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By Sharon Bock, Associate
The elegant and flowing washes of jade and cerulean, the hints of lavender and the arches of color curving and entwining through the logo of our General Chapter 2016 documents are some of the gifts to the Congregation from Melinda Ziegler, Associate. As a member of the Congregation’s Communications Department, mentored to Associate Life by the late Sister Barbara Chenicek, OP, Melinda’s creativity was imprinted with the joy of the Adrian Dominicans.
Melinda was welcomed as an Associate in April 2016, but she first met the Adrian Dominicans when she was in high school, trying to choose a college where she would pursue graphic arts. Though she ended up going to the University of Michigan, Melinda has worked closely with the Adrian Dominican Sisters on the Motherhouse campus over the past seven years. It is through the richness of these relationships and her experience as a protégé of Sister Barbara Chenicek, that she realized she did not want to lose touch with the women who taught her so much about “graciousness and service to others.”
Melinda was born in Detroit, the second child of three. “My father was a playground equipment manufacturer; my mother, a wonderful mother and partner to my father. She died when I was 8 years old. My father married again, and my step-mother raised me in the Catholic faith. I was drawn to the arts because of the memories of my mother and the giftedness in the arts of my father in business.”
Melinda worked in Germany for an advertising agency for a year and a half; then married and moved to Vietnam for another year and a half. When she returned to the U.S. from Vietnam, she freelanced. During these years, she “had four children within five years, and recognized that they were my best ‘designs.’ ”
When the children were 6, 7, 9, and 11 years old, “their father left us to fend for ourselves.” She became a high school religious education coordinator, which led to other pastoral work: a Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) team member and ultimately, a parish pastoral minister. She completed 36 hours in religious education studies at Siena Heights University.
Sadly, about the time Melinda completed her studies, the priest at her parish did not renew her contract. To support herself, she “returned to the arts – utilizing my photography skills to produce and sell my photography through art shows. It was at that time that I found an ad for a graphic designer for the Adrian Dominican Sisters. And the rest, as they say, is history.”
Even while working full time, Melinda dedicated her energies to RCIA. She employs her Dominican preaching charism to help people find God and understand what it means to be a Catholic. “So many people are searching, and I have discovered that they enjoy talking about where they are in their faith,” she writes.
When asked how she “seeks truth, makes peace and reverences life,” Melinda replies, “I have realized only recently that I am a seeker of truth – and the revelation has been life-changing for me. I will retire to learn how to become quieter, with time to contemplate the passion so deeply set into my heart.” Melinda plans to buy a dog and to train with the dog “so that we both become ‘service animals.’ ” She also plans to return to art, especially drawing and painting, “producing art only for the love of what surrounds me – instead of production art with deadlines.”
Melinda retired on January 31. While she will miss the rich relationships she experienced as a member of the Communications team, she plans to stay closely associated with her Horizons Mission Group, which she describes as “chock full of artists.” She is looking forward to attending the Great Lakes Dominican Chapter Assembly in 2017 as a retiree, when she’ll have a little more time to be involved.
Amazing! And I thought I knew her! There were so many new pieces of information on howher artistic talent grew and how she came to work with us. I think I was more aware of her family now, her children, their spouses and careers. I miss Melinda on campus, and wish her the best in her retirementfrom work, but never from her art!