By John Heuertz
Special to The Catholic Key
LEAWOOD, KS — Despite the damp and chill, it was excellent walking conditions at the seventh annual “Blisters for Sisters” event at Church of the Nativity in Leawood, May 4.
“Blisters for Sisters” is a Mass, luncheon, 2.2-mile walk, fund raiser and party that honors Catholic sisters for the many ways they help to build up the Body of Christ in western Missouri and eastern Kansas.
About 300 sisters and Catholic laity attended Saturday, and the solidarity went both ways.
“The sisters really appreciate this and look forward to it every year,” said Sister Connie Boluch OSF, Director of the diocesan Office of Consecrated Life.
Of the laity she said, “The Lord has put us in their lives and them in ours. We’re all on the road to salvation together.”
“The thing that’s most important is the community,” said Virginia Coppinger of Visitation parish. “Not only for the sisters, but also for the community to show its support.”
“It’s a chance to honor all those women who gave, and who still give, their lives to the Church,” said St. Thomas More’s Sandy Jungk.
“I’m here because I know a lot of the sisters and I love them,” said Katie Radford of St. Regis parish.
“I always feel very happy to be here,” said Sister Gracileia Alves OSF.
“How much they enjoy it is what makes it so enjoyable,” said Serran John Harris of St. Elizabeth parish.
“It’s all about thanking these sisters for answering the call of God,” said Christ the King’s Bob Rueckert, president of the Serra Club of Southeast Kansas City Mo.
“I think it’s just wonderful and I want to thank the Serra Club for putting it on,” said Sister Marie Loretta Modrcin SCL, who has lived a consecrated life for 46 years.
“I think the beauty of this is the Serra Club regard for these sisters,” said Sister Loretto Marie Colwell SCL, director of the Seton Center in Kansas City. “Also I thought it was a wonderful experience for the laity to find how many services the sisters offer, especially for people in need.”
“It’s just a very blessed experience.”
“It was good to be together with other sisters and the laity,” said Sister Mary of the Passion LSP. “It’s not often we get the chance to do that.”
“I want to say thanks to the sisters for coming out. I like it that they can see one another this way,” said Our Lady of Sorrows parishioner Pat Amey, this year’s event chairman.
The walk is the marquee Blisters event every year. Saturday’s first finisher was Sister Paula Rose SCL, a retired R.N. attending her first Blisters event. Sister Paula ran the course.
“I love it,” she said. “Not only does it get us all together, it’s a chance to get out and be active and see sisters in other communities.”
Apart from the fellowship, each sister receives a thank-you cash stipend and raffle tickets for prizes such as free passes to movies and car washes.
Catholic businessmen are a major source of donations each year. “They know how much good the sisters do,” Virginia Coppinger said, and her husband Tom added that “You’ll ask for $50 and they’ll write a check for $200 because it’s for the sisters.”
Fr. Joe Cisetti is the Downtown Serra Club chaplain when not pastoring St. Therese’s parish in Parkville. At Mass, he quoted the great 19th century Belgian Cardinal Désiré-Joseph Mercier: “It is not enough that we give what we have. We must give who we are.” Then he held up St. Katharine Drexel as a model of self-giving.
Katharine Drexel was one of the wealthiest young women in America, and this in the Gilded Age. Yet in 1889 she gave up a huge inheritance to enter a convent.
Mother Drexel eventually founded an order of sisters devoted to the Blessed Sacrament, and to educating and caring for the poorest and most marginalized Americans of her time – work that continues today.
“I don’t think any of you parted with a fortune the size of St. Katharine Drexel’s,” Fr. Cisetti told Saturday’s sisters. “But all of us have one life to give, and we thank you for giving not just what you have but who you are.”
Blisters for Sisters celebrates what Catholic sisters are and have done in the world, while not being of it. The legacy is handed down to benefit not only the past and present, but also the future.
“I didn’t see a lot of sisters in my parish when I was growing up, so it’s been good to see them here,” Amey said.
“It means someone can see sisters walking down the sidewalk who maybe hasn’t seen a sister for years,” said Sister Christine LSP.
“It gives witness to the Church. That it’s alive.”