Nashville Dominican Sisters Guide Hispanic Families Through Pandemic Struggles

The Catholic population is small but growing in the Diocese of Nashville, especially among immigrant families. These families were working hard to get by month to month before the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S.

The pandemic resulted in many of these individuals losing their jobs. Those still employed work even more hours than before, causing heightened emotional strain.

As struggles mounted, the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia looked for ways they could help. Women Religious from the order applied and were selected to be Sisters on the Frontlines. Sisters on the Frontlines aims to give $1,000 to 1,000 women religious to help those most affected by COVID-19.

Having this grant from Sisters on the Frontline gave me the chance, in the name of all who provided this funding, to make a lasting difference in this family’s life.”

Sister Maria Teresita Rodkey, O.P.

Sister serves family in crisis

The Dominican Sisters identified families from their congregation’s Hispanic Ministry needing immediate attention. Sister Maria Teresita Rodkey focused on a family battling economic and emotional distress.

In this family, the mother, Rosa, works in the cleaning service industry. When the pandemic began, Rosa saw most of her cleaning jobs canceled. When jobs opened back up in June, Rosa’s husband, Juan, joined her at cleaning jobs after his day job. To support their family, the two worked together to make up three months of lost income.

On top of the extra work commitments, emotional distress began to set in for the family. One of their daughters developed depression, and a distraught Rosa wound up in a car accident. The family now needed to make payments for doctor’s visits and car repairs. That’s when Sister Rodkey came through for the family. She used her Sisters on the Frontlines grant to help the family make the payments.

Sister Rodkey reports the family’s situation is now stable and peaceful. She’s especially happy about their daughter’s improved condition. Rosa keeps telling Sister:

I have my daughter back again!”

Turning disaster into opportunity

Sister Mary Charles Sterne used her Sisters on the Frontlines grant to help a family of seven. The father of the family recently lost his cleaning job of almost 20 years.

He now knew it was time to start his own cleaning company to support his family. Sister Sterne used her Sisters on the Frontlines grant to help him get his business off the ground. With the funding, the father was able to apply for his business license, buy business cards and set up a website.

Having known the family eight years, Sister Sterne lauds their profound Catholic faith. The parents and two oldest children have been catechists for a diocesan parish for years.

Sister Sterne takes pride in helping with catechesis with the immigrant families. Helping this faithful family when they needed it most was another rewarding experience:

In the midst of the pandemic and economic downturn, having the chance to help these lovely people not just to survive but to flourish made me so happy! I am so grateful to Catholic Extension and the financial support of the Sisters on the Frontlines effort!”

As the pandemic continues, so does the Sisters on the Frontlines initiative. Give today to help Catholic sisters provide emergency relief to families in need.

Subscribe for weekly stories sent to your inbox