Catholic Extension is excited to participate in National Catholic Sisters Week by recognizing extraordinary women religious supported by Catholic Extension in some of the poorest places in America. Follow the links below to learn more about the impact religious sisters and nuns are having on the Catholic Church in the United States.

U.S.-Latin American Sisters Exchange Program

Through a generous $3 million grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, which also funds National Catholic Sisters Week, Catholic Extension created a program involving 11 Latin American congregations sending 36 women religious to dioceses throughout the United States. Over the next five years, each of the participating dioceses will host a group of three sisters from a particular Latin American congregation. After receiving intense pastoral leadership training, the sisters will minister to the growing Hispanic populations in each of these Catholic dioceses by staffing ministries that serve families, provide religious education, women’s spirituality and youth and young adult ministry. Watch the video to learn more.

Click here to learn more about the program.

Sister Mariana Koonce

Diocese of Knoxville, Tennessee

Sister Mariana Koonce doesn’t just wear a habit. She also wears a doctor’s stethoscope. As the creator and leader of the diocese’s St. Mary’s Legacy Clinic, she’s providing health care to hundreds of economically disadvantaged people, most without insurance. She is providing many in the community with their first experience with the Catholic Church while providing loving, healing medical assistance.  

Click here to read more about Sister Mariana's ministry. 

Sister Maria Yelitza Ayala

Sister Yelitza Ayala Gilot, OP, is a part of Catholic Extension's US-Latin American Sisters Exchange Program, where she serves in one of our country's poorest areas while completing coursework that helps strengthen her ministry to strenghten families through faith.

Along with two other sisters from her order, the Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima, Sister Yelitza came to the United States and studied English and U.S. culture at the Mexican American Catholic College in San Antonio before moving to Jacksonville, Texas, to help families in need. 

Click here to read more about Sister Yelitza's ministry.

Watch this video to see her ministry in action. 

Sister Kathleen Atkinson

Diocese of Bismarck, North Dakota

Sister Kathleen Atkinson is a Benedictine Sister from the Annunciation Monastery in Bismarck, North Dakota. She is the founder and director of Ministry on the Margins in the Diocese of Bismarck, working with at-risk youth, prison inmates, the homeless, and others who need to encounter God’s saving love.

Sister Kathleen founded Ministry on the Margins in 2013 when one of the men in her weekly Bible study at the state penitentiary was released and expected to re-build his life in a city where he knew no one. She met him at the prison gates, gathered a community of mentors, and began a program that served over 2,000 people in 2014.

Click here to read more about Sister Kathleen's ministry.

If you’ve been inspired by these sisters, or if a sister has impacted your life, join in National Catholic Sisters Week by sharing your story using the hashtags #NCSW, #NunsRock and #SisterSelfie. 


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