Sister Denise Wilkinson re-elected Sisters of Providence general superior
Sister Denise Wilkinson, a native of Chicago, has been elected to her second term as general superior of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Ind. This will be her final term because the general superior may serve only two terms in that capacity.
Elected to the Congregation’s General Council are Sisters Lisa Stallings, who will serve as vicar, Jeneen Howard, Dawn Tomaszewski and Mary Beth Klingel. Sisters Lisa, Jeneen and Dawn were classmates at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.
The officers-elect will be installed during a Eucharistic Liturgy on Saturday, Sept. 10 at 1:30 p.m.
The election of officers is the culmination of the Congregation’s General Chapter, which occurs every five years. During General Chapter, the Congregation sets its direction for the next five years, then elects its leadership.
“It was a tremendous vote of confidence, also humbling and challenging, to be re-elected. It’s wonderful to be affirmed and, I think, in that affirmation was an expectation that we would be able to, as a new leadership team, carry forward the great hopes of our General Chapter,” Sister Denise said.
“The thought of orienting a new team and having a very significant Chapter mandate to cope with in terms of our assessment of ministries for the sake of our mission and for the sake of the Gospel is quite a heavy responsibility, but exciting. With the trust of our sisters comes some pretty hefty marching orders, I would say.”
Sister Denise talked a little about what the future might hold.
“I think we are trying to do an honest assessment of ourselves and our resources so that, given who we are this moment, we can move ahead with the same energy for mission that Mother Theodore and her companions had. For the most part, we are older, but we are no less enthusiastic or dedicated to the mission,” she said.
“I think we are trying to understand for ourselves what we need to let go of, or embrace, given our current reality. We are far from feeling that our moment in history is over. We are trying to discover who we are at this moment and get on with it. There is a very strong energy for our mission. It might look different, we might be doing different things, or we might be doing the same things, but we’ll be doing it with all of our might.”
Sister Denise is a graduate of 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 at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, which oversees development, marketing and communications.
She also serves as an ex-officio member of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Board of Trustees and on the Wabash River Riverscape board in Terre Haute.
Sister Denise entered the Sisters of Providence Sept. 12, 1963, from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Parish in Chicago. She professed perpetual vows Aug. 25, 1973.
She served as a teacher at Costa High School at Galesburg, Ill. (1968-1971); John F. Kennedy High School, St. Louis (1971-1973); assistant dean of residence (1974-1975) and dean of residence (1975-1979), Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College; director of Pilot House, Rosemont, Ill. (1979-1982); vice president of student affairs, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (1982-1989); and the Congregation’s formation director (1991-1996).
She is the daughter of the late John and Josephine Vlasak Wilkinson. She attended Queen of All Saints and Saint Mary-of-the-Woods elementary schools in Chicago and Marywood Academy in Evanston.
Sister Lisa Stallings is a native of Evansville. She currently ministers as the Congregation’s coordinator of liturgical music at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
Sister Lisa entered the Congregation Aug. 29, 1975, from Christ the King Parish in Evansville. She professed perpetual vows Aug. 25, 1984.
She graduated from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College with a bachelor’s degree in English. She received a master’s degree in music with concentration in sacred music and liturgy from St. Joseph College and a master’s degree in theological studies from St. Meinrad.
Sister Lisa ministered as a teacher at Our Lady of Providence High School in Clarksville, Ind. (1977-1980 and 1981). She also taught at Providence-St. Mel School in Chicago (1981-1988); and served as director of music, St. Bernadette Parish, Evergreen Park, Ill. (1989-1990); director of music, St. William Parish, Chicago (1990-1994); director of liturgy, St. James Parish, Elizabethtown, Ky. (1994-1998); assistant coordinator of liturgy, St. Mary-of-the-Woods (1998); director of worship, Cathedral of the Assumption, Louisville, Ky. (1998-2009).
Sister Jeneen Howard is a native of Indianapolis. She currently ministers as the Congregation’s vocation director at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
Sister Jenny entered the Congregation Aug. 22, 1983. She was a member of St. Matthew Parish and entered the Congregation from Holy Cross Parish in Indianapolis. She professed perpetual vows Aug. 15, 1992.
She graduated from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College with a bachelor’s degree in biology. She received a master’s degree in biology from Ball State University. She also received a master’s degree in guidance counseling in secondary schools from Northeastern Illinois University.
Sister Jenny served one previous term on the Congregation’s General Council from 1996 to 2001. She also ministered as a teacher at North Central High School in Indianapolis (1974-1984); teacher, Providence-St. Mel School, Chicago (1985-1990); and teacher at Cathedral High School, Indianapolis (1991-1996).
She is president of Providence Housing Corporation and is co-chair of the Congregation’s Anti-Racism Team. She also is chair of Catholics On Call Advisory Board, which is connected with Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, and she is a member of the vocation committees in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Archdiocese of Chicago and Diocese of Evansville. She also is a member of the Human Rights Day Planning Committee in Terre Haute.
Sister Dawn Tomaszewski is a native of Chicago. She recently resigned her ministry as vice president for advancement at Guerin College Preparatory High School in River Grove, Ill.
Sister Dawn entered the Congregation Aug. 29, 1975, from St. John Brebeuf Parish in Niles, Ill. She professed perpetual vows Aug. 19, 1984. She graduated from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College with a bachelor’s degree in communications. She received a master’s degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina and a master’s degree in theology from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.
Sister Dawn ministered as a teacher at Marywood School in Orange, Calif. (1977-1980). She also taught at Mother Theodore Guerin High School, now known as Guerin College Preparatory High School (1980-1982).
She later served as director of communications and an instructor at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (1984-1987); the Congregation’s director of communications (1987-1990), then director of communications and development (1990-1991) and director of the Mission Advancement office (1991-1996) at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. She also served as communications and media coordinator for the Office of Catholic Education, Archdiocese of Chicago (1999-2004); communications and public relations director, Guerin College Preparatory School (2004-2005); and director of advancement, Guerin College Preparatory School (2005-2009).
Sister Dawn formerly served on the board of directors at Fatima Retreat House in Indianapolis and more recently on the Alumnae Board of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. She also previously served on the board of directors for Mother Theodore Guerin High School.
Sister Mary Beth Klingel is a native of Jasper. She currently ministers as the Congregation’s Director of Novices at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
Sister Mary Beth entered the Congregation Sept. 12, 1964, from St. Joseph Parish in Jasper. She professed perpetual vows Sept. 6, 1970.
She graduated from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College with a bachelor’s degree in education. She received a master’s degree in liturgical studies from the University of Notre Dame.
Sister Mary Beth ministered as a teacher at Saint Margaret Mary School in Terre Haute from (1968-1970), and at Tenth Street School in Jasper (1970-1972). She later returned to Saint Margaret Mary Parish in Terre Haute where she ministered as pastoral associate from (1976-2004) and as parish life coordinator from (2004-2005). She served as a member of the Congregation’s Corporate Renewal Team during the Catholic Church’s transition after the Second Vatican Council. She also serves as a member of the Guerin Outreach Ministries board of directors.
About the Sisters of Providence
The Sisters of Providence, a congregation of 214 women religious, with 300 Providence Associates, collaborate with others to create a more just and hope-filled world through prayer, education, service and advocacy. The Sisters of Providence have their motherhouse at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, located just northwest of downtown Terre Haute, Ind., which is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin founded the Sisters of Providence at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in 1840. Today, Sisters of Providence minister in 13 states, the District of Columbia and Asia, through works of love, mercy and justice. More information about the Sisters of Providence and their ministries can be found at SistersofProvidence.org.