Sister Mary Jean was born and raised in the Quad Cities, and with one exception has spent her entire ministerial life in the Springfield diocese. Sixteen of those years were spent in community leadership as a member of the general council 1989-1997 and then as prioress general 1997-2005.
Early in religious life, she often taught music and led the parish choir alongside her duties as teacher or principal. She taught middle grades and music at Cathedral School, Springfield, 1962-1966, then at St. Peter, Aurora, 1966-1969. After a year of study, she returned to the classroom at St. Mary, New Berlin, where she taught middle grades and music again, 1970-1971. She then served as principal, first at Cathedral School Springfield, 1971-1982, and then at our Lady of Lourdes, Decatur, 1982-1987. She was the director of Benincasa Renewal Center, Riverton, 1987-1989, before being elected to the general council for the Dominicans. She served two terms in that role, then two terms as prioress general. After a year of sabbatical, she began more than a decade of parish pastoral leadership, first at St. Katherine Drexel Parish, 2006-2015 and then at St. Frances Cabrini, 2015-2017. During her time as prioress general of the Dominicans the congregation began its long commitment to dismantling systemic racism, then in 2017 after leaving parish ministry Sister Mary Jean worked for two years as a trainer and facilitator for Crossroads Antiracism Training before beginning her current ministry of prayer in 2019.
“Bearing witness to the way the spirit of the Second Vatican Council has born and is still bearing fruit in our Church and world has been one of the most remarkable experiences of my life,” she said. “Within the chaos of the change the council brought about, I’ve observed that our congregation and others have deeply sought to know where God is leading us. We are following that lead with more courage than we might have done in earlier days. We are encouraged by a revitalized hope that God does not abandon us.” She says she is grateful for the gift of serving the Church and the community throughout her 60 years of religious life.
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