April 27, 2017, Adrian, Michigan – History fans in Michigan are now familiar with Sister Ann Joachim Joachim, OP (1901-1981), a particularly colorful and prominent Adrian Dominican Sister, thanks to an article written by an Adrian Dominican Associate.
Arlene Bachanov’s article, “‘Sister Cannonball’: The Nun Who Shook Up Adrian,” was published in the May/June issue of Michigan History. The article details the amazing life of Sister Ann Joachim before and after she entered the Congregation and her influence on society.
“She led such a colorful life,” Arlene said of Sister Ann Joachim in an interview. She was a pilot; a boxer; a lawyer who waged a two-year court battle to keep the Wabash Cannon Ball train running (which earned her the moniker “Sister Cannonball”); the first woman attorney to be admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court; and a one-term Commissioner for the City of Adrian. Because of her involvement, Sister Ann Joachim was “very important to the history of southeastern Michigan,” Arlene said.
Researcher and writer for the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ History Department since September 2010, Arlene said she was impressed with Sister Ann Joachim’s decision to enter the Congregation. “She struggled greatly about the idea of joining the Congregation,” Arlene said. “It came down to making a bargain with God. If she won a certain difficult case, she would join up. I really respected the fact that she was willing to give up everything she had. She gave up the treasures of the world. It was not enough for her.”
Sister Ann Joachim had been a socialite before she entered the Adrian Dominicans, Arlene noted. She knew a number of prominent people, including Michigan Governors Frank Murphy (1937-1939), one of her law professors, and G. Mennen “Soapy” Williams (1949-1951), as well as Detroit Mayor Jerome Cavanagh (1962-1970).
Arlene first encountered Sister Ann Joachim while writing archival profiles of a number of Adrian Dominican Sisters. Sister Nadine Foley, OP, Congregation Historian, had suggested that she write about Sister Ann Joachim.
Arlene had wanted to write about Sister Ann Joachim for a long time after first encountering her. She submitted a proposal to the Historical Society of Michigan in August 2016 and later that month received a request for a manuscript for the Society’s approval. She submitted the manuscript on October 25 and received the approval the next day.
Arlene conducted her research in the Congregation’s archives, the Siena Heights University archives, and at the Lenawee County Historical Society, the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, the State Library of Michigan, and state archives. In addition, she received help from the reference librarian at Michigan State University.
Arlene relishes the work of historians. “I’ve always liked history,” she said. “I like to hear stories about people and events and to put them in the context of our times. History lets me be a puzzle-solver, putting together the bits and pieces that I uncover.”
She hopes that readers of her article will take away is the idea that “Sister Ann Joachim was an amazing person. She exploded the stereotypes of women religious. … She was a go-getter and deeply committed, never doing anything half-heartedly.”
The current issue of Michigan History can be found at Meijer and Barnes & Noble stores in addition to a variety of Michigan bookstores. To order online, click here.
April 21, 2017, Flint, Michigan – Sister Carol Weber, OP, co-founder and co-director of St. Luke’s N.E.W. Life Center, was one of seven to be inducted into the Genesee Regional Women’s Hall of Fame.
Also inducted that evening were Sister Judy Blake, CSJ, who co-founded and co-directs the center with Sister Carol; Dr. Mona Hanna-Attista, MD, the pediatrician who discovered the lead poisoning in Flint children during the recent water crisis; Dr. Susan J. Goering and Dr. Beverly Walker-Griffea, who are active in the Flint and Genesee County communities; Angie Hendershot, lead anchor at ABC-12 News in Flint; and Mildred Doran, who was lost in the Pacific Ocean in 1927 in her attempt to be the first woman to fly across the ocean.
The inductees were presented April 20 during the Eighth Annual Awards Dinner hosted by the Zonta Club of Flint at the Flint Institute of the Arts. The Zonta Club of Flint is part of Zonta International, a women’s service organization that strives to advance the status of women. The inductees’ pictures and stories will be permanently placed in the Sloan Museum in Flint.
“It was pretty overwhelming when I thought of the caliber of women that we were up there with” Sister Carol said about the induction ceremony. “It was a really powerful moment, and everybody was so attentive.”
About 14 people supported Sister Carol and Sister Judy at the ceremony, including Sister Carol’s brother and niece, and women who are employed at the N.E.W. Life Center. “The women were so moved to be there,” Sister Carol said. “It was great to see how excited they were for us.”
In her response to the award, Sister Carol said, “I just go about my day doing what I need to do because I know that’s what I’m called to do.” She sees the Center as a “work of God,” and spoke about “the hope that women can bring to Flint when we band together.”
Sisters Carol and Judy have been working since 2000 with the people of Flint, first serving them through street ministry. They opened the N.E.W. Life Center in 2002 to offer a variety of programs, including a literacy center, employment preparation, a sewing co-op, and a food pantry.
When Flint’s water was found to be contaminated by lead, St. Luke’s N.E.W. Life Center became a bottled water distribution center and then offered a support and nutrition program for pregnant women and mothers of small children, helping them to prepare nutritious meals to offset the effects of the lead in their children’s systems.
Read a related article by ABC-12 of Flint.