February 15, 2019, Adrian, Michigan – Composting, recycling, and worms – those are some of the elements of the sustainability efforts at the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Motherhouse Campus and the focus of the sustainability update presented by Sister Corinne Sanders, OP, Director of Sustainability.
Living more sustainability is the focus of one of four Enactments approved by delegates at the Adrian Dominican Congregation’s 2016 General Chapter. The Sustainability Enactment calls on the Sisters as a Congregation and as individuals to “sacrifice to mitigate significantly our impact on climate change and ecological degradation.”
Sister Corinne spoke in particular of efforts by the Sisters to recycle when possible, and to compost organic material. Through the services of Key Green Solutions, the Congregation is able to track how much of its waste goes to the landfill or is recycled or composted, she said. This tracking system revealed that during the 2018 calendar year, some 85 percent of the waste from the Motherhouse campus went to the landfill. This benchmark could motivate Sisters and Co-workers on campus to focus more on recycling and composting to reduce the amount of waste that goes to the landfill, Sister Corinne said.
Weber Retreat and Conference Center is systematically increasing the practice of composting on the Motherhouse Campus by providing plates, cups, and napkins made of compostable material. Sister Corinne added that the best way to cut down on waste, however, is to use the ceramic mugs available at Weber Center’s coffee station.
During much of the presentation, questions about specific practices in recycling and composting were raised as people on campus strive to live more sustainably. Living sustainably “takes a lot of creativity, a lot of thinking, and a lot of changed behavior,” Sister Corinne acknowledged.
On a lighter note, Sister Corinne noted the success of the Congregation’s efforts to compost through the vermiculture process, in which worms help to break down compostable material. The Motherhouse campus now hosts 150,000 worms in its composting bin, an intergenerational community.
August 16, 2018, Adrian, Michigan – About 50 Adrian Dominican Associates, along with some Sisters, gathered in Adrian August 10-12, 2018, to study and discuss the Congregation’s General Chapter Enactment on Resilient Communities, reflect on Dominican spirituality, deepen relationships with one another, and to welcome three new Associates.
The gathering, Partners VI, is an annual event that signifies the partnership in Mission between the Associates and the Sisters.
Sister Patricia Harvat, OP, General Councilor and liaison to Associate Life, welcomed the group, which included Associates from Michigan, the Dominican Republic, Florida, and California. She reflected on the meaning of St. Dominic’s dying wish to be buried at the feet of his Dominican brothers. “His request expresses the reality of his brothers’ fraternity as a place of holiness,” she said. “There’s the sense of that holiness among us tonight. It is the holy preaching that you’ll hear about tonight, all day tomorrow, and Sunday.”
Associate Trudy McSorley prepared the group for the work of the next day: study and discussion on the Congregation’s General Chapter Enactment on Resilient Communities. The Enactment calls on the Sisters and Associates to pledge their “lives, money and other resources to facilitate and participate in creating resilient communities with people who are relegated to the margins, valuing their faith, wisdom, and integrity.”
Trudy noted that the Adrian Dominican leadership had designated 2018 as a year of study to learn more about resilient communities. As preparation for the work of the next day, Trudy showed a video with excerpts from a Resilient Communities Symposium, hosted by the Adrian Dominican Sisters and featuring a panel of thought leaders on five aspects of resilient communities: vision, economic empowerment, racial equity, environmental justice, and collaboration.
On the morning of August 11, Associate Dee Joyner, Director of the Congregation’s Office of Resilient Communities, led participants in further exploration of resilient communities and of the people who are relegated to the margins in local areas.
“People are very confused about what is a resilient community,” Dee said. “If you Google it online, you’ll find many references. Each group has a different take on what that means to them.” She invited participants to spend time as a group “unpacking” the meaning of the Congregation’s working definition of a resilient community: “one that has a long-range sustainable vision that emerges from the community through an inclusive, collaborative process that engages diverse grassroots leaders and person who have traditionally been marginalized; creates partnerships built on trust; seeks equity and justice; draws on spiritual wisdom and is healing; and reflects a concern for future generations, living within Earth’s regenerative capacity (i.e., ‘one-planet thinking’). These elements combine to promote the well-being and vitality of the community and its ability to address ongoing stressors from crises or disasters and sustain itself into the future.
Each local Mission Chapter of the Adrian Dominican Sisters has been asked to set up a Resilient Communities committee, co-chaired by a Sister and an Associate, to ascertain geographical areas of need and to work with the people in that area to address the needs that the people themselves experience, Dee explained. Participants were also asked to discuss the ways in which they as individuals envisioned themselves becoming involved in local resilient communities.
Sister Tarianne DeYonker, OP, Co-director of Vocations, began the afternoon session August 11 by suggesting ways that Associates can help Catholic young adults in their discernment for vocations to the priesthood or religious life. She suggested that the Associates invite other adults in their neighborhoods or parishes to a dessert gathering to raise their awareness of young adults that they know who might have a vocation – who might be active in their parish or in community service. “Young adults want their lives to make a difference,” she said. “They need to be accompanied and they need to be invited.”
Sister Patricia gave a presentation on Dominican spirituality. “Our spirituality is not about special ways of praying but finding a good attitude in the midst of all that is and all that happens,” she explained. “We rely on grace. There’s no other way we can sometimes get through life.”
She drew on Lumen Gentium, the dogmatic Constitution of the Catholic Church issued at the time of Vatican II, to explain the Dominican charism. A charism is a gift of the Holy Spirit, given to a religious congregation for the benefit of the Church, she said. The Dominican charism is to preach the Word of God. “Our mission is to live the charism – a common gift, one that belongs to us as Sisters and Associates. It’s dynamic and unfolding and constantly being rediscovered.”
The evening included the Rite of Acceptance of three new Associates: Gladys Cruz, of Isleton, California; Judi Engel, of Columbus, Ohio; and Eileen Negus, of Adrian. Read more in the accompanying article. The Associates wrapped up Partners VI on Sunday morning before celebrating the Sunday Liturgy at St. Catherine Chapel.
Associates are women and men – married or single – at least 18 years of age and committed to sharing the Mission and Vision of the Adrian Dominican Sisters. While maintaining their independent lifestyles, Associates share in the Sisters’ mission and vision and participate in Congregational, spiritual, and social events with the Sisters.
For more information on becoming an Adrian Dominican Associate, contact Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life, at 517-266-3531 or email@example.com. If you are a single Catholic woman interested in discerning vowed religious life with the Adrian Dominican Sisters, contact Vocation Co-Directors Sister Tarianne DeYonker, OP, at 517-266-3532, firstname.lastname@example.org or Sister Mariane Fahlman, OP, at 517-266-3537, email@example.com.
Feature photo (top): Stones brought in by Partners VI participants help create the environment for the opening prayer on August 11.