By John Heuertz
Special to the Catholic Key
LEAWOOD — It was fitting that the spiritual mothers of many, many thousands of area Catholics were honored on Mother’s Day weekend.
The fifth annual Serra Club “Blisters For Sisters” fundraising walk with Mass, luncheon and raffle was held last Saturday, hosted by Church of the Nativity parish in Leawood.
Saturday morning’s pre-dawn showers had threatened to put a damper on things. But by the walk’s 8:30 start time, all participants could enjoy clear skies, cool weather and clean, fresh air for the walk down 119th Street east to State Line — perfect conditions for the event.
“It shows the support system we have,” said Sr. Mary Clare, OSF. “Even Our Lord has blessed it with the weather.”
This event’s primary purpose is to honor Catholic women living consecrated lives, and to support them in their missions.
“We want everyone to see how important the Sisters are to the life of the Church,” said event co-chair Tom Coppinger of Visitation parish.
About three dozen Kansas and Missouri Serrans work together each year to make it all happen. “It’s a team effort,” said Serran Dick Shaw of Kansas City.
It’s also the only event of its type in the country, though local Serrans are hopeful that Serrans elsewhere will hold similar events in the future.
“We also need to recognize the Serra Club here, and support them in what they do too,” said Sr. Mary Geraldine, SCL.
Catholic women religious from ages 21 to 90, some coming from west of Topeka, made up about 120 of the estimated 350 participants.
“It’s so nice to see sisters from other communities here,” said Sr. Charlotte White, SCL. “We all know each other anyway, and it’s great to reconnect.”
Each sister who attended received a cash door prize. “We give cash because they weren’t always that comfortable with things like gift certificates to restaurants,” Coppinger said. “They take a vow of poverty.”
“And this way they can use the money for things they might really need more than a restaurant meal, like a tank of gas.”
Event proceeds also support mission by Catholic sisters on both sides of the state line who have at least two members in their community; who have a mission statement; and who are fulfilling that statement in mission.
Last year the Serra Club was able to help 18 apostolates meeting these conditions, Coppinger said.
A common thread of gratitude ran through the reasons people took part in the walk — from “they taught me my prayers” to “they do so much good for everyone” to “they helped me keep my faith.”
“It’s great to feel the support. It’s nice to be appreciated,” said Srs. Mary Joan Eble and Ann Barton, both Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth.
In his homily, Serra Club chaplain Father Joe Cisetti held up Sr. Catherine Seton, a daughter of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, as an example of “how the lives of so many people, Catholic and non-Catholic, have been enriched by our consecrated sisters that we celebrate today.”
Father Cisetti cited many areas in which Catholic women religious have been a leaven in the world, and then said: “They do all this not simply as social workers who don’t date, but as consecrated women … who, building upon the grace of their Baptism, further consecrate themselves to God.”
“They seek to give not just what they do but who they are.”
Currently, members of 38 different communities of Catholic women religious are represented in the Diocese and Archdiocese. They are crucial to many important Church apostolates, especially in teaching, health care and social service.
“I’ve said it for years. The Sisters and nuns are the foundation of the Church,” said Jim Kopp of Holy Spirit parish in Overland Park.