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Standing on Their Shoulders

by Susan M. KumnickCategory: Updates

The Global Network of RSHM Schools stands securely on the shoulders of RSHM sisters who value education to transform the future by inspiring young people in our classrooms ad beyond to know and carry on Father Gailhac’s mission “that all may have life.”

woman facing camera with short gray hair and glasses wearing yellow jacket and blouse

Years ago, Sister Anne Marie Hill saw the advantage of bringing together administrators from the Marymount Schools in Rome, Paris, and London for annual meetings, thereby creating “unity through diversity.” As lay heads replaced RSHM sisters in leadership positions, other RSHM schools reached out to be included in the June meeting. In time, the Goals and Criteria were created to guide the RSHM mission in each member school. At the June meeting, written reports were shared describing how each school implemented one of the five Goals (or the “Ideario” in Portugal and Brazil). A variation of the June meeting occurred twice when two students from each school traveled to Rome and Porto for RSHM leadership sessions while the heads and staff members met in a separate area. The school heads depended on and appreciated Sister Anne Marie’s leadership of the network. Shortly after the 2013 annual meeting in Medellin, Colombia, Sister Anne Marie’s retirementwas announced. The network remained without a successor until Sister Rosamond Blanchet, RSHM General Superior, summoned school representatives to a meeting hosted by Marymount New York at the end of the 2014-15 school year. Stressing the importance of carrying on the founder’s work through education, she shared a new vision. No longer would an RSHM sister lead the network. Instead, a transition to lay leadership began. Sister Roz assured the group that the RSHM Institute was fully committed to working with the schools as “an instrument of mission.” With that promise, she introduced Sister Mary Jo Martin who would facilitate this transition by building a new structure with a representative group of lay heads.

close-up of two women in discussion and conference table - one with short gray hair and the other with glasses and long blond hair.

Sister Mary Jo quickly assembled a coordinating committee of five school heads, each representing a geographical area and serving a 2-3 year term. From 2015 until 2022, a new structure, mission, and website for the network were created, and committee meetings, conferences, and spiritual retreats for school heads took place. Ongoing consultation and communication between the committee and all the network members as well as a close bond with the RSHM Institute keep the RSHM spirit alive in our schools.

In December 2021, Sister Margaret Fielding, RSHM Institute Leader, along with Sister Mary Jo discerned that the moment of transition to lay leadership was imminent and announced the search for the first lay Coordinator of the Global Network. I believe that my appointment to this position in 2022 was the result of a lifelong relationship with RSHM sisters and my educational experiences at Marymount College, Tarrytown and Colegio Marymount, Barranquilla, Colombia; without a doubt, part of God’s plan.

Confernece setting - multiple tables with people sitting around them, all facing a large screen with a powerpoint slide showing.

Thanks to those sisters on whose shoulders we now stand, the Global Network of 19 RSHM Schools in Europe, the USA, Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil will move forward as we update our guiding statements, expand the use of social media for communication, encourage student/faculty exchanges, reach out to institutions founded by the RSHM not yet members of the Global Network, and make the Network financially, spiritually, and administratively sustainable. There is much work ahead, so please keep the Global Network of RSHM Schools in your prayers.

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