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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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, email@example.com or Sister Mariane Fahlman, OP, at 517-266-3537, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feature photo (top): Stones brought in by Partners VI participants help create the environment for the opening prayer on August 11.
August 10, 2017, Adrian, Michigan – Nearly 80 Adrian Dominican Associates and Sisters gathered August 4-6 at Weber Center in Adrian to get to know one another better and to reflect on the General Chapter Enactment on diversity. They were participating in Partners V, the annual gathering of Associates.
The Enactment on Diversity reads: “Rooted in the joy of the Gospel, we will embrace and nurture our rich diversity, commit ourselves to deepening our relationships with one another, invite others to vowed and Associate life, and expand collaboration for the sake of the Mission.”
Activities throughout the weekend event not only reflected the group’s own diversity, but challenged the Associates to think about how they can promote the Enactment in their own communities.
During the opening prayer service August 4 participants mingled water they brought from their homes or nearby waterways and poured it into a common bowl. The water represented not only the geographic diversity of the group – people came from 11 states and the Dominican Republic – but also the diversity ministries, family situations, and interests.
Sister Rosa Monique Peña, OP, who ministers in the Dominican Republic, delivered the keynote address. She set the context of her talk by describing the multicultural nature of the Catholic Church, specifically in the United States. She noted a recent study showing that 38 percent of the U.S. Catholic Church is made up of Hispanic or Latino Catholics and that 54 percent is made up of non-Hispanic whites. Other ethnic groups include Asian and native Hawaiin, 5 percent; Non-Hispanic Black, 3 percent; and Native American, 1 percent. People in multi-cultural parishes, she said, need to learn how to work with and embrace parishioners from other cultures.
Drawing on the work of Craig Storti, author of The Art of Crossing Cultures, Sister Rosa Monique described roadblocks facing people when they are adjusting to a new country or a new culture: language, climate, food, illness, and homesickness. But she focused her talk primarily on psychological roadblocks to cross-cultural adjustment.
Unreasonable expectations are “at the heart of the problem of cross-cultural adjustments,” Sister Rosa Monique said. “We expect everyone else to behave as we do and we assume we behave like everyone else. We assume that under normal circumstances, we all think about and perceive the world in basically the same way.”
However, she said, not everybody shares these specific expectations – and encountering unexpected behaviors from people in a foreign country can make it difficult to know how to respond, leading the newcomer to withdraw from the culture and people.
Sister Rosa Monique suggested instead of having an expectation of conformity to see the experience as a chance to learn about a different culture – beginning with the moment when we react with anger or agitation to an unexpected behavior. “The trick is to make ourselves aware of these feelings and identify them immediately,” she said. “We are then in a position to observe what is going on around us. This will form the basis of what we expect the next time we encounter the situation.” She added that this awareness presents an option: we can withdraw or reflect on the situation and change our expectations.
After her talk, participants gathered in small groups and were given a Scripture passage or article to read and questions on how to respond to diverse populations in those situations. The entire group met later in the afternoon to share the fruits of their discussions.
In addition to the talks and activities presented on diversity, Partners V also included a Ritual of Acceptance for six new Associates (see related article); opportunities for Associates and Sisters to come to know one another informally through meals and socials; and a closing prayer service on August 6. During the closing prayer, participants were given samples of the water that had been combined at the beginning of the weekend, symbolizing their unity.
Associates are women and men – single, married, divorced, or widowed – at least 18 years of age, who make a non-vowed commitment to the Adrian Dominican Congregation. While living independent lives, they share in the Mission and Vision of the Sisters and are welcome to participate in many of the Congregation’s events.
For information on becoming an Associate, contact Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life, at 517-266-3531 or email@example.com.
Feature photo (above): Some Partners V participants present findings of their discussion in a unique and exuberant way.
Top: Deb Carter, Associate, pours a sample of her local water into the common bowl during the opening prayer service. Right: Tibisay Ellis, an Associate, introduces herself to other Partners V participants during the opening session. Left: Sister Rosa Monique Peña, OP, delivers the keynote address on diversity.