What Do You Know About the Marie Menard Committee?
Have you appreciated reading the interviews and profiles of some of our Sisters this past year? Collecting those stories is the mission of the Marie Menard Committee. The committee works to gather and preserve the living history of the Congregation, as remembered by our Sisters.
The Marie Menard Committee was commissioned by the Executive Committee in September 1999 after the idea was proposed by Sister Mary Ellen Doyle. While researching the life of Mother Catherine in the Archival Center, Sister Mary Ellen made extensive use of Marie Menard’s “Early Annals”. Marie Menard had interviewed some of the Community’s earliest Sisters to learn their stories so that they could be preserved. The Executive Committee gave support to Sister Mary Ellen’s idea and the committee was appointed.
Today the Marie Menard Committee has the task of gathering in-depth stories of Sisters’ early lives and their lives in the SCN Community by interviewing individual Sisters. Some committee members use a tape recorder to capture the interview while others prefer to take handwritten notes. Each interview is meant to be very informal and relaxed. Once the interview is completed, the Sister’s story is typed and a draft is given to her so that she may check to make sure everything she wishes to mention has been included in the interview, that there are no inaccuracies, and that she is satisfied with the content overall. A copy is then printed and filed in her drop file in the Archival Center. If the Sister is willing, her story is also published on the Newsline.
There are a variety of methods to preserve the history of the Congregation. The Annals give us a record of the history of our missions specifically and often include snippets about specific Sisters. The SCN Spotlight project, completed by Sisters Barbara Peterson and Evelyn Fugazzi, captures personal details about the life of an individual Sister in a brief snapshot of the life of a Sister. The Marie Menard interviews are unique because they have a broader range, looking at the memories of a Sister – her family, her education, her missions, and other items of importance to her.
Today there is a similar group in Patna Province in India that is working to gather the stories of the Sisters. The Committee in Patna Province consists of Sisters Ann George Mukalel (Chair), Cecilia Simick, Malini Manjoly, and Mary Chackalackal. Their process is slightly different as they give Sisters a questionnaire and the Sister then writes her answers to the questions. So far they have had 40 Sisters complete their writing and more are still working. Once Sisters have written their biographies based on these questions, all of the writings are stored in a central location. The Marie Menard Committee members in the Western Province envision some connection with the Sisters interviewing in India.
Over the years, many Sisters have shared in the mission of the Marie Menard Committee. As the Committee prepares to take up that mission again, the new members would like to extend their sincerest thanks to all those who have interviewed, transcribed, or otherwise helped the Committee in the past. Your work is the foundation on which the committee now stands.
Since February 2015, Sister Maria Vincent Brocato has been carrying the torch for the Marie Menard Committee, completing and sharing interviews. In September of 2015, Kelly McDaniels was hired as the new Assistant Archivist and joined Sister Maria Vincent as the Chair of the committee. Recently, the Executive Committee approved four more individuals for membership on the Marie Menard Committee. They are Sister Therese Arru, SCN; Sharon Cecil, SCNA; Sister Paschal Maria Fernicola, SCN. Sister Theresa Knabel is joining the committee on a trial basis. After a time of orientation, the newly created team of six will take up the privileged work of the Marie Menard Committee and begin to schedule interviews.
The work that the Marie Menard Committee does is essential to capturing the history of our Community. It preserves the memories of past missions and the women of faith who came before us. It captures the individual and personalities, giving every Sister a chance to add her voice to the choir of our history. But it goes beyond us and our Community; our SCN history is the history of those we have served -the poor, the oppressed, the lonely, and the unnoticed. Through our stories, their lives and struggles will be preserved so that we can learn from our past and be encouraged for our future.
Would you like to share your story? If your story has not been told, you may want to contact Kelly McDaniels at 502-348-1548 or Sister Maria Vincent at 502-445-6010. Feel free to visit Kelly at the Archival Center. We are more than happy to answer any questions that you have.
Our Committee members will also solicit interviews. We hope that you will say “Yes” and an interview can be arranged. Perhaps you would be willing to write your own story and share a copy with the Marie Menard Committee to keep in your file. We trust your help in preserving our precious SCN history and legacy as well as the gift religious women have been to the mission of the Church.