The feeling I had while preparing this reflection was that of being with a faithful, loving person who knew who she was and what her calling meant – a person of prayer and a solid kind of dependable person you’d want in your life.
— Sister Joanne Peters, Co-Chapter Prioress of Holy Rosary Chapter, in her eulogy at the vigil service for Sister Ann Seraphim Schenk
Out of the thousands of women who have been Adrian Dominican Sisters, only a handful have lived to the age of one hundred or more. Sister Ann Seraphim Schenk was one of those treasured few: when she died on June 24, 2018, she was just four months shy of her 101st birthday and was in her eighty-first year in the Congregation.
Sister Ann Seraphim’s parents, Henry and Linda Hoff Schenk, were both of German descent, with Henry growing up in Quincy, Illinois, and Linda’s family living on a farm in Fayetteville, Illinois, a small town near Belleville. Linda was Henry’s second wife; his first wife died while their son was still an infant. The baby was raised by an aunt and her husband until after Henry remarried, at which point he went to live with Henry and Linda until he was of high school age and went back to the aunt and uncle’s home.
The family moved often in those early years. Henry and Linda went to California on their honeymoon and stayed there for some time; a son, Floyd, was born to them in Santa Cruz and Henry, a carpenter, even built a house there. But at some point soon thereafter, they moved back to Belleville, where four girls were born into the family.
Read more about Sister Ann Seraphim (pdf)
Memorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221.
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Elizabeth Gael O’Reilly was born to Elizabeth and Frank O’Reilly in Vancouver, British Columbia and moved with her family to Seattle when she was nine years old. There, Gael and her sister Sharon attended Sacred Heart School and Holy Names Academy. Gael graduated in 1957 and maintained life-long relationships with several of her classmates.
Gael married in 1959 and had four children in six years. She sent them to Blessed Sacrament School and was very active in the parish. Gael raised her children to think for themselves and to value one another. A feminist, Gael was a strong advocate for peace and justice.
After her divorce, Gael secured employment at a Seattle credit union and advanced to loan officer, lending manager, and manager of two banks. She retired in 2004.
For many years Gael was active with the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center (IPJC) and the Edmonds Dominicans, who founded the Center. She hosted a book club and Soup Group and was famous for her sense of humor, hospitality, and over-the-top Christmas decorations and kindness. She was an active person in every way until she began to show signs of Alzheimer’s disease, which she lived with for almost five years.
Sister Ann Marie Wood, OP, shared the following:
Gael and I met half a century ago. We were both young mothers and active members of Blessed Sacrament, the Dominican parish in North Seattle at a time when the Dominicans embraced the Vatican II changes with openness and creativity. It was an incredible, hope-filled time as our faith community celebrated a renewed church.
While an Edmonds Dominican I became involved with the Associate Program and was delighted when Gael expressed an interest. She participated in many activities at Rosary Heights, our Motherhouse, and, after the Edmonds/Adrian merger joined the Siena Mission Group, the same one I belong to. Gael served as RAL [Representative of Associate Life] until her declining health forced her to resign. Gael was a Dominican through and through!
Gael is survived by her four children: Mark (Lara) Simmons, Eric (Katie) Simmons, Carrie Simmons, and Pat Simmons; her beloved grandchildren, Audrey, Andrew, Daniel, Owen, Jack, and Ava; and her dear sister, Sharon.
When the Edmonds Dominican Sisters merged with Adrian Dominican Sisters, Gael wrote that she looked forward to meeting new people. “I bring a questioning mind, a sense of humor, compassion and tolerance, a wish to be mentally and spiritually expanded (not physically expanded, however), and a humble and inquiring mind.”
Gael’s children wrote in a memorial booklet for their mother: “Mom made sure that we could do and be whatever we wanted. As a single parent of four, she worked very hard to give us the best life she could. She was a lifelong advocate for peace and justice and fought for the poor in Washington State with the Adrian Dominican Sisters. She was a great listener and friend and always offered wise advice.”
Her children concluded their memories by saying, “Mom, we will miss you every day and will be seeing you in the butterflies and little birdies in the trees. And yes, we will remember to vote and to get our flu shots.”
Gael’s funeral, held June 25, 2018 at Sacred Heart Parish, celebrated her family, her interests and her spirituality. She will be missed.
Josephine (Jo) Christine Rhoads led a very full life, dedicated to service. She grew up in Royal Oak, Michigan, where she attended parochial school and completed her secondary education in a public high school. She studied gerontology in college and dedicated her entire career to serving elderly people, both in her parish and the wider community.
For many years, Jo was the office manager in a senior citizen high rise in Troy and Rochester, Michigan. Jo established Medigo, a service to provide rides to seniors to medical appointments and other obligations, first through private rides provided by volunteers, then through a system of vans and buses. On an average day, this service provides rides to 40 people. In 1998, Jo was named Troy’s Distinguished Citizen of the Year.
Jo served as a hospice volunteer for many years at Troy Beaumont Hospital and learned how to provide spiritual comfort to patients and their families.
She was also very involved her parish, St. Anastasia in Troy, as a lector, catechist, and Eucharistic Minister, and in Christian service and pastoral care. She was instrumental in forming several parish groups that reached out to those who were grieving, who had a family member in the hospital, or who were homeless. In her 2001 Annals, Jo wrote that she had been involved in 52 community action groups and parish ministries. She had an attraction to all peace and justice activities.
