The following is from the Spring 2021 issue of Vision.
For over 200 years, partnership with the laity has been a hallmark of the Sisters of Charity mission. Today, this partnership is more important than ever. In this first of a series, the Sisters of Charity are honored to spotlight individuals who so generously give their time, expertise and experience to carry the mission forward.
How did you become involved with the Sisters of Charity?
What does it mean to you to serve as a trustee?
Jennifer Coffey, Esq., Secretary, SC Ministry Network Board Member, Sponsorship Advisory Council
I started working in the Legal Department at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan in 2003. I met Sr. Jane Iannucelli who represented the Sisters of Charity as well as one of Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Centers’ corporate members. I got to know the mission while working at the hospital and met many Sisters of Charity during my tenure there. It was a wonderful place to work, as the sisters and my colleagues were all dedicated to providing quality and compassionate health care to underserved patient populations. The Sisters of Charity of New York is a community of educated, talented, intelligent, passionate and dedicated women who are motivated to help those in need, especially those who live in poverty. They are a unique group of women religious who never cease to inspire me through their continuous compassion, acts of kindness, and faith. It is refreshing to be around such selfless individuals whose primary mission is to serve the most disadvantaged people in our communities without expecting anything in return.
Throughout my years of service, I have learned more about the Congregation’s sponsored ministries. My family and I participated in a few events throughout the years and loved being around such dedicated, empathetic people.
Even in small part, serving with the Sisters of Charity provides me with unique and lovely experiences that are incredibly refreshing and inspirational, especially during these challenging times.
Brian Doran, Member, SC Housing Development Corporation Board
Following my college graduation in 1980, I had the great privilege and opportunity to work with the sisters at the former St. Vincent’s Hospital on Staten Island. I was part of the community relations team and worked with Eric Feldmann, the hospital’s Director of Community Relations. Subsequently, I served on the hospital’s Advisory Board. Then, in the 1990s, as the SCNY mission continued to evolve in senior housing, I was asked to serve on the founding board of St. Vincent’s Manor and the additional housing development fund boards established for the Staten Island senior housing locations. More recently, Sr. Donna Dodge asked me to serve on the Housing Development Corporation Board.
I feel honored and blessed to be a small part of the continuing and evolving mission of SCNY in giving to those less fortunate, those who, but for the sisters’ intervention and care, might be forgotten or neglected. That mission is more than providing care and services; in the case of housing, the mission is more than just providing a roof and walls around the person. It is about providing spiritual and loving care and support to those in need. It is about living the life of Jesus, St. Vincent and St. Elizabeth in doing more for others, particularly those who may have little or nothing. The years may continue to pass, but my appreciation of the mission of the Sisters of Charity of New York also continues to grow.
Peter McKeever, Member, Elizabeth Seton Children’s Center Board, Elizabeth Seton Children’s Foundation
My relationship with the Sisters of Charity began 64 years ago—at the time of my birth. At that time, my natural mother placed me with the sisters at the New York Foundling. I remained in their loving care for five months before they found a wonderful mom and dad to call my own. Four years later, my parents would also adopt my sister. My aunt was also a Sister of Charity who taught at Cathedral High School and the College of Mount Saint Vincent for many years. I attended St. Gabriel School in Riverdale, which the Sisters of Charity also staffed. The sisters had a powerful influence on my life. I have been a constant beneficiary of their ministries; they provided me with a safe home when I was born, placed me with a loving family, and provided me with an excellent education.
I’ve had the privilege of serving as a board member of Elizabeth Seton Children’s for the past 21 years and was board chair for six of those years. During that time, I had the opportunity to serve alongside many outstanding and dedicated professionals. The most valuable experience has been learning about the importance of “mission” from the sisters. It’s at the core of everything we do. At Elizabeth Seton Children’s, not only do we provide essential services to those most vulnerable in our society, but we do so with love and compassion. For over 200 years, this is the legacy passed down from St. Elizabeth Seton and St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac before her. To play a small part in that ministry is a great personal reward.
Maureen Russell, Member, Sponsorship Advisory Council, Keepers of the Flame Design Team
I graduated from the College of Mount Saint Vincent and later worked there for 32 years. During much of that time, I coordinated events and use of campus facilities, which brought me into close contact with many Sisters. After I retired from the College, I became an Associate of the Sisters of Charity, then served as Coordinator of Associates for five years.
While I was still at the College, I was asked to serve on a sponsorship task force for the Sisters of Charity’s varied ministries. The task force evolved into the Sponsorship Advisory Council; I have served on the Council since its inception almost ten years ago.
I find the work I do for the Sisters of Charity to be rewarding, meaningful and enjoyable. Like other Sponsorship Advisory Council members, I am passionate about our ministries’ work and their continuation. Even more important is the future of the mission of the Sisters of Charity. It is vital to ensure that trustees are not only grounded in that mission but prepared to pass it on to future generations of ministry leaders and trustees. It is a privilege to have participated in the design of Keepers of the Flame and participate in its implementation.