Sisters on the Frontlines

Seven Sisters receive $1,000 grants, helping hardest hit by COVID-19 troubles

Watch a 1:26 video of our Sisters on the Frontlines

By Michele Ristich Gatts

Not only did COVID-19 threaten *Mary Smith’s health, it seriously threatened her livelihood.

Mary, a member of Beatitude House’s Ursuline Sisters Scholars Program, performs housekeeping for a Mahoning Valley hotel. When the pandemic forced quarantines and travel halted, she was laid off – but couldn’t collect unemployment. It’s happening to many people working low-paying jobs.

Sister Patricia McNicholas

“Some people laid off because of COVID-19 didn’t receive unemployment because they didn’t have enough hours,” explains Sister Patricia McNicholas, donor relations director for Beatitude House.

But thanks to a generous grant from the Sisters of Charity Foundation, Cleveland, Sister Patricia was able to help Mary and two other Scholars, all of whom are single mothers. Seven of our Sisters received grants of $1,000 each to directly help the women, men and children served by our ministries who are most affected by the COVID crisis.

Part of the national Sisters on the Frontlines initiative, the program recognizes that Catholic Sisters are always on the frontlines with ministries that help everyone – especially the poor, marginalized and disadvantaged. And in times of crisis, Catholic Sisters are always among the first to respond.

Together, our Sisters helped more than 100 people struggling because of COVID-19 related issues.

Most of the funds were spent for personal care items, cleaning and paper products — things that are hard to come by for everyone with shortages on store shelves, but especially for those who lack transportation to search for items and for those who are out of work. The items also cannot be purchased with Ohio EBT, commonly called “food stamps.”

Sister Mary Alyce Koval

Sister Mary Alyce Koval, parish leader for St. Luke Church, Boardman, says her parish’s pantry has experienced an increase in visitors since the pandemic hit. She used her grant to underwrite the purchase of goods for both St. Luke’s and Youngstown St. Vincent de Paul’s pantries.

“One woman I spoke to said that since COVID, her son got laid off. As a result, he couldn’t pay his rent on his home, so he had to move in with her,” Sister Mary Alyce says. “Now she is supporting herself, her son and his wife, and their two [children]. The little bit we can give helps.”

St. Columba Cathedral Parish in downtown Youngstown also is experiencing an increase in visitors. Sister Martha Reed, parish minister and director of religious education, also operates the pantry for St. Columba.

Sister Martha Reed

“With COVID-19, we’ve had many new clients knocking on the door, asking for food,” Sister Martha observes. “Here in Youngstown there is a food desert in our area.

“I give the people who come a bag of food once a month. It’s not enough. I wish I could do more.”

Before the grant, St. Columba’s pantry shelves were bare. Sister Martha used her $1,000 for items such as soup, pasta and cereal.

Visitor *Mrs. Nord laments, “With this virus, I cannot get food. They provide for my family when I can’t pay for it.”

“When I need food and come here, they always take care of me right away,” adds *Catherine. “During these hard times, [I] can’t get food for my children.”

Ensuring kids don’t go hungry is of great concern for Sister Regina Rogers, a longtime educator and pastoral associate for St. Edward Parish on Youngstown’s north side. The parish also operates a food pantry for neighbors.

Sister Regina Rogers

“When children are home all day, the chances of them having breakfast, lunch and dinner decline,” reports Sister Regina. City children, she notes, are attending school online for the remainder of 2020. “This grant enables us to provide for the children breakfast bars, healthy snack food, lunch food, so that while they are home, they are eating.”

Sister Kathleen McCarragher used her grant money to help a large family she’s ministered with for many years. *Jane is raising her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Sister Kathleen McCarragher

“The COVID virus hurt her family in many ways,” Sister Kathleen states. “The children no longer had free breakfast and lunch, her grandson lost his job, and some of her family was looking to her for emotional as well as financial support.”

She used the funds to help Jane with rent, purchase food and other grocery items.

“The experience allowed me to feel as if we had changed her life,” Sister Kathleen posits. “I have lived the vow of poverty for 44 years, but to know someone who lives in poverty every day opened my eyes to the very different meanings of the vow.”

Sister Norma Raupple

For families in Beatitude House’s Immigrant Outreach Program, Sister Norma Raupple purchased laundry and cleaning supplies and helped one family having especially tough times with food.

“They really try to get by with as little as they can,” Sister Norma states. “Anything they receive they’re grateful for.”

Many of the families have fathers who work in landscaping and mothers who work in food service. Both industries declined and cut workers’ hours because of the pandemic, she notes.

“Their income is decreased, and it was already low to begin with,” says Sister Norma.

That’s also the story for clients of our HIV/AIDS Ministry. Sister Kathleen Minchin, director emeritus, used her grant for pantry supplies.

Sister Kathleen Minchin, right

“It has helped us feed the hungry, demonstrate that we are present with them, and help provide hope for the future,” she says. “Given that nearly 80% of our clients are at or below the poverty level, the COVID crisis has stretched their resources even thinner.”

