May 24, 2018, Hinckley, Ohio – A township in north-central Ohio seems a long way from Mosul, Iraq, or from the refugee camps in northern Iraq. But these distant areas were recently connected by a Japanese girl who folded paper cranes, a Dominican artist and art teacher who painted paper cranes, an elementary school art teacher, and a class of compassionate and innovative fifth-grade students.
This connection can now be seen in three small paintings of folded paper cranes displayed in the library of Hinckley Elementary School in Hinckley, Ohio. The cranes were brought to the school through the innovation of a fifth-grade art class that raised more than their goal of 1,000 quarters – a total of nearly $364 – from their classmates as a donation to support the work of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Mosul, Iraq.
Katie Hatch Massaro, the art teacher at Hinckley Elementary School in Hinckley, Ohio, has for 10 years been teaching her students the story of 1,000 paper cranes folded by Sadako Saski, a 12-year-old Japanese girl who was exposed to the atomic bomb at Hiroshima and died of leukemia 10 years later. The heart-wrenching story of this young girl inspired Sister Barbara Cervenka, OP, to create 1,000 small paintings of paper cranes, which can be adopted for a donation of $100. The donations have helped the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena who fled Mosul with hundreds of thousands of their neighbors on August 6, 2014, with the arrival of ISIS warriors. During their time in a refugee camp in northern Iraq, the Sisters opened schools and clinics to serve the needs of their fellow refugees.
Many of the Sisters and other refugees have since returned to their homes after ISIS was expelled, but now face the challenges of rebuilding their homes and churches that were destroyed.
“I’ve been teaching about paper cranes for 10 years,” said Katie, a student of Sister Barbara’s and a 2007 graduate of Siena Heights University. She teaches her fifth-grade classes the story of Sadako and how to fold the paper cranes. In recent years, she has followed this lesson up with the story of Sister Barbara’s project. “We talked about what it meant to be a refugee,” she said. They understood that the Sisters and neighbors were forced out of their homes, and that the donations would help the people.
Katie didn’t initiate the idea of the class making a donation for a crane in support of the refugees. “I wanted the kids to be self-motivated” and to come up with the idea on their own, she said.
Her wait came to an end this semester when a student suggested making a donation for one of the paintings, Katie recalled. Students discussed the idea during lunch and a small group approached her. “I worked with them through the whole process,” she said, by encouraging them to find a way that they could raise the money on their own. Students decided to collect 1,000 quarters from among their fifth-grade classmates.
“The kids assigned jobs to everyone in the class and even built their own website,” Katie recalled. They created a presentation for the principal, James Carpenter, and the Parent-Teacher Organization to secure permission and garner support for the project. Just two weeks after they presented the project to their classmates, they had exceeded their goal. Because they wanted to add framing to their order, they intended to order two cranes, but the PTO suggested they order three – and offered to supplement the money that the students had raised.
The process did not end there, Katie added. The class took a vote to choose the cranes paintings they wanted, choosing green cranes to match the school’s color.
The students later reflected on the impact that the project had on them. “It was tough and challenging, but it was worth it,” one student said. Others spoke of the impact they hoped the project will have on the Sisters in Iraq and the people they serve. “It was a good opportunity to help people and inspire other students once we’ve left Hinckley Elementary School,” one student said. Another made the connection to the story of the 1,000 cranes folded in Japan and to Sister Barbara. “The inspiration chain goes from Sadako to her classmates to the 1,000 Crane Project for Iraq to us at Hinckley Elementary,” the student said. “We hope it keeps going!”
Katie is very proud of her fifth-grade class, which will graduate at the end of May from Hinckley Elementary School and move on to middle school. “I’ve always seen leadership and initiative in a lot of them,” she said. “It was a privilege to be able to walk them through this process and watch them stretch their wings for the first time.” Noting that she had taught art to that class since they were in kindergarten, she added, “It’s an honor to see them come as kindergartners and leave so grown up, young teenagers.”
Katie hopes all of her students benefit from their study of art. “I want them to leave me knowing that art can make a difference, that art is part of our culture. It’s part of our identity,” she said. “I want them to have an appreciation for art.”
Fifth-grade students from Hinckley Elementary School, Hinckley, Ohio, pose with the three cranes that they ordered with their donation to the 1,000 Cranes for Iraq Project. Photo Courtesy of Hinckley Elementary School
March 28, 2018, Adrian, Michigan – The presence, Mission, and Vision of the Adrian Dominican Sisters are lived out not only at the Motherhouse in Adrian, but wherever Sisters and Associates minister, and particularly in the universities, schools, hospitals, and literacy centers sponsored by the Congregation.
The widespread presence and Mission of the Congregation was celebrated March 22-24, 2018, during the Sponsorship Conference “Dominican Spirit: A Great Hope in Common” at Weber Retreat & Conference Center in Adrian. Attending were Sisters and Co-workers from Barry University, Miami Shores, Florida; Siena Heights University, Adrian; Regina Dominican High School, Wilmette, Illinois; Rosarian Academy, West Palm Beach, Florida; Dominican Hospital, Santa Cruz, California; and St. Rose Dominican Hospitals, Henderson and Las Vegas, Nevada.
