Faith, Race & Sisterhood:
Exploring the Diversity Question
with the Sisters of the Holy Family.
Sister Mary Schmidt Lecture Series
The Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill, in collaboration with Seton Hill University, hosted the 2022 Sister Mary Schmidt Lecture series on Thursday, April 7. Sisters Alicia Costa and Sylvia Thibodeaux from the Sisters of the Holy Family in New Orleans virtually presented the lecture titled Faith, Race & Sisterhood: Exploring the Diversity Question with the Sisters of the Holy Family.
The Sisters of the Holy Family, an African-American congregation of women religious, trace their roots to Henriette Delille, a free woman of color, who founded the community in New Orleans in 1837. The congregation subsequently served in education, healthcare, social service, and pastoral ministry, among other causes, and continue to serve. In 1921, the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill volunteered to provide a teaching school for the Sisters of the Holy Family when Jim Crow laws prevented the sisters from continuing vital educational ministries for children of color throughout the South. This relationship blossomed into a 100-year long friendship of mutual respect and collaboration.
The annual lecture series historically supports dialogue on timely topics of social and environmental justice with global impact. This year, as a part of the Sisters of Charity and Seton Hill University’s commitment to inclusion and open diversity, Sisters Alicia and Sylvia each reflected on religious life and their educational journey as women of color at their time on the hill.
Prior to the lecture, the exhibit, Faith, Race, and Sisterhood: Lessons in Civic Empathy from the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill opened with a presentation and blessing with Dr. Mary Finger, Sister Mary Norbert Long, SC, Casey Bowser, and Monsignor Roger A. Statnick.
The goal of the exhibit was to display stories of civic empathy from archival collections from the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill. The history of the sisters produced a long line of empathetic social justice movements within the community including the long friendship forged between the African-American congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family.
The lecture and exhibit defines the goal of the Sister Mary Schmidt lecture series by opening a dialogue of current social issues while broadening the understanding of Catholic Social Teachings and how they pertain to this dialogue.