​News & Events



August 9, 2019
HM Statement on El Paso and Dayton Shootings

As Sisters of the Humility of Mary, we share Jesus’ mission of bringing more abundant life to God’s people. Yet once again, we are overwhelmed with the incomprehensible tragedy of violent death in El Paso and Dayton.

As women with a deep and lived belief in the power of prayer, we know that prayer is only effective when we let it transform us, when we listen to the voice of the suffering God who calls us to act. That voice is heard in the silence of the victims and the cries of their loved ones. And once again the cry is to act.

We join our voice with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and Leaders of Women’s Congregations throughout our country who have publicly called for action. We call for responsible and immediate action from our leadership. We call on Senator Mitch McConnell to bring to the Senate floor two resolutions passed by the House of Representatives last February addressing the easy access to guns. H.R. 8 would require universal background checks and would close the loopholes for buyers at gun shows and private sellers online. H.R. 112 calls for the extension of the current background check review period to ten days.

We also call on Congress and the Administration to authorize the Center for Disease Control to pursue comprehensive and in-depth research into the causes of gun violence in this country and to propose actions to address this epidemic, which is evident not only in mass shootings, but in the daily violence on our streets.

Once again, we call ourselves and our nation to make this time different. We commit our voice to call for reasonable gun control and support services to identify and address the real needs of those who suffer from emotional, psychological and mental challenges. We invite others to join us in advocating for the change that is needed in gun legislation and the allocation of resources to heal and care for all those who live within the borders of this nation.

July 23, 2019
Sisters Issue Public Statement on Immigration

Land of the Free—Children in Cages

The shocking stories and images from our southern border and immigrant detention centers across the United States portray an intolerable reality. The ongoing separation of families at the border and dangerous plight of unaccompanied children violate the Gospel message,  the principles of our nation, and the mission of the Sisters of the Humility of Mary.

In the face of the existing inhumane conditions and the denial of basic human rights including: children held in cages, children torn from their parents, unsanitary conditions, lack of adequate medical care, and disregard for the rule of law for asylum seekers, we are called to act. The response of our government leaders to this humanitarian crisis is unconscionable. We call on each member of Congress to immediately act to meet the basic human needs of the children and their families--including physical and mental health care and a clean and safe environment.

These conditions compel us, the Sisters of the Humility of Mary, to join with others in using our resources to provide education, financial assistance and political advocacy to promote the rights of migrant children and asylum seekers, family unification, and the closing of unjust, inhumane detention centers. In this way we continue to reflect the founding values of our nation and witness to the United States being a beacon of hope.

November 2, 2018
Sisters Issue Congregational Statements in Response to Recent Events

Statement on Immigration

In 1988, the Sisters of the Humility of Mary issued a corporate witness statement opposing all military, political or economic intervention which is incongruent with the principle of self-determination. We called on our government to honor the legal right of Central American people fleeing violence and repression to seek asylum in this nation with a tradition of valuing the rights of all to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and which has been strengthened by the diversity of its population.

Thirty years later, we again raise our voice to call on our government to honor this tradition and  respect and fulfill its obligation to listen with respect and reverence to the requests for asylum that come from these courageous and desperate women, men and children.

We are deeply troubled by the U.S. policies and the practices of U.S. corporations which have helped to fuel the violence and humanitarian crisis that currently exists in Central America, especially at this time in Honduras. We are greatly saddened by President Trump’s continued practice of denigrating those who are suffering and his administration’s policy of rejection, detainment and incarceration of asylum seekers. We are appalled at the language that has turned this human crisis into a military “emergency,” an “invasion” to which our government is choosing to respond with a massive armed force.

We join our voices with those of the U.S. Catholic Bishops, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and a host of faith communities in opposing the Trump administration’s policy of banning asylum seekers on the southern border.

With LCWR, “we urge the administration to manage refugee arrivals humanely and in a manner that respects their dignity and rights under U.S. and international law.” We ask that this process:

  • Allow migrants to approach our border to ask for protection and to be admitted for processing in a timely manner
  • Ensure that asylum seekers have access to legal counsel and receive a fair and timely resolution of their claim
  • Guarantee that parents and children stay together
  • Opt for alternatives for those awaiting adjudication of their asylum petitions that are more humane and cost effective than detention
  • Direct Homeland Security to cooperate with faith-based and humanitarian organizations who are prepared to assist asylum-seekers.
As women religious and HM Sisters, we have been blessed to accompany and serve migrants and refugees for many years. We call on concerned citizens to join us in advocating with our Congressional Representatives and Senators for immigration policies that welcome migrants and reverence their dignity and potential to contribute to the greatness of this nation.

Statement About the Tree of Life Synagogue

Once again our nation is mourning the senseless loss of life, this time at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Those gathered in worship that morning were celebrating the naming of a child, usually a joy-filled moment of new life. As Sisters of the Humility of Mary who seek to bring more abundant life to all God’s people, we join with other faith leaders in sorrow and solidarity with our Jewish sisters and brothers and all those who value life in this latest moment of grief.

