Sisters Reflect on Past, Embrace Future at Leadership Installation

Sisters Janice McLaughlin and Antoinette Gutzler, the exiting and incoming Presidents of Maryknoll Sisters, each reflected on the past and future of their congregation at a Mass held January 4 at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, during which Sister Antoinette, along with Sisters Numeriana Mojado, incoming vice president, Anastasia Lott and Teruko Ito were installed as the new Congregational Leadership Team for Maryknoll Sisters.  The new team, which were elected to serve by representatives of their membership at the congregation’s 17th General Assembly this past September, will serve their community in this capacity for the next six years.

“We Maryknoll Sisters have embraced many dawns and navigated many shifts since that winter day in 1912 when the first three women arrived at Hawthorne to participate in a new missionary venture,” Sister Janice noted in her opening remarks, referencing the congregation’s theme for the coming six years: Embrace the Dawn; Navigate the Shifts. “They had no idea how this venture would unfold…. In our new mission statement, we pledge to be ‘wholemakers,’ to engage our energies in mission by promoting the free flowing of God’s love to those most affected by the critical issues of our time…We are aware that new issues will continue to emerge. They will call us to leave our comfort zones, to nourish wholeness of being in one earth community, wherever that takes us….” (See PDF)

Sister Antoinette reflected that the Star that hovered over the stable in Bethlehem was the same Star that drew Mollie Rogers, their beloved Mother Mary Joseph, into her religious experience at Smith College, when she was drawn to the excitement of the Protestant girls who had just signed the student pledge to go to China.

“As she prayed in the church across the street, she[Mother Mary Joseph] measured her faith and her expression of it by the sight she had just witnessed, and she began to embrace the dawn of this new desire taking root in her heart, the desire for Catholic women to also be a part of the missionary endeavor of the Church. The Star that captivated our first women to Maryknoll is the same Star that we hold close to our hearts as we embrace the dawn of this new moment and navigate the journey of mission today, for we too are stewards of God’s voice.” (See PDF)

During the Mass, the exiting Congregational Leadership Team exchanged gifts of painted stone, symbolic of spiritual gifts they passed on to the new team. One of fire, symbolizing transformation, was bestowed on Sister Antoinette; another, of earth, symbolizing nurturing and grounding, was given to Sister Numeriana; a third, showing water, symbolizing cleansing and healing, was given to Sister Anastasia, and the final one, depicting air, a symbol of discernment, was given to Sister Teruko.

The new leadership team comes to their roles from various levels and modes of experience, talents and abilities.

Sister Antoinette Gutzler, President. Born in Brooklyn, NY, and raised in Queens, Sister Antoinette is a 2001 graduate of Fordham University, Bronx, NY, with a Ph.D. in systematic theology. She has taught in both Tanzania and Taiwan during her 50 years with Maryknoll. Her recent publications include: “Internalization and Globalization of Women’s Homelessness: A Taiwan Perspective” (2010) and “Navigating the Tradition: A Christian Feminist Perspective on the Power of Creedal Language to Shape the Lives of Women” (2008). She is a member of the Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA), The American Academy of Religion (AAR), and consultant to the Ecclesia of Women in Asia (EWA).

Sister Numeriana Mojado, Vice-President. Born in the Philipppines, Sister Numeriana is a 1998 graduate of Fordham University, Bronx, NY, with an M.S. in Religious Studies and an  R.N. from Marian School of Nursing, Manila. During her nearly 40 years with Maryknoll Sisters she has ministered among the urban poor in Korea and migrant workers.    She is a member of the Maryknoll Sisters Contemplative Community.

Sister Anastasia Lott, General Secretary. Sister Anastasia is holds a B.A. in Chemistry from the University of San Diego (1979) and an M. A. in African Studies from the Maryknoll Institute for African Studies of St. Mary’s University.  She has  done pastoral, leadership development and health work in Venezuela, Tanzania and Namibia.  For the past 11 years, she hasI served in the congregation’s Development Department, first as director of planned giving from 2003-2010, then as Director of Development from 2010-2014.

Sister Teruko Ito, Team Member.  Sister Teruko, a native of Japan, is a 1995 graduate of Fordham University, Bronx, NY, with an M.A. in Religion and Religious Education. She has served in Tanzania, where she taught high school mathematics,  and in Japan, where she did social work for alcoholism-related programs from 1978-1988. She served as a member of the Congregational Orientation Program in Newburgh, NY from 1989-1994.  She was also involved in the Ministry of the Promotion of Women for the Diocese of San Marcos from 1995-2004.