December 28, 2018, Adrian, Michigan – As we continue the Season of Christmas and head toward New Year, we also take time to look back at the past year and remember the highlights. For the Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates, 2018 was a year of many challenges, triumphs, and sorrows. Below are the highlights of the year as found in the “What’s Happening” news section of our website and chosen members of the Communications Department.
Corporate Responsibility – accountability to gun manufacturers and dealers
Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates were involved in the national efforts to halt gun violence in the United States. While many Sisters and Associates participated in marches against gun violence, people of faith in corporate responsibility organizations took a different approach. Sister Judy Byron, OP, helped to organize religious communities in the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility to buy stock in gun manufacturers and dealers. Through shareholder resolutions, they scored a victory in persuading American Outdoor Brands, the parent company of Smith and Wesson, and Sturm Ruger to be more transparent and to work toward gun safety.
Action on Behalf of Dreamers and Immigrants
As policies on immigrants were debated or enacted, Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates advocated on the immigrants’ behalf. Actions included participation in a February 26 call-in to urge Congress to enact legislation to extend the option for Dreamers to defer deportation; took part in the Catholic Day of Action for Dreamers; and submitted comments to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services against a proposed policy that would make it harder for immigrants to become citizens. Toward the end of the year, Sisters volunteered at hospitality centers in Texas, working with immigrants who had been released from detention and were on their way to sponsored homes in the United States.
Farewell to Former Prioresses
The Congregation mourned the loss of two women who had served as Prioress of the Congregation: Sister Rosemary Ferguson, OP (1968 to 1978), who died on April 17, 2018, and Sister Janet Capone, OP (1998-2004), who died on July 29, 20018.
Sisters and Associates represented the Congregation at a number of major justice advocacy events throughout the year, including Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice; the Walk for Life in the Philippines, protesting the extra-judicial killings of accused drug dealers and users; Encounter at the Border, the annual action of the School of the Americas (SOA) Watch; and the Parliament of World Religions. Individual Sisters and Associates continued to be involved in justice ministry in a number of ways. Sister Lois Paha, OP, led a delegation of 50 Hispanic parishioners from the Diocese of Tucson to the Fifth National Encuentro, focusing on ways that the Catholic Church can be more responsive to the needs of Hispanic Catholics. Sister Durstyne Farnan, OP, spent days on NETWORK’s Nuns on the Bus in the days before the election, helping voters throughout the United States to understand issues of economic justice.
Looking to the Future
In August, Adrian Dominican Sisters from the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, the United States, and invited Sisters from other U.S. Dominican Congregations, all 65 and under, gathered in Adrian to deepen their relationships and to look ahead to the future. A highlight of the gathering was the First Profession of Vows of Sister Katherine Frazier, OP. Sister Xiomara Méndez-Hernández, OP, was named to serve the core team of Giving Voice, an organization for Catholic Sisters 50 and younger. The Congregation welcomed several new Associates – lay women and men who make a non-vowed commitment to live out the mission and vision of the Adrian Dominican Sisters – from Florida and the Dominican Republic in April; from Adrian during Partners VI, the annual summer gathering of Associates in August; and from Chicago in October.
The Congregation collaborated with and hosted other members of the national and worldwide Dominican family: Friars, contemplative nuns, apostolic Sisters, Laity, Associates, and members of established Dominican organizations. Sisters Rose Ann Schlitt, OP, and Nancy Jurecki, OP, along with Gloria Escalona, of the Dominican Laity, formed a delegation of U.S. Dominican women to visit the Dominican Sisters of the St. Catherine of Siena Congregation of Iraq after they returned to their demolished and damaged homes and convents on the Nineveh Plain. Sister Margarita Ruiz, OP, collaborated with other women religious to write a history of women religious in the Dominican Republic. The Adrian Dominican Sisters hosted the Dominican High Schools Preaching Conference and the annual gathering of the Dominican Institute for the Arts.
General Council Statements
The General Council of the Congregation issued statements on a number of issues, including offshore drilling, President Donald Trump’s rollback of pollution controls, the mass shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue, the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal, clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, Martin Luther King Day, and the separation of immigrant children from their parents.
