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Adrian Dominican Sisters Elect Leadership, Set Direction for Next Six Years

March 4, 2016, Adrian, Michigan – The Adrian Dominican Sisters, during Session II of their General Chapter, held February 18-26, 2016, elected new leaders and set their direction for the next six years. 

Session II began on February 18 with an opening ritual and the calling of the delegates. Sister Attracta Kelly, Prioress, gave the opening address, offering encouragement to the delegates as they began their work together. “With open, strong, clear and full hearts, we can help each other grow into our highest aspirations if we encourage each other to understand that the tension between what is and what could and should be is not to be feared but to be embraced as a source of vital energy for new life.” 

Sister Attracta Kelly, OP, Prioress of the Congregation, lights the Christ Fire in the first session of General Chapter II, February 18.

The delegates also heard from Dr. Mary E. Hunt, PhD, founder of Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual (WATER), who spoke on “Cosmic Catholicism: A New Calling for a New Order,” and from Jim Haudan, CEO of Root, Inc., who in a recorded interview spoke on catalyzing change. 

On the evening of the first day, the delegates gathered for the Mass of the Holy Spirit, asking the Spirit to guide them in their deliberations and elections. The Most Rev. Earl Boyea, Bishop of Lansing, presided.

The 199 delegates approved four enactments to set the Congregation’s overall ministerial direction for the next six years. The 2016-2022 enactments focus on responding to …

  • the world’s spiritual longings by creating opportunities for spiritual enrichment and reflection; 

  • the violence against Earth that places our common home in jeopardy by reducing our fossil fuel use and consumption of products that have a significant negative impact on the environment; 

  • the racism, violence and intolerance of diversity that fuel marginalization by pledging our lives and resources to facilitate and participate in creating resilient communities with people who are relegated to the margins;

  • the desire to nurture our rich diversity by deepening relationships with one another, inviting others to vowed and Associate life and expanding collaborations for the sake of the Mission.
Elected to the General Council are, from left: Sisters Frances Nadolny, Patricia Siemen, Elise García, Patricia Harvat, and Mary Margaret Pachucki.

The delegates then elected a Prioress and General Council to lead the Sisters and Associates to live out the enactments. The newly elected Prioress (president) and General Council, who will formally take office on July 1, 2016, are:

  • Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress-Elect of the Congregation. Sister Pat is the founder and director of the Center for Earth Jurisprudence at the Barry University School of Law in Orlando, Florida. The Center seeks to develop a philosophy and practice of law that respects the natural world in its own right. She previously served as Vicaress/General Councilor of the Congregation, from 1992 to 1998, as a civil rights lawyer, and as a community organizer.

  • Sister Frances Nadolny, OP, Administrator/General Councilor-Elect. Sister Fran is the Director of the Congregation’s Ministry Trust Office, which oversees the awarding of grants to organizations in which Adrian Dominican Sisters minister or volunteer. Before that, Sister Fran had served for six years as Chapter Prioress (“Major Superior”) for the Sisters in the Detroit-based Great Lakes Dominican Mission Chapter. She had previously served in the Archdiocese of Detroit as Director of the Department of Education and Superintendent of Schools.

  • Sister Patricia Harvat, OP, General Councilor-Elect. Now the Vice President of Dominican Catholic Identity at St. Mary’s Dominican High School in New Orleans, Sister Pat has also served as Director of Lay Ministry Formation for the Hispanic Ministry Office of the Diocese of Cleveland.  From 1993 to 1999, she served as Director of Formation for the Adrian Dominican Congregation. Sister Pat has also ministered in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Peru, and the Philippines.

  • Sister Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP, Vicaress/General Councilor-Elect. Currently President of Regina Dominican High School in Wilmette, Illinois, Sister Mary Margaret has also served as the national coordinator for literacy and numeracy in South Africa; school and curriculum consultant for the Diocese of Toledo; principal; and high school and elementary school teacher.