Also attending were Sisters and Co-workers from the Congregation’s seven sponsored literacy centers, under the umbrella of Dominican Rea Literacy Centers: All Saints Literacy Center, Detroit; Adrian Rea Literacy Center, Adrian; Aquinas Literacy Center, Chicago; DePorres P.L.A.C.E., West Palm Beach, Florida; Dominican Literacy Center, Detroit; St. Luke’s N.E.W. Life Center, Flint, Michigan; and Siena Literacy Center, Detroit.
The conference gave participants the opportunity to get to know one another, learn about the Mission and history of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, experience times of contemplative sitting, share their experiences of living out the Congregation’s Mission in their institution, and learn new ways that they and their institution can live out the Mission.
“Today we gather in the spirit of St. Dominic – vibrant in our world for over 800 years,” said Sister Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP, General Councilor, in her welcome to the conference participants on March 23. Sister Mary Margaret is the General Council liaison to the Sponsorship Commission, which plans and organizes the sponsorship conference.
Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress of the Congregation, gave an overview of the history of the Dominican Order and the Adrian Dominican Sisters and of the four pillars of Dominican life – study, prayer, community, and preaching. In addition, she introduced participants to the four Enactments from the Congregation’s 2016 General Chapter: Spiritual Longings, Sustainability, Resilient Communities, and Diversity-Relationships. Members of the General Council explained the Enactments in greater detail on the morning of March 24.
“My heart is abundantly grateful to each of you for your commitment to participate with us and even more so for your faithful commitment to your ministry or institution,” Sister Pat said. “As the number of our Sisters and Associates serving in our institutions decline, we give to you our Dominican history and heritage. We stand ready to assist and give moral and spiritual support.”
Co-workers from each of the institutions shared their own reflections and experiences of living out the Adrian Dominican Mission, both individually and in their respective institutions.
Ministering at St. Rose Dominican Hospitals has been “transformational and relational,” said Teressa Conley, President of the St. Rose de Lima Hospital. “We are changed by working side by side with our Sisters. They show us the ‘why’ of health care and the difference between a healing experience and a simple clinical experience.”
She recalled the tragic day, October 1, 2017, when 58 people in Las Vegas were killed in a mass shooting. “Our hospitals played a major part [in healing those who were wounded], and our Sisters were front and center in healing, ministering, and grieving – not only with patients and families but with the staff. … If you were to ask staff what is the most important part of being a faith-based community, I know what they would say.”
Jill Farrell, Dean of the Adrian Dominican School of Education at Barry University, said she always felt included and accepted in the Barry community – and challenged to grow. “I think I’m a reflection of what happens to all of us” at Barry, she said. “We are able to dig deep within ourselves. We get to know ourselves so well that we grow into the person we’re supposed to be.” She said she was then able to help develop leaders for the local community and the global community, bring Barry programs to the Bahamas, and “grow a vibrant presence there.”
Nanette Mickiewicz, MD, President of Dominican Hospital, said she sees the Adrian Dominican mission in action every day at the hospital: through traditional health care ministries such as the mobile van and the work of doctors and nurses – but also through other employees of Dominican. “I see the food and nutrition workers, the social workers, and the engineers,” she said “Even though their job isn’t specific patient care, we couldn’t do our job without them. They remind us that this isn’t our job – it’s our mission.”
In small groups, participants from different institutions discussed what their own institution was doing to “develop, live, nurture and sustain the Dominican identity and spirit” and how they could improve on what they were doing. The next morning, after hearing more detailed descriptions of the four General Chapter Enactments, participants discussed them in small groups.
During the final afternoon, Sisters and Co-workers from the same institution gathered to discuss how they would move forward the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Mission, Vision, and Enactments. Drawing on the 2016 General Chapter theme, “A Great Hope in Common,” the conference culminated with the final formal session, in which representatives of each institution shared their “action plan” for continuing to nurture the Adrian Dominican spirit and Mission. Representatives of each institution wrote their action plan on the back of a puzzle piece that contained their institution’s name, so that the institutions – and the Adrian Dominican Sisters – together shared “A Great Hope in Common.”
Sister Mary Margaret sent the group out with a new responsibility: “to take this message to your board, your employees, your patients, your students.”
Sister Pat closed the last formal session by expressing her gratitude to the conference participants – and to their colleagues back home at their institutions. “You are the ones with feet on the ground who are literally living the Gospel, who are literally bringing our Dominican charism to life,” she said. “We support you and we entrust you to the future.”
Members of the Sponsorship Commission are: Roxanne Davies, Barry University; Sister Sharon Weber, OP, Siena Heights University; Sister Mary Jean Williams, OP, Regina Dominican High School; Linda Trethewey, Rosarian Academy; Sister Rita Eileen Dean, OP, Dominican Hospital; Sister Kathleen McGrail, OP, St. Rose Dominican Hospitals; and Sister Carleen Maly, OP, Dominican Rea Literacy Centers.