March 2, 2018, Chicago – Once a successful fashion designer in her native Dominican Republic, Sister Xiomara Méndez-Hernández, OP, changed her life dramatically when she met Adrian Dominican Sisters in her country – and in December 2017 professed her final vows. In an interview with Soli Salgado of Global Sisters Report, Sister Xiomara tells of how her encounter with the Sisters led her to become an Adrian Dominican Associate and, eventually, an Adrian Dominican Sister.
December 18, 2017, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic – Historical traditions and hope for the future were combined in an exuberant way December 16 as Sister Xiomara Méndez-Hernández, OP, made her Perpetual Profession of Vows with the Adrian Dominican Sisters. The Mass was at the Dominican Convent in Sister Xiomara’s hometown, Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.
With Dominican Sisters and Friars from her native country and the United States, family members, Adrian Dominican Associates, and friends present, Sister Xiomara took the hands of Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress, and promised obedience to “Almighty God, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to our Holy Father St. Dominic,” and to Sister Patricia and her lawful successors “for my whole life.”
The traditional Dominican rite involves only explicitly the vow of obedience. The other two vows traditionally taken by people in religious life – poverty and chastity – are explicitly stated in the Adrian Dominican Constitution, by which professed Adrian Dominican Sisters promise to abide.
Before professing her vows, Sister Xiomara stated her intent to commit herself to continue her loving relationship with God, to fully love her sisters and brothers and all God’s creation. “I want to preach truth from my heart afire; make peace valuing all my brothers’ and sisters’ faith, wisdom, and integrity; and rooted in the joy of the Gospel, I want to reverence life by embracing and nurturing our rich diversity, wherever I go and whatever I do,” she said. “I want to do all of this with you, my beloved Adrian Dominican Sisters.”
The Rite of Profession also included the Prioress’ call to Sister Xiomara; a formal examination as to Sister Xiomara’s readiness for perpetual vows with Sister Kathleen Klingen, OP, her Chapter Prioress; the sung Litany of St. Dominic, while Sister Xiomara lay prostrate in front of the assembly; the blessing and presentation of Sister Xiomara’s profession ring; and the signing of the profession documents.
Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP, Director of Formation, welcomed the assembly, and Sister Marilín Llanes, OP, who lives in community with Sister Xiomara in Chicago, offered a reflection. The liturgy was celebrated by Father Cristóbal Iglesias, OP, and concelebrated by Father Martin Edward S. Ohajunwa. Sisters Basilia De la Cruz, OP, and María Eneida Santiagao, OP, were her witnesses. Sister Rosa Monique Peña, OP, who serves in formation in the Dominican Republic, was the Master of Ceremonies. Sister Mary Jones, OP, served as cantor. Sister Jeanne Wiest, OP, played the clarinet, and Aracelis Mena, a dear friend of Sister Xiomara, was the photographer.
Born in Santo Domingo, Sister Xiomara studied fashion design and received a bachelor’s degree from Universidad Autonomo de Santo Domingo in 1999. From 2004 to 2008, she had her own fashion design business, Xissors Couture, in Santo Domingo, and from 2006 to 2008 also taught fashion design at Instituto Nacional de Formación Técnico Profesional (INFOTEP) in Santo Domingo. She also served on a national board for certification of professional patterns and sewing.
Sister Xiomara first met the Adrian Dominican Sisters, who served in her country in 1993, and “became captivated by their passion to preach truth, make peace, and reverence life,” she said. “In the Adrian Dominicans I saw Sisters who were full of love and joy, women who worked for justice and peace – and who danced! When I started praying with them, I began to feel a call.”
Sister Xiomara was one of seven women from the Dominican Republic to become Adrian Dominican Associates in 2004. Associates are women and men – at least 18 years of age – who make a non-vowed commitment to partner with the Adrian Dominican Sisters while maintaining their own independent lifestyle.
Sister Xiomara entered the Congregation in 2008, undergoing a discernment process to determine if she was called to life as an Adrian Dominican Sister. She took part in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) training for chaplaincy at Loyola University Medical Center, Chicago, in 2011-2012 and earned a Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS) from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago in 2014.
Sister Xiomara served as chaplain at Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican Hospitals in Henderson, Nevada, from February 2015 through March 2017, when she began her current ministry as chaplain at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago.
“I am very excited about the many possibilities we have today as we gather with young Sisters from all over the country,” Sister Xiomara said. “I believe in the future of religious life and I feel blessed to be part of it.”
Feature photo: Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress, left, and Sister Xiomara Méndez-Hernádez, OP, show their great joy after Sister Xiomara’s Perpetual Profession of Vows.
Left: The assembly blesses Sister Xiomara at the closing of her Final Profession.