Film examining Catholic sisters’ impact on America, available to NBC stations for broadcasts Sept. 15 – March 15
Documentary relates the virtually untold story of religious women in U.S. over nearly 300 years
For immediate release -- August 26, 2013
[Silver Spring, MD] “Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America,” a one-hour documentary relating the vital role women religious have played and the impact they have had in shaping the nation’s social, cultural and spiritual landscapes, will be satellite distributed by NBC to its stations and affiliates on Sept. 12 for broadcasts Sept. 15 through March 15, 2014.
The program is part of the NBC “Horizons of the Spirit” series as a presentation of the Interfaith Broadcasting Commission. Its use is at NBC affiliates’ discretion; so viewers should check with their local NBC station or affiliate to learn of or request scheduled broadcasts. Known scheduled broadcasts will be posted on www.interfaithbroadcasting.com and www.womenandspirit.org.
Narrated by noted NPR and ABC senior news analyst Cokie Roberts, this documentary provides an inside look at the mystery that has shrouded Catholic women religious since they first stepped onto what is now American soil, in New Orleans in 1727, to serve those most in need.
“Women & Spirit” examines Catholic sisters’ leadership and entrepreneurial spirit, including at times when women experienced few rights and also during many dramatic moments in U.S. history. Millions of Catholics and non-Catholics alike have passed through the doors of their schools, colleges, hospitals, social service centers and other ministries. Yet, their story virtually has been untold publicly via mass media.
The documentary is an outgrowth of the touring exhibit (2009 - 2012) of the same title that traveled to nine museums, including the Smithsonian and Ellis Island, and was seen by approximately one million people. The exhibit was sponsored by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), the film’s executive producer. LCWR is the association for approximately 1400 leaders of congregations of Catholic women religious in the United States, representing more than 80 percent of the 57,000 women religious in the nation.
To greatly extend the reach of the exhibit, LCWR turned to 17-year production veteran Tim Steinouer of Design Island, a multimedia design and production company in Orlando, who produced the film. It was directed by Mellissa Berry, an award-winning producer of films and exhibition projects and now an executive show producer at Walt Disney Imagineering.
The documentary utilizes rare archival photographs, video, film and even new history unearthed through research and features interviews with a wide, cross-section of historians, journalists and Catholic sisters. Those include:
• John Allen – senior Vatican analyst for CNN and a senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter.
• Sister Karen Kennelly – a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet , a noted scholar on the history of Catholic sisters and president emerita of Mount St. Mary’s College, Los Angeles.
• Kathleen Sprows Cummings – an associate professor of American Studies at the University of Notre Dame and director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism.
• Sister Simone Campbell – a Sister of Social Service and executive director of Network, a national Catholic social justice lobby. She is also an attorney and poet.
Also, the film introduces viewers to women religious who corresponded with President Thomas Jefferson, served as nurses on Civil War battlefields, created health insurance for Midwestern loggers, helped found Alcoholic Anonymous, marched with civil rights leaders and who are on the front lines today addressing moral, social and human rights issues, nationally and globally.
“Women religious have made an incalculable contribution to this nation. Running schools, hospitals and orphanages from America’s earliest days, these women helped foster a culture of social service that has permeated our society,” said narrator Roberts in a quote posted on the womenandspirit.org website.
“This remarkable and inspirational story – nearly 300 years of American history – should no longer be known only to a small portion of our nation. I urge viewers to call their local NBC stations to inquire about local scheduled broadcasts or to request broadcasts at a family friendly time and day,” said Sister Janet Mock, a Sister of St. Joseph of Baden, Pennsylvania and LCWR’s executive director.
More information about the film, including a trailer and aids in contacting local NBC stations is available online at www.womenandspirit.org
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