August 2, 2018, Adrian, Michigan – Sister Janet Capone, OP, who served as Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters from 1998 to 2004, died July 29, 2018, at the age of 80.
Sister Janet, whose religious name was Sister Mary Leonard, led the Congregation through a merger process with the Dominican Sisters of Edmonds, Washington, that culminated in their becoming part of the Adrian Dominican Sisters 15 years ago. The two congregations trace a common history to four Dominican nuns who came to the United States in 1853 from a monastery in Regensburg, Germany, to teach immigrant children. Both became independent religious congregations in 1923.
On June 14, 2003, Sister Janet and her counterpart, the late Sister Michele Kopp, OP, then Prioress of the Edmonds Dominican Sisters, co-led a ritual at a Eucharistic liturgy that united 55 Edmonds Dominicans with 980 Adrian Dominicans in a Congregation that numbered 1,035 members.
“Sister Janet’s great gifts of sensitivity, loving care, creativity, and good humor were brought to bear in the coming together of our Dominican communities,” said Adrian Dominican Prioress Sister Patricia Siemen, OP. “Her love of beauty and gentleness complemented an inner strength and determination to make difficult decisions throughout her life.”
Sister Joanne McCauley, OP, a member of the former Edmonds Dominican community who served on the Merger Committee, said of the merger, “It was a time of real deep searching, and Janet was with us all the way through it. Janet and her Council were so welcoming and attentive to our every need. … At one point she said she considered the merger one of her greatest accomplishments. That meant a great deal to us.”
Sister Joanne noted that Sister Janet’s concern for the members of the former Edmonds community continued after the merger. “She made sure we were welcomed as much as possible. We admired Janet’s vision and her acceptance of us – every single one of us.”
In 2002, prior to the merger, Sister Janet and the General Council hosted a Congregation-wide gathering of more than 1,000 Sisters, Associates, and guests – including members of the Edmonds Dominicans community. The weeklong gathering, held at the Adrian Motherhouse campus, included time for renewal and celebration, as well as workshops on issues of justice and peace.
During Sister Janet’s term in office, the General Council initiated several major renovations at the Motherhouse campus. In 2000, Holy Rosary Chapel, then nearly 100 years old, was closed for restoration and re-dedicated in 2003. That same year, St. Catherine Chapel was built to replace a smaller chapel that had served Sisters living in the Maria health care facility. The third major building project involved renovating the Weber Retreat and Conference Center.
Sister Janet’s six-year term encompassed the millennial celebrations; the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center; and the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. During this time, the Congregation continued its engagement in social justice issues, including, among other initiatives, joining in the “Jubilee” call to cancel the debts of developing countries and in efforts to halt the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Sister Maureen Comer, OP, who served on the General Council with Sister Janet, described her as “wise, insightful of persons, accepting of others, and holy,” and a person with a great sense of humor and a broad range of interests. “She called others to know and live their best selves” and helped them to nurture their life with God, Sister Maureen recalled.
Sister Janet began her ministry with the Adrian Dominican Sisters as a teacher in elementary and high schools in Florida and Marymount College in New York. She ministered as counselor for Adult Protective Services in Orlando, Florida, from 1981 to 1983.
Sister Janet then spent 13 years, 1983 to 1996, as director of Emmaus Community in St. Louis, Missouri, a residential program of personal growth and development for women religious. Prior to her election as Prioress, 1996 to 1998, she served as Administrator of the Dominican Life Center, a continuum of care residence for elder Adrian Dominican Sisters, whom she described as “models of people aging gracefully.”
Following her service to the Congregation as Prioress, Sister Janet became Vice President of Sponsorship for Dignity Health Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz, California, from 2005 to 2011. In this role, she educated hospital employees on the Mission and Vision of the Adrian Dominican Sisters and helped them integrate those values in their health care work. Sister Janet subsequently served as Chair of the Dominican Hospital Community Board, from 2012 until last year.
“Sister Janet was an amazing, kind, brilliant, wise woman who changed Dominican Hospital in so many ways,” said Nanette Mickiewicz, MD, President and CEO of Dignity Health Dominican Hospital. “Her artistic and impeccable taste was instrumental in the remodel of our lobby and selection of the colors for the entire hospital. Her wisdom and guidance to the Administrative team was deeply missed when she transitioned off the Board. My heart is heavy as I process the loss of this incredible woman.”
