January 6, 2017, West Palm Beach, Florida – The Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates of the Florida Mission Chapter wasted little time in beginning to carry out their resolution to work collectively and individually to abolish the death penalty in the State of Florida.
About a month after the Chapter’s Fall Assembly in which they made this resolution, the Sisters hung a banner on the fence outside of Casa, an Adrian Dominican congregational house and the location of the Florida Mission Chapter offices. The banner asks onlookers to “pray with us to abolish the death penalty.”
They hung the banner in time to commemorate the World Day to Abolish the Death Penalty, November 30.
Also on that day, 10 Adrian Dominicans from West Palm Beach participated in a Mass at St. Ignatius of Loyola, the cathedral of the Diocese of Palm Beach. All seven Catholic dioceses in Florida celebrated Mass that day to pray for the abolition of the death penalty.
“Dioceses and households were encouraged to shine lights that night to call attention to this important issue,” said Sister Judith Rimbey, OP. The Diocese of Palm Beach “had a searchlight piercing the night sky. That night, we placed luminarias in front of our banner."
The Chapter’s next effort is a letter writing campaign to Florida Governor Rick Scott and to their state representatives, asking them to abolish the death penalty.
The Sisters and Associates of the Florida Chapter were inspired to focus on advocacy against the death penalty after hearing a powerful presentation by Dale Recinella, an attorney who, for 18 years, has served as the Catholic Correctional Chaplain for Florida’s Death Row.
As a Congregation, the Adrian Dominican Sisters have taken a corporate stance against the death penalty. The Congregation’s statement reads, “We reverence the life and dignity of every human person and oppose the death penalty, urging support and compassion for the victims of violence and restorative justice for the offenders.”
Feature photo: Showing off the Florida Mission Chapter’s new death penalty banner are, from left, Sisters Teresita Ruiz, OP, Margarita Ruiz, OP, Mary Jean Clemenger, OP, and Judith Rimbey, OP.
December 12, 2016, Boca Raton, Florida – Sister Carmen Álvarez, OP, received the Golden Rule Award from the Catholic Realtors of Boca Raton, Florida, in recognition of exemplifying and living out Jesus’ rule to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
The award ceremony was December 2 at the Royal Palm Country Club during a breakfast after the first Friday Mass. The Realtors gather for Mass on the first Friday of every month, and bestow the Golden Rule Award annually, usually in December.
“I was full of joy and surprise,” Sister Carmen said. “I did not know anything about this until I was presented with the honor. I became aware that I partner with the Catholic Realtors of Boca Raton in bringing the love of God to others.”
Sister Carmen was recognized for a life of service, beginning in her childhood years in the province of Havana, Cuba. She first worked with other children, and then, as she matured, felt called to minister to adults, said Sister Frances Madigan, OP, who gave a presentation on her life during the award ceremony.
Sister Fran noted priests in Cuba were asked to minister to three or four parishes and communities were “fortunate to see a priest maybe once a week.” Sister Carmen became active in keeping her church open every day for prayer, meetings, and social events. She continued this work even after churches were threatened and closed under the rule of the late Fidel Castro.
After Sister Carmen was arrested and spent two weeks in jail with 300 other women, her family sent her to the United States for protection. While serving at an immigration center in Miami helping families find sponsors among their families and friends, Sister Carmen met the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine de’ Ricci and became a member of the congregation. She transferred to the Adrian Dominican Sisters in December 2012.
Sister Carmen spent some time ministering in the north before she was again called to serve the refugees in Miami. She later ministered at St. Hugh and St. Helen Parishes, training parishioners to be catechists.
Sister Carmen’s last years of active ministry before retirement were spent at St. Joan of Arc Parish in Boca Raton, directing the parish’s Hispanic Ministry. The invitation by Monsignor John McMahon to serve at St. Joan of Arc has been among her favorite memories. “The people began to feel at home sharing their customs with others and being part of another culture,” she said.
Still active in her retirement, Sister Carmen serves St. Joan of Arc as co-director of the parish literacy center and, through her work with the Santa Ann Circle of the Council of Catholic Women, made up of more than 100 women who serve the parish through time, talent, and treasure. She also coordinates donations given to repair a leaky roof in her home parish in Cuba.
Sister Fran said that Sister Carmen offers “the gift of joy, the ability to forgive and forget, and to be a peacemaker in a world where this is much needed. She is a gift to this parish, the Adrian Dominicans and to all with whom she comes in contact.”
Feature photo: From left, Monsignor Michael McGraw, pastor of St. Joan of Arc Parish, Boca Raton; Sister Carmen Álvarez, OP; and Bishop Gerald Barbarito, of the Diocese of Palm Beach attended a ceremony in which Sister Carmen received the Golden Rule Award.