno and a group of nine retreatants from Binghamton University taking a group photo in front of a van
Sister Rose Casaleno stands with a group of retreatants from Binghamton University. 

Caroline Hargrove, a third-year mechanical engineering student, explains, “Connecting with each other in the context of the faith has proven to be deeply impactful, not only in developing a supportive and spiritually rich community but also to give students the courage to embrace God in their lives and take the leap of faith to trust in God’s plan for them.” 

Sister Renée is a professor at the State University of New York Schenectady County Community College. She instructs students pursuing a career in human services and emphasizes the importance of community and advocacy. 

Sister Renée explains, “I apply a method called service learning, in which the students perform a graded service project for the community. In the communication skills class, the students work in teams to create and perform a project for a local agency, such as a game night that includes food and beverages for women at a local shelter. In the social problems class, they research current issues that will be voted on in the New York state budget, write a letter about one issue, explain the issue to others, ask others to sign their letters and mail their letters.”

Los Angeles

Over 20 years ago, Sisters Pat Bober, Linda Straub and Pat Nelson created a retreat to offer the students at Mount St. Mary’s University in Los Angeles the opportunity for prayer and reflection within the busyness of their lives. The Busy Person’s Retreat was born. 

Initially, the retreat ran for seven days at a time. Students would individually meet with a sister companion to reflect on the Gospel reading for the day and spend half an hour in prayer. After prayer, all the sisters and students would gather for a social event, building community. 

Our LA sisters “desired to intentionally be present with the students at a time in history when many young people have not had contact with a sister,” explained Sister Joan Mary O’Dwyer, a sister companion. 

Three Busy Person Retreatants taking a selfie with two of their sister companions
Students involved in a Busy Person’s Retreat pause to take a selfie with their sister companions, Sisters Joan Mary O’Dwyer and Mary Sevilla, on their way to the Mass of the Holy Spirit at Mount Saint Mary’s University.

The Busy Person’s Retreat eventually expanded to a month with weekly guided reflections with a sister, group prayer and socials. The goal of the retreat remains the same: helping students choose a time in their busy lives to pause and be present with God. 

Students are invited to new ways of prayer, especially spending quiet time with God. Their sister companions guide them in developing a personal relationship with our loving God. 

“It is a privilege for the sisters to companion students, faculty and staff in times of retreat,” said Sister Joan Mary.

Fuel the Body, Fuel the Soul stacked logo


Sisters from across the congregation have been working together to launch the program Fuel the Body, Fuel the Soul to reach younger generations.  

Fuel the Body, Fuel the Soul is a virtual program that provides a forum for young women around the country to deepen their faith life. The program gives women the opportunity to engage with our sisters and other women in spiritual presentations, discussions and prayer. Each gathering also features a simple, nutritious recipe from one of our sisters. 

Developed by Sisters Gail Trippett, Linda Markway, Eileen McCann and the late Miriam Ukeritis, Fuel the Body, Fuel the Soul involves sisters from all over the congregation to serve as presenters, chefs and facilitators. The program gathered monthly from November 2023 to June 2024 and will return this fall. 

This story appeared in the 2024 issue of Carondelet magazine. Join our mailing list.

Category: Stories

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About us

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet are a congregation of Catholic sisters. We, and those who share our charism and mission, are motivated in all things by our profound love of God and our dear neighbors. We seek to build communities and bridge divides between people. Since our first sisters gathered in 1650, our members have been called to “do all things of which women are capable.” The first sisters of our congregation arrived in St. Louis, Missouri in 1836, and we now have additional locations in St. Paul, Albany, Los Angeles, Hawaii, Japan and Peru. Today, we commit to respond boldly to injustice and dare to be prophetic.


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