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By Sister Mary Jean Williams, OP
Director of Mission Integration, Regina Dominican High School
April 3, 2017 – Thanks to a mini-grant for National Catholic Sisters Week, four Regina Dominican High School freshmen traveled from Wilmette, Illinois, to provide a day of service for the Adrian Dominican Sisters at the Dominican Life Center. Regina Dominican was founded and is sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
The students’ weekend trip to the Motherhouse included several events. The students gathered after their arrival on Friday evening with the Dominican Young Adults (DYA) of Siena Heights University. The DYA described the experience and advantage of attending a Dominican university, the culture and community spirit, and ways of living the Dominican pillar of service.
Early Saturday, Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) Sisters from A Nun’s Life arrived to videotape the girls and four Sisters who had ministered at Regina Dominican High School. During the interviews, students asked questions about religious life and what each Sister enjoyed doing in her free time.
“We had a delightful time with you, the students and the Sisters, this past Saturday in Adrian,” said Sister Maxine Kollasch, IHM, co-founder of A Nun’s Life Ministry. “We continue to be deeply impressed by the young women’s composure and their understanding of vocation and discernment.”
In the interviews, the Sisters in turn asked the girls about service projects, if they had ever thought about being a Sister, and why they chose to attend Regina Dominican.
Before lunch, the Sisters who had ministered at Regina Dominican met with the Reginites and related favorite memories and funny stories. One of the students mentioned that she could identify with the Dominican roots of Regina Dominican because she met a Sister who was at the school when it first opened.
After lunch, many of the Sisters came to the Rose Room to play games, enjoy an ice cream social, and have their wheel chairs washed. As the students escorted Sisters back to their rooms, they took the opportunity to visit some of the Sisters who couldn’t attend the activities and to learn about their call to religious life. The students then spent their free time visiting the Sisters and exchanging stories.
Saturday evening, the group reflected on their day of service and their many exciting and positive experiences. They realized that even though some Sisters were physically unable to participate in the activities, they are happy, have good caregivers, spent their life in ministry for love of God, and now have the opportunity to spend more time in prayer. The students plan to share their experiences at school during Dominican Week in April.
On Sunday morning, members of the General Council and other Sisters met the students for breakfast. The students then assisted in setting up St. Catherine Chapel for Mass. The students took the opportunity before and after Mass to say good-bye to the Sisters they had visited.
“It was so pleasant meeting the young women from Regina Dominican,” Sister Helen Therese Mayer, OP, wrote in an email. “You are to be congratulated. The students certainly are self-possessed for their age. ... Thanks for bringing them to visit. Perhaps one or two, of them will come see Adrian again.”
March 29, 2017, Nassau, Bahamas – Sisters Anne Liam Lees, OP, and Pat Erickson, OP, recently took part in a Mass of Thanksgiving marking the 60th anniversary of Aquinas College in Nassau, where they once taught. They were among 31 Adrian Dominican Sisters who taught at Aquinas over the years.
The Mass – which also marked the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas – was a highlight of the school’s celebration. The theme of the anniversary was “Ever the Flame of Faith.”
“It was a thrill,” Sister Anne Liam recalled. “I couldn’t help smiling, just to be there.”
Five Adrian Dominican Sisters arrived in Nassau in 1956 at the invitation of Bishop Paul Leonard Hagarty, OSB. In 1957, they opened Aquinas College, which started out as a teacher training program for lay teachers and Bahamian Sisters, the Benedictine Sisters of Blessed Martin Convent. The school operated under the principles of “goodness, discipline, and knowledge.”
Over the years, the school has changed its focus and now serves about 500 students – 95 percent of them Bahamians. The equivalent of a U.S. high school, Aquinas offers vocational and technical programs, along with academic, college-preparation programs. In recent years, along with the national Bahamian exams for the general education course or for college-preparation, Aquinas students can now take SAT and Advanced Placement exams.
Aquinas graduates have excelled in fields such as education, religion, banking, administration, sports, music, drama and business.
Sister Anne Liam – who arrived at Aquinas in 1959 and taught there for four years – recalled an earlier time at Aquinas, when students received the education they needed to work in the business world. Sister Jean Patricia McGowan, OP – one of the five Adrian Dominican Sisters to found Aquinas – approached a banker to ask why none of the Bahamians worked in the banks, and was told that they did not have the training.
“She asked if they would be hired if they received the training, and the banker said yes,” Sister Anne Liam recalled. “The school provided the training, and two women from Aquinas College were the first Bahamians to work in the banks.”
Sister Anne Liam also recalled a time when Aquinas College struggled financially and raised money through such means as raffles. “I was most impressed by the spirit which the school had, which they still have,” she said. “It’s the spirit of the school that’s outstanding, the spirit of the students and faculty.”
Reminiscing about the groundwork that the Adrian Dominican Sisters laid and the continuing excellence of the school, Sister Anne Liam said, “We planted the seed and they have the harvest. … We have every reason to be proud of our involvement with Aquinas College. Aquinas has developed into a resilient community.”
The Mass of Thanksgiving was a highlight of Aquinas College’s 60th anniversary celebration.