By Sister Suzanne Schreiber, OP
November 17, 2016, Detroit – Sister Mary Lou Putrow, OP, was recognized as one who exemplifies the phrase, “Change the World with a Giving Heart,” the theme for the 25th Annual National Philanthropy Day dinner in Detroit.
She was one among many who were recognized as Distinguished Volunteers during the event, hosted by the Greater Detroit Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. The dinner was November 12 at Cobo Hall in Detroit.
Sister Mary Lou was nominated by Sister Janice Brown, Director of the Dominican Literacy Center (DLC) in Detroit, for her kind and consistent service. “Balancing the checkbook, taking care of the front desk when needed, and tutoring – these are some of the ways Mary Lou brings life and support to the Center,” Sister Janice said. “She is amazing in the ways she gives so unassumingly and generously.”
Sister Mary Lou also initiated a project that enabled DLC students to tell their stories, many of which conveyed their life struggles. In several interviews with each one, Sister Mary Lou listened with reverence to details about what brought them to the DLC, where they are on the path of learning and growing. The stories were published in a booklet to share with family and friends and to inspire other students.
The DLC is one of seven literacy centers founded and sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters under the umbrella of Dominican Rea Literacy Corporation. The first of the seven, the DLC, was founded in 1989.
September 7, 2016, Detroit – Sister Heather Stiverson, OP, is one of six U.S. Catholic Sisters to be featured in a newly launched national social media campaign, “Sister to All.” The campaign was conceived and is being run by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.
Sister Heather was held up as an example of Sisters in her work as an English as a Second Language (ESL) instructor and front desk staff member of Dominican Literacy Center in Detroit. Noting the challenges and joys of watching her students struggle with and improve their English skills, Sister Heather said, “I pray every day before I come to work that I can be the best person I can be for these students.”
Other Sisters were featured in the campaign’s materials for their work with people who are homeless, newly-arrived Hispanic immigrants, women in street-level prostitution, and people struggling with substance abuse.
Released on September 6 – shortly after the canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta – the Sister to All campaign aims to dispel the misunderstandings that many people have about Catholic Sisters. Research commissioned by the foundation discovered that while the majority of Americans view Catholic Sisters favorably, they still have common stereotypes about Sisters. For example, many believe that Sisters have little or no impact on non-Catholics when, in fact, they serve people of all faith traditions and ethnic backgrounds.
Many also believe that religious life is a tradition from the past and is dying out. The research discovered, however, that about a quarter of all Catholic women have considered becoming a Sister.
Sister Heather is a case in point. When she first met the Adrian Dominican Sisters as a nursing assistant in the Dominican Life Center, she was not a Catholic. She felt drawn to the Eucharist and converted to Catholicism. At the invitation of the Sisters, she discerned whether God might be calling her to enter the Congregation.
“I was really attracted to their joy and work in social justice, especially with people on the margins,” she said. “I spent a year in discernment, talking to God and talking to other people. I felt God was calling me to something more in my life, to be a Sister.”
If you are considering religious life and would like to explore life as an Adrian Dominican Sister, please contact Sister Sara Fairbanks, OP, at 517-266-353; or toll-free, 1-866-774-0005; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about Sister to All in an article published by the National Catholic Reporter’s Global Sisters Report.
Feature photo: Sister Heather Stiverson, OP, works with ESL students at Dominican Literacy Center in Detroit. Courtesy of Sister to All Campaign