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I came into this world on November 20, 1934. … It was my brother Don’s birthday the next day on the twenty-first of November. My dad told him he had an early birthday present. He was a bit disappointed as he was hoping to get a toy fire engine but instead received this crying baby sister.
So begins the autobiography of Sister Lorraine Pepin, which she subtitled I Have Called You by Name … You Are Mine and ended several pages later with these words from the Magnificat: “My soul magnifies the Lord for he who is mighty has done great things for me.”
Sister Lorraine was born in Escanaba, Michigan, to John Baptist and Edna (Dubord) Pepin. She was the youngest of twelve children – nine boys and three girls – born into the family. “Although it was Depression time my parents must have thought it was cheaper by the dozen,” she wrote.
She grew up surrounded by aunts, uncles and cousins, in what she called a “welcoming and open” home. Her parents were the greatest influences of her life, and it was through their example of strong faith and prayer that she found God at a very young age. Her mother’s commitment to morning prayer and the deep spirituality of her father, and the way they all prayed the rosary together as a family – especially during the war years, she wrote, for four of the boys were in the service – all made a lasting impression upon her.
Read more about Sister Lorraine (pdf)
Memorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221.
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“When I entered religious life in 1938, it was, as it were, a transferring or a joining of one grand big family with another.”
Those words from Sister Dorothy Jeanne Burns’ life story sum up the way she went from one experience of community – as the youngest of fifteen children (nine boys and six girls) born to James and Josephine (Rano) Burns. Thirteen lived to adulthood; Daniel died at birth and Michael died of diphtheria at age three.
James Burns was born in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada, to an Irish-immigrant father who with his brother had fled their homeland at the time of the Great Famine. At a young age, James worked with his father on the Union Railroad, and as an adult he continued to do similar work, eventually ending up in Detroit working for the Department of Street Railways as supervisor of the laying and maintenance of the streetcar tracks in and around the city.
Josephine was a native of St. Clair, Michigan, and just as her future husband had worked in the same place as his father, when she was a teenager Josephine and her father worked together at the Diamond Crystal Salt Company located in St. Clair.
Read more about Sister Dorothy (pdf)
For two people who meet in the “big city” and fall in love to have both come from the same small town rather defies the odds. But that’s exactly what happened for Henry Kerich and Irene Dugas.
Henry and Irene were both born in Little Falls, Minnesota, population 5,774 at the time of the 1900 Census, when each would have been four years old. As adults, they met in Minneapolis, some one hundred miles to the southeast. Henry was a laundry worker at the Nicolett Hotel and Irene worked as a secretary.
Henry was the third oldest of twelve children born into a German immigrant family, and had to leave school after the fourth grade to help with family finances. Irene came from a French immigrant family that came first to Winnipeg, Canada, and then to Minnesota to work in the lumber camps. “This was Paul Bunyan country, and how I loved the stories my mother used to tell,” their youngest child and only daughter, the future Sister Irene Marie, wrote in her first St. Catherine letter.
The couple had been married for three years when Mary Louise was born on September 30, 1924. Two brothers followed over time: Douglas and then William. Bill was born when Mary Louise was ten, “old enough to help with the preparations,” she wrote, “and once I recovered from my major disappointment that he was not the sister I wanted so badly, I thoroughly enjoyed being his one and only baby-sitter. I am ashamed to admit all the fights I had with Doug as we were growing up, but never was there such a problem with Bill.”
Read more about Sister Irene Marie (pdf)
Now that she has gone before us, well marked with the sign of faith, she adds her value from heaven, cheering us as we refuse poverty and indignity, making sure God sees what we are doing and blesses us, and interceding for our work to rebuke evil and make poverty recede. Even recede by one half an inch.
These words are excerpted from an email sent to Adrian by Father Rick Frechette, CP, to be read at the wake service for Sister Philomena Perreault. Father Rick and Sister Philomena had spent many years working together in Haiti, right from the start of the Our Little Brothers and Sisters orphanage (Nos Petits Frères et Soeurs) which Father Frechette helped found in 1987.
Marie Therese Perreault was born on July 30, 1924, in Manchester, New Hampshire, the youngest of five children – the others being Lucien, Rita, Irene, and Leo, who was killed in World War II – born to Arthur and Marie (Arel) Perreault, French-Canadians who had immigrated to the United States. When she was two, her parents divorced, and she and her siblings were all sent to an orphanage. Her mother took her (and only her, out of all her children) back for good when Sister Philomena was ten years old.
Sister Philomena’s next stop was Eureka, California, after she completed her elementary education. She went to work at a medical clinic while attending high school and actually did not complete her schooling until years after the usual age for doing so. A retreat at the Vallombrosa Center in Menlo Park, California, in 1949 connected her with Sister Kevin Ryan of the Dominican Sisters of Everett, Washington (later to become the Edmonds Dominicans), and she ultimately decided she wished to become a religious.
Read more about Sister Philomena (pdf)
Our Adrian Dominican cemetery with its circular headstones is a beautiful place of rest for women who gave their lives in service to God — and a peaceful place for contemplation and remembrance.
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