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January 19, 2017, Adrian, Michigan – Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates were among hundreds of other concerned citizens to gather for half an hour of prayer on January 15 for peace and unity prior to the inauguration of President Donald Trump.
The simultaneous half-hour of prayer and holding of hands took place in some 22 states, as well as foreign countries such as Australia and Guam.
Adrian Dominicans witnessed in prayer and silence through “Circle the Cities with Love” in front of Madden Hall and Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan; the motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Joseph in LaGrange Park, Illinois; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Key West, Florida.
Sister Kathleen Nolan, OP, director of the Congregation’s Office of Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation, said she first heard about “Circle the Cities with Love” through one of the Justice Promoters at the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). The initiative was first organized by the Congregation of St. Joseph of Cleveland, Ohio, at the time of the Democratic National Convention last summer and was resurrected in January to offer prayer for a peaceful inauguration.
Sister Kathy worked with Siena Heights University, The Sunnyside Peace and Justice Center, and the Lenawee County Interfaith Alliance to organize “Circle the Cities with Love” in Adrian. As a result, some 72 Sisters, Associates, and local residents gathered in front of Madden Hall and Siena Heights University to hold hands and pray in silence.
Sister Kathy said she felt moved to organize “Circle the Cities with Love” in Adrian because it sends a message consistent with that of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ General Council in a letter they had written to Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates after the election:
“[The Enactments of General Chapter 2016] call us to be signs of [the] life-giving work of God in our midst, especially among those who might read the results of this election as a condemnation – our Muslim brothers and sisters, our Mexican neighbors, immigrants who have long called this country home, women victimized by sexual assault, people with disabilities. … This election calls on us to reach out to friends and neighbors, who responded to the message for change but do not endorse the ugly speech of the campaigns, in our common cause to improve the lives and well-being of all our people. Let us manifest our unshakable belief in the power of peace, non-violence, and the possibility of creating resilient communities.”
“I believe in the power of prayer,” Sister Kathy said. “We are Dominicans. We are preachers, and one of the ways that we preach is with our actions.” She added “Circle the Cities with Love” was a “preaching to our community – our Adrian-Lenawee County community. We have hope for the future and we believe in the goodness of people to come together and to stand up for peace and reconciliation.”
Sister Anne Beauvais, OP – one of five Adrian Dominican Sisters to participate in “Circle the Cities with Love” in Illinois – also saw her prayer and participation as a way to preach peace. “I was very proud to be there,” she said. “It felt like we were giving witness to something we believe in.”
Sister Anne saw a special relevance in the timing of the event. “With all the terrible rhetoric you see around us … we could pray that people will accept this and make the best of the situation,” she said. “It was a sign of unity, that we could get the best outcome possible.”
Along with some 50 to 60 people who stood in prayer in front of the Motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Joseph, Sister Anne said, the chapel was filled with Sisters who could not stand outside but who prayed in unity with the others.
Sister Patricia Erickson, OP, said she heard about “Circle the Cities with Love” from Sister Kathy and discovered that the event was being held near her, in Key West, Florida. The group consisted only of Sister Pat and the convener and her spouse who gathered in front of the Key West court house.
“Standing in silence heightened my sense of hearing … the myriad languages spoken by people passing in front of us, the roosters crowing, the bells on the bike Lorries, the children playing on the lawn in front of the court house,” Sister Pat said. “As I stood there, I looked at every person passing by, thinking what a wonderful world this would be if there was true peace and respect for everyone.”
Other women religious also took part in “Circle the Cities with Love.” Adrian Dominican Sister Durstyne Farnan, OP, peace and justice director for the School Sisters of St. Francis in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, helped to organize “Circle the Cities with Love” for that community.
Feature photo: Some of the 72 participants in Adrian’s Circle the Cities with Love pray in silence in front of Madden Hall at the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse.
December 12, 2016, Boca Raton, Florida – Sister Carmen Álvarez, OP, received the Golden Rule Award from the Catholic Realtors of Boca Raton, Florida, in recognition of exemplifying and living out Jesus’ rule to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
The award ceremony was December 2 at the Royal Palm Country Club during a breakfast after the first Friday Mass. The Realtors gather for Mass on the first Friday of every month, and bestow the Golden Rule Award annually, usually in December.
“I was full of joy and surprise,” Sister Carmen said. “I did not know anything about this until I was presented with the honor. I became aware that I partner with the Catholic Realtors of Boca Raton in bringing the love of God to others.”
Sister Carmen was recognized for a life of service, beginning in her childhood years in the province of Havana, Cuba. She first worked with other children, and then, as she matured, felt called to minister to adults, said Sister Frances Madigan, OP, who gave a presentation on her life during the award ceremony.
Sister Fran noted priests in Cuba were asked to minister to three or four parishes and communities were “fortunate to see a priest maybe once a week.” Sister Carmen became active in keeping her church open every day for prayer, meetings, and social events. She continued this work even after churches were threatened and closed under the rule of the late Fidel Castro.
After Sister Carmen was arrested and spent two weeks in jail with 300 other women, her family sent her to the United States for protection. While serving at an immigration center in Miami helping families find sponsors among their families and friends, Sister Carmen met the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine de’ Ricci and became a member of the congregation. She transferred to the Adrian Dominican Sisters in December 2012.
Sister Carmen spent some time ministering in the north before she was again called to serve the refugees in Miami. She later ministered at St. Hugh and St. Helen Parishes, training parishioners to be catechists.
Sister Carmen’s last years of active ministry before retirement were spent at St. Joan of Arc Parish in Boca Raton, directing the parish’s Hispanic Ministry. The invitation by Monsignor John McMahon to serve at St. Joan of Arc has been among her favorite memories. “The people began to feel at home sharing their customs with others and being part of another culture,” she said.
Still active in her retirement, Sister Carmen serves St. Joan of Arc as co-director of the parish literacy center and, through her work with the Santa Ann Circle of the Council of Catholic Women, made up of more than 100 women who serve the parish through time, talent, and treasure. She also coordinates donations given to repair a leaky roof in her home parish in Cuba.
Sister Fran said that Sister Carmen offers “the gift of joy, the ability to forgive and forget, and to be a peacemaker in a world where this is much needed. She is a gift to this parish, the Adrian Dominicans and to all with whom she comes in contact.”
Feature photo: From left, Monsignor Michael McGraw, pastor of St. Joan of Arc Parish, Boca Raton; Sister Carmen Álvarez, OP; and Bishop Gerald Barbarito, of the Diocese of Palm Beach attended a ceremony in which Sister Carmen received the Golden Rule Award.