Beverly Dunn, SP (Sr. Carol Ann) – 60 Years

Beverly Dunn, SP

Recently, after many years of ministries that spanned teaching, parish life and canon law, Sr. Beverly Dunn received an invitation from the health system to take on a newly created role in ecclesial relations.

“We’re still defining the responsibilities and duties,” she explained, “but in today’s world where bioethical questions are encountered daily in our health care system, it should be interesting to be at the intersection of health care and the Church in the United States.”

Sr. Beverly never shied away from challenges.  In the late-1980s, she served as interim administrator at All Saints Parish in the Archdiocese of Portland.  Even today, the Church is barely beginning to grapple with women in leadership roles outside of religious orders, but in 1989 having a woman as a parish administrator was extraordinary.

She came to the parish after years of teaching and reasoned that “if I was going to lead a parish, I should at least know what the rules were. So, I started studying canon law.”

And study she did.

Sr. Beverly earned a master’s and a doctorate in canon law and has served as a canonical consultant to Archbishop Thomas Murphy, the Diocese of Stockton, California and other dioceses, organizations and individuals. Her knowledge of canon law was particularly helpful during the 2009 Vatican-ordered apostolic visitation of religious women communities.

In retrospect she realized that her canon law expertise tied in closely to her life-long love of science.  Both fields involve logic and careful analysis.

Her dad was an actor and the Irish family moved frequently.  By age ten years, she was firmly convinced she would be a Sister but because of the family’s many moves she was also exposed to different orders.  Vows with the Sisters of Providence was not a foregone conclusion.

She graduated from Providence High School in Burbank, California, the working center of the motion picture and television industry and returned later to teach science.  She also taught at Central Catholic High School, Portland, Oregon, and Immaculate and O’Dea High Schools in Seattle.

Her ministry has included membership on the provincial formation team, coordinator of the Come and See House in Seattle and as a judge in the archdiocesan marriage tribunal. 

Today, in addition to her upcoming role in ecclesial relations, Sr. Beverly continues to work with the catechumens at St. James Cathedral Parish in Seattle.  She feels blessed with good health and the ability to continue working with people.

 “For anyone discerning a vocation, they should recognize that it is a continual journey,” she reflected.  I’ve learned that your vocation will take you places you never dreamed.”