Words Matter

Michelle Lesher, SSJ, ‘00

Words matter. Words have the potential to inspire, embolden, offer challenge, and empower us to connect. In times of difficulty or struggle, words can be signposts and entry points for reconciliation. Some words even open the potential for transformation.

I will ever connect S. Carol with words—her words, the words of those who stirred her spirit throughout the years, and words evocatively communicated from the history, mission, and spirituality of the Sisters of Saint Joseph. These words, accompanied by her witness, left indelible marks on my spirit as a student and a staff member.

Because I attended Chestnut Hill College when it was a college for women, the words I heard most often from S. Carol were: “On the education of women largely depends the future of society.” These words mattered to my young heart before I could articulate their importance. They took root in me and helped to shape my convictions about the role of women in society in general and the contributions that were mine to make in our world.

To know that your words have the potential to influence young minds is a humbling responsibility that S. Carol has always taken seriously. Crafting responses, writing, revising, and amending, I imagine that she spent more time than we will ever know in an effort to make impressions that would translate into action for our world. S. Carol continues to use the power of her words to effect change. She speaks passionately so that we will make a difference. I watched her zest for words come alive in the most recent rewrite of Chestnut Hill College’s Mission Statement. Every word matters. Every word has meaning.

In the end, I think the statement reflects not only Chestnut Hill College but the essence of who S. Carol is and has been for the College. She desires to shape “an inclusive Catholic community.” She is “rooted in and animated by the Mission of the Sisters of Saint Joseph.” She is “committed to transformative holistic education, just relationships, innovative thinking, and responsible action toward a more unified global society and sustainable Earth.”

S. Carol, thank you for all of your profound words over these many years. And thank you for your actions that align authentically with those words. You have motivated countless women and men to make meaningful contributions to a society desperately in need of loving action.