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.
April 11, 2016, Adrian, Michigan – In a ritual that resonated with the joy of Easter and new life, Sister Marilín Llanes, OP, professed her first vows with the Adrian Dominican Sisters. The Liturgy – attended by Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates and Sister Marilín’s family members and friends – took place April 10 in St. Catherine Chapel at the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse.
Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP, Director of Formation, welcomed Sisters and special guests from Adrian and Detroit, and from as far away as Chicago, Minnesota, and the Dominican Republic, as well as family members who attended or who were to watch via live stream.
A member of the Adrian Dominican Congregation from 1988 to 1995, Sister Marilín entered the discernment process for Readmission on August 8, 2015, the Feast of St. Dominic. A native of the province of La Habana in Cuba and an only child, she immigrated to the United States at the age of six with her parents, Nancy and Ricardo Llanes.
Sister Marilín grew up in the Miami area and earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Barry University, sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters. She also holds a master’s degree in counseling from St. Mary’s University and a graduate degree in school psychology from Trinity University, both in San Antonio, Texas. After serving as a school psychologist in the Northside Independent School District in San Antonio, Texas, since 2004, she now brings that ministry to the Joliet, Illinois, School District.
After the readings, Sister Elise García, OP, offered a reflection on the call to follow Jesus – a call not only to Sister Marilín but to all who have “chosen to follow the way of Jesus through a vowed commitment to religious life.” Those in religious life are called to live a “communal way of the early disciples” and to live so that others may have the abundant life followed by Jesus. “It is a continuous self-emptying and dispossession,” she said. She held up as an example the Dominican Sisters of Iraq, who are “living that dispossession in ways that we can hardly imagine”: as refugees, living in a community of refugees in Northern Iraq and striving to spread the good news of the Resurrection in a worn-out community.
Sister Elise, communications director for the Adrian Dominican Congregation, noted the “ever-more radical and counter-cultural response” of religious life today in a world filled with violence, hatred, “economic hardship and environmental devastation.” Those who choose religious life today, she said, are “responding with a clear-eyed awareness” of the greater global challenges in the world and the smaller numbers in religious life.
Sister Elise noted that impact that Sister Marilín had had on her when they first met 25 years ago. “Marilín’s generous sharing of her vocation was one of the guiding lights that illuminated my path,” she said. “How wondrous that today, in the slow work of God from all eternity, our paths should come together again at this joyful moment!”
During the Rite of Profession, Sister Attracta formally questioned Sister Marilín on her willingness to “unite [herself] more closely to God by a bond of religious profession,” live a life of charity, and “center [her] ministerial activity in contemplation.” Sister Marilín then stated her intent to “enter into a deeper commitment with my loving God and my dear Adrian Dominican Sisters” and invited the Holy Spirit to “create in me a clear, open, strong, full, and joy-filled heart.”
After lying prostrate during the singing of the Litany of Dominican Saints, Sister Marilín professed her vow, promising obedience to God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Dominic, and Sister Attracta and her lawful successors, “according to the Rule of St. Augustine and the Constitution of the Sisters of St. Dominic of the Congregation of the Most Holy Rosary.” The Rite continued with the presentation of the Congregation logo to Sister Marilín and the signing of the profession documents by Sister Marilín, Sister Attracta, and Sister Marilín’s two witnesses: Sisters Mary Jane Lubinski, OP, and Rosa Monique Peṅa, OP.
“I am delighted to affirm your profession as a Dominican Sister of Adrian,” Sister Attracta said. “The profession by which you vow your future to God is a confirmation of the acceptance of a call received in faith. It strengthens your attachment to God as the first and most important in your life. Our entire Congregation is truly blessed to share faith and life with you.”
Sister Marilín Llanes, OP, First Vows