by Joe Bollig
LEAVENWORTH — The plaque on President Harry S Truman’s desk is as good an encapsulation as any of a chief executive’s job: The Buck Stops Here.
For the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, the buck stops at the desk of Sister Maureen Hall who became the new community director on July 19. She succeeded Sister Joan Sue Miller, SCL, who served for 12 years.
Unlike other positions of authority and responsibility, it’s not lonely at the top for Sister Maureen. Her council of six, elected or appointed at the same time, has her back. Sister Maureen herself was a councilor from 1992 to 1998, and from 2004 to 2010.
“I would never say that I do it alone,” she said. “As community director I have the responsibilities that go with the office, but we work together as a team to strengthen the community life of the Sisters and Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth associates. We work together to further the mission.”
Many things come across that desk where the buck must stop, but Sister Maureen’s mission is shared by all the Sisters and lay associates: to work together to strengthen the life of the Charities’ community and its mission in the church.
When many Catholics think about the Sisters of Charity, what readily comes to mind are their many sponsored works. These include: the Sisters of Charity Health System, based in Lenexa; the Mount St. Vincent Home in Denver; and the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth. All these sponsored entities have their own governing structures, but Sister Maureen serves as a board member on several.
The agenda that Sister Maureen has for the Sisters of Charity over the next six years of her term is not entirely her own. Rather, it came from 145 delegates, who decided on certain “chapter acts” at the Charities’ June chapter meeting, which was held in Atchison.
This chapter meeting’s focus was on strategic planning that is in line with the Charities’ vision statement: We, the Sister of Charity of Leavenworth, who love the poor, hear a cry and feel an urgency in these times to unite our voices and to speak out, to live and move as women of hope.
“The community came together to plan and ‘vision’ what we wanted to see happen in the next six years,” said Sister Maureen. “We took the collected wisdom of [the delegates] and we decided on certain actions that we want to [undertake].”
These actions were accomplished with a lot of “deep sharing and intentional listening,” she said.
“We are also committed to educating ourselves and others in the study of the sacredness of creation — creation-centered spirituality,” said Sister Maureen. “As part of this, we see ourselves as advocating for nuclear disarmament.”
A few other goals include: working to deepen their relationship with God and each other by a study of the theology of Eucharist and Scripture; looking at how to adapt the spirit of the Charities’ originators to the here and now; studying the immigration issue in order to take a position and work with the bishops for a just resolution; and working to foster vocations.