March 14, 2018, Adrian, Michigan – Adrian Dominican Sisters at the Motherhouse campus in Adrian and throughout the United States connected with their local communities during National Catholic Sisters Week (NCSW), March 8-14, to share their lives and ministries, giving people a glimpse of what their vocation means to them.
Begun in 2014 as part of National Women’s History Month, NCSW was founded by the National Catholic Sisters Project to shine a spotlight on Catholic Sisters in the U.S.
Members of the General Council – Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress; Sister Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP, Vicaress; Sister Frances Nadolny, OP, Administrator; and Sisters Patricia Harvat, OP, and Elise D. García, OP, General Councilors – gave a presentation on the Congregation’s history, background, ministries, and Enactments to the Adrian Area Chamber of Commerce on March 8. The presentation was repeated March 9 at a special breakfast at the Motherhouse prepared for local community and non-profit leaders.
“We really delight in the opportunity to share with you a glimpse of our life and what happens on this side of the campus,” Sister Patricia Siemen said, noting that many of the guests were familiar with life on the other side of campus – Siena Heights University.
Sister Pat situated the Adrian Dominican Sisters among the 47,000 Catholic Sisters; the 300 Congregations of Catholic Sisters, the 4,000 Dominican Sisters, and the 19 Congregations of active Dominican Sisters across the United States. Sister Pat also spoke of the history and spirituality of the Dominican Order and of the Adrian Dominican Sisters. In addition, the other members of the General Council each spoke on one of the 2016 Enactments, focuses that the Congregation chose for the next six years after General Chapter 2016. In each description of the Enactments – Spiritual Longings, Sustainability, Resilient Communities, and Diversity – the General Councilors invited members of the local community to participate and to collaborate with the Sisters.
Also on March 9, about 16 Sisters and Co-workers from the Motherhouse spent part of the day with members of the Hope Community Center, an organization for developmentally disabled adults. The Sisters and Co-workers presented the members with cards created by retied Sisters and spent time talking to the members and leading activities such as basketball, games, coloring, and karaoke. Hope Community Center is also the recipient for the six months of 2018 of funds raised through ADS Gives, a Co-worker initiated charitable fund.
Other Sisters living and ministering in Adrian spoke at 10 different service club meetings between March 6 and 14.
Sister Mary Jones, OP, Director of Mission Education and Heritage Development at Siena Heights University in Adrian, organized the annual “speed date a Sister” event. During lunch on March 13, students, faculty, and staff members of Siena Heights spent time with a few of the dozen Adrian Dominican Sisters who came to the University. The event gives members of the Siena Heights community the opportunity to learn more about the lives of the Sisters.
Sisters throughout the United States also reached out to their communities during the week. National Catholic Sisters Week came early to Plantation, Florida, where, on February 27, Sister Joan Leo Kehn, OP, and St. Gregory the Great School hosted 900 sixth-grade students from Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Miami. The day of retreat introduced the students to possible Church vocations, including religious life and the priesthood.
Women and men religious of the Diocese of Palm Beach, Florida, gathered on March 4 for an afternoon reflection by Father John D’Mello on Pope Francis’ January 2017 message, Nonviolence: A Style of Politics for Peace.
Aquinas Literacy Center in Chicago – one of seven literacy centers sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters – hosted a special “Dine and Discuss” evening on March 14. The evening included dinner, followed by a presentation on “The History and Impact of the Adrian Dominican Sisters in the McKinley Park Community.” Sisters Claudia Hinds, OP, and Rosemary Brennan, OP, opened Aquinas Literacy Center in the basement of the convent at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in 1996. Adrian Dominican Sisters still serve on the Board and as tutors.
Adrian Dominican Sisters also hosted special NCSW events for their parishes and other communities. Sister Carol Johannes, OP, for example, facilitated a reflection on the great Dominican mystic, St. Catherine of Siena, for a women’s spirituality group at St. Mary’s Student Parish in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
The Adrian Dominican Sisters offer numerous ways for people of good will to partner with them: as vowed Sisters; non-vowed Associates; as Co-workers at the Motherhouse and sponsored institutions; as donors; and through retreats and spiritual programs offered at Weber Retreat & Conference Center.
