September 19, 2018, Adrian, Mich. – The Adrian Dominican Sisters will celebrate Indigenous People’s Day on Monday, October 8, 2018, with a special 10:30 a.m. Mass incorporating some aspects of Native American spirituality, such as smudging and drumming. Sisters who have some Native American blood or who have at one time ministered with Native Americans will be recognized.
Sister Susan Gardner, OP, Director of the Native American Apostolate for the Diocese of Gaylord, Michigan, will offer a presentation at 1:30 p.m., “Effects of the Doctrine of Discovery Today and the Boarding School Era.” Sister Susan will also bring staff members of the parish where she ministers, St. Kateri Tekakwitha in Suttons Bay, Michigan.
The Mass and presentation are free and open to the public. If you plan to attend either, please contact Sister Kathleen Nolan, OP, at 517-266-3403 to help in the planning of the event.
In celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day, the Adrian Dominican Sisters will join 55 cities and five states that celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day rather than Columbus Day. Five cities in Michigan celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day: Alpena, Ann Arbor, East Lansing, Traverse City, and Ypsilanti.
Sister Kathleen, Director of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Office of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, said Indigenous Peoples’ Day honors those who were already in the Americas when Christopher Columbus first came to the Western Hemisphere. The Spanish Conquistadores who followed Columbus brought great suffering to the native peoples of the Americas, she noted.
In a September 18 presentation to Adrian Dominican Sisters at the Motherhouse Campus, Sister Kathleen further explained the rationale for celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day rather than Columbus Day.
Columbus Day began in 1869 as a celebration of the people of Italian-American heritage and ultimately, in 1972, became a public holiday celebrated on the second Monday of October. In 1992, however, the 500th anniversary of the date that Columbus arrived in the Western Hemisphere (most likely the Bahamas) people began to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead, Sister Kathleeen explained.
“What we celebrate as Americans reveals the character of our country,” she said. “It’s time to set the record straight. Long before 1492, millions of people were living in thriving societies with complex governments and cultures across the entire American continent.” Sister Kathleen showed a nine-minute video, “Seven Reasons Why Columbus Did Not Discover America,” outlining the civilizations living in the Americas and the other mariners who, centuries earlier, had landed in the Americas.
“Columbus Day represents the violent history of the colonization of the Western Hemisphere,” Sister Kathleen said. “Indigenous peoples have suffered tremendously from attempt after attempt and policy after policy to eradicate native cultures and way of life.” She added that it is “more fitting” to acknowledge and recognize the indigenous peoples “who were here first and persevered and continue to share so much of their knowledge, culture, and understanding of our relationship to Earth and land.”
Feature photo at top: Members of the Dishshii' Bikoh' Apache Group from Cibecue, Arizona demonstrate the Apache Crown Dance at Grand Canyon National Park in November of 2010 as part of Native American Heritage Month. (CC BY 2.0)
August 10, 2017, Adrian, Michigan – Nearly 80 Adrian Dominican Associates and Sisters gathered August 4-6 at Weber Center in Adrian to get to know one another better and to reflect on the General Chapter Enactment on diversity. They were participating in Partners V, the annual gathering of Associates.
The Enactment on Diversity reads: “Rooted in the joy of the Gospel, we will embrace and nurture our rich diversity, commit ourselves to deepening our relationships with one another, invite others to vowed and Associate life, and expand collaboration for the sake of the Mission.”
Activities throughout the weekend event not only reflected the group’s own diversity, but challenged the Associates to think about how they can promote the Enactment in their own communities.
During the opening prayer service August 4 participants mingled water they brought from their homes or nearby waterways and poured it into a common bowl. The water represented not only the geographic diversity of the group – people came from 11 states and the Dominican Republic – but also the diversity ministries, family situations, and interests.
Sister Rosa Monique Peña, OP, who ministers in the Dominican Republic, delivered the keynote address. She set the context of her talk by describing the multicultural nature of the Catholic Church, specifically in the United States. She noted a recent study showing that 38 percent of the U.S. Catholic Church is made up of Hispanic or Latino Catholics and that 54 percent is made up of non-Hispanic whites. Other ethnic groups include Asian and native Hawaiin, 5 percent; Non-Hispanic Black, 3 percent; and Native American, 1 percent. People in multi-cultural parishes, she said, need to learn how to work with and embrace parishioners from other cultures.
Drawing on the work of Craig Storti, author of The Art of Crossing Cultures, Sister Rosa Monique described roadblocks facing people when they are adjusting to a new country or a new culture: language, climate, food, illness, and homesickness. But she focused her talk primarily on psychological roadblocks to cross-cultural adjustment.
Unreasonable expectations are “at the heart of the problem of cross-cultural adjustments,” Sister Rosa Monique said. “We expect everyone else to behave as we do and we assume we behave like everyone else. We assume that under normal circumstances, we all think about and perceive the world in basically the same way.”
However, she said, not everybody shares these specific expectations – and encountering unexpected behaviors from people in a foreign country can make it difficult to know how to respond, leading the newcomer to withdraw from the culture and people.
Sister Rosa Monique suggested instead of having an expectation of conformity to see the experience as a chance to learn about a different culture – beginning with the moment when we react with anger or agitation to an unexpected behavior. “The trick is to make ourselves aware of these feelings and identify them immediately,” she said. “We are then in a position to observe what is going on around us. This will form the basis of what we expect the next time we encounter the situation.” She added that this awareness presents an option: we can withdraw or reflect on the situation and change our expectations.
After her talk, participants gathered in small groups and were given a Scripture passage or article to read and questions on how to respond to diverse populations in those situations. The entire group met later in the afternoon to share the fruits of their discussions.
In addition to the talks and activities presented on diversity, Partners V also included a Ritual of Acceptance for six new Associates (see related article); opportunities for Associates and Sisters to come to know one another informally through meals and socials; and a closing prayer service on August 6. During the closing prayer, participants were given samples of the water that had been combined at the beginning of the weekend, symbolizing their unity.
Associates are women and men – single, married, divorced, or widowed – at least 18 years of age, who make a non-vowed commitment to the Adrian Dominican Congregation. While living independent lives, they share in the Mission and Vision of the Sisters and are welcome to participate in many of the Congregation’s events.
For information on becoming an Associate, contact Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life, at 517-266-3531 or email@example.com.
Feature photo (above): Some Partners V participants present findings of their discussion in a unique and exuberant way.
Top: Deb Carter, Associate, pours a sample of her local water into the common bowl during the opening prayer service. Right: Tibisay Ellis, an Associate, introduces herself to other Partners V participants during the opening session. Left: Sister Rosa Monique Peña, OP, delivers the keynote address on diversity.