Proclaiming 2018 to be a year of study on the meaning of resilient communities, the Congregation hosted two public forums on the subject: a symposium in March, featuring talks by five national thought leaders on various aspects of resiliency and an educational forum in August, in which three Adrian Dominican Sisters shared their own stories of forming resilient communities. Mission Chapters have formed their own Resilient Communities Committees to determine where in their region they will work with local people to make their community resilient.
In the spring, two workshops in Michigan helped participants to engage in the difficult conversation about diversity and racism. Sister Anne-Louise Nadeau, SNDdeN, and Sister Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN, of Pax Christi USA, led a public workshop, “Breaking the Silence: Confronting Race, Power, and Privilege.” The Great Lakes Mission Chapter, based in Detroit, focused its Spring Assembly on Racism and White Privilege. A unique program, Reverse Mass Mob, brought parishioners from Detroit to a suburban parish to begin their conversations on racism.
In response to the General Chapter Enactment on Sustainability, administrators at the Motherhouse Campus developed a sustainability plan, which includes changes in the heating and cooling system and reduction in the use of electricity at the Motherhouse. Students from Barry and Siena Heights Universities, both sponsored by the Congregation, came together at the Permaculture Gardens in Adrian site in May to learn about sustainability practices and apply them on their own campuses. Elaine Johnson, Permaculture Specialist, introduced honeybees to the Permaculture site. The 2018 issue of Voices in Mission and Ministry details sustainability practices throughout the Congregation.
By Sister Antonette Lumbang, OP
November 29, 2018, Negombo, Sri Lanka – The Justice Promoters of the Dominican Family from Asia and the Pacific gathered November 3-7 at Negombo, Sri Lanka, to discuss their efforts about bringing about justice and peace in the region. The countries of Taiwan, Japan, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, East Timor, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, China, and the Philippines were represented.
Each congregation/province reported on their justice and peace initiatives, both the triumphs and the challenges in their respective countries for the past two years. The reports by the justice promoters provided the group with a comprehensive picture of the situation in the region.
Common justice and peace issues that surfaced from the country reports were poverty, government corruption, religious extremism, and environmental degradation. The group spent time reflecting on the challenges and opportunities for Dominican family collaboration.
The conference was an eye-opener, with rich input. Sister Christine Fernando and Ruki Fernando, Human Rights defenders from the host country, shared the situation of justice and peace in Sri Lanka. Sister Cecilia Espenilla, OP, from Dominican Sisters International, talked about human trafficking and touched on the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. Father Mike Deeb, OP, the Order's permanent delegate to the United Nations, shared on Dominican work at the United Nations and expounded on the role of the Dominican Justice and Peace Promoters.
When the delegation broke into small groups, meeting by country, the promoters – invigorated by what they had seen and heard from each other and from the speakers – were eager to brainstorm toward common goals.
The Philippines Justice Promoters identified four areas where collaboration is promising: the annual Dominican Month for Peace; being in solidarity with the families of the War on Drugs casualties; the Human Trafficking Awareness Campaign; and the ongoing formation of Dominicans committed to justice and peace.
The Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter in particular has committed to facilitate and oversee the assistance program for selected families of extra-judicial killing victims in the Diocese of Kalookan. Selected families will be mainly from the San Lorenzo in Dagat-Dagat, Navotas, a parish administered by Dominican Friars. The modules for psycho-social and spiritual healing that will be used in the assistance program were developed by the University of St. Tomas, Simbahayan, Community Development Office.
The extra-judicial killing of more than 4,000 people suspected of drug dealing or drug use is the result of the war of drugs initiated by Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, elected in 2016.
By the end of the conference, delegates had completed drafts of strategic plans for each country and for the region, with the hope that these will be followed through to strengthen justice and peace promotion in Asia and the Pacific. It was indeed a fruitful conference.
Coming together and sharing with one another the work we do among marginalized people in our own countries, we justice promoters found renewed hope and encouragement to continue our efforts. To quote from the conference statement, we say, “Thus we continue the journey, step by step, confident in the knowledge that even in small actions, we can contribute to the in-breaking Reign of God.”