The Adorers of the Blood of Christ (ASC) community has recently elected its new leadership team for the upcoming six-year term, 2018-2024. Sister Vicki Bergkamp, a business professor at Newman University, was selected as the new regional leader for the team, and two current and former members of Newman’s Board of Trustees were also elected to the new leadership team.
The history of Newman University is intertwined with the history of the ASC — the religious community which founded and sponsors the university. The ASC congregation was originally founded on March 4, 1834, by St. Maria De Mattias, and has since grown into an international congregation that continues today.
The meeting to determine the new U.S. regional leadership team was held in St. Louis June 21 through 24.
Each region that encompasses the ASC congregation has a governance plan for that specific area. The governance plan is approved by the regional members and ultimately by the international leadership team.
“Part of the responsibilities of the U.S. Regional Assembly, in accordance with its governance plan, is to make a decision as to how long the term will be,” Director of Mission Effectiveness Charlotte Rohrbach, ASC, said. “For this, we decided on a six-year term. We also determined the number of regional counselors we will have, and we decided to continue having four in addition to the regional leader, which makes it a team of five.”
Rohrbach also mentioned that two international team representatives attended the Regional Election Assembly — Sisters Nadia Coppa, general superior, and Dani Brought, general councilor.
Preparation for the election process took months of prior reading and prayerful reflection before the actual meeting began. When the assembly in St. Louis finally rolled around, the religious sisters in attendance spent hours discerning, discussing and praying continually using a process prepared by the Assembly Coordinating Committee and its facilitator, and approved by the members and the international team.
“What does ‘discern’ mean to me? It means you’re sharing with people, you’re praying, you’ve been doing your own reflection of, ‘Who would be the best ones to go with now,’ and so on,” Rohrbach said. “You’re at tables spending quiet time in reflection, but you’re also getting a chance to be with other members of the region throughout the process.”
Out of this discernment process, Bergkamp was selected as the new regional leader. She is the first member of the former Wichita province — since the consolidation of the three U.S. provinces in October 2000 — to be elected as a regional leader. The former Wichita province was the group that originally founded what is today Newman University.
The four regional councilors selected include Sister Janet McCann, a current member of the 2012-2018 leadership team and member of the Newman Board of Trustees; Sister Maria Hughes, also a current member of the leadership team and board member for the Center of Hope in Wichita; Sister Mary Catherine Clark, a member of the leadership team that served from 2006 through 2012 and former member of the Newman Board of Trustees; and Sister Angela Laquet, an occupational therapist who has not previously served on a regional leadership team and is the youngest member of the group.
Rohrbach added, “Our constitution and the rules we have as Adorers for the region indicate that we will also have a secretary and treasurer. These can be councilors who are already on the team or may be selected from other members asked to serve in these positions. Only the regional leader may not serve in either of these capacities because of her position as leader.”
While the election process itself can be intense, Rohrbach said that, to her, this is also its most rewarding aspect.
Sometimes “… people think we get together and everybody’s having a good time, but it is really a lot of hard work,” she said. “You’re really praying and trusting for the best outcome.
“During a meeting almost 20 years ago, a former general superior addressed an assembly: ‘Our congregation of Adorers will continue to exist even after having me as its leader.’” Rohrbach smiled and added, “It has continued even after I served as the leader of the former Wichita province. The five members we have elected are inspiring women who we can trust to take us where we need to go during the coming years.”
When congratulating Bergkamp, Rohrbach wished her good luck and they both realized that they would all need prayerful support of one another.
In an email to the ASC community about some of the next steps in the process, Bergkamp said, “This is a quick note to say thank you for all the ways you have supported the five of us through the selection process. We certainly count on your prayerful support. Angela, Mary Catherine and I will be bringing our jobs to closure and making the necessary plans to move. Janet and Maria will continue the work of this leadership team.”
Bergkamp, who previously worked as a professor of business, has officially resigned as a Newman faculty member in order to fulfill her new role as regional leader for the ASC community.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Kimberly McDowall Long, Ph.D., said that she is delighted for Bergkamp and the entire ASC community.
“We are, of course, very saddened to lose Sister Vicki from the faculty at Newman, but know we will continue to benefit from her leadership in her new role,” Long said. “I have every confidence that Sister Vicki’s passion, frankness and thoughtfulness will serve the entire community well.”
Rohrbach said the ASC community firmly believes that there is a leader in every chair.
“We are all in this, making decisions together,” she said. “Some of us are in what we consider to be an elected leadership position — in other words, we are chosen to be in a role of a leader. It’s kind of our full-time commitment, while others are involved in some other kind of ministry and helping to fulfill the mission of Christ. We all recognize that, but I think it’s important to say and believe that there’s a leader in every chair.”