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May 5, 2021, Adrian, Michigan – Sister Judith Friedel, OP, was named Chapter Prioress of the Congregation’s Holy Rosary Mission Chapter based in Adrian, Michigan. As of July 1, 2021, she will work with Sister Sharon Spanbauer, OP, Mission Prioress, in ministering with many of the Sisters who reside at the Dominican Life Center. 

Sister Judy succeeds Sister Patricia Dulka, OP, who has served as Chapter Prioress of Holy Rosary since January 2016 and, before that, as Chapter Prioress of the Dominican Midwest Chapter – based in Chicago – from 2008 to 2014. 

Sister Judy was one of four Sisters who had offered themselves to minister as Chapter Prioress. In the formal announcement, Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress of the Congregation, noted the gratitude of herself and the General Council to Sister Judy and the other women who “generously offered themselves to serve.”

After learning of her appointment, Sister Judy said, “I would describe my reaction as shock.” She learned of her selection during an April 29, 2021, telephone conversation with Sister Patricia and had not expected to be chosen as the next Chapter Prioress. However, she said, “I trust the Spirit and I felt the guidance of the Spirit.”

“I really believe God led me on a path” from one ministry to the next, Sister Judy said. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, and a graduate of Hoban Dominican High School in Cleveland – where she was taught by Adrian Dominican Sisters – Sister Judy entered the Congregation in 1963. 

Sister Judy holds a bachelor’s degree in English with minors in mathematics and science from Siena Heights College (University) in Adrian; a master’s degree in religious education from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas; and a graduate certificate in spiritual direction from Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, Missouri.

Sister Judy said she spent most of her years in education at the junior high school and high school levels and at one point coached girls’ basketball, volleyball, and softball at the junior high school level. She taught in Hayward, California, and in Melbourne and St. Petersburg, Florida. In addition, she ministered as a youth minister in Tucson, Arizona, and in North Olmsted, Ohio. She rounded out her education experience as Spiritual Activities Director for four years at St. Christopher School in Rocky River Ohio.

Led by God, Sister Judy said, her heart was “drawn towards the spiritual.” After her years in the classroom, she took a year of study to pursue spiritual direction. She began to offer spiritual programs and individual spiritual direction in parishes and, when an opening in pastoral ministry came up at St. Brendan Parish in North Olmsted, Ohio, she took advantage of the opportunity and ministered there for 11 years. Her ministries there included coordinating various parish commissions, making visitations to the hospital, setting up teams of Eucharistic ministers to serve two nursing homes in her parish, and offering spiritual direction.

After retiring from St. Brendan, Sister Judy continued to visit the nursing homes, offered spiritual direction, and led days of reflection at local retreat centers.

Sister Judy said she will bring all of the skills she learned in her ministries to her new position at Holy Rosary Chapter, but particularly what she learned in pastoral ministry. “I see myself as a companion, walking with people,” she said. “I think human connection is so important. I never see myself in a role. I offer who I am and the gifts I have.” 

From her experience in pastoral ministry, Sister Judy added, she knows she will be blessed in turn by the Sisters of Holy Rosary. “I know without a doubt that I’ll be receiving more than I ever hope to give,” she said. “I will do a lot of listening and learning and being blessed by them.”

Sister Judy has a special message for the Sisters she will serve as Chapter Prioress. “I hope that we can help each other ponder the blessings and learnings we have all gathered during these pandemic times, for there are many,” she said. “I thank you for your trust in me and I count on your continued prayers for a smooth transition into this new ministry. I am looking forward to being among you, befriending you, and accompanying you on your daily journeys. With God’s grace, we will bless and uplift each other in our daily interactions.” 

April 29, 2021, Adrian, Michigan – Lisa Schell, Archivist of the Adrian Dominican Congregation, was recently elected Vice President and President-Elect of the Archivists for Congregations of Women Religious (ACWR), a professional organization of about 350 archivists serving congregations of Sisters in the United States.

