Sister Josephine Kase
Board Member Highlight: Sister Josephine Kase
Passionate. Committed. Caring. These are just a few words that describe Sister Josephine Kase, Interfaith Center Executive Committee Member and Assistant Director for the Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs Office at the Philadelphia Archdiocese—someone who has devoted her life to education and dialogue. At the end of October, Kase will retire from these positions and open a new chapter in her life.
Kase entered the working world as a teacher involved with a program called Sisters, Servants of Immaculate Heart of Mary. For 30 years, she taught upper level courses on religion and theology. She always participated in and showed interest in ecumenical affairs, and thus was invited to join the archdiocesan office. For the past 22 years, Kase has worked at the Philadelphia Archdiocese on interreligious and ecumenical affairs, fulfilling a dual mission: to improve inter-Christian relations among sects of Christianity and to improve interfaith relations among world religions.
“People fear what they don’t know. Ignorance and a lack of education is behind fears that people have that prevent them from working together.”
Her hard work and devotion in the community led to her recognition as the recipient of the James G. Fitzgerald Award for Ecumenism, the highest ecumenical award in the country, this past April.
“I am grateful for this award because it acknowledges people in the ranks, in the local level, who are working at building relationships for the sake of all the people who do the local work day by day,” said Kase. She also was grateful that the award helps recognize the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, an organization that has made a commitment to interreligious work. “The acknowledgment indicates that this work is valued in the world.”
Kase has been involved with this valued work as a Board Member of the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia since its inception. She says she often acts as a “connector,” involved in the behind the scenes work and providing links for the Board, using her depth of experience to guide her.
“Sr. Josephine has been a teacher, a bridge-builder, a leader, a friend,” said Executive Director of the Interfaith Center Abby Stamelman Hocky. “Her work, rooted in faith and love, has made an enduring impact on interfaith relations in our region.”
Kase certainly identifies with the mission of the Interfaith Center, stressing the importance of education and dialogue in our current world scene.
“People fear what they don’t know. Ignorance and a lack of education is behind fears that people have that prevent them from working together.” Kase stresses that education should not merely be secondhand, but it must be face-to-face. “We have to get to know different traditions through the people who live them.”
After 52 years of learning about diverse people and traditions, Kase will bring her experiences elsewhere. In November, she will move to a convent in Nesquehoning, Pennsylvania, where she will enjoy a contemplative lifestyle in a House of Prayer.
“My life has been so enriched by all these years,” reflected Kase. She referred to a favorite saying by John Paul II in which he asserts that dialogue is not only an exchange of ideas but also an exchange of gifts.
“We all have gifts to give and receive,” said Kase. “And I come away being tremendously gifted by the experience I’ve had.”