News Release: On the Retirement of President and C.E.O. Sister Monica Kostielney, R.S.M.

March 3, 2010

(LANSING)—After having served the Michigan Catholic Conference for over thirty-five years, the last sixteen as President and Chief Executive Officer, the Conference today announced that the retirement of Sister Monica Kostielney, R.S.M., has been accepted by the organization’s Board of Directors. Spanning a career that included participation on numerous boards of directors, an honorary tribute from the State of Michigan, and several gubernatorial appointments, the retirement of Sister Monica Kostielney is likely to reverberate throughout the Lansing political community.

“For over thirty-five years, Sister Monica Kostielney has dedicated her vocation to the dignity of human life, educational justice, and concern for the poor among us,” said Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron, archbishop of Detroit and Chairman of the Board of Directors. “As President and Chief Executive Officer, Sister Monica has led the Michigan Catholic Conference with tremendous vigor and fidelity, guiding the Conference to heights never before witnessed in the history of the organization.”

The Michigan Catholic Conference Board of Directors will now assemble a committee to oversee a national search for Sister Monica’s successor. It is anticipated that an announcement of succession will be made in August. Sister Monica will remain President and C.E.O. until such time when the transition is complete.

“The importance of the Conference’s mission cannot be overstated, and I know that whoever fills this position will continue to lead the Conference in the spirit of the Beatitudes and with concern for the common good of all,” said Sister Monica. “Every moment at the Conference has truly been a gift, but it is the support and excellence of the staff that has made my work very satisfying.” In retirement, Sister Monica plans to travel internationally on sabbatical before further pursuing her goal of helping children learn to read.

First joining the Conference as Public Affairs Assistant for Education in 1973, Sister Monica went on to serve the organization in several leadership positions, including Executive Assistant (1980–82), Acting Director (1982–83) and Executive Vice-President for Public Affairs (1983–1994). In 1994 when the Conference reorganized its structure, Sister Monica was named President and Chief Executive Officer, a position she has since held. Prior to joining the Conference, Sister Monica taught at six schools in the Grand Rapids area, including St. Francis Xavier (1960–62), Muskegon Catholic Central (1962–64), St. Simon (1964–65), St. Elizabeth (1965–66), and Mt. Mercy Academy (1966–1973).

In 1998 the State of Michigan presented a tribute to Sister Monica for her twenty-fifth anniversary at the Conference, which was signed by Governor John Engler and Lieutenant Governor Connie Binsfeld, and read: “Sister Monica has been steadfast as an advocate for children and families, and vulnerable members of society. This is evidenced through her involvement and commitment in a multitude of professional and civic endeavors.”

Sister Monica’s professional and civic associations, awards and honors span a wide breadth of critical public policy issues that have had significant impact on the State of Michigan, including appointments to Governor Jennifer Granholm’s Emergency Financial Advisory Panel and Governor James Blanchard’s Blue Ribbon Welfare Reform Committee (co-vice chair). Sister Monica has also served as past chair of the Michigan Future Board of Directors; Secretary, Michigan Nonprofit Association Board of Directors Executive Committee and Chair of the Nominating Committee; Member, Michigan Health Insurance Access Advisory Council Board of Directors; Member, Michigan Association of Nonpublic Schools Board of Directors; Member, LifeSecure Board of Directors; Vice-chair, Michigan Political History Society Board of Directors; and member, Kids Count in Michigan Advisory Board.

In 1999, Sister Monica was granted an Honorary Doctor of Law Degree from Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit for providing “outstanding leadership in the defeat of Proposal B on physician-assisted suicide.” In 1998 she was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from Right to Life of Michigan for instrumental work in the assisted suicide battle. And in 1997, the Catholic Lawyers Guild of the Diocese of Lansing presented Sister Monica with the group’s St. Thomas More Award for “tireless efforts to influence legislation that promotes sound public policy, respect for the human person, and the common good.”

Additional organizations and appointments for which Sister Monica served include member and Past President, and Secretary/Treasurer of the National Association of State Catholic Conference Directors; Member, National Diocesan Attorneys Association; Chairperson of the Low Income Energy Assistance Task Force, a statutorily mandated task force to design a long-range energy assistance plan for low-income persons; Chairperson, Michigan Department of Commerce Arbitration Advisory Committee; Member, Governor’s Energy Awareness Advisory Committee; Member, Michigan Supreme Court Gender Bias Committee; Chairman, Partnership for Michigan Healthcare; President, Promote Michigan Committee (a statewide coalition to defeat ballot Proposal C 1984); Co-chair, Citizens for Compassionate Care (a statewide coalition to defeat Proposal B, which sought to legalize assisted suicide); Chairperson, Michigan Department of Commerce Arbitration Advisory Committee; Member, Michigan Department of Education Legislative Advisory Council; Member, Michigan Hospital Association Council on Catholic Health Care; Member, United States Catholic Conference Advisory Committee on Public Policy and Catholic Schools; Member, United States Catholic Conference Education Committee; Member, United States Catholic Conference Federal Assistance Advisory Commission; Member, WKAR Radio and TV Community Advisory Board; Member, Governor’s Advisory Committee, ECIA, Chapter 2, (Department of Education); and Board of Trustees, Little Sisters of the Poor, Grand Rapids, Inc., among others.

Sister Monica Kostielney graduated with a B.A. from Mercy College, Detroit, in 1960, then attained her Master’s Degree in English and Medieval Studies from the University of Detroit in 1966. Sister Monica also completed several graduate courses in administration at Columbia University’s Teacher College, New York, in 1968. She professed her vows to the Religious Sisters of Mercy, a religious institute of Pontifical right dedicated to the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, in 1955.

Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.

-- 30 --