September 28, 2015, San Fernando, Pampanga, the Philippines – The Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter of the Adrian Dominicans, based in Pampanga, the Philippines, will close their special Golden Jubilee Year with a special Mass, held at 10:00 a.m. Friday, October 2, 2015, at the Virgen Delos Remedios Chapel. The Most Reverend Florentino G. Lavarias, DD, Archbishop of San Fernando, Pampanga, will preside.
Helping the Sisters of the Chapter to celebrate during the Closing Mass will be their family members and friends; people who have worked with the Sisters; Sister Attracta Kelly, OP, Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Congregation; Sisters Kathleen Schanz, OP, and Rosemary Abramovich, OP, General Council members; and Adrian Dominican Sisters Marcine Klemm, OP, Rose Ann Schlitt, OP, and Jean Marie Lehtinen, who has been living with the Sisters for several months.
The Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of Remedies began in the 1960s with the help of the Adrian Dominican Congregation, who provided formation in Adrian, Michigan for interested candidates. The first Sisters arrived in the Archdiocese of San Fernando in 1965. Sister Rosemary Ferguson, OP, Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, transferred the authority to the new Congregation in 1972.
The Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of Remedies have served in education, catechesis, and pastoral ministry; ministered with indigenous people and people who are needy; and served in missions in Norway and Taiwan. The Remedies Congregation merged with the Adrian Dominican Congregation in November 2011, continuing to minister to their people as a separate Mission Chapter.
The Golden Jubilee Year opened on October 2, 2014, with a Mass celebrated at Mother of Good Counsel Seminary Chapel. Most Reverend Pablo Virgilio S. David, DD, Auxiliary Bishop of San Fernando, presided. This special Mass was followed by a simple banquet and a short program, “mostly a tribute to the Sisters who have served in different parishes and schools,” said Sister Zenaida Nacpil, OP, Chapter Prioress.
Throughout the Jubilee Year, “every month we had a Golden Jubilee Celebration in a local community,” Sister Zenaida explained. The first of the monthly events took place in the Florida Blanca community, during the 8:00 a.m. Mass at St. Joseph Church. Five of the Sisters -- including Sister Zenaida and Sisters Rosita Bernardo, OP; Rosita Yaya, OP; Ines Evangelista S. Manuel, OP; and Myra Dalisay, OP – had studied at the local school, St. Augustine Academy. The Mass was followed by a simple breakfast
At Assumption University in San Fernando, the Sisters celebrated a First Friday Mass with the students from grade school to the university level. The program included a talk on the history of the Sisters’ involvement with the school, given by Sister Arsenia Puno, OP, who had been involved in the school in a variety of ways for more than 30 years.
In January 2015, the Jubilee celebration was held at Holy Rosary College in Tala, an elementary school, high school, and college owned by the Dominican Friars, who invited the Sisters to administer the school. The school serves a low-income population, but particularly the children of people who suffer from leprosy.
The celebration at Dominican School of Apalit – the first school owned by the Remedies Sisters – included the launching of the second edition of the Sisters’ songbook, Handog Awit (“Offering through Songs”). “We collected different songs that we use for liturgy, prayer, or group study” in English; Tagalog, the national language; and the local dialect, Pampango, Sister Zenaida explained. Attending this celebration were members of the Apalit Chapter of the lay Dominican tertiaries. The celebration included performances by the children: dancing and a skit on the life and services of the Sisters.
Celebrations also took place at the Dominican School of Angeles City in the Mining neighborhood. The four-year-old school already has about 200 students, Sister Zenaida said. Mining is also the site of the Sisters’ new farm, established as “part of our care for creation” emphasis Proceeds from the farm will help to pay the expenses of the school, which charges very low tuition.
In September, the Sisters celebrated in the Diocese of San Jose, Nueva Ecija, where they have been involved in pastoral and liturgical ministry and the family apostolate for the past three years. Their ministry there “is a Jubilee gift to the diocese,” the original home of two of the Pioneer Remedies Sisters, Sisters Esperanza Bonifacio and Evangelina Fernandez.
Sister Zenaida said the Jubilee celebration also focused on the Sisters’ ministry to the Aetas, indigenous people who fled from their farms to the mountains because of the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991. The Sisters helped the people to establish a school in the mountains, and in addition offer a feeding program three days a week to keep the children in school. Currently, she said, 13 children are attending the high school on Villa Maria, staying in a dormitory during the week so that they can focus on their studies.
The various celebrations throughout the year focused on the unifying theme, “Fifty Years of Weaving the Mystic and Prophetic Dimensions of Dominican Life.”
Feature Photo: Site of the original convent on the fourth floor of a building owned by the Archdiocese of San Fernando.
September 24, 2015, Washington, DC – It was not a typical day for Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD – or for millions of Catholics and other interested residents throughout the United States – as Pope Francis set foot for the first time on U.S. soil, greeted President Obama and the American people, and later canonized St. Junípero Serra.
Sister Donna, former Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters and now President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), was a first-hand witness to all of these special events. Today, after witnessing Pope Francis’ address to the U.S. Congress, Sister Donna and others from Catholic Charities will serve lunch to some 300 people who are enduring homelessness.
Sister Donna will be the honored guest on Friday, September 25, of The Most Reverend Bernardito C. Auza, Apostolic Nuncio (ecclesial diplomat) and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the Organization of American States in New York. As his guest, she will attend the Pope’s address to the United Nations General Assembly.
That afternoon, Sister Donna will be present with Catholic Charities of New York City for Pope Francis’ visit to Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem. Pope Francis and Catholic Charities will spend time with immigrants and refugees served by the parish and school.
Also witnessing the Pope’s arrival at the White House was Sister Carol Coston, OP, founding director more than 40 years ago of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby. Today will be a special day for Sister Donna Baker, religion teacher at Rosarian Academy in West Palm Beach, and for six eighth-graders and three other chaperones who will be at the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol with Pope Francis arrives to address Congress.
Sister Donna Markham said being at these events was a “thrilling and moving experience” and that it was an “incredible day” that brought together the Catholic Church and the U.S. government so powerfully.
Still, she and CCUSA are not basking in the glory of this experience. In response to Pope Francis’ plea that people work together to care for creation and people who are poor, Sister Donna announced that the CCUSA, in collaboration with AmeriCorps VISTA, will work with the White House to “help local communities prepare for and be resilient to natural disasters associated with climate change.”
“Today’s announcement is part of an ongoing effort by the administration to identify opportunities to increase resilience among marginalized populations,” Sister Donna said. “Catholic Charities will leverage its national network to convene interfaith conversations, share best practices, and disseminate preparedness information.”
Sister Donna, a clinical psychologist, served on the Board of Trustees of CCUSA for eight years before being selected early this year as the first female President of the national agency. She served on the General Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters from 1986 to 1992; was President for of Southdown Institute, a residential treatment facility for priests and women and men religious suffering from a variety of mental health challenges; and served as Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters from 2004 to 2010. Most recently, she was President of the Behavioral Health Institute at Mercy Health.