Frontier Nursing University (FNU), located in Versailles, Ky., recently announced its annual award recipients. These awards are presented to FNU alumni who have gone on to make significant contributions to their communities or to the university. Among those honored was Sister Christine Schenk, CSJ, CNM, FNP, of Cleveland, Ohio. Sister Schenk was awarded the Distinguished Service to Society Award. This award honors a graduate who goes above and beyond to provide exceptional service in their communities.
“We are very proud that so many of our alumni not only go on to play such important roles in their communities but also value the work that Frontier is doing and choose to give back to the university as instructors and leaders,” said FNU President Dr. Susan Stone, CNM, DNSc, FAAN, FACNM. “It is amazing how many deserving individuals are nominated for these annual awards, and we extend our gratitude and congratulations to all of this year’s winners.”
Sister Christine Schenk CSJ attended the Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing (now known as Frontier Nursing University) in preparation to take the National Midwifery examination. She graduated in 1976 as a family nurse-midwife, having completed the course and clinical work to be a family nurse practitioner as well as a nurse-midwife. She was part of the first group to take the national certification exams ever offered to become a nurse practitioner. She came to Frontier having already obtained a Master’s Degree in Nursing.
She left Frontier after finishing her degree but returned a year later to teach. During this time she successfully worked to get a law passed that permitted nurse practitioners to write prescriptions for antibiotics and low-dose painkillers.
In 1980 she helped to organize a statewide coalition to expand Medicaid coverage to include pregnant low-income women and their children. In the book Unruly Catholic Nuns: Sisters Stories, she speaks about her work getting the Nurse Practice Act passed in Kentucky. She also details her efforts in Ohio, where she worked in Cleveland as a nurse-midwife for 20 years and helped obtain Medicaid coverage for low-income women through the Prenatal Investment Program.
Sister Christine has a Master’s degree in theology with distinction from St. Mary’s Seminary and Graduate School of Theology in Cleveland, a Master’s from Boston College, and a BSN Magna Cum Laude from Georgetown University.
From 1990 to 2013 she served as the Executive Director of FutureChurch, a national coalition of parish-centered Catholics working for full participation of all Catholics in the life of the Church. Sister Christine is one of three nuns whose work was featured in the award-winning documentary “Radical Grace” (2015).
Her 2017 book Crispina and Her Sisters: Women and Authority in Early Christianity was awarded first place in History by the Catholic Press Association.
Sister Christine has been interviewed by major media outlets including the PBS NewsHour, World News with Diane Sawyer, CBS Sunday Morning, National Public Radio, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox cable channels, and quoted in major feature stories on Mary of Magdala and women in the Bible by both Time and Newsweek.