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Sharing ‘Charism and Creativity’ in Rome

BVM Congregational Archivist Jennifer Head presents her work for HARC at the “Charism and Creativity” conference in Rome.

Jennifer Head

I was honored to be selected to present at the “Charism and Creativity” conference held in Rome, May 4–5. Co-sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the conference focused on preserving the cultural heritage of the Catholic Church in light of the demographic changes taking place.

This cultural heritage includes not only libraries and archives, but also buildings and land.

My presentation focused on the development of the Heritage and Research Center (HARC), located on the campus of Saint Mary’s, in Notre Dame, Ind. This center will hopefully be the future home of the BVM archives.

I described how HARC was first envisioned in April 2018 at a meeting hosted by the Sisters of the Holy Cross and shared how that vision has continually moved forward, despite the challenges created by COVID-19.

HARC is currently made up of ten congregations of women religious from the Midwest who have joined together in a collaborative archive of physical and digital materials to tell the stories of women religious who shaped this country. Approximately 1,300 linear feet will be devoted to BVM archives.

My hope was to inspire other congregations to create a similar plan and to provide instruction on how to begin.

The rest of the conference covered a variety of subjects: the consolidation of Jesuit archives in Belgium, the Urbanist Poor Clares in Italy, and the inclusion of libraries belonging to religious communities to a national database in Croatia; preserving the religious and cultural heritage of repurposed former monasteries and convents; the importance of cataloging library and archive materials of religious institutes (which I’m happy to say we have already been doing).

The “Charism and Creativity” conference was a wonderful opportunity to learn how other congregations are making plans for the future. I look forward to following the progress of the other projects and sharing updates with our Salt readers about HARC.

About the author: Jennifer Head is the archivists for the Sisters of Charity, BVM in Dubuque, Iowa.

This story was featured in:

SUMMER 2022: Freed by Love: Acting for Justice

In this issue of Salt, we share how the BVMs continue to fight for causes at the Heart of BVM, such as access to affordable healthcare, protecting whistleblowers, leaving behind a healthy planet, and fighting for justice with the National Farm Worker Ministry (NFWM).

If you would like to receive Salt, contact the Office of Development for a complimentary subscription at or 563-585-2864.


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