New horizons ahead for our new Leadership Team

Serving on the Sisters of the Divine Savior U.S. Provincial Team is a call from God and your community of sisters. Members of our 2022-2025 Leadership Team possess the trust and support of their sisters and a willingness to guide their community toward new horizons.

Newly elected Provincial, Sister Jean Schafer, SDS, is rather familiar with leadership. In the 1980s, she served on an experienced Provincial Team, and from 1989-2002, she witnessed the compassionate nature of Salvatorian Sisters while serving as international leader in Rome. She reflects, “I was gifted in those periods to know sisters in many countries. I came to appreciate the rich wisdom of cultures and saw the miracles our sisters performed in impoverished settings. I saw firsthand how colonialization helped and hindered peoples. I experienced that, despite tensions among world governments, people are truly good and desirous of the same simple things we all hope for.”

After her time on the international Generalate, she worked for over 20 years to further the cause of anti-human trafficking. Sr. Jean’s gift of imagining solutions for issues big and small made her an effective advocate for survivors of exploitation and will guide her through unexpected situations that arise in Leadership. She says, “My role is to keep the spiritual dimension before us – the ‘why’ of our life. My focus could be explained by questions I came across recently that fit so well for a Sister of the Divine Savior – not ‘What would Jesus do?’ but ‘What did Jesus do.’ and ‘What is Jesus doing?’ These questions take us back to the gospel and help us look for ways to further social transformation in our day-to-day ministries.”

Our 2022 Chapter meeting centered around the election of our new Team, making decisions for the future, and trusting God.

Sister Mary Lee Grady, SDS, Vicaress, says leadership is about making difficult decisions everyone may not understand. But she says, “It’s easier to make a hard choice if you’ve spent time listening to your fellow sisters and centering your service to the Province.” Prior to her election to the Team, Sr. Mary Lee served as co-director of New Membership – a role she will continue in tandem with her administrative responsibilities. “My commitment to New Membership is grounded in my belief in the Salvatorian way of life,” she says, “I enjoy the collaboration it brings to the Salvatorian Family.”

Outside of vocations and administrative work, her life consists of spending time with family and friends, swimming, enjoying the great outdoors, and singing in the Archdiocesan choir. She also finds great joy in living in community with several Salvatorian Sisters. She says, “I want to live in community with women who want to serve God as I do. It’s a way to live out our baptismal commitment to others who share the same deep values of community and prayer.”

Sister Mary Evelyn Zimbauer, SDS, Provincial Counsilor, wants to serve with an open mind and caring heart during her time on the Leadership Team. Her sensitivity to the needs of a whole person, body and spirit, comes from her life-long ministry as a nurse. A perspective she hopes will benefit the Team: “I hope to help provide an environment where everyone can thrive and together we can better serve each other, God, and God’s people.”

On occasion, Sr. Mary Evelyn flexes her healthcare muscles as a first aid responder at Milwaukee events and a weekend on-call nurse for her fellow Sisters. She also loves connecting with nature through gardening and says, “The joy of being close to nature really nurtures my spirit and it delights me to enjoy the fruits of the earth.”

Sister Sheila Novak, SDS, Provincial Counsilor, hopes fostering a listening and gentle presence amongst her sisters will help her meet them in their current stages of life. She says, “Leadership is a call to be sister (with a small s) in the best sense of that word. Sisters are there for each other, responding to requests and needs and giving support as needed. Sisters can be counted on. It is also a forum to look ahead and name future efforts and priorities – to help shape what is yet to be.”

Although focused on the priorities of her Province, she is also devoting time to making Milwaukee her home again after 19 years away. In her quest to relearn the city, she plans on joining an outreach program that benefits from her past experiences in teaching, formation and pastoral work, and working with survivors of human trafficking. She welcomes new friends and connections along the way.

Creativity, intelligence, problem-solving, and a good sense of humor make Sister Patrice Colletti, SDS, Provincial Counsilor, a qualified member of our Leadership Team. She says “… all my ministries, since early adulthood, have been ministries of service to folks ‘at the margins’ of our society, or ministries of leading organizations who serve folks ‘at the margins’… Those ministries have taught me that leadership truly benefits from teamwork and collaboration.”

In the next year, Sr. Patrice looks forward to envisioning a new and different future for our Congregation. As the only Team Member not based in Milwaukee, she will remotely manage her responsibilities from Sisseton, South Dakota where she teaches at Tiospa Zina Tribal School. Even with her days split between science projects and Team meetings, she still finds time for computer building and repairing, photography, and service dog training. In fact, in the coming months, we hope to share more about the special pup who will help Sr. Patrice perform manual tasks and alert her to sounds she cannot hear.

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