Community outreach through leadership

An organization’s board of directors provides strategic leadership and advocates for the organization’s mission. Many Sisters of the Precious Blood serve the communities where they live and work by giving of their time, insight and active participation on a variety of governing boards. The organizations where they serve may focus on grantmaking, health care, retreats, social services or other work, but regardless of the group’s mission, the service of a Precious Blood Sister is always guided by Precious Blood Spirituality and our Congregation’s mission to “proclaim God’s love by being a life-giving, reconciling presence in our fractured world.” These are the stories of just a few of our Sisters who serve.

Sister Linda Pleiman

Pregnancy and parenting support. Early childhood education. Transportation services. Long-term support services for seniors. Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley provides outreach and services to individuals throughout the life span — and each year, the agency assists more than 25,000 residents in Mercer, Auglaize, Darke, Shelby, Miami, Preble, Montgomery and Greene counties.

For the past few years, Sister Linda Pleiman has served on CSSMV’s finance committee and its board of directors, helping the agency’s staff fulfill its mission to strengthen “individuals and families in need through actions of faith, service and charity.”

“If you take a look at our Congregation’s mission statement to be a life-giving, reconciling presence, how can you not be a reconciling presence when you support an agency that is healing families, healing individuals, and helping to provide the resources that individuals and families need to make it in this world — to have a better and healthier and more enriching life?” Sister Linda said.

CSSMV was founded in 1921 as the Dayton branch office of the Bureau of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. In 1967, Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley was incorporated and took responsibility for the northern part of the archdiocese. Today, programming is coordinated from offices in both Dayton and Sidney. Supervised family visitation is available at the Center for Families (also known as “Erma’s House”) on Brown Street in Dayton. The early childhood education center, Lincoln Academy, is located on the grounds of the Dayton V.A. Medical Center campus. The agency also provides professional counseling, operates food pantries, coordinates refugee resettlement, and offers support services in a host of other areas.

“This is a very, very good organization, and it’s a well-run organization,” Sister Linda said. “It’s really an operation that’s trying to listen to the needs of the people.”

– Story by Mary Knapke

Above right, Members of the CSSMV board of directors (Sister Linda is bottom left); contributed photo.

Sister Florence Seifert

As a retired Sister, serving on boards of directors and board committees allows me to draw upon and put to good use the knowledge and skills gained in my past ministry experiences. Service on boards allows me to be involved outside myself and continue to grow as I come in contact with diverse people and needs.

Working with Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley especially made me more aware of the various needs of our own local communities and the efforts being made on their behalf. I have become more aware of the dedication of the laity to do the same things we have dedicated ourselves to.

I served on the CSSMV board for three years, and also served on the Maria Stein Shrine board from 2010 to 2018. Currently, I serve on the boards of the Brunner Literacy Center and the CPPS Heritage Mission Fund. The mission of each of these organizations is outreach and service to others.

Through my service on the Maria Stein Shrine board, I grew in my appreciation of the ways our Congregation — the many Sisters who have both lived and ministered there — has been a life-giving presence in that area. I learned much about the organization and functioning of a board from the expertise of the board’s lay members, and I enjoyed watching the lay board members embrace the history and spirituality of the Sisters of the Precious Blood. I thank God that our Congregation was willing to place care of the Shrine in the hands of the laypeople of the area. Our spirituality and mission in Maria Stein will continue into the future, extending beyond ourselves.

Serving on boards is one way I can work in collaboration with other organizations and people. On each board and committee where I serve, I strive to be a life-giving presence. My life as a Sister of the Precious Blood influences who I am as I serve.

– Story by Sister Florence Seifert

Above right, Sister Florence welcomes the assembly to the Oct. 4, 2009, Mass of Thanksgiving with Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk at Precious Blood Church; Pat Morrison photo.

Sister Arlene Hirsch

As one of the first facilities of its kind in the country, Brigid’s Path is helping to create a roadmap for navigating the many complex aspects of caring for drug-exposed newborns and healing families affected by addiction. Located in Kettering, Ohio, Brigid’s Path was founded by two mothers who saw a need in the community — and Precious Blood Sister Arlene Hirsch has been along for the journey from the beginning.

