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By Sharon Foley Bock, Associate.
Mercedes Fitzsimmons’ history with the Adrian Dominican Sisters goes all the way back to 1952.That was the year she entered the Postulate and began her 17-year journey as a vowed member of the Sisters of St. Dominic in Adrian, Michigan. Throughout those years, she lived the Dominican charism
through her ministry in elementary education and administration.
Although Mercedes withdrew from vowed membership in the community in 1970, she never lost her love of the Adrian Dominicans. In 1997, she was welcomed as an Associate so that she could more actively involve herself with the community again. “What sustains me,” she writes, “is the love of the
Adrian Dominican Sisters.”
Mercedes, a resident of Warren, Michigan, is in the Great Lakes Chapter, where she is a member of the Leaven Mission Group. She is also part of a group of Associates who meet each month with Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life, at St. Basil’s Parish in Eastpoint, Michigan. In addition to sharing current events in their lives, the participants read and discuss books, currently Praying with Dominic by Michael Monshau, OP.
Mercedes has also been involved in the Great Lakes Associates’ initiative, “Save our Waters.” This project features an interactive exhibit explaining the need to protect this vital resource before it is too late.
“What occupies me these days is responding to the gift each of us has received – ministering to others ... as Dominic joyfully walked the path sharing the Good News ... so needed,” Mercedes writes.
Sharon Foley Bock has known the Adrian Dominican Sisters for more than 60 years, beginning with her education at Rosarian Academy in West Palm Beach, Florida. Her high school teachers impressed her with their joy, loving care for their students, prayer life, and dedication to their ministries.
By the time she was a junior, Sharon knew she wanted to become part of the Dominican family, so upon graduation, she entered the Congregation. She ministered as an Adrian Dominican Sister for 15 years. She withdrew from vowed life in 1976, but continued to maintain loyal friendships with many Adrian Dominican Sisters.
Sharon became an Associate in 2016. Asked “what took you so long?” she replied, “I think I always felt connected to the Congregation through my friendships with so many Sisters. I finally realized that I could be even more deeply involved in the life of the Congregation by ‘making it official’ and becoming an Associate.”
Now that she is an Associate, Sharon is indeed more deeply involved with the Congregation. She is an active participant in her Mission Group, Women of the Word, which meets in Phoenix, Arizona, three times a year. She also participates in the annual Dominican West Chapter Assemblies.
“Participating with the vowed and associate members in these groups is a great source of spiritual support,” Sharon said. “I always feel renewed and re-energized after we have spent time together in prayer, worship, study, and sistership.” She also makes financial contributions to the Congregation.
Regular contact with Mission Group members, as well as personal meditation and prayer, sustain her to create her own ministry to the Sisters and Associates. She and her husband celebrate Sunday liturgy in the home of a Franciscan priest, so, aside from her support of his ministry to the homeless, she doesn’t have parish opportunities.
Sharon lives with her husband and three cats and enjoys pursuing art, film, and reading – and otherwise satisfying her inquisitive nature. She is taking on more domestic responsibilities as her husband’s health starts to decline.
Inspired by a request from Mary Lach to send Christmas cards for distribution to the Sisters in Maria Hall, she decided to create a birthday card ministry. She started out creating and sending cards to those Sisters and now includes the Sisters and Associates in the Dominican West Chapter.
When asked how she seeks truth, makes peace and reverences life, she responds, “I hope the way I treat each person demonstrates my commitment to these values. I find that the current political environment in our nation compels me to speak out for the values I cherish. Though I am not one to march in protest, I remain active online with several entities that support these values."
Sharon resonates most strongly with the Enactment to deepen spirituality. She sets aside time each day for prayer and reflection and looks for opportunities to learn more about and deepen her own spirituality.