The Sisters of St. Francis, Clinton, established a new model for leadership of their congregation and elected new members to their general leadership team during their quadrennial meetings in Clinton in late July. They also approved two Chapter directives to guide their efforts in the next four years.
The directives call them to broaden and deepen the outreach of their Franciscan spirituality and their corporate mission of active nonviolence and peacemaking. One commitment is to launch a major educational process/program integrating the Franciscan ideals and way of life and their mission. The other directive concerns expanding their sojourner and associate programs. Sojourners and associates are lay women and men who have made a special covenant with the congregation to live the Clinton Franciscan mission within their own lifestyle. There are currently 73 Associates and seven Sojourners affiliated with the Clinton Franciscans nationwide.
After four days of discussion, the Sisters approved a new model for their elected leaders that was developed during a year-long process of study, discussion and prayer.
Beginning with the installation of their new leadership team on Aug. 26, the Clinton Franciscans will be led by three instead of five officers. Two additional councilors also were elected to fulfill specific requirements of Catholic church law These Canonical councilors will be consulted in specific situations. Elected leaders attend to the common good of the congregation and promote leadership among all the members so as to fulfill the Chapter directives.
Anne Martin Phelan OSF, currently vice president, was elected president. Her full-time responsibilities will begin Sept. 1 and continue for a four-year term. A native of Mingo, Sister Phelan holds a B.S. degree in education from the former Marycrest College, Davenport, and an M.A. in education from DePaul University, Chicago. She taught and served as principal in parish schools in Chicago and Oak Lawn, Ill., Varina, and Freeport, Grand Bahamas, before returning to Clinton to serve as development director for the congregation.
She served on the leadership team from 1988 through 1996 and again from 2008 to the present.
Mary Smith OSF was elected vice president. Under the new leadership model, this will be a full-time position. Sister Smith served previously as president of the congregation from 1981-1988. A native of Lourdes, Sister Smith is a graduate of the former Mount St. Clare Academy, Clinton, and holds a B.A. in music education from the University of Iowa and an M.A. in religious studies from the former Mundelein College, Chicago.
She has done further study at the Franciscan School of Theology, Berkeley, Calif., and at St. Bonaventure University, N.Y. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She has worked primarily in retreat ministry in Clinton and in Portland, Ore.
Eileen Golby OSF was elected to the position of councilor, a part-time position in the new format. A native of Neponset, Ill., Sister Golby holds a B.A. in elementary education from the former Marycrest College, an M.A. in private school administration from the University of San Francisco, Calif., and a Certificate in Pastoral Ministry from Gonzaga University, Washington. She taught and served as principal at parish schools in Chicago Heights, Ill., Perry, El Cajon and Chino, Calif., before serving as pastoral associate at the Neumann Center, Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, and at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Lexington, Ky. She served on the leadership team from 1996 to 2004.
Canonical councilors, who will be consulted on certain matters, are Martinelle Bonnell OSF and Ruth E. Westmoreland OSF.
Bonnell, the academic coach at Ashford University, is a native of Sublette, Ill. She holds a B.S. degree from St. Louis University, Mo., an M.S. in education and counseling from Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, an M.A. in administration of not-for-profit institutions from the University of Notre Dame, Ind., and a Ph.D. in higher education and Franciscan studies from St. Louis University. Her academic career has included serving as teacher and principal in parish and private schools in Iowa, Illinois, Missouri and California and serving as dean of students and academic dean and interim president at the former Mount St. Clare College, Clinton. She also has served in congregational leadership in the past.
Sister Westmoreland, a native of Fort Dodge, is the coordinator of Café on Vine, a meal site in Davenport. A former elementary school teacher, she also served as academic dean and vice president at the former Mount St. Clare College before becoming director of development at Boysville of Michigan and later at the Ennis Center for Children in Pontiac, Mich. From 1998 through 2008 she served Catholic charities of the Joliet, Ill. Diocese as coordinator of parish social ministry, child care coordinator at the Daybreak Center and supervisor at Hope House. She holds a B.A. in elementary education from the former Marycrest College and a Masters of Education from Texas A&M University.
The new leadership model, also encourages more participation by the entire congregation in its work.
The Clinton Franciscans, whose home is the Canticle in Clinton, were founded in 1866 in Gethsemani, Ky. They have maintained their administrative headquarters in Clinton since 1893. They founded the former Mount St. Clare Academy and Mount St. Clare College, now Ashford University, and the Mount St. Clare Speech and Hearing Center.
They founded and continue to operate the Alverno Healthcare Facility in Clinton. Clinton Franciscan sisters minister in seven states and in Peru, South America.