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Congregation changes leadership

Ashley Sanders | Wednesday, September 1, 2004

The Sisters of the Holy Cross welcomed new leadership on Sunday at the swearing-in of order president Sister Joy O’Grady and four other members. The ceremony, which took place during Sunday Mass at the Church of Our Lady of Loretto on the Saint Mary’s campus, marked the addition of Sister Ruth Marie Nickerson, Sister Geraldine Hoyler, Sister Mary Louise Full and Sister Pusha Teresa Gomes to the community’s leadership. The five new members were selected at the community’s general chapter meeting last month, where they laid out the Sisters’ direction for the future.Nickerson, who previously served as president and chief executive officer of Saint Agnes Medical Center in Fresno, Calif., for 20 years, was elected as First Councilor. She will be joined by Hoyler in the General Treasurer post. Hoyler was president of finance and treasury for Catholic Health Initiatives in Denver for the past eight years.Full was elected to the community’s general secretary position, and formerly served as an area coordinator for the Holy Cross sisters in the southern United States and Mexico. Gomes, who was novice director for the Sisters in Deepaneeta, Dkaka, Bangladesh, will serve as first councilor.O’Grady said that the congregation desires to become “a witness to unity in a world that we experience divided by extremes and domination.” They will go about accomplishing this objective, she said, by “making good decisions through the lens of the Gospel” so that the “voices of people in situations that aren’t heard” can “discover and use their own power.” O’Grady, who has been a part of the Holy Cross congregation since 1970, has focused her work on individual, family and marital counseling for almost 30 years. A Saint Mary’s graduate who went on to pursue a master’s degree in social work at the University of Michigan, she now serves as a therapist in private practice in South Bend.She is “humbled and excited to serve the Sisters in this capacity for the next five years,” she said, and hopes to continue the work of the previous administration. The persistent mission of the community, she said is to “promote non-violent systematic change through pray, words and action.”The congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross is the founding sponsor of Saint Mary’s and originated in the 19th century in Le Mans, France. Today, the congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross is an international community with members in eight countries and on four continents. The community focuses on ministries of community building, addressing the causes and concerns of poverty, and ending gender discrimination against women.