Dominican sister named to head USCCB education secretariat

WASHINGTON (CNS) — A Dominican sister from Nashville, Tenn., has been named executive director of the Secretariat of Catholic Education of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Dominican Sister John Mary Fleming, a member of her religious community’s St. Cecilia Congregation, will succeed Marie Powell, who earlier this year announced she will be retiring.

Powell has been executive director since July 2007.

Sister Fleming currently is principal of St. Dominic School in Bolingbrook, Ill., which is in the Diocese of Joliet.

Msgr. Ronny Jenkins, USCCB general secretary, announced her appointment May 29.

He said in a statement that both Sister Fleming and her community “have shown a commitment to Catholic education” that resonates with “our conference and which has been a hallmark of the Catholic Church in this country.”

He also praised Powell for her many years of service with the USCCB and the secretariat and for her long career as an educational leader.

“Marie served well for many years as a strong advocate for Catholic schools and as a leader in the education community,” Msgr. Jenkins said. “She can be proud of her contributions, as we are proud of her.”

Sister Fleming holds a licentiate in canon law from The Catholic University of America, a master’s degree in theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, a master of education degree in educational leadership and supervision from the University of Southern Mississippi, and a bachelor’s degree in education from Belmont University, Nashville.

Prior to her term as St. Dominic’s principal, from 2010 to the present, Sister Fleming was director of education for her religious congregation, 2000-2007; interim vice president of operations at Aquinas College, Nashville, 2000-2001; and coordinator of her congregation’s $46 million motherhouse building project, 2000-2006.

She served on the board of Aquinas College, 2000-2007, and currently is a board member of Providence Academy, Minneapolis. In 2012, she also served on the 10-member team to develop a program for the year of Faith for the Joliet Diocese.

Before Powell was named executive director for Catholic education at the USCCB, she had been assistant secretary for parental advocacy in the education department since 2002.

Prior to joining the staff of the USCCB, Powell was assistant principal and academic dean at Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax, Va., from 1996 to 2002. She was superintendent of schools in the Diocese of Arlington, Va., from 1986 to 1995.

She also has served on a variety of school committees, associations and boards.