Lwanga Center honors sister, associate

The St. Charles Lwanga Center in St. Louis is honoring both Sister Barbara Moore and Associate Corliss Cox with a Lifetime Achievement Award. The Lwanga Center works to promote Christian spiritual formation and leadership development within the African-American Catholic Community.

“Both women have been trailblazers in their fields. Both are inspirations to their community,” says Rev. Arthur Cavitt, executive director of the Lwanga Center.

The CSJs have a long-standing relationship with Lwanga, present since the inception of the center in 1978. Sister Liz Peplow (1937-2011) played an integral part in the center’s development and served as its first executive director. Sister Barbara and Corliss uphold this legacy today.

“We’re thrilled as province leaders to have two of our Sisters of St. Joseph and Associates recognized with this wonderful honor from the Lwanga Center,” says Sister Rita Schmitz. “I’m just very proud of both of them, and they represent us so well.”

Sister Barbara Moore has been a champion for justice and systemic change as a nurse, an educator, an advocate and a leader. She is being honored not only for her historical contributions, but for her ongoing contributions to the African-American community as well. “This honor is a celebration of her longevity,” says Fr. Art. “It’s inspirational for us and for the youth who need to know about her.”

Well known for her presence as a woman religious marching with the “Sisters of Selma” in the civil rights marches in Alabama in 1965, she also broke barriers in the Sisters of St. Joseph community as the first African-American sister to enter the congregation in 1956. She continues to serve on several boards and in a variety of volunteer and service activities that lift up African-Americans, especially women.

One of these organizations is the Nia Kuumba Center in St. Louis, a spirituality center for women of African and African-American descent. Associate Ruby Douthet, Nia Kuumba’s coordinator of religious education, says that Sister Barbara’s leadership as president of Nia Kuumba’s board has been the “rock” of the organization, especially through some recent turnover. “It’s through her influence and guidance that our mission is still going on.”

Another is Microfinancing Partners in Africa, which partners with grassroots organizations in East Africa to lift people out of poverty with a variety of projects. She has been a part of MPA since it began more than 20 years ago. MPA Executive Director Heather Cammarata says that from advocating for grants to stuffing envelopes, S. Barbara is always there for guidance and support. “She’s a shining star that lifts other people up,” Heather says. “I can’t imagine a more deserving person for this award.”

Associate Corliss Cox, a CSJ Associate since 2008, has been a dynamic leader for African-American youth. She has organized programs that have touched their hearts, allowing them opportunities for faith and personal development with caring adults and peer-to-peer support.

After leaving corporate America in 1985, Corliss joined the youth ministry team of the Ujima Youth Program of the Catholic Youth Council. In 1997, she joined the staff of the Lwanga Center as youth ministry coordinator, retiring in 2014. “Corliss has inspired a lot of youth from around the Archdiocese,” says Fr. Art. “The Lwanga Center reaches out, something she has helped us to facilitate.”

Corliss “reached out” by creating innovative opportunities such as the Kujenga African-American Youth Leadership Conference, and Fallible Human Beings, a spiritual enhancement program she developed in conjunction with the CSJ vocation office. She even had a radio program with the high schoolers called, “Let’s Talk Catholic.”

Associate Ruby Douthet, who has known Corliss since her own adult daughter was a child in one of Corliss’ confirmation retreat programs, says, “Corliss is an inspiration because she sees the potential in our young people. She sees the future in them.”


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