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.
December 18, 2017, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic – Historical traditions and hope for the future were combined in an exuberant way December 16 as Sister Xiomara Méndez-Hernández, OP, made her Perpetual Profession of Vows with the Adrian Dominican Sisters. The Mass was at the Dominican Convent in Sister Xiomara’s hometown, Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.
With Dominican Sisters and Friars from her native country and the United States, family members, Adrian Dominican Associates, and friends present, Sister Xiomara took the hands of Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress, and promised obedience to “Almighty God, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to our Holy Father St. Dominic,” and to Sister Patricia and her lawful successors “for my whole life.”
The traditional Dominican rite involves only explicitly the vow of obedience. The other two vows traditionally taken by people in religious life – poverty and chastity – are explicitly stated in the Adrian Dominican Constitution, by which professed Adrian Dominican Sisters promise to abide.
Before professing her vows, Sister Xiomara stated her intent to commit herself to continue her loving relationship with God, to fully love her sisters and brothers and all God’s creation. “I want to preach truth from my heart afire; make peace valuing all my brothers’ and sisters’ faith, wisdom, and integrity; and rooted in the joy of the Gospel, I want to reverence life by embracing and nurturing our rich diversity, wherever I go and whatever I do,” she said. “I want to do all of this with you, my beloved Adrian Dominican Sisters.”
The Rite of Profession also included the Prioress’ call to Sister Xiomara; a formal examination as to Sister Xiomara’s readiness for perpetual vows with Sister Kathleen Klingen, OP, her Chapter Prioress; the sung Litany of St. Dominic, while Sister Xiomara lay prostrate in front of the assembly; the blessing and presentation of Sister Xiomara’s profession ring; and the signing of the profession documents.
Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP, Director of Formation, welcomed the assembly, and Sister Marilín Llanes, OP, who lives in community with Sister Xiomara in Chicago, offered a reflection. The liturgy was celebrated by Father Cristóbal Iglesias, OP, and concelebrated by Father Martin Edward S. Ohajunwa. Sisters Basilia De la Cruz, OP, and María Eneida Santiagao, OP, were her witnesses. Sister Rosa Monique Peña, OP, who serves in formation in the Dominican Republic, was the Master of Ceremonies. Sister Mary Jones, OP, served as cantor. Sister Jeanne Wiest, OP, played the clarinet, and Aracelis Mena, a dear friend of Sister Xiomara, was the photographer.
Born in Santo Domingo, Sister Xiomara studied fashion design and received a bachelor’s degree from Universidad Autonomo de Santo Domingo in 1999. From 2004 to 2008, she had her own fashion design business, Xissors Couture, in Santo Domingo, and from 2006 to 2008 also taught fashion design at Instituto Nacional de Formación Técnico Profesional (INFOTEP) in Santo Domingo. She also served on a national board for certification of professional patterns and sewing.
Sister Xiomara first met the Adrian Dominican Sisters, who served in her country in 1993, and “became captivated by their passion to preach truth, make peace, and reverence life,” she said. “In the Adrian Dominicans I saw Sisters who were full of love and joy, women who worked for justice and peace – and who danced! When I started praying with them, I began to feel a call.”
Sister Xiomara was one of seven women from the Dominican Republic to become Adrian Dominican Associates in 2004. Associates are women and men – at least 18 years of age – who make a non-vowed commitment to partner with the Adrian Dominican Sisters while maintaining their own independent lifestyle.
Sister Xiomara entered the Congregation in 2008, undergoing a discernment process to determine if she was called to life as an Adrian Dominican Sister. She took part in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) training for chaplaincy at Loyola University Medical Center, Chicago, in 2011-2012 and earned a Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS) from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago in 2014.
Sister Xiomara served as chaplain at Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican Hospitals in Henderson, Nevada, from February 2015 through March 2017, when she began her current ministry as chaplain at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago.
“I am very excited about the many possibilities we have today as we gather with young Sisters from all over the country,” Sister Xiomara said. “I believe in the future of religious life and I feel blessed to be part of it.”
Feature photo: Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress, left, and Sister Xiomara Méndez-Hernádez, OP, show their great joy after Sister Xiomara’s Perpetual Profession of Vows.
Left: The assembly blesses Sister Xiomara at the closing of her Final Profession.