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Sister Xiomara Méndez-Hernández, OP, Becomes United States Citizen

November 19, 2019, Chicago – Sister Xiomara Méndez-Hernández, OP, was one of more than 34,000 people to become United States citizens in mid-September during 316 Naturalization Ceremonies nationwide in celebration of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. She participated in the Naturalization Ceremony at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Field Office in Chicago.

“People were in tears,” Sister Xiomara recalled. “I saw a lot of gratefulness and a lot of accomplishment. For me, it was a commitment.”

Sister Xiomara met the Adrian Dominican Sisters in her home country, the Dominican Republic, and was an Adrian Dominican Associate for three years before she entered the Congregation in 2008. At that time, she had her own fashion design business. She now ministers as a chaplain at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois.

Sister Xiomara receives her Certificate of Naturalization.

Deciding to become a U.S. citizen was a “discernment,” Sister Xiomara said. She had been a resident of the United States for seven years – that was two years beyond her eligibility for citizenship. “For some reason I was comfortable being a resident.”

“Not many people have the blessing and privilege of going to the next step” of citizenship, Sister Xiomara said. “It was a long process,” Sister Xiomara recalled. “The Congregation had to send a letter saying I’m part of the Congregation and a resident in good faith ... and also proof of work, that I was working full-time and was an asset to this country.”  

Sister Xiomara had her fingerprints and picture taken in January and was given information on the test she would take in August. “I had to memorize 100 questions – a lot of history of the United States.” She studied for the test while driving, with the help of a CD and an app. “I could recite every answer,” she said. She received word right after taking the test that she had passed and waited to learn the date of the Naturalization Ceremony.

Sister Xiomara recalled the kindness she received from immigration officials during the process of becoming a citizen. “They greeted me with so much dignity and respect,” she said. “It was a very good experience.”

Being a citizen makes it easier for her to travel overseas, Sister Xiomara said. Before, she had to apply for a special visa every time she traveled to Europe. “If you are a North American citizen, you don’t need a visa for so many places,” she added.

But Sister Xiomara sees an even greater advantage to being a U.S. citizen. “Being a citizen gives me a chance to have a full voice in this country.” She recalled being hesitant to speak out as a resident. “Now I have a voice for the voiceless who don’t have a pathway to citizenship,” she said. “I’m praying so hard and consistently so the [immigrants] don’t have to be afraid any more. This is my hope and my dream.”

“I feel a part of all of you – all of my Sisters who are native citizens,” Sister Xiomara added. “We are united for justice, for peace, and for reverence of life. I see more power to do this now as a citizen.”


Honoring Sisters Who Served in Military

November 11, 2019, Adrian, Michigan – On Veterans Day, we honor and remember service men and women of the U.S. military for the sacrifice of many years of their lives – and, in some cases, for paying the ultimate sacrifice out of love for their country. Today we honor and remember five Adrian Dominican Sisters who served not only in our community but in the military as well.

Sister Marvel Glasford, OP (1923-2005) enlisted in the Navy WAVES after her high school graduation, serving during World War II. She was stationed in Washington, D.C., decoding messages from Germany and Japan. After the war, she returned to her native Detroit and felt a call to religious life.

Having been taught by the Adrian Dominican Sisters at St. Leo and St. Mary Schools in Detroit, Sister Marvel entered the Congregation on June 29, 1949, and, at her reception into the novitiate, took the religious name of Sister Donald Mary. She spent the first several years of religious life as a primary and junior high school teacher at schools in Michigan, New Mexico, and Ohio. 

Later, she earned her Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) certificate and served as foster care manager for 12 mentally disabled patients at Ypsilanti State Mental Institute in Willis, Michigan. She served as chaplain at hospitals in Michigan; earned certificates in grief ministry and alcoholism ministry; and spent her last four years of formal ministry at Good Samaritan Hospital in Mount Vernon, Illinois. After retirement, she volunteered for five years at St. John Hospital in Springfield, Illinois, before moving to Adrian. 

