We invite readers to send short stories about the ways in which their lives have been personally blessed by the life and work of priests and religious in our diocese.
By Karina Fabian
One of the classic callings for any religious is to bring aid to those in need, and often this has taken many women religious to the ends of the Earth. Even so, there are often those who, because they live in a remote area, do not receive the care or support they may need. Sister Clarann Weinert uses modern technology to reach out to some of those people.
Sister Clarann is a full professor and nursing researcher at Montana State University in Bozeman, where she is involved in several programs that use the Internet to provide information and support to those in rural areas. One of her most important projects is Women to Women, a virtual education and support program that helps women with chronic illnesses learn about research and options for care and living with their illnesses and connect with others in similar situations. In addition, she oversees five other programs, which deal with promoting nutrition, aiding the elderly, improving nursing techniques, and exploring faith in health – all focused on those in rural areas.
Sister Clarann feels she has been guided by the Holy Spirit to do what she is doing now. She entered the Sisters of Charity, Cincinnati, in 1960, taking final vows in 1966, shortly after getting her nursing degree. She went on to get a master’s in nursing at Ohio State University, and a Ph.D. in sociology at University of Washington, Seattle. She’s been at MSU since 1982.
It was in her graduate school years that she discovered her love for research, especially in techniques for reaching out to those in need. “I feel as if I’m at the grass roots of dramatic changes,” she said about her work.
“My calling is focused on what we can do to make life better for people,” she said, and the use of the computer for aid and support for those who are physically separated from traditional support channels came simply because “we’re plunked right into a rural area.”
According to her website, www.montana.edu/cweinert, 44 of the 56 counties in Montana are frontier, which means there are fewer than 6 people per square mile.
Sister Clarann herself receives great support for her work and calling with her order and with the small faith group she meets with regularly. “(With the Sisters of Charity) Even alone, I’m still linked, rooted to something that has a charism I am committed to. My day-to-day strength comes from the small community of faith. They’re here and present, strong and generous.”
Published in The Montana Catholic, Vol. 20, No. 4, April 16, 2004.