April 11, 2016, Adrian, Michigan – In a ritual that resonated with the joy of Easter and new life, Sister Marilín Llanes, OP, professed her first vows with the Adrian Dominican Sisters. The Liturgy – attended by Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates and Sister Marilín’s family members and friends – took place April 10 in St. Catherine Chapel at the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse.
Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP, Director of Formation, welcomed Sisters and special guests from Adrian and Detroit, and from as far away as Chicago, Minnesota, and the Dominican Republic, as well as family members who attended or who were to watch via live stream.
A member of the Adrian Dominican Congregation from 1988 to 1995, Sister Marilín entered the discernment process for Readmission on August 8, 2015, the Feast of St. Dominic. A native of the province of La Habana in Cuba and an only child, she immigrated to the United States at the age of six with her parents, Nancy and Ricardo Llanes.
Sister Marilín grew up in the Miami area and earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Barry University, sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters. She also holds a master’s degree in counseling from St. Mary’s University and a graduate degree in school psychology from Trinity University, both in San Antonio, Texas. After serving as a school psychologist in the Northside Independent School District in San Antonio, Texas, since 2004, she now brings that ministry to the Joliet, Illinois, School District.
After the readings, Sister Elise García, OP, offered a reflection on the call to follow Jesus – a call not only to Sister Marilín but to all who have “chosen to follow the way of Jesus through a vowed commitment to religious life.” Those in religious life are called to live a “communal way of the early disciples” and to live so that others may have the abundant life followed by Jesus. “It is a continuous self-emptying and dispossession,” she said. She held up as an example the Dominican Sisters of Iraq, who are “living that dispossession in ways that we can hardly imagine”: as refugees, living in a community of refugees in Northern Iraq and striving to spread the good news of the Resurrection in a worn-out community.
Sister Elise, communications director for the Adrian Dominican Congregation, noted the “ever-more radical and counter-cultural response” of religious life today in a world filled with violence, hatred, “economic hardship and environmental devastation.” Those who choose religious life today, she said, are “responding with a clear-eyed awareness” of the greater global challenges in the world and the smaller numbers in religious life.
Sister Elise noted that impact that Sister Marilín had had on her when they first met 25 years ago. “Marilín’s generous sharing of her vocation was one of the guiding lights that illuminated my path,” she said. “How wondrous that today, in the slow work of God from all eternity, our paths should come together again at this joyful moment!”
During the Rite of Profession, Sister Attracta formally questioned Sister Marilín on her willingness to “unite [herself] more closely to God by a bond of religious profession,” live a life of charity, and “center [her] ministerial activity in contemplation.” Sister Marilín then stated her intent to “enter into a deeper commitment with my loving God and my dear Adrian Dominican Sisters” and invited the Holy Spirit to “create in me a clear, open, strong, full, and joy-filled heart.”
After lying prostrate during the singing of the Litany of Dominican Saints, Sister Marilín professed her vow, promising obedience to God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Dominic, and Sister Attracta 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.” The Rite continued with the presentation of the Congregation logo to Sister Marilín and the signing of the profession documents by Sister Marilín, Sister Attracta, and Sister Marilín’s two witnesses: Sisters Mary Jane Lubinski, OP, and Rosa Monique Peṅa, OP.
“I am delighted to affirm your profession as a Dominican Sister of Adrian,” Sister Attracta said. “The profession by which you vow your future to God is a confirmation of the acceptance of a call received in faith. It strengthens your attachment to God as the first and most important in your life. Our entire Congregation is truly blessed to share faith and life with you.”
Sister Marilín Llanes, OP, First Vows
February 5, 2016, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic – In the midst of Santo Domingo, the bustling capital of the Dominican Republic, women in discernment, women in formation, and Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates, and all who seek God can find a haven of peace, community, discernment, and reflection. That place is Convento Santa Catalina, the Congregation’s new house of discernment and formation in the Dominican Republic.
The 100-year-old renovated house was officially blessed and dedicated on January 29 and 30, beginning with a special blessing of the rooms and entryways. Sister Attracta Kelly, OP, Prioress of the Congregation, also installed a relic of 14th-century Dominican mystic, St. Catherine of Siena – for whom the house was named – into a special reliquary in the house’s chapel, or oratorio.
Adrian Dominican Sister Rosa Monique Peña, OP, Director of Formation for the Dominican Republic, said she is especially excited about this unique relic of St. Catherine of Siena. “[St. Catherine] prayed in a little oratorio in her house, very small, and she decided to come to our little oratorio, very small,” she noted.
Also participating in the event were Sister Carol Gross, OP, who also lives in the house with Sister Rosa Monique and shares in the ministry; Sisters Luisa Campos, Eneida Santiago, Nery (Luchy) Sori, and Basilia De la Cruz, who minister in the Dominican Republic; Sisters Tarianne DeYonker and Corinne Sanders, of the General Council; Sister Lorraine Réaume, Director of Formation; three women who helped to renovate the convent; and a group of local Adrian Dominican Associates, along with Associate Tibi Ellis, who had obtained the relic.
The next day, Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez opened the House of Formation with a special Mass. “It is gratifying that Dominican Sisters never cease their spiritual work,” he said. “I am sure that this House of God will be very helpful to those seeking the true God.”
“This is a house of Dominican presence, intended to foster the call to religious life and Associate Life,” said Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP, Director of Formation. “It is also intended to be a place of spiritual outreach and support among others who walk with us.”
Convento Santa Catalina will also be a house of hospitality for women in discernment, where they can experience religious life, as well as a place where women in formation and Sisters who minister outside of the capital can stay when they’re in Santo Domingo.
“We hope that it’s going to be a place where people can come together to know more about their faith and to develop their spiritual life,” Sister Rosa Monique said. “What that means is that we hope to have workshops, some retreats, days of reflection and some courses that would help them develop their own spirituality.” Sister Carol, a spiritual director, has already been meeting at the convent with people she directs.
The house has been renovated to allow for such gatherings. The main room – furnished predominantly with rockers and chairs – is largely an open space that can easily accommodate 20 to 30 people.
Sister Rosa Monique said people have already approached her, asking about the possibility of using the convent as a site for a talk or an evening of reflection. During the second week in February, she hopes to host the first evening of reflection. But the exact use of the convent in coming months has yet to be determined. “I’m letting the activities and requests tell me how to develop the ministry down the road,” she said.
Admitting that this is a new kind of ministry for her, Sister Rosa Monique added, “We Dominicans never mind starting something new. That has been a trademark of our Congregation.”