Whitesville nun becomes first Mother President of international congregation

August 25, 2019 | 3:18 am

Updated August 24, 2019 | 4:41 pm

Mother Catherine Marie and her fellow Passionist nuns greet Pope Francis during his Jan. 30, 2019, General Audience, the day after the elections for the Congregation of the Nuns of the Passion of Jesus Christ. | Photo by St. Joseph Monastery.

In January 2019, Mother Catherine Marie Schuhmann of Whitesville became the first Mother President of the Congregation of the Nuns of the Passion of Jesus Christ, a historic role serving an international congregation.

Born in Louisville, Mother Catherine Marie spent more than 57 years of her life at the cloistered St. Joseph Monastery in Whitesville before embarking on her new journey as Mother President of the international congregation of Passionist nuns.

Now, at age 75, Mother Catherine Marie’s role as Mother President is to act as a liaison between the various congregations and to the Holy See, in that she can communicate with the Holy See on the monastery’s behalf.


Mother John Mary Read, current mother superior of the St. Joseph Monastery in Whitesville, said “There are a lot of different cloistered congregations throughout the world and the Passionist nuns are just one of many congregations of cloistered nuns. All of these congregations throughout the world have been asked to form a juridical structure of communion so that we can connect with and support one another better. Mother Catherine Marie is the leader of that structure of communion for the Passionist nuns. She is the one tasked with creating the overall vision and tries to get to know the local communities of Passionist nuns throughout the world.“

Mother Catherine Marie’s duties require frequent travel and she is currently resting from an extensive traveling schedule. Mother Catherine Marie spent much of July in Italy, followed by a retreat in Colorado.

Mother John Mary shared that Mother Catherine Marie has a follow-up visit to Italy planned later this fall. “Her visits to Italy are a succession of meetings. There is always something happening in the various monasteries so she is constantly writing letters trying to help the various congregations by giving them assistance in whatever way they need. ”

Mother John Mary said “Mother Catherine Marie’s role as Mother President has allowed us to have a more international perspective of how our nuns are doing in monasteries throughout the world. It has allowed us to be closer in union with them and to know them more personally.”

When she is not on visitation, Mother Catherine Marie still resides at St. Joseph’s Monastery, where her impact can be felt among the Whitesville residents who continue to rally around her with support and admiration.

August 25, 2019 | 3:18 am

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