Jo was most of all a dedicated wife and mother. Married for more than 50 years, she and Jerry raised three children: Mark, Kevin and Lisa. She provided care for her mother-in-law, her mother, and her husband. Jo and Jerry were blessed with three grandchildren: Allison, Erin and Alexander. After Jerry died, Jo continued to reach out to others in need.
As a teen, Jo had felt called to religious life, but her grandmother talked her out of it. Many years later, when Jo learned of Associate Life, she was eager to make a commitment to the Adrian Dominican Sisters as an Associate. In her application, Jo wrote, “I wish to be an Associate because as I read the Mission Statement it expressed the way I can expand my prayer life and my womanhood to the service of my beloved God and to my community, family, and hopefully to my Dominican Family.” Jo was mentored by Sister Mary Katherine Allberry and celebrated her Ritual of Acceptance in May 2000.
Jo participated in the Peacemakers Mission Group and was a Representative of Associate Life (RAL) for several years. She remained engaged in the Mission and kept reaching out to others in need until her own health declined. The last few years of her life included the heartbreak of memory loss.
Jo died peacefully on June 19, 2018. Her funeral Mass was attended by her parish family, her own family, community members, and Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates. She lived a life of passion and service to others. May she now rest in peace.
Jacqueline “Jacqui” Richardson, born on August 18, 1954, in Detroit, was adopted by Earl and Patricia (Williams) Freeze. Jacqui and her older brother Don grew up in Huntington Woods, Michigan, and enjoyed a happy childhood, which had faith at its center. Jacqui and her brother attended St. Mary’s Elementary School in Royal Oak, Michigan.
Jacqui recalled that her second-grade teacher, Sister Rose Sharon, OP, was a very special teacher whose faith was contagious. At this early age, Jacqui began an interest in the lives of saints and spent many contented hours reading about them and praying. Likewise, the Sacrament of Confirmation was a powerful experience for Jacqui.
At the suggestion of Sister Therese Mary Foote, OP, Jacqui attended St. Joseph Academy in Adrian for all four years of high school. As Jacqui wrote in her application to Associate Life, “I knew I was walking on Holy Ground. So many of the Sisters at the Academy were instrumental in my spiritual growth."
During these important years, Jacqui considered religious life, but, through many hours of contemplation, came to the conclusion that God was calling her to be a mother. Jacqui preferred solitary prayer and was private about her prayer life. Married at the age of 22, Jacqui was 24 when she gave birth to her daughter Cheryl. Her son David followed two years later. This began a time of great joy, but also heartache as Jacqui’s beloved father died at the young age of 61 and her marriage ended. Through these moments, Jacqui relied on prayer and meditation.
As a single parent, Jacqui needed to find employment. She became an executive assistant to the General Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters. Her superior organizing skills were a real asset. Jacqui continued to raise her children and share her faith with them. Her second marriage, to Michael Richardson, lasted 13 years. Jacqui’s four grandchildren – Grace, Cole, Jennifer, and Niklas – meant everything to her. Jacqui enjoyed camping, the outdoors, a good glass of wine, and her family and friends.
Sister Therese Mary encouraged Jacqui to become an Associate, which she did on August 2, 2014. She began to visit and help the Sisters and volunteered at the Adrian Rea Literacy Center.
Jacqui was diagnosed with a brain tumor and, through treatments, surgery, and medications, remained positive. Her ex-husband, Michael, was a great help in caring for her during these challenging times. Under the care of Hospice of Lenawee, she died peacefully on June 5, 2018. She is survived by her daughter Cheryl (Ryan) Henry and her son David (Heather) Hellebuyd, her four grandchildren, her brother Don, and many friends.
“Jacqui Richardson was a sensitive, kind and very efficient person,” said Sister Tarianne DeYonker, OP, who served on the General Council from 2010 to 2016. “As a Co-worker I could not have asked for anyone better suited to what she offered in her service to me when I served on the General Council and when I was president of our sponsored institution, Dominican High School and Academy in Detroit. … She was persistent in offering to do whatever she could to lighten my workload. When I allowed her to do that she never ceased to amaze me at how quickly she could arrange what was needed, including contacting people who would be affected by events and decisions. I could trust her and entrust her with information I needed to do my work.”
Associate Jane Surbeck, from Fort Wayne, Indiana, met Jacqui in 2006 when she was recommended to serve on the St. Joseph Academy Alumnae Association Board of Directors. “She and I were best friends from day one,” Jane recalled. “I cannot imagine my life without her by my side. We did everything together.”
Through their shared faith, they studied for and became Adrian Dominican Associates together. “It was a very memorable day for both of us,” Jane said. “As a matter of fact, after Jacqui’s cancer surgery she did not spend much time away from home. She did, however, attend Partners [the annual Associates gathering] in 2017, which tells us all how much she cared for our God.”
May she rest in the peace of God.
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.
We will post memorial reflections on our faithfully departed Sisters and Associates. If you would like to reflect on a Sister or Associate who has gone before us, please send your reflections – no more than 500 to 600 words – to
Sister Barb Kelley (email@example.com).
We invite you to meet some of the wonderful women who have recently crossed into eternity.