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Note: This statement has been edited to include the most recent mitigation protocols.

March 13, 2020, Adrian, Michigan – As U.S. public health officials on March 9 called for stricter measures of social distancing to mitigate the accelerating community spread of COVID-19 in the United States, the Adrian Dominican Sisters took immediate steps to join in the national effort. Since then, the Congregation has continued to increase its efforts in mitigating the spread.

Effective June 17 through December 31:

  • All Congregation-related travel remains suspended.
  • All Congregation meetings will be held virtually
  • The Motherhouse campus remains closed to all guests and visitors.
  • All Sisters should avoid commercial travel.
  • All Weber Center in-person programming remains suspended.

Effective May 1 through June 30:

  • All Congregation-related travel remains suspended.
  • The Motherhouse campus remains closed to all Sisters, guests and visitors.
  • All Sisters should avoid travel.
  • All Mission Appeals are canceled for 2020. 
  • All Weber Center programming remains suspended.

Effective April 6:

  • All Co-workers must wear a face mask while they are on campus.

Effective March 20:

  • “Shelter in Place” for Adrian campus residents, who must remain on campus and in their communities;
  • Dining rooms closed and meals are delivered to campus residents;
  • St. Catherine Chapel closed to residents; liturgies continue with necessary personnel and are broadcast through closed circuit television.

Effective March 19:

  • Madden Hall administrative offices are closed to all, except critical Co-workers; others work from home, as possible;
  • Co-workers in positions critical to the care of the residents are screened daily for symptoms of illness.

Effective March 14:

  • In compliance with State Executive Order prohibiting visitors at health care and residential facilities, no outside visitors to the Motherhouse campus;
  • Co-workers are to self-screen, monitor, track, and report any symptoms of illness.

Effective March 10, the Congregation has suspended:

  • all Congregation-related travel as well as meetings, conferences, and gatherings involving travel by its 533 Sisters, 206 Associates and nearly 300 Co-workers;
  • personal travel by Sisters to areas where the virus has been reported and participation anywhere in social or other events involving larger groupings of people;
  • all workshops and programs sponsored or hosted by Weber Retreat and Conference Center; and 
  • visits by off-campus guests to the Dominican Life Center of the Motherhouse where the community’s elder members reside. 

A task force comprised of the Congregation’s Administrator and lay leaders of the Motherhouse campus are meeting daily to monitor the pandemic and to develop effective mitigation protocols and implement new measures as needed. As conditions warrant, these suspensions may be modified.  

The Adrian Dominican Sisters join with people around the world in prayer for the victims of the coronavirus, their families, and all healthcare workers who are courageously serving on the frontlines of this pandemic. In their letter to the community announcing this “prudential preventative action,” the five members of the General Council wrote that the measures were being implemented “for the common good of our own community and the larger communities in which we live and serve.”


October 12, 2020, Flint, Michigan – In the weeks before the November 3 national election, two stories related to the Adrian Dominican Sisters are among hundreds that are told by Nuns on the Bus 2020. Among the Nuns on the Bus is Adrian Dominican Sister Durstyne Farnan, OP, United Nations Representative for the Dominican Sisters Conference. In addition, the story of St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center – founded in 2002 by Sisters Carol Weber OP, and Judy Blake, CSJ – was told on September 29, 2020, during a virtual tour by Nuns on the Bus.  

Sponsored by NETWORK: A Catholic Social Justice Lobby, Nuns on the Bus explores election-year social justice issues through site visits to social service and community agencies, town hall meetings, dialogues, state voting information, and short videos featuring “nuns on the bus” who are involved in social service and social justice issues. 

Sister Durstyne Farnan, OP

In her video, Sister Durstyne speaks of her ministry at the United Nations and of her special concerns for the issues of equality for women, immigration, nuclear weapons, and climate change. She encourages voters to “make this election count” and to vote for candidates who will move the world forward.

During her visit to St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center, Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, Director of NETWORK, interviewed Sisters Carol and Judy, as well as staff members Tiffany and Christine, who had participated in the Center’s programs. 

Sister Judy explained the unique origin of the Center: a recurring dream that she experienced during a 30-day retreat. In response, Sisters Judy and Carol began a street ministry to the people of Flint. 

The Center occupies a former grammar school owned by St. Luke Parish. Programs include a Wednesday women’s group; a food pantry; a hot meal program; a literacy center, which offers both adult literacy training and preparation for GED; an employment preparation program for men and women; and social enterprises, such as commercial sewing and lawn care, which enable graduates to further develop their skills and work ethic. 

Sisters Judy and Carol told Sister Simone that, because of the pandemic, many of the Center’s programs have had to be adapted. Learners and tutors in the literacy program still work one-on-one, Sister Carol said, but now they meet via Zoom. 

The Commercial Sewing Enterprise – which once produced items such as medical scrubs, lab coats, designer aprons, and stadium blankets – now focuses entirely on masks, Sister Carol said. To date, women in Commercial Sewing have made more than 13,000 masks. “We really try to help our community mask up,” she explained. “The ZIP code we’re in is one of the highest in Flint for COVID.” 

While Sisters Carol and Judy spoke of the history and programs of the N.E.W. Life Center, Tiffany and Christine told their own stories: the impact that the Center has had on their lives.

Tiffany recalled discovering the Center while she was in the midst of depression, “on the verge of giving up.” Suffering from a back problem and unable to work, she heard about the food drive at the Center and brought some food from her own pantry. Immediately upon walking into the Center, she said, she felt love. “I felt like I’d been around there forever,” she said. She was invited immediately to the women’s Wednesday group, became involved in GED, and participated in the employment training class. 

“Right now, I pretty much run the donations department and I love the community,” Tiffany said. “They helped me get out of that dark place. I’m just the giving-est girl now. I didn’t know I was that kind.”

Christine had always loved helping people and hoped to start a homeless shelter. She moved from Flint to Georgia but returned home when her grandmother – now doing well – was diagnosed with cancer. She came to the Center at the suggestion of her sister, who told her of the employment program. “Coming here, it just opened up so many doors,” she said. “Everybody was so nice…. I can actually live my life now. All of these wonderful, beautiful people are behind me.” 

Both Tiffany and Christine are enthusiastic about continuing their work with the Center and helping with proposed programs, such as outreach to women suffering from abuse. “I’m looking forward to expanding this program, continuing this vision,” Tiffany said. “I would love to stay on board.”

Christine also expressed her joy at continue to work at St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center. “I look forward to working here,” she said. “I like helping people, seeing people with a smile on their face."

 

Feature photo: Sisters Carol Weber, OP, and Judy Blake, CSJ, founders of St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center, and staff members Tiffany and Christine chat via Zoom with Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, of NETWORK: A Catholic Social Justice Lobby, during a virtual visit by Nuns on the Bus.


 

 

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