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Global Sisters Report’s Q&A with Sister Irene

Sisters Rising Worldwide’s Sister Irene O’Neill recently talked with the Global Sisters Report regarding the upcoming launch of our new online platform that will expand the ability of Sisters to connect with each other and to the resources their ministry needs. “Imagine 700,000 women with a prophetic call of compassion, [who] chose to give their entire life to promoting peace and justice, know the root causes to the poverty around them, but cannot connect with each other,” she asks.

Here is an excerpt from the interview:

Many GSR readers may know a bit about Sisters Rising Worldwide but perhaps aren’t sure what the nuts and bolts of the organization are. Can you explain those?

O’Neill: As I’ve traveled for work nationally and internationally, I’ve asked sisters, “What are you doing? What are you working on?” Everywhere, sisters are quick to name root causes to the poverty around them, and most often describe their huge responsibilities and investments in responding to symptoms of underlying problems.

I’ve met sisters working on projects that help groups of 500 to 1,000 women in their community or area. All the while, these sisters know that if they are able to focus on reducing or eradicating root causes, the entire village or region could flourish, and tens of thousands more could be helped. Another reality is that many sisters feel siloed in their work and don’t always have a way to communicate out to the world for resource needs they may have.

About five years ago, I decided to focus my attention on whether or not a solution existed that could unite and help sisters on a global scale. I gathered a group of visionary sisters I knew, and together, we looked for answers to questions like: How do sisters and members among congregations connect? Are most congregations siloed? Do sisters from different congregations within the same region or country share resources? Who connects to whom, and why?

What did you learn?

We learned that many sisters are on Facebook and WhatsApp, but connections to other sisters depend on first knowing the other sister. We searched the technology landscape for a way to more broadly connect sisters and found none. Eventually, we realized an entirely new platform needed to be developed.

We wanted to be able to know where sisters are and what they do and to have that information available for the global sisterhood. The platform needed to be secure and enable sisters to sort by location and ministry. Sisters focusing on education or domestic violence, for example, would be able to share insights and best practices and offer support to one another. A sister in the Congo teaching job skills to women could chat with sisters who also are teaching job skills in Sri Lanka, El Salvador, Germany, Nigeria, Brazil, the U.S., for example. The local impact of sisters’ work would emerge into a global reality of hope and compassion. This platform would be a game-changer not just for sisters, but illuminate a loving presence to all others, as well.

As only God would have it, just when we needed to take a big step forward to figure out how to go about developing a platform, Sr. Patty Johnson, a Sister of St. Joseph, called upon her incredibly talented family of cousins, the Mallons, to help us develop a wireframe that ultimately developed into our new, secure technology platform. This platform provides a hub that enables live communication between sisters around the world as well as allowing sisters to describe their work, send requests for resources and share impact. Sisters can sort information by country and category of service. As sisters register and begin to describe needs, Sisters Rising Worldwide will work to connect resources with these needs.

Do sisters want this?

Oh, yes. About two years ago, Sisters Rising Worldwide was invited to attend as observers at a Western Hemisphere anti-trafficking meeting in Cleveland, Ohio, sponsored by Talitha Kum. At the end of the agenda, sisters were asked to list what would be most helpful to them going forward. The group sorted out the top six most-desired points. We were ecstatic when we saw our mission validated in the six top needs.

Read the entire article here.

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