May 28, 2020, Adrian, Michigan – Sister Mary Margaret “Sis” Beh, OP – formerly known as Sister Ann Pauline – celebrated her 100th birthday today as she desired: simply, in the company of her Sister friends who live in her community at the Dominican Life Center in Adrian, and with the opportunity to speak with distant family members.
Yet, the spirit of celebration extended within and beyond the Adrian Dominican Sisters Motherhouse Campus as she received more than 100 birthday cards from near and far. In the same way, the impact of more than 70 years of Sis’s religious life has been felt by people East and West: from her years of teaching art in the Eastern part of the United States to her years as a hospital chaplain at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz, California.
“I have enjoyed my religious life very much,” Sis said in an interview. “It’s been a very special calling that I’ve been grateful for. I wouldn’t change it for anything. Had I chosen another way of living I wouldn’t have had the wonderful opportunities that I had in my life.”
Born in Birmingham, Michigan, on May 27, 1920, she was baptized Mary Margaret Beh after her mother, Margaret Mary. Her two older brothers, Joseph and Robert, found that name too cumbersome and simply called her Sister. In time her name was shortened to “Sis.” She was followed years later by her sister Pauline, for whom she chose her religious name, Sister Ann Pauline.
Sis was educated by Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM Sisters) in elementary school and by Adrian Dominican Sisters at St. Mary High School in Royal Oak, Michigan. After beginning her studies at Siena Heights College (now University) in Adrian, she entered the Adrian Dominican Congregation in January 1939. She holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a Master’s in Fine Arts, both from Siena Heights.
After teaching at the elementary level for seven years, Sis was sent to teach art at Dominican High School in Detroit for 10 years; Regina Dominican High School in Wilmette, Illinois, for a couple of years; Hoban Dominican High School in Cleveland, Ohio, for nine years; and back at Dominican High School for four years. All three schools were sponsored and staffed by the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
Sis found great joy in her ministry as an art teacher. “It’s very exciting to watch young people become creative and find a creative spirit of their own,” she said. “I enjoyed my teaching, watching people become creative and excited about what they were capable of doing.”
After years of teaching, Sis Beh and Sister Jeanne Burns, OP, decided to become hospital chaplains and undertook the year-long Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program to train for this ministry. After earning her CPE certification in Houston, Texas, Sis worked at County Hospital in Houston for a year and began 20 years of ministry as a chaplain at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz: 10 years in a paid position and 10 years as a volunteer.
Sis recalled a conversation with a patient, in which they spoke of God’s love for him. “I realized at that moment that I was loved by God and I never felt like that before or after,” she said. She said serving as chaplain gave her the opportunity to minister one-on-one and to form relationships.
She retired in 2000 at the age of 80, but continued to live in Santa Cruz and to minister as a volunteer. She returned to the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse in 2010 and remained as active as possible ever since.
She has words of advice to anybody who feels he or she might be called to religious life. “Follow your dream,” she said. “If it leads to a religious vocation, honor it, because it is a beautiful life.”
Learn more about Sis’s life in a December 2015 A Sister’s Story interview and in the 2018 video, Ripples of Faith: A Sister's Story.
Sister friends gather in a solarium on their floor in the Dominican Life Center to celebrate the 100th birthday of Sister Mary Margaret “Sis” Beh, OP. Photo by Angie Lieto
May 27, 2020, Adrian, Michigan – The General Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters issued the following statement in response to the death of George Floyd.
We are deeply troubled and distressed by the violent assault on and resulting death of George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man, at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. His anguished cry, “I can’t breathe,” as an officer pressed his knee into his neck, harkened back to the cries six years ago of Eric Garner, another unarmed African-American man who died in New York police custody.
His cry brings to mind the long and growing list of African Americans who have been killed, seemingly for no reason other than being black. “Being black in America should not be a death sentence,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.
Our Christian faith tradition holds that we are all one people, one body; each made in the image of God.
In his powerful videotaped sermon, “The Cross and the Lynching Tree: A Requiem for Ahmaud Arbery,” Rev. Otis Moss III speaks of racism as a virus that has infected the spirit and soul of our country. Ahmaud Arbery, a young black jogger and “a man of potential,” Rev. Moss says, “was attacked and killed by men infected with America’s most common and potent viral agent. …The death of Ahmaud Arbery is not an anomaly but a historical pattern of behavior that binds every American to an unexamined history of our nation.”
Rev. Moss powerfully summarizes that unexamined history in his 22-minute sermon. It is a history that we Americans must acknowledge – and then set ourselves on a soul-searching course, powered by courage and love, to make real the ideals of freedom and equality on which our nation was founded.
Members of the Adrian Dominican Sisters General Council are Sisters Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress; Frances Nadolny, OP, Administrator and General Councilor; Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP, Vicaress and General Councilor; and Patricia Harvat, OP, and Elise D. García, OP, General Councilors