St. Gabriel transitions leadership
by Anne Hart Preus
Aug 13, 2014 | 2392 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
St. Gabriel Mercy Center transitions to new leadership. Pictured are Sister Donald Mary Lynch (left), Sister Monica Mary Dequardo, Sister Judanne Stratman, and Sister Mary Beth Kornely.
St. Gabriel Mercy Center transitions to new leadership. Pictured are Sister Donald Mary Lynch (left), Sister Monica Mary Dequardo, Sister Judanne Stratman, and Sister Mary Beth Kornely.
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At the end of August, Sister Donald Mary Lynch, executive director at St. Gabriel Mercy Center in Mound Bayou for the past 13 years, will be moving on and a new team will direct the activities of the center.

Sister Cleo Heinrich, who spent 12 years, and Sister Rita Killian, who was there 15 years, at the center left a few weeks ago.

All are members of the Sisters of Mercy order.

Taking the reins as executive director will be Sister Monica Mary DeQuardo and Sister Mary Beth Kornely and Sister Judanne Stratman join her.

They are from the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity based in Manitowoc, Wis.

Sisters in the Franciscan Order do various types of work in health care institutions, nursing homes and elementary and high schools in many states.

The order was founded in 1869. Presently, there are 135 women who follow St. Francis of Assisi's teachings. There is a Franciscan mission in Greenwood where four sisters serve.

Sister Monica Mary said," We will continue the spirit of the Sisters of Mercy. It is such a strong and beautiful thing."

"There is such a wide variety of services here," said Sister Judanne. "Our personal gifts can enhance these programs. We look forward to meeting people and seeing how we can reach out to the staff and community."

"We are so impressed with all the staff and program coordinators. They are professional, educated, and work in partnership," said Sister Monica Mary. "We are here to receive and to give in service."

The new team comes from different places to Mound Bayou.

Sister Mary Beth lived in Greenwood and worked at St. Francis as a secretary.

Sister Judanne worked with retired sisters and taught religious studies at a college.

Sister Monica Mary lived in Rome, Italy, where she directed women's religious studies. She is a high school teacher by profession.

"Wherever we go, we settle in and life goes on," said Sister Monica Mary. "We don't forget the past because everything helps to integrate. We will have to get acquainted with the small towns, learn about the food here, and adjust to the heat and humidity."

The new team arrived last week and has met with program coordinators to learn about the 10 programs at St. Gabriel.

"So far, we are adjusting well to a new director and new staff who can bring different experiences here," said Mavis Honorable, assistant director.

St. Gabriel Mercy Center has been in operation since 1999 and under the direction of Sister Donald Mary, its services have expanded to include the following programs: Parents as Teachers, Senior Outreach Program, GED Program, St. Gabriel Closet, Mercy Computer Learning Lab, Emergency Needs Assistance Program, Jobs Program, Delta Boutique, and The Volunteer Program.

When reflecting on her years of service at St. Gabriel, Sister Donald Mary said," I am proudest of the growth of services we provide. We are impacting more people through those programs. We also have a 5013C status that allows us to accept grants. The building has been renovated to be more pleasant to be in. We have obtained more up-to-date vehicles to be safer as we transport our clients, updated our computer lab, and we have brought the Center to the next century."

Each day, approximately 125 people come to St. Gabriel Mercy Center to participate in the many offerings there.

"It took a while to come to peace that St. Gabriel needed something fresh and I have to let go and let that happen as St. Gabriel moves to the future," said Sister Donald Mary.

At the end of this month, the transition will be complete. Sister Monica Mary DeQuardo, SisterMary Beth Kornely, and Sister Judanne Stratman will guide St. Gabriel Mercy Center in Mound Bayou as they begin their "walk" of service with the community..