2015 Jubilarian – Paula (Paul Edward) Cathcart


Cathcart, Paula

Sister Paula Cathcart grew up in Detroit, attending St. Agnes School for 12 years along with her four siblings. She first learned the value of faith, love, kindness and hospitality from her parents.  She was influenced by the kindness, action for justice and sense of humor of the IHM Sisters who taught her. “My parents’ involvement in the parish and responsive to others’ needs also encouraged me to think about religious life.”

Early in her senior year, Sister Paula knew she wanted to be a teacher and change the world through teaching social studies. She delayed entering the IHM community until a time that would be best for her family.  With her dream in mind, she attended Marygrove College and Wayne State University. When her calling could no longer be denied, she entered. This is where she felt “God wanted me to be.”

Sister Paula ministered as teacher, principal and counselor. Beginning in 1967 at St. Mary of Redford and Queen of Hope in Detroit she finished in 1987 at St. Mary Academy, Monroe. Queen of Hope was a wonderful ministry experience where the school and parish community were very much engaged together discovering and becoming a Vatican II community of faith and justice.

Sister Paula has continued to be an educator beyond the school setting. From 1994-2000 she served on the IHM Leadership Council, where she initiated and oversaw an integrated long-range master plan and process for the IHM Motherhouse and campus. This resulted in the communal decision of an “Integrating Idea” that saw the entire campus as a center for the transformation of consciousness and identified sustainability as the overarching construct for decisions regarding the long-range plan.

Implementation began with the sustainable renovation of the Motherhouse. This time in her life was “a great gift. It was a time of excitement and change; an opportunity to work with seven other committed and gifted women called to implement a new IHM governance structure that reflected both shared and team leadership. ” Here, Sister Paula experienced a call to deepen her understanding of and commitment to the sacred Earth community.

This call was given further expression in 2005 when Gloria Rivera, IHM, and Sister Paula initiated Great Lakes Bioneers Detroit, a member of Bioneers Resilient Community Network. Bioneers is a conference, movement and way of life that invites ongoing transformation and the development of ecological consciousness. Sister Paula quotes the closing of the Earth Charter as a 21st century call to live the liberating mission of Jesus: “Let ours be a time remembered for the awakening of a new reverence for life, the firm resolve to achieve sustainability, the quickening of the struggle for justice and peace and the joyful celebration of life.”

Sister Paula is grateful to and for the IHM community for the opportunities, support and life together. Especially for “making commitments that call us to go beyond where we are and risk for the sake of the Gospel and the good of the whole.”