A Life Of “Mentoring” Compassion

By Sharon Reed, OPA

In her book, “Boundless Compassion”, Joyce Rupp reflects on ‘mentors of compassion’:

“Their witness of nonjudgmental inclusivity, fierce determination, and willingness to pay the price for change, serves as an inspiration and a stimulus for hope…
Every organization or social movement for good begins with one caring individual whose vision and passion ignite the light in others’ hearts.”

Sr. Noreen Malone, OP

35 years ago, my (and so many others) “mentor of compassion,” Sr. Noreen Malone, OP, ignited a light in my heart and in the community. In 1986, Noreen and a group of Dominican Sisters presented a vision to their Dominican Chapter for sisters trained in spirituality ministry and spiritual direction to give back to the wider community. Noreen also invited a group of lay men and women to explore ways to respond to all who were experiencing a parching thirst for the God of life, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation. Hospitality and welcome, collaboration, compassion, and hope would be the hallmarks of this endeavor. In January 1987, The Spirituality Network began with one small office and the donated service of one director. On January 18, 2022, that “one director” celebrated her 90th birthday.

Over the years, I imagine that thousands have been touched in some way by Noreen’s dream, “her nonjudgmental inclusivity, fierce determination, and willingness to pay the price to change”. It may have been a Lenten journal, an interfaith retreat for persons living with HIV/AIDS, Women to Women, Wellstreams, Arti Gras, a gifted spiritual director or retreat leader, an Oasis gathering during COVID, or Maxine Shonk’s “Blessing” books that assisted our searching, thirsting and desire to be transformed and to transform the world for the better.

Or much like the Woman at the Well in Scripture, it may have been a single encounter with a compassionate individual who gifted you with their presence and deep listening, quenching your thirst with the water of new life. Maybe he or she helped you remember your authentic goodness or encouraged you to trust your inner experience. For those of you who don’t know Noreen, it may have been someone else participating in her dream. Although the Spirituality Network has evolved and faced new challenges and new circumstances over the years, Noreen’s dream and vision remain at the heart of who we are and what we do. Awakened, compassionate hearts will certainly transform the world!

I would like to invite you to join me in celebrating the blessing of Noreen’s 90 years of life and her dream of the Spirituality Network that has blossomed for 35 years. Please consider donating to the newly established Noreen Malone, O.P. Compassion Fund. Your gift will provide access for those who need help on their journey to the programs of the Spirituality Network, so that we may continue to touch others’ lives as we have been touched by Noreen’s.

If you are not able to do that, please be guided by the words of Rumi: “Let the beauty of what you love, be what you do”. You would be continuing the dream and I know Noreen would consider that the best birthday gift ever! Happy 90th Noreen!! We are ever grateful for your life, your compassionate mentoring and your legacy.


Posted in Associate Blog, News

11 responses to “A Life Of “Mentoring” Compassion

  1. Thank you, Sharon for this beautiful tribute to our Beloved,
    Sr. Noreen. I can hardly believe it is her 90th birthday. Wow, Noreen, you keep yourself young at heart and it shows. I am grateful for your invitation to be part of the Women to Womens group yet only for a short time due to the Pandemic. I do keep the women in my prayer and am so grateful to Noreen’s compassionate care and helping me in my grief at the death of a dear friend. God bless you abundantly Sharon and Sr. Noreen. Love, Sr. Brigid

  2. Sharon, what a lovely expression to honor the life of Noreen and the contribution she has made. You have captured the quintesence of whe she is and what she is about. Certainly COMPASSION is at the heart of it all. Thank you for giving us a vehicle through which we also can make a contribution that will continue to help bring that quality of COMPASSION to the world in the future.

  3. How do I even begin to express my sincere gratitude for God placing Sr. Noreen Malone in my life as my first spiritual director in 1978. Her kind gentle presence, listening ear and example of God’s unconditional love over the years, stays with me to this day. Happy Birthday, Noreen, and as you always say to me…”May you know God’s peace. Love you dearly!!

  4. Thank you, Sharon, for your thoughtful and meaningful reflection. It is wonderful to remember and honor someone
    like Noreen while they are still living. May this new endeavor bring many blessings to the ministry of the Spirituality Network.

  5. Congratulations Noreen and Happy Birthday. When I was discerning religious life, you were ministering as one of the vocation directors for the Columbus Diocese. And that is where I started my journey of discernment. You were always there to listen and guide me and for that I will be eternally grateful! Love, Sr. Margie

  6. Having worked with Sr. Noreen for many years giving retreats and parish renewals I can attest to the great gift she has been to so many, many people. I for one have such a deep gratitude for having been beside her as she has helped heal so many lives. I hope she can celebrate with joy the lives of the so many she has touched.

  7. This is a perfect way to continue Sr. Noreen’s ministry. She companioned me on my journey and started Well streams which helps me pass on the gift. Well done good and faithful.❤️

  8. What a perfect way to honor my own spiritual mother! She was, and still is, a woman of broad vision and the deepest of compassion. I hope, when I’m 90, to be half the magnificent person she is! Celebrating Noreen!!

  9. When I was a newly ordained Episcopal Priest, Sr. Noreen Malone and Sr. Maxine Shonk were important spiritual guides, mentors and companions to me. – along with dear Fr. Ron Atwood. I offer thanksgiving for their lives and ministries. Through the years the Spirituality Network and the Martin de Porres Center have enhanced the spiritual lives of so many people. Thanks be to God.

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