College/Back to School
ACES/Xavier names system president
Sr. Patrice Hughes to lead Appleton's merged ACES/Xavier system
By Joanne Flemming
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
"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
"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,