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ASEC Celebrates Board and Associate Members at Dinner During LCWR

African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC)

Executive Director Sr. Draru Mary Cecilia greeted guests at a dinner hosted during the LCWR Conference, August 2022.


During the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) conference in St. Louis, ASEC took the opportunity to meet with board members, associate board members, and other ASEC supporters at a dinner.

The dinner took place Thursday August 11, 2022, at Carmine’s Steakhouse. Sisters represented congregations from all over the nation, including sisters from Chicago, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Scranton and more. 

Executive Director Sr. Draru Mary Cecilia, LSMIG, Ph.D., opened the ceremony by greeting guests and thanking them for their dedication to ASEC’s mission. While there were ASEC board members and associate board members in attendance, there were also some sisters who were not as familiar with the organization. Sr. Draru introduced herself and the mission, as well as explaining how important stakeholders are to the organization.

“If I call you ‘mother’ it is because that is what you are – as senior leaders of the congregation, you are the mothers,” Sr. Draru said. “We are proud to share the work we are doing and where we are going with you. Thank you for being a blanket on our back, thank you!” 

While guests quietly placed their orders, Senior Program Manager Rosemary Shaver gave a quick presentation highlighting the hard work of ASEC Sisters across Africa and sharing some updates about the progress of individual programs. She specifically spoke about the importance of partnerships to the ASEC mission. 

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Senior Program Manager Rosemary Shaver speaks to dinner guests about the impact of ASEC programs in Africa.

Senior Program Manager Rosemary Shaver speaks to dinner guests about the impact of ASEC programs in Africa.

“Collaboration is a major component of ASEC – we are grateful for our partners which is why [this value] is included in our mission,” explained Rosemary. “Partnerships are very essential to ASEC.”

After the presentation, the floor opened up to questions and comments from guests. 

One sister raised her hand to share her passion for ASEC’s mission, explaining she felt it is one of the “most important missions on the planet.” 

Another sister asked if ASEC workshops were only held in English or if there were other language options. Sr. Draru explained that all lessons and workshops can be translated into local languages but there is a possibility in the future to offer classes in French. 

Next, a sister asked, “How do the political events in Africa affect the program?” 

Sr. Draru reflected on a time when there was a workshop in Cameroon that needed to be stopped due to shootings nearby. The sisters had to take care and coverage, and fortunately were able to do so, holding off on the workshop until the environment became safe once again. Explaining that if there is a dangerous situation, programs will be stopped until safe to resume, Sr. Draru also noted that sisters are used to quick changes, movement and delays. While it is never ideal to be in a dangerous situation, they do have the ability to have flexibility if one were to arise in the name of safety. 

Rosemary Shaver also noted that ASEC Coordinators in each country also can provide guidance based on their familiarity with the country. 

“Our country coordinators are familiar with the political climate of each country and the current challenges they are facing. This helps sisters find solutions for issues they may come across.”

Executive Director Sr. Draru and ASEC Associate Member of the Board of Directors Sr. LaDonna Manternach enjoyed the opportunity to see one another at the LCWR conference.

Executive Director Sr. Draru and ASEC Associate Member of the Board of Directors Sr. LaDonna Manternach enjoyed the opportunity to see one another at the LCWR conference.

After the question and answer portion was over, dinner was served and each table enjoyed their own conversations and getting to know one another. Web Content Manager Monica Simon was able to speak with sisters about their calling into sisterhood, and was surprised at how different each story was. One sister explained that she knew she wanted to be a nun since she was seven-years-old, others explained that it took them a little while longer. Each story was as unique as the sister telling it and gratitude was shared for the chance to learn about religious leaders from so many different congregations. 

The evening wrapped up with desserts including mini cheesecakes, a triple chocolate cake, carrot cake and more. Attendees were happy to learn more about the mission of ASEC and take part in the celebration of its successes.

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This article is addressing the following UN Sustainable Development Goal(s):

Promote just, peaceful and inclusive societies Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development
Monica Simon

Monica Simon
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Web Content Manager  

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