Born in New York, N.Y., to Veronica (Hall) and Leonard Capone, Sister Janet graduated in 1955 from the Adrian Dominican-sponsored Rosarian Academy in West Palm Beach, Florida, and entered the Congregation on September 2 that year. She professed her first vows on August 5, 1957, and final vows on August 5, 1962. Sister Janet earned a bachelor’s degree in French in 1963 from Barry College (University), Miami, Florida, and a master’s degree in guidance and counseling from Siena Heights College (University), Adrian. Both universities are sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters. She completed graduate studies at St. Louis University from 1972 to 1973.
During the 1998 Transfer of Leadership ceremony, the new General Council takes office: from left, Sisters Barbara Rund, Kathleen McGrail, Maureen Comer, Molly Giller, and Janet Capone.
Sister Carol Johannes, OP, former Prioress of the Congregation, had known Sister Janet for years, but first noticed her intense spirituality when Sister Janet was Administrator of the Dominican Life Center. “She was so successful in working with the Sisters who were ill: the quality of her presence and her communication to them that they mattered to the Congregation and that their health was important,” Sister Carol recalled. “She was so strong in her convictions, and they were all loving convictions.”
Sister Carol described Sister Janet as “prayerful and contemplative,” noting that someone once driving past her house at 5:30 a.m. saw her lights on. “We knew that Janet was praying,” Sister Carol said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that she got through the challenges of being Prioress because of her relationship with God and deep faith.”
Sister Janet is survived by a sister, Carole (Terrance) Frechette of Weston, Massachusetts, and six nephews and nieces.
A Vigil Service will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, August 5, 2018 in St. Catherine Chapel on the campus of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 E. Siena Heights Drive, Adrian. The Funeral Mass will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, August 6, 2018 in St. Catherine Chapel. The Rite of Committal (burial) will be in the Congregation Cemetery.
Click here to read Sister Janet's obituary.
Rod Davis, CEO of St. Rose Dominican Hospitals, with, from left, Sisters Rosemary Ferguson, Janet Capone, and Patricia Walter, during the dedication of the Siena Campus, June 23, 2000.
Former Prioresses in 2016 at the conclusion of General Chapter, from left: Sisters Rosemary Ferguson, Carol Johannes, Nadine Foley, Patricia Walter, Janet Capone, Donna Markham, and Attracta Kelly.
March 28, 2018, Adrian, Michigan – The presence, Mission, and Vision of the Adrian Dominican Sisters are lived out not only at the Motherhouse in Adrian, but wherever Sisters and Associates minister, and particularly in the universities, schools, hospitals, and literacy centers sponsored by the Congregation.
The widespread presence and Mission of the Congregation was celebrated March 22-24, 2018, during the Sponsorship Conference “Dominican Spirit: A Great Hope in Common” at Weber Retreat & Conference Center in Adrian. Attending were Sisters and Co-workers from Barry University, Miami Shores, Florida; Siena Heights University, Adrian; Regina Dominican High School, Wilmette, Illinois; Rosarian Academy, West Palm Beach, Florida; Dominican Hospital, Santa Cruz, California; and St. Rose Dominican Hospitals, Henderson and Las Vegas, Nevada.
Also attending were Sisters and Co-workers from the Congregation’s seven sponsored literacy centers, under the umbrella of Dominican Rea Literacy Centers: All Saints Literacy Center, Detroit; Adrian Rea Literacy Center, Adrian; Aquinas Literacy Center, Chicago; DePorres P.L.A.C.E., West Palm Beach, Florida; Dominican Literacy Center, Detroit; St. Luke’s N.E.W. Life Center, Flint, Michigan; and Siena Literacy Center, Detroit.
The conference gave participants the opportunity to get to know one another, learn about the Mission and history of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, experience times of contemplative sitting, share their experiences of living out the Congregation’s Mission in their institution, and learn new ways that they and their institution can live out the Mission.
