July 5, 2018, Adrian, Michigan – Adrian Dominican Sisters added their voices to thousands of others on June 30 as they participated in Families Belong Together marches throughout the United States. Demonstrations throughout the nation protested the U.S. immigration policy that has separated children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border as the families attempted to enter the United States without formal documents.
Sister Corinne Florek was one of about 2,000 people to attend a rally at Lake Merritt in Oakland, California. “It was inspiring because most of the speakers were young children,” she recalled. “They reminded us of the children’s march during the fight for civil rights. One girl spoke of her father being taken by ICE and how that affected her.”
Sisters Mary Trzasko, OP, and Beverly Stark, OP, were present at the rally in Charleston, South Carolina. Sister Beverly made the connection between the current immigration issue and the history of slavery in the U.S. South. “We gathered on and all around the steps of the Court House in Charleston, South Carolina, which is only a few blocks away from where slaves were bought and sold and families separated,” she said. “It was wrong and cruel then and it’s wrong and cruel today.”
About 20 Adrian Dominican Sisters were present for the rally in Adrian. Sister Kathleen Nolan, OP, Director of the Congregation’s Office of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, noted that the people of Adrian have been consistently attending rallies calling for social justice – from the Poor People’s Campaign and March for our Lives to the June 30 Families Belong Together March. “There was a lot of enthusiasm,” she said. “It was very encouraging.” The rally began at 11:00 a.m., and by noon, the crowd had grown to 150.
“The rally was very well attended in spite of the heat,” said Sister Annette Sinagra, OP, who also attended the march in Adrian. “It was a great support for the children and families that have suffered so very much under the cruel policies of [President] Trump.”
Sister Esther Kennedy, OP, also joined the Adrian march. “I was grateful for everyone who came. I also appreciated the cars that went by and honked…in support of immigration reform.”
Sister Esther spoke of her own motive for attending the rally. “We can feel overwhelmed in these kinds of situations, like there’s nothing we can do,” she said. “I do not want to be silent. I must put my body, my heart, my spirit, to join with others, and it’s not just in protest, but in remembering the core values this democracy was founded on. There have been times in our American history when we have not protested enough. I don’t want this to be one of those times.”
Sister Kathleen believes the message of the rally in Adrian goes beyond the call for an end to cruel separation of families at the border. The underlying message of the June 30 rally and the other recent rallies is the same. “There’s a consistent message that voting in November is going to be very, very important,” she said. “We need to get out the vote in November because that’s the only way we’re going to make any changes.”
Sister Cheryl Liske, OP, a community organizer, attended the Families Belong Together Rally on July 2 in Saginaw, Michigan. She accompanied members of the Ezekiel Project of Saginaw, one of four organizations that were called upon to speak during the rally. About half of the people who attended the rally then went to the office of Rep. John Moolenaar (R-Mich.) to present a cage full of toys for the children at the border. The action was in reference to reports that children at the border had been put into cages.
Sister Virginia “Ginny” King, OP, attended two rallies in the Detroit area, the first in front of the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) building in Detroit. From there, she attended a related rally at the Hart Plaza in Detroit, traveling with “a small but diverse group,” she recalled.
Feature photo (top): Participating in the rally in Adrian are, from left, Sisters Joella Miller, OP; Maurine Barzantni, OP; Corinne Sanders, OP; Carmen Álvarez, OP; and Sara Fairbanks, OP.
Rally participants gather at the Court House in Charleston, South Carolina
June 25, 2018, Adrian, Michigan – In a spirit of joy, gratitude, and friendship, Diamond (60 years), Golden (50 years), and Silver (25 years) Jubilarians returned to the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse for a week of prayer and celebrations and took time to renew their friendships and their commitment to the Congregation’s Mission. The special week, June 20-23, 2018, was set aside to recognize and celebrate the Congregation’s 23 Diamond Jubilarians, eight Golden Jubilarians, and one Silver Jubilarian.
The 18 Double-Diamond Jubilarians, celebrating their 70th Jubilees, had been recognized during a special Liturgy and Dinner in May.
Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress, set the tone for Jubilee week during the opening session and public reception for the Jubilarians on June 20. “Jubilee is a time of stepping back, to give thanks and express gratitude,” she said. “It is a time when we recognize God’s year of favor. … It’s a time of rest and inner renewal, a time for creativity and imagination, a time to slow down, a time to be with family and friends.” Above all, Sister Pat said, Jubilee is a time to “allow God to love us even more tenderly.”
Noting her own personal joy in welcoming the Jubilarians home, Sister Pat invited them to take time to gather together but also to “take some leisurely and prayerful time to spend in our multiple sacred spaces across our beautiful campus.”
