Sister Judith Frikker elected president of West Midwest

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July 29, 2011 –  Judith Frikker, RSM, MD, was elected president of the Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Community . She succeeds Norita Cooney, RSM, who died in March after serving as president since 2008. Sister Judith, who previously served as vice president, will complete the remaining two years of Sister Norita’s term.  Sister Judith was recognized by the Sisters of Mercy at a special liturgy held July 30 at College of Saint Mary in Omaha, Neb.


A native of Detroit, Mich., Sister Judith entered the Sisters of Mercy in 1967 after graduating from Mercy High School in Farmington Hills, Mich. She received a Bachelor of Science degree from Mercy College of Detroit (now University of Detroit Mercy) in 1973, a Doctor of Medicine from Michigan State University in 1978 and completed her residency at Evanston Hospital in Illinois.

She served for two years as a primary care physician at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor and four years at Mount Carmel Mercy Hospital in Detroit. During her time at Mount Carmel, she spent two months providing medical care in Guyana. That experience led her to explore working internationally and in 1987 she began what was a 12-year ministry in Chile.  She served both as a physician in a local clinic and a volunteer in a nearby parish. She experienced the challenges of limited resources and the effect of the stress of poverty that often created untreatable physical symptoms for her patients.

“It was then that I was not only a physician, but also a Sister of Mercy,” she said. “Although sometimes there wasn’t anything I could prescribe, I could listen to their struggles, offer support and make suggestions,“ she said.

The ministry in Chile had the greatest impact on her life.

“It taught me about openness to another’s culture, the solidarity of and with those who are poor, the strong faith of our Latin American brothers and sisters that supports them in times of suffering and trial,” she said. 

In 1999, Sister Judith returned to the United States and for the next two years she worked in a clinic serving the uninsured. In 2002, she was elected to serve on the leadership team for the former Detroit Regional Community of the Sisters of Mercy. When the West Midwest Community was formed in 2008, she was elected as vice president of first leadership team, the position she held until her election as president.

As president of the West Midwest Community, Sisters Judith leads one of the six communities that form the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.  The West Midwest Community is comprised of 746 Sisters of Mercy, more than 500 Mercy Associates, several Companions in Mercy and 250 lay staff who live, minister and work in 29 states and five countries. The Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas includes more than 3,800 sisters who serve in North, South and Central America, the Caribbean, Guam and the Philippines. More than 3,100 Mercy Associates, several Companions in Mercy, over 960 Mercy Volunteer Corps alumni and thousands of co-workers in Mercy-sponsored programs and institutions also share in the Sister of Mercy  mission, following the example of Mercy foundress, Catherine McAuley.

This year marks the 180th anniversary of the founding of the Sisters of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland.  The Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas is one of 13 congregations of the Sisters of Mercy serving in 47 countries around the world. The Sisters of Mercy serve people who suffer from poverty, sickness and lack of education, with special concern for women and children.   


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