Wednesday, June 10, 2020 was my last official last day at New Pioneers. I was expecting to end my tenure at the end of April, but the pandemic came along and changed just about everything for just about everyone – to the point that even my retirement now feels more “virtual” than real! The hardest part is not being able to see you all in person to give you hugs.

I cannot leave New Pioneers without thanking you – whether you joined the journey from the very beginning, somewhere along the way, or in recent months. Your friendship, encouragement, challenges, “sweat equity,” financial support, and service have made all the difference. Without your trust and welcome, there would be no New Pioneers at all. I did not do this thing now known widely as New Pioneers – WE did!

When I look back on these 15 years, they have been the happiest years of my blessedly happy life. We, none of us, had any idea of what we were doing or where we were going when we started. Together we have created from scratch something of serious importance to the world. In this beautiful part of rural central Kentucky, we have created a community of hope, a community of love, a community of conviction, and a community of action on behalf of all that is most precious to us: the land, the water, the air, the plants, trees, animals, and the wide variety of humans that make up this amazing, interconnected web called LIFE on planet Earth. We are not perfect and there is plenty more to be done to realize the dream, but what we have done is good. In fact, I say it is sacred.

As for the future, I will not be a stranger. I will be on sabbatical for some months at home in Bardstown, studying some things I have not had time to delve into – and, if the virus permits, traveling for short periods. I hope to move into a more contemplative way of life, open to allow the spirit to teach and lead me in deeper ways. But I expect to be present often at New Pioneers events and other community celebrations. My connection with you all will continue to be essential to me.

Finally, I want to say how thrilled I am that Whitney Wurzel will lead New Pioneers into its next phase of growth and development. I am confident that Whitney has what it will take – and more. Please give her all the support you can. I am pleased that Whitney can rely on Administrative Coordinator Lana Gits and on our exceptionally vibrant, skilled, and committed Board of Directors. In a special way I thank Board President Dr. Anne Harrison for her tireless partnership and persistent effort over these three years to see this transition process to successful completion. And always, I thank my Dominican Sisters for their constant love, frequent encouragement, and active support in so many lovely ways.

With affection always,

Sister Claire McGowan OP
Founder and Executive Director Emerita