The Sisters of Charity foundation awarded $1,000 grants to 61 Sisters in 10 northeast Ohio religious communities. The foundation and all of the Sisters involved – including us – continue doing what we can to help the vulnerable populations victimized further by the pandemic.

We’re deeply grateful for the help these grants enabled.

Though Ohio’s COVID-19 restrictions have eased somewhat, pandemic concerns still affect the availability of and hours for many of our clients working minimum-wage jobs. For instance, Mary, from our Scholars program has gone back to work, but with severely slashed hours.

Her recent paycheck to support her family — $82.

* The women’s names have been changed to protect their identity.

We’re hosting our first ever VIRTUAL Nun Run! You can run or walk the virtual race from any location – on the grass, sidewalk, trail, treadmill or track — at any time during November.

Usually, this event benefits the children’s program of the Ursuline Sisters HIV/AIDS Ministry. This year, it also benefits children served by Ursuline Preschool & Kindergarten.

Your participation is a wonderful way to support our vital ministries and programs, stay active, and get the whole family involved in a healthy activity.

And for those who love our Nun Run t-shirts, you can still get a t-shirt this year!  If you register by Oct. 7, you’re guaranteed a race t-shirt, which you can either pick up at the Ursuline Center or have mailed to you.

Our HIV/AIDS Ministry continues to provide services to children and their families during the COVID-19 crisis. We provide weekly, individualized, virtual tutoring sessions with the children to assist them with completing their school work. We created a private YouTube channel to showcase the talents of the children and children’s programming staff. We provide food and personal hygiene items to the families most severely impacted by this crisis. We created academic and educational kits that were distributed to the families each week during the summer. We continue to offer support for the children and families experiencing anxiety during this time.

Ursuline Preschool & Kindergarten is unwavering in its mission to provide the best early childhood Catholic education in our community. Our staff has worked tirelessly to keep students engaged with remote activities, Zoom classes, mystery readers, and social and emotional connections with their classmates and their school. We also reached out to our school families, providing food and household essentials needed due to job loss and hardships associated with the pandemic. We’re always looking for ways to raise money to help struggling families.

More than ever, our children need help. If you’re interested in sponsorship opportunities and/or participating in the 6th annual Nun Run virtual race, please visit If you have any questions, please email us at [email protected], or call 330-793-0434.

No matter how fast or slow you think of yourself, it’s time to own it. There’s speedy for you, and then there’s your own version of a leisurely jog, and that’s the great thing about running—you can go at your own pace.

Running coaches will note multiple reasons why runners should incorporate different paces into their training. One of the most important reasons is because so many runners suffer injuries from not running slowly enough—or ever.

Think about it: Many runners simply head out the door and go as hard as they can. There might be a little variation depending on the day or terrain, but generally speaking, they have one pace and it’s go. Alternatively, if you’re always taking it super easy, where you are rarely breaking a sweat or not breathing hard, you should also challenge yourself with some speedy efforts. Variety is the key.

If you follow an official training plan, you’ve likely seen instructions for easy runs and faster ones. But a lot of beginner runners don’t really understand what that means—or why.

What Does It Mean to Run Slow?

Your own version of “slow” can be thought of as conversation-pace running. If you can pretty easily have chat with a buddy, then that’s your slow speed, if you are looking for healthy supplements visit bigeasymagazine.

To give you an idea of the difference in fast and slow for two different runners, here’s the kind of information in the pace charts used by Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) coaches:

  1. Say you can run a 5K in 30 minutes, that’s a pace of 9:40 (fast); your easy long run should be 12-minute miles (slow).
  2. If you can run a half marathon in under 2 hours (about 9-minute miles), a slow run would be 10:22; you could expect to run a 5K in 25:30, at an 8:13 pace.

If you’re more apt to track your heart rate on runs, a gentle pace would likely find your heart rate at approximately 110 to 140 beats per minute.

These numbers may give you some idea of where you should be if you keep track of your time, pace, or heart rate. If not, don’t worry. These differences also relate to your effort and breathing—which relates back to the idea of being able to hold a conversation. If you think you’re the slowest runner out there (lots of people think this, but there’s no reason to compare yourself to anyone else) and still breathing hard and feeling like you’re going all out most of the time, then you aren’t going slowly enough at times, for more information visit Thehealthmania.

What Are the Benefits Of Running Slowly?

Getting in your slow running time, at a conversational pace, has many benefits for your body (and a few for your ego):

  • Strengthens muscles in legs, torso, and arms
  • Adapts tendons, ligaments, joints, and bones to stress of running
  • Promotes efficient running form.
  • Teaches patience, discipline, and how to handle physical discomfort
  • Trains the cardio, respiratory, and muscular systems to work more efficiently
  • Prevention of bone and back pain.
  • Increases the quantity and size of mitochondria, improving oxygen use and glycogen stores

Longer life span could potentially be added to that list, as well. In general, runners have an estimated 25 to 40 percent reduced risk of premature mortality. However, a 2015 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that consistent slow and moderate-paced runners had an even lower risk of all-cause mortality than non-runners or strenuous runners.