New Catholic Sisters Strategic Initiative

The board of directors of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation announced that it approved a new five-year strategy for the Catholic Sisters Strategic Initiative. This new strategy highlights how sisters, through their presence and focus on human development work, can bear prophetic witness through vocation.

During the first phase of the Hilton Foundation’s Catholic Sisters Strategic Initiative (2013-2018), the Foundation invested $105 million, the largest of all of the Foundation’s strategic initiatives. Conrad N. Hilton’s will specified that he wished to “give aid to… the Sisters, who devote their love and life’s work for the good of mankind, for they appeal especially to me as deserving help from the Foundation… It is my wish… to have the largest part of your benefactions dedicated to the Sisters in all parts of the world.”

The first phase focused on building the internal capacity of Catholic sisters’ congregations to improve membership, leadership and resource outcomes. Over the past five years, the team has achieved a number of successes, including a significant increase in the number of sisters with post-secondary credentials, who are now prepared to take on expanded ministry and leadership roles, and the beginning of a “Global Sisterhood”.

Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe assists students at St. Monica’s Vocational School in Gulu, Uganda, a school established to provide practical skills to restore dignity, independence and hope to formerly abducted women.

The vision for the next phase is for Catholic sisters to become global leaders in the provision of sustainable human development services, while remaining grounded in the vitality of their spiritual witness. With ministries at the heart of human development efforts and with a commitment to serve people from all walks of life and religious beliefs, Catholic sisters are uniquely positioned to be recognized as among the most trusted and effective leaders in meeting the global promise to end poverty by 2030 and beyond – a component of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The new strategy seeks to achieve this by investing in four intersecting portfolios:

  • Sisters’ Education: Increase the financial and human resources capacity needed to sustain congregations of sisters, their services and the organizations they are serving.
  • Human Development Services: Expand services to disadvantaged and vulnerable youth and young adults aged 15-25 and their families. Areas of focus include: education, food security, health care, human trafficking and youth entrepreneurship.
  • Knowledge: Research, gather, apply and disseminate information to improve practices of congregations and leadership conferences, expand and improve the quality of human development services, and increase collaborative partnerships.
  • Innovation: Create sustainable solutions to challenges to the vitality of sisters’ organizations and the sustainability of their human development services.

“This new phase will not only build upon key learnings and accomplishments from the first phase, but will also be mindful of the changing landscape for Catholic faith,” said Sister Jane Wakahiu, director of the Catholic sisters program of the Hilton Foundation. “The Foundation recognizes Catholic sisters are well-positioned to be vital actors and front-line workers to make significant, positive change for people and our planet.”

“We are delighted that the board of directors has approved the next phase of our Catholic Sisters Strategic Initiative,” said Peter Laugharn, president and CEO of the Hilton Foundation. “We have been committed to improving the lives and ministries of Catholic sisters since our inception. In this next phase, we will continue to carry out the wishes of our founder by ensuring sisters can build vitality and enable critical services to reach disadvantaged and vulnerable people.”

Learn more about the Catholic Sisters Strategic Initiative.

The Sisters of Notre Dame are grateful recipients of grants made possible by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

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