On April 28 the Dominican Sisters of Springfield capped a week of common study, prayer and contemplation — called a General Chapter — by electing to leadership the sisters who will animate their common life and mission for the coming five years. Earlier during the meeting, they signaled the direction for ministry for the coming five years by affirming A Prayer for the Life of the World.
Re-elected as prioress general of the congregation is Sister Rebecca Ann Gemma, OP, who has led the Springfield Dominican Sisters during the 2014-2019 term. Sister Rose Miriam Schulte, OP, was elected as vicaress, and Sisters Mila Diaz Solano, OP, and Marie Michelle Hackett, OP, will serve as second and third councilors.
Sister Rebecca Ann has been in a ministry of congregational leadership since 2005 when she was elected to the general council. She served two terms as a council member before being elected prioress general in 2014. A native of Van Nuys, Calif., Sister Rebecca Ann ministered in elementary education as a teacher and a principal before becoming a licensed social worker. She worked in Springfield for the Rape Information Counseling Service and as a social worker at the Dominican Literacy Center, Aurora.
Sister Rose Miriam is returning to congregational leadership, now as vicaress of the Springfield Dominicans. The Quincy native had a long career in elementary education and administration before her election as prioress general of the congregation in 1989. She served two terms in leadership which ended in 1997, then completed a dual master’s degree in pastoral studies and counseling at Loyola University, New Orleans. For the past 19 years she has ministered in Madison County, as a child and family therapist through Catholic Charities.
Sister Mila, a native of La Oroya, Peru, made profession in 1998 and is nearing completion of her doctoral studies in Old Testament at the École Biblique et Archéologique Française de Jérusalem, a biblical studies and archeological institute in Jerusalem. She has worked in pastoral ministry in Lima, Peru, and completed a master’s in theological research at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago. She currently resides in Lima where she teaches Scripture at ISET, a graduate school of theology, while ministering at Instituto Bartolomé de las Casas, a Christian human development organization founded by Dominican theologian Gustavo Gutiérrez.
Sister Marie Michelle, is a veteran educator, having just completed 28 years of administration at St. Edward School, Chicago. She currently serves as a consultant to parochial school administrators in the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Office of Catholic Education. The Chicago native holds multiple degrees and certificates in education, including a master’s in nonpublic education administration from the University of Illinois. She is deeply engaged with collaborative projects within the U.S. Dominican family.
Installation for the new leadership team is scheduled for June 15. They will carry on the work of the outgoing team, which includes Sister Rebecca Ann and Sisters Barbara Blesse, Kathlyn Mulcahy, Kathleen Cour, and Kathleen Gallagher. A celebration of thanksgiving for the outgoing team is planned for June 14.
The Dominican Sisters of Springfield are part of a worldwide Dominican family, the Order of Preachers. For more than 800 years, Dominicans have preached the Gospel in word and deed. The Springfield Dominicans were established in Jacksonville, in 1873 and relocated to Springfield in 1893. Today, thousands of Dominican sisters, nuns, priests, brothers, associates, and laity minister in more than 100 countries around the world.