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By Sharon Bock, Associate
If you followed the Associate Life, Adrian Dominicans Group on Facebook this past summer, you may have seen the creative and moving posts that Tibi Ellis shared about her pilgrimage to the Lands of Dominic. She visited the Dominican convent in Fanjeaux, France; Jacobins, the Dominican monastery where the remains of St. Thomas Aquinas rest; and the house of Pierre Seilhan, where Dominic established the Order. In words, photos, and video clips, she brought all of us ever closer to our remarkable heritage as Dominicans.
Tibi’s own Dominican heritage originated with her mother, a Dominican Tertiary. From the time she was a small child in Venezuela, she was grounded in Dominican values and charism.
Tibi met the Adrian Dominicans when she lived in Las Vegas, and became an Adrian Dominican Associate about eight years ago. While in Nevada, she was in a mission group with vowed members. This experience deepened her understanding of the Congregation and the individual Sisters. Tibi later moved to Palm Beach, Florida, where, she said, “The first thing I did was look for a mission group.”
Now actively involved in that mission group, she is inspired by the “amazing women” who provide an example for her to follow. She also participates regularly in a “partners” group of Associates, in which they work together in specific ministries and charities.
The group recently launched Dominican Spirit and Sole, a chartered non-profit organization with a mission to provide shoes for impoverished children. They focus on aiding the Adrian Dominican Sisters working in a rural area of the Dominican Republic.
Tibi has also been involved in the formation house and chapel in the Dominican Republic. During her visits, she deepens her relationship with Sisters Rosa Monique Peña, OP, and Carol Ann Gross, OP.
A Eucharistic Minister at her parish in Singer Island, Florida, Tibi also is a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, which helps to support Christians in the Holy Land. She provides financial support to the Adrian Dominican Congregation and to seminarians living in Rome during their preparation for the priesthood.
Seeking truth, to her, means staying informed on the national economy, education, immigration and health care issues, and using her background in politics to maintain dialogue on these concerns.
Tibi said she most identifies with the Enactment on diversity, deepening relationships, and inviting others to vowed and Associate life. “Our nation and our world are more diverse than ever [so] our Congregation must be on the forefront of diversity and inclusion,” she said.
With all of her involvements, Tibi maintains a high level of activity with her family, friends, and community. Although she is semi-retired from her career as a health care executive, she operates her own business as a political strategist and advocate on health care and elder care issues. She also enjoys the opportunity to travel in ministry to Europe and the Holy Land and is a golf and music enthusiast.
[By Sharon Bock, Associate]
Consistency, steadiness, and a dose of daring might be a good way to describe Nancy Mason-Bordley. She is not only a native of Michigan, but has lived there her entire life. Her history with Dominicans almost parallels this stability. Except for her first five or six years before beginning school, Nancy has been in some way associated with Dominicans ever since. Her sense of daring has led her to take on challenges outside her comfort zone.
Her Dominican history begins with the Oxford Dominican Sisters who taught her while she was in grade school. This experience made a deep impression on her, for as a young woman, Nancy felt drawn to become an Associate of the Oxford Dominicans. These Sisters, who maintain a Motherhouse north of Pontiac, Michigan, are one of seven Dominican congregations which merged into the Dominican Sisters of Peace in 2009.
Nancy maintained her membership as an associate with the Oxford Dominicans for several years, then elected to take a break from active participation with them. During this hiatus, while ministering in religious education with Sister Janet Schaeffler, OP and Sister Mary Margaret (Maggie) Mannard, OP, Nancy also met Sister Mary Ann Dixon, OP. Sister Mary Ann asked Nancy if she was ready to come back to Associate life and mentored her through her preparation and acceptance as an Associate in 2000.
Although currently taking a break from active involvement in a Mission Group and Chapter Assemblies, Nancy had been very active in both her Mission Group and working with Associate programs for more than 15 years. She helped to create the first Partners retreat for Associates five years ago. She stays connected through friendships with the Adrian Dominican Sisters and through her spiritual direction from Sister Carol Johannes, OP. And, she notes, she is willing to step up and help when needed.
Nancy is a pastoral minister at St. John Fisher Chapel University Parish in Auburn Hills, Michigan, where she enjoys preaching and counseling parishioners. When her pastor asked what led her to engage in a preaching ministry, her response was immediate: “My ties with Dominicans!”
She earned her certification as a spiritual director at the Dominican Center for Religious Development in Detroit. She also served on the center’s staff, training and supervising intern spiritual directors and assisting with program planning and development.
As an adjunct professor at Siena Heights University, armed with her D.Min. degree, and using the wizardry of online technology, Nancy taught Ministry, Management and Leadership last fall. She also regularly teaches theology courses designed for those who plan to minister as religious educators and pastoral ministers.
Nancy is the founder and owner of Parish Services, LLC., which operates as a resource to the Archdiocese of Detroit, assisting parishes in contracting services for degreed and certified ministers, who are speakers, musicians or facilitators.
Nancy’s life ministry includes her boundless support of her large extended family. She lives with her husband and one cat and regularly reaches out to her many family members, including her 84-year-old mother and the families of her two brothers and two sisters.
Nancy most deeply resonates with the Chapter Enactment which reads, “We commit to deepen our spirituality and to engage with others in prayer and presence.” She has done a significant amount of exploration and study in emerging theology and spirituality, including works by Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ. She looks for opportunities to challenge herself, even spending time in Africa doing missionary work. It will be interesting to see where Nancy’s abundant talent and willingness to dare lead her now.