Sister Barbara Dawson, RSCJ, Provincial of the Society of the Sacred Heart United States – Canada Province, was elected on August 2, 2016, as the Superior General of the International Society of the Sacred Heart. Sister Dawson was elected by the Society’s General Chapter currently meeting in Nemi, Italy. The General Chapter is composed of delegates from every province and serves as the highest governing body of the congregation.
Sister Dawson succeeds Sister Kathleen Conan, RSCJ, who has served for eight years as the Superior General. Sister Dawson becomes the third superior general from the United States in the Society’s 216 years. In her new role, Sister Dawson will oversee the communities and ministries of her religious order in 41 countries and six continents from the Society’s international headquarters in Rome.
A native of San Francisco, Sister Dawson’s ministries have included service in education, administration and immigration in both the U.S. and Jakarta, Indonesia. For the past four years, Sister Dawson has served as the Provincial of the United States – Canada Province, based in St. Louis, Mo. She also held the position of Provincial for the U.S. Province from 1993-1999. In addition to leadership, Sister Dawson has served as a teacher and administrator for schools including St. Martin de Porres in Oakland, Calif.; Lone Mountain College in San Francisco; and others throughout the U.S. She was in administration for various Catholic Charities and has addressed public policy and immigration issues in the San Francisco Bay area.
Sister Dawson earned her bachelor of arts from Lone Mountain College and a law degree from the University of San Francisco. She earned a master of arts in international comparative education from Stanford University. She is a member of the bar in both California and Missouri, serves on the board of the Hilton Fund for Sisters and has served on the board of trustees for various academic institutions.
The Society of the Sacred Heart was founded in France in 1800 by Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat and brought to the Americas when Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne arrived in St. Louis, Mo., in 1818. There are 275 members in the United States – Canada Province and nearly 2,200 professed members in 41 countries. Members of the Society are committed to discover, live and announce God’s love through the service of education for transformation, in diverse ministries, particularly addressing the needs of children, young people, women and those in society who are marginalized.