August 31, 2018, Adrian, Michigan – When students begin the academic year at Dominican high schools, some will have much to say about the Dominican heritage. More than 100 students representing 19 schools left the 20th Annual Dominican High Schools Preaching Conference in Adrian with a greater understanding of the Order of Preachers – and with specific action plans for expanding their classmates’ awareness of the Dominican family and spirituality.
The 2018 conference was in late June at Siena Heights University in Adrian included many events and activities that made tangible the spirit of the Dominican order.
“The conference is a wonderful place to learn how you can involve yourselves and your schools more in the Dominican faith,” said Lucia Wileman, a student at Rosary High School in Aurora, Illinois.
Her classmate, Abby Homer, added, “I can’t wait to bring this knowledge back to my school.” Rosary High School is sponsored by the Springfield Dominican Sisters.
Sister Mary Soher, OP, an Adrian Dominican Sister and Director of the Conference called the event a wonderful success, thanks to the quality of the presenters, welcoming hospitality at the Siena Heights University and Adrian Dominican Motherhouse campuses.
Along with Adrian Dominican Sisters, sponsoring Dominican congregations and provinces were Dominican Sisters of Amityville, New York; Caldwell, New Jersey; Houston, Texas; Mission San Jose, California; Peace in Columbus, Ohio; Racine, Wisconsin; Sinsinawa, Wisconsin; Sparkill, New York; Springfield, Illinois; and the Friars from the Province of St. Albert the Great.
The young preachers first learned about some of the better-known Dominican saints from Patrick Spedale, campus minister at St. Pius X High School in Houston, Texas, who portrayed St. Dominic; Sister Nancy Murray, OP, Adrian, as St. Catherine of Siena, a 13th Century mystic, reformer, and Doctor of the Church; and Sister Marilín Llanes, OP, Adrian, as St. Antonio Montesinos, noted for speaking out on behalf of the indigenous people of Hispaniola who were exploited by the Spanish conquistadors. Brother Joseph Kilikevice, OP, of the St. Albert the Great Province, spoke on the interfaith mission of the Order.
Throughout the conference, students learned various ways to preach the Word of God, in addition to the more traditional preaching at the pulpit. “Dominican life isn’t just about words,” noted Madison Schomer, a student of Rosary High School. “Your actions are really the game changers.”
During the session on Preaching the Signs of the Times, the students learned about various social justice issues, including immigration, interconnectedness of life on Earth, women’s pay equity, and justice issues.
Representatives of various branches of the Dominican family were on hand to introduce the students to the diversity of Dominicans – Associates, Dominican Laity, Friars, Sisters, and Nuns.
Students also had the opportunity to spend time with Adrian Dominican Sisters and meet their Sister prayer partners during a social.
A part of one day of the conference was spent in preaching through action as participants served local charities.
Finally, Sister Barbara Schwarz, OP, Amityville, former President of the Dominican Institute for the Arts (DIA), gave a keynote address on Preaching through the Arts. Participants experienced preaching through specific arts during breakout sessions that included liturgical dance, preaching, and visual arts.
During the closing banquet, Sister Mary recalled the history of the Dominican High Schools Preaching Conference. Sister Gina Fleming, OP, Amityville, who started the National College Preaching in Action Conference in 2002 for Dominican colleges and universities, received the Sister Pat Brady Award for her involvement in spreading the Dominican charism to young people.
During the closing Commissioning Mass, Dominican high school students took their place as young Dominicans, preparing to deepen the Dominican heritage in their classmates back home through specific action plans.
“You opened your hearts and minds to the presentations and to each other,” Sister Mary told the young Dominican preachers. “You took seriously the invitation to contemplate and then act. You generously shared your gift of yourself to every person around you. … Each of you opened yourself to the grace of God. And that’s all that God asks.”
The fruits of the conference and of the young preachers’ learning will be seen in the coming school year, as the students enact their plans to deepen the Dominican heritage at their high schools.
Feature photo (top): Students from a Dominican high school present an action plan for bringing the Dominican spirit to the school this year.
Clockwise from left: Students practice their preaching skills during a Liturgical Preaching workshop presented by Sister Sara Fairbanks, OP. High school preachers participate in a rosary procession through Holy Rosary Chapel. Sister Aneesah McNamee, OP, demonstrates the art of folding paper cranes.
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.