November 4, 2016, Adrian, Michigan – As news continues of the liberation of some of the villages of the Mosul area of Iraq, two former Prioress Generals of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, of Iraq, visited Adrian to update the Congregation on the ongoing situation to thank the Adrian Dominican Sisters for their prayers and support.
The brief and moving presentation by Sisters Marie Therese Hanna, OP, and Maria Hanna, OP, took place at the end of the November 1 All Saints Liturgy in St. Catherine Chapel at the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse. The Sisters’ remarks were live-streamed and recorded for future viewing.
“I think you know and are following the news about what is happening in Iraq,” Sister Marie Therese told the assembly. In spite of the liberation of the towns and villages, “all is destroyed – the church, the convents, the houses for the families.” She spoke of the Sisters’ and other refugees’ struggles to understand and accept what had happened. “We need courage to continue, and I know you are with us,” she told the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
The Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Iraq have been refugees for two years and four months, since ISIS came to the Nineveh Plain in August 2014 and forced the Sisters and ten of thousands of Christians and other minorities to flee. As refugees, the Dominican Sisters spent their energies bringing support and hope to the rest of the refugee community through schools, health clinics, and religious services.
Her central message was one of gratitude for the prayers and support of the Adrian Dominican Sisters and of the U.S. Dominican family. “Thank you … for being in our life to support us and to allow us to continue our mission there.”
Sister Marie Therese noted that, when she and Sister Maria Hanna had first come to Adrian 11 years ago, they felt like strangers. “But when we entered the chapel and shared in prayer, all this has changed,” she added. “We feel we are in our family.”
The two communities of Dominican Sisters have enjoyed close ties during the past 11 years since a group of Dominican Sisters from Iraq came to the United States to live and minister with Adrian Dominican Sisters and to earn advanced degrees to better serve their people in Iraq.
Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, noted how fitting it was “on this Feast of All Saints that we have two of our living saints among us,” representing the other Sisters in their community.
From Iraq, Sister Clara Nas, OP, current Prioress General of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine, sent a letter November 1 to the greater Dominican family, updating them on the status of the Sisters there. Noting the Sisters’ joy at the eventual recapture of their villages and towns on the Nineveh Plain, Sister Clara also noted the destruction of the towns.
“We knew that when we left, our towns would not be the same when we return,” she wrote. “The reality is that ISIS has used our houses to hide tunnel entrances and store weapons. Additionally, they planted bombs in houses, ready to explode as soon as the door opens, and mines are everywhere in the land.”
The Sisters and other refugees are “living in a liminal space,” with some wanting to leave their country and others wanting to return to rebuild their homes. “We are just waiting for the ‘decree of Cyrus’ (that allowed the Jews to return from exile) to be announced again, allowing us to return and build our churches and houses.”
For more information on the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, of Iraq, and on ways to help them in their ministry to their refugee community, visit 1,000 Cranes for Iraq.
Feature photo: Sisters Maria Hanna, OP, left, and Marie Therese Hanna, OP, former Prioresses of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena of Erbil, Iraq, extend greetings and give an update to the assembly during the All Saints Liturgy in St. Catherine Chapel on November 1. Photo by Melinda P. Ziegler
August 10, 2016, Adrian, Michigan – The joy of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, Associates, Co-workers and guests as they celebrated the Feast of their founder, St. Dominic, was enhanced as they also witnessed the Ritual of Reception of Sister Katherine Frazier into the novitiate. Father James Hug, SJ, Motherhouse chaplain, was the presider.
Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP, Director of Formation, welcomed the assembly to the Liturgy and Ritual, which took place on August 8, 2016, in St. Catherine Chapel at the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Motherhouse. This year’s Feast of St. Dominic falls within the 800th Jubilee Year of the founding of the Order of Preachers, the Dominicans.
During the brief ritual, Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress of the Congregation, formally examined Sister Katherine on her desire to “be received into the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of Adrian as a novice, and to experience more fully [their] way of life in faithful observance of [their] Rule and Constitution.” Sister Katherine, who had spent the past year as a candidate of the Congregation, also declared her willingness to study and reflect on the Constitution as she continues her mutual discernment with the Congregation.
As a first-year novice, Sister Katherine will spend the coming 10 months in St. Louis, Missouri, at the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate, an effort of about 17 congregations of U.S. Dominican Sisters. With Sisters from other Dominican congregations, Sister Katherine will participate in a program designed to provide novices with “a quality experience of Dominican community life, study [and] ministry.”
Sister Katherine entered the Congregation as a Candidate a year ago on the Feast of St. Dominic. She spent her candidacy year coming to know the Adrian Dominicans better, while studying the Congregation’s identity and history and ministering in Adrian and Detroit, Michigan, and in New Orleans.
Sister Katherine is the older of the two daughters of Lee and Lynne (McKenna) Frazier, of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Before entering the Congregation, she had ministered as coordinator of the Bishop Donald Trautman Catholic House at Gannon University, Erie, Pennsylvania. She holds a B.A. from St. Mary’s of Notre Dame, Indiana, and an MPhil in world archeology from the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England.
Sister Katherine’s Rite of Reception was the first initial formation ritual that Sister Pat officially presided over since she took office on July 2, 2016. “This year we celebrate 800 years of [St. Dominic’s] founding the Order of Preachers: men and women who for 800 years have been bringing good news to mountain tops and in the city streets,” Sister Pat said in her reflection.
Noting the joyful spirit of St. Dominic, and his work of compassionately refuting the heresies of his day that the material world is evil, Sister Pat speculated that St. Dominic would pray that his modern-day followers would preach “a salvation of liberation, compassion, and wholeness.” At the same time, she said, he would want today’s Dominicans to “address the heresies of individualism and excessive consumption that are at the root of so much separation and alienation.”
Sister Pat challenged the Sisters to live out St. Paul’s mandate to St. Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:1-8: to preach at all times, “whether convenient or inconvenient” and to “be self-possessed at all times; to put up with hardship; to perform the work of an evangelist; to fulfill your ministry.”
Sister Pat spoke with great optimism about the future of the Adrian Dominican Congregation – if members truly lived out Paul’s mandate, trusted in God enough to give themselves fully to the ministry, and lived out the Enactments of the recent February 2016 General Chapter.
“It just might be possible that we are facing into the most significant moments of our communal life,” she said. “What if, by living out [the Enactments] and giving them communal expression, our best years are not behind us, but truly ahead of us,” she said. “It is conceivable that our journey of individuated ministerial competencies and significant experience with collaboration and partnerships has readied us to embrace what the world is asking of us today: to be willing to sacrifice anew for the sake of the future.”
With that optimistic and challenging message – together with the joy of the 800th anniversary of the Order and the reception of Sister Katherine – the assembly continued the Liturgy in a spirit of joy and true celebration. The Liturgy included a special Litany of Dominican Saints, as well as special Dominican hymns.
The spirit of celebration continued throughout the day with a special reception for Sisters, Associates, and Co-workers, and a festive dinner.