We also affirm Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik’s call to “put prayer into action by loving our neighbors and working to make ‘Never again!’ a reality.” We recommit ourselves to the call we expressed on earlier occasions of such violence: to use our voice to demand reasonable gun control and support services to identify and address the real needs of those who suffer from emotional, psychological and mental challenges.

We invite others to join us in advocating for the change that is needed in gun legislation and the allocation of resources to heal and care for all those who live within the borders of this nation.

October 13, 2017
HM Housing Celebrates 30th Anniversary

Congratulations to Humility of Mary Housing on celebrating its 30th anniversary on October 5. Over 100 people gathered to celebrate both the milestone for this important ministry and Sr. Loretta Rafter, HM, who began it in 1987.

Sr. Loretta founded Humility of Mary Life Opportunity Services to meet the needs of homeless, single parent families in the Akron, Ohio, area. A year later, the ministry was expanded and renamed Humility of Mary Housing in order to better support other areas of housing need.

Sr. Loretta served as president and CEO of HMLOS during its first 16 years, from 1987 to 2003.

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August 16, 2017
Sister Responds to Call to Share Her Voice

An intriguing premise and a chance to share her experiences led Sr. Eilis McCulloh to join a global panel of sisters participating in a new monthly series from Global Sisters Report. Global Sisters Report is an independent news publication whose mission is to “report on and give voice to women religious around the world.”

The Life, which features short reflections around a specific topic from members of the panel, launched recently on the Global Sisters Report website.

Sr. Eilis had heard about the opportunity through Giving Voice, a peer led organization for younger women religious to which she belongs.

“I was intrigued by the description and the opportunity to join with other religious from around the world,” Sr. Eilis said. “I strongly believe that it is important for younger religious (who are members of Giving Voice) to share our own unique experiences of religious life with our communities and with the world at large.”

Click on either of the links below to learn more about this new series: the first link explains the purpose of the series and introduces the panelists, and the second link is where you can access all the stories in the series as they become available.



Sister Eilis McCulloh

May 30, 2017
New Leadership Team Elected.

The Sisters of the Humility of Mary elected new leadership during their recent Chapter of Elections. Sr. Toby Lardie was elected to serve a second four-year term as Pastoral Leader. Sisters Karen Bernhardt, Margaret Marszal, Carol Anne Smith, and Barbara Wincik were elected to serve as councilors. The new Leadership Team will be installed in August at the HM Community's annual Community Days and Missioning.

Leadership Team Group Picture

L to R: Sr. Barbara Wincik, Sr. Carol Anne Smith, Sr. Toby Lardie, Sr. Karen Bernhardt, Sr. Margaret Marszal

Sisters Release Public Statement on Immigration
March 2017

In the spring of 1864, the entire congregation of the Sisters of the Humility of Mary left behind their lives in France to immigrate to the United States in response to a request from Father Louis Hoffer, a French missionary in Louisville, Ohio, who needed sisters to serve his French-speaking parishioners.

In light of their community’s beginnings as immigrants to this country, the Sisters of the Humility of Mary approved the following statement on immigration at their recent Chapter of Affairs:

“As a community of women religious who were welcomed to the United States as immigrants we, Sisters of the Humility of Mary, support refugees and immigrants from all countries. For more than 150 years, we have ministered alongside refugees, immigrants, and migrants. As citizens of the United States, we recognize that our diverse cultures and nationalities are an integral part of our heritage and the foundation of our democracy. As members of the human family, we echo Pope Francis who reminds us that, ‘migrants are our brothers and sisters in search of a better life, far away from poverty, hunger, exploitation and the unjust distribution of the planet’s resources which are meant to be equitably shared by all.’

In response to the recent refugee ban, increased deportations, and anti-immigrant sentiments, we, Sisters of the Humility of Mary, commit ourselves to act with others on behalf of refugees, immigrants, and migrants by:

  • deepening our awareness and understanding of policies and legislation which affect them;
  • using our resources to help meet their needs for shelter, education, healthcare, protection, mentoring, and advocacy;
  • calling on elected officials to enact comprehensive legislation and humane immigration policies that promote: a path to citizenship, the rights of migrant children, family unification, protection from unjust and inhumane detention and treatment of undocumented workers and other persons, control of our borders through compassionate initiatives, and equal access to the US refugee resettlement program regardless of ethnic and religious background.

We, Sisters of the Humility of Mary, join with others in prayer as we call upon concerned citizens to advocate for immigration policies that continue to promote the United States as a beacon of hope for our diverse, global community.”


Be a Villa Volunteer


Looking for a way to make a difference and have fun while doing it? Consider the many volunteer opportunities that abound in service of the Sisters of the Humility of Mary on the picturesque Villa Maria Community Center campus in Villa Maria, Pa. Open to anyone 21 and older, areas in need of service include:

Special Events • The Farm • Villa Maria Education and Spirituality Center • Other Departments/Areas as needed

For more information, call 724-964-8920, ext. 3274.

A Driving Force
Mobile Mission Encourages Acts of Kindness, Helping, Caring

By Connie Moorhouse

When Bob Votruba set a goal for himself, he set the bar high, really high. So high, in fact, that by his math, it will take 55 years to reach it. But that’s OK for this father of three, who has made it his life’s work to perform one million acts of kindness, and he’s encouraging everyone else to do the same.

