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Sister Barbara Cervenka's Art Ministry Takes Variety of Forms

September 21, 2016, Detroit – Sister Barbara Cervenka, OP, has spent much of the past summer laboring in her ministry of the arts. She was the keynote speaker for her peers at the 19th Annual Gathering of the Dominican Institute for the Arts, giving a presentation on the great Dominican artist, Fra Angelico. Read the full article in a recent issue of DomLife.

During the summer, Sister Barbara was also on hand for the opening of the most recent showing of “Bandits and Heroes, Poets and Saints,” an exhibit of popular art in Brazil, as it continued continuing its national tour at American University’s Katzen Arts Center.  

The art exhibit was designed by Sister Barbara Cervenka, OP, and Marion Jackson, co-directors of Con/Vida, a non-profit organization, based in Detroit that collects popular art from Latin America and promotes it in the United States. The tour – which opened in August 2013 at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit – depicts through about 200 pieces of art the history and culture of Northeastern Brazil. Read Menachem Wecker’s full article on the exhibit in the National Catholic Reporter

For the past year, Sister Barbara has also been busy with a special project, 1,000 Cranes for Iraq. Basing her work on the Japanese tradition of folding 1,000 paper cranes for peace or health, she has continued her own project of creating daily oil paintings of paper cranes. Each painting is given to an individual or group who donates $100 to help the Dominican Sisters of Iraq in their ministry with Christians and other minority groups who fled the onslaught of Isis in Mosul, Iraq, in August 2014. Donations to 1,000 Cranes for Iraq help the Sisters in their school, clinics, and pastoral ministry to other refugees living in northern Iraq. Visit the website to view the latest creations by Sister Barbara and other Adrian Dominican artists and to help support the Iraqi Dominican Sisters in their ministry.

Adrian Dominican Sisters to Mark One-Year Anniversary of Iraqi Sisters’ Flight from ISIS with Solemn Procession and Prayer

Dominican Artists Launch “1000 Cranes for Iraq” Website in Support

August 3, 2015, Adrian, Michigan – As an act of solidarity with the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena of Iraq and the people of northern Iraq, the Dominican Sisters of Adrian, Michigan are holding a solemn Procession and Prayer on the afternoon of August 6. The event marks the one-year anniversary of the Iraqis’ flight from persecution by ISIS.

The observance, which is open to the public, will start at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) on Thursday, August 6, 2015, in front of Madden Hall on the Motherhouse Campus in Adrian, Michigan.

A new website (www.1000cranesforiraq.org) featuring cranes painted by Dominican artists was launched to raise funds in support of the refugee relief efforts of the Iraqi Sisters. The project centers on the legend made popular by a Japanese girl exposed to radiation from the Hiroshima atomic bomb who died of leukemia at age 12 before she could fulfill her wish of folding 1,000 cranes in prayer for health and world peace. Her classmates finished the project. (August 6 marks the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing.)

At 3:30 p.m. EDT, the bell in the tower of Holy Rosary Chapel will toll, marking the time (10:30 p.m. in Iraq) one year ago, when the Sisters were hurriedly evacuating their convents in Qaraqosh and the neighboring villages in the Nineveh Plain, with little more than their habits, beginning a long and harrowing escape. It took them nearly 10 hours to reach the safety of the Kurdish capital of Erbil – ordinarily a 50-minute drive – as they inched along roads jammed with tens of thousands of Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities fleeing from their centuries-old home on the heels of a terrorist attack by ISIS.

The sounding of the bell will be followed by a moment of silence to remember and pray for the Iraqi people and world peace. Sister Attracta Kelly, OP, Prioress of the Adrian Congregation, will then read a recent letter from Sister Maria Hanna, OP, Prioress of the Iraqi Congregation, describing their current situation. Sister Kelly will invite participants to walk in silent procession to St. Catherine Chapel, recalling the horror of the flight to safety that the Dominican Sisters and their people endured at this time last year. All will join in a common prayer, created by the U.S. Dominican Iraq Coordinating Committee for use this day by Dominican congregations and provinces throughout the United States.

At the end of the prayer, participants will be invited to sign post cards to Secretary of State John Kerry, urging him to work with the Administration and Congress to increase funding for humanitarian assistance for internally displaced Iraqi citizens and for Iraqi refugees in neighboring countries. The cards note that “The United States bears a profound responsibility to assist the Iraqi people in this time of continuing crisis.”

The Dominican Sisters of Adrian have a special relationship with the Dominican Sisters of Iraq, as several young Iraqi Sisters lived, ministered, and studied with the Michigan-based community from 2005 to May 2015, when the last Iraqi Sister completed her training as a physician’s assistant and returned to serve her people. An older Iraqi Sister who suffered a stroke while visiting family in Detroit is buried in the Congregation’s cemetery.

The 1,000 cranes project was conceived by Sister Barbara Cervenka, OP, an Adrian Dominican artist. She has painted nearly 160 6”x6” paintings to date and estimates it will take about three years to paint 1,000. Other Dominican artists are joining her in donating their art to the project, including Sisters Mary James (Fran) Hickey, OP, Suzanne Schreiber, OP, and Janet Wright, OP. The website and logo was developed by Tommy Herrmann, a former student of Sister Cervenka.

Dominican Sisters and Friars in the United States have longstanding ties with Dominicans in Iraq. Three delegations of U.S. Dominicans visited Iraq in successive summers from 1999 to 2001 as a witness of solidarity with the Iraqi Dominicans and people of Iraq, as they suffered the effects of severe economic sanctions. In late 2002, in the light of the Bush Administration’s threat of war against Iraq, Dominicans everywhere began to wear buttons with the phrase, “I have family in Iraq,” as a sign of their concern for and solidarity with the people of Iraq.


Photos from Sister Durstyne Farnan, one of three Dominican Sisters who visited the displaced Iraqi Sisters in January of this year in Erbil, Kurdistan.



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