By Sister Janice Brown, OP
May 27, 2015, Grand Rapids, Michigan – Sister Carleen Maly, OP, director of Adrian Rea Literacy Center at the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse, was named the 2015 Literacy Champion. The award ceremony took place during the annual gathering of adult educators in the State of Michigan, held at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids.
Staff members from three of the Adrian Dominican-sponsored literacy centers – Adrian Rea Literacy Center in Adrian and Siena Literacy Center and Dominican Literacy Center, both in Detroit – attend this conference, joining 400 other participants. For the past four years, the memory of Sister Marie Damian Schoenlein, co-foundress of the Dominican Literacy Center.
Diane Duthie, Director of Education and Career Success (formerly Adult Education and Life Long Learning) presented the award to Sister Carleen. Ms. Duthie began with a few words about the woman who inspired the Literacy Champion Award. “Sister Marie’s passion to empower others with the gift of literacy exuded from her being,” she said. “Her enthusiasm was catching, and few would leave a conversation with her and not want to do something about literacy themselves, either as a volunteer tutor, a contributor, or an advocate.”
Ms. Duthie noted that “Sister Marie was very much a trailblazer. She believed that adult literacy was important because if a parent can’t read, they can’t teach their kids to read and the spiral of poverty will continue. She believed in people, and believed that education empowered the individual through practical skills and awakened them to an awareness of their own potential as God’s creature.”
Ms. Duthie then went on to describe the courage and dedication of Sister Carleen Maly, this year’s Literacy Champion. Sister Carleen was surprised and honored and, in her acceptance, pledged to “continue to walk in solidarity with people who are poor and challenge the structures that impoverish them.”
Sister Carleen has always been an advocate for those who are on the margins of society. Her role as Director of Adrian Rea Literacy Center has deepened her understanding and love for those who struggle with basic reading, writing, and math. Knowing that education is an equalizer, Sister Carleen works towards justice and peace by giving the tools of reading and writing in English to those who have very few choices in life. She works with individuals who desire to improve their life and the lives of their families through the gift of reading.
In a lovely turn of events, Dianne Duthie was also recognized as a Literacy Champion. She deeply appreciated Sister Marie Damian Schoenlein and the Adrian Dominicans and has been an advocate for the adult learner her entire career. She believes that any adult can learn under the right circumstances. Dianne plans to retire this year.
Thank you, Dianne and Sister Carleen, for all you do in adult education.