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.
May 9, 2016, San Fernando, Pampanga, the Philippines – Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP, Director of Formation for the Adrian Dominican Congregation, shared some key moments in late March and early April with Adrian Dominican Sisters in the Philippines, members of the Congregation’s Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter.
The Remedies Chapter recently celebrated the 50-year Jubilee of its founding. The Adrian Dominican Congregation helped with the formation of the Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of Remedies, and, in November 2011, the Remedies Congregation merged with the Adrian Dominican Congregation.
Sister Lorraine had the opportunity to accompany the Remedies Chapter during some key moments: a Holy Week retreat at the Provincial House in San Fernando; the Easter Triduum, a three-day Liturgy that spans the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the Good Friday service, and the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. In addition, Sister Lorraine was present for the final profession of vows of Sisters Salvacion Valenzuela, OP, and Alma Zapanta, OP. She also had the opportunity to take part in another key moment in the Philippines: the closing of the school year and graduations.
“The highlight of the Philippines trip for me was getting to know our Sisters,” Sister Lorraine said, noting that they had all gathered together for the Holy Week retreat. “I was very struck by our Sisters’ commitment to the poor and their immersion with the poor, and their awareness and involvement in issues affecting the people.”
Sister Lorraine noted the poverty that she saw in the Philippines, and the way that people live in corrugated tin houses and in polluted areas. But, after praying to see the situation through Jesus’ eyes, she said, she also saw the hope, joy, and energy of the people. “In the midst of some real poverty and chaos, I noticed all the lovely human interactions. …I thought, ‘What a drive for life!” In spite of the hardship that they faced daily, she said, the people “worked so hard in such heat and difficult conditions to survive, and I was really quite impressed by their enterprising nature and their energy.”
In spite of their work with people in poverty – and their efforts to bring relief to those suffering from natural disasters, such as the recent typhoon that struck in 2014 – Sister Lorraine saw joy in the Remedies Sisters as well. “I was struck by how much they enjoy life,” she said. “They laugh easily and have fun easily – and there’s a real gift in that.”
The Remedies Sisters share that joy with the people around them. Sister Lorraine noted the large crowds of people from the greater community who came to celebrate the final profession of Sisters Salvacion and Alma. “It was a huge celebration, with many guests, many friends, seminarians, family – just lots of people there, joyously celebrating. It felt like a real community celebration in the broad sense of community.”
Some of the cultural experiences also impressed Sister Lorraine. For example, after the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the people maintain the tradition of visiting seven churches. Sister Lorraine was impressed by the number of people who participated in this custom – and by the traffic, which limited to five the number of churches they could visit in five hours. “At every church we went to, there were hundreds and hundreds of people. It was the strength of their faith – how much that devotion meant to the people.”
Sister Lorraine was also impressed by the family values that shone through the four graduation ceremonies she attended – each different. “The parents actually go on stage with the graduate,” she said, and each graduating class sings a particular song that captures their class spirit.
Finally, Sister Lorraine came away from the experience with a greater appreciation for the Asian culture of the Philippines. She had believed that the Filipinos had adopted some of the Hispanic heritage. While the Spanish conquerors gave them Spanish last names, she said, they never took on that culture. “They took on the Catholic faith, because that fit, but they never took on the culture,” she said, adding that the Filipino culture is truly Asian.