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.
June 5, 2018, Adrian, Michigan – Rain gardens, berms and swales, Permaculture, eco-systems, zero waste, watersheds, bio-regions, planting guilds – this is the language of a two-week summer program for selected Barry University and Siena Heights University students as they explore and experience the environment and learn to work with and for nature.
Now in its second year, the Environmental Leadership Experience brought a disparate group of students to the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse May 13-27, 2018. Through team work, hands-on work, talks, meditation, and tours of local sustainability efforts, the students learn about eco-systems and the principles and practices of Permaculture, a system of learning from and working with the systems of nature in designing and implementing agriculture.
The program is coordinated by Sister Corinne Sanders, OP, Director of the Congregation’s Sustainability Office; Elaine Johnson, Permaculture Specialist for the Adrian Dominican Sisters; and Sister Carol Coston, OP, founding Director of Permaculture. Both Siena Heights and Barry Universities collaborate in the program. Speakers included Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress of the Congregation and former Director of the Center for Earth Jurisprudence; and staff members from local sustainability sites that students visited.
Participants spent much of their time outdoors, working in the permaculture area of the Motherhouse. Service projects included installing deer fencing around the community garden; conducting a waste audit of the Motherhouse; planting an edible forest garden; and building a vermiculture system, in which worms are used to compost organic waste. In a blog, students described their experience and what they’d learned.
A key experience for Pa Sheikh Ngom, a Barry University international business major from Gambia in West Africa, came toward the end of the experience. “We saw everything we talked about [earlier in the experience] come together.” After spending their time drawing sketches of a garden, the students had the opportunity to plant trees and shrubs.
But along with specific skills needed to work in agriculture and to be good stewards of the environment, the students learned to think in a new way about the environment and about life.
“As humans we impose so much on our surroundings – but nature was already there,” said Ashley Ferguson, a Master’s of Social Work candidate at Barry University. “Now I understand that you can look to nature to learn how to build.” She hopes to use some of what she learned in the program to enhance her own garden.
The daily practice of meditation and opportunities to speak to the Sisters also gave the students inspiration and a new perspective. Matthew Mohammed, a business and mathematics major at Barry, said the experience “motivated and inspired me to want to travel more. [The Sisters] showed me that there’s more to life than the simple problems we go through every day.” Matthew said he also learned to appreciate the beauty around him – whether the buildings in Miami or the natural surroundings in Michigan.
The students – most of whom had never met one another before the Environmental Leadership Experience – came to see themselves as part of a team.
“Through this experience, we have developed a deeper understanding of what the term ‘sustainability’ truly means, and learned that simple changes, big and small, can be quite effective at making a difference,” wrote Stephanie Bingham, Associate Professor of Marine Biology at Barry University, in her blog entry. “In the process, we have also built strong alliances in our quest for creating a more sustainable future for ourselves and those who come after us. … We leave this experience inspired to do our small parts in raising the level of consciousness surrounding more sustainable and ecologically responsible approaches.”