For the first time in its history, California has a Catholic sister as chaplain of the state’s senate. Mercy Sr. Michelle Gorman was named to the post on Dec. 22 by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles).
Gorman, a native of Ireland who immigrated to the U.S. in 1971, will offer prayers to start floor sessions at the Capitol. She will also be available to legislators and staff seeking spiritual guidance and counseling.
“In today’s complex world, spiritual guidance is more necessary than ever,” she said in a statement announcing her chaplaincy. “I am happy to accompany the Senate on its essential work of attending to the common good of the people of California.”
Gorman has a master’s degree in English and American literature from Gonzaga University in Spokane and taught English at two Catholic high schools in Sacramento. Most recently she served on the leadership team of the West Midwest Community of the Sisters of Mercy. She is a member of the Sisters of Mercy, Auburn, a community that arrived in Sacramento in 1857, three years after the city became the state capital.
Gorman is the California Senate’s 49th chaplain, taking over from Rabbi Mona Alfi, who served in the position since 2008.
[Monica Clark is a West Coast correspondent for National Catholic Reporter.]
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