By Sister Mary Soher, OP
July 21, 2016, Adrian, Michigan – “The Dominican story is only kept alive by live Dominicans.” These words by Dominican scholar Edward Schillebeeckx, OP, could be heard echoing from Adrian, Michigan, the gathering site of the 18th Annual Dominican High Schools Preaching Conference. Students from 23 high schools – including two from Australia – gathered at Siena Heights University June 24-29, 2016, to discover and deepen the preacher within.
Using the 800th Jubilee Celebration of the Order as a theme, conference attendees met Saints Dominic, Catherine of Siena (Sister Nancy Murray, OP), Martin de Porres, and Rose de Lima (Sister Xiomara Méndez-Hernández, OP); learned about the interfaith mission of the Order; and connected with Dominican family members, including Associates, Laity, Volunteers, and Young Adults, in addition to the Sisters and the friars.
As proof of the intercultural nature of the gathering, a rosary procession was prayed in five languages – German, Spanish, Vietnamese, Polish, and Arabic – with a rosary shared by the nuns of Mary the Queen Monastery in Fatima.
Students learned about the signs of the times by studying such social justice issues as human trafficking, domestic violence, and becoming aware of the need for respect for elders and hearing an update on the United Nations’ Agenda 2030. The students also lived out what they heard through a special service day that led to encounters with children, seniors, people suffering from economic poverty, and those regaining their homes. They also had the opportunity to improve the local land through permaculture techniques.
During the conference, Dominican Sisters of Adrian prayed for specific students and met with them during a special ice cream social before the students hit the dance floor. Adrian Dominican Sisters also helped the students in their final day of the conference. Among the presenters teaching the students to pray through the arts were Sister Nancy Murray, OP, Moving in the Spirit; Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP, liturgical reaching; Sister Sue Schreiber, OP, water colors; Sister Maria Browne, OP, Morovian stars; Sister Aneesah McNamee, OP, origami peace cranes; and Sister Luchy Sori, OP, liturgical movements.
And what is Jubilee without a cake? The final night of the conference concluded with a banquet, complete with a cake fit for an 800-year celebration. “The Dominican tradition is something that should be celebrated,” one student commented. “To survive 800 years in a society where most things can’t even last 10 days is worth appreciating!”
The following morning, at the commissioning ceremony that took place during liturgy with the Adrian Dominican Sisters, the high school groups shared how they plan to continue to live the Dominican charism within their school communities in the coming academic year.
“Before this conference, I knew I was a preacher, but I didn’t know how to be a preacher,” said Emma Bonnet of Mount St. Dominic Academy, Caldwell, New Jersey.
“This conference was not only faith-furthering but also life-changing,” proclaimed Kate Gartrell, of St. Agnes Academy, Houston, Texas. “I now know in my heart what it means to be Dominican.”
Songiemar Garcia Curbelo, from Colegio San Antonio, Isabela, Puerto Rico, stated, “It’s a spiritual awakening, when you least expect it!”
The Dominican High Schools Preaching Conference is a program of the newly formed Dominican Youth Movement USA, the umbrella organization that connects today’s youth and young adults to the Dominican tradition of preaching and the participant’s own call to preach.
A big thank you to all the communities of Sisters and Friars who collaborated for another incredible week of sharing our charism with these young adults.
April 11, 2016, Adrian, Michigan – In a ritual that resonated with the joy of Easter and new life, Sister Marilín Llanes, OP, professed her first vows with the Adrian Dominican Sisters. The Liturgy – attended by Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates and Sister Marilín’s family members and friends – took place April 10 in St. Catherine Chapel at the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse.
Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP, Director of Formation, welcomed Sisters and special guests from Adrian and Detroit, and from as far away as Chicago, Minnesota, and the Dominican Republic, as well as family members who attended or who were to watch via live stream.
A member of the Adrian Dominican Congregation from 1988 to 1995, Sister Marilín entered the discernment process for Readmission on August 8, 2015, the Feast of St. Dominic. A native of the province of La Habana in Cuba and an only child, she immigrated to the United States at the age of six with her parents, Nancy and Ricardo Llanes.
Sister Marilín grew up in the Miami area and earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Barry University, sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters. She also holds a master’s degree in counseling from St. Mary’s University and a graduate degree in school psychology from Trinity University, both in San Antonio, Texas. After serving as a school psychologist in the Northside Independent School District in San Antonio, Texas, since 2004, she now brings that ministry to the Joliet, Illinois, School District.
After the readings, Sister Elise García, OP, offered a reflection on the call to follow Jesus – a call not only to Sister Marilín but to all who have “chosen to follow the way of Jesus through a vowed commitment to religious life.” Those in religious life are called to live a “communal way of the early disciples” and to live so that others may have the abundant life followed by Jesus. “It is a continuous self-emptying and dispossession,” she said. She held up as an example the Dominican Sisters of Iraq, who are “living that dispossession in ways that we can hardly imagine”: as refugees, living in a community of refugees in Northern Iraq and striving to spread the good news of the Resurrection in a worn-out community.
Sister Elise, communications director for the Adrian Dominican Congregation, noted the “ever-more radical and counter-cultural response” of religious life today in a world filled with violence, hatred, “economic hardship and environmental devastation.” Those who choose religious life today, she said, are “responding with a clear-eyed awareness” of the greater global challenges in the world and the smaller numbers in religious life.
Sister Elise noted that impact that Sister Marilín had had on her when they first met 25 years ago. “Marilín’s generous sharing of her vocation was one of the guiding lights that illuminated my path,” she said. “How wondrous that today, in the slow work of God from all eternity, our paths should come together again at this joyful moment!”
During the Rite of Profession, Sister Attracta formally questioned Sister Marilín on her willingness to “unite [herself] more closely to God by a bond of religious profession,” live a life of charity, and “center [her] ministerial activity in contemplation.” Sister Marilín then stated her intent to “enter into a deeper commitment with my loving God and my dear Adrian Dominican Sisters” and invited the Holy Spirit to “create in me a clear, open, strong, full, and joy-filled heart.”
After lying prostrate during the singing of the Litany of Dominican Saints, Sister Marilín professed her vow, promising obedience to God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Dominic, and Sister Attracta and her lawful successors, “according to the Rule of St. Augustine and the Constitution of the Sisters of St. Dominic of the Congregation of the Most Holy Rosary.” The Rite continued with the presentation of the Congregation logo to Sister Marilín and the signing of the profession documents by Sister Marilín, Sister Attracta, and Sister Marilín’s two witnesses: Sisters Mary Jane Lubinski, OP, and Rosa Monique Peṅa, OP.
“I am delighted to affirm your profession as a Dominican Sister of Adrian,” Sister Attracta said. “The profession by which you vow your future to God is a confirmation of the acceptance of a call received in faith. It strengthens your attachment to God as the first and most important in your life. Our entire Congregation is truly blessed to share faith and life with you.”
Sister Marilín Llanes, OP, First Vows