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NKY Nun Earns MBA, Heading to Rome

Among the thousands of MBA graduates from the Williams College of Business are senior executives of banks, hospitals and manufacturers. One 2016 graduate, however, will take a path that’s less traveled: She will head to Rome to help oversee the financial affairs of an international order of nuns.

Sister Marina, who has been living in Covington, will be working in the office of the Treasurer General of the Sisters of Notre Dame, the staff that manages the finances for the religious order, which has 2,000 nuns in about 19 nations.

“This is my calling – to do whatever my church or congregation is asking me,” she said.

Before becoming a nun at age 17, she was known as Mini Joy in her native southern India. She joined the order because of its devotion to the poor, influenced by an aunt who was a Notre Dame nun. Her roles have included teaching children in poor areas of northern India. When her aptitude for financial matters attracted the attention of the leadership of her order, she pursued two business degrees, including at the Indira Gandhi National Open University in Delhi. Then, she became procurator and financial administrator of the province of the Sisters of Notre Dame in Patna, India, equivalent to the chief financial officer for that province.

She did so well in that role – known as a ministry – that she was asked to go to Rome to do similar work for the entire congregation of nuns. Initially, she resisted because she didn’t think she was ready, partly because she hadn’t spent enough time living in other cultures. Without more experience, she said, “it would be very difficult to give myself fully.”

As a result, she decided to enroll in the College’s MBA program. About 50 Notre Dame sisters have various Xavier degrees, including those from India, South Korea and Indonesia. Sister Marina has been studying in Xavier’s full-time MBA program since January 2015. She’s been living in Covington in the sisters’ Provincial House.

Now, Sister Marina believes she’s ready. “I believe in my strengths,” adding: “God will give me the grace to do my job. It’s in God’s power.”

Sister M. Sujita, former Superior General of the Sisters of Notre Dame, has confidence in Sister Marina. “I have watched her grow into a beautiful person of vision and commitment. I find her accountable, transparent and capable. She is a good team player. I am confident that her love for the congregation and her openness to other cultures and socio-economic realities will help her to work well with the sisters from across the congregation.”

Paul Fiorelli, professor of legal studies in the College, said Sister Marina had interesting insights in his Business Law and Values course that differentiated her from other MBA students who are immersed in corporate careers. Her religious perspectives and overseas experience contributed to her views. “She helped to fill out the class discussions, to make them richer,” he said.

Her last class will be May 4. She’ll probably leave Cincinnati before the May 14 graduation ceremony so she can spend time in India with her sick father.

To prepare for her work in Rome, she’ll study Italian to make her fluent in a fourth language after English, Hindi and Malayalam.

About 20 sisters of Notre Dame work at the order’s office and house near St. Peter’s Square in Rome. She expects to be praying often at St. Peter’s Basilica.

“Xavier has made me think and apply what I have learned to real-life situations," said Sister Marina. "The staff and the administration have assisted me to develop and grow as a whole person. I will always cherish the beautiful memories of being a scholar at Xavier.”

From Xavier University/Photo via Facebook