  • Sister Elise D. García, OP, General Councilor-Elect. The Director of Communications for the Adrian Dominican Sisters, Sister Elise previously co-founded and co-directed Santuario Sisterfarm, an ecology center in Texas dedicated to cultivating biodiversity and cultural diversity, and was the founding editor of Sor Juana Press, publisher of the Dominican Women on Earth series. 

The incoming Prioress and General Council will succeed Sister Attracta Kelly, OP, Prioress of the Congregation; Sister Tarianne DeYonker, OP, Vicaress/General Councilor; Sister Kathleen Schanz, OP, General Councilor; Sister Corinne Sanders, OP, Administrator/General Councilor; and Sister Rosemary Abramovich, OP, General Councilor.

The packed schedule of Session II also allowed time for delegates to gather informally over meals and breaks. In addition to daily Eucharistic Liturgies, at which one of their Dominican Brothers presided and one of the delegates offered a reflection on the Scriptures, the delegates gathered for socials and dances. Composer and singer Sara Thomsen, whose music was incorporated into many of the Chapter’s prayers and rituals, gave a special concert on the evening of February 23. A highlight of the Chapter was a Sunday Liturgy on February 21 celebrating the 800th anniversary of the Dominican Order, the Order of Preachers, with preaching by Congregation historian and former Prioress, Sister Nadine Foley, OP.


Four Dominican Sisters in Paris Represent US Dominicans Concerned about Climate Change

November 30, 2015, Paris, France – A delegation of four U.S. Dominican Sisters – including Adrian Dominican Sisters Patricia Siemen, OP, and Elise D. García, OP – are in Paris, representing approximately 4,000 to 5,000 US Dominican Sisters, to urge adoption of a legally binding agreement to address climate change at the 21st gathering of the Conference of Parties (COP21) of the United Nations Framework Conference on Climate Change. 

Also in the delegation, commissioned by the US Dominican Sisters Conference, are Amityville Dominican Sister Margaret Mayce, OP, the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Dominican Representative to the United Nations, and Caldwell Dominican Sister Patricia Daly, OP, Executive Director of the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment. 

The four Sisters join Dominicans from other parts of the world, as well as religious from other congregations and thousands of men and women from around the globe who have gathered to make the voice of the people heard on climate justice. Pope Francis recently highlighted what’s at stake, saying it would be “catastrophic” if the international community failed to reach an agreement. 

Hundreds of “side events” are being held around Paris by non-governmental organizations focused on presenting real climate solutions that would result in the “transformational” change that Pope Francis says is needed. One of these events, the International Tribunal on the Rights of Nature, will showcase a model for adjudicating cases under a legal framework that recognizes the rights of nature, offering a real and present solution to the root problem behind climate change and other human-induced ecological disasters. Under current law, nature is treated as private property to be destroyed for profit. It is a legal framework that is proving deadly to people and planet, requiring a transformation of our international and domestic legal systems toward a jurisprudence that recognizes rights of nature.

Sister Pat Siemen, JD, founding director of the Center for Earth Jurisprudence of Barry University School of Law, is one of the planners of the Tribunal, which the Dominican Sisters will be attending on December 4 and 5, at the Maison des Métallos in Paris. 

Sister Elise, Director of Communications for the Adrian Dominican Sisters, will be writing stories about the Tribunal and other side events that she and the Sisters will be attending for the Global Sisters Report, the National Catholic Reporter’s online series of articles on the work of Catholic women religious. Read Sister Elise's first article.

To stay updated on the Tribunal and other events in Paris during COP21, you may also follow the Sisters on Twitter – Sister Pat: @EarthJurist  or @EarthNun and Sister Elise: @elisegarciaop.

Feature photo: Sister Pat Siemen, Amityville Dominican Sister Margaret Mayce, and Sister Elise Garcia at the Place de la Nation prior to a "human chain" event calling peacefully on COP21 leaders to "hear us" on climate justice.


 

 

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