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Woods College of Advancing Studies

Latin American Sisters Exchange Program

BC's Woods College trains Latin American women religious in management, leadership

Participants in the U.S.-Latin American Sisters Exchange Program, hosted by BC's Woods College of Advancing Studies. (Gary Wayne Gilbert)

Empowering joyful ministry

​A comprehensive leadership training program for 36 Latin American women religious, developed by Boston College's Woods College of Advancing Studies's MS in Leadership & Administration program and conducted entirely in Spanish, was, according to one participant, “a gift from God.”

The program, held in January 2017, was arranged by Catholic Extension through a grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, in partnership with Boston College, as part of the U.S.-Latin American Sisters Exchange Program. Since its founding in 1905, Catholic Extension has contributed more than $500 million ($1.2 billion in today’s dollars) to poor mission dioceses throughout the U.S.

The women religious are missionaries from Latin America who arrived in 2014 to begin the five-year program and are now serving poor, Hispanic immigrant communities in 12 U.S. dioceses. As part of the program, BC and other higher education partners provide for-credit courses that can be applied toward a future degree. When they complete the program, the participants will return home to help evangelize those on the margins, and raise awareness about religious life in their respective communities.

The success of the January pilot session at Boston College resulted in the determination by Catholic Extension at its March board meeting to center all of the operational leadership and organizational development training for the program at the Woods College. The first cohort of women religious will return to BC in 2018 for a second leadership curriculum; two additional cohorts will follow.

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