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Statement of Adrian Dominican Sisters Calling for Common Sense Regulations on Factory Farms

May 24, 2017, Adrian, Michigan The General Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters issued the following statement in response to a report issued today on factory farms in Michigan by the Less=More coalition.

A new report issued by the Less=More coalition, titled A Watershed Moment, provides a clear analysis of the magnitude of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in Michigan and their impact on the Great Lakes watershed, pointing to the need for common sense regulations to safeguard the public against billions of gallons annually of untreated animal waste.

According to the report, as of the end of 2016, there were 272 factory farms operating in Michigan, confining nearly 21 million animals that produced over 3.3 billion gallons of manure, urine, and other waste, annually. “These farms racked up 644 environmental enforcement actions by the State of Michigan through 2016, while receiving $104 million in [federal taxpayer] subsidies since 1995,” the report states.

“The Great Lakes are the world’s largest source of fresh water and a God-given gift,” said Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, expressing support for the coalition’s recommendations. “All life depends on water. We have a moral and spiritual obligation to protect our waterways and desire to stand in support responsible farming.” 

The report is a follow-up to an analysis done in 2015 by the Less=More coalition that targeted the role factory farms and the manure they produce play in contributing dissolved phosphorus in Lake Erie’s toxic algae outbreaks. The 2017 report found that the amount of dissolved phosphorus has nearly doubled since the 1990s in the River Raisin. The River Raisin flows 139 miles, draining an area of more than 1,000 square miles encompassing five south Michigan counties, including the city of Adrian, into Lake Erie. 

“It is very troubling to know that we are permitting a waste stream that feeds the type of toxic algal blooms that three years ago left nearly a half million people without drinking water in the Toledo area,” Sister Siemen said. “We have been a part of the Adrian and larger River Raisin watershed and farming communities since the 1880s. We have an obligation to farm in ways that keep our waterways clean not only for those who live downstream from us but also for the health and well-being of all who live near them today and for generations to come,” she said. 

The Adrian Dominican Sisters join the Less=More coalition in their call to:

  • end the practice of giving federal taxpayer dollars to polluting factory farms,
  • ban the application of untreated waste on frozen or snow-covered ground, and
  • reduce the rate of phosphorus allowed from manure applications to match other forms of phosphorus fertilizer.

According to A Watershed Moment, nearly 80 percent of the waste source was dairy cows; the remaining waste was produced by a combination of beef cattle, swine, chickens and turkeys. “Unlike human sewage, industrial livestock waste is not treated,” the report notes. “The vast majority of this untreated animal sewage is stored in giant open cesspits called lagoons, or under slatted barn floors, to which millions of gallons of clean groundwater are added, until it can be applied as liquid fertilizer on farm fields.”

“We are grateful for the comprehensive research and analysis done by the Less=More coalition, particularly our local Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan group, which spearheaded the study and has been tracking factory farm pollution in Lenawee and Hillsdale Counties for more than 15 years,” Sister Siemen said. “It is a great public health service."

At their General Chapter of 2016, the Adrian Dominican Sisters made a commitment to address ecological degradation in a statement that reads: “Recognizing the violence against Earth community that places our common home in dire jeopardy and intensifies the suffering of people on the margins, future generations and all creation, we will sacrifice to mitigate significantly our impact on climate change and ecological degradation.”

The Michigan Chapter of the Sierra Club offers more information on the issue of factory farms. Read their information on CAFO mapping.

Hundreds Gather to Bid Farewell to Former Prioress Sister Nadine Foley

May 19, 2017, Adrian, Michigan – Several hundred people gathered in St. Catherine Chapel at the Adrian Dominican Sisters Motherhouse May 18-19 to bid farewell to Sister Nadine Foley, OP. Sister Nadine was Prioress of the Congregation from 1986 to 1992 and was an influential figure in religious life.

Attending the Vigil Service and Funeral Liturgy were Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates, nearly 40 family members, representatives of other religious orders, and Sister Nadine’s former students and colleagues.

The Vigil Service on May 18 gave the assembly the opportunity to welcome Sister Nadine’s body, reflect on Scripture passages, to share personal stories about Sister Nadine, and commend her to God. 

“This is a poignant moment for us as a congregation,” Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress, noted in her welcome to members of the assembly. Even with the sadness of the loss, she said, “we know she is indeed looking down upon us and bestowing on us her love, wisdom, and insights.”

After the Scriptures were proclaimed, Sister Mary Jane Lubinski, Chapter Prioress, led off a period of personal sharing with a summary of Sister Nadine’s life and influence. “It is no easy task to tell the story of this accomplished woman – author, preacher, teacher, vocalist, leader, advocate for women’s rights – the list goes on,” she said.

Sister Mary Jane shared Sister Nadine’s life story through the framework of two instructions by St. Catherine of Siena, great Dominican mystic and reformer: “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire” and “Proclaim the truth and do not be silent through fear.” Sister Nadine found her voice through her years as educator, leader of the Adrian Dominican Congregation, leader in religious life throughout the nation, and advocate for women’s rights, Sister Mary Jane said.

“Nadine, you were all that God meant you to be and you did, indeed, set the world on fire,” Sister Mary Jane said.

Members of the 1986-1992 General Council who served with Sister Nadine spoke in turn on Sister Nadine’s influence on their lives and in their leadership. 

Sister Linda Bevilacqua, OP, now President of Barry University, was a student of Sister Nadine’s. “I have often said that I am because of my parents love,” Sister Linda said. “But I am Adrian Dominican because of Nadine.”

Sisters Sharon Weber, OP, and Donna Markham, OP, described Sister Nadine’s as trusting the Holy Spirit and being an extraordinary mentor of leadership. 

Other speakers recalled their own special memories of Sister Nadine, sharing them through touching and humorous stories. Tricia Foley and Michael Foley – among the youngest of Sister Nadine’s seven siblings – shared stories of experiencing her as an older sister who had already left home before they were born, and learning through the years to relate to her as a beloved sister.

The Funeral Liturgy on May 19 gave Sisters and guests another opportunity to celebrate the life of Sister Nadine and to rejoice in the eternal life that she gained through her death. 

During her preaching, Sister Attracta Kelly described Mary Magdalen and St. Catherine of Siena as examples of women sent by Jesus on apostolic missions. Sister Nadine, influenced by both of those women, “believed we were summoned to express our charism of preaching,” Sister Attracta said. “She thought of us as called to be peacemakers and reconcilers, to share our charism with others … with the whole world.” 

Noting that Sister Nadine “was never very elaborate in her praise,” Sister Attracta added, “We always knew that [Sister Nadine’s] constant challenge to us, as well as to the entire congregation, was the same challenge that Catherine left to us: ‘Be all that you can be and you will set the world on fire.’ ” 

Just as music was a major component of Sister Nadine’s life, so it played a key role in the final celebration of her life. Her niece, Maura, sang a prelude. The Chapel Choir, made up of Sisters and Associates, added to the atmosphere of reverence, hope, and joy as they sang O Sacrum Convivium for their long-time member. 

Finally, members of the assembly processed with Sister Nadine to her final resting place in the Congregation’s cemetery, a “circle of friendship and discipleship” for Adrian Dominican Sisters who joined the Communion of Saints in Heaven.

Read Come Wisdom: Remembering Sr. Nadine Foley, written by Sister Elise D. García, published by Global Sisters Report:

Read more about Sister Nadine’s life and contributions: 

Read Sister Nadine’s obituary and watch her Vigil Service, Funeral, and an interview:

photo from wake     photo from wake
LEFT: Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress, places Sister Nadine Foley’s vows in her hands during the May 18 Vigil Service, while Sister Elise D. García, OP, General Councilor, looks on. RIGHT: From left, Sisters Linda Bevilacqua, OP, Donna Markham, OP, Sharon Weber, OP, and Attracta Kelly, share their experiences of serving on the General Council with Sister Nadine.

photo from funeral     photo from funeral
LEFT: Sister Nadine’s niece Maura sings a prelude. Shown with her, from left, are Sisters Ann Fallon, OP, Christa Marsik, OP, Carleen Maly, OP and Theresia Scheuer, OP (in back). RIGHT: Sister Attacta Kelly, OP, offers a reflection during Sister Nadine’s funeral.

photo from funeral     photo from commital
LEFT: Members of Sister Nadine’s family present the offering. Father Roland Calvert, OSFS, stands at the altar. RIGHT: Mourners pray at the commital ceremony in the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ cemetery.




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