Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Connecting Nuns, Students for Social Justice SistersOnline

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Connecting Nuns, Students for Social Justice SistersOnline

Article excerpt

It took religious communities a while to realize the ministry potential of the Internet, said Dominican Sr. Elaine LaCanne. "With so many sisters of an age they are no longer teaching, the question was how do we keep in touch with the next generation and continue to teach."

That question was answered two years ago when 12 congregations of women religious created www.SistersOnline.org. The idea is to network among college students and women religious to focus efforts on social justice issues that concern both.

That means, for example, this fall students at the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondolet's College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minn., the Sinsinawa Dominicans' Edgewood College in Madison, Wis., the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary's Clarke College in Dubuque, Iowa, and the Benedictine Sisters' College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minn., "will be invited to work with us on social issues" that range from opposition to the U.S. Army's School of the Americas to opposition to sweatshops. Each college will have its own Web page on the SistersOnline site.

LaCanne, SistersOnline project manager, and the 30-plus congregations (some 4,500 sisters) belong to Region 11 (Minnesota, North and South Dakota, and Wyoming) of the national Leadership Conference of Women Religious. SistersOnline is thinking nationally, not just locally.

"Students are interested in the sweatshop issue. It's already big on public campuses," said LaCanne, "and there are sisters all over the country working on it -- but most of us have no idea who they are or what they are doing.

"So, part of our effort," she added, "is to say to sisters around the country: Why aren't we more visible? The Internet gives us that capability."

The parallel step, she said, is linking up sisters and Catholic students.

Personal appearances on campuses are one way. …

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