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Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri names Sister Kathleen Wegman, SSND as Interim Executive Director

JEFFERSON CITY, MO. Following the announcement of Dan Lester’s departure from Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri, and with the onset of a national search for Lester’s replacement,  the agency’s Board of Directors has named Sister Kathleen Wegman, SSND as interim executive director, effective April 7, 2023.

Lester’s tenure saw the agency staff triple in size, and included the resettlement of 289 Afghan refugees in 2021/2022, the renovation of the former Shikles Center into Catholic Charities Central Offices, navigating the agency through the COVID-19 pandemic, and serving as a key provider of short and long term recovery services to survivors of the 2019 Eldon/Jefferson City tornado.  In 2022 the agency provided services to more than 6,000 individuals across a variety of programs.  Lester announced his resignation in February of 2023.

“I have been blessed to work with Sr. Kathleen from day one of my time at Catholic Charities, and she has proven to be an invaluable mentor, colleague, and friend.  Her heart for service to those in need, wealth of leadership experience, and commitment to ensuring Catholic Charities will continue to thrive makes her the perfect person to serve as the interim executive director.  I have nothing but confidence that Catholic Charities is in the best of hands,” said Lester.

The board’s appointment of Sister Kathleen comes at the onset of a national search to recruit the next Executive Director of the non-profit, whose mission is to provide compassionate social services to the vulnerable across the 38 counties within the Diocese of Jefferson City.

“We are delighted and truly blessed to announce that Sister Kathleen has accepted the role,” Board President, Mike Maag, wrote in a letter to board and staff members last week.

“As a member of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, Sr. Kathleen has dedicated her life to working for social justice and advocating for those in need,” Maag continued, “Her passion for this work has led her to serve in a variety of leadership positions throughout her career.  With her extensive background and a deep commitment to serving those in need, we are fortunate to have her guidance during this transitional period.  

Sister Kathleen, who currently serves Catholic Charities as its Senior Director of Mission Integration, has previously served as Interim Co-Director of Catholic Schools, Chancellor, and the Director of Parish and Charitable Services for the Diocese of Jefferson City. Within the School Sisters of Notre Dame, she has served as  Provincial Councilor, Provincial Leader, missionary; and as a leader in various levels in Catholic Education.

“Sister Kathleen is a trusted leader in our diocese and she has my full confidence as she begins her service as interim executive director,” said the Most Reverend W. Shawn McKnight, Bishop of Jefferson City.

“It is clear that there is a continued and growing need for works of charity and mercy in our region. As followers of Christ, we must wake up each morning ready to answer this call — both individually and by supporting the vital work being done by our Catholic Charities staff,” McKnight continued, “As we search for the next executive director, I thank Sister Kathleen for her willingness to lead during this time and for continuing to demonstrate her strong spirit of service to those in need.”

Agency leadership and staff members were informed of the decision on Friday, March 17th at a quarterly All Staff Gathering held in Columbia, Missouri.

“The role of an interim executive director is to strengthen what we have, ensure everything is in order for the time we welcome a new Executive Director to lead this very important work we do at Catholic Charities,” Sister Kathleen said.

“Ours is an external ministry of care, and in this interim, we will tend to the internal needs, those of our staff and our clients, to provide a foundation for a new leader that will pave the way for our work to continue within this diocese,” she continued.

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Catholic Charities of Central and Northern Missouri (CCCNMO), an entity of the Diocese of Jefferson City, responds to the needs of people in 38 counties regardless of faith, culture, or situation. This includes services for refugees and immigrants, those with food insecurity, mental health needs, health and nutrition education, basic household, and shelter needs. For more information, visit cccnmo.diojeffcity.org.