Proclaiming Jesus through education and Christian formation.

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


“From the beginning I knew I could count on her help when I asked,” Sister Ruth said. “I also knew that if I asked for her judgment about a decision, she wouldn’t pussy-foot around about it. I trusted her clear-sightedness, but more than that, I knew she would be honest, even if she had to tell me, flat-out, that she couldn’t agree with what I thought. All of this engendered a trusting attitude that helped us work things out together for the best result.”

Sister Michele returned to the classroom after stepping down as dean, and Sister Ruth remembers the dinner her housemates planned for her. “Sister de Chantal, cook extraordinaire, volunteered to cook whatever Michele requested,” Sister Ruth said. “Michele’s request: artichokes! None of us had ever eaten artichokes — probably few of us had even seen them. DC followed Michele’s directions for preparing these weird-looking vegetables, and before we began to eat, Michele gave us a detailed demonstration as to how to eat them. Thus began our hilarious – and delicious – dinner. There were other things on the menu, but we only remembered the artichokes.”

Sister Michele taught at Brescia until 2004, becoming a full professor in 1992. But she had to teach part time beginning that year because she was elected to her first of two four-year terms as a member of the leadership Council.

Leadership

“Everyone who goes into community leadership thinks you’re going to do all this wonderful stuff, like you’re Saint George on the horse, slaying dragons,” Sister Michele said. “You spend most of your time putting out fires.”

During her two terms, (1992-2000) she was in charge of the continuing education of the sisters, led the professional development committee, and offered programs for the sisters who came home during the summer.

Sister Michele smiles after receiving a purse made by Sister Mary Louise Knott depicting a wilderness adventure, during Community Days in 2010. The gift was in honor of her completing her term as congregational leader.

After returning to the classroom full time at Brescia from 2000-2004, which included being chairwoman of the Division of Math and Natural Sciences, Sister Michele was elected as congregational leader for the Ursuline Sisters. She was the first to serve a revamped single six-year term from 2004-1010.

“It’s affirming to be chosen to community leadership. We really want to be of service to our sisters, we love them,” Sister Michele said. “The best part was getting to know the sisters, visiting them to see ‘more and more the good you are doing.’ I got to develop a new kind of relationship with them.”

Sister Michele oversaw the mergers of the Ursuline Sisters of Belleville, Ill., and the Ursuline Sisters of Paola, Kan., with the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph. “One of the most satisfying experiences was those two mergers, because of the development of the relationships,” she said. “It was hard for them. I was doing what I could to facilitate making it a happy, joyful experience for them.”

Sister Cheryl, who was assistant congregational leader, said Sister Michele “always has a sense of humor, and presumes the best in people. She has an ability to look at any issue from many sides and remain objective. She tended to take people as they were, and accept them as they were at that moment.”

Sister Michele said what she learned most during her tenure is, “Just what an amazing group of women these are who I served. I never prayed with such depth of fervor. It forces you to your knees,” she said. “I found many uses for the God jar – you write down your problem on a piece of paper and say, ‘Here, You do it, I can’t do it.’”

One of her first satisfying moments in leadership was when a sister came to her needing help. “I realized I could make it happen without asking anyone else,” she said.

Free time

There’s always an adventure awaiting Sister Michele, whether it’s a trip far away or getting lost in one of three books she is reading.

“I like to take really long car trips,” she said. “I’ve been to all 50 states except North Dakota,” and she made a pact with Sister Dorothy Helbling, a North Dakota native, that the two would go. She has traveled to Australia, Italy, Thailand, Mexico and Canada, but also enjoys the camping trips she’s taken across the country with Sister Sharon and Sister Ann Patrice Cecil.

Protecting the environment is one of her passions, and she’s worked for more than 25 years with local clean water groups. She started by taking her students out to test water, and has continued the testing herself.

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