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Meet the Congregation leadership

This article is reprinted from fall 2006 issue of HOPE.

Sister Denise Wilkinson, who served as the Congregation’s vicar (the general officer who assumes leadership in the absence of the general superior) the past five years, has been elected as the new general superior of the Sisters of Providence. She will succeed Sister Ann Margaret O’Hara, who has served as general superior the past five years. Sister Ann Margaret chose not to seek re-election.

Sister Denise was elected during the Chapter of Elections in July, which took place after the Chapter of Affairs was completed.

Elected to the Congregation’s General Council were Sister Marsha Speth, vicar and first general councilor; Sister Jane Marie Osterholt, second councilor; Sister Nancy Reynolds, third councilor; Sister Marie McCarthy, fourth councilor, and Sister Paula Damiano, fifth councilor. All but Sister Jane Marie were re-elected to their second five-year term. The officers-elect will be installed during a Eucharistic Liturgy Sept. 9.

“This is an important time in our history. The women who were elected with me are the right women for the next five years. We made some important decisions during our Chapter and I look forward with excitement and enthusiasm to carrying them out,” Sister Denise said.

“It is very, very humbling to stand in front of the Congregation and know that you have their blessing and their confidence. Some of these women have been my teachers, my mentors and my friends for years and years and years. To be trusted by them is humbling, touching, overwhelming,” she concluded.

Sister Denise is a native of Chicago. She graduated from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College with a bachelor’s degree in English. She received a master’s degree in counseling from Saint Louis University. Prior to being elected to the General Council in 2001, Sister Denise served as director of the Mission Advancement office. This office, at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, oversees development, marketing and communications for the Sisters of Providence.

Sister Marsha Speth is a native of Vincennes, Ind. She graduated from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College with a bachelor’s degree in education. She received a master’s degree in religious education from Seattle University. She has served the past five years as a general councilor for the Congregation. Previously, she served as pastoral associate for St. Lawrence Parish, Lawrenceville, Ill., Immaculate Conception Parish, Bridgeport, Ill., and St. Francis Xavier Parish, St. Francisville, Ill.

Sister Jane Marie Osterholt is a native of Celina, Ohio. She graduated from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College with a degree in elementary education. She received a master’s degree in religious studies from Marygrove College, Detroit, and a doctorate in ministry theology from St. Mary of the Lake University, Chicago.

She has served as a regional consultant for Harcourt Religion Publishers and as director and consultant for the Lisieux Pastoral Outreach Center, Kankakee, Ill.

Sister Nancy Reynolds is a native of Indianapolis. She graduated from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. She received a master’s degree in mathematics from the University of Nebraska and a licentiate in canon law from Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.

She has served the past five years as a general councilor for the Congregation. Previously, she served as associate director, judge and canonical consultant and adjunct professor of Canon Law for the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

Sister Marie McCarthy is a native of Chicago Heights, Ill. She graduated from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College with a bachelor’s degree in music. She received a master’s degree in piano from Butler University, Indianapolis, and a master’s degree in theology/ psychology from Catholic Theological Union, Chicago. She received a doctorate in religious psychological studies from the University of Chicago.

For the past five years, she has served as a general councilor for the Congregation. She also served a prior five-year term as general councilor from 1991 to 1996.

Previously, she served as a pastoral psychotherapist and associate professor of pastoral care, Center for Religion and Psychotherapy, Chicago (1998-2001).

Sister Paula Damiano is a native of New Castle, Pa. She graduated from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College with a bachelor’s degree in art. She received a master’s degree in theology from Fordham University, New York City. For the past five years, she served as a general councilor for the Congregation. Previously, she served as vocation director of the Sisters of Providence, living in Yorba Linda, Calif.

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Dave Cox

Dave Cox was media relations manager for the Sisters of Providence for many years. Prior to his work with the sisters, he spent over 30 years in newspaper newsrooms.

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