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.
By Sister Francine Barber, OP
December 28, 2016, Swinomish, Washington – Adrian Dominican Sisters Lorene Heck, OP, Janice Holkup, OP, Cele Gorman, OP, Iva Gregory, OP, Jean Marie Lehtinen, OP, and Francine Barber, OP, gathered this Fall with Rosemary Whaley, the sister of Sister Barbara Bieker and members of the Swinomish and Tulalip tribes, with whom she ministered, to celebrate Sister Barbara’s life and ministry.
The Mass – held at St. Paul Church on the Swinomish Reservation – lasted two hours as many people Sister Barbara lived with and served shared memories shared. Sister Barbara, who had ministered with the Native Americans for 31 years, died at the age of 83 on August 4, 2016, at the Adrian Dominican Sisters Motherhouse in Adrian, Michigan.
Three priests presided at the Mass: Father Mel Starzich, the pastor of the Swinomish tribe; Father Thomas Mc Michael, pastor of the Tulalip tribe and the former pastor of St. Paul Parish; and Father Pat Twohy, SJ, who ministered with Sister Barbara for many years. They expressed deep gratitude for her presence in their parishes.
The chiefs of the Swinomish and Tulalip tribes, other tribal elders, and those whose lives were greatly affected by Sister Barbara also spoke of her impact.
The Dominican Sisters were delighted to hear about the impact that Sister Barbara had among the Native Americans, the clergy, and Sisters with whom she ministered. What emerged was the picture of a woman who was gentle, affirming, and kind – but who also could be challenging. One woman spoke of repeatedly asking Sister Barbara the meaning of a contemplative experience and getting no response. Finally, Sister Barbara noted that such experiences have to be lived and taken in, not analyzed intellectually.
No account of Sister Barbara’s life could be complete without mention of her beloved dog, Petey, described by one gentleman as bald, black, and ugly, appealing to no one. Sister Barbara, however, showed Petey great affection, undeniably a symbol of her acceptance of all types of people.
When that dog died, she got Petey 2, beloved by many. He accompanied her everywhere: home visits, walks on the reservation. As one gentleman said, “Petey probably attended more Masses than most Catholics.”
Mass was followed by a celebratory meal. In the tradition of Potlach of the Northwest Native peoples, guests were all presented with gifts at the end of the feast.
What a privilege it was for us, especially the Sisters, to be immersed in the love and gratitude of the Native people Sister Barbara served so beautifully – and who were also such a gift to her. She was a grace-filled Preacher of the Gospel in word and action.