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RENEW International Appoints New President

Sr. Theresa Rickard, O.P. leads international Catholic organization


Plainfield, NJ –RENEW International, a Catholic not-for-profit organization based in Plainfield, NJ, has appointed Sr. Theresa Rickard, O.P., to serve as both President and Executive Director. The formal appointment was made by Most Rev. John J. Myers, J.C.D., D.D., Archbishop of Newark, in his capacity as the chairman of the Corporate Board of RENEW International, and with the recommendation of its Board of Trustees.
    RENEW International has a 30-year record of revitalizing parish life through encouraging and supporting the formation of small communities who gather prayerfully to reflect on and share the Word of God, to make better connections between faith and life, and to live their faith more concretely in family, work, and society.

    Sr. Rickard, who succeeds Msgr. Thomas Kleissler, expands her role as the leader of this 35-person organization, whose mission is to serve the needs of people and parishes with a variety of pastoral processes and publications. Commenting on the appointment, Archbishop Myers said, “I am pleased RENEW International’s important mission will be carried forward by someone with Sr. Terry’s experience and enthusiasm for serving God’s people. I thank Msgr. Kleissler for his many years of dedication and vision renewing parishes in the United States and abroad.”

    Sr. Terry, 53, is a Dominican Sister of Blauvelt, New York. She holds a Doctor of Ministry in Preaching from Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, Missouri. Additionally, she earned a Master of Divinity at Union Theological Seminary in New York City and a Master of Arts in Religion and Religious Education at Fordham University. Reflecting her early ministry in multicultural parishes in the South Bronx in New York City, Sr. Rickard has developed a keen appreciation for the blessings and challenges of parish life, a strong commitment to serving poorer parishes, and an understanding of the particular needs of our ethnically diverse Church. Besides parish work, Sr. Terry was a member of the Archdiocese of New York Parish Mission Team, and was the Director of Vocation and Formation ministry for her Dominican congregation.

    Sr. Terry is a well-known retreat leader and an outstanding speaker. Her enthusiasm for spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ is contagious. Since becoming Executive Director three years ago, she has led RENEW’s expansion into over forty dioceses in the United States, in parishes and on campuses, as well as into five developing countries. Under her watch, RENEW launched several new and important pastoral processes focused on evangelization, faith formation and spiritual renewal.
    Foremost among these is Why Catholic?/¿Por qué ser católico? a leading parish process to help adults grow in their Catholic faith and in their confidence to share it with others. Based on Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, this fully integrated approach has revitalized the faith of hundreds of thousands of parishioners with leadership and faith formation workshops, retreats, and theologically-sound and pastorally-sensitive small group faith-sharing publications. Supporting this outreach, RENEW has employed innovative communication methods such as web-based video, podcasts, webinars, and social media to help parishes engage both active and inactive Catholics. RENEW has a strong commitment to helping parishes reach out to young adults both single and married and welcome them into parish life. One successful young adult initiative is RENEW’s Theology on Tap offered to parishes in collaboration with the Young Adult ministry of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

    RENEW International’s newest pastoral renewal service is ARISE Together in Christ, developed in collaboration with Cardinal Seán O’Malley and the Archdiocese of Boston’s Office of Worship and Spiritual Life. Adopted by Boston as the spiritual centerpiece of the Archdiocese’s recent bicentennial, the process has proved true to its title “Together in Christ.” It is building bridges between merged parishes, connecting diverse ethnic communities, and forging deeper relationships among parish members, young and old. Throughout the Archdiocese, more than 30,000 people participate across 180 parishes, employing materials developed in six languages, including options for the visually impaired, youth, and young families. Other dioceses, including the Diocese of Stockton in California, will be adopting the ARISE process in the near future.

    Sr. Terry has also personally championed RENEW Africa, a process developed from the ground up in the continent of Africa to meet the local needs expressed by pastoral leaders and the Synod of Bishops for Africa. This initiative marks the first time RENEW has published and warehoused its materials within Africa, based in the Diocese of Port Elizabeth in South Africa.

    Additionally, RENEW has recently introduced Longing for the Holy, a faith-sharing resource for parish use and individual reflection based on selected spiritual insights of best-selling Catholic author, Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, O.M.I.

    “I am honored to have the trust and full support of RENEW’s Board, Fr. Tom, and Archbishop Myers to lead RENEW’s excellent team in providing innovative pastoral services which build vibrant faith communities of hope and Gospel action,” remarked Sr. Terry.

    Msgr. Kleissler, a Newark priest for over 50 years, co-founded RENEW International with Msgr. Thomas Ivory in the Archdiocese of Newark, beginning as the Office of Pastoral Renewal in 1976. During his tenure as President, RENEW International’s pastoral processes spread outside the United States, serving people in Europe, Central America, Asia, Australia, and Africa. RENEW has worked with dioceses and parishes in 23 countries, and its materials and leader training have been translated and inculturated in over forty languages. Msgr. Kleissler will continue to utilize his gifts as a member of the RENEW team.

    About RENEW International
    RENEW International is a canonically-recognized Catholic organization operating under the auspices of the Archdiocese of Newark for the past three decades. RENEW International fosters spiritual renewal in the Catholic tradition by empowering individuals and communities to encounter God in everyday life, deepen and share faith, and connect faith with action. RENEW International can be found on the web at www.renewintl.org.