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Prioress Patricia Siemen, OP, Gains Greater Global View from Term on UISG
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September 14, 2020, Adrian, Michigan – For the past three years, Adrian Dominican Prioress Patricia Siemen, OP, has played a special role in a canonical network of Catholic Sisters throughout the world. Her term as delegate for the United States, North America Constellation 3 of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) has given her a greater sense of global needs and responses – and a profound appreciation of the commitment of Catholic Sisters throughout the world.

“The greatest takeaway is that there is an extraordinary organization in Rome that represents the interests of congregations globally,” Sister Patricia said. The congregations of women religious around the world “differ very much from one another, but I found a commonality in mission, to live religious life authentically, to be in solidarity with those who are most vulnerable, and to share the charism of religious life globally with each other.”

As a delegate, Sister Patricia had opportunities to meet with Sisters from other nations – and from throughout the United States. For the past three years, she has served in leadership at the regional and global level with the other U.S. delegate, Sister Constance Phelps, SCL, Community Director of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, Kansas. Both were elected in 2017 and completed their term in August 2020. 

The UISG offers an opportunity every third year for the Major Superiors of all member women’s congregations throughout the world to gather. The most recent general assembly was May 6-10, 2019, in Rome. About 820 Major Superiors from 80 communities attended that meeting under the theme “Sowers of Prophetic Hope.” As a delegate, Sister Patricia helped to plan the event.

The plenary gatherings offer the opportunity to “learn the story of women religious from other cultures and other countries and a chance to support each other and to be formed,” Sister Patricia said. “It is a forum for women religious to meet and share on issues of religious life.” 

The United States Constellation is one of 37 constellations in the UISG structure, each based on regions of continents and each represented by one or two delegates. The U.S. Constellation represents 143 congregations of women religious. Membership in the UISG is made up of the Major Superior – in the case of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, the Prioress – of each member congregation. 

“The delegates form an international council,” Sister Patricia explained. “We are available to advise or be consulted by the UISG office in Rome in matters regarding religious life.”  The UISG has its own board, which consults with the office on a regular basis, she said.

Sister Patricia attended the November 2017 international delegates meeting in Manila, the Philippines, which drew about 46 delegates to discuss and learn about interculturation. “It’s becoming a global institute for leadership on canonical issues and formation,” Sister Patricia said. The meeting also serves as a “forum for women religious to meet and share on issues of religious life.” 

“I have learned from Sister delegates the common commitment to meeting the needs of the people of God, wherever they are,” Sister Patricia said. “I have learned the incredible resiliency and joy that Sisters from other countries exhibit, and their commitment to the Sisters and to the people they serve. I benefitted tremendously from [interacting with] people from different cultural and racial backgrounds and identities.” 

The delegates also convene an annual meeting of all Superiors General in their own Constellation. Members of the U.S. Constellation usually gather the day after the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) assembly, Sister Patricia explained. 

Sister Patricia and Sister Constance worked together on the agenda for this year’s August 15 gathering of the United States Constellation, highlighting care for Earth and updating members on the work of the UISG. 

The Zoom call technology was arranged by the Communications and Technology Departments of the Adrian Dominican Sisters. Brad McCullar, Director of Technology, and Sheila Wathen, Assistant Director of Communications, did “yeo-people’s work in getting this organized,” Sister Patricia said. She also gave credit to her assistant, Mary Weeber, and Sister Constance’s assistant, Pamela Logan, for the “behind-the-scenes organizing.”

During their service together as delegates, Sisters Patricia and Constance strove to increase the connection and conversations between the UISG and the LCWR. “LCWR’s mission is to attend to the needs of the elected leadership in the U.S., but there are so many common commitments [between the two groups] – to the environment, anti-human trafficking, protection of girls and women,” Sister Patricia said. “When we can build those connections globally, it enhances the work that we can do locally.”

Just as the Adrian Dominican Congregation served the needs of the Constellation, Sister Patricia said that her service as delegate benefitted the Congregation tremendously. Serving as a delegate “gave me a wider global view,” she said. “Congregational leadership isn’t only about the Congregation because we live in a wider world.”


Feature photo: Sisters Constance Phelps, SCL, left, and Patricia Siemen, OP, delegates for the U.S. Constellation, stand outside the retreat house during the UISG international delegates meeting in Manila in November 2017.

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