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Sisters Learn of Campus Sustainability Accomplishments

February 26, 2020, Adrian, Michigan – Even during this year’s mild winter in Michigan, work in the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ permaculture area and in other areas of sustainability continue to grow and blossom. Sisters and Associates heard about these efforts – and were encouraged to do their part – during the Winter Sustainability Update recently offered by Sister Corinne Sanders, OP, Director of the Sustainability Office; Jared Aslakson, Permaculture Specialist; and Joel Henricks, Director of Facilities and Grounds.

Sister Corinne set the tone by reminding the Sisters and Associates of the Congregation’s 2016 General Chapter Enactment on Sustainability, to “sacrifice to mitigate significantly our impact on climate change and ecological degradation.”

“We look at that [Enactment] through certain lenses, certain areas,” including energy, food, purchasing, transportation, waste, and land care, Sister Corinne explained. “We’re trying to continue to find ways to change our behavior for the positive.” She cited a Sister who spoke of the “million little things” that can be done to preserve the environment, such as using cloth rather than paper napkins. In that vein, Sister Corinne encouraged the Sisters and Associates to ask themselves, “What are the little things that matter, that we can do?” and to take those little actions.

Permaculture

The greenhouse at the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Motherhouse Campus will soon be renovated to include a heated seed bed.

Jared focused his presentation on answering a common question: What does he do during the winter? He pointed to the many projects taking place in the Congregation’s permaculture area, including: 

  • Renovating the greenhouse with the addition of heated seed beds to allow him to grow more plants from seed.
  • Constructing a second worm bin to house the worms that work to compost campus organic waste, eventually bringing the combined population of the Congregation’s vermiculture worms to a quarter of a million.
  • Learning about beekeeping under the mentorship of a local beekeeper.
  • Revamping of Permaculture’s social media presence through a new Instagram account with the help of Social Media Specialist Ashley LaVigne.

Looking ahead, Jared noted that Barry University and Siena Heights University students participating in the Environmental Leadership Experience in May will build a rain garden of native plants near the Weber Retreat and Conference Center parking lot to address an erosion problem. Also in the works, he said, are workable test kitchens to discover ways to prepare the novel fruits and vegetables grown in the permaculture area.

Energy Consumption

Ice storage tanks allow the Congregation to create ice during off-peak hours to cool buildings during the day.

Joel reviewed some of the ways that the Adrian Dominican Congregation is reducing its energy consumption on the Motherhouse Campus. 

Efforts have included replacing conventional lighting with LED lighting; upgrading the chiller so that ice is manufactured during the night – during off-peak usage hours – and sent by day through the pipes to cool campus buildings in the summer; and the use of a stack economizer to divert boiler exhaust and use it to heat water.

Joel also recommended a few ways that people can reduce their energy consumption: relying on natural lighting rather than electricity on sunny days and lowering the heat by one or two degrees during the winter. Cumulatively, he said, if many Sisters lower their thermostats, “you’re talking about a very significant impact” on reducing energy usage.  

Practices and Programs

Sister Corinne Sanders, OP, Director of the Sustainability Office, speaks on the campus recycling efforts.

Sister Corinne reiterated her focus on the “million little things” that can be done to reduce the damage to our environment. 

“We have to disengage ourselves from the use of plastic,” since few plastic items can be recycled locally, she said. She also encouraged the Sisters and Associates to speak to managers of the grocery stores where they shop, asking them to reduce their use of plastic packaging. 

Sister Corinne also spoke of two returning programs in May: the River Raisin Festival on Wednesday, May 6, 2020, to teach local elementary school students about the local environment, and the Environmental Leadership Experience for Barry University and Siena Heights University students, May 11-21, 2020.


Feature photo: Jared Aslakson, Permaculture Specialist, prunes one of the fruit trees in the permaculture site’s edible forest.


2019 Brings Challenges and Changes

December 31, 2019, Adrian, Michigan – The year 2019 has brought about numerous challenges and changes to the Adrian Dominican Congregation and to the world at large. As we take a break from the busy-ness of the year to celebrate Jesus’ birth among us and the beginning of another year, let us reflect on the top 10 events that the Adrian Dominican Sisters experienced in the past year.

From left: Adrian Dominican Sisters, Associates, Co-workers, and Partners in Mission gather in St. Catherine Chapel for the July 31-August 3, 2019, gathering. Sisters and Partners in Mission enjoy dancing during Pagyakap sa Hinaharap, the gathering in San Fernando, the Philippines, in October. 

