You Mean Nuns Can't Communicate for Themselves?

Lisa Martin

2013: Sister Johanna Rickl, CHM President, being interviewed at a press conference at
Humility of Mary Shelter, Inc.She asked Quad Citians to support the homeless shelter
with a guarantee that CHMs would match dollar for dollar.

When I started as communications director for the Congregation of the Humility of Mary (CHM), I walked into the office of Sister Marcia Costello who was retiring. There were no other sisters with a communications background able to take her place at that time so they hired a lay person. Thank you... I've been here 12 wonderful years.

Quite often when people ask and I tell them what I do, they laugh and say, "You mean nuns can't communicate for themselves? Ha. Ha." They don't realize that the CHM community like most businesses, requires professional assistance with materials that provide information to the CHM sisters & staff, their friends, donors, volunteers and colleagues. Not to mention the press.

There are 90 sisters in this congregation, and I have a small department of Me. My office is in the Humility of Mary Center where retired sisters live and carry on with volunteer and prayer ministries. Other sisters live elsewhere in Iowa, Colorado, Montana, Mississippi, Virginia and Mexico where they are active in a variety of ministries.

You can find CHMs on their website and on FacebookTwitterYouTubeInstagram and Pinterest, We have a printed publication, The Flame and the CHM Spirit e-newsletter . Religious communities rely on these tools to tell their stories, raise funds, attract new members and volunteers, provide spiritual support and connect with old friends.

SUN with Bren Ortega Murphy (front in grey sweater).
SUN organized a conference featuring Bren who produced
a feature length documentary "A Question of Habit"
which explores images of women religious in U.S. pop culture.

Prior to working for the CHMs I worked in a variety of businesses, from radio to non-profit. Working for humble women whose focus is the work of the gospel was a whole new world. Fortuntately, the job came with two memberships which paved the way of my understanding. The first: Sisters United News (SUN) made up of 12 communications directors working for Catholic Sisters of the Upper Mississippi Valley. We collaborate on a Facebook page and usually one or more awareness projects a year. Immigration, trafficking and care of Earth are some of our areas of focus that all of our congregations support.

The second: Communicators for Women Religious (CWR) which provides invaluable help via member networking, professional development and a website filled with resources. The group consists of mostly women, some are nuns, and a few men, who work the same job I do.

SUN collaborated on an immigration campaign
 featuring this image on billboards, print and
social media.The image has been used by
 other groups around the world for several years.

Not all the members of these organizations are Catholic, but I would venture to say they all have a dedication to the mission of their congregation and faith in the power of good. The individuals in these groups are happy to share their knowledge, their failures and their successes. We all have the same goal - to raise awareness of our sisters and the gospel at work.