The service of women religious to humanity has been appreciated over centuries. However, one central question has persisted:
If the Sisters are able to do so much with so little knowledge, skills and resources, how much more can they do if given the opportunity for further training and education?
As one of ASEC’s board members remarked: “in Africa if the Sisters do not do it, it doesn’t get done”. This drives home the core motivation behind the founding and development of ASEC and the big dream of our largest grantor, Conrad N. Hilton.
ASEC’s foundation relates the desire of four congregations of women religious and the four universities founded by those congregations, to respond to the educational needs of Sisters to carry out their ministries in a world in which they are confronted with untold human struggle and the quest for better and meaningful life of the communities they serve. To the founders of ASEC, embracing this challenge with courage was a mission worth engaging. Drawing from their experience of the importance of education to carry out their own ministry, the founders of ASEC strategically tackled this mission in a profound way through a do-it-yourself approach. They mobilized their own intellectual resources for initial training of the Sisters in Africa.
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Behind ASEC’s exponential development and growth is the prophetic vision and the big dream of Conrad N. Hilton; the little boy and later the faithful, Catholic businessman, who saw the Sisters as positive game changers of human development and worthy of his will and testament:
“Give aid to… the Sisters, who devote their love and life’s work for the good of mankind, for they appeal especially to me as deserving help from the Foundation.”1
Through his writings it is clear that Conrad N. Hilton’s experience with Catholic Sisters was unique and profound in his life. He saw the work of women religious as vital to alleviating poverty and driving sustainable development among the most vulnerable and marginalized members of society. He attributed the first recognition of his success to his philanthropy to women religious as he states;
“…in my own country of Socorro they have finally adjudged me a success, not because I bought the Waldorf, but because I was able to give as a memorial to Gus and Mary Hilton (my parents) a new school and convent to the Sisters of Loretto….”2
It is clear that Hilton’s big dream for humanity blended so perfectly with the charism, spirituality and mission of the founders of ASEC. Today Sisters across the globe, and specifically those in Africa, are beneficiaries of Hilton’s last will and testament, through ASEC’s educational programs. The Sisters owe it to the legacy of the Loretto Sisters whose dedicated missionary service touched the heart of Conrad N. Hilton so profoundly. ASEC sustains this legacy through its educational programs that build the capacity of individual Sisters and congregations to be authentic witnesses of the love of God through their own charism, spirituality and ministry to humanity. ASEC stands on the rock of its founders and the will and testament of Conrad N. Hilton.
As a “Ray of Hope” to humanity over the last 20 years, ASEC’s educational programs have unveiled potentials and positive outcomes of integral human development. You have all been and are part of this great “Ray of Hope” for Africa through ASEC, and for this I thank you.
1Excerpt from the Last Will and Testament of Conrad N. Hilton. Retrieved from hiltonfoundation.org.
2Hilton, C. (2015). Be My Guest. New York, NY: Touchstone. 270.