By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Reporter
KANSAS CITY —The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet have long been closely involved in education, health care and justice for the poor, dating back to the 17th century when they taught impoverished girls and women to make lace as a way of earning a living. Today, the charism and mission of the St. Louis-based religious order includes: healing and reconciliation; serving all persons without distinction; enabling others to assume a more active responsibility for continuing the mission of Jesus; recognizing and defending the human dignity of all; caring for creation and promoting justice with a particular concern for the poor.
Since 2007, the Sisters have honored men and women whose daily lives and careers are witness to the life-altering generosity of St. Joseph. The Generosity of Joseph award this year was presented to Mary Christman and Joseph and Rosemary Shaughnessy, all of St. Louis, and to Ron Slepitza, Ph.D., CSJA, President of Avila University in Kansas City. Avila is sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet
The annual gala event, held April 25 at the motherhouse in Carondelet, Mo., included cocktails, a silent auction, dinner and the honors ceremony. The auction and donations raised $86,000 in honor of the award winners.
Sister of St. Joseph Marie Joan Harris, Avila Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, presented Dr. Slepitza with the award. She said that for Slepitza, a Sister of St. Joseph Associate, commitment to the order’s charism is not a passive objective. “It is key to his strategic planning. He has instituted Avila’s Sister of St. Joseph Associate program with more than 50 men and women now immersed in our charism and history. Ron is assuring all of us that the mission and charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph are secure in the hands of the laity.”
The Generosity of Joseph Honor publicly acknowledges and celebrates those whose generosity positively influences and contributes to the betterment of society and encourages others by example to practice life-altering generosity.
Slepitza later said, “I’m not a holy man. But as I’ve approached this ministry, I have tried to be a faithful one. As I have grown to understand our mission and our charism, I have found great enthusiasm on the part of our people to also grow in its understanding, to act in its accord, to serve our students in the spirit of the dear neighbor and to find their work in a life giving ministry. In this process, I believe we are doing God’s work.
“I am very grateful for the true generosity of the Sisters of St. Joseph in their willingness to share this charism and this ministry and their delight in welcoming us as colleagues on the journey. I am grateful for this opportunity, and I know in honoring me you are really honoring all those at Avila who believe so deeply in this ministry and mission and try to live it daily.”