In September 2017, the conference planning committee surveyed religious community leaders, archivists, and historians to learn about their thoughts and concerns for the future of Catholic religious archives. Survey results help to shape the conference program.

The goal of the conference was to articulate common needs and to develop strategies and resources for meeting them. The strategy for achieving that goal involved sharing the combined expertise of participants through dialogue aimed at developing a clearer understanding of where we are now and what lies ahead.

It was designed to be a “working” conference. Participants actively engaged with each other, thinking broadly and deeply about issues and practical solutions that communities of various sizes and types can employ going forward.

The conference began with an opening Mass on Wednesday afternoon, July 11, and concluded with lunch on Friday, July 13.

Wednesday, July 11

Arrival & Registration (12:00pm – 3:00pm)
Location: Stayer Hall

Opening Mass (4:00pm – 5:00pm)
Celebrant: Charles R. Gallagher, SJ
Location: St. Ignatius Church, upper church

Evening Meal (5:15pm – 6:30pm)
Location: Corcoran Commons, Heights Room

Session 1: Why Are We Here? (7:00pm – 8:30pm)
Location: Robsham Theater [videorecording]
In this kick-off session a religious leader, an archivist and a historian spoke about the concerns, motivations, expectation and goals that each group held for this conference. This session provided a general introduction to what is common and what is different among their perspectives on archives, and outlined the key issues to consider.
Goal: Setting the stage

Ginger Downey, OLVM
Jennifer Halloran, Maryknoll Mission Archives
Margaret McGuinness, LaSalle University
Carol Coburn, Avila University, moderator

Thursday, July 12

Continental Breakfast (7:00am-8:20am)
Location: Corcoran Commons, Heights Room

Session 2: What Do We Know? (8:30am-10:00am)
Location: Robsham Theater [videorecording]
Lecture presentation interpreting the results of surveys of religious leaders, archivists, and historians conducted by the conference planning committee in October 2017. What does the data tell us? What are the core values revealed?
Goal: Preview areas of focus.

Patricia Wittberg, SC, Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA)

Coffee Break (10:00am-10:25am)
Location: Robsham Theater Lobby

Session 3: What Is the Ideal? (10:30am-12:00pm)
Location: Corcoran Commons, Heights Room
Facilitated small group discussions prompting participants to consider their own archival situation in the context of the larger crises affecting Catholic religious communities and their archives, and encouraging perspective-sharing and interaction among leaders, archivists and historians.
Goal: Networking, collegiality, team building.

Lunch (12:00pm-1:30pm)
Location: Corcoran Commons, Heights Room

Session 4: How Do We Transmit Charism to the Future? (1:30pm-3:00pm)
Location: Robsham Theater [videorecording]
Panel exploring how a community’s charism can be expressed through archival sources and the roles that historians, leaders and archivists can play. How do we determine and preserve what is of enduring value?
Goal: Community needs assessment.

Jean Bartunek, RSCJ, Boston College
Mary Katherine Hamm, SC, Sisters of Charity of Halifax, respondent
James O’Toole, Boston College, respondent

Coffee Break (3:00pm-3:25pm)
Location: Robsham Theater Lobby

Session 5: How Do I Envision the Future? (3:30pm-5:00pm)
Location: Participants may use conference meeting rooms or return to residence hall rooms
Individual, two-person or small group options for reflection. Participants were provided with prompts and scenarios to guide their thoughts through selected aspects of the religious archives dilemma with the goal of surfacing practical action steps toward making a positive difference.
Goal: Community plan formation.

Conference Reception (5:00pm-5:45pm)
Location: Robsham Theater Patio

Banquet and Evening Social (6:00-8:00pm)
Location: Corcoran Commons, Heights Room

Friday, July 13

Continental Breakfast (7:00am-8:20am)
Location: Corcoran Commons, Heights Room

Session 6: What Are the Options? (8:30am-9:30am)
Location: Robsham Theater [videorecording]
Presentations covered three different choices to manage or transfer religious community archives. The first option, creating a charism-based or collaborative archives, serves as a model for those congregations desiring to continue to manage their archival program. The second and third option are designed for those communities facing completion. Representatives from a diocesan archives and university-related repository will share expertise on the process that can be developed to transfer a collection to another archive.

Emilie Gagnet Leumas, Archdiocese of New Orleans
Kathryn Oosterhuis, Mercy Heritage Center
David E. Horn, Boston College, retired

Coffee Break (9:30am-9:55am)
Location: Robsham Theater Lobby

Session 7: Lightning Rounds (10:00am-12:00pm)
Location: Corcoran Commons, Heights Room
Brief, informal presentations by practitioners who shared their expertise on various strategies for improving management of archival collections. Participants were able to attend three different presentations during this session from among the topics listed below.
Goal: To give attendees opportunities to meet experts and ask questions specific to their situation

Creation of collaborative or charism-based archives:

  • Mary Kenney, National Archives of the Marianist Province of the United States
  • Lisa Gibbon, Congregation of Saint Joseph Archives, Cleveland
  • Michael Pera, Society of Sacred Heart, US-Canada Province Archives

Transfer of materials to a diocesan archives:

  • Kate Feighery, Archdiocese of New York
  • Chris Doan, Archdiocese of San Francisco
  • Eric Fair, Archdiocese of Saint Louis

Transfer of materials to a university archives:

  • Amy Cooper Cary, Marquette University
  • Erin Louthen, Santa Clara University
  • Kevin Cawley, University of Notre Dame

Hiring an archival consultant:

  • Jane Kenamore, Chicago

Interim archives, or engaging a project archivist:

  • Malachy McCarthy, Claretian Missionaries Archives USA-Canada

Hiring a professional archivist:

  • Ellen Pierce, religious archives consultant

Interns and volunteers:

  • Doris Cardenas, Claretian Missionaries Archives, USA-Canada
  • Eric Reisberg, McGreal Center, Dominican University

Writing a congregational or community history:

  • Ellen Skerrett, independent historian
  • Margaret McGuinness, LaSalle University
  • Carol Coburn, Avila University

Lunch (12:00pm-1:30pm)
Location: Corcoran Commons, Heights Room

Check Out & Departure (1:30pm-2:30pm)
Location: Stayer Hall