May 5, 2021, Adrian, Michigan – Sister Judith Friedel, OP, was named Chapter Prioress of the Congregation’s Holy Rosary Mission Chapter based in Adrian, Michigan. As of July 1, 2021, she will work with Sister Sharon Spanbauer, OP, Mission Prioress, in ministering with many of the Sisters who reside at the Dominican Life Center.
Sister Judy succeeds Sister Patricia Dulka, OP, who has served as Chapter Prioress of Holy Rosary since January 2016 and, before that, as Chapter Prioress of the Dominican Midwest Chapter – based in Chicago – from 2008 to 2014.
Sister Judy was one of four Sisters who had offered themselves to minister as Chapter Prioress. In the formal announcement, Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress of the Congregation, noted the gratitude of herself and the General Council to Sister Judy and the other women who “generously offered themselves to serve.”
After learning of her appointment, Sister Judy said, “I would describe my reaction as shock.” She learned of her selection during an April 29, 2021, telephone conversation with Sister Patricia and had not expected to be chosen as the next Chapter Prioress. However, she said, “I trust the Spirit and I felt the guidance of the Spirit.”
“I really believe God led me on a path” from one ministry to the next, Sister Judy said. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, and a graduate of Hoban Dominican High School in Cleveland – where she was taught by Adrian Dominican Sisters – Sister Judy entered the Congregation in 1963.
Sister Judy holds a bachelor’s degree in English with minors in mathematics and science from Siena Heights College (University) in Adrian; a master’s degree in religious education from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas; and a graduate certificate in spiritual direction from Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, Missouri.
Sister Judy said she spent most of her years in education at the junior high school and high school levels and at one point coached girls’ basketball, volleyball, and softball at the junior high school level. She taught in Hayward, California, and in Melbourne and St. Petersburg, Florida. In addition, she ministered as a youth minister in Tucson, Arizona, and in North Olmsted, Ohio. She rounded out her education experience as Spiritual Activities Director for four years at St. Christopher School in Rocky River Ohio.
Led by God, Sister Judy said, her heart was “drawn towards the spiritual.” After her years in the classroom, she took a year of study to pursue spiritual direction. She began to offer spiritual programs and individual spiritual direction in parishes and, when an opening in pastoral ministry came up at St. Brendan Parish in North Olmsted, Ohio, she took advantage of the opportunity and ministered there for 11 years. Her ministries there included coordinating various parish commissions, making visitations to the hospital, setting up teams of Eucharistic ministers to serve two nursing homes in her parish, and offering spiritual direction.
After retiring from St. Brendan, Sister Judy continued to visit the nursing homes, offered spiritual direction, and led days of reflection at local retreat centers.
Sister Judy said she will bring all of the skills she learned in her ministries to her new position at Holy Rosary Chapter, but particularly what she learned in pastoral ministry. “I see myself as a companion, walking with people,” she said. “I think human connection is so important. I never see myself in a role. I offer who I am and the gifts I have.”
From her experience in pastoral ministry, Sister Judy added, she knows she will be blessed in turn by the Sisters of Holy Rosary. “I know without a doubt that I’ll be receiving more than I ever hope to give,” she said. “I will do a lot of listening and learning and being blessed by them.”
Sister Judy has a special message for the Sisters she will serve as Chapter Prioress. “I hope that we can help each other ponder the blessings and learnings we have all gathered during these pandemic times, for there are many,” she said. “I thank you for your trust in me and I count on your continued prayers for a smooth transition into this new ministry. I am looking forward to being among you, befriending you, and accompanying you on your daily journeys. With God’s grace, we will bless and uplift each other in our daily interactions.”