Back to Our Roots – the Benedictine Sisters of Boerne

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Ann Beeson

Last Tuesday, the CPPP staff carpooled down wildflower-studded back roads to spend the day with our founders, the Benedictine Sisters of Boerne, Texas. It was a journey back to our roots and core values.

The Benedictine Sisters in Boerne, founded CPPP in 1985 to advance public policy solutions for expanding access to health care. We became independent in 1999 and expanded our focus over time to include economic opportunity and fiscal policy.

Sister Bernadine Reyes reviews the history of the Benedictine Sisters of Boerne, founding of CPPP
Sister Bernadine Reyes reviews the history of the Benedictine Sisters of Boerne

The Sisters remain our Hill Country heroines. They opened our day together with words from their founder, Mother Lidwina Weber:

“How much and yet how little have we accomplished in this space of time…but after sowing the seed we must wait some time for it to germinate. So I console myself and await the future!”

What a potent metaphor. CPPP is one of the seeds the Sisters planted over 30 years ago. And the seeds we spread today through our policy work – though they can take a long time to sprout – continue to change Texas.

The sisters shared these gifts with our staff, including a cutting of ivy, representing CPPP's growth from the seeds planted by the Benedictines.
The sisters shared these gifts with our staff, including a cutting of ivy, representing CPPP’s growth from the seeds planted by the Benedictines.

From the beginning, the Sisters were passionate about health care and education. They ran St. Benedict’s Hospital in San Antonio, which provided health care to the poor for decades, and also founded St. Albert Hall, where Mary Alice Cisneros, among many noteworthy Texans, went to school. Today Benedictine Ministries operates a Health & Wholeness Center for seniors and the Sisters’ Attic resale shop, and they provide space for the local head start program. As we toured the grounds, we passed happy children on the playground and seniors frolicking in the pool.

A portion of the Benedictine Monastery in Boerne, Texas
A portion of the Benedictine Monastery in Boerne, Texas

CPPP was another visionary idea seeded by the Sisters. They knew that for all Texans to live healthy, productive lives would require public policies to make health care affordable, and so they founded the Benedictine Health Resource Center, which later became CPPP. The incomparable Helen Farabee was our first Executive Director, and CPPP Board Member David Farabee continues our close relationship to the Farabee family today.

CPPP works every day to move Texas closer to the Sisters’ vision of affordable health care and quality education for everyone, regardless of background. From our advocacy to close the Texas health care Coverage Gap to our expertise in public school financing, CPPP has kept the Sisters’ original vision alive. Both the Sisters and CPPP are also actively highlighting the benefits of immigrants and refugees in our communities and making them feel welcome.

Speaking of welcoming, hospitality is one of the core values of the Benedectines, and the Sisters are exceptionally gracious hosts. They fed us a nourishing lunch, shared a modern translation of the Rule of Benedict, and gave us mugs full of jelly beans for the ride home. But the most symbolic gift they gave us was a pot of green ivy, clipped from one of their “mother” plants at the monastery. We are honored and blessed to be one of their seedlings.

CPPP staff and the Benedictine Sisters of Boerne, Texas
CPPP staff with several of the Benedictine Sisters of Boerne, Texas

At the Center for Public Policy Priorities, we believe in a Texas that offers everyone the chance to compete and succeed in life. We envision a Texas where everyone is healthy, well-educated, and financially secure. We want the best Texas - a proud state that sets the bar nationally by expanding opportunity for all. CPPP is an independent public policy organization that uses data and analysis to advocate for solutions that enable Texans of all backgrounds to reach their full potential. We dare Texas to be the best state for hard-working people and their families.

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