aug16-2013KANSAS CITY, Mo. (CNS) — The National Catholic Reporter Publishing Co. has received a $2.3 million grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to be given over a three-year period, which will allow NCR to pursue “a groundbreaking project to give greater voice to countless of Catholic sisters around the globe,” the company said in an Aug. 22 announcement.

“We've been standing with sisters from the beginning, and I consider the grant encouragement to go on telling their stories,” said Annette E. Lomont, chair of NCR's board of directors.

NCR said it will use the Hilton Foundation grant to build a network of editors and reporters to not only write about women religious, but also help them develop their own communication skills by working with them as columnists who report their own missions and challenges.

“The work of these women religious is one of the least-told stories in the church,” NCR Publisher Tom Fox said Aug. 22. “It's really an exciting challenge to bring these stories and voices to greater awareness. It also recognizes the changing nature of our global church.”

Through the project, Lomont said, NCR hopes to fulfill the wishes of Conrad N. Hilton, who in his will directed his foundation to “give aid to the sisters, who devote their love and life's work for the good of mankind.”

NCR's plans include creating a website dedicated to “the stories and voices” of women religious, and it also will include some of that content on NCR's other media platforms. The new website will serve as a tool that women religious can use to build and enhance their own communication networks, the Kansas City-based company said.

Founded in 1964, NCR is a lay-led independent news organization that covers the Catholic Church as well as a wide range of issues facing Catholics around the world.

“In preparing to celebrate our 50th anniversary next year, I found in the (newspaper's) second issue a special feature called 'Sisters Forum.' It was a column in which sisters — women religious — could speak to each other about issues of importance to them,” Dennis Coday, editor of NCR, said in a statement.

“This says two things: First, the sisters have been a special part of NCR from the very beginning, and the Hilton Foundation grant will enable us to continue that tradition,” he continued. “Second, today, as it did 50 years ago, NCR recognizes that telling stories about sisters is only half the task. The sisters must speak for themselves as well. Today, we are taking the 'Sister Forum' to the digital age.”