June 28, 2019, Detroit – Members of Dominican High School’s Class of 1979 learned well a value that their Adrian Dominican teachers sought to instill in them: generosity to people who are in need.
They showed that generosity recently during an informal gathering with Sister Theresa Mayrand, OP, when they paid tribute to her and other Adrian Dominican teachers. They presented a check for about $12,000 for Gianna House, a residence for pregnant teens and for teen mothers and their newborns – and a supportive center for all pregnant women. Sister Theresa is co-director.
The Adrian Dominican Sisters founded Dominican High School, an all-girls school in Detroit, in 1940. The school was closed in 2005.
“In our junior year, the Adrian Dominicans taught us the importance of serving those in need by encouraging us to create a mission project to raise money for an organization that improved the lives of others,” Lisa Gigliotti, Vice President of the Class of 1979, explained in an email. Lisa organized the efforts of her class to forgo a formal 40-year reunion and instead to “signify this milestone by giving back to the beautiful women who served us then and continue to serve others. We wanted to honor our 40th reunion by engaging in a second mission project, this time to support Gianna House and our most enthusiastic biology teacher, Sister Theresa Mayrand’s commitment to provide a safe residence and resources for pregnant women.”
They chose to donate to Gianna House “in honor of the enthusiasm and love that Sister Theresa taught us, alongside other amazing women, such as Sister Joan Weitz, Sister Peggy White, Sister Peggy Manners and Sister Karen Leitz,” Lisa explained.
Lisa said members of the class reached out to 50 to 60 of their classmates to raise the funds. “My thought was that if other alum or persons touched by the Adrian Dominicans might see a mention of a mission-oriented reunion, they might be inclined to make a reunion or tribute to the Adrian Dominicans or their causes.”
Grace Niedbala McKeel, President of the Class of 1979, said that her class’s 40th anniversary gave her the opportunity to reflect on the teachers and classmates who had influenced her life. “Sister Suzanne Schreiber always inspired me with her art and photography and hunger for social justice,” she wrote in an email. “Any hearing of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus brings Sister Mary Alice Naour to mind. When I think of Sister Peggy Manners I also picture Sister Karen Lietz right alongside her – what a team!”
Another classmate, Laurie Bliss, wrote about the influence of her Adrian Dominican teachers. “Sister Joan Weitz was someone who gave me the right balance of discipline, structure, and acceptance so that I felt safe and could focus on education and fun. Sister Joan helped give me the foundation to take on life’s ups and downs, to keep smiling, to try to make a positive difference in all I do. … Sister Joan showed me what grace and humility look like.”
Sister Theresa, for her part, said she enjoyed the two-hour visit at Gianna House and a pizza dinner with seven members of the Class of 1979. “I hadn’t seen them in 40 years,” she said. “It was nice.”
Sister Theresa, a science teacher at Dominican High School, said the students especially enjoyed her course on the physiology of women, which had been developed by a colleague and augmented by Sister Theresa. The popular course, which included guest speakers such as midwives, helped the students to understand women’s health and sexuality.
“I was so proud to hear how much they appreciated Dominican High School,” Sister Theresa said. “The way they talked about us teaching them to be their own women and learning to think for themselves made me very proud of Dominican High School.”
Feature photo: Gathered in front of Gianna House are, from left, Mary (Chisholm) Jordan, Cindy (Seguin) Yamamoto, Sister Theresa Mayrand, OP, Lisa Gigliotti, and Moira Sheehan. The women with Sister Theresa are all members of the Dominican High School Class of 1979.
July 26, 2018, St. Catharine, Kentucky – Dominican temporary professed Sisters are diverse in culture and nationality, but hold in common their search for their identity as women religious, living out that reality in the Dominican tradition.
