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New Chiller System at Motherhouse Helps Adrian Dominican Sisters Become More Sustainable

February 22, 2018, Adrian, Michigan – This summer, when Adrian Dominican Sisters and Co-workers enjoy their cool rooms and offices, they might be further comforted in knowing that the air-cooling system is also helping the environment – and taking the Congregation a step further in its sustainability plan.

By April, a new, more energy-efficient chiller system is expected to be completely operational. The system will cool the buildings through water cooled by ice manufactured by the chiller during times of less demand. Manufacturing the ice during the off-peak period realizes a significant savings over making ice during the daytime hours, when the costs per kilowatt hour are significantly higher.

Sister Corinne Sanders, OP, Adrian Dominican Sisters Director of Sustainability, and Joel Henricks, Director of the Motherhouse Facility and Grounds Department, took time recently to explain the former heating and cooling system and the new system.

“The bottom line is, we’re replacing two old chillers with one new chiller that creates ice during the night to save large electrical costs during the day,” Joel said. The chiller acts as a thermal storage system, which, like a battery, creates and stores the energy – in this case, cool air – during the off-peak time of the day to be used during the hottest periods of the day, when the electricity would cost more. Read a detailed explanation of energy storage.

The former system involved three chillers – one large, air-cooled chiller that ran constantly to serve the needs of the Maria and Weber Center buildings, and two water-cooled chillers, which worked only in the warmer months to serve the Regina residence building and the Madden Hall, which houses administrative offices. In the colder months, the Regina and Madden buildings were heated with a boiler.

Heating and cooling for Regina and Madden were handled by two pipes, one to push the heated or cooled water to the buildings and one to return the water back to the chiller or boiler. This caused some problems when the weather changed, Joel explained, because of the complexity of changing from the boiler to the chiller – and because of the natural time it takes for water to cool down or heat up.

Joel said the water-cooled chillers were 27 years old, at the point of having to be rebuilt or replaced. This gave the Motherhouse the opportunity to opt for a more environmentally friendly and efficient system, Joel said. The old water-cooled chillers made use of the R22 refrigerant, which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined depletes the ozone, adding to global climate change. “The new units are made with a more environmentally friendly refrigerant – 134A,” he added.

Work on the chiller project began in December and is expected to be complete in April, Joel said. The work was contracted through Adrian Mechanical, which has worked with subcontractors such as Krieghoff-Lenawee.

This summer, while the boiler is offline, it will be made more sustainable through a stack economizer, Joel said. Currently, he explained, the boilers blow off 350-degree air as an exhaust. “A big heat load is wasted and blown off into the atmosphere,” he explained. “The new system puts another heat exchanger in the exhaust stack to pull the exhaust heat out and use it to heat water.” Currently, water is heated through use of steamers. The new system will be more efficient and will reduce the use of fossil fuel, Joel said.

The work on the chillers is one of the projects recommended in a 2017 meeting on ways to make the Adrian Dominican Sisters Motherhouse Campus more sustainable. The meeting was in response to one of the Adrian Dominican Congregation’s 2016 General Chapter Enactments, to “sacrifice to mitigate significantly our impact on climate change and ecological degradation.”  


New General Council Takes Office For Adrian Dominican Sisters

July 7, 2016, Adrian, Michigan – The new Prioress and General Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters formally took office on July 2, 2016 during a special Liturgy, the Celebration of Leadership. The Congregation’s new leadership team is composed of Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress of the Congregation; Sister Frances Nadolny, OP, Administrator and General Councilor; Sister Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP, Vicaress and General Councilor; and Sister Patricia Harvat, OP, and Sister Elise D. García, OP, General Councilors. Elected during the Congregation’s General Chapter in February 2016, they will hold office through June 2022.

Members of the 2016-2022 General Council are, from left: Sisters Frances Nadolny, Patricia Harvat, Patricia Siemen, Mary Margaret Pachucki, and Elise D. García.

Sister Attracta Kelly, OP, the outgoing Prioress of the Congregation, welcomed an assembly of Adrian Dominican Sisters, Associates, and Co-workers, as well as special guests of the new General Council members and representatives of sponsored institutions and other Congregations of women religious.

Sister Attracta took the opportunity to explain the model of leadership practiced by the Adrian Dominican Sisters and many congregations of women religious in the United States. Unlike leadership in secular organizations, she explained, leadership in the Adrian Dominican Congregation “is not a climbing the ladder” of success. Rather, she said, it is a call by the Sisters of the community for a limited time – one six-year term, non-renewable. “We expect our leaders to have the capacity to call the Congregation to be who we say we are, to have great trust in the power of the Spirit and of the power when all of us, each one of us as an individual, knows that our contribution is vital to the whole.”

On behalf of the Congregation, Sister Attracta thanked the “five generous-hearted Sisters” for their willingness to serve, and promised the “unending love and prayer” of the Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates.
 
The new General Council succeeds the 2010-2016 General Council. Along with Sister Attracta, they are Sister Corinne Sanders, OP, Administrator and General Councilor; Sister Tarianne DeYonker, OP, Vicaress and General Councilor; and Sister Kathleen Schanz, OP, and Sister Rosemary Abramovich, OP, General Councilors.

Members of the 2016-2022 General Council accept the affirmation of the assembly. Shown from left are Sisters Elise García, Patricia Harvat, Frances Nadolny, Mary Margaret Pachucki, and Patricia Siemen.

