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Sister Lorene Heck, OP, Attends Convocation of Catholic Leaders

July 20, 2017, Orlando, Florida – Sister Lorene Heck, OP, Chapter Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Dominican West Chapter, was one of 4,500 Catholic leaders invited to attend the July 1-4, 2017, Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America. Sister Lorene represented Region XV of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

The U.S. Bishops convened the convocation in response to Pope Francis’ call in his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) “to embark on a new chapter of evangelization marked by the joy of the Gospel” and to form others as missionary disciples of Jesus Christ. The bishops invited key leaders from dioceses, apostolates, movements, and Catholic organizations such as the LCWR. 

“I was grateful for the opportunity to attend,” Sister Lorene said. “I became more aware of the numerous Catholic organizations and movements and gained an increased awareness of the wide range of viewpoints within the Church in the United States.”

Sister Lorene said key objectives of the convocation were to equip and re-energize leaders to share the Gospel as missionary disciples and to provide leaders with key insights from their participation in a strategic conversation about the U.S. Catholic Church’s current challenges and opportunities. The pope is calling Catholics to go beyond “mere administration” to a missionary conversation, she said.

The convocation considered four key questions:

  1. What is the nature of this current historical moment in the Church and in our nation?
  2. How do we respond to this moment as missionary disciples?
  3. Where are we called to go and to whom are we being sent?
  4. What will we do when we get there? How will we engage the mission?

The convocation helped participants to answer those questions during plenary sessions around the themes of unity, landscape and renewal, work and witness, and a Spirit of Mission. Some 22 breakout sessions helped participants to go deeper into exploring these themes, and panel discussions provided the opportunity for delegates to set the context and guide the conversation. Sister Lorene attended a gathering of LCWR delegates, as well as breakout sessions on International Solidarity, Living in the Margins in our Country and our World, and Missionary Disciples in Solidarity with the Suffering Church.

Sister Lorene said she was especially excited to note that the vast majority of delegates were lay leaders in the Church, “dedicated, committed disciples.” She believes the greatest challenge for the delegates is “to embark upon a new chapter of evangelization marked by the joy of the Gospel – to become ever more, and to form others as missionary disciples of Jesus Christ.”

Submitted by Sister Lorene Heck, OP

$35 million gift to help Mercy Housing Northwest build new housing and services facility

May 1, 2017, Seattle, Washington – Mercy Housing Northwest received a gift of $30 million from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and another $5 million from the City of Seattle to “develop, own, and operate” a supportive housing and services facility for families experiencing homelessness in Seattle, according to a press release from the City of Seattle, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, and Mercy Housing Northwest. 

“Yesterday we received an anniversary gift beyond our biggest dreams,” Sister Judy Byron, OP, wrote in an April 27 email to Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates. Sister Judy serves on the Board of Directors of Mercy Housing Northwest. “The [Paul G. Allen Family] Foundation came to us and invited us into this partnership.”

The purpose of the project is to create permanent, stable homes for families experiencing homelessness and, through a number of onsite services, help them to break the cycle of homelessness. Some 1,684 families in King County, Washington, are homeless. 

Sister Judy and Sister Lorene Heck, OP, have been involved in Mercy Housing Northwest from its beginning 25 years ago. They were Edmonds Dominican Sisters and the organization was founded as Intercommunity Housing. The Edmonds Dominican Sisters and the Adrian Dominican Sisters merged in 2003.

“Each year, more than 5,000 children and adults, including single-parent families, multigenerational households, elders, immigrants, and refugees in Washington State are at home in one of our properties,” Sister Judy said. “And, because a home is just the beginning, we provide on-site services such as health and wellness classes, life skills training, and after-school programs that help residents live up to their potential and move out of poverty.” 

Sister Judy expressed deep gratitude to Paul Allen and to the religious communities of the Northwest – the Tacoma Dominicans, the Edmonds (now Adrian) Dominicans, the Sisters of Providence, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, and the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary – for their long-time commitment to the housing ministry.

To learn more about the project, read this article by Vernal Coleman of the Seattle Times.



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