December 30, 2016, Adrian, Michigan – As we near the countdown to another calendar year, let us take some time to review the 10 most memorable events for the Adrian Dominican Congregation in 2016.
General Chapter 2016
After nearly two years of contemplative and collaborative study and preparation, about 200 delegates to the second session of the 2016 General Chapter gathered at the Motherhouse in Adrian, Michigan, February 18-26, to set the direction of the Congregation for the next six years. After input and much work together, four Enactments were approved and a Prioress and General Council were elected to lead the Congregation in living out those Enactments.
St. Luke’s N.E.W. Life Center Responds to Flint’s Water Crisis
When the water of Flint, Michigan, was found to be contaminated with lead co-workers at St. Luke’s N.E.W. Life Center found ways to offer special services to the troubled community. The Center – founded by Sister Carol Weber, OP, and Sister Judy Blake, CSJ – responded in a variety of ways, from serving as a water distribution center to offering support and nutrition classes to mothers of young children. Sister Carol also found hope and support from a community meeting, called and attended by President Barack Obama.
Adrian Dominicans Stand in Solidarity with Those Seeking Justice
Throughout the year, groups of Adrian Dominicans participated in various events in solidarity with people who are seeking justice. A group of Adrian Dominican Sisters from the Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter, based in Pampanga, the Philippines, joined a protest with 3,000 indigenous peoples from their country. Participants set up camp at the University of the Philippines to raise awareness of their efforts to reclaim self-determination and liberation. Six Adrian Dominican Sisters and one Dominican Volunteer traveled to Nogales, Arizona, to join in the School of the Americas (SOA) Watch’s first-ever Convergence at the Border, which called attention to increased militarization of U.S. borders. Three Adrian Dominican Sisters were part of a contingent of U.S. Dominican Sisters who spent a weekend in solidarity with Native Americans who were encamped at Standing Rock in protest the Dakota Access Pipeline being constructed on sacred tribal land.
Dominicans around the World Celebrate 800th Jubilee
For Dominicans throughout the world, 2016 was a year-long Jubilee of the founding of the Order of Preachers by St. Dominic. Among the many celebrations taking place during this year was “Living our Legacy: A Dominican Conference in Celebration of 800 Years of Preaching,” attended by three Adrian Dominican Sisters.
Reflective Garden Brings Joy to Retired Sisters
Thanks to the generosity of numerous donors, the Dominican Life Center Reflective Garden was built in the summer and dedicated in August. The garden was designed with the special needs of memory-loss Sisters in mind to give them a safe and beautiful place to enjoy nature.
Adrian Dominicans Dedicate Formation House in Dominican Republic
The Adrian Dominican Sisters renovated a 100-year-old house in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and dedicated it as a House of Formation. The house is open to women in the Dominican Republic who are discerning a call to the Adrian Dominican Sisters, women who are in formation, and for those who seek a place for spiritual growth and renewal. Read more.
Siena Heights University Opens St. Joseph Academy Building to Education Students
After receiving the old St. Joseph Academy building from the Adrian Dominican Congregation, Siena Heights University renovated the first floor and dedicated it to the Department of Education. In gratitude for the gift of the building, the faculty and students in the Education Department hosted an open house for Adrian Dominicans to showcase the new facilities.
St. Rose Dominican Hospitals Plans Four New Neighborhood Hospitals
Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican Hospitals announced plans to build four new neighborhood hospitals in the Las Vegas area to increase access to health care in these areas. The first of the four is scheduled to be dedicated in the first quarter of 2017.
Associate Life Creates Advisory Board
An Advisory Board was created for Associate Life, the organization that coordinates Adrian Dominican Associates, as a way to respond to the specific Dominican charism of Associates. Made up of five Associates, the Director of Associate Life, the Formation Director, and the General Council liaison to Associate Life, the Advisory Board first met in the Spring of 2016 and reported on its accomplishments and goals during an August gathering of Associates.
