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Dominican Sisters Grand Rapids Leadership Team 2024-2030

Grand Rapids, MI —The Grand Rapids Dominican Sisters’ leadership team, elected last March during general chapter, began a six-year term of service today, just hours after their formal installation during a ritual at Chapel of the Word at Marywood in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Sunday, June 30.

During a moving ritual, Sandra Delgado, O.P., the outgoing prioress, formally questioned Sister Megan McElroy, the prioress-elect: “Sister Megan, you have accepted the call to Dominican leadership to proclaim the reign of God to all God’s people. What do you ask?”

“God’s mercy and yours,” responded Sister Megan.

Sister Sandra then asked: What do you promise?

“I ask your prayer, your support, and your blessing,” Sister Megan responded.

As prioress of the congregation, Sister Megan asked similar questions of Sister Diane Zerfas, the vicaress-elect, and Sisters Kathi Sleziak, and Mary Donnelly, councilors-elect: “Sisters, what do you ask?”

Together they responded, “God’s mercy and yours.”

Each, then, responded, “We promise to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly,
trusting in God’s grace to sustain, and God’s abiding Spirit to enliven us.”

“We promise to embrace our Dominican heritage by lives of prayer, study, ministry and common life to foster an ever-deepening commitment to the Dominican call to praise, to bless, and to preach. We promise to render service in love and mutual respect, to listen in obedience to God’s voice in you, our Sisters, and in those with whom we minister, and to be mutually supportive to one another, so that God’s Reign might be furthered and God’s glory praised.”

The Congregation responded:
“We promise to honor the commitments we have made to God and to God’s people. We pray that the gifts of wisdom and counsel guide your leadership. We give you support and encouragement in your ministry of Dominican leadership as we collaborate with you in faith and service. And we promise to always remember that you are our Sisters, with whom we share our lives, inflamed with contemplative love, as together we live and preach justice.”

Dominican Sisters Grand Rapids Leadership Team 2024-2030
Megan McElroy, O.P., prioress, Diane Zerfas, O.P., vicaress, Mary Donnelly, O.P., councilor, Kathi Sleziak, O.P., councilor


Prioress Megan McElroy, O.P., Addressed Congregation

During her first address to the Sisters as prioress, Sister Megan McElroy began with the questions: “How can I help? How can we help?

“It’s the question, I think, that is at the heart of Jesus’ life and ministry. Our God, recognizing that people are hurting, are in need of care and compassion, lets such help and assistance, healing and hope, flow from Him like a river.”

“Our world in so many ways and in so many places, in so many hearts and in so many bodies, is crying out for help. Do we dare to respond to the cry? Do we dare to risk asking the question “How can I help? How can we help?” Do we dare to get into some trouble, good trouble, to bring healing, to bring life, to bring hope to our world?”

“…we must, by grounding ourselves in God’s life through contemplation, sharing the blessings of our plenitude, and growing in relationship with all God’s people.”

For as we say in our Chapter 2024 statement:

As the water of rivers, lakes, and seas sustains and unites us in creation,
so the waters of Baptism welcome us to abundant life
and call us to birth a world of healing and hope, compassion and justice.

Immersed in the Source of Life,
we take a long loving look at the world’s joys and sorrows.
Drinking from the well of gratitude,
we share God’s abundant love, mercy, and joy.

Enlivened by the springs of new life,
we walk together in kinship with all of Earth community
praising, blessing, and preaching the saving grace of God.

The world needs our help – one encounter at a time. Why would we help? Because justice is unending. Why should we help? Because we know every morning we wake up, we – ALL OF US – are on mission. God is calling. Are we ready to help?

Meet the Team

The newly elected Leadership Team will lead the mission and life of the Congregation from July 1, 2024, through a six-year term ending July 1, 2030.

Prioress, Sister Megan McElroy, O.P. — Sister Megan served as councilor on the congregation’s 2018-2024 Leadership Team. Previously, she served as co-director of the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate in St. Louis. She served as a pastoral associate in Michigan at St. Patrick Parish in Traverse City and St. Blase Parish in Sterling Heights. Early in her career, she taught school at Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart in Lake Forest, Illinois. She received her Doctor of Ministry in Preaching from Aquinas Institute of Theology. Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies from Aquinas College; a Master of Theological Studies from St. John Provincial Seminary; a Master of Divinity with a focus in Word and Worship from Catholic Theological Union; and a Master of Divinity in Preaching from Aquinas Institute of Theology.

Vicaress, Sister Diane Zerfas, O.P. –– Sister Diane has coordinated and facilitated Dominican Center Marywood spiritual formation programs for the past 18 years. She is an adjunct at Aquinas College in Women and Spirituality. She has served the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids in formation ministry, pastoral ministry, and preaching at Dominican Chapel/Marywood. She previously served in elected leadership 2000-2006. Diane graduated from Marywood Academy where she explored a love of learning and learned to love liturgy and the Dominican charisms. She entered the Grand Rapids Dominicans when she was a sophomore at Aquinas College. She received her Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies – Aquinas Institute of Theology, St. Louis, MO, Master of Arts in Religious Studies – Aquinas College, and Bachelor of Science (Math, Chemistry, Theology, Education) Aquinas College.

Councilor, Sister Kathi Sleziak, O.P. — Sister Kathi served as executive assistant to the Dominican Sisters-Grand Rapids 2018-2024 Leadership Team. Her past ministries include Vocation Ministry for the Dominican Sisters; co-founder of Grandville Avenue Arts and Humanities in Grand Rapids and director of Grandville Avenue Academy for the Arts (now known as Cook Art Center); and for over 20 years as a special education teacher for St Clair County ISD. She is currently a member of Mary’s Hope Committee whose vision is to add beauty to the Marywood Campus and increase the ecological benefits and health of the land. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Marygrove College in Detroit, and master’s degrees from both Eastern Michigan University and Michigan State University.

Councilor, Sister Mary Donnelly, O.P. — Sister Maryhas been a rector at the University of Notre Dame for the past 16 years and has ministered to college students for 35 years. She has served as formation director for the Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids and as adjunct faculty at Aquinas College in the theology department. She previously served as pastoral associate and campus minister at St. Paul Campus Parish, Big Rapids, Michigan. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Aquinas College, a master’s degree from Aquinas Institute of Theology, and a Doctor of Ministry from Western Theological Seminary.