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Benedictines elect new leadership

Benedictines elect new leadership - (20-06-2014)

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Photo: New leaders of the BSPA Congregation were formally installed on Thursday. Pictured are (from left) Prioress General Sister Dawn Annette Mills, OSB, General Councilor Sister Ruth Elaine Starman, OSB, General Councilor Sister Valerie Stark, OSB and General Councilor Sister Joan Ridley, OSB.

The Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration held elections for their new prioress general and general council members during their two-week chapter meeting, which concluded June 18 in Clyde, Missouri. Sister Dawn Annette Mills, OSB was elected prioress general and Sister Ruth Elaine Starman, OSB, Sister Joan Ridley, OSB and Sister Valerie Stark, OSB were elected to the general council.

They were installed during the Rite of Installation ceremony held June 19 at the Adoration Chapel in Clyde, which was presided over by retired Archbishop Jerome Hanus, OSB of Conception Abbey.

The sisters will each serve six-year terms for the congregation, which includes 76 professed sisters and two women in formation. Their three communities are located in Tucson, Arizona; Dayton, Wyoming; and Clyde.

Sister Dawn Annette Mills, OSB is a native of Hobart, Indiana, and entered the Benedictine Sisters in 1975. She completed a master’s program at the Institute for Culture and Creation Spirituality at Holy Names University in Oakland, California, and has also taken courses at St. Louis University and at the University of Notre Dame.

In 2008 she was elected to the general council and in 2009 named director of development. She has also served as pastoral minister for the sisters’ health-care facility in St. Louis and managed the altar bread department. She served as prioress of the Tucson community for six years and as its oblate director for almost 10 years. An accomplished writer, she is a member of the editorial staff of the congregational magazine, “Spirit&Life,” and author of the book, “The Gospel According to Dawn.” Since 2004 she has headed the sisters’ correspondence department, which answers prayer requests and handles direct mailings and prayer intentions.

Sister Ruth Elaine Starman, OSB is an Elgin, Neb., native and earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and computer science from the University of Nebraska-Kearney. She entered the congregation in 1993 and has served as the congregation’s vocation director since 2005. She was first elected to the general council in 2008.

Sister Valerie Stark, OSB is originally from the Kansas City area and has served as the congregation’s treasurer general since 2001. She received a bachelor of arts degree in literature and creative writing from the University of Arizona. She also studied English at Emporia State University in Kansas. Prior to her entrance in 1990, she worked as an accounting clerk, a bookkeeper and a teacher.

Sister Joan Ridley, OSB was born in Philadelphia and entered a missionary Dominican community when she was 18 years old. She earned degrees in social work and law, using them to serve the poor in ministry. In 1996 she embraced the call to contemplative monastic life and made a formal transfer three years later to the Benedictine Sisters. Most recently, she was the subprioress of the sisters’ community in Tucson and was instrumental in the monastery’s conversion to solar energy use. Sister Joan is a valued speaker on the topic of Eucharistic Adoration and receives invitations to do so from around the country. In 2010 she released “In the Presence: The Spirituality of Eucharistic Adoration,” which offers devotional and theological perspectives and suggestions for modern Catholics to connect with adoration in a contemporary way.