The Jubilarians met the next day with Sister Pat and the General Council of the Congregation for a traditional tea. During the week, Jubilarians also had the opportunity to spend time with friends, to visit the Sisters in the Dominican Life Center, and to enjoy a concert by Sister Magdalena Ezoe, OP.
June 22 brought a more reflective spirit to the Jubilee Week as the Jubilarians and other Sisters on campus gathered for a Liturgy for Deceased Jubilarians and former Adrian Dominican Sisters. In a special ritual, Jubilarians recalled the life stories of the deceased and the qualities and gifts that they brought to the world.
Specially honored were Sisters Barbara Ann Beerkle, OP, Sharon Carroll, OP, Phyllis Duffie, OP, Barbara Matteson, OP, Mary Rita McSweeney, OP, Lorraine Mordenski, OP, and Mary Tardiff, OP, deceased Diamond Jubilarians, and Mary Jane Bourgeois, Mary Jane Bruske Blau, Linda Jackson Glance, Ann Mary Kreft, Gloria Maliszewski, and Mary Catherine Wildern, deceased former Adrian Dominican Sisters.
Sister Attracta Kelly, OP, Diamond Jubilarian and former Prioress of the Congregation, welcomed the assembly to the memorial of the women who are now in the “invisible neighborhood, where the dead dwell. ... Our friends are now enjoying eternal life where all that we see – goodness, unity, beauty, truth, love, eternal life – are no longer distant but are now completely present to them.”
Father James Hug, SJ, presider and Motherhouse Chaplain, prayed in gratitude for the lives of the deceased Jubilarians and former members. “Their generous willingness to commit their lives with us, to extend your tender love to all your people in so many places and in so many ways is a gift that touches and challenges our spirits to rise to your call today,” he said.
Sister Carol Jean Kesterke, OP, Golden Jubilarian and Chapter Prioress of the Detroit-based Great Lakes Mission Chapter, reflected on the Scripture passages that were proclaimed during the Liturgy – and on the “fourth text” – the lives of the deceased women who were being honored. “The point of this fourth text is not to eulogize these 13 women, but to search the text of their lives, just as we search the other texts, for insights about how we may live more fully in God,” Sister Carol Jean said. “These women have left us many beautiful qualities and many things to admire.”
The week culminated on June 23 with a celebration open to the Jubilarians and their guests. The bilingual Mass brought in the elements of joyful music and dance to proclaim the joy and hope of the Jubilarians, their families and friends, and the Congregation.
“Today we are gathered to honor and celebrate our Sisters who have joyfully and with great fidelity lived their vows as Dominican women for 25, 50, and 60 years,” said Sister Pat, in her formal welcome to the liturgy.
Bishop Emeritus of Tucson Gerald F. Kicanas, presider of the Jubilee liturgy, echoed Sister Pat’s spirit of joy in honoring the Jubilarians. “What a great joy it is to gather here to celebrate the anniversaries of so many of our Sisters,” he said.
In her reflection, Sister Patricia Harvat, OP – Golden Jubilarian and member of the General Council – picked up on the theme of the text of the Jubilarians’ lives from the previous day’s reflection. “The daily text of our book of life as Dominicans began with clean and empty margins,” she noted. “But as we gather today to celebrate this life, those margins of the text are filled with daily entries of our words and gestures of love, mercy, hope, suffering, doubts, and longing.”
She spoke of the years in which the Jubilarians followed the call of Jesus. “There really are no adequate words to describe the ride, what it meant to leave our homes and walk into the lives of hundreds of people … in different cultures and global realities,” she said. After 60, 50, and 25 years, the Jubilarians continue to follow Jesus and to write the text of their lives. “There still is room in the margins of our text in the book of our lives to continue writing the call to live a dream and to love, following God with all the twists and turns life may present us.” Read Sister Patricia's full homily.
The Jubilarians demonstrated their commitment to follow their call as vowed Dominican women as they gathered at the altar to renew their vows to Sister Pat Siemen, to “make profession and promise obedience to almighty God, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to our holy Father St. Dominic,” and to Sister Patricia and her lawful successors, “according to the Rule of St. Augustine and the Constitution of the Sisters of St. Dominic of the Congregation of the Most Holy Rosary until death.”
The celebration continued after Liturgy with a festive dinner for the Jubilarians and their special guests. The week was planned by the Jubilee Committee: Co-workers Krystal Baker, Susan Kremski, and Jeanette McIntosh and Sisters Virginia Corley, OP, and Joan Sustersic, OP. Sister Joy Finfera, OP, served as Chair, succeeding Sister Rose Celeste O’Connell, OP, who had chaired the committee for some 20 years before her death in May 2018.
Feature photo: Jubilarians gather around the altar to renew their vows during the Jubilee Mass on June 23, 2018.