December 28, 2018, Adrian, Michigan – As we continue the Season of Christmas and head toward New Year, we also take time to look back at the past year and remember the highlights. For the Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates, 2018 was a year of many challenges, triumphs, and sorrows. Below are the highlights of the year as found in the “What’s Happening” news section of our website and chosen members of the Communications Department.
Corporate Responsibility – accountability to gun manufacturers and dealers
Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates were involved in the national efforts to halt gun violence in the United States. While many Sisters and Associates participated in marches against gun violence, people of faith in corporate responsibility organizations took a different approach. Sister Judy Byron, OP, helped to organize religious communities in the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility to buy stock in gun manufacturers and dealers. Through shareholder resolutions, they scored a victory in persuading American Outdoor Brands, the parent company of Smith and Wesson, and Sturm Ruger to be more transparent and to work toward gun safety.
Action on Behalf of Dreamers and Immigrants
As policies on immigrants were debated or enacted, Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates advocated on the immigrants’ behalf. Actions included participation in a February 26 call-in to urge Congress to enact legislation to extend the option for Dreamers to defer deportation; took part in the Catholic Day of Action for Dreamers; and submitted comments to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services against a proposed policy that would make it harder for immigrants to become citizens. Toward the end of the year, Sisters volunteered at hospitality centers in Texas, working with immigrants who had been released from detention and were on their way to sponsored homes in the United States.
Farewell to Former Prioresses
The Congregation mourned the loss of two women who had served as Prioress of the Congregation: Sister Rosemary Ferguson, OP (1968 to 1978), who died on April 17, 2018, and Sister Janet Capone, OP (1998-2004), who died on July 29, 20018.
Sisters and Associates represented the Congregation at a number of major justice advocacy events throughout the year, including Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice; the Walk for Life in the Philippines, protesting the extra-judicial killings of accused drug dealers and users; Encounter at the Border, the annual action of the School of the Americas (SOA) Watch; and the Parliament of World Religions. Individual Sisters and Associates continued to be involved in justice ministry in a number of ways. Sister Lois Paha, OP, led a delegation of 50 Hispanic parishioners from the Diocese of Tucson to the Fifth National Encuentro, focusing on ways that the Catholic Church can be more responsive to the needs of Hispanic Catholics. Sister Durstyne Farnan, OP, spent days on NETWORK’s Nuns on the Bus in the days before the election, helping voters throughout the United States to understand issues of economic justice.
Looking to the Future
In August, Adrian Dominican Sisters from the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, the United States, and invited Sisters from other U.S. Dominican Congregations, all 65 and under, gathered in Adrian to deepen their relationships and to look ahead to the future. A highlight of the gathering was the First Profession of Vows of Sister Katherine Frazier, OP. Sister Xiomara Méndez-Hernández, OP, was named to serve the core team of Giving Voice, an organization for Catholic Sisters 50 and younger. The Congregation welcomed several new Associates – lay women and men who make a non-vowed commitment to live out the mission and vision of the Adrian Dominican Sisters – from Florida and the Dominican Republic in April; from Adrian during Partners VI, the annual summer gathering of Associates in August; and from Chicago in October.
The Congregation collaborated with and hosted other members of the national and worldwide Dominican family: Friars, contemplative nuns, apostolic Sisters, Laity, Associates, and members of established Dominican organizations. Sisters Rose Ann Schlitt, OP, and Nancy Jurecki, OP, along with Gloria Escalona, of the Dominican Laity, formed a delegation of U.S. Dominican women to visit the Dominican Sisters of the St. Catherine of Siena Congregation of Iraq after they returned to their demolished and damaged homes and convents on the Nineveh Plain. Sister Margarita Ruiz, OP, collaborated with other women religious to write a history of women religious in the Dominican Republic. The Adrian Dominican Sisters hosted the Dominican High Schools Preaching Conference and the annual gathering of the Dominican Institute for the Arts.
General Council Statements
The General Council of the Congregation issued statements on a number of issues, including offshore drilling, President Donald Trump’s rollback of pollution controls, the mass shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue, the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal, clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, Martin Luther King Day, and the separation of immigrant children from their parents.
Proclaiming 2018 to be a year of study on the meaning of resilient communities, the Congregation hosted two public forums on the subject: a symposium in March, featuring talks by five national thought leaders on various aspects of resiliency and an educational forum in August, in which three Adrian Dominican Sisters shared their own stories of forming resilient communities. Mission Chapters have formed their own Resilient Communities Committees to determine where in their region they will work with local people to make their community resilient.
In the spring, two workshops in Michigan helped participants to engage in the difficult conversation about diversity and racism. Sister Anne-Louise Nadeau, SNDdeN, and Sister Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN, of Pax Christi USA, led a public workshop, “Breaking the Silence: Confronting Race, Power, and Privilege.” The Great Lakes Mission Chapter, based in Detroit, focused its Spring Assembly on Racism and White Privilege. A unique program, Reverse Mass Mob, brought parishioners from Detroit to a suburban parish to begin their conversations on racism.
In response to the General Chapter Enactment on Sustainability, administrators at the Motherhouse Campus developed a sustainability plan, which includes changes in the heating and cooling system and reduction in the use of electricity at the Motherhouse. Students from Barry and Siena Heights Universities, both sponsored by the Congregation, came together at the Permaculture Gardens in Adrian site in May to learn about sustainability practices and apply them on their own campuses. Elaine Johnson, Permaculture Specialist, introduced honeybees to the Permaculture site. The 2018 issue of Voices in Mission and Ministry details sustainability practices throughout the Congregation.
September 14, 2018, Adrian, Michigan – The Adrian Dominican Congregation is “on track” and making “significant progress” in its efforts to live out the 2016 General Chapter Enactment to “sacrifice to mitigate significantly our impact on climate change and ecological degradation.”
Joel Henricks, Director of Facilities and Grounds for the Adrian Dominican Sisters, and Sister Corinne Sanders, OP, Director of the Sustainability Office, gave an update on September 6 on campus sustainability efforts.
Among the areas of progress is a 21 percent reduction in the use of electricity in the past six years, Joel said. “We’re still using the same number of lights and air conditioning, but we’re trying to use energy smarter and in different ways.”
The Congregation has cut down on its use of electricity by installing energy-efficient Light-emitting diode (LED) light bulbs throughout campus; installing energy-efficient windows; and replacing the old heating and cooling units with newer, energy-efficient and cost-saving models.
The Congregation has also joined Consumers Energy’s Green Generation program which, for a slightly higher rate per kilowatt hour, ensures that the power the Congregation uses from Consumers Energy is from 100 percent renewable sources. During the sustainability report, Phil Walsh, of Consumers Energy, presented Joel with a plaque recognizing the Congregation’s participation.
Joel also informed the audience that he and Sister Corinne are exploring other ways of equipping the campus with renewable energy, such as wind and solar. At this point, studies are being completed to “make sure we have the most accurate and up to date information we can as those decisions are starting to be explored,” Sister Corinne explained.
Another sustainability effort Sister Corinne talked about is campus storm water management. “We are capturing our rain in rain barrels,” she said, explaining that the rain captured during the early spring season was enough to water the Permaculture gardens for a good part of the summer, including five weeks of drought.
In addition, rain gardens direct rain water from impervious sources such as driveways and parking lots into a basin, where it can be slowly absorbed into the ground and, in the process, becomes purified of toxins, Sister Corinne said.
Another success story, Sister Corinne said, is the increase of composting, aided by thousands of healthy worms in the Congregation’s vermiculture area. Since October, she said, the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse Campus and Chartwells, the food service company at Siena Heights University, have reduced the amount of carbon dioxide sent to the landfill by 6,294 pounds. Sister Corinne noted that that is the equivalent of one ton of waste kept from the landfill and to planting 3.5 acres of forest per year.
Sister Corinne also had suggestions for individuals who hope to live more sustainably.
More about this year's Season of Creation events
Feature photo at top: Joel Henricks, left, Director of Facilities and Grounds for the Adrian Dominican Sisters, receives a plaque from Phil Walsh of Consumers Energy, recognizing the Congregation in the utility company’s Green Generation program.