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August 19, 2020, Chicago – Associate Carol Fowler received third place recognition from the Catholic Press Association (CPA) in the category of Church Professional books for her 2019 book, Human Resources: Best Practices in Church Management.

“Good management is not just desirable – it is essential to upholding the dignity and rights of those who serve the Church as employees or volunteers,” CPA judges wrote in awarding third place to Carol’s book. “The issues which arise in various circumstances are explored in clear language. A bibliography, glossary, and index add to the utility of this manual.”

The award was announced by the CPA during its annual conference – held virtually this year in late June. The book was submitted by Paulist Press and was part of a series of books sponsored by Villanova University. The foreword was written by Sister Donna Markham, OP, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA and former Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters. 

Carol said she was surprised and pleased by the award, but she hopes that the award will make people more aware of her book. “Anything I can do that would get pastors and business managers of parishes especially to pay attention to how they’re working with and treating their staff is what I want to be able to do.”

During the pandemic, human resources issues are critical, especially for Catholic parishes and other nonprofit organizations, Carol said. “Because of the pandemic and the finances of parishes, so many managers think that their only solution is to let go of the staff,” she said. “That’s not a good solution. It’s a time of very high unemployment, so to let people go if you don’t have to is tragic.” 

Since COVID-19 began, Carol said, she has conducted two webinars on how to help parish personnel deal with the financial crunch without laying off their employees. She suggested “repurposing” the staff for the time being, for example, while churches remain closed. She added that parishes might benefit from another round of federal grants to help businesses with their payroll.

Now retired, Carol drew on 26 years of experience in human resources work with the Archdiocese of Chicago in writing the book. While serving as Director of Campus Ministry for the Archdiocese, she was invited by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin’s office to apply for the job of Director of Personnel Services. Carol was given the position and, through professional studies, became a certified professional in human resources services.

“Professions and books don’t happen in a vacuum,” Carol said. “The Adrian Dominicans and so many colleagues at the Archdiocese of Chicago have made this book possible.” She gave credit to Dan Gast, a longtime colleague at the Archdiocese of Chicago, and to Peter Gilmour, Professor Emeritus of Loyola Institute of Pastoral Studies. In addition, she noted that Sister Donna had strongly encouraged her to write the book.

“The Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates are so critical to who I am and to my identity and my formation,” Carol added. Her formation as an Adrian Dominican Sister in social justice and Catholic social teaching were also key to her book and to her life’s work as a human resources professional. “It all starts with who I am as an Adrian Dominican,” she said.


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June 9, 2020, West Palm Beach, Florida – Sister Donna Baker, OP, long-time teacher and administrator at Rosarian Academy, received the prestigious Rose and Torch Award from the school during its virtual graduation ceremony.

The Rose and Torch Award is presented to an individual who has contributed exemplary service to Rosarian Academy. Through faith and commitment to the common good, the recipient rises above daily challenges and perseveres for the good of others.

In presenting the award, Linda Trethewey, Head of School, described Sister Donna as one who “dedicated her life to the Dominican tradition of preaching through prayer, study, common life, and ministry” and who strove to live out the Adrian Dominican Vision: “Seek truth; make peace; reverence life.” 

Sister Donna ministered for 16 years at Rosarian Academy: first as English and religion teacher in grades 6 to 8; as coordinator of the school’s chapter of the National Junior Honor Society; committee chair for the school’s accreditation process; and facilitator for religious education and mission development. She then served in administration, as assistant principal, director of the middle school, and as principal of the middle school. It was a surprise diagnosis of bone cancer that abruptly ended her career at Rosarian Academy.

Sister Donna Baker, OP, congratulates an inductee into Rosarian Academy’s National Junior Honors Society chapter during an April 2016 ceremony. Photo by Cara Hansen, File Photo

Sister Donna said she learned about receiving the award only a few minutes before it was presented, as she and Sister Mary Ann Caulfield, OP, Chapter Prioress of the Florida Mission Chapter, sat with her for the Zoom presentation. “She kept telling me I might want to look nice,” Sister Donna recalled, and finally told her about the award.

“I think my first reaction was shock,” Sister Donna said. “I never thought about it. I was speechless. It still hasn’t settled with me.” She added that the Rose and Torch Award is the most prestigious award granted by Rosarian Academy. 

“I looked forward to every day” at Rosarian, Sister Donna said. “I looked forward to meeting the students in the morning, their activities, the camaraderie.” As an administrator, she said, she worked as part of a team with the other administrators.

Sister Donna said she especially loved watching the students’ participation in liturgies, plays, and other activities. She particularly enjoyed Field Day, when the students were divided into teams. “I enjoyed the competition and loved cheering for my team.” 

But Sister Donna said she also faced challenges. “As a teacher, you want to do the best for each of the students, to meet each child where they were, and it was difficult,” she said. “I often felt there was more I could do.” 

Along with classwork, Sister Donna focused on the kinds of people her students would become. “I often told them, ‘You are our future. Do your best and accomplish what you can,’” she said. “I also often told them to keep God in their lives – don’t ever stray too far away from God.”

Sister Donna was inspired to become an Adrian Dominican Sister and a teacher by Sister Rose Patrick Conroy, OP, her first-grade teacher at St. Agatha in Redford, Michigan. “She was a great influence on my life – in my vocation and my career,” Sister Donna said. “All I ever wanted to do was teach and become an Adrian Dominican Sister because of the influence of Sister Rose Patrick.”

Sister Donna has had a positive influence on her students, who were constantly reminded of Rosarian Academy’s mission statement to live the Gospel values.

Watch this video of Rosarian Academy’s virtual graduation. The Rose and Torch Award presentation can be found at about 15 minutes into the video.

 

The Rosarian Academy Class of 2020 stands six feet apart on the Oakley Gage Debbs Memorial Field in honor of their late classmate. Photo by David Scarola Photography


 

 

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