1. Embracing the Future / Encuentro con el Futuro / Pagyakap sa Hinaharap

More than 600 Adrian Dominican Sisters, Associates, Co-workers, and Partners in Mission gathered at the Motherhouse in Adrian July 31-August 3, 2019, to celebrate the past and the present and to look forward to a common future. The gathering in Adrian featured keynote speakers on issues of religious life, the Asian culture, and collaboration, as well as numerous opportunities for participants to pray together and come to know one another. A similar gathering took place in the University of the Assumption in San Fernando, the Philippines, hosted by the Adrian Dominican Sisters of the Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter.



Members of the 2016-2022 General Council are: back row, from left, Sisters Frances Nadolny, OP, Administrator and General Councilor, and Elise D. García, General Councilor. Front row, from left, are Sisters Patricia Harvat, OP, General Councilor; Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress; and Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP, Vicaress and General Councilor.

2. General Council Statements

In response to current events, issues, and government actions, the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ General Council issued statements bringing to light many faith-based responses. The General Council, together with other Michigan Catholic Sisters, issued an Earth Day statement supporting legislation that would ensure safe drinking water in the state (April 22, 2019). The General Council also issued a statement against the cruel treatment of children at the Mexico-U.S. border (June 25, 2019), and against mass shootings, racial hatred, and White Nationalism (August 6, 2019), and opposed U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement (November 8, 2019).


Top right: Sister Leizel Tedria, OP, left, is examined by Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter Prioress, Sister Rosita Yaya, OP, during the Ritual of First Profession. Bottom right: Sister Marilín Llanes, OP, professes final vows to Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress. With them are witnesses Sister Xiomara Méndez-Hernández, OP, and Sister Patricia Harvat, OP, General Councilor.

3. Formation

Sister Leizel Tedria, OP, professed First Vows on February 23, 2019, to Sister Rosita Yaya, OP, Chapter Prioress of the Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter, during a Ritual of Profession at the Chancery of the Repository Chapel of Virgen de los Remedies at the Chancery of the Archdiocese of San Fernando, Pampanga, the Philippines. Sister Leizel holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Our Lady of Fatima University in Pampanga and ministers at the Dominican School of Angeles City Foundation. 

Sister Marilín Llanes, OP, professed Final (Perpetual) Vows August 4, 2019, during Mass in St. Catherine Chapel in Adrian. A native of Cuba, Sister Marilín earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Barry University, Miami, Florida, where she met the Adrian Dominican Sisters. She 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, and ministers as a school psychologist for the Joliet, Illinois, School District.



Nancy Tuchman, PhD, keynote speaker at Growing Resiliency, explains the Planetary Boundaries graphic that shows the tipping points of various areas of the environment.

4. Resilient Communities

The Adrian Dominican Congregation has acted on its 2016 General Chapter Enactment to work with others to build resilient communities. In September, the Congregation hosted a symposium, “Growing Resiliency,” on building sustainable, resilient communities. Sister Pam Millenbach, OP, who ministers at Catholic Charities of Jackson, Lenawee, and Hillsdale Counties, collaborated with her agency and other organizations took steps toward creating a trauma-informed resilient community in Lenawee County, Michigan. 



Prioress Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, second from right, and Sister Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP, right, attend a ritual of the transfer of sponsorship of Dignity Health-Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz, California, and St. Rose Dominican Hospitals in Henderson and Las Vegas, Nevada, from the Adrian Dominican Congregation to CommonSpirit Healthcare. 

5. Creation of CommonSpirit Health

The Adrian Dominican Sisters were involved in the merger of Dignity Health and Catholic Healthcare Initiatives to create CommonSpirit Health, which serves 21 states with 142 hospitals and 700 care sites. The Adrian Dominican Sisters founded and sponsored Dignity Health-Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz, California, and Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican Hospitals in Henderson and Las Vegas, Nevada. During a February 1, 2019, ritual, the Congregation transferred sponsorship of these two hospitals to CommonSpirit Health and became a “Participating Member” of the healthcare system. 



Jared Aslakson, Permaculture Specialist, right, watches as students in the 2019 Environmental Leadership Experience work in the permaculture area at the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse.

6. Sustainability Efforts

The Congregation lived out its 2016 General Chapter Enactment on sustainability in a number of ways. In May, the Congregation hosted the first-ever River Raisin Water Festival to teach sixth-grade students from schools in Lenawee County about environmental matters, such as the preservation of the local River Raisin and its tributaries. In addition, the Congregation continued its Environmental Leadership Experience, during which students from Siena Heights University and Barry University gather at the Motherhouse, work on the permaculture site, and deepen their knowledge of environmental sustainability. Improvements on the sustainability of the Motherhouse Campus were discussed during an update given to the Sisters and Associates in September.



