The following individuals and their particular ministries and skills were chosen as examples of what FOCIS meant by community development.


Early days of Glenmary Sisters.

Mother Mary Catherine Rumschlag came to Glendale in 1944 as a secretary to Father Bishop.  She grew up on a farm in a very strict Catholic household, and was drawn to the idea of rural outreach at Glenmary.  She was appointed Mother General of the Glenmary's in 1953.

Catherine moved to Big Stone Gap, Virginia in 1970.  She immediately began organizing cooperatives to employ the locals.  "Two long-term projects... the regionally renowned  Bread and Chicken House, and Christ Hill, an intentional community and homeless shelter." 


Sister Marie visiting with Sister Dorothy.  Marie Cirillo joined the Glenmary Sisters in 1948.  Marie's mother was from Rural Kentucky.


Marie energetically undertook the labor-intensive task of returning to the Appalachian people the land that had been taken by corporations through organizations such as Model Valley Development Corporation, Save Our Cumberland Mountains and Woodland Community Land Trust.

In 1973, Caroline Kennedy, who had learned about Marie through a grant from the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Foundation for an oral history project, met Marie and admired her commitment.  Kennedy spent a summer in Rose Creek, Virginia, getting her first taste of moonshine from Steely Huddleston (see newspaper article below).

Thirty-seven years later in a 2010 article in the Knoxville News Sentinel entitled "For more than 40 years, a former nun from New York has helped Appalachian Communities," Caroline, who had kept in touch with Marie over they years, called her a saint, stating that "She remains committed and is a tremendous inspiration."

An in-depth interview entitled "From the Ground Up: The Community Building of Marie Cirillo" was published in the the Appalachia Journal in 2002.  (see below)

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Lenore Mullarney in the photo at left and below, came to Glenmary in 1952 as the oldest woman at the age of 35.  This was the photograph that started it all for many of the incoming Glenmary postulants who found the photograph "compelling."  As one sister stated: "I wanted to go to the missions and yell loud this is where the action is!"  The women were drawn to the action of the photo, the "energy and unconvention." 


Margaret Gregg became a novice in 1959.  She would later become the art director for the original FOCIS ARTS program, which played a major part in the ministry.  "This was the beginning of local music festivals, craft fairs, community heritage days, art councils, and many efforts by communities to show and tell their stories."  These events also created jobs for local people.

Margaret's posters, which were exhibited in the Reece Museum at East Tennessee State University, are a "social documentary of the progressive social movements in the region since the 1960s."  A selection of her posters may be viewed under Posters.

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Maureen Linneman, who would discover a ministry of music, is pictured with J. P. Fraley at Appalshop Media Center in Whitesburg, Kentucky, 1973.

In the early days, Maureen worked with rural coal camps, schools and community programs.  She penned and recorded numerous songs and minstered through music.  "What I came to understand was if the work was to go on we had to change."

After talking with the Appalachian people, she used their words to write a song dealing with strip mining entitled "This Land Is Home To Me."

...This land means more to me

Than all the races and the places in the world around

This land of mountains and valleys and streams...

But people come and go...

But though they now are gone

Their hearts all live on

In the mother sighs, the family ties, the mountain sides...


Mary Jo Leygraaf began at Glenmary in 1958. An arts and crafts major from the University of Tennessee, she taught pottery.  "I built an outdoor gas kiln and taught classes at various locations...I would just travel around and bring all my supplies with me and then bring all their work back to the shop to fire.  Then I'd bring it all back to the people and they'd glaze it and bring it back again..."

Genny Remedi entered the convent in 1965.  "I felt I had a calling; I felt like I really wanted to serve God, that a life of prayer and dedication made sense to me." 


Monica Kelly entered into service in 1955.  She taught Bible school in coal camps and on front porches.  "We were a traveling show, in many ways, teaching one place in the morning and another in the afternoon."

Eventually ending up in Big Stone Gap, Virginia in 1959, she became the superior of the Holy Cross Center.  In 1972, she and Anne Leibig began working to bring a much needed Health clinic to Scott County 


Ellen Burbach Browne - Sister Mary Juliana - discusses race relations with a group of young people in Big Stone Gap, Virginia in January 1963.