Sister Larraine Lauter will become the seventh Ursuline Sister of Mount Saint Joseph to receive the prestigious Distinguished Alumni Award from Brescia University during its Homecoming ceremony Sept. 19.
Sister Larraine is a 1987 graduate of Brescia and is currently serving as executive director of Water With Blessings, a nonprofit organization that trains mothers in impoverished countries how to filter drinking water for their small communities. Sister Larraine will be honored along with 1970 graduate Michael C. Hagan and 1976 graduate Kevin J. Connelly.
“It’s a beautiful thing,” Sister Larraine said. “It gives me a chance to raise awareness of God’s thirsty children and the mission of Water With Blessings.” She will be in attendance to receive the award.
Sister Vivian Bowles received the award last year. She joined Sister Ruth Gehres, Sister Michele Morek, Sister Joseph Angela Boone, Sister Rose Marita O’Bryan and Sister Dianna Ortiz as Ursulines named as Distinguished Alumni. Ursuline Associate Mary Danhauer also received the award.
The Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest award the university bestows and is the only award that Brescia University bestows upon its alumni. The ceremony takes place at 7 p.m. Sept. 19 in Owensboro’s RiverPark Center as part of Homecoming week at Brescia, the only Catholic university in the Diocese of Owensboro.
The Distinguished Alumni Award honors those graduates who exemplify the elements that encompass The Brescia Difference: Respect for the Sacred, Devotion to Learning, Commitment to Growth in Virtue and Promotion of Servant Leadership. Because of the breadth and scope of their life’s work, the magnitude of their impact on the regional, national and often international scene and their examples of service and leadership, alumni who receive this esteemed honor have distinguished themselves among their peers and demonstrated that they are true stars of Brescia.
Sister Larraine graduated from Mount Saint Joseph Academy in 1977 and entered the novitiate with the Ursuline Sisters in 1979. She’s the last graduate of the Academy to become a sister, and she was the last of the current sisters to enter as a teenager.
She received her degree from Brescia with a double major in fine arts and education, which led to her first career as an art teacher for 10 years. She had a good experience at Brescia, she said.
“Both the departments were very strong, very demanding in a good way,” she said. “They had high expectations and the small class size was always a plus.”
She would stress to current students the importance of a liberal arts education.
“It literally liberates you, it gives you a broad base,” she said. “Even though you may be preparing for a particular career, you never know what God has in store for you. A liberal arts education is critical for that. I certainly had no plans to lead a nonprofit organization dealing with clean water.”
Following her teaching career, Sister Larraine earned a master’s degree in theology from St. Meinrad School of Theology and became a pastoral associate, liturgist and musician. In 2002 she started Migrant Immigrant Shelter & Support, offering housing and support to migrant farm workers in Owensboro. She led that until 2006, when she moved to Louisville to care for her dying mother, and got involved in Hispanic ministry at the Church of the Epiphany. She was minister for social responsibility at the church until 2012, when she became fully involved in Water With Blessings, which is headquartered in Louisville.
She had been traveling to Honduras twice a year with a medical mission team, and she and her companions were frustrated by the number of children who were ill due to contaminated drinking water. Their efforts led to the creation of Water With Blessings, which raises money to purchase the Sawyer PointONE filtration system, an affordable, reliable method of cleaning water with only a filter and a bucket. The filter removes 99.9999 percent of the bacteria, and results show the children where it’s used are no longer getting dysentery or parasites.
The organization prayerfully selects “Water Women” to be trained with the filters and to promise to clean water for more than just their family. There are now 8,500 Water Women in 30 countries in Africa, South America, Central America and Asia.
Tickets for the Distinguished Alumni program must be purchased in advance for $40. For more information, contact Senior Director of Alumni and Donor Relations Mike Goetz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 270.686.2111.