After a long search, Sister Jane Nesmith, SBS is the new Director of African American Ministry for the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. She is a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, the order founded by Saint Katharine Drexel.
“My Blessed Sacrament Sisters are simply delighted. Many sisters in our retirement community have expressed joy that we are returning to the Diocese of Cleveland where many of them served,” Sister Nesmith said.
She plans to join the diocese later this fall.
Fr. Damian Ference, vicar for evangelism and director of parish life and special ministries, which includes African-American ministry, said he was happy to announce Sister Nesmith had accepted the position. He noted that St. Katharine Drexel’s mission was “to share the message of the gospel with the poor, especially among black and Native American peoples, and to challenge all forms of racism and other injustices deeply rooted in the world”.
He described Sister Nesmith as “a joyful missionary disciple who comes to us with great pastoral experience and wisdom.” She has served as a teacher, campus minister, pastoral associate, executive director, pastoral life coordinator, chaplain, instructor, and most recently vice president of her faith community. Among the places where she has ministered are Pennsylvania, Jamaica, the West Indies, Evansville, Indiana and Seattle Washington.
A native of Pennsylvania, Sister Nesmith notes that she shares those roots with Bishop Edward Malesic. “I look forward to working with him and all of you to do God’s work in the Diocese of Cleveland,” she added.
Sister Nesmith said she has been an African-American Catholic since she was 8, when her family – all six of them – converted so the children could attend Catholic school. “My father was determined that we have a good education and none was better in his eyes than the local Catholic school. I have never looked back on my faith or my education in the many forms it has taken on me throughout my career,” she said.
In addition to her many professional accomplishments, Sister Nesmith wrote the book “Feeding the Multitudes,” a personal testimony of how God blessed a community with methods to revitalize an inner-city parish. She has also produced a rosary CD, “Mysteries, A Soulful Rosary Experience,” and co-edited a rosary booklet featuring the work of a black artist and quotes from St. Katharine Drexel.
“Furthermore, I am fortunate to be able to write and perform original music and to have produced four CDs titled ‘Prayers of the Heart’,” she added.
Sister Nesmith is or has been a member of numerous African American and Native American organizations and has received a number of awards and honors.
She visited the diocese in April on behalf of her congregation to help celebrate the centennial of St. Adalbert/Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Parish in Cleveland, the first parish in Ohio founded by and for African-American Catholics. . Bishop Joseph Schrembs asked St. Katharine Drexel for help with the parish and teachers to serve the school. The first parish priest even traveled to Pennsylvania to meet Mother Drexel. The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament exercised their ministry at the parish from 1922 to 1985.
The Office of African American Catholic Ministry seeks to conduct advocacy for the concerns and needs of African American Catholics. It strives to fulfill its mission by providing personnel support to the Diocesan Race Relations Committee, the Diocesan Gospel Choir, the diocesan African Catholic community, and Catholic schools and institutions that serve the greater African-American community – Catholics and non-Catholics. The office also communicates with various local and national offices to support matters relating to African American Catholic ministry and serves in an advisory role to the bishop’s staff in the diocese regarding matters of concern to African Americans.
“But at the end of the day, I consider my greatest fame to be a child of God,” Sister Nesmith said, adding, “As I often say, God is good all the time, and God is good all the time. time. .”