“When I was asked to join the board of directors, I questioned whether I was the right person,” Sister Arlene said. “I thought, ‘What do I bring to this board?’ I don’t have a background in finance, law or construction” — vital aspects of establishing the facility, which provides round-the-clock, short-term inpatient care for newborns, as well as social services for a year after babies are discharged. In September, Brigid’s Path was one of just four groups nominated as a not-for-profit organization of the year by Dayton Business Journal.

Sister Arlene said that as she questioned her role, the board’s president told her, “You’re here to keep us on track — so that we don’t just think legally and financially. So that we think from our heart and we always keep it, number one, that we’re here for the babies and the families.”

“They want a Sister there,” Sister Arlene said. “And I’m glad I can be that Sister.”

In addition to attending board meetings, Sister Arlene also cleans, does laundry, and holds and rocks babies — “whatever needs to be done,” she said. She also involves Precious Blood Sisters in praying for the babies and families at Brigid’s Path. “When we get a baby, they call to let me know. I have a list of Sisters, and I give each one a card with the baby’s name, and the Sisters hold that baby and the family in their prayers. … The Sisters love it. They ask me about their babies all the time. It’s wonderful. They take it very seriously.”

Just as Sister Arlene aims to keep the Brigid’s Path board focused on its mission, she herself is guided by the Congregation’s mission to “proclaim God’s love by being a life-giving, reconciling presence.”

“Brigid’s Path is trying to do that, too,” she said. “Trying to heal these families so that this child can grow up in a loving family — and heal relationships within the family by giving the mother the help that she needs to overcome her addiction. I think Brigid’s Path fits our charism one hundred percent.”

– Story by Mary Knapke

On the cover, Sister Arlene holds a baby boy; above right, Sister Arlene and Bob Hausmann, AIA, LEED AP, president of the board of directors; Michelle Bodine photos.

Sister Judy Kroeger

In looking back, I am amazed at the role boards have played in my life. In the late 1970s and early ’80s, I served two terms on the board of Retreats International. Much later, in the early 2000s, I served three terms on the board of Bergamo Retreat Center, including serving as the first non-Marianist board chair. Around 2015, I served more than three years on a committee referred to as the Patient Advisory Board for Premier Health. Currently, I am serving on the CPPS Heritage Mission Fund board and the Maria Stein Shrine board.

The retreat boards reflected my ministry at our Maria Stein Retreat House. All retreat houses offer a place for prayer, hospitality and peace, which also speaks to being a life-giving, reconciling presence — part of our Congregation’s mission statement. The CHM Fund board is based on our CPPS spirituality and values. The Maria Stein Shrine board continues the Precious Blood Spirituality that has been going on for over 100 years. My years of ministry at Maria Stein reinforce my commitment to our CPPS legacy of Maria Stein Shrine.

Membership on the Patient Advisory Board also involved giving presentations to hospital staff members. Later, when visiting the hospital, I was surprised when staff members would stop me and say, “I remember what you said and how you felt when a nurse came into your room and focused on the computer rather than you. I have changed and now look at the patient when I ask questions.” That experience is life-giving and reconciling, and that’s Precious Blood Spirituality. Other experiences that I shared were also mentioned to me.

Boards are imbued with the charism, mission or ministry of the institution or service they provide. During my years on the Bergamo board, I learned the Marianist charism and the value of a charism permeating the members and their work. This realization serves me well for my participation on the CHM Fund and Maria Stein Shrine boards and in continuing to be urged by the redeeming love of Jesus — another part of our mission statement — to live our Precious Blood Spirituality.

All boards work mutually with very talented people with varied backgrounds and experiences. The interchange is challenging, enriching, satisfying, stretching and often more than any one of us could have expected or imagined.

– Story by Sister Judy Kroeger

Above right, members of the CHM Fund board of directors meet for orientation April 29 (Sister Judy is third from left); Sister Joyce Lehman photo.

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