The heavy loss of Sr. Charlotte Rohrbach left a hole in the heart of the university, one that cannot be filled but must be healed by the labor and efforts of others.
In order to ensure that Newman’s mission is continuing to be upheld, another sister of the university has been appointed the position of Director of Mission Effectiveness.
An official statement from President Kathlene Jagger, Ph. D., stated: “It is my great pleasure to announce that Sr. Therese Wetta, ASC, has agreed to step into the Director of Mission Effectiveness position left vacant by the passing of Sr. Charlotte Rohrbach.”
She continued on in her statement, explaining how well suited Sr. Therese is for the job.
“I am confident that the energy, commitment, spirit and knowledge that Sr. Therese brings to this position will not only honor the legacy of Sr. Charlotte, but also begin a new chapter with novel ideas about Mission Effectiveness at Newman University. The President’s Cabinet is eager to welcome Sr. Therese to our leadership team.”
Sr. Therese’s initial reaction to this opportunity was “one of excitement,” as she said in an interview. Previously, she worked for eleven years at Newman in the 70s and 80s, then returned in 2013 to help raise money for the Bishop Gerber Science Center. She left in 2017 and traveled to Africa as a missionary. Coming back to Wichita last September, the pandemic prevented her from committing to another ministry.
“I’m excited to return to Newman, the place I love. I have a strong conviction that we need at least one ASC as a formal member of faculty and staff. That was one of Sr. Charlotte’s strong convictions and also a weight that she carried, knowing she was the only formal ASC serving on the staff. I think it is important for people to know that there is at least one here on an everyday basis.”
Her discussion about the job with Jagger left her feeling inspired and pleased with how she wanted to create a sense of unity in Newman’s mission.
“I’m very impressed by Dr. Jagger, and to be able to be working with what I hear is part of her vision, to ensure that Newman’s mission and the ASC’s mission continue to be integrated together. It’s a joy.”
Being the new Director of Mission Effectiveness, Sr. Therese has spent some time meditating on what Newman’s mission is and what it should be.
“For me, when I think of Newman’s mission, I think of empowerment, I think of transformation, and then I think of is that we want to nurture the faith so that we can work to make that transformation happen.”
Caring deeply about observing before acting, Sr. Therese hopes to always make informed decisions as she continues to learn about her role.
“Part of this role for me initially is to listen and learn, because I’ve been away, to see what is going on now and to understand it. As that happens I can see if there are new ideas that come about that continue to help the ASC mission and the Newman mission integrate, and for that empowerment and transformation become better understood, better lived, better implemented into the university’s mission.”
In addition to carefully observing, continuing the work of Sr. Charlotte, and carrying out the general duties of Director of Mission Effectiveness, Sr. Therese is already working on some specific goals alongside her colleagues of the university.
“Dr. Jagger has talked with Father Adam and athletics and now me about having a spiritual companion for all the clubs and the teams on campus. So Fr. Adam and I have already talked about getting together and creating a description so when we start asking people to do that, we know how to respond when they ask ‘Well what does this mean, what are my responsibilities?’ ”
Though it is easy to recognize how much wisdom and experience she has from past jobs and journeys, Sr. Therese shared sentiments of how she is “still very green” and how much she has to learn from this new role. She is a person who respects the wisdom and knowledge of others, and is clearly appreciative of the powers of perspective, change, and growth.
“Nobody will fill Charlotte’s footsteps, or fill her shoes. My goal will be to walk in some of those footsteps, but never to fill her shoes. We each bring our own personalities and our own ideas, but I know she has developed many creative ways to help people understand.”