Following nearly three decades of service, Sister Edith Prendergast, RSC, will be retiring as director of the archdiocesan Office of Religious Education, effective June 30. She will be succeeded by Father Chris Bazyouros.

Previously a parish priest, Father Bazyouros has served at several different churches in archdiocese, most recently as pastor of St. Albert the Great Church in Compton before joining the Office of Religious Education, where he has worked in the area of adult faith formation for the last year and a half.

“When I entered the office it was just such a positive experience because [Sister Edith] has created such a wonderful environment in which to do our ministry [and] gives us the freedom to try our best,” he said. “I want to continue that same positive spirit.”

As the transition date approaches, Father Bazyouros requests prayers “for all of us who work here, and for the catechists who work in their parishes, that we may continue to bring the Good News of the Gospel into the hearts of all people.”

Others joined Father Bazyouros in praising Sister Edith’s accomplished career.

“What a debt of gratitude we owe [Sister Edith] for the many years of incredible service rendered to literally thousands of people through her life and ministry,” said Msgr. Joseph Brennan, vicar general and moderator of the curia.

“She will surely continue to bring those gifts to her ministry, to us, and to her religious community, the Religious Sisters of Charity,” he said. “We pray many blessings upon her and upon Father Chris, too, as this time of change and transition begins.”

Sister Prendergast, who has served as ORE director for 27 years, describes her tenure as “a very energizing experience... It’s all been very, very positive for me.”

“What helped sustain me along the way is certainly my passion for this ministry, my vision, my excitement about it, and the relationships that I have created along the way, which are central to building community,” she told The Tidings. Those relationships have included “a very excellent staff, who are supportive and creative and very dedicated to this shared ministry that we do collaboratively.”

“I’ve also been sustained by being part of a community of faith — the Sisters of Charity — and also by my prayer life, by [always making] time for reflection and retreat,” continued Sister Prendergast. For spiritual leaders, she explained, it is essential that God be at the center of their lives.

“Strengthened in that way, we can go forth to be able to deal with the challenges, but also to see the great joy that there is — the joy of the Gospel — and be able to communicate that joy [to others],” said Sister Prendergast. “I’m leaving with a very positive spirit. I have never had, I don’t think, one boring day ever.”

Upon retiring, she will initially go on sabbatical for one year, during which time she will visit her family in Ireland, as well as places where she previously studied, including Boston and London. She will also spend some time in the Holy Land, where she will participate in a course on Scripture and “take some time for prayer, for contemplation.” Regarding her future plans, she said she hopes to do some teaching.

“The amount of years Sister Edith has been dedicated to developing catechesis in the archdiocese has been amazing,” Father Bazyouros said. “Having the chance to work with her, I have seen how she invites people to really contribute their gifts to the work that we’re doing, and how encouraging she is to others.”