April 25, 2018, Adrian, Michigan – Five people became Associates of the Adrian Dominican Sisters during two Rituals of Association held in recent weeks. Associates are women and men – single or married – who are at least 18 years old and who make a non-vowed commitment to share in the Mission and Vision of the Adrian Dominican Congregation.
The Ritual of Acceptance traditionally involves music, the presentation of the new Associates and their statements on why they want to be known as Adrian Dominican Associates, the signing of the agreement of association, and the presentation of the Associate Logo.
The Ritual of Acceptance in the Dominican Republic took place March 11 at the Convento Santa Catalina, the Congregation’s new formation house. Presiders at the ceremony included Sister Rosa Monique Peña, OP, who ministers in vocation work in the Dominican Republic; Sister Carol Gross, OP, mentor of Rosario Guerra and Mayra Méndez; Mary Morros, Associate and sponsor of Luchy Mejía; and Fabiola Reyes, Associate and member of the Associate Life Advisory Board.
The Ritual of Acceptance in Miami took place at the Cor Jesu Chapel of Barry University during the 11:00 a.m. Mass on April 8. Mentors for the two new Associates were Sisters Mary Fran Fleischaker, OP, Myra Jackson, OP, Evelyn Piche, OP, and Mary Tindel, OP.
Following are profiles of the new Associates.
Rosario Guerra came to know Adrian Dominicans at Colegio Santo Domingo, where she earned a certificate as an executive secretary. She has worked El Salvador and the United States and says she feels that she has been a Dominican since her early school days.
A hospital volunteer, Rosario serves women who come for mammograms, especially the first-timers who are often afraid and nervous. She also organizes retreats and serves in other ministries at the university Parish of the Anunciación.
After the death of her husband, Rosario raised their two daughters and one son. She enjoys visiting them and her grandchildren in the United States and in Chile.
Lizbeth James earned a Master’s of Social Work at Barry University and is now the Coordinator of Service Learning in the Center for Community Services Initiatives at Barry. She hopes to “further develop a life of reflection and action, rooted in the Gospel and in accord with the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Mission, Vision, and the Enactments.”
“I have worked at Barry University for over 13 years and have always felt grateful for working at a place that fits well with my values,” she said. “The Dominican charism has called to me particularly in this past year, as I have explored the intersection of faith and justice.”
Luz Altagracia Mejía Medrano, known as Luchy, was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She was taught by Adrian Dominicans in Colegio Santo Domingo from fifth grade through her training to become a bilingual secretary.
After working as a secretary for 22 years in the Agriculture Department, Luchy retired and then became pharmacy manager at the Dr. Heriberto Pieter Institute of Oncology. With another generous volunteer she co-founded the Dominican Association of Healthcare Volunteers in 1973 during her short time working at the pharmacy. She later served in the cancer institute for 26 years.
Luchy believes she still carries the foundation of the Adrian Dominican charism. As an Associate, she wants to continue to offer her dedication and service to all who are in need.
Mayra Méndez, a mother and a grandmother, came to know Adrian Dominicans about two years ago. She attended the inauguration of the new Dominican convent in Santo Domingo and answered a general invitation to become an Associate. In addition to her Associate formations studies, she takes theology classes taught by Sister Rosa Monique Peña, OP.
Born in San Juan de la Maguana, Mayra has spent most of her life in Santo Domingo. She is a parishioner at Santísima Trinidad, a lawyer, and lover of literature – particularly poetry. She volunteers with the Servants of Mary, visiting the sick, especially in poor areas. For several years, she has cared for an elderly couple, but also has a special interest in poor children.
John Musulin, a native of Bristol, Connecticut, is the Media Center Manager at Barry University, where his ministry is to provide a “transformative, Catholic educational experience.” He is also the advisor for to the student newspaper, The Buccaneer, and to the Film and TV Club. He is joining Associate Life for fellowship, knowledge, and spiritual enrichment.
“The Adrian Dominican Sisters, with their long history of service to humanity, are an inspiration to me,” he said. “I believe whole-heartedly in the Dominican charism and I aspire to live my life in support of the Adrian Dominican Vision: to seek truth, make peace, and reverence life.”