Left: From left, Sisters Basilia De la Cruz, OP, Maria Eneida Santiago, OP, and Nery (Luchy) Sori, OP, at the 25th anniversary celebration of Espirítu Santo School. Right: Sister Peg Albert, OP, PhD, President of Siena Heights University, lights the traveling torch during the dedication of the Centennial Mall. With her, from left, are Sister Nancy Murray, OP, portraying St. Catherine of Siena; Mykayla Pinder, Student Government President; Sister Frances Nadolny, OP, General Councilor and Administrator; and Margaret Noe, Chair of the Board of Trustees. Photo Courtesy of Siena Heights University Marketing

7. Milestones

Organizations served by Adrian Dominican Sisters celebrated key milestone events in 2019. Two organizations in the Dominican Republic marked 25-year anniversaries. Sister Luisa Campos, OP, founded and continues to direct the Centro Antonio Montesino in Santo Domingo, the nation’s capital. Named after one of the earliest Dominicans in the New World who stood up for the rights of the indigenous people, the center forms local people in their knowledge of issues of justice, human rights, and civic education. Espirítu Santo, a school in the Jesuit system of schools, Fe y Alegría, has grown from a handful of students taught under a tree 25 years ago to a school of 1,500 students in preschool through 12th grade. 

Siena Heights University, founded in 1919 as St. Joseph College, began its Centennial Year in August with the dedication of its Centennial Mall. The 2019-2020 academic year includes 100 special events to mark the school’s 100 years. Siena Heights offers more than 50 majors with a liberal arts focus, eight campuses in Michigan, and an online program. 

 


The Barry University community applauds as Dr. Michael Allen, PhD, is inaugurated as the university’s seventh president. Photo Courtesy of Barry University Office of Communications

8. Barry University Welcomes New President

The Barry University community in Miami Shores, Florida, inaugurated its seventh President, Michael Allen, PhD, during its annual Founders Week in November. The first non-Adrian Dominican Sister and the first lay person to serve as President of Barry University, Dr. Allen served as administrator at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He succeeds Sister Linda Bevilacqua, OP.



From left: Sister Elise García, OP, Father Gerard Francisco Parco Timoner III, OP, and Sister Durstyne Farnan, OP

9. Religious and Dominican Life

During its August 2019 Assembly in Scottsdale, Arizona, members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious elected Adrian Dominican Sister Elise D. García, OP, General Councilor, as President-Elect. In the coming year, Sister Elise will serve as President of LCWR, which is comprised of the elected leaders of women religious congregations, representing 80 percent of 49,000 women religious in the United States. 

During its July 7-August 4 General Chapter in Vietnam, the Dominican Friars elected Father Gerard Francisco Parco Timoner III, OP, the first Asian and the first Filipino Master of the Dominican Order. Before his election, Father Gerard had served as Socius of the Master for Asia-Pacific and as Prior Provincial of the Philippines. Adrian Dominican Sisters from the Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter, based in the Philippines, expressed their joy and optimism at his election. 

The Dominican Sisters Conference (DSC) appointed Adrian Dominican Sister Durstyne Farnan, OP, as the Dominican Representative at the United Nations. Her ministry entails connecting the Dominican family to the United Nations and attending sessions of UN working groups, particularly the working groups on homelessness and women and girls. 



INAI Gallery at Weber Retreat and Conference Center features an exhibit of art by Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates. At right is a series of paintings by Sister Barbara Cervenka, OP.

10. Arts

Adrian Dominican Sisters have long preached through the arts, and in 2019 have been involved in the arts in numerous ways. In June and July, the Alfons Gallery in Milwaukee featured Sister Suzanne Schreiber’s photography exhibit, “Quiet Spaces,” and an exhibit of some of the 1,000 paintings of origami cranes created by Sister Barbara Cervenka, OP, to raise awareness and funds for the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Iraq, who had ministered for years to fellow refugees from the Nineveh Plains after the arrival of ISIS. 

The INAI Gallery, adjacent to Weber Center in Adrian, featured exhibits by Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates during the summer gathering, Embracing the Future / Encuentro con el Futuro / Pagyakap Sa Hinaharap. In addition, Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates have been active in the Dominican Institute for the Arts (DIA). Sister Aneesah McNamee, OP, serves as Secretary and Sister Joella Miller, OP, as Treasurer. Other Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates are active in the DIA, which is open to Dominicans in all areas of art, including visual arts, music, theater, design, poetry, dance, and art appreciation.


 

 

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