Chats at St. Charles
Dave Eck • Director of Communications
In early 2007, weeks into a new job as an editor at the Cincinnati Archdiocese’s newspaper, my predecessor urged me to make the 2-hour drive to Carthagena, Ohio, and check out St. Charles Center, a former seminary that was being converted into residential housing for both lay people and clergy.
“Be sure to meet the nun,” she said. “She’s the manager.”
So, I made the drive to the tiny town in rural northern Ohio, found the place and met the manager, Precious Blood Sister Martha Bertke. We became fast friends. From then on, anytime I was “up north,” I always dropped by St. Charles for a visit with Sister Marty. We’d chat about religious life or vocations or the community. And she always talked about St. Charles.
Her first few years there were challenging. She’d spend her days promoting the apartments through billboards, open houses and on radio. It was a hard sell because people were leery of living with the clergy. I wrote about her events and even interviewed the first lay person to move into St. Charles.
There was a certain kinship with Sister Marty because we were both new in our jobs. I had just joined the archdiocesan paper after 20 years in secular journalism, and she was trying to build a community at St. Charles after spending 30 years in pastoral work.
Eventually, all 54 apartments at St. Charles were occupied. There are 59 residents, including 28 lay people. The place is thriving.
And Sister Marty has moved on.
There was one last visit the day before she retired. We again talked about St. Charles and her work, recounting the highlights of her time there. I snapped pictures as she strolled through the hallways chatting with the residents and giving hugs. A tinge of sadness came over me as I thought about all the chats we had in her office. Her ever-present smile was as bright as ever.
She was happy, like always.
In this issue of Sharing & Caring we also take a look at Sister Nancy Wolf’s new job as coordinator of Sisters’ services at Salem Heights. In this new role, Sister Nancy has found that the basic skills she mastered during 46 years as an elementary school teacher are useful in her new role.
Finally, we cover the events celebrating the Year of Consecrated Life. The Year, which runs through Feb. 2, 2016, Pope Francis encourages us to celebrate the history of religious life and recognize the vitality of religious life today.
As always, thanks for reading Sharing & Caring. If you have story ideas for future issues, please call me at (937) 274-2707 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.