When she returned to Adrian on November 18, 2016, to live out whatever remaining time God had given her on Earth, Sister Romona Nowak proclaimed herself there to work on her Ph.D: “Praying for a Happy Death.”
Sister Romona turned those weeks and months of facing incurable cancer into a ministry to others, regularly posting meditations on her experience to the Adrian listserv. “Romona epitomized Henry Nouwen’s Wounded Healer. She beautifully and consistently ministered out of her own vulnerability,” said Sister Mary Jane Lubinski, OP, Sister Romona’s Chapter Prioress, at the Ritual of Remembering held after Sister Romona’s death. “Few of us would tell our story so boldly, speak of death and hold open the wound so that others may gain strength. She is a model and a preacher…”
Born on July 19, 1945, in Chicago to Lucian and Jeanette Wysocki Nowak, Sister Romona and her brother, Robert, grew up in difficult circumstances. According to the stories that her chaplain at the Dominican Life Center, Rev. Cathy Johnson, set down in a biography, Lucian was a hardworking baker, and there was tension in the home made worse by the fact that her mother was hospitalized for depression. “Mona learned to play the piano and this offered her freedom of expression which she found helpful,” her biography read. According to her application for admittance to the Congregation, she also played the accordion.
Sister Romona attended elementary school at St. Mary Magdalene and then went to Aquinas Dominican High, during which time she worked in a shoe store and as a waitress, among other things. After earning her diploma, she enrolled at Siena Heights College, and it was there, during a retreat, that she was introduced to the writings of Teilhard de Chardin. According to her biography, she “experienced a oneness with God and with earth. And this was when she knew she wanted to become a nun as a way to live her thank-you to God.”
Read more about Sister Romona (pdf)
Memorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221.
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