Chicago, IL - - Members of the Catholic foundation world in cooperation with the Catholic Church Extension Society, a leading funding agency for the 88 home mission dioceses of the United States, will gather here October 15th to celebrate the leadership and ministerial service of Catholic sisters.

The conference, entitled: The Leadership and Philanthropy of Women Religious: A Life of Passionate Service to the Home Missions, is the third conference of donors this current year sponsored by FADICA which explores the vast array of ministries of women religious in the United States.

For over three hundred years Catholic sisters in America have worked hands on with people and communities in need. While most Catholics are familiar with the sisters' presence in the urban centers of the country, much of their heroic leadership and service has been in territories of the country where the population of Catholics is sparse.

In those areas, frequently it is a Catholic sister who is providing significant leadership so that the church’s work can go forward.

Today religious women are training laity to be leaders of their parishes and managing the business aspects of running a small diocese. They are empowering the disenfranchised and working for justice, welcoming newly arrived immigrants, providing medical care as doctors and nurses and coordinating social services. They are directing religious education programs, offering spiritual counseling and visiting often isolated, elderly and disabled populations.

Among those addressing the Catholic philanthropists attending the invitational conference are: Sr. Donna Gunn, CSJ, Diocese of Jackson, Director of Advocacy, Sacred Heart Family Center; Sr. Georgia Greene, RSM, Diocese of Tucson, Principal, St. Charles Mission School; Sr. Mary Bernard Derayunan, RSG, Diocese of Gallup, Director of the Good Shepherd Center; Sr. Mary Esther Roffi, RSG, Diocese of Gallup, Director of Finance, Good Shepherd Center.

In addition to the sisters, FADICA and the Catholic Church Extension Society will hear from a panel of laity living in the home mission dioceses of the U.S. who will talk about the impact of religious women on their lives. These guests include: Diane Eldridge of Camden, MS; Lourdes Garza of Knoxville, TN; Alma Vazquez of Knoxville, TN; Corina Arthur of Holbrook, AZ; and Pauline Begay of Holbrook, AZ.

The Catholic Church Extension Society was founded in 1905 to strengthen the church's presence and mission in under-resourced and isolated communities across the United States. This past year Catholic Extension provided nearly two million dollars to support the work of women religious in the home mission dioceses. This assistance included ministries in 33 separate dioceses. The funds enable 117 sisters to work among a quarter of a million people in need.

FADICA is an association of major grantmakers who share an interest in projects and work under the sponsorship of Catholic agencies. It also provides a forum for collaborative projects among its members. Throughout its history FADICA has kept the work of Catholic sisters high on its agenda by playing a catalytic role in the founding of the National Religious Retirement Office, and Support Our Aging Religious.

In recent years, FADICA, in association with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and Catholic Charities USA, helped to rebuild the ministries of sisters serving in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.