“I can truthfully say that through my whole life I have seen clear manifestations of the love of God and of what He can do in and for His little ones.”
These words appear near the beginning of Sister Ana Feliz’s first St Catherine letter, written August 29, 1980. “In fashioning me He took poor clay and transformed it into a small and simple vessel,” the letter continued. “And guess what, by His power and grace it turned out right.”
Sister Ana was born April 27, 1932, in a poor and isolated mountainous area near San Jose de Ocoa in the Dominican Republic. It was “a place not much touched by man or machinery,” she wrote. She was the second child of Camino Feliz and Juana Encarnacion, but their first child died at age two. Ana wrote that her mother also suffered a number of miscarriages, probably from hard work and lack of medical care. Five other children besides Sister Ana survived: Mireya, Fran, Mirlita, Altagracia and Fatima.
Both parents were extremely hard workers who struggled to make a living on their small piece of farmland. Sister Ana wrote that her father’s coffee crop was barely enough to cover their expenses, and when emergencies occurred he had to sell coffee that had not even been picked yet. It pained Sister Ana to remember, even four decades later in writing her St. Catherine letter, that when she was six or seven years old, while playing in a box of beans, she accidentally got a bean stuck in her ear and her father had to sell his horse so he could take her to the town doctor.
Read more about Sister Ana (PDF)
Memorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221.
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St. Rose of Lima Parish on Detroit’s east side was where Elizabeth June Hiller and her playmates – Harvey, Billy, Sonny, Harold, and Harold’s little sister, Shirley (the latter two the nephew and niece of Adrian Dominican Sister Ruth Grates) – spent many hours together doing typical childhood things: playing on Sonny’s swing set and monkey bars, eating cherries straight off of the tree in Harold and Shirley’s yard, hanging out under Elizabeth’s back porch in inclement weather.
Having four boys as friends was no impediment to Elizabeth, the future Sister Carol Louise. “I was a first-class tomboy determined to keep up with anyone in the neighborhood,” Sister Carol Louise wrote in her life story. “I had skinned and bloody knees to prove that determination.”
Elizabeth was born at home on October 11, 1921, to Ludwig and Caroline (Franz) Hiller. Ludwig was born in Vienna, Austria; his family came to America because the Emperor was conscripting young men for military service and out of the Hillers’ six boys, two were already in the army. The Hillers settled in Forestville, in the “Thumb” area of Michigan, but when Ludwig was old enough he moved to Detroit. He and Caroline married in 1916.
Read more about Sister Carol Louise (pdf)
“This is what Yahweh asks of you, and only this: to act justly, to love tenderly, and to walk humbly with your God.” This scripture passage from Micah was Sean’s favorite; she took in these words and lived them faithfully in her ministry, our community, and with her family.
As we say farewell to Sean, the opening words of the Magnificat, which I am certain Sean prayed often, are especially fitting: “My being proclaims the greatness of God; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior … for God, wonderful in power, has done great things for me.” Sean, like Mary, you were a humble woman, a faithful woman, a lover of God, children, family and our community. For these fifty-nine years among us, you proclaimed God’s greatness. We thank you for this gift of your life. Blessed indeed are you among women.
These words from Sister Carol Jean Kesterke, Great Lakes Dominican Chapter Prioress, were part of her remembrance of Sister Sean Eileen Allgeyer at Sister Sean’s wake service the evening of August 22, 2019.
Sister Sean was born Norene Marcella Allgeyer on September 28, 1937, in Detroit, to Elsie (Pendergast) and Harold Allgeyer. She was the tenth child and the fifth daughter; there were twelve children in all born into the family: Robert, Bernard, Raymond, Frances, Eileen, Gerald (who died in infancy), Therese, John, Patricia, Norene, William and Catherine.
Read more about Sister Sean Eileen (pdf)
Sister Mary Schmagner was in first grade at St. Philip Neri School in Chicago when a Dominican priest visited her class to tell the children about being a missionary in China. It so inspired the little girl that not only was she ready right then to become a missionary and go to China, but she even wrote a composition for class stating, “The Navy says, ‘Join the Navy and see the world.’ I say, ‘Join the Dominicans and save the world.’”
Her zeal only lasted until second grade, however, because at that point she discovered boys and “there was no more thought of religious life until my senior year at Aquinas,” she wrote in her life story.
Mary Elizabeth Schmagner was born in Chicago on August 15, 1930, to John and Elizabeth (Sorauf) Schmagner. John was born in Hurley, Wisconsin, of German immigrant parents, while Betty came from Ironwood, Michigan, the child of immigrants from Trieste (which today is part of Italy). The two married in Chicago and settled on the city’s South Side in St. Laurence Parish; three years later, Mary, who was to be their only child, was born.
“Ours was a happy home,” Sister Mary wrote. “Since there were no siblings to rub off the raw edges, my parents supplied a formation with love and discipline to prepare me for life’s challenges. I like to think of myself as SPOILED with love but unselfish.”
Read more about Sister Mary (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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