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Posted on Thu, Jul 29, 2010 : 5:49 a.m.

Nun from St. Mary Student Parish in Ann Arbor counsels students on the golf course

By Freelance Journalist


Sister Dorothy Ederer stands outside of St. Mary's with her golf clubs.

Angela J. Cesere |

For Sister Dorothy Ederer, a published author, Catholic nun and campus minister at St. Mary Student Parish in Ann Arbor, golf and religion go hand in hand.

"You compare the things that happen in golf to your life, things like sand traps, hooks, slices, and out of bounds shots," she said. "We set ourselves up for ridicule and shame."

Handicaps are something that we all have and that we shouldn't be discouraged by them, Ederer said: "They often provide the push we need.”

Ederer's book, "The Golfer's Prayer Book, Walking the Fairway with the Master," was recently released in hardcover by Paulist Press, and is available at Borders and through It has been endorsed by a number of professional golfers including Jack Nicklaus, who is quoted in the book as saying, "Golf is a beautiful walk with God and nature. Sister Ederer uses her words to help us approach and understand life in a spiritual and meaningful manner."

Ederer, who grew up in Saginaw, entered the order of the Dominican Sisters in Grand Rapids when she was 21. She taught junior high school and then campus ministry at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo for 13 years. That's where she started playing golf.

"My pastor gave me golf clubs, and I got free lessons at a local course," she said. "I could counsel students on the golf course, which got them to open up and talk about things they wouldn't talk about in the office. You learn about their personalities when you golf with them because they're more relaxed and open and share more stories. When they tell me things that aggravate or frustrate them, I tell them to whack the ball!"


Ederer later moved to Albany, N.Y., to become co-director of the Joshua Foundation, an organization dedicated to making Jesus better known throughout the world. That's where she met Joseph Girzone, a priest and author, who helped her launch her writing career.

Ederer said she wrote seven other books before the golf book, including "Colors of the Spirit," true stories about people she's met through her ministry, as well as a quilter's reflection book that includes psalms and prayers.

"The Golfer's Prayer Book" was inspired by a golfer named Greg Matthews from Michigan, who, despite losing his sight and a leg to diabetes, kept on golfing.

"In the book, I have a story for each hole and a quote from scripture for each hole," she said.

Ederer moved back to Michigan seven years ago to take the job at St. Mary's. She said she loves her job, the people she works with and being in Ann Arbor.

"Our responsibility with the university is to provide a place for Catholic students on the campus," she said.

Her responsibilities include retreats, a prayer blanket ministry, a healing group and a drive to collect medical supplies for countries where there is extreme poverty.

R.J. Schreiner is a friend and golf mate of Ederer. He and his family attend St. Mary's Church.

"Sister Dorothy is an amazing person with an unbelievable amount of energy," said Schreiner. "She has a real gift for relating well to people of all ages. She has a very good golf game and she's a talented writer. Her books are a whole lot of fun to read."

Despite her workload, Ederer spends as much time as she can golfing, including participating in many golf fundraisers, where her books are sometimes given away as prizes. The hours that Ederer has spent counseling students on the golf course have helped her improve her golf game.

"I have good days and not so good days," she said. "I play with big-time golfers, which can be intimidating. I always hit straight drives, and I have a handicap of 28."

One of Ederer's favorite golf stories is when she hit a hole-in-one playing from the men's tees.

"I used my 5 wood and hit the ball 155 yards right into the hole," she said.

But don't look for a traditional nun wearing a habit on the golf course. Ederer prefers to golf in a golf skirt or capris.

Lisa Carolin is a freelancer writer for Contact the Faith section by e-mailing



Thu, Sep 30, 2010 : 2:47 a.m.

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