“It’s pretty exciting and quite unexpected,” Lisa said in an interview, noting that she has been a member of the ACWR only a short time. Her first year in leadership will involve getting to know board members, serving in a supportive role, and “learning the lay of the land,” she said, adding that she appreciates the chance to spend a year gaining a better understanding organization and archivists’ needs. Next year, she will serve as President, and the following year as Past-President, when she will again take on a supportive role. 

Lisa is also co-leader of a specialized group of archivists serving Dominican Congregations, helping to lead the monthly meetings and an annual summit. She hosted the first Summit at the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse in September 2019.

Lisa Schell gives a presentation during the first Dominican Archivists Summit, September 2019.

Professional Background
Lisa began working with Adrian Dominican Sisters in 2018, bringing a great love for history and for women’s studies. Her love for history, she said, is related to her love for telling stories. “I had a grandfather who was a survivor of the work camps in World War II,” she said. “I come from a family of story tellers. I remember listening to his stories and being so fascinated by the life he led.” 

Lisa lived out this love for history in part as a high school history teacher, but after 15 years, she felt that her teaching career had “run its course.” She earned a Master of Library and Information Science degree and certificates in Archival Administration and Records Management from Wayne State University in Detroit and worked as a corporate archivist for eight years before beginning her work with the Adrian Dominican Sisters.  

With her interest in history and women’s studies, Lisa said, working as the Archivist for the Congregation is a good fit for her. “I get to capture history and work with women and tell women’s stories, and that’s the best of things for me,” she said. She focuses on the stories of the individual Sisters, their ministries, and the history of the Congregation. 

Roles of an Archivist
As Archivist, Lisa has many roles. She frequently receives questions about the history of the Congregation, especially as it relates to current events. For example, in the past year she has been asked about how many Sisters we lost during the 1918 pandemic and how the Congregation leadership responded to the pandemic, about the involvement of Sisters in the campaign to allow women to vote, and about rumors of the Ku Klux Klan burning a cross on the Motherhouse campus. “We contribute to the national story of what was going on in America at that time – the racial tensions and violence,” she said.

But a major part of her service, Lisa said, is preserving the stories from current events. “Many people think of archives as saving the old stuff, but history is happening now,” she said. “We have to be really strategic about the material we keep. Keeping the new stuff is really about predicting what is going to be important years from now.”  

Lisa’s focus recently has been on the Sisters’ responses to the Black Lives Matter issue, the coronavirus pandemic, and other issues that confront society today. “That is the most important thing that I can offer this community, to reinforce the idea that we need to be saving for the future legacy, these mini-time capsules that come to us,” she explained.

Lisa also hopes to work on some of the “holes” in the history of the Adrian Dominican Congregation and the ways that that history can benefit other organizations, such as colleges, universities, and businesses. “There are a lot of really great untold stories,” Lisa said. “How do women govern themselves? Who are some of the ‘heavy hitters’ that haven’t been written about? There’s a lot of content there.” 

Lisa also sees herself as a guide to other congregations, to help them create professional archives. “Some congregations can’t afford to hire a professional archivist,” she noted. “How can we serve as a resource to Sisters who serve as archivists but don’t have a professional background?” 

Looking to the Future
Lisa feels a sense of urgency in offering outreach from the ACWR to congregations of religious Sisters whose leaders make up the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). 

The leaders of the ACWR are trying to encourage LCWR members to focus on their community’s archives, making sound decisions before some of them come to fulfillment and as forms of religious life change in the future. “We want to make sure that LCWR is thinking about this way in advance, knowing that we’re here to help,” she said.

Lisa’s hope is to reach out to institutions like colleges that offer women’s study programs and recruit students involved in master’s or doctoral work to gather first-hand stories from the Sisters. “Only Sisters can tell their stories, but lay people can preserve them,” she said. “We need to get the first-hand accounts as soon as we can because that history will not be as available in the next 10 to 20 years.”

Finally, Lisa sees herself taking an active role in shaping the archive and the sense of history of the Adrian Dominican Sisters as the Congregation looks to the future of religious life. “I’m here to shepherd that content and make sure it’s safe and confidentially protected – and yet [provide others with] access to what can be shared.” Adrian Dominican Sisters have always been blessed, and we try to share with others, she said.



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