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sisters ihm mission

Positive change requires a harmonious balance of forces all working together toward a common goal. Just as Marygrove College evolves into a more prominent, outward-focused urban leadership role, the school’s inner workings must be in balance as well. That’s why the position of Director of Mission Integration was devised, to ensure that together with the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM), Marygrove and its mission will live on, true to the values that the IHMs have dedicated their lives to shaping.

After a thorough search and a four-month interview process, Jan Machusak was chosen as Director of Mission Integration from a host of more than 200 applicants. She has spent virtually her entire career in Catholic education in the Metropolitan Detroit area, including a leadership role at Dominican High School and Academy in Detroit. She holds a B.S. in Math-Science from Aquinas College and a Master of Science Education from Lawrence Technological University.

Her experience through the years in Franciscan, Dominican and IHM-led institutions will help Marygrove deepen and sustain the connections between our institutional mission, IHM sponsorship, Catholic identity and Urban Leadership vision," says President David Fike of his direct report. "This position was created to promote within the campus community a shared enthusiasm about why we do what we do.

Enthusiasm and creative vision are Jan’s specialties. A self-proclaimed “people person,” she tells a great story about an exercise she used in her classroom once about giving, and being ready to receive. She filled a large bowl of colorful candies in front of a group of very excited students and told them they could reach in and take a handful, BUT they could only use their fists to take some. When a clenched fist yielded a scarce few candies— and a whole lot of frustration— she pointed out that an open hand was a much more effective and gracious way to receive these gifts, and pass them on.

Jan is approaching her new position in the same way, with both hands open, as she graciously collaborates with two veteran IHM sisters, who oversee mission integration for the IHM community at its educational institutions. The IHM Mission Integration Sponsorship Coordinators are Monica Stuhlreyer, IHM and Barbara Stanbridge, IHM. Both women have more than five decades of experience in the “humanity business,” something the IHMs view as their calling as well as their vocation, along with education, and earth stewardship.

The baton is being passed to a new generation of urban leaders.

Currently Sister Monica serves as the Spiritual Director at Visitation North Spirituality Center, Bloomfield Hills. She was the former Director of IHM Community Formation on the Marygrove College Campus from 1978-83, and has held various pastoral positions in her career, including a stint as the only woman on a Paulist Catholic Center ministry team in the mid-1980s.

"I see my advisory role as a way to help connect the dots from what has happened in the past to what is going on now,” she says. “I’m thrilled to be involved."

Sister Barbara agrees. She doesn’t look at this new responsibility as a job, but more like a continuing adventure. A successful businesswoman and woman religious, Sr. Barbara is President and Founding Partner of CHANGE-Human Resource Development, a consulting firm that specializes in strategic planning and team building. She is Chair of the Detroit Cristo Rey High School Board and was a long-time chair for Vistage International. Both women entered the IHM Sisters in the early ‘60s when Vatican II was emerging. It influenced them in a radical kind of way—a way that changed them for life. That spirit has never left them.

"Today, the IHMs are solidly in the 21st Century,” Sr. Barbara says. “We’ve made tough decisions through it all, and we’ve stayed the course."

Admittedly, and fortunately for us, the IHMs remain actively involved in so many different ways as they continue to live out their commitment to the Gospel values of love, compassion, justice, reconciliation and concern for the poor. They’re busy. Marygrove College is just one of their charges, with Detroit Cristo Rey high school and Marian high school in Bloomfield Hills among them. The Sisters look forward to assisting Marygrove in the same way that they approach all of their other responsibilities and endeavors: With pride.

Sr. Barbara said it well:

Urban Leadership, and the BOLD program are compelling differentiators for Marygrove College," she says. "We have an opportunity to do something that our mission and history uniquely prepare us to do.

In fact, Marygrove employed a Director of Social Action more than half a century ago, which paired students with volunteer positions in the community. It’s something Jan Machusak says we will be doing more of in the coming months. “One of our campus initiatives is to foster collaboration between Campus Ministry and Service Learning, as we invite IHMs to share their current projects and spirituality,” she said.

The 3 C’s in the D…and a few P’s

Earlier this spring, Jan presented a great conversation-starter called the “3 C’s in the D.” She carefully wove Marygrove’s goals of competence, compassion, and commitment with the IHM belief statements and shared their similar themes; pointing out how they have relevance to today’s challenges in the city.

"I think a big part of my job will be about braiding together our stories—showing how liberal arts, Catholic identity, and Urban Leadership can fit together."

All three elements emphasize the importance of faith, personal integrity, and the pursuit of knowledge— not for its own sake—but for how it serves people and communities, especially people in need. And, just like a teacher, Jan reminds us that this position is not all about her, but about each one of us, and how we all serve the greater good. It’s something we can believe in, to keep us reaching higher. “If I didn’t believe it I wouldn’t be here,” she says.

Jan has some wonderful suggestions for faculty, staff and students to embrace their roles—and probably without knowing it—she quickly rattled them off in another group of three’s. Only this time it was three “P” words. Is there room for three P’s in her already-clever three C’s in the D? (Would somebody please like to buy a vowel?) Of course there is. There are some things that we, as a community, can do to help this distinguished trio do its job. The three P’s will get us started, especially for those who are a little squeamish about change:

First, we can pray, just as the IHMs pray for us every single day. Every single day. Like education, the power of prayer can be transformative, and comforting in times of change.

Next, we can participate. Involve yourself in campus activities, and stretch a bit. Mentor a student, tutor a child. Take time to learn about BOLD and how it will impact the college. Our own conduct will help us all assimilate into the mission, and give it collective energy for others to harness.

"If you currently live outside the city, we invite you to see Detroit as a place to spend time in, not just drive through on your way to and from work," Jan says.

And finally, we can promote. Be a cheerleader for Marygrove College. Your talents and gifts can be used to promote the good things that are happening here. Tell others. Be proud of the Catholic college brand of excellence in education and the contribution you make to it every day.

This is a new juncture for Mission Integration at Marygrove College. Call them an inspired trio, trilogy or trinity—no matter how you see it, these three women will be working together to lead us into an exciting new chapter in Marygrove history, with open hands and open hearts. Are you ready to receive?