Accepting the Call to Leadership
Mother Theresa of Jesus Gerhardinger was the foundress and first General Superior of the School Sisters of Notre Dame. In “Being Church” one can empathize with her anguish in negotiating the role of a woman as General Superior with the hierarchical church and her eventual beatification. After her beatification in 1985, she was honored with the title of “Blessed.” In “Woman of the Word,” the source of her courage and stamina are explored.
In her research on General Superiors who followed Mother Theresa, Mary Ann Kuttner, SSND, shares a summary of their lives. She begins with the successor to Mother Theresa, Mary Margaret of Cortona Wiedemann (1879 -1894). Her successors, Mary Josepha Hermanna Glink, (1894 – 1900) Mary Innocentia Loibl (1900-1909), and Mary Bruno Thoma (1909 – 1928) are also included.
At the General Chapter of 1928, Mother Almeda Schricker (1928 - 1955) was elected. She served with creative fidelity in this position until her death in 1955. She was given an award by the German government for her leadership in rebuilding the educational system of Bavaria after World War II.
Her successor was Mother Ambrosia Roecklein (1956-68), the first American to serve as Mother General. She was instrumental in moving the Generalate from Munich to Rome. Highlights of her term in office are included.
Prior to Vatican II and the General Chapter of 1968, the governance of the congregation was more in the hands of the General Council. However, the call of Vatican II for more collegiality led to a momentous decision at the 1968 General Chapter. When Georgianne Segner, SSND (1968 - 1977), was elected she asked to focus her vow of acceptance on the spirit of Vatican II rather than using the customary oath. This marked a different expression of “creative fidelity.” Highlights of her term are included. And in her unique way Mother Georgianne reminds us of her Texas roots.
Mother Georgianne’s successor, Mary Margaret Johanning, SSND, (1977 - 1987) recited her own promise to lead the congregation. It was a custom to address the SSND Superior General as “Mother” until S. Mary Margaret asked that this be changed to “Sister.” Her role in leading the congregation culminated in the beatification of Mother Theresa. Her desire to work toward reconciliation is evident in her negotiations with the hierarchical church regarding the New York Times ad. Some highlights of her term are included.
The election of Patricia Flynn, SSND (1987 - 1998) was a graced moment and she led the congregation through the challenges following the fall of communism. Her leadership was also expressed in the celebration for the 100th anniversary of the death of Mother Caroline Friess, SSND. Some highlights of her term are included.
Rosemary Howarth, SSND (1998 - 2008) was invited to dance with previous leaders and delegates upon her election. She called the congregation to deeper contemplation at the 21st General Chapter. Her leadership in supporting the restructuring of the congregation as well as her role in the induction of Blessed Theresa into the Vahalla and the beatification of Blessed Antonina are also significant.
Since Sturdy Roots was being completed as Mary Maher, SSND was elected there is little information available at this time. However her academic background and introduction are included as part of her presentation in 2001 on Mary, the Mother of God.