Creating Awareness of Environment a SLW Charism

Categories: More News

Reprinted from the Clarion Herald by Christine Bordelon

Nancy Pumilia fondly remembers the Sisters of Christian Charity teaching her as a student at St. Henry School in Uptown New Orleans. When the same nuns, now the Sisters of the Living Word, formed lay associates to help their charism flourish, the 86-year-old jumped at the chance. 


“I had such a love for them that I wanted to be a friend and help them continue their ministry,” said Pumilia, who co-coordinates the Metairie associates with Sister of the Living Word Marilita Roy.

Pumilia was among the Metairie associates to participate January 11, 2023 in its every-other-month glass recycling effort – bringing glass products to the grassroots recycling facility Glass Half Full – to help the sisters fulfill one of the congregation’s five interests – caring for the earth.

The Glass Half Full works to restore the Louisiana coastline with sand recycled from donated glass products, offers free sandbags to homeowners in flood-prone areas and recycles glass into usable products. Pumilia’s local Homemaker’s Club members also contribute glass products.

“We advocate for the homeless, immigrants, the environment, anti-racism and victims of human trafficking,” Sister Marilita said. “Right now, we are focusing on our goal of caring for the earth and fulfilling our charism of bringing new life to the earth and the environment. Our name is Living Word, so our charism is to bring new life.”

Deacon David Warriner and his wife Elaine, an associate, took the lead on the glass recycling project once they toured the site with Sister Marilita. “I thought they had a good, positive mission, enhancing life through the word of God and putting that word into practice in their daily life and faith, caring for the world and saving the planet,” said Elaine Warriner, who first encountered the Sisters of the Living Word as a teacher at St. Edward the Confessor in Metairie. “In recycling, you wonder where it is all going,” Sister Marilita said. “But, with The Glass Half Full Project, we know it is going to help Louisiana. Jesus would be involved with it, because Jesus loves Louisiana.”

Desire to help the poor
St. Henry’s was the Sisters of Christian Charity’s first mission in New Orleans in 1873, Sister Marilita said. In addition to education, the sisters have been involved in social work and also in working with immigrants, Sister Marilita said.

Many of the Sisters of Christian Charity became Sisters of the Living Word when their provincial superior, Annamarie Cook, and other sisters met with the Sacred Congregation of Religious and Secular Institutes in 1975 wanting to meet the needs of the times. It was suggested that they and approximately 90 members form a new congregation – Sisters of the Living Word.

Sister Marilita said this “pious union” was sponsored by Cardinal John Cody, the former Archbishop of New Orleans, in Chicago in 1975. It took until 1992 for the Sisters of the Living Word to become a diocesan rite religious congregation, approved by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin.

The majority of Sisters of the Living Word remain headquartered in Illinois, while others are in New Orleans, Minnesota and Florida. The associates are in Chicago, Minnesota, Michigan and West Texas.

Lay associates give mutual support to the sisters nationwide in prayer, community and opportunities of ministering together, Sister Marilita said. The associates are on the sisters’ prayer list and receive the community’s publications. 

“The lay associates come in to help continue our charism,” wherever sisters are based. Prayer associates in Iowa and Africa also pray for the community and its intentions.

Each lay local group is different and concentrates on a different area. Sister Elizabeth Hebert coordinates the West Bank lay associates, and Sister Julia Stump, who has been at St. Edward School since its inception, live at St. Edward Parish. Sister Jeanette Daniel and Sister Judiann Derhake, who retired from teaching Montessori, run the Living Word Crafts website to supply religious education activities for teachers.

“Our group is action-oriented,” Sister Marilita said about the Metairie associates. “We had an Advent reflection for members, and we’ve done activities at Hotel Hope, helped at Second Harvest Food Bank, and fed the homeless at St. Jude.”

The Metairie associates continue to grow. Three new associates made their first commitment at the Sisters of the Living Word Advent afternoon of reflection December 10, and another at a prayer service January 3, Sister Marilita said.

“It’s a lovely community of people doing good for others,” associate Kathy Baudin said. “It immerses you into society for the good.”

WHAT: Sisters of the Living Word Associates collect glass products to help the environment. The glass is turned back into sand to replenish Louisiana’s coastline.
WHEN: Every other month, but others can bring glass anytime
WHERE: Drop off cleaned glass products with caps and corks to Glass Half Full, 3935 Louisa St. in New Orleans (off I-10) for recycling. Glass is collected at Glass Half Full Mondays and Wednesdays, 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 9 a.m.- 4 p.m.; and can be picked up residentially for a fee at (504) 356-3435.