By Sister Peggy Coyne, OP
December 17, 2015, Adrian, Michigan – When I was a young nurse working in an ICU at a large teaching hospital in the Bronx, we were required to work every other holiday. I worked one Christmas Eve and had to double back on Christmas Day.
One of my patients, David, was a fairly young man who was quite ill – sick but stable. During the eight-hour shift, he talked of being a scientist. He loved astronomy and was fascinated by the universe. A little after 11:00 p.m., I said good bye to David and told him that I would see him in the morning. He said no, I would not see him, because he was going to die and a comet was coming for him. His face radiated peace as he said this.
I replied, “Comet?” He said, “Yes,” and we looked out the window where he pointed to a group of stars. In a rush to get home, I smiled and said, “I’ll see you later.”
During my drive home, I kept looking toward the sky for the comet David was sure would come for him. I saw stars and the moon, but nothing resembling a comet.
Well, in less than two hours, he was gone. When I came in at 7:00 a.m., his cubicle was indeed empty. His face and smile are with me still. Not a Christmas has passed that I do not think of David and the comet. I was gifted with his sense of internal peace. There was no struggle; he seemed to know that he would be in a safe place. The comet was his comfort.
When I hear the carol, “The First Noel,” I am struck by the words, “They looked up and saw a star.” I always say a prayer for David, who taught me to take time to look at the stars.
December 17, 2015, Adrian, Michigan – Sisters Patricia Dulka, OP, and Helen Sohn, OP, formally began their new ministries as Chapter Prioress and Vicaress respectively of the Holy Rosary Mission Chapter, a Chapter of Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates based in Adrian, Michigan. The blessing ritual took place December 14 in St. Catherine Chapel at the Motherhouse in Adrian.
Sisters Pat and Helen are assuming the leadership of the Holy Rosary Mission Chapter following the resignation of Sister Mary Ann Dardy, who stepped down for health considerations.
In their positions as Chapter Prioress and Vicaress, Sisters Pat and Helen share responsibility for serving as major superior of the Sisters in the Chapter, promoting the unity of the Chapter, inspiring the Sisters to fidelity, and protecting their rights. Both will serve as members of the Leadership Council of the Congregation.
Sister Attracta Kelly, OP, Prioress of the Congregation, presided over the prayer service, during which Sisters Pat and Helen accepted their call to leadership and members of the Chapter affirmed their support and prayers for them. Members of the General Council – Sisters Tarianne DeYonker, Corinne Sanders, and Rosemary Abramovich – also prayed a special blessing over Sisters Pat and Helen.
Blessing Sisters Pat and Helen are members of the General Council, from left: Sisters Rosemary Abramovich, Tarianne DeYonker, Corinne Sanders, and Attracta Kelly.
“I humbly stand before you as a believer in the mystery of this call to service, as a believer in God’s unconditional love and grace that comes with this call, and as a believer that our time, our life together, is all about relationships, openness, and trust in order for us to be able to do the work of the Lord together,” Sister Pat told the Sisters and Associates of Holy Rosary.
Sister Pat noted that Holy Rosary – made up predominantly of Sisters who live on the Motherhouse campus and of nearby Associates – is a “very unique Chapter. …The things that are really important in life and in death are found here. I want to learn that.”
Sister Pat comes to Holy Rosary Chapter after a sabbatical, which followed her service from 2008 to 2014 as Chapter Prioress of the Dominican Midwest Chapter, based in Chicago. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Sister Pat taught for more than 20 years at elementary and high schools in Michigan and Illinois before earning her master’s degree in social work in 1982. She since served as a social worker at Regina Dominican High School, sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Congregation and located in Wilmette, Illinois; Mercy Home for Boys and Girls in Chicago; and Catholic Charities of Lenawee in Adrian.
Sister Helen, for her part, thanked the members of Holy Rosary Chapter, as well as Sister Attracta and the General Council, for the support they had shown her over the past months, when she served as Interim Chapter Prioress. “I feel privileged to be called to be your Vicaress and I will do my best to serve you well,” she said, asking for their words of wisdom and their prayers. “May our time together bear fruit for our Congregation, our Church, and our world.”
A native of Lansing, Michigan, and originally a teacher, Sister Helen has served in Congregational leadership several times: as secretary-treasurer and later as Co-Provincial of the Detroit-based Immaculate Conception Province, a fore-runner to Chapters; as Secretary of the Congregation; and finally, as a member of the General Council from 1982 to 1986. She then served as pastoral minister at two Detroit-area parishes, St. Alfred Parish in Taylor, