Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters is a religious order founded in the early 1920s by Father John Joseph Sigstein to catechize those on the margins of the southwest United States. Their benefactor, Archbishop John F. Noll, helped them find a place for their founding and at which they could train new members. Since that time, the sisters have taken their mission to spread the Gospel, train leaders and live and work in solidarity with those in poverty and oppression to all parts of the United States and Bolivia.
Because the median age of Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters is older and the community is becoming smaller in number, it was decided to put in place a way to carry out the charism through the Ministry of Victory Noll Center as their legacy. To that end, about a year and a half ago, the Victory Noll Center, managed by the sisters, became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. It was a gradual process that occurred over several months.
When religious communities use the word charism, they mean the particular gift of the Holy Spirit that inspired their founder — a man or woman of bold vision who gathered other people to help turn that vision into action. The Holy Spirit gives different gifts to different groups of people. The charism helps differentiate religious communities and guides decision-making for the future.
Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters proclaim the Word of God, foster justice, stand in solidarity with those living in poverty and oppression and promote the development of leaders. Their core values are hospitality, justice, simplicity and adaptability. This also reflects the mission of Victory Noll Center, according to Sue Wilhelm, executive director. Victory Noll Center extends the charism and legacy of Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters by inviting all people to discover and develop their capacity for God’s mission and offers formation through programs, trainings, retreats and spaces for reflection.
The Victory Noll Center welcomes everyone to participate in programming based on Catholic teaching. Wilhelm said, “A participant in the Victory Noll Center programs will be immersed in the Gospel, participate in times of reflection and contemplative dialogue, be encouraged to live out of the Church’s social teachings, practice discernment and often study the teachings and writings of the spiritual giants such as St. Ignatius, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Hildegard of Bingen and others.” This coming year, the center hopes to offer trainings that will assist the laity in participating in the ministries of their parish, such as pastoral care.
One aspect of the value of hospitality for Victory Noll Center is that while the programming is based on Catholic principles and teaching, it is ecumenical in its welcome. Participants often come from other denominations, recognizing the need to deepen their relationship with Christ and their common call to live the Gospel.
The Victory Noll Center is managed by three full-time employees, one part-time employee and one Our Lady of Victory Missionary sister who volunteers several days a week. People come to the retreat center for spiritual direction and spiritual formation. They are invited to come to pray and deepen their relationship with God so that they might respond to the needs of their community and the world.
Some come to the center to collaborate on social justice issues. Victory Noll Center collaborates with the Anti-Trafficking Network to offer education days and trainings to groups. The Center also works with the Huntington County Prevention Task Force to offer Community Conversations around issues that touch the lives of many. This year’s topic for the quarterly conversations is Addiction.
One group of volunteers, known as Matthew 25, meets at the center weekly. Hats and no-sew blankets are made for those in need, collaborating with LOVE Inc., the Youth Service Bureau and other service agencies, which distribute them.
Besides programs the center offers, churches and schools are welcome to use the meeting rooms for staff training days and renewal, as well as for retreats.
People are also welcome to visit the newly renovated and wheelchair-accessible Our Lady of Victory Chapel, or walk the grounds. The outdoor spaces include a labyrinth, the Stations of the Cross, statues of the Sacred Heart, Mary and St. Bernadette, and the gravesite of Archbishop Noll. There is also a Miami Peace Garden dedicated to the Miami people of the area.
Many participants have noted that upon entering the chapel they sense something special. Wilhelm attributes this to the presence of God and the prayers of the sisters in the chapel over the years.
The sisters invite all to join them Wednesday evenings in prayer for the world at 7 p.m. There is also the opportunity for morning prayer Tuesdays and Thursdays each week, led by the Victory Noll Center staff.
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