Sister Kathleen Ann Mourisse, OSF, elected president of Heading Avenue Franciscans

Sister Kathleen Ann Mourisse, OSF

WEST PEORIA — Sister Kathleen Ann Mourisse, OSF, has been elected to serve as president of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Immaculate Conception. She succeeds Sister Paula Vasquez, OSF, who will complete her second term in June.

Elected to serve on the general council were: Sister Irene Marie Fritch of Peoria, vice president, and Sister Janice Keenan of Frankfort, Sister Diane Marie Vande Voorde of Peoria, and Sister Holly Marie Schultz of Springfield, councilors.

Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, celebrated the Mass and presided at the election held March 11 at the motherhouse of the religious community, which is known affectionately as the Heading Avenue Franciscans.

SHE SAID “YES”

Sister Kathleen Ann fell in love with the community she will soon lead when she was a child at Sacred Heart School in Moline.

“They were my teachers. I loved those Sisters,” she told The Catholic Post. “They were loving people. They were joyful. They were happy with each other and I thought, ‘Wow! That’s the kind of life I’d like to have.’”

They were holy women, too.

“They certainly taught us all about God and were joyful doing that,” she recalled.

Sister Kathleen Ann entered the Franciscan community on Heading Avenue in West Peoria in 1968, professing first vows in 1971 and final vows in 1975. Following in the footsteps of the teachers who inspired her, she has devoted her consecrated life to education.

She currently serves at St Boniface Parish in Edwardsville, where she has been for 10 years. In addition to being the art teacher for kindergarten through eighth grade, she is the sacramental coordinator for the school, RCIA coordinator for the parish and facilitator for two women’s spirituality groups.

Sister Kathleen Ann has also taught at Seton Catholic (and its predecessor Sacred Heart) in Moline, where she spent 18 happy years — the last four as principal; St. Mary in Metamora; Peru Catholic in Peru; and St Philomena in Peoria, twice. She was principal there from 2002 to 2006.

“It’s a bit of a sacrifice leaving, but when the community calls you — and I believe that’s where God is directing me — then you have to say ‘yes’ and that’s what I did.” Sister Kathleen Ann Mourisse, OSF

Her experience includes two years in campus ministry at St. John’s Catholic Newman Center at the University of Illinois.

“I’ve loved this ministry and I’ve loved these people,” she said of St. Boniface. “It’s a bit of a sacrifice leaving, but when the community calls you — and I believe that’s where God is directing me — then you have to say ‘yes’ and that’s what I did.”

“IT’S BEEN A PRIVILEGE”

After serving as the president for eight years, Sister Paula is filled with gratitude as she prepares to step down.

“I continue to be edified by the witness of our Sisters as they go about their ministries,” she said. “I attribute the excellent reputation our Sisters have to the Sisters we have now in ministry and all the Sisters who have gone before us. We stand on big shoulders and I hope the people who come after us can say the same thing.”

While it’s been hard work, Sister Paula says it’s also been a privilege.

The Heading Avenue Franciscans are a diocesan community, with 31 Sisters serving in the Diocese of Peoria, the Diocese of Springfield and the Diocese of Rapid City, South Dakota.

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