June 26, 2017, Adrian, Michigan – The 25 Adrian Dominican Sisters marking their Diamond (60-year) and 14 celebrating Golden (50-year) Jubilees gathered at the Motherhouse in Adrian June 20-24 for reminiscing, gathering, prayer, thanksgiving, and festivities.
The Jubilee Class of 2016 also includes six Sisters celebrating 75 years of religious life and 22 marking 70 years in the Congregation. These Jubilarians celebrated together on May 13.
Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress and herself a Golden Jubilarian, welcomed the Jubilarians during an opening reception on the evening of June 20, noting that together they represent 2,200 years of faithful commitment. Observing that their Jubilee Year is a time of gratitude, she invited them to celebrate during the week by gathering together and visiting the sacred spots of the Motherhouse: Holy Rosary Chapel, the labyrinth, the Cosmic Walk, and the Sisters residing at the Dominican Life Center. Jubilee is not only about gratitude for the past, Sister Pat said, but also about looking ahead to where God might be calling them in the coming years.
Jubilarians joined Sister Pat and the General Council for a meeting and tea on June 21. On June 22, they gathered for a social with the Sisters of the Dominican Life Center and were treated to a concert by Sister Magdalena Ezoe, OP, who is a musician, composer, and professor emerita at Siena Heights University in Adrian. Free time gave the Jubilarians the opportunity to gather informally and to reflect on their lives as Adrian Dominican Sisters.
During a special liturgy on June 23, the focus shifted to the 11 deceased Diamond Jubilarians and one deceased Silver Jubilarian. Each deceased Jubilarian was remembered with a rose and a brief presentation on her life and on the difference she made in other people’s lives. To read the list of deceased Jubilarians, including Sisters who would have marked 85, 80, 75, and 70 years of religious life, click here and scroll to the bottom of the page.
Sister Barbara Cervenka, OP, Diamond Jubilarian, offered a reflection on the deceased Jubilarians and on the 10 years – roughly 3,650 days – since her Golden Jubilee that she said were mostly made up of ordinary days. “These are the days of walking the Earth … of witnessing the sky,” she said. “We’ve had countless conversations, meals prepared and shared.”
During Jubilee, Sister Barbara said, “we remember our Sisters and friends who walked with us for a time and who have passed before us. We can remember with great tenderness their efforts to grow up, to grow old, to grow well, to become who they were called to be.” Just as Jesus, at the end of his life, called his friends together, and calls all of us to be his friends, “I think that these many days and years, we have learned, all of us, to be friends,” she concluded.
On Saturday, Jubilarians and their guests – family members, friends, and other Adrian Dominican Sisters – gathered for the Jubilee Liturgy at St. Catherine Chapel. Father James Hug, SJ, Chaplain, noted that the years of service of the Golden and Diamond Jubilarians – together with those celebrating 70 and 75 years of religious life – totaled more than 4,000 years.
In her reflection, Sister Pat compared the love Jesus calls us to – and the love of the Jubilarians – to that of a couple who have been happily married for 50 years. In spite of trials and occasional stress, “they grow as companions to and with one another.… This is what Jesus is inviting each of us into in today’s Gospel – a time of unconditional acceptance and love and communion.”
In the same way, Sister Pat said, “We have been gifted with the extraordinary grace of sharing our lives in community, sharing life and faith with one another.” Noting that among the community, Sisters sometimes experience stress and misunderstanding. “Yet we witness to the power of healing and sisterly love for one another.”
Sister Pat noted the qualities of resiliency, creativity, hard work, and sacrifice that many of the Jubilarians learned from their parents who had lived through the Great Depression and World War II. Some of those qualities, she said, are also reflected in Sophia, Lady Wisdom, in the book of Proverbs: a woman of strength and compassion who, in her deep confidence in God, “laughs at the days to come with no fear of the future.”
“As Jubilarians – and I place myself in their midst – we give joyful thanks to God and the beloved community of women who have loved us into friendship and discipleship for the past 50 and 60 years,” Sister Pat said.
After her reflection, the Jubilarians gathered around the altar to renew their vows: “To the honor of Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I … make profession and promise obedience to Almighty God, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to our Holy Father St. Dominic, and to you, Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress of the Congregation, and to your lawful successors, according to the rule of St. Augustine and the Constitutions of the Sisters of St. Dominic of the Congregation of the Most Holy Rosary until death.”
After Mass, the Jubilarians and their guests continued the celebration with a festive dinner and other informally scheduled events.
During their Jubilee Year, the Sisters have had time to reflect on the meaning of this special time and on what religious life has meant to them.
Religious life “has been 60 years of developing and strengthening my relationship with God and those I worked with daily,” said Sister Helen McAllister, OP. “I’ve come to realize that God is with us in the good times and the difficult times. I know God loves me and that I’m an instrument of His/Her plan.”
Sister Donna Baker, OP, said her 50 years in religious life has been a blessing. “I am so grateful for my extended family – women who embrace the Gospel values and who are committed to working toward peace and justice for all. Each morning I thank God for the new day and for the realization of my dream to become an Adrian Dominican Sister.”
Feature photo (top): Jubilarians gather around the altar in St. Catherine Chapel June 24 to renew their vows.