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Dominican Midwest Spring Assembly Focuses on 15th Century Doctrine of Discovery

By Sister Kathy Klingen

May 18, 2016, Chicago – Seventy Sisters in the Dominican Midwest Chapter came together April 30 at the Mercy Meeting Place in Chicago for the optional Spring Gathering to share personal stories from ministry with the American indigenous peoples; study the history of papal bulls that relegated Indians to the margins in the United States; and ask themselves, “What can we do?”

Sisters Sue Gardner, JoAnn Fleischaker, and Ellen Kennedy shared tangible artifacts, prayer, and stories of their experiences with the Indian tribes. Other Sisters in the Chapter have also ministered among tribes in the United States and Canada, notably Sister Joyce Rybarczyk, who served in Watersmeet, Michigan, for more than 40 years, and Sister Kathleen Walli, who lived and ministered with the Menomonee Indians in upper Michigan for 14 years. 

Artifacts from Sisters’ experiences of ministering with Native Americans. Photo by Sister Jane Zimmerman

The injustices to children in boarding schools, parents and their sacred prayers cannot be forgotten. With incredible knowledge and wisdom, Sister Anele Heiges spoke of the “Papal Bulls from 1452, 1453, and 1493, which authorized only Christian monarchies as sovereign, and encouraged them to vanquish and place in perpetual slavery/servitude any heathens, pagans and other non-Christians and bring them under Church dominion.  The papacy authorized military conquest to assist conversion to Christianity.”  

As of 2007, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples acknowledges many rights, yet is not explicit on sovereignty issues, Sister Anele said. Therefore, indigenous leaders want Pope Francis to rescind the Bulls that justify imperialism.  

Sister Kathy Nolan, Director of the Adrian Dominican Congregation’s Office of Global Mission, Justice, and Peace, shared a petition being circulated by the Romero Institute, asking Pope Francis to rescind the Doctrine of Discovery.  

Sister Kathy Klingen, OP, Chapter Prioress, leads the assembly in a ritual. Photo by Sister Jane Zimmerman

“The Doctrine of Discovery, issued as three 15th-century papal bulls, continues to adversely dictate policy decisions directed towards indigenous peoples and their land,” Sister Kathy said. “This doctrine, created centuries ago, still acts as both the spiritual and legal endorsement of the exploitation and slaughters of Indigenous peoples, and the justification for imperialist economic ventures.”

A petition by the Romero Institute calls for the revocation of the Doctrine of Discovery. The petition reads, “We respectfully ask you, Pope Francis, to revoke the Doctrine of Discovery, which vested moral and spiritual authority in Colonial powers to brutally and violently conquer Indigenous lands.”   

Article Submitted by Sister Kathy Klingen, OP

Feature photo: Sister JoAnn Fleischaker, OP, shares her experiences of ministering with American Indians. Photo by Sister Jane Zimmerman


Adrian Dominicans Open Doors to Neighbors During National Catholic Sisters Week

March 14, 2016, Adrian, Michigan – The Adrian Dominican Sisters opened their doors to Lenawee County community members, donors, Co-workers and their families, staff members of Siena Heights University, and other interested guests March 9. An Evening with the Adrian Dominican Sisters, a special event for National Catholic Sisters Week, gave Sisters, Associates, Co-workers and guests a unique opportunity to get to know one another. 

Sister Attracta Kelly, OP, Prioress of the Congregation, welcomes open house guests.

In her opening address early in the evening, Sister Attracta Kelly, OP, Prioress of the Congregation, presented a brief history and background of the Adrian Dominican Congregation. She also emphasized the special relationship the Congregation has to their local neighbors. 

“While we as Adrian Dominican Sisters value relationships and collaboration with people across the globe, since 1884 we have known and been part of Lenawee County,” Sister Attracta noted. “We are proud to call Lenawee County and the City of Adrian home.” In turn, she invited her guests to feel at home on the campus of the Congregation’s Motherhouse. “You are welcome to join us at any time,” she said. Our doors are open. We have no gates, so feel free please to come and join us at any time.”

Adrian Mayor Jim Berryman presented a proclamation for National Catholic Sisters Week, reiterating the strong relationship between the Adrian Dominican Sisters and their home town, Adrian, Michigan. “Adrian and the Dominican Sisters have a 137-year history together,” Mayor Berryman noted. “The City of Adrian is a stronger community because of the Dominican Sisters.”

Sara Bingham, left, of WLEN Radio, interviews Sister Carleen Maly, OP, Director of the Adrian Rea Literacy Center.

Before the two-hour event began, Sara Bingham, of WLEN Radio, offered a remote broadcast from the Adrian Room of Madden Hall, where the refreshments and information tables were set up. She invited community members to attend the open house and conducted brief interviews with a number of representatives of Adrian Dominican programs: Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP, Formation Director; Sister Maria Goretti Browne, OP, on the Sisters; Associate Arlene Bachanov on the Congregation’s history; Erin Dress, Human Resources Director, on employment opportunities; Sister Peg O’Flynn, OP, on Weber Center; Sister Carleen Maly, OP, on the Adrian Rea Literacy Center; Jennifer Hunter and Ashley LaVigne on the campus; Sister Carol Coston, OP, on permaculture; and Amy Palmer on development.

Guests stroll through the first-floor corridor of Madden Hall during a guided tour of the Motherhouse.

Throughout the evening, guests were invited to meet the Sisters and learn about their lives, browse the various information tables, take part in a guided tour of the Motherhouse, and enjoy refreshments and companionship with others.

An Evening with the Adrian Dominican Sisters was funded by a grant from National Catholic Sisters Week to enable local community members to come to know the Congregation and the presence of the Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates among them. Held March 8-14 every year, the week gives people throughout the United States the opportunity to become more aware of Catholic Sisters and the role they play in Church and in society.

Read a related article by Lonnie Huhman in the Daily Telegram.


 

 

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