And just how does one share their message of kindness as a goal with the masses? That was the question the Cleveland native asked himself in the wake of the 2007 mass shooting of 32 people on the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University campus in Blacksburg, Va.

“I watched it all unfold and wondered what kind of hate had to be in someone’s heart to do something like this,” he said. “I drove to the campus and watched thousands of people go through the memorial with their hearts broken, and I knew at the other end of the spectrum there was love and compassion.”

So on the drive home he prayed, and what came to him was kindness as a goal. The carpenter and homebuilder by trade had been looking for ways to help charities but nothing seemed to fit, so he decided to be his own driving force of kindness, love and compassion.

He purchased a bus, and asked family, friends and neighbors, to paint words of comfort on it they wanted the rest of the world to see. And after selling his house and car, set out on his Global Kindness Tour. Opting to make the bus his home, he drives the country talking to groups and individuals, encouraging them to look for opportunities to be kind by helping, doing and caring.

In 2010 his travels took him to Vero Beach, Fla., where he attended a mass at Holy Cross Church, and met Sr. Claire Young. The two became fast friends, and he was more than happy to stop at the Villa, where Sr. Claire now lives, to reconnect with her and share his mission with the sisters.

He said his traveling consists of going to towns and looking for ways to start a dialog with people. Most times he parks the bus and hops on his bike ‒ a more maneuverable mode of transportation ‒ which he outfits with messages of kindness, and rides around town engaging others. His message is simple and clear. What have you done? Get involved. Give of yourself.

He says people have grown away from wanting goodness and kindness for others but insists each person has the opportunity to do one million acts of kindness in their lifetime.

“The math can be anything,” he said, “but it works out to 50 acts of kindness every day for 55 years. I don’t think anyone in a lifetime can do one million acts of kindness but with kindness as a goal, it’s a game changer, a people changer. And it’s amazing what people can do.”

Just some of his amazing acts include riding his bike thousands and thousands of miles across the country at various times to bring awareness to domestic violence, wounded warriors and bullying and adolescent suicide.

This road warrior vows his mobile mission is never-ending. “Through social media, the bus and the bike, this mission will touch millions of kids, and one of those kids will do something amazing,” he said.

And just where he stops, no one knows, not even him, relying on something greater than a GPS when he gets behind the wheel.

“I just say, ‘Come on Jesus, take me to whoever needs the message.’”

And off he goes.

(For more information about Bob and his life’s journey, visit his website onemillionactsofkindness.com)



Sr. Jean Orsuto was interviewed by Gina Marinelli about the work of the Emmanuel Community Care Center for WYSU’s “Doing Good” program. To listen to the 5-minute interview, click the link below.


Sister’s Impact Honored During Leader Symposium

Sr. Millie Ely received the Founders’ Award for Excellence in Governance Leadership during Mercy Health’s recent Governance and Leadership Symposium. She was one of three women honored for understanding and committing to the mission and values; energy and vision to board deliberations to find new ways to address the needs of poor persons and the communities served; modeling personal and professional integrity; integrating personal expertise in support of the mission, and; effectively connecting people and ideas, resources and needs, reality and hope.

The following is taken from the Mercy Health Weekly Update in announcing honorees.

Sr. Millie Ely, member of the Mercy Health Toledo Board

Sister Millie has made a profound impact on the many lives she’s touched — and on the people with whom she’s served. People who have worked with Sr. Millie are touched by her generosity of spirit. She has been a mentor, friend and encouraging voice – professionally, personally and spiritually – for literally thousands of employees, board members, physicians and the sisters within Mercy Health.

Sr. Millie began her healthcare career in pharmacy in 1969 at the former St. Joseph Hospital and Health Center in Lorain, Ohio. From 1978 to 1995, she served in senior leadership at St. Joseph Riverside Hospital in Warren, Ohio, ultimately as president and chief executive officer.

Her leadership, wisdom and compassion made her an invaluable member of the system’s board of trustees from 1997 to 2009, serving as vice chair of the corporate member from 2001 to 2004 and as system board chair from 2004 to 2006. Since 2009, she has served the Mercy Health Toledo Board and currently serves as secretary and as a member of the executive committee.

Her fellow board members note Sr. Millie’s willingness and enthusiasm to mentor, teach and welcome new members, to intently analyze needs before acting, and to ask thought-provoking questions that challenge the board to make decisions that are consistent with stated business goals and carried out in ways that serve the mission and support the vision, values and promise.

Regional CEO Dr. Imran Andrabi says, “Amid her busy schedule, Sister Millie often attends meetings in person that would be easier for her to attend by phone. She does this because she realizes the importance of human interaction, and the board, in turn, realizes the importance of her presence in the room.”

Her spirit, intellect and leadership are truly God-given blessings to Mercy Health.


Presenting Sr. Millie with her award were Michael Connelly, Mercy Health president & CEO emeritus, and Mercy Health board chair Katherine Vestal.