Adrian Dominican Sisters Present on Global Stage
In the past year, three Adrian Dominican Sisters have taken part in global events. Sister Donna Markham, OP, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, was part of the U.S. delegation to the canonization in Rome of St. Teresa of Calcutta. Sister Mary Priniski, OP, participated in the Global Seminar on Sustainable Development and the Future of Work in the Context of the Jubilee of Mercy, in Rome in early May. Sister Cheryl Liske, OP, attended the third World Meeting of Popular Movements, held in Rome in November to help advise Pope Francis on how to address the challenges faced by poor people and Earth.
July 7, 2016, Adrian, Michigan – The new Prioress and General Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters formally took office on July 2, 2016 during a special Liturgy, the Celebration of Leadership. The Congregation’s new leadership team is composed of Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress of the Congregation; Sister Frances Nadolny, OP, Administrator and General Councilor; Sister Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP, Vicaress and General Councilor; and Sister Patricia Harvat, OP, and Sister Elise D. García, OP, General Councilors. Elected during the Congregation’s General Chapter in February 2016, they will hold office through June 2022.
Sister Attracta Kelly, OP, the outgoing Prioress of the Congregation, welcomed an assembly of Adrian Dominican Sisters, Associates, and Co-workers, as well as special guests of the new General Council members and representatives of sponsored institutions and other Congregations of women religious.
Sister Attracta took the opportunity to explain the model of leadership practiced by the Adrian Dominican Sisters and many congregations of women religious in the United States. Unlike leadership in secular organizations, she explained, leadership in the Adrian Dominican Congregation “is not a climbing the ladder” of success. Rather, she said, it is a call by the Sisters of the community for a limited time – one six-year term, non-renewable. “We expect our leaders to have the capacity to call the Congregation to be who we say we are, to have great trust in the power of the Spirit and of the power when all of us, each one of us as an individual, knows that our contribution is vital to the whole.”
On behalf of the Congregation, Sister Attracta thanked the “five generous-hearted Sisters” for their willingness to serve, and promised the “unending love and prayer” of the Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates.
The new General Council succeeds the 2010-2016 General Council. Along with Sister Attracta, they are Sister Corinne Sanders, OP, Administrator and General Councilor; Sister Tarianne DeYonker, OP, Vicaress and General Councilor; and Sister Kathleen Schanz, OP, and Sister Rosemary Abramovich, OP, General Councilors.
In the brief ritual, each member of the 2016-2022 Council in turn formally stated her willingness to accept the responsibility to serve as a General Councilor: to “carry forward the decisions and directives of General Chapter 2016 and to care for the ordinary governance of the Congregation.”
As Prioress, Sister Patricia Siemen holds the highest ordinary authority in the Adrian Dominican Congregation. She will be responsible for promoting the unity of the Congregation, as well as representing the Adrian Dominican Sisters in Church and civic affairs and chairing the General Council.
In her reflection on the Scriptural readings, Sister Patricia described the Beatitudes as Jesus’ “foundational teachings. It was a counter-cultural message then and indeed it remains so today.” But, she noted, the 2016 General Chapter Enactments – the documents that the 2016 General Chapter delegates approved in February – “mirror, in contemporary form, the work of the Beatitudes”: reaching out to those who suffer spiritual and material hunger; studying the reality of poverty and racism and their effects on people’s lives; working to “intensify our ecological sustainability practices and reduce our carbon footprint”; and “participating in creating resilient communities with people who are relegated to the margins of society.”
Sister Patricia is not new to Congregation leadership. She served as Chapter Prioress (“Major Superior”) of the Sisters in the Congregation’s Mid-Atlantic Mission Chapter from 1988 to 1992, when she was elected to serve as Vicaress/General Councilor until 1998.
