The appointment of Holy Cross Sister Joan Marie Steadman as executive director of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious bodes well for the organization that serves superiors of about 80 percent of the women’s religious orders in the United States.
Aptly named, Steadman brings experience of the executive committee of the L.C.W.R., which has dealt with the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith investigation of the L.C.W.R. With no learning curve before her, Steadman will be positioned to help move the conference to a resolution of concerns raised by the C.D.F. in ongoing discussions.
She also brings experience in religious formation, a neuralgic area that has concerned the Vatican in recent years.
Known for a thoughtful approach to issues, Steadman can contribute to Vatican discussions as well as oversee other key L.C.W.R. concerns. Among the latter would be efforts to assist religious communities seen as in their last generation because of lack of finances, leadership and new members. She also has the experience to assist orders that show vibrancy as they accept new members.
Steadman begins her new position in January and succeeds Janet Mock, a Sister of St. Joseph of Baden, Pennsylvania. Mock plans a four-month sabbatical before starting ministry in the Pittsburgh area.
Steadman has been an active member of the L.C.W.R. for over 15 years. While on the leadership team of her community, the Sisters of the Holy Cross of Notre Dame, Indiana, from 1994 to 2004, she was elected chair of Region 7 and served on the L.C.W.R. national board from 2000-2003. She was the president of her congregation from 2009-2014 and served as regional chair and national board member from 2011-2014. She was a member of the L.C.W.R. executive committee from 2013-2014.
Steadman also has worked as her community's novice director, and was the co-administrator for community life for the Sisters of the Presentation (San Francisco). Other previous ministries have included associate director of healthcare ethics at the Markula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University; vice-president for mission at Holy Cross Hospital, Salt Lake City, Utah; regional executive team member at Holy Cross Health Services of Utah; pastoral associate at St. Therese Parish, Fresno, California, and St. Elizabeth Parish, Richfield, Utah; and administrator and teacher in several elementary and secondary schools.
Steadman currently serves as a member of the board of the Loyola University Health System in Chicago, and has served on several hospital boards, as well as the board of Saint Mary College, Notre Dame.
Mary Ann Walsh, R.S.M., is a member of the Northeast Community of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas and U.S. Church Correspondent for America Magazine.