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May 11, 2021, Adrian, Michigan – Sister Elise D. García, OP, General Councilor of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, and Angie Kessler, Director of Communications, were part of a six-member panel of leaders and communicators of congregations of U.S. Sisters who spoke on successful collaboration between practitioners of the two disciplines. Angie succeeded Sister Elise, who was Director of Communications before she was elected to the General Council in 2016.

From left: Sister Elise D. García, OP, and Angie Kessler

The webinar, Successful Collaboration between Communicators and Leadership, was offered May 3, 2021, and sponsored by Communicators of Women Religious (CWR) and the International Union of Superiors General (UISG).  

Other panelists were Sister Eileen McKenzie, FSPA, President, and Jane Comeau, Communications Director of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration of La Crosse, Wisconsin, and Sisters Rebecca Ann Gemma, OP, Prioress General, and Beth Murphy, OP, Communications Director of the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Illinois.

The webinar focused on best practices, success stories, and challenges in collaboration. Sister Elise noted one success story for the Adrian Dominican Sisters is the ability of the General Council to issue statements on a broad range of issues. Once the General Council has agreed on a statement, she said, it relies on the Communications team to prepare it for release and to get it out to media outlets and on social media. 

Occasionally, Sister Elise added, Angie suggests a topic or issue on which the General Council might want to issue a statement. “That’s a huge help because it means we’re all attuned and have our ears to the ground to issues of importance to our world and to our congregation,” Sister Elise said.

Angie noted that one component to successful collaboration is respect, specifically the General Council’s treatment of the Communications team as partners. “I know many times communication can be seen as a tool, but we are really seen as a partner in the mission of the Adrian Dominican Sisters,” Angie said. “That means being at the table, being part of the planning process, which gives us a broad understanding of the issue that we’re trying to create a message for.”

In discussing the challenges they face, Sister Elise noted the “incredible pace at which we’re working across the board.” Both she and Angie spoke of the importance of taking the time to study new forms of communication and to plan the best way to reach each audience with the various means of communication, from bulletin boards to electronic media and new forms of social media. The best practice to face that challenge, Angie said, is to “think through everything very carefully … making sure we’re doing the communicating as we need to, in a timely way, but also making sure that everything is communicated well.”

The panelists also discussed the role of trust and confidentiality in their successful collaboration and shared stories on challenging efforts, such as sharing a difficult message about the Congregation’s past in a way that was transparent and honest.

Watch the recording of Successful Collaboration between Communicators and Leadership.


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.” 


 

 

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