A Day in the Life – S. Andrea Koverman
By Megan Simmermeyer, Communications co-op
At IJPC, S. Andrea Koverman (right) often works with Derrick Jamison (left), a death row exoneree. The pair collaborate on educational programming that focuses on issues with the capital punishment system in Ohio.
National Vocation Awareness Week (Nov. 5-11, 2017) celebrates religious vocations across the country, and encourages everyone to reflect on the vocation they are called to pursue. The “Day in the Life” series explores the varied ministries of five Sisters in Formation and offers detailed accounts of what these Sisters do on a daily basis. Each woman featured in the series has answered the call to be a Sister of Charity, and each has a story to share.
S. Andrea Koverman’s days burst with variety, so rather than try to discern a commonality among her schedule, she discusses a specific day—Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017. She says, “Every day is different, which is the only thing that is typical or predictable! [But] I love that, as well as the fact that I get to meet so many people who are actively working for peace and justice from the grassroots level on up to elected officials.”
S. Andrea is a program manager at the Intercommunity Justice & Peace Center (IJPC), a nonprofit organization initiated by women religious more than 30 years ago. There, her daily activities vary, as she manages the anti-death penalty and peace and nonviolence program areas, each with its own unique joys and challenges. Yet, her day always starts the same—with prayer.
Each morning, S. Andrea joins her housemates for prayers. On this particular day, it was her turn to lead, and because it was All Saints Day, she encouraged her housemates to bring to mind their loved ones who had passed. After a short reading about the Beatitudes and a moment of quiet reflection and prayer, they dispersed to their individual ministries, which for S. Andrea meant traveling downtown to IJPC.
At IJPC, she went right to work. Her first task for that Wednesday was an op-ed that she hoped to have published in the next few days. Working closely with Ohioans to Stop Executions, a group based in Columbus, S. Andrea and her team hoped to persuade Governor Kasich to spare the life of a man on death row.
Later, she collaborated with IJPC’s Mercy Corps Volunteer, Jen, to plan Cities for Life, an event co-sponsored by IJPC and the Archdiocese’s Office of Catholic Social Action. The event will involve cities all over the world, urging them to light important community buildings and places of worship, before gathering to pray for an end to capital punishment. Having received approval from Archbishop Schnurr, IJPC plans to hold an ecumenical service at the St. Peter in Chains Cathedral in downtown Cincinnati on Nov. 30.
In the afternoon, S. Andrea was joined by fellow Sister of Charity Romina Sapinoso. Together, the pair worked the Nonviolent Cincinnati Project. They emailed people interested in the project, and later, S. Andrea led a subcommittee meeting for developing a working mission/vision statement for it. “That was really enjoyable and generated a lot of energy about the potential of the project,” she says. “It was challenging but really fun to put [into words] our vision of a Cincinnati that is free from all forms of violence.”
For the rest of the afternoon, S. Andrea answered emails, returned phone calls, and prepared for the next day’s Nuns on the Bus – Ohio meeting. After work, she ran a few errands in anticipation of her weekend workshop in Pennsylvania, and when she finally returned home, she spent time with a few of her housemates and watched the World Series. By the end of the game, bedtime had arrived, and her day ended.
The call to religious life for S. Andrea was a gradual process. She has four relatives who were Sisters of Charity, and as a child, she recalls making regular visits to the Motherhouse for family picnics and visits. She says, “A great-aunt made a prediction that I would make a ‘fine sister’ someday when I was about 9 or 10. That sounded fine to me, and I took her pretty seriously.” As she grew older, however, S. Andrea allowed the idea to fade. She didn’t have much interaction with the Sisters outside of her relatives, who she notes, “were the ages of grandmothers and great-grandmothers.”
It was through her first cousin, however, that her interest in religious life was reignited. “I kept track of [my cousin] through family news and articles about her in the newspapers,” she says, “and she was a great inspiration for me. I knew early on that I wanted to put myself at God’s disposal and hoped God would use me for some good purpose—like my cousin or Joan of Arc, another one of my inspirations.”
For a time, S. Andrea pursued the life of a lay person and became an educator. By the time her interest in religious life resurfaced, she had reached full adulthood and was deep in her profession, but when her cousin began to spend more time in the United States and less time overseas on mission trips, the two became fast friends. “That was the beginning of the journey that led me to this point,” S. Andrea says. “I have learned a lot about myself and this Community in the process, and continue to discern whether or not we are fit for each other. It is important to stay open to where I am truly called.”In summer 2015, S. Andrea made her First Vows, and continues to be surprised by where God has led her on this journey. “I think God needs Sisters to go places and to do things that other people aren’t able or willing to do,” she says. “It is part of our charism to read the signs of the times and address the unmet needs with love and courage.” As a Sister, she feels compelled to speak for those who are marginalized, to offer hope where there is little. “Women religious have a long history of being prophetic,” she says, “and it’s a call that continues to be heeded in the precarious times we live in.”