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By Sharon Bock, Associate
Anyone who needs a straight-forward approach for promoting the Adrian Dominican Sisters may want to look at Associate Denise Dudley’s succinctly descriptive acronym, describing how the vowed members attracted her to Associate Life.
A - Accepting
D - Delightful
R - Refreshing
I - Inspiring
A - Awesome
N - Nurturing
Denise, of Winter Park, Florida, attends St. Margaret Mary Church, where she met Sister Rosemary Finnegan, OP. As their friendship grew, so did Denise’s interest in the Adrian Dominican Congregation. After spending a year in discernment, Denise determined that Associate Life was the path she should follow.
Surrounded by members of her Mission Group, family members, parish priests, and friends, Denise was welcomed into Associate Life in 2003. She credits her sustenance as an Associate to the supportive relationships she has with her Mission Group; other Associates, including Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life; her spiritual director; and her own prayer life.
An active member of Central Florida Mission Group, Denise participates in the quarterly gatherings and, on occasion, takes responsibility for preparing the group’s shared prayer. Her ministry – in addition to more than 20 years of employment as an auditor in the finance department for the Seminole County Clerk of the Circuit Court – is serving on the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) team at St. Margaret Mary. She serves as coordinator of sponsors and sponsored a young woman who celebrated her rites of initiation on Pentecost Sunday in 2017. Denise also sang in the church choir for more than 25 years.
Denise was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Her family moved in 1969 to Florida, where Denise graduated from high school and worked at Disney World in Orlando. Her career with Disney spanned 23 years and included working at Disneyland Paris in 1992.
Denise’s Dominican life is very rich with seeking truth in her everyday activities; making peace daily with family, co-workers and friends; and reverencing life through prayer, participation in liturgy and continued spiritual direction. The Enactment that most deeply resonates with Denise deals with spiritual longings. After two years of questioning and searching for her prayer life, Denise has renewed her prayerfulness with the help of a spiritual director and her sisters in mission.
She is an active supporter of the Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates through her Mission Group, Partners (Associates) gatherings and Chapter Assemblies. Denise represents the Associates by speaking to groups at Barry University (Miami, Florida), where she shares not only her own struggles to find a prayerful life, but the richness she has received by being an active Adrian Dominican Associate. Who knows when a new Associate will become part of the Adrian Dominican family from hearing Denise’s endorsement?
If you followed the Associate Life, Adrian Dominicans Group on Facebook this past summer, you may have seen the creative and moving posts that Tibi Ellis shared about her pilgrimage to the Lands of Dominic. She visited the Dominican convent in Fanjeaux, France; Jacobins, the Dominican monastery where the remains of St. Thomas Aquinas rest; and the house of Pierre Seilhan, where Dominic established the Order. In words, photos, and video clips, she brought all of us ever closer to our remarkable heritage as Dominicans.
Tibi’s own Dominican heritage originated with her mother, a Dominican Tertiary. From the time she was a small child in Venezuela, she was grounded in Dominican values and charism.
Tibi met the Adrian Dominicans when she lived in Las Vegas, and became an Adrian Dominican Associate about eight years ago. While in Nevada, she was in a mission group with vowed members. This experience deepened her understanding of the Congregation and the individual Sisters. Tibi later moved to Palm Beach, Florida, where, she said, “The first thing I did was look for a mission group.”
Now actively involved in that mission group, she is inspired by the “amazing women” who provide an example for her to follow. She also participates regularly in a “partners” group of Associates, in which they work together in specific ministries and charities.
The group recently launched Dominican Spirit and Sole, a chartered non-profit organization with a mission to provide shoes for impoverished children. They focus on aiding the Adrian Dominican Sisters working in a rural area of the Dominican Republic.
Tibi has also been involved in the formation house and chapel in the Dominican Republic. During her visits, she deepens her relationship with Sisters Rosa Monique Peña, OP, and Carol Ann Gross, OP.
A Eucharistic Minister at her parish in Singer Island, Florida, Tibi also is a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, which helps to support Christians in the Holy Land. She provides financial support to the Adrian Dominican Congregation and to seminarians living in Rome during their preparation for the priesthood.
Seeking truth, to her, means staying informed on the national economy, education, immigration and health care issues, and using her background in politics to maintain dialogue on these concerns.
Tibi said she most identifies with the Enactment on diversity, deepening relationships, and inviting others to vowed and Associate life. “Our nation and our world are more diverse than ever [so] our Congregation must be on the forefront of diversity and inclusion,” she said.
With all of her involvements, Tibi maintains a high level of activity with her family, friends, and community. Although she is semi-retired from her career as a health care executive, she operates her own business as a political strategist and advocate on health care and elder care issues. She also enjoys the opportunity to travel in ministry to Europe and the Holy Land and is a golf and music enthusiast.