In 1953, Mother Claudia Glenn set out to establish a postulancy in the West to accommodate young women interested in a vocation as a religious. From the earliest years in Arizona, Mother Eveline Fisher hoped and prayed that vocations would come from the new missions in the West. With the help of Father Patterson in Tucson, Mother Claudia formed that dream into a reality.
In order to engage local pastors, Mother Claudia wrote (1953), “It is our thought that opening the postulancy in Tucson will make the initial separation from home a little easier both for the young woman who aspires to the religious life and for her parents. After five months in Tucson, the Community will transfer the postulants to the novitiate at Seton Hill. Our Constitution requires two years of novitiate training before first profession. As we envision the future, it is likely that most if not all of the novices who begin their religious training in Tucson will eventually be sent to missions in Arizona.”
Casa Elizabeth Seton in Tucson was used as the first postulancy of the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill. Please see the section "Tucson - Casa Elizabeth Seton Kindergarten and Novitiate" for more information. 20 young women entered the community at the Casa between 1953 and 1958, but only five persisted in community life. After 1958, all postulants came to the novitiate in Pennsylvania.
By the early 1960s, as with many religious communities, the vocations were becoming few.
However, vocations from the West remained important to the Sisters of Charity.
1972 saw the opening of Seton House West in Tucson as a vocation center. It would be relocated to Tempe in 1983.
In 1974, Sr. Joan Winters was appointed vocation director for the region. She was followed by Sr. Mary Catherine Coughenour and Sr. Frances Holland.
In the 1980s, the Sisters of Charity began an Associate Program called the Laity Spiritual Program.
By the 1990s, an Affiliate Program was created to foster a lengthened and engaged discernment period for young women.
Sr. Frances established the "Christ Call" vocation program. Srs. Barbara Miller, Barbara Einloth, and Harold Ann Jones followed with vocation stints in the West.
In 1992, Sr. Marie Theresa Rishel renamed "Christ Call" to "Caminates," meaning traveller or those who journey in Spanish.
In 1993, Beatrice (Bea) Abril began a live-in experience as an affiliate at Seton House West in Tempe, Arizona.
In the late 1990s, the Arizona Vocation Committee again revitalized the formation program as "Seton Spirit." The program allowed for the Sisters and lay women of various faiths to reflect, discuss, and pray in community.
The 12 Sisters of Charity from the West who persisted in community life made significant contributions in education, social service, eco-justice, arts ministry, and leadership.
Since 1933, the missions to the West and Sisters stationed there have always been, and will continue to be, a great source of pride for the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill.
Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill who entered the community from the West include:
Sister Irene Fallon
Sister Mary Ann Winters
Sister Barbara Miller
Sister Claudia Rushlow
Sister Maria Consuelo Pacheco
Sister Mary Elizabeth Lawrence
Sister Jeanne Bartholomeaux
Sister Esther Marie Phillips
Sister Sharon Carpenter
Sister Laura Coughlin
Sister Rebecca Ann Espinosa
Sister Roquita Ortega