Sister Cathy White, S.P., the founding director of the Diocesan Office of Child and Youth Protection, passed away January 21 from complications of COVID-19. A Sister of Providence of St. Mary of the Wood, she was 73 years old.
“We will miss her and entrust her now to our Provident God, the giver of all life who we know welcomes her into paradise,” wrote Sister Marilu Covani, SP, a longtime minister in the Diocese and a fellow Sister of Providence.
Sr. Cathy came to the Diocese in 2004 after decades of ministry in Catholic education. Her persistence and tenacity made her an ideal person to ensure that parishes, schools and diocesan ministries were following the Diocese’s extensive Safe Environment policy that was developed in the wake of the clergy sexual abuse scandal.
“This was another way of helping kids,” Sr. Cathy said in 2018 of her ministerial journey from Catholic schools to the Office of Child and Youth Protection.
In 2018, Sr. Cathy, along with her staff in the Office of Child and Youth Protection, received Bishop Gerald Barnes’ Amar Es Entregarse Award.
“Sister Cathy and her staff must be both vigilant and compassionate in the carrying out of this ministry,” Bishop Barnes said upon conferring the award. “They are able to hold this balance with what I would call ‘graceful firmness.’ ”
In addition to her work in Child and Youth Protection, Sr. Cathy helped to coordinate the Diocesan Ministry to Family and Friends of Gay and Lesbian Catholics. She could also be counted on to select and lead the music at daily Mass in the Diocesan Pastoral Center.
Health concerns led to her retirement from diocesan ministry in 2018 and she relocated to the Motherhouse of her religious community in Indiana.
Before entering her Congregation, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Immaculata College in Pennsylvania and after moving to Oklahoma, earned a master’s degrees from Oklahoma City University. Having taught middle school and also served as principal in Oklahoma for 15 years, she entered the Sisters of Providence on August 14, 1984 and professed Final Vows on August 15, 1992. Of her 37 years as a Sister of Providence, she gave three years of service as pastoral associate at St. Agnes Church in Evansville, IN and then ministered in education for ten years in two schools in California. She served as director of the South Central Los Angeles Ministry Project for three years, a center whose first goal is to empower women to advocate for themselves, their children and families.
Sister Cathy is survived by a brother, John E. White of Holtwood, PA, and two sisters, Frances Adams of West Chester, PA and Sarah E. W. Goose of Parksburg, PA.