By Hayley M. Cook
A longtime advocate for West Virginia’s Appalachian communities, Sister Janet M. Peterworth became president of the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville, Kentucky, on July 29 in the congregation’s Motherhouse Chapel in Louisville.
The former executive director of ABLE Families, a faith-based nonprofit organization located in Kermit, Sister Janet spent 20 years in rural Appalachia working to strengthen the region’s individuals and families by addressing the systemic causes of poverty.
“It was hard for me to leave West Virginia and the ministry. People that were so meaningful and life-giving for me,” Sister Janet said. “My time there will hold many good memories for me. West Virginia will always have a special place in my heart.”
While in West Virginia, Sister Janet worked alongside Ursuline Sister Brendan Conlon, who also recently returned to Louisville’s Motherhouse.
Sister Brendan directed Christian Help, which provides financial assistance and distributes food and household items to the area’s impoverished. Both ABLE Families and Christian Help continue under the directorship of Sister Therese Carew, OSF, and Sister Pat Murray, CSJ, as well as with help from local staff and numerous volunteers.
While in West Virginia, Sister Janet served as chairwoman or board member for many other nonprofit organizations such as Our Children Our Future, Tug Valley Recovery Shelter/Domestic Violence Board, the John A. Sheppard Memorial Ecological Reservation and the STOP Coalition, an alcohol and drug prevention organization.
Four other Ursuline Sisters of Louisville form the new Leadership Circle. They are: Sister Agnes Coveney, vice president/councilor; Sister Paula Kleine-Kracht, councilor; Sister Margaret Ann Hagan, councilor; and Sister Jo Ann Jansing, councilor.
The Louisville community joined Ursuline Sisters and Associates, their family members and friends for the leadership transition ceremony, also marking the continuation of ministry for the congregation that first arrived in Louisville in 1858 to teach German immigrant children.
The Leadership Circle is committed to guiding the 156-year-old congregation of female religious and associate members that today still teach and serve communities and individuals, near and far, in a variety of ways.
As president, Sister Janet continues in ministry.
“I embrace the call to leadership that has come from my community,” she said. “These are exciting times in our history. I think we are at a crossroads, and it is important to discern which road we take into our future. But what I know for sure is that the spirit of God will be our real leader on whatever road we choose.”