May 5, 2017, Adrian, Michigan – Eleven Adrian Dominican Sisters may very well have a greater sense of empathy for their former elementary school students after participating in their own spelling bee April 26 at the Dominican Life Center.
The event was a joint effort of Sister Mary Margaret “Maggie” Mannard, OP; Nilda Rau, Director of Resident Services, and the Resident Services staff; and Sister Carleen Maly, OP, who conducted the bee.
“The purpose was to sponsor an event that was intellectually stimulating and a friendly competition – and fun for all involved,” Sister Maggie explained. “We were successful in all three areas.” She was inspired to suggest the event after visiting a man at a senior center and learning that they were participating in a spelling bee.
Winners of the spelling bee were Sister Ann Patrice Remkus, OP, first place; Sister Betty Jenkins, OP, second place; and Sister Jean Annette Rudolph, OP, third place. Also participating were Sisters Susan Kresse, OP, Anne Liam Lees, OP, Miriam Joseph Lekan, OP, Theresa McCall, OP, Mary Ellen Plummer, OP, Lisa Rieman, OP, Sarajane Seaver, OP, and Anne Bernadette Stein, OP.
“We used ordinary, everyday words, but with tricks to them,” explained Sister Maggie, who chose the words. Some words included nuclear, azalea, ecstasy, minestrone, abdomen, and jackal.
Sister Ann Patrice, the spelling champion, noted that the first reading for the Mass that day was particularly appropriate: “Clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another” (1 Peter 5:5b).
“The contestants lived this out,” Sister Maggie noted. “It’s difficult to miss a word in front of your peers, mostly all teachers.”
Sister Ann Patrice connected her success in the spelling bee with her experience as a teacher. “It was worth [all those years of] checking and grading English papers,” she said. In tests, she habitually gave her students two grades: one for content and one for spelling and grammar.
Sister Carleen was impressed by the quality and attitude of all of the participants, who took the spelling bee to seven rounds. “I had to hand it to the women,” she said. “They saw this as an intellectual exercise and they took it very seriously.”
But the event also included elements of fun and enthusiasm – including an encouraging and enthusiastic audience and a special treat from Resident Services: homemade cupcakes featuring edible letters.
Feature photo: Sister Ann Patrice Remkus, OP, left, was the spelling bee champion, and Sister Betty Jenkins, OP, came in second.
March 29, 2017, Nassau, Bahamas – Sisters Anne Liam Lees, OP, and Pat Erickson, OP, recently took part in a Mass of Thanksgiving marking the 60th anniversary of Aquinas College in Nassau, where they once taught. They were among 31 Adrian Dominican Sisters who taught at Aquinas over the years.
The Mass – which also marked the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas – was a highlight of the school’s celebration. The theme of the anniversary was “Ever the Flame of Faith.”
“It was a thrill,” Sister Anne Liam recalled. “I couldn’t help smiling, just to be there.”
Five Adrian Dominican Sisters arrived in Nassau in 1956 at the invitation of Bishop Paul Leonard Hagarty, OSB. In 1957, they opened Aquinas College, which started out as a teacher training program for lay teachers and Bahamian Sisters, the Benedictine Sisters of Blessed Martin Convent. The school operated under the principles of “goodness, discipline, and knowledge.”
Over the years, the school has changed its focus and now serves about 500 students – 95 percent of them Bahamians. The equivalent of a U.S. high school, Aquinas offers vocational and technical programs, along with academic, college-preparation programs. In recent years, along with the national Bahamian exams for the general education course or for college-preparation, Aquinas students can now take SAT and Advanced Placement exams.
Aquinas graduates have excelled in fields such as education, religion, banking, administration, sports, music, drama and business.
Sister Anne Liam – who arrived at Aquinas in 1959 and taught there for four years – recalled an earlier time at Aquinas, when students received the education they needed to work in the business world. Sister Jean Patricia McGowan, OP – one of the five Adrian Dominican Sisters to found Aquinas – approached a banker to ask why none of the Bahamians worked in the banks, and was told that they did not have the training.
“She asked if they would be hired if they received the training, and the banker said yes,” Sister Anne Liam recalled. “The school provided the training, and two women from Aquinas College were the first Bahamians to work in the banks.”
Sister Anne Liam also recalled a time when Aquinas College struggled financially and raised money through such means as raffles. “I was most impressed by the spirit which the school had, which they still have,” she said. “It’s the spirit of the school that’s outstanding, the spirit of the students and faculty.”
Reminiscing about the groundwork that the Adrian Dominican Sisters laid and the continuing excellence of the school, Sister Anne Liam said, “We planted the seed and they have the harvest. … We have every reason to be proud of our involvement with Aquinas College. Aquinas has developed into a resilient community.”
The Mass of Thanksgiving was a highlight of Aquinas College’s 60th anniversary celebration.