October 19, 2017, Adrian, Michigan – For the past year, an experimental program at the Adrian Dominican Sisters Motherhouse Campus coordinated fundraising efforts for three local organizations, while calling forth the creativity and generosity of Co-workers and Sisters on campus.
The newly formed ADSGives Committee led the campus in raising $2,242.34 for The Salvation Army in Adrian; $3,232 for Catherine Cobb, a domestic violence shelter for women and children; and $4,179.42 for Habitat for Humanity of Lenawee County.
ADSGives is an adaptation of the campus’ longtime involvement in fundraising efforts for the local United Way. The total raised was comparable to previous United Way campaigns.
At the recommendation of the ADSGives Committee, the General Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters approved the continuation of ADSGives and two changes for the coming year: Co-workers will be able to donate to ADSGives through payroll deduction, and the committee will concentrate fundraising efforts on two organizations. The recipients have not yet been selected, but Co-workers and Sisters will be part of the decision-making process by recommending local nonprofit agencies to support.
For the remainder of 2017, the committee has taken on two special projects: a Thanksgiving canned food drive for Associated Charities of Lenawee County and the traditional collection of hats, mittens, and scarves for children in Adrian.
Erin Dress, Director of Human Resources and Committee Co-chair with Gina Ku, Mailroom Office Assistant, said Co-workers are interested in ways they can be partners in Mission with the Sisters. “Because the Committee tied the fundraising efforts for local organizations to the Enactments of General Chapter 2016, they offered concrete ways for the Co-workers to see how their lives could make a difference,” Erin said. “We have made a direct connection between the treasures and talents of the Co-workers and the needs of the people of Lenawee County.”
Along with generosity, the fundraising efforts called on the creativity and sense of community of the Co-workers and Sisters on campus. Events included the ever-popular Jeans Day in which Co-workers purchased the privilege to wear jeans to work on Fridays, raffle drawings, a lemonade and cookie sale, and a socks and underwear drive for people living at Catherine Cobb.
A recent effort for Habitat for Humanity perhaps best exemplifies the spirit of ADSGives. In late August and early September, the Committee invited Sisters and Co-workers on the Motherhouse and Siena Heights University campuses to buy a rose that would be delivered to someone on either campus. With the help of a local business sponsor and at-cost purchasing from the florist, the $3 donation for each delivery went directly to Habitat for Humanity. The 650 roses purchased – far exceeding the committee’s goal of 300 – brought great joy to the recipients and benefited clients of Habitat for Humanity. Every Sister and many Co-workers on campus ended up receiving a rose that day.
“The energy on campus that day was reflective of the Dominican charism and the Dominican spirit of the Co-workers,” Erin said. “I’m constantly in awe of the generosity on campus, not only of the Sisters but of the Co-workers.”
In addition, Co-workers and Sisters have responded to fundraising drives and collections that have met immediate needs. Most recently, they donated $2,030 and 13 gift cards to a health camp for local migrant workers. In addition, for more than 25 years, Co-workers and Sisters have donated hats, mittens, and scarves around Christmas to help children from low-income families stay warm during the winter.
Co-workers at the Motherhouse have also gotten into the habit of saving and bringing in small items that can be used to benefit others. For example, they have brought in plastic lids of all sizes, which are melted down to create benches for school playgrounds. They have collected plastic grocery bags, which are used to create mats for people who are homeless.
The various charitable outreach programs have helped to foster a spirit of giving and of empathy among Co-workers, Gina said. “Some of the Co-workers might have been in those shoes before: of not knowing where that next meal will come from or that next $50 to put into the gas tank.” Even for Co-workers who have not been in that situation, the plight of the people they are serving “hits home,” Gina said.
Gina said she receives a special benefit from serving on the committee. “I’m in the action,” she said. “I’m able to give suggestions and help with activities, giving back to the community. You can’t necessarily do that on a daily basis with your work life and your family life, but being on the committee, I can do something – whether donating or choosing which organizations we give to.”
Feature photo: Members of the ADSGives committee present a donation to Habitat for Humanity of Lenawee County. Also pictured are representatives from Flowers & Such and RE/MAX Main Street Realty who assisted in the rose sale.