Conrad Hilton’s entrepreneurial spirit lives on through women religious
Conrad Hilton is not only known for the hotel chain that bears his name. Because of him, and the legacy he left on his death, thousands, if not millions, of people have been helped through the grants the Hilton Foundation provides to women religious the world over.
Since 1986 alone, the Conrad N. Hilton Fund for Sisters has given over 159 million US Dollars to 750 congregations of women religious. This money has been used to fund projects in 160 countries.
On Monday and Tuesday, Vice President of Strategy and Programs for the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Marc Holley, visited the Dicastery for Communication, along with Sr Jane Wakahiu, Associate Vice President, Program Operations and Head of Catholic Sisters. In an interview with Vatican News, Mr Holley explained Conrad Hilton’s vision and specific ways the Conrad Hilton Foundation funds women religious and their ministries.
Conrad Hilton’s legacy
Marc explained that “Conrad Hilton was a very religious man and from his earliest days, he was very prayerful and he was affected by the contributions of the Catholic sisters. So, in his last will, he specified that the sisters were especially deserving of the foundation's benefactions.”
Women religious akin to Conrad Hilton’s spirit
“The sisters have such a broad reach,” Marc continued when asked why the foundation continues to tap into women religious in order to promote the broader vision Conrad N. Hilton left. “They are the ones who accompany people living in conditions of disadvantage around the world. They walk alongside them, they comfort them. But not only that, they helped them build sustainable lives, they train them in job skills training, they help them to establish a way of earning for themselves. And that was consistent with Mr Hilton's entrepreneurial spirit as well. So, I think the sisters bring together many aspects of what was important to Mr Hilton.”
Four investment areas
Marc explained that there are four different “strategy areas” that the Foundation invests in through women religious. The first area is the formal education and formation of sisters. “These investments are added with investments in sustainability of congregations and care for the elderly sisters,” Marc added.
The foundation also invests in those ministries performed by women religious directed to “children and families.” “A newer investment area,” Marc explained is “in stopping human trafficking and helping survivors to recover and build lives of prosperity.” Another strategy area “aims to elevate the voices of sisters as advocates for their communities.”
The final area Marc spoke about is in the area of “research and evaluation.” “When we know about the great contributions that sisters are making,” he said, “that information can be fed back into the programming that we do and into their work as well.”
The Dicastery for Communication is also a beneficiary of the Catholic Sisters Initiative of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. The Dicastery has launched the Pentecost Project because of a grant the Dicastery has received. Women religious have been able to subscribe to L’Osservatore Romano free for one year, some sisters will receive on-site training in communication in the Dicastery offices in Rome, others will be able to attend online classes in communication, and the Dicastery's #SistersProject features one article weekly in 10 languages describing the ministry women religious are engaged in.
Sr Bernadette Mary Reis