San Antonio, Texas, December 2022—The Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word (CCVI) are known as great servant leaders around the world. With a $1.8 million grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the Catholic Sisters Inter-Congregational Network for Migrants and Economic Empowerment of Youth and Families project (CCVI-CSI Project), CCVI is expanding its leadership in serving the neediest of communities through the formation of far-reaching networks to strengthen healthcare, educational, family support, and agricultural/artisanal ministries serving migrant and impoverished communities through interministerial and intercongregational partnerships as well as alliances with non-profit organizations and donors in the US and Mexico. CCVI-CSI sponsored and funded projects are creating new networks to build stronger bonds among congregations doing similar work, such potable water, domestic violence and community health. They are building individual, organizational and community capacity to implement and grow local programs as well as teaching program administration topics, like conflict resolution, positive language use, marketing, and basic financial skills.
How does the CCVI-CSI Project serve these disenfranchised communities? Once a quarter, community education, health, family, and artisan projects from the networks are reviewed and allotted funds by the CCVI-CSI Project Advisory Board, comprised of religious sisters and lay women from the U.S. and Mexico, to implement activities that meet community needs. Some religious communities request funds to travel to retreats to deepen their faith and address social and community challenges through scripture. Others request computer equipment and software to establish educational digital centers to connect young people with learning resources not available in their vecindad. One grant approval by the Hilton Project advisory board allowed Los Quijotes, a San Antonio-based medical mission group, to purchase a laser ophthalmology instrument and perform 24 laser surgeries for Oaxacan residents in the southwestern region of Mexico. Los Quijotes coordinated with the Mexican government, municipal health authorities, and local universities to provide healthcare screenings and services to over 500 people with minimal resources during Los Quijotes’ visit. One resident shared with us that the surgery will improve her elderly mother’s vision substantially so as to allow her mother to care for herself during the day. This in turn, will allow the daughter to return to work and increase the household income.
To date, a total of 22 ministries have accessed funds for 12 projects in Mexico and 12 projects in the United States. In the education service area, 12 projects have been awarded a total of $142,367 and five project have been awarded a total amount of $107,000 in health service area. Six projects in the social/family service area received a total amount of $75,300. One project was awarded $10,000 in artisanship area. Over 138,450 persons have been served through CCVI-CSI Project funding. The ministeries are collaborating with one or more of an estimated 37 alliances that have formed thus far between the ministries and congregations. Two universities, La Universidad de Monterrey and the University of the Incarnate Word, as well as local and international non-profit and municipal organizations are partnering with the CCVI-CSI project in Mexico and the U.S..
A unifying and leadership-building component of the CCVI-CSI brings together nearly 300 religious sisters and laity weekly around their computer screens for two hours in small and large cities in Mexico and the U.S. to share stories about the communities in which they live in, the work they do and how the leadership and capacity building training, entitled Programa de Certificado de Liderazgo Social, hosted by the Universidad de Monterrey is changing how they interact with each other and the communities they serve.
Much has been accomplished during the past year since the CCVI-CSI Project began its service operations in the US and Mexico. In its second year of funding, the ministries and congregations will have more opportunities to improve the lives of the impoverished communities. We will continue to share stories of how religious sisters’ work together to lead change and build networks that will have lasting beneficial and sustainable outcomes for the communities they serve.
Religious sisters from various Catholic congregations and lay women from Mexico and U.S participate in virtual Leadership training provided by the Universidad de Monterrey through funds from the CCVI-CSI Hilton Project.
On the header, Elderly resident receives treatment with ophthalmology laser equipment during Los Quijotes Medical Mission trip in 2022. The laser was provided to Los Quijotes by a grant from the CCVI-CSI Hilton Project. Twenty-four (24) laser surgeries were performed in 5 days by one ophthalmologist, specifically 8 YAG iridotomy, 7 PRP, 8 YAG Capsulotomy, 1 laser retinopexy.