Proclaiming Jesus through education and Christian formation.

Sisters in Ministry October 2011
Sister Michele Morek: Always ready for the next adventure

Among her former students was Sister Sharon, who was returning to school to get an education degree. “I had avoided biology my whole college career,” said Sister Sharon, who has now succeeded Sister Michele as congregational leader. “She made it lively. Even her tests were engaging. I lumped her in with the other Ursulines I met. She was one of the cool ones.”

In those early years at Brescia, Sister Michele and Sister Rose Jean lived together on campus and were devoted members of the “Cockroach Club,” so named because they came out after others went to sleep, Sister Rose Jean said. Other members were Sister Ruth, Sister Vivian Bowles, the late Sister Mary deChantal Whelan, and the late Sister Anne Louise Ramold.

“We stayed up to watch ‘Cell Block H’ and ‘Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.’ We would be downstairs laughing up a storm and hoping we weren’t waking up the others,” Sister Rose Jean said. “Michele is the kind of person, whether it’s a meeting or a social get-together, she adds life to it.”

When Sister Rose Jean came to Maple Mount in 1984 to minister, Sister Sharon replaced her at Brescia and became a member of the Cockroach Club. “I had an operation my first year there, the get-well stuff that Michele sent me included an empty Scotch tape roll, with a note that said it was “a coliseum for microbial Olympics,’” Sister Sharon said. “I laughed until my stitches nearly burst.”

In 1979, Sister Ruth, who now ministers at Casa Ursulina in Chillan, Chile, and Sister Michele were among five Ursulines who were chosen to be part of a Friendship Force visit to Italy.

“For the six weeks after we were notified, I buried myself in trying to learn Italian,” Sister Ruth said. “Michele laughed and said: ‘Just make it up … the Italians will understand.’ So most of the time while I was trying to find the proper words, Michele was managing communication just fine with her smattering of New Mexico Spanish and sign language dramatizations. One of our visits was to a 400-year-old dairy farm that had modern milking machines,” Sister Ruth said. “As I was taking photos, I overheard Michele asking the padrone (owner) whether he used artificial insemination to propagate his herd. The padrone answered ‘Si.’ I thought, ‘Who needs to learn Italian?’”

Unconditional love

During Ursuline Community Days in 2010, Sister Ann Patrice Cecil, second from left, in honor of her 21 years of service to the leadership Council, received this picture of redwood trees, along with a plane ticket to Seattle to see the redwoods in person along with Sister Michele, right, and Sister Sharon Sullivan. The three have taken a camping trip together every year since 1994. Also pictured are Sister Rose Marita O’Bryan, left, and Sister Mary Irene Cecil, second from right.

Among the joy in Sister Michele’s early years at Brescia was the sadness that occurred in March 1975, when her mother died in a car accident in New Mexico at age 60. “I’d been going back to see her every year,” Sister Michele said. “I always thought the worst thing that could happen to you is if your mother died. Yet, here I am. This won’t kill you.”

Sister Michele had never been comfortable around grieving people, but her mother’s death taught her how, she said. “That’s my mother, still teaching me.”

“She would never let the sun go down on our anger. If we had a fight, she would always ask my pardon when she tucked me in,” Sister Michele said. “I always knew I had unconditional love. That has a lot to do with how much self-confidence you have. It illustrated the love of God.”

A new ministry

In 1980, Sister Michele was named academic dean and vice president of academic affairs at Brescia, the person who leads the faculty, develops programs and a myriad of other jobs.

“Sister George Ann (Cecil) was president of Brescia and told me a good administrator always takes the opportunity to go to the bathroom,” Sister Michele said, a reference to always being busy.

“It was OK, I didn’t feel passionate about it like teaching,” she said. “There were days when I enjoyed it, days when I didn’t. I don’t like to tell anyone bad news.”

When Sister George Ann died at an early age in 1985, Sister Michele agreed to stay on another year to help Sister Ruth when she was named president.

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