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Sister Donna Markham Receives Honorary Doctorate from Dominican University

June 13, 2016, River Forest, Illinois – Sister Donna Markham, OP, PhD, first woman President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, received an honorary doctorate from Dominican University, River Forest, Illinois, during the University’s Spring Commencement exercises. Dominican University was founded in 1901 by the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters.

Sister Donna Markham, left, with Dominican University President Donna M. Carroll. Photo Courtesy of Dominican University 

A certified clinical psychologist, Sister Donna has held leadership positions in mental health agencies: the Behavioral Health Institute for Mercy Health, serving Ohio and Kentucky, and Southdown Institute, based in Ontario, Canada, and offering residential treatment for clergy and religious.

Sister Donna, Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Congregation from 2004 to 2010, received this special recognition “for her strong leadership and efforts to bring dignity, hope, and compassion to the most marginalized members of society.”

Sister Donna, for her part, noted her own sense of humility in receiving the award, especially at the time when the Church’s Year of Mercy coincides with the 800th anniversary of the Order of Preachers, Dominicans. She presented the 2016 graduates with eight words to accompany them into their future.

  • Seek truth: Sister Donna held up the “long line of scholars” in the Dominican tradition who have sought truth to “address the social and moral dilemmas” of their times: from St. Dominic to other Dominican saints; Albert the Great, Thomas Aquinas, and Catherine of Siena. “Regardless of your particular field of expertise, you embody the depth of a Dominican education as you search to find what is true and good and right in bringing about a more compassionate society.”

  • Make peace: Noting the strong pull of divisiveness and enmity in today’s culture, Sister Donna encouraged the graduates to seek reconciliation among all parties and to be “fearless in entering into the space of making peace.” She called on the graduates to make use of the Dominican tradition of disputatio – “engaging educated dialog in the service of establishing relationships, building understanding, and reconciling differences.”

  • Extend mercy: Sister Donna noted that, in this Year of Mercy, Pope Francis calls for a culture of care and compassion. “Many of you may not be directly engaged with the poorest of the poor, but everyone of us stands in need of compassion,” she said. “How we treat one another, how we treat our families and our coworkers and colleagues, how we respond to the homeless fellow living under the Wabash Street bridge – is the measure of our mercy.”

  • Reverence life: Sister Donna challenged the Class of 2016, “inheritors of Dominican education,” to make use of their education, knowledge, writing, and scholarship to address the cries of the poor and to recognize the connection among all beings. “Do not be deaf to the cry of the earth and the cries of the poor. …Stay passionate in advocating on behalf of life in all of its forms.” 

Sister Sally Ormsby, OP, Recognized by Peers and Students for her Service

June 8, 2016, Niles, Illinois – Sister Sally Ormsby, OP, was recognized for her service and the contributions she has made to Notre Dame College Prep, an all-boys high school founded by the Holy Cross Brothers, where she has served as a religion teacher for nine years. 

Sister Sally received the Rev. James d’Autremont, CSC, Award during the school’s graduation ceremonies. Named after the first principal of Notre Dame, the award is given annually to a faculty or staff member who “best exemplifies Father D’Autremont’s qualities of wisdom, strength, gentleness, and selfless service, a model for the Dons [students] of Notre Dame.” 

“All of this was a big, big surprise to me,” Sister Sally said in an interview. “I had no idea.” Upon receiving the award, she said, she expressed her deep gratitude to the faculty and staff, who had nominated her among other peers and ultimately chosen her for the award.  

Sister Sally also received acclaim from another source – the members of the Class of 2016. “The seniors write about who their favorite teacher is and who they learn the most from,” she explained. “I was privileged to be named their favorite teacher.”

Sister Sally has been teaching morality and Catholic Social Teaching to the juniors. “The first thing I try to teach them is that morality is a life skill, and that everybody should try to give help to other people in any way they can,” she said. “We all have that responsibility as adults.”

A 2016 Golden Jubilarian – celebrating 50 years as an Adrian Dominican Sister – Sister Sally also received recognition from her community. Attending Notre Dame’s graduation ceremony to celebrate with her were Sister Kathleen Klingen, OP, her Chapter Prioress, and Sisters Kathleen Waters, Mary Rita McSweeney, and Cyrilla Zarek. 

Before beginning her ministry at Notre Dame, Sister Sally served for 19 years at Regina Dominican High School, an all-girls college preparatory school sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Congregation and located in Wilmette, Illinois, north of Chicago. For the first 12 years, she served as Assistant Dean of Students and for the remaining seven was the Dean of Students.

Feature photo: Sister Sally Ormsby, OP, accepts the Rev. James d'Autremond, CSC Award during graduation ceremonies at Notre Dame College Prep. Photo courtesy of Notre Dame College Prep. 


 

 

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