The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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August 10, 2001 Issue
Special Section:
College/Back to School


ACES/Xavier names system president

Sr. Patrice Hughes to lead Appleton's merged ACES/Xavier system


By Joanne Flemming
Compass Correspondent

When Sr. Patrice Hughes begins her new duties this month, her arrival in Appleton will mean the realization of a long-time dream for that city-the merger of ACES, Appleton Catholic Education System, and Xavier High School.

Sr. Hughes is president of the merged system. Although she officially started her new position on Aug. 1, she will not be present in the system's central office until Aug. 15.

"I think that is appropriate since it is the Feast of the Assumption," she said. "I'm counting on Mary to raise us all up."

The new president was in Appleton at the end of June to meet ACES/Xavier's board of trustees, principals and teachers.

In talking about her new position, she said, "I see my role as the larger picture. As an architect, I have to see how all of those pieces fit into a whole so that whatever we do gives the image and impression that we are a united venture for the Lord."

"My responsibility," she continued, "is to make certain this enterprise will fit the definition of an excellent Catholic education system which, first of all, forms students in the faith and then prepares them to become productive citizens."

Appleton marks Sr. Hughes' first venture in the Midwest. Until now she has worked only on the East Coast. Before her new position, she was capital campaign coordinator for her congregation, the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill, the order founded by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

She said that she chose to apply for the ACES/Xavier post because the position with her order had ended. Most of all, however, she wanted to return to Catholic education. She has served as a teacher, principal and administrator.

Sr. Hughes said that she grew up playing school and Mass.

"Early on I knew I wanted to be in education, and I knew it had to be Catholic," she said. "It's just who I am. I can't think of not doing something that (doesn't) contribute to building up the Church."

"My belief (is) in a loving God who wants us to contribute," she continued. "Whatever talents I have are pure gifts. I got them from the Lord. I have to use them for the Lord.

Sr. Hughes added that when she read the ad for her new job, she realized it matched her experiences and interests. She liked the idea that it had definite geographic boundaries which are "more manageable than working in national organizations."

Sr. Hughes had worked for two national groups-as the National Catholic Education Association's vice president of operations and the National Church Personnel Administrators Association's program services director.

She believes she brings four special gifts to her new position-competence, commitment, creativity and courage. "I'm not afraid to risk new ventures," she said.

Sr. Hughes briefly described her leadership style.

"I am very sensitive to the needs and hopes and dreams of those I'm called to serve," she said. "I try to make decisions that will elicit cooperation. I do not like mandates. I like to listen to people and use my best judgment. I believe if people are going to be affected by decisions, they certainly should have some say in forming (them).

She also believes leadership "should be transformational and that starts with yourself."

Sr. Hughes will work to earn the trust and respect of the people of ACES/Xavier.

"I hope to do that by being consistent, by being open and by being respectful," she said. "I would hope that people would come to know that I do my best. I do what's right and I treat other people as I would like to be treated."

Sr. Hughes earned her master's degree in French at Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vt; her master's of education in administration at California State College, California, PA, and bachelor's degree in English at Seton Hill College, Greensburg, Pa.



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