Sister Virginia Gunther, OP (1897-1982) baptized Marie Elizabeth Gunther, enlisted in the Navy during World War I, and received the rank of Yeoman (F) First Class. She worked in the Recruiting Service in Chicago and in the Intelligence Office in Chicago and Great Lakes. Looking back, she thought of herself as a pacifist fulfilling her patriotic duty. She later joined the U.S. Navy Reserve Force.

After Armistice, Marie Elizabeth worked in the secretarial field until she realized her call to religious life. She entered the Adrian Dominican Congregation and, at her reception in August 1925, was given the religious name of Virginia. 

After teaching first grade at Detroit schools – while also teaching shorthand and typing to students at St. Joseph Academy in Adrian – Sister Virginia began her focus on teaching business courses at the high school level. This was interspersed with 14 years teaching at elementary schools in Detroit and Ypsilanti, Michigan. 

After studying library science, Sister Virginia served as Assistant Librarian at Dominican High School, Detroit, while teaching business English and typing; Assistant Librarian and business English instructor at Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland, California; and as Librarian at Aquinas High School in Chicago. She retired at age 76 and moved to Adrian.

Sister Mary Franz Lang, OP (1921-1985) enlisted in the Women’s Auxiliary Corps, earning the rank of Staff Sergeant and serving in the Philippines and New Guinea. After World War II, she joined the Women’s Air Force Reserve and received a pilot’s license. As a civilian, while managing the parts department at an automobile dealership, she realized her call to religious life.

Sister Mary Franz entered the Congregation on February 21, 1951, teaching at St. Joseph in Port Huron, Michigan, and Bishop Quarter Military Academy in Oak Park, Illinois. During summer school, she earned her degree in library science at the University of Michigan. She served as Assistant Librarian at Siena Heights College (University) in Adrian and St. Dominic College, St. Charles, Illinois.   

Sister Mary Franz spent the last 15 years of her life – the final five with leukemia – as Director of the library at Barry College (University) in Miami Shores, Florida. She also served as President of the Catholic Library Association.

Sister Catherine Therese Sibal, OP (1916-1996) worked after high school as assistant to the cashier at the State Department of Agriculture. While longing to enter the Adrian Dominican Congregation with her two older sisters, Sisters Vincent Joseph Sibal and Marie Michael Sibal, she put off her desires, opting instead to help her family financially. Catherine Therese joined the Marines and served for six years. She remained state-side, serving as stock clerk, bookkeeper, and supply clerk, obtaining the rank of Sergeant.

Sister Catherine Therese entered the Adrian Dominican Congregation in January 1951 and, at her reception, received permission to retain her baptismal name. She earned a degree in English, with minors in sociology and history, from Siena Heights College (University).

The remainder of her ministerial life focused on education: as teacher at schools and parishes in Michigan. She then served as learning laboratory coordinator at St. Thomas Aquinas School in East Lansing, Michigan. She retired at the age of 70 and returned to Adrian. 

Sister Lucy Terwelp, OP (1921-2003), baptized Jeanette Helen, was born in Quincy, Illinois. A few years after graduating high school, she enlisted in the Women’s Reserve of the U.S. Coast Guard, serving as Chief Executive Secretary Yeoman to the Chief Medical Officer. During her term, her base experienced a disaster when an oil tanker collided with a Coast Guard cutter. She was called in to help attend to the victims and sat with a man who was badly burned. She learned later that he had died before reaching the hospital. She and the division received medals for heroic service. Jeanette Helen also joined the Hormel Girls, a musical group of service women. She sang in the chorus and played the bugle in the Drum and Bugle Corps. 

Upon her discharge, she worked as medical secretary for two years, helping to set up a Veterans Administration office in Long Beach, California. She entered the Everett (later Edmonds) Dominican Sisters in September 1953. At her reception, she gained the religious name she had predicted as a child – Sister Lucy.

With a degree in finance from Seattle University, Sister Lucy served as assistant treasurer of the Motherhouse and as assistant bursar, controller, and treasurer at hospitals in Washington State. After receiving a CPE certificate from Yale Divinity School, Sister Lucy served as chaplain for 14 years at St. Vincent Hospital in Portland, Oregon, and as pastoral minister at Cathedral Parish in Portland.


 

 

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