Those interested in becoming an Adrian Dominican Associate should contact Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life, at 517-266-3531 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Single Catholic women interested in life as a vowed Adrian Dominican Sister should contact Sister Sara Fairbanks, OP, at 517-266-3537, 866-774-0005 or email@example.com.
August 10, 2017, Adrian, Michigan – Nearly 80 Adrian Dominican Associates and Sisters gathered August 4-6 at Weber Center in Adrian to get to know one another better and to reflect on the General Chapter Enactment on diversity. They were participating in Partners V, the annual gathering of Associates.
The Enactment on Diversity reads: “Rooted in the joy of the Gospel, we will embrace and nurture our rich diversity, commit ourselves to deepening our relationships with one another, invite others to vowed and Associate life, and expand collaboration for the sake of the Mission.”
Activities throughout the weekend event not only reflected the group’s own diversity, but challenged the Associates to think about how they can promote the Enactment in their own communities.
During the opening prayer service August 4 participants mingled water they brought from their homes or nearby waterways and poured it into a common bowl. The water represented not only the geographic diversity of the group – people came from 11 states and the Dominican Republic – but also the diversity ministries, family situations, and interests.
Sister Rosa Monique Peña, OP, who ministers in the Dominican Republic, delivered the keynote address. She set the context of her talk by describing the multicultural nature of the Catholic Church, specifically in the United States. She noted a recent study showing that 38 percent of the U.S. Catholic Church is made up of Hispanic or Latino Catholics and that 54 percent is made up of non-Hispanic whites. Other ethnic groups include Asian and native Hawaiin, 5 percent; Non-Hispanic Black, 3 percent; and Native American, 1 percent. People in multi-cultural parishes, she said, need to learn how to work with and embrace parishioners from other cultures.
Drawing on the work of Craig Storti, author of The Art of Crossing Cultures, Sister Rosa Monique described roadblocks facing people when they are adjusting to a new country or a new culture: language, climate, food, illness, and homesickness. But she focused her talk primarily on psychological roadblocks to cross-cultural adjustment.
Unreasonable expectations are “at the heart of the problem of cross-cultural adjustments,” Sister Rosa Monique said. “We expect everyone else to behave as we do and we assume we behave like everyone else. We assume that under normal circumstances, we all think about and perceive the world in basically the same way.”
However, she said, not everybody shares these specific expectations – and encountering unexpected behaviors from people in a foreign country can make it difficult to know how to respond, leading the newcomer to withdraw from the culture and people.
Sister Rosa Monique suggested instead of having an expectation of conformity to see the experience as a chance to learn about a different culture – beginning with the moment when we react with anger or agitation to an unexpected behavior. “The trick is to make ourselves aware of these feelings and identify them immediately,” she said. “We are then in a position to observe what is going on around us. This will form the basis of what we expect the next time we encounter the situation.” She added that this awareness presents an option: we can withdraw or reflect on the situation and change our expectations.
After her talk, participants gathered in small groups and were given a Scripture passage or article to read and questions on how to respond to diverse populations in those situations. The entire group met later in the afternoon to share the fruits of their discussions.
In addition to the talks and activities presented on diversity, Partners V also included a Ritual of Acceptance for six new Associates (see related article); opportunities for Associates and Sisters to come to know one another informally through meals and socials; and a closing prayer service on August 6. During the closing prayer, participants were given samples of the water that had been combined at the beginning of the weekend, symbolizing their unity.
Associates are women and men – single, married, divorced, or widowed – at least 18 years of age, who make a non-vowed commitment to the Adrian Dominican Congregation. While living independent lives, they share in the Mission and Vision of the Sisters and are welcome to participate in many of the Congregation’s events.
For information on becoming an Associate, contact Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life, at 517-266-3531 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feature photo (above): Some Partners V participants present findings of their discussion in a unique and exuberant way.
Top: Deb Carter, Associate, pours a sample of her local water into the common bowl during the opening prayer service. Right: Tibisay Ellis, an Associate, introduces herself to other Partners V participants during the opening session. Left: Sister Rosa Monique Peña, OP, delivers the keynote address on diversity.