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Sisters of Providence provide leadership

At the end of August, the Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters (OLVM or Victory Noll Sisters) marked a new moment in their congregation’s 100-year history. After discerning several years and planning for future governance, on Aug. 28, 2022, the Victory Noll sisters installed Sister Jenny Howard, SP, as their Congregational Leader.

A new era

In 2020, the OLVM sisters realized they were unable to provide future leadership for themselves. So, the congregation engaged three different congregations of sisters in conversation about their ability and willingness to provide leadership for the OLVMs. Each of these congregations consulted their own membership about the request. In January 2022, Sister Mary Jo Nelson, OLVM president, informed General Superior Sister Dawn Tomaszewski, SP, that they had chosen the Sisters of Providence. After Rome approved the OLVM’s request, Sister Dawn appointed Sister Jenny Howard to serve as Congregational Leader.

Blessing of Sister Jenny Howard, right, as the new Congregational Leader for the Victory Noll Sisters. Outgoing Our Lady of Victory Missionary Sisters President Sister Mary Jo Nelson, OLVM, center, and Sister Dawn Tomaszewski at left.

At the transfer of leadership ceremony in August, Sister Mary Jo noted that this is not an end, but the beginning of a new era for the Victory Noll Sisters: “This is not a completion of our community or the ending of our charism and mission,” she said. “It is not fulfillment — a sense that we have done everything and can now bask in the goodness of our life. Rather, it is a call to live in the evolution of all life — to live in the deep change and a new consciousness of our universe, of our earth, of the world community, of our country, of our Church and of the bigger picture and reality of religious life. Our journey is a little seed of what is happening everywhere.”

Prepared to lead

Sister Jenny’s past experiences and her readiness to respond to the mission of religious life make her a perfect choice. She has ministered for 15 years on leadership teams of the Sisters of Providence. She also served 10 years as vocation director for the Sisters of Providence.

At the transfer ceremony, Sister Dawn told the OLVM’s: “We … know Jenny as a faithful daughter of Providence, someone whose own life experiences, like your own, have called her to let go in order to let something new come. Thank you, Victory Noll Sisters, for inviting us into your lives. We accept this invitation with great hope for the future of religious life.” May it be so!

Originally published in the winter 2023 issue of HOPE

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Sister Jeanne Hagelskamp

Sister Jeanne Hagelskamp has been a Sister of Providence since 1975. She currently serves on the Congregation leadership team. Previously she ministered as a teacher and administrator at the secondary and university levels.

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