An attorney, Sister Patricia founded and directed the Center for Earth Jurisprudence at Barry University’s School of Law to help develop a philosophy and practice of law that respects and protects the natural world in its own right. She has also served at Barry University, Miami Shores, as an adjunct faculty member and, since 2010, as a team member of Barry’s Office of Mission Engagement. From 2001 to 2004, she directed the Earth Ethics Institute at Miami Dade College, and, as a staff attorney with Florida Rural Legal Services, worked with immigrant farmworkers in Florida.
Sister Mary Margaret brings a wealth of education and leadership experience to her new position. After teaching for years at Catholic elementary schools in Ohio, California, Arizona, and Michigan, she served as principal of two schools in the Diocese of Lansing: St. Patrick School, Brighton, from 1978 to 1986, and St. Joseph Academy in Adrian from 1986 to 1993.
Sister Mary Margaret then taught at St. Anne’s High School in Modimong, South Africa, from 1993 to 1996. She served as the School and Curriculum Consultant for the Diocese of Toledo until 2001, when she returned to Africa to serve as National Coordinator for Literacy and Numeracy for the Catholic Institute of education. She has served since 2008 as President of Regina Dominican High School in Wilmette, an all-girls college-preparation school sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters. In her position as Vicaress, Sister Mary Margaret would take on the responsibilities of the Prioress should Sister Patricia Siemen become incapacitated or vacate the office.
Sister Frances’s earliest experiences of leadership included serving as principal of St. Thaddeus School in Chicago for five years. She also served the Archdiocese of Detroit as Director of the Department of Education, Associate Superintendent of Schools, and Superintendent of Schools. For the past two years, she has served as the Director of the Congregation’s Ministry Trust Office, which provides grants to organizations in which Adrian Dominicans minister, lead as Board members, or volunteer. In addition, Sister Frances was elected Chapter Prioress (Provincial) of the Congregation’s Great Lakes Dominican Mission Chapter, based in Detroit.
Sister Patricia Harvat has spent much of her ministerial life serving overseas: from 1973 to 1981 serving in Head Start and in pastoral work in Puerto Rico and directing the Congregation’s Lay Ministry Program in the Dominican Republic from 1982 to 1989. She then returned to the United States to teach theology at Gabriel Richard High School in Riverview, Michigan, until 1993. She has also served as Director of Formation for the Adrian Dominican Congregation and as Director of Lay Ministry Formation for the Hispanic Ministry Office of the Diocese of Cleveland. Since 2008, she has served at St. Mary’s Dominican High School in New Orleans, sponsored by the Dominican Sisters of Peace.
In 2011, Sister Elise began her ministry to the Adrian Dominican Sisters as Director of Communications and Technology, overseeing many of the Congregation’s technology upgrades. After three years, Communications and Technology were separated into two departments and Sister Elise focused on Communications.
Before coming to Michigan, Sister Elise and Adrian Dominican Sister Carol Coston founded and directed Santuario Sisterfarm, an ecology center based in Boerne, Texas, and dedicated to cultivating biodiversity and cultural diversity. The organization also established Sor Juana Press, which published such titles as the Dominican Women on Earth series and Drawn by Love, the history of the Dominican Congregation of St. Catherine of Siena of Mosul, Iraq. Sister Elise was founding editor of Sor Juana Press.
Sister Elise has served as Director of Communications and Development for St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio, Texas; Vice President for Membership and Media Communications for Common Cause in Washington, DC; and as consultant to numerous national and regional non-profit organizations.
Watch the video of the Celebration of Leadership below, and read a related article in the Daily Telegram.
Left: Participating in the Celebration of Leadership, beginning at the ambo and moving clockwise, are: Sisters Attracta Kelly, Tarianne DeYonker, Corinne Sanders, Rosemary Abramovich, Kathleen Schanz, Elise D. García, Patricia Harvat, Frances Nadolny, Mary Margaret Pachucki, and Patricia Siemen. Right: Sister Patricia Siemen blesses the Sisters on the balcony during the Sprinkling Rite.
Feature photo: Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, new Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Congregation, with Sister Attract Kelly, OP, former Prioress, during the Celebration of Leadership Liturgy. Photo by Lad Strayer