Sister Michele Morek to lead international social justice group

Ursuline Sister Michele Morek expected the ministry she began in June — director of Career Services and grants coordinator at Brescia University in Owensboro, Ky. — to be her last job for the rest of her working life.

Instead, she will begin a new ministry in New York City on Dec. 14 as coalition coordinator for UNANIMA International, a nongovernmental organization of the United Nations that the Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph helped found 10 years ago.

“I’m equal parts excited and terrified, but I think excitement is winning out,” Sister Michele said.

UNANIMA advocates on behalf of women and children (particularly those living in poverty), immigrants and refugees, and the environment. According to the group’s website, UNANIMA is the name created by combining “UN” for United Nations, “anima,” a feminine life principle of healing, caring and nurturing, and is derived from the word “unanimous,” because its members “work together with one mind, heart and spirit.”

The organization includes 17 congregations of sisters who have 17,500 constituents working in 72 countries. Each of the 17 congregations has a board member.

On Oct. 1, Sister Michele attended her first UNANIMA board meeting, replacing Ursuline Sister Suzanne Sims, who was completing her three-year term. The meeting was the last for Sister Catherine Ferguson, who has served as coalition coordinator since UNANIMA began. She resigned because she was elected as congregational leader of her community, the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, headquartered in Quebec, Canada.

During the reception following the meeting, Sister Michele was approached by several board members who asked why she hadn’t applied for the upcoming vacancy, she said.

“I said I wasn’t qualified,” Sister Michele said. “You have to be fluent in French and Spanish, and that’s just not me.” The board members told her she could hire an interpreter. Each time she turned around, someone new suggested she should apply, including members of other religious nongovernmental organizations of the United Nations.