St. Gabriel Mercy Center seeks Executive Director

MOUND BAYOU – The staff and board of the St. Gabriel Mercy Center faces the task of finding a new director just weeks after the director they hired died of a heart attack on the day he was set to start his new job.
Myron Douglas of Starkville had begun orientation with outgoing director Sister Monica Mary DeQuardo, OSF. Sister DeQuardo and Sister Emy Beth Furrer were packed and ready to leave for their next stop in St. Louis on Tuesday, Jan. 16 when they got the news. Douglas was to be the first lay director of the center.
The board regrouped and the call for a new director is going out. Board Chairperson DeVoyce Morris offered the following reflection on the history of the center:
1829, 1954 and 2013, 2015 and 2017 are significant dates in the annals of the St. Gabriel Mission School and St. Gabriel Mercy Center’s history. It was in 1829 that the Oblate Sisters of Providence was founded by Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange, OSP, and Father James Hector Nicholas Joubert, SS, in Baltimore, Md. The Oblate Sisters were an order of African American women religious devoted to the “education of young African American girls.”
Years later, September 7, 1954, to be exact, Father John W. Bowman, SVD, opened the doors of the St. Gabriel Mission School to the children of Mound Bayou and surrounding areas. Realizing that education is the key that unlocks the doors of progress, especially for the predominantly black community of Mound Bayou, Father Bowman appealed to Mother Teresa Shockly, OSP, Superior General of the Oblate Sisters, for teachers. When the new school doors flung open, three Oblate Sisters M. Raymond Lawes, Margaretta and Mary Roberts, had already arrived at St. Gabriel. Thus began the reputation of educational excellence at St. Gabriel, having educated some of the world’s most prominent doctors, engineers, lawyers, educators, religious leaders, entrepreneurs, nurses, other professionals and citizens.
Following 30 years of kindling the young minds of countless boys and girls, the Oblate Sisters left Mound Bayou. The Sisters of St. Agnes (CSA) of Fond du Lac, Wis. came and stayed for five years. From 1990-2001, the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart (MSC) from Reading, Pa., followed and opened the St. Gabriel Early Childhood Center after the grade school closed. In 1997, the St. Gabriel Center was opened by Christian Brother, Tom Geraghty (FSC), and in 1999 three Sisters of Mercy (RSM) arrived. In 2001 the early childhood center closed; and, the building became what is known now as the St. Gabriel Mercy Center, offering an array of programs for the people of Mound Bayou and Bolivar County.
A trip of Franciscan Sisters served at the center for the past two years preparing the staff and board to take over their operations. Catholic Extension recognized the work of the Sisters and the center by deeming St. Gabriel to be a finalist in its Lumen Christi Award program. The board hopes that a new director can continue the tradition of excellence found there.
A qualified applicant will have at least five years of administrative, leadership, managerial and/or supervisory experience; a master’s degree or above in a business, supervisory or managerial related field; demonstrated experience in fundraising and grant writing; be willing to live in a small, rural community and be an active member of a church. Resumes and cover letters are due to the center by March 30. Send applications to: DeVoye C. Morris, Board Chairman, St. Gabriel Mercy Center, P.O. Box 567, Mound Bayou, MS 38762.