“Today we gather in the spirit of St. Dominic – vibrant in our world for over 800 years,” said Sister Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP, General Councilor, in her welcome to the conference participants on March 23. Sister Mary Margaret is the General Council liaison to the Sponsorship Commission, which plans and organizes the sponsorship conference.
Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress of the Congregation, gave an overview of the history of the Dominican Order and the Adrian Dominican Sisters and of the four pillars of Dominican life – study, prayer, community, and preaching. In addition, she introduced participants to the four Enactments from the Congregation’s 2016 General Chapter: Spiritual Longings, Sustainability, Resilient Communities, and Diversity-Relationships. Members of the General Council explained the Enactments in greater detail on the morning of March 24.
“My heart is abundantly grateful to each of you for your commitment to participate with us and even more so for your faithful commitment to your ministry or institution,” Sister Pat said. “As the number of our Sisters and Associates serving in our institutions decline, we give to you our Dominican history and heritage. We stand ready to assist and give moral and spiritual support.”
Co-workers from each of the institutions shared their own reflections and experiences of living out the Adrian Dominican Mission, both individually and in their respective institutions.
Ministering at St. Rose Dominican Hospitals has been “transformational and relational,” said Teressa Conley, President of the St. Rose de Lima Hospital. “We are changed by working side by side with our Sisters. They show us the ‘why’ of health care and the difference between a healing experience and a simple clinical experience.”
She recalled the tragic day, October 1, 2017, when 58 people in Las Vegas were killed in a mass shooting. “Our hospitals played a major part [in healing those who were wounded], and our Sisters were front and center in healing, ministering, and grieving – not only with patients and families but with the staff. … If you were to ask staff what is the most important part of being a faith-based community, I know what they would say.”
Jill Farrell, Dean of the Adrian Dominican School of Education at Barry University, said she always felt included and accepted in the Barry community – and challenged to grow. “I think I’m a reflection of what happens to all of us” at Barry, she said. “We are able to dig deep within ourselves. We get to know ourselves so well that we grow into the person we’re supposed to be.” She said she was then able to help develop leaders for the local community and the global community, bring Barry programs to the Bahamas, and “grow a vibrant presence there.”
Nanette Mickiewicz, MD, President of Dominican Hospital, said she sees the Adrian Dominican mission in action every day at the hospital: through traditional health care ministries such as the mobile van and the work of doctors and nurses – but also through other employees of Dominican. “I see the food and nutrition workers, the social workers, and the engineers,” she said “Even though their job isn’t specific patient care, we couldn’t do our job without them. They remind us that this isn’t our job – it’s our mission.”
In small groups, participants from different institutions discussed what their own institution was doing to “develop, live, nurture and sustain the Dominican identity and spirit” and how they could improve on what they were doing. The next morning, after hearing more detailed descriptions of the four General Chapter Enactments, participants discussed them in small groups.
During the final afternoon, Sisters and Co-workers from the same institution gathered to discuss how they would move forward the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Mission, Vision, and Enactments. Drawing on the 2016 General Chapter theme, “A Great Hope in Common,” the conference culminated with the final formal session, in which representatives of each institution shared their “action plan” for continuing to nurture the Adrian Dominican spirit and Mission. Representatives of each institution wrote their action plan on the back of a puzzle piece that contained their institution’s name, so that the institutions – and the Adrian Dominican Sisters – together shared “A Great Hope in Common.”
Sister Mary Margaret sent the group out with a new responsibility: “to take this message to your board, your employees, your patients, your students.”
Sister Pat closed the last formal session by expressing her gratitude to the conference participants – and to their colleagues back home at their institutions. “You are the ones with feet on the ground who are literally living the Gospel, who are literally bringing our Dominican charism to life,” she said. “We support you and we entrust you to the future.”
Members of the Sponsorship Commission are: Roxanne Davies, Barry University; Sister Sharon Weber, OP, Siena Heights University; Sister Mary Jean Williams, OP, Regina Dominican High School; Linda Trethewey, Rosarian Academy; Sister Rita Eileen Dean, OP, Dominican Hospital; Sister Kathleen McGrail, OP, St. Rose Dominican Hospitals; and Sister Carleen Maly, OP, Dominican Rea Literacy Centers.