That was one of the findings of Sister Marilín Llanes, OP, an Adrian Dominican Sister in temporary profession, who attended the fourth annual Gathering of Dominican Women: Temporary Professed Sisters and their Companions. The event, which drew 25 participants, was held July 1-4, 2018, at St. Catharine, Kentucky, site of the former Motherhouse of the Kentucky Dominican Sisters – now part of the Dominican Sisters of Peace. Participants included 14 temporary professed Dominican Sisters from nine congregations.
Sister Marilín attended the gathering along with two other Adrian Dominican Sisters: Sister Patricia Walter, OP, her companion on the continuing formation journey, and Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP, who will begin her position as Co-director of the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate in St. Louis, Missouri. Temporary professed Sisters have made their first profession of vows, their initial commitment to religious life, and are still discerning the call to their final, or perpetual, profession of vows.
Sister Marilín, who served on the planning committee for the event, said her hope in planning the weekend was that participants “would deepen our connections, our relationships with each other; that we would have opportunities to have fun together, as well as to have meaningful conversations and sharing that help us to continue to say that ‘yes’ every day.”
Each day began and ended with prayer, planned and led by the various congregations. The gathering also included a talk by guest speaker Sister Gloria Marie Jones, OP, a Mission San Jose Dominican Sister, on the Dominican Futuring Project, a collaborative effort between Dominicans in the United States and Africa. The schedule also included times for temporary professed and companions to meet in their respective groups and come together again to share the fruits of their meetings.
The temporary professed also discussed ways to maintain their connections, including designated, private social media that would keep Sisters connected even after they professed their perpetual vows. The annual meeting would continue to focus on temporary professed Sisters and their companions.
Even the shared free time offered participants the opportunity to deepen their connections. Sister Marilín noted that one evening focused on Dominican Jeopardy, in which questions focused on Dominican history, the lands of St. Dominic, and Dominican saints. “We were revisiting our Dominican history, and so there’s a sense of reverencing the past and honoring the present – and then being excited about the future,” she said.
The informal time together also gave the Sisters the opportunity to come to know each other. “In the evenings we just gathered around and shared our challenges in a very sincere and honest way, listening to each other but also sharing our own lived wisdom and challenges.”
Both Sisters Marilín and Pat were impressed by the diversity of the group – with participants representing U.S. Dominican Congregations but coming originally from diverse nations, including Korea, Indonesia, Hungary, the Philippines, Mexico, and Peru.
“It was rich,” Sister Marilín said. “We’re becoming much more of an international body. We’re joined by our Dominican charism and our Dominican way of life.”
“It was good just to meet the women and get a sense of the diversity of the multi-culturality, which really is our future, and to hear what the [temporary professed Sisters’] concerns were, what their challenges were,” Sister Pat said.
Adding to the sense of diversity was the presence of the Maryknoll Sisters, members of the Dominican family who serve primarily as missionaries outside of their home countries. The presence of the Maryknoll Sisters was a “great gift,” Sister Pat said. “They leave their home country and they won’t come back to it except to visit. They know they’ll be sent to other countries. We’re all missionaries, but they witness far more profoundly what it means to be itinerant.” Itinerancy, the willingness to change to a new ministry and a new location for the sake of the mission, is an integral part of Dominican spirituality.
Sister Pat, who recently took on her new role in formation as companion to the temporary professed Adrian Dominican Sisters, said the gathering was “very helpful for multiple reasons. I really appreciated meeting the women in temporary vows and was reinvigorated and refreshed by their commitment to the charism and by their passion, their zeal, their enthusiasm.” As companion and formator, Sister Pat will continue to walk with Sister Marilín and Sister Katherine Frazier, who will make her First Profession of Vows on August 5, 2018. “I’m delighted to continue being a conversation partner – another person to talk to them and provide continuity from the perspective of formation.”
She also came away from the gathering with a renewed sense of hope for religious life and for the Dominican Order. “My takeaway is that the Dominican family has a future,” she said. “The charism still speaks to women….It gives me hope for a future beyond my life.”
Temporary Professed Dominican Sisters and their Companions in formation gathered July 1-4, 2018, at St. Catharine, Kentucky.