Within the $9 million that a foundation created by Pittsburgh's Sisters of Mercy has given for health and anti-poverty efforts since 2008 was a $5,000 grant to help fund a documentary on how the nuns of New Orleans responded after Hurricane Katrina.
The film "We Shall Not Be Moved" has recently won a Gabriel Award from the Catholic Academy of Communications Professionals for media that "entertains and enriches with a true vision of humanity and a true vision of life." Many of its awards go to secular projects, such as the national release documentary award to HBO for "The Loving Story" about an interracial couple in the 1950s whose marriage changed American law.
"We Shall Not Be Moved," which aired last fall on many ABC affiliates including WTAE, won for "Best Religious Television, national release." The award will be presented June 20.
When Hurricane Katrina brought deadly floods to New Orleans in August 2005, the sisters who had devoted their lives to the homeless, destitute and traumatized were suddenly homeless, destitute and traumatized themselves.
Convents, schools and medical facilities were gone. One of their communities had operated a nursing home in which 17 patients died awaiting rescue.
The Archdiocese of New Orleans was unable to help them financially, so they were faced with a choice of abandoning New Orleans or seeking to rebuild their ministries from rubble even as they cared for the devastated people around them.
The film follows six communities as they recommitted to New Orleans and moved forward with help from sources as unlikely as the king of Saudi Arabia. It was produced by NewGroup Media in South Bend, Ind., while a foundation associated with the Sisters of Charity in Cincinnati found 14 funders for the project. The writer and producer was Sister Judy Zielinski, an Ohio Franciscan who works full time with NewGroup Media.
McAuley Ministries, a foundation that the Sisters of Mercy of Pittsburgh created with proceeds from the sale of Mercy Hospital, was glad to have a part in telling the story, said Linda Ross, the communications director for Pittsburgh Mercy Health System.
"The decision to fund the documentary was based on the [New Orleans] sisters' commitment to their community in a time of dire need," she said. "The Sisters of Mercy have been in Pittsburgh since 1843 and have seen the community through times of crises. So when the Catholic sisters of New Orleans went through this, it was inherent to try to reach out as they attempted to rebuild."
Ms. Ross insisted that her own children watch it when it aired on WTAE, and was grateful that the station gave it a family-friendly time slot on a Sunday afternoon.
"I think my children learned the commitment that Catholic sisters have to serving the community in times of need," she said.
DVDs can be ordered for $10 at www.weshallnotbemovedmovie.com or 1-800-354-3504.
Ann Rodgers: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1416.