In the brief ritual, each member of the 2016-2022 Council in turn formally stated her willingness to accept the responsibility to serve as a General Councilor: to “carry forward the decisions and directives of General Chapter 2016 and to care for the ordinary governance of the Congregation.”

As Prioress, Sister Patricia Siemen holds the highest ordinary authority in the Adrian Dominican Congregation. She will be responsible for promoting the unity of the Congregation, as well as representing the Adrian Dominican Sisters in Church and civic affairs and chairing the General Council.

In her reflection on the Scriptural readings, Sister Patricia described the Beatitudes as Jesus’ “foundational teachings. It was a counter-cultural message then and indeed it remains so today.” But, she noted, the 2016 General Chapter Enactments – the documents that the 2016 General Chapter delegates approved in February – “mirror, in contemporary form, the work of the Beatitudes”: reaching out to those who suffer spiritual and material hunger; studying the reality of poverty and racism and their effects on people’s lives; working to “intensify our ecological sustainability practices and reduce our carbon footprint”; and “participating in creating resilient communities with people who are relegated to the margins of society.”

Sister Patricia is not new to Congregation leadership. She served as Chapter Prioress (“Major Superior”) of the Sisters in the Congregation’s Mid-Atlantic Mission Chapter from 1988 to 1992, when she was elected to serve as Vicaress/General Councilor until 1998.

Sister Patricia Siemen prepares to proclaim the Gospel.

An attorney, Sister Patricia founded and directed the Center for Earth Jurisprudence at Barry University’s School of Law to help develop a philosophy and practice of law that respects and protects the natural world in its own right. She has also served at Barry University, Miami Shores, as an adjunct faculty member and, since 2010, as a team member of Barry’s Office of Mission Engagement. From 2001 to 2004, she directed the Earth Ethics Institute at Miami Dade College, and, as a staff attorney with Florida Rural Legal Services, worked with immigrant farmworkers in Florida.   

Sister Mary Margaret brings a wealth of education and leadership experience to her new position. After teaching for years at Catholic elementary schools in Ohio, California, Arizona, and Michigan, she served as principal of two schools in the Diocese of Lansing: St. Patrick School, Brighton, from 1978 to 1986, and St. Joseph Academy in Adrian from 1986 to 1993.

Sister Mary Margaret then taught at St. Anne’s High School in Modimong, South Africa, from 1993 to 1996. She served as the School and Curriculum Consultant for the Diocese of Toledo until 2001, when she returned to Africa to serve as National Coordinator for Literacy and Numeracy for the Catholic Institute of education. She has served since 2008 as President of Regina Dominican High School in Wilmette, an all-girls college-preparation school sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters. In her position as Vicaress, Sister Mary Margaret would take on the responsibilities of the Prioress should Sister Patricia Siemen become incapacitated or vacate the office.

Sister Frances’s earliest experiences of leadership included serving as principal of St. Thaddeus School in Chicago for five years. She also served the Archdiocese of Detroit as Director of the Department of Education, Associate Superintendent of Schools, and Superintendent of Schools. For the past two years, she has served as the Director of the Congregation’s Ministry Trust Office, which provides grants to organizations in which Adrian Dominicans minister, lead as Board members, or volunteer. In addition, Sister Frances was elected Chapter Prioress (Provincial) of the Congregation’s Great Lakes Dominican Mission Chapter, based in Detroit.

Sister Patricia Harvat has spent much of her ministerial life serving overseas: from 1973 to 1981 serving in Head Start and in pastoral work in Puerto Rico and directing the Congregation’s Lay Ministry Program in the Dominican Republic from 1982 to 1989. She then returned to the United States to teach theology at Gabriel Richard High School in Riverview, Michigan, until 1993. She has also served as Director of Formation for the Adrian Dominican Congregation and as Director of Lay Ministry Formation for the Hispanic Ministry Office of the Diocese of Cleveland. Since 2008, she has served at St. Mary’s Dominican High School in New Orleans, sponsored by the Dominican Sisters of Peace.

In 2011, Sister Elise began her ministry to the Adrian Dominican Sisters as Director of Communications and Technology, overseeing many of the Congregation’s technology upgrades. After three years, Communications and Technology were separated into two departments and Sister Elise focused on Communications.

Before coming to Michigan, Sister Elise and Adrian Dominican Sister Carol Coston founded and directed Santuario Sisterfarm, an ecology center based in Boerne, Texas, and dedicated to cultivating biodiversity and cultural diversity. The organization also established Sor Juana Press, which published such titles as the Dominican Women on Earth series and Drawn by Love, the history of the Dominican Congregation of St. Catherine of Siena of Mosul, Iraq. Sister Elise was founding editor of Sor Juana Press.

Sister Elise has served as Director of Communications and Development for St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio, Texas; Vice President for Membership and Media Communications for Common Cause in Washington, DC; and as consultant to numerous national and regional non-profit organizations.

Watch the video of the Celebration of Leadership below, and read a related article in the Daily Telegram.

 

   

Left: Participating in the Celebration of Leadership, beginning at the ambo and moving clockwise, are: Sisters Attracta Kelly, Tarianne DeYonker, Corinne Sanders, Rosemary Abramovich, Kathleen Schanz, Elise D. García, Patricia Harvat, Frances Nadolny, Mary Margaret Pachucki, and Patricia Siemen. Right: Sister Patricia Siemen blesses the Sisters on the balcony during the Sprinkling Rite.

Feature photo: Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, new Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Congregation, with Sister Attract Kelly, OP, former Prioress, during the Celebration of Leadership Liturgy. Photo by Lad Strayer 

 

 


 

 

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