December 30, 2016, Adrian, Michigan – As we near the countdown to another calendar year, let us take some time to review the 10 most memorable events for the Adrian Dominican Congregation in 2016.
General Chapter 2016
After nearly two years of contemplative and collaborative study and preparation, about 200 delegates to the second session of the 2016 General Chapter gathered at the Motherhouse in Adrian, Michigan, February 18-26, to set the direction of the Congregation for the next six years. After input and much work together, four Enactments were approved and a Prioress and General Council were elected to lead the Congregation in living out those Enactments.
St. Luke’s N.E.W. Life Center Responds to Flint’s Water Crisis
When the water of Flint, Michigan, was found to be contaminated with lead co-workers at St. Luke’s N.E.W. Life Center found ways to offer special services to the troubled community. The Center – founded by Sister Carol Weber, OP, and Sister Judy Blake, CSJ – responded in a variety of ways, from serving as a water distribution center to offering support and nutrition classes to mothers of young children. Sister Carol also found hope and support from a community meeting, called and attended by President Barack Obama.
Adrian Dominicans Stand in Solidarity with Those Seeking Justice
Throughout the year, groups of Adrian Dominicans participated in various events in solidarity with people who are seeking justice. A group of Adrian Dominican Sisters from the Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter, based in Pampanga, the Philippines, joined a protest with 3,000 indigenous peoples from their country. Participants set up camp at the University of the Philippines to raise awareness of their efforts to reclaim self-determination and liberation. Six Adrian Dominican Sisters and one Dominican Volunteer traveled to Nogales, Arizona, to join in the School of the Americas (SOA) Watch’s first-ever Convergence at the Border, which called attention to increased militarization of U.S. borders. Three Adrian Dominican Sisters were part of a contingent of U.S. Dominican Sisters who spent a weekend in solidarity with Native Americans who were encamped at Standing Rock in protest the Dakota Access Pipeline being constructed on sacred tribal land.
Dominicans around the World Celebrate 800th Jubilee
For Dominicans throughout the world, 2016 was a year-long Jubilee of the founding of the Order of Preachers by St. Dominic. Among the many celebrations taking place during this year was “Living our Legacy: A Dominican Conference in Celebration of 800 Years of Preaching,” attended by three Adrian Dominican Sisters.
Reflective Garden Brings Joy to Retired Sisters
Thanks to the generosity of numerous donors, the Dominican Life Center Reflective Garden was built in the summer and dedicated in August. The garden was designed with the special needs of memory-loss Sisters in mind to give them a safe and beautiful place to enjoy nature.
Adrian Dominicans Dedicate Formation House in Dominican Republic
The Adrian Dominican Sisters renovated a 100-year-old house in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and dedicated it as a House of Formation. The house is open to women in the Dominican Republic who are discerning a call to the Adrian Dominican Sisters, women who are in formation, and for those who seek a place for spiritual growth and renewal. Read more.
Siena Heights University Opens St. Joseph Academy Building to Education Students
After receiving the old St. Joseph Academy building from the Adrian Dominican Congregation, Siena Heights University renovated the first floor and dedicated it to the Department of Education. In gratitude for the gift of the building, the faculty and students in the Education Department hosted an open house for Adrian Dominicans to showcase the new facilities.
St. Rose Dominican Hospitals Plans Four New Neighborhood Hospitals
Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican Hospitals announced plans to build four new neighborhood hospitals in the Las Vegas area to increase access to health care in these areas. The first of the four is scheduled to be dedicated in the first quarter of 2017.
Associate Life Creates Advisory Board
An Advisory Board was created for Associate Life, the organization that coordinates Adrian Dominican Associates, as a way to respond to the specific Dominican charism of Associates. Made up of five Associates, the Director of Associate Life, the Formation Director, and the General Council liaison to Associate Life, the Advisory Board first met in the Spring of 2016 and reported on its accomplishments and goals during an August gathering of Associates.
Adrian Dominican Sisters Present on Global Stage
In the past year, three Adrian Dominican Sisters have taken part in global events. Sister Donna Markham, OP, President and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, was part of the U.S. delegation to the canonization in Rome of St. Teresa of Calcutta. Sister Mary Priniski, OP, participated in the Global Seminar on Sustainable Development and the Future of Work in the Context of the Jubilee of Mercy, in Rome in early May. Sister Cheryl Liske, OP, attended the third World Meeting of Popular Movements, held in Rome in November to help advise Pope Francis on how to address the challenges faced by poor people and Earth.
May 11, 2016, Adrian, Michigan – Sister Mary Ellen Leciejewski, OP, Director of Ecology for Dignity Health, a system of health-care providers in the Western states, received an honorary doctorate from Siena Heights University May 7 during the first of the university’s three commencement exercises.
Sister Mary Ellen received the degree Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, “in gratitude for [her] ability to meld the values of care for Earth with care for those who suffer and for [her] work to expand those values in our world,” said Sister Sharon Weber, OP, Vice President for Academic Affairs, in making the presentation.
A high school French teacher for 20 years, Sister Mary Ellen earned a master’s degree in ecology from the University of Illinois in 1995 and became the Director of Ecology at Dignity Health, headquartered in San Francisco, California. Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz, California, and St. Rose Dominican, based in Henderson and Las Vegas, Nevada, are both sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters and both part of Dignity Health.
In her work at Dominican Hospital and Dignity Health, Sister Mary Ellen “has developed and led strategic, system-wide and facility specific plans to ensure business operations support sustainability while reducing operating costs through efficient use of resources,” Sister Sharon said.
Sister Mary Ellen has overseen special sustainability projects for the 39-hospital health care system. These projects included mercury elimination, energy retrofits, and joining the Climate Registry to measure the greenhouse gas emissions of Dignity Health hospitals. In addition, Sister Mary Ellen has helped the system to focus on safer chemicals and products, healthy food, leaner energy, and less waste. She has also been instrumental in the establishment of a 9,000 square foot organic garden on the property of Dominican Hospital.
In addition, Sister Mary Ellen’s influence and connections and the size of Dignity Health have persuaded companies who want to do business with the health care system to “design products and processes that are less toxic, cause less waste, and area healthier for their patients, their families, and the communities they serve.”
Sister Mary Ellen said she accepted the honorary doctorate with a great sense of gratitude to Sister Peg Albert, OP, President of Siena Heights, and the entire Siena Heights community, as well as the Adrian Dominican Sisters and her family, friends, and colleagues. She expressed the feeling that “we’re all in this together” and that the miles between our institutions – health care and education – dissolve because our hearts and minds are connected.”
“This is a true honor because of what you, Siena Heights University, stand for: assisting people to become more competent, purposeful, and ethical through a teaching environment which respects the dignity of all,” Sister Mary Ellen said. “There’s so much that unites this university and our hospitals. One of the values we share is dignity. We see it as respecting the inherent value and worth of each and every person and helping them to lead healthy, meaningful lives.”
Sister Mary Ellen said she shares this recognition with Dignity Health and with the four member hospitals of Dignity Health [Dominican and the three campuses of St. Rose Dominican] sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Congregation.
Feature photo: Sister Mary Ellen Leciejewski, OP, right, turns to smile at Sister Peg Albert, OP, President of Siena Heights, during graduation ceremonies on May 7th. Photo Courtesy of Siena Heights University