Sr. Michelle Balek
Sister Michelle Balek is a native of Mason City, Iowa. She attended Newman High School, Mason City, and was a member of St. Joseph (now part of Epiphany Parish) in Mason City. She entered the congregation in 1981 and was received in 1982. Sister Michelle made first vows on August 6, 1983 and final vows on June 29, 1991.
Sister Michelle’s Bachelor of Arts degree from Clarke University in Dubuque in Sociology/Social Work prepared her well for her many ministries over the years. She was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador, and has served in the Iowa Department of Social Services; Catholic Charities in Texas and Iowa; as a Pastoral Associate at Holy Ghost, Dubuque; on the National Staff of Pax Christi USA; as the North America Region Coordinator for Franciscans International; and as Delegations Coordinator for the Foundation for Self-Sufficiency in Central America (FSSCA). She completed her graduate studies at World Learning, the School for International Training Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont, earning a master’s degree in Sustainable Development with a concentration in Community Development and Social Action Training.
During her two years of service as a VISTA Volunteer with Sustainable Dubuque, she worked with the City Green Team as well as community outreach and education on Dubuque’s sustainability principles. She was the Program Coordinator of the Project HOPE initiative for the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque and served as the Project Coordinator for the United for Change collaborative also in Dubuque. She currently ministers on her congregation’s Charism Team as the coordinator of the Franciscan Common Venture service program. She is a board member of Green Dubuque and a member of the Franciscan Federation’s Commission on Charism Services and its liaison to the Federation’s National Board.
“The hallmark of any jubilee is its many invitations: to pause from the busyness surrounding us and recall our roots; to celebrate what has been accomplished; and to rededicate ourselves to what is important as we move into the future. I have truly been blessed to have family, friends, community and creation who called forth gifts I did not know I had and who supported me in my faith journey. This Jubilee for me is an invitation to an ever-expansive heart, to love all my relations and to come to know, as Ilia Delio says, that we are all being drawn into ‘a single heart of love’.”