Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
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Sinsinawa Dominican named to Evangelization post
by Jami LeBrun, Inland Register staff
(From the June 10, 2004 edition of the Inland Register)
Sinsinawa Dominican Sister Judith Nilles (left) joins diocesan administration Aug. 9 – the feast of St. Dominic. (IR file photo)
Sinsinawa Dominican Sister Judith Nilles will join the Parish Services Office (PSO) team on Aug. 9 as the office’s director and as the Bishop’s Secretary for Evangelization.
Sister Judith comes to the PSO with a wealth of experience.
After graduating from high school, she joined the Dominican community in Kettle Falls, just a few miles from her hometown of Chewelah.
After two years, she moved to Spokane for her college work, attending Fort Wright College of the Holy Names to earn her B.A. in education. Since then, Sister Judith has taught at both St. Thomas More and Assumption schools in Spokane and served as principal of St. Thomas More School.
She has also served as Provincial and Prioress of the Dominican Sisters of Spokane. In 1997, Sister Judith earned her Master’s degree in Religious Studies from Gonzaga University.
As Provincial and Prioress in the Dominican community, Sister Judith led the Sisters through a series of important changes, including their decision to merge with the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters in Sinsinawa, Wis. in 1995. Sister Judith said the five-year process proved to be “very exciting and life-giving” to the community.
“Sister Judith had a profound impact on this community as its leader and has led us through many major decisions,” said Sister Sheila Fitzgerald, the Prioress at the Dominican Center in Spokane. “You can also see the fruits of her leadership in the Spokane community.”
Sister Judith was instrumental in the development of the Transitional Living Center (TLC) over 10 years ago, an outreach center for homeless women with children in Spokane. TLC provides housing and basic needs for families while homeless mothers work to resolve whatever issues made them homeless and to get themselves and their families back on their feet. TLC offers – among many other things – a stable family community, child-care, assistance for women who want to go back to school, and classes on parenting, budgeting and debt reduction.
Sister Judith is currently the pastoral minister and director of religious education for three parishes: St. Mary of the Rosary in Chewelah, Holy Ghost in Valley, and Sacred Heart in Springdale. Though she will miss the work she does for those parishes, Sister Judith feels that God called her to apply for and accept her new position.
Sister Judith will begin her work in the PSO on August 9, which she pointed out, is also St. Dominic’s Feast Day.
“You can’t ask for a better sign than that,” she said.
As Secretary for Evangelization, Sister Judith hopes to “promote the faith life of the diocese at all levels.” She says that the position is “such a fit for the Dominican’s mission as an order,” which is to proclaim the Gospel in word and deed in order to build a holy and just society. She also looks forward to the new challenges and opportunities for growth the position will generate.
“I think it will call forth gifts and talents, but also stretch me. I will be able to develop new relationships and foster some old ones,” she said.
Those who know her have no doubt that Sister Judith will do wonderful things for the PSO team.
“She’s an excellent visionary leader,” said Sister Sheila. ”She has the skills that enable people to see new alternatives and create a new future. She will continue to be very valuable to the diocese.”
Bishop Skylstad agreed.
“I am very pleased that Sister Judith will be joining us at the Catholic Pastoral Center as the new Secretary for Evangelization,” he said. “Sister Judith has experience as a teacher, principal, religious educator, and provincial superior of her community. We welcome her service to the diocesan family as she directs the PSO. I am most grateful to her for accepting this new responsibility,” he said.
“The diocese is really fortunate to have Sister Judith on board because she is a great leader,” Sister Mary Ann Nelson, the Provincial of the Sinsinawa Dominicans said from her office in Milwaukee. “She knows how to work with people and how to empower people. In her own quiet way, she works miracles.”