BEAVERTON — Following months of preparation, prayer and contemplation, the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon intended to meet in person for their chapter meeting March 21-28. The coronavirus scuttled that plan, but the sisters adapted and held the gathering with the internet app Zoom.

At the periodic meetings — common among religious communities — the sisters elect new leaders and approve a document to guide the community during the next five years. The sisters also develop goals. This year, one objective, fittingly, was increased use of technology for carrying out the mission.

The sisters are teachers, parish workers, spiritual directors, agency executives and counselors, among other callings.

The new SSMO leaders, who will be installed June 28, are: Sister Michael Francine Duncan, superior general; Sister Denise Klaas, vicar general; Sister Sara Goggin, general councilor; and Sister Rita Watkins, general councilor.

In what they call a direction statement, the sisters prayerfully look forward to the next five years. “Women of Vision: Welcoming All with Compassion and Joy” says the sisters commit themselves more deeply to their charism and mission “in order to live a more vibrant communal life.”

The statement calls for the sisters to build trust with each other, employ the unique talents of each sister and embrace technology. The document goes on to call for a response to the church’s mission of social justice and care for the vulnerable. It also urges an assessment of the SSMO properties to make sure they enable “hospitality, sustainability, and care for our sisters.”

Sister Michael Francine, originally from New Jersey, had a childhood devotion to Mary and St. Michael the Archangel. Before entering the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon in 1998, she worked in business management and human resources. She has served as vocations director and is a licensed professional counselor. She has a love for golf, art and walking.

Sister Denise was music director and teacher for Valley Catholic Elementary School and the youth orchestra leader 1991 – 2019. She earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Boise State University and a master’s in music education from the University of Portland. She taught in many schools in the Portland area and is an expert in hand bells.

Sister Sara met the sisters at Holy Cross School in North Portland. After graduating from St. Mary of the Valley, she attended Marylhurst and Portland State University for undergraduate work and earned a master’s in education from the University of Oregon. A math and religion teacher for 50 years, she hopes to help the sisters take stands on social justice issues.

Sister Rita graduated from St. John the Baptist School in Milwaukie and St. Mary of the Valley. After entering the convent she earned her bachelor’s degree from Marylhurst and master’s degree from University of Portland. For 50 years she has been a teacher, principal and school president. She volunteers with Family Promise of Beaverton and loves to read and do Sudoku puzzles.