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.
By Sister Rose Ann Schlitt, OP
July 13, 2017, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic – “I’m learning the art of listening: to the person I accompany, to God in the person, and to myself!”
“I was deeply moved as I engaged in spiritual companioning and experienced sacred ground.”
“It was such a liberating experience, full of joy and surprises!”
These are a few of comments by 12 cloistered nuns from six monasteries and traditions as they completed four weeks of Introduction to Spiritual Companioning. The course was sponsored by the nine-member spirituality team of the Conference of Religious of the Dominican Republic (CONDOR) and coordinated by Sister Carol Ann Gross, OP, and Dr. Angela Lopez, a lay psychologist.
Visitandines, Franciscan Capuchins, Clarissas, and Discalced Carmelites from across the country gathered in the Carmelite Monastery of St. Teresa of Jesus in Santo Domingo for the month-long course. They came to take instruction and to learn the tools and skills they needed to accompany others in their attentive and personal responses to God.
During the first week, they received an overview of Spiritual Companioning, listening skills, and personality types, and shared their own history of spirituality. The team demonstrated modes of accompaniment, after which the nuns practiced with each other. The week also included follow-up and supervision of the new companions by the coordinating team.
The second week dealt with the area of psychology and personal growth, and a retreat workshop on a review of personal history. Applications of the Exercises of St. Ignatius followed, with models of discernment and specific practices of accompaniment. Special cases such as group accompaniment and areas of affectivity, sexuality, and forgiveness were covered in the fourth week. Throughout the month the nuns delighted in presenting their own monastic traditions and in learning about the traditions of the others.
After the formal course, the team offered follow-up and supervision of the nuns in their settings, as well as group supervision. The group gathered again in May for a personal directed retreat and follow-up in the practice of accompaniment.
“Beginning the course with the contemplatives, we of the team were a little nervous,” Sister Carol said. “We know these women are dedicated to prayer and silence and to God in a very special vocation. But within two days we started to relax and give to them what we had learned from our experience and study while they received us with exemplary openness. We laughed and cried together and we all learned about the presence of God in our lives: contemplatives, laity, priests, and sisters in active congregations. The course has been a gift of grace and growth for all!”
The course, a unique ministry in the Dominican Republic, already has a long history. Sister Ana Feliz, OP, with the support of Sister Nancy Jurecki, OP, launched the program in 2002 as a course in Spiritual Companioning, sponsored by the CONDOR. Sister Carol and Sister Eneida Santiago, OP, were participants.
Others contributed in specific areas of input. Sister Arlene Kosmatka, OP, accompanied the groups with her expertise during the summer courses for several years. This Adrian Dominican-launched ministry in spirituality found fertile ground in the Dominican Republic – and the mission continues!
Top: Students prepare for class. Bottom: The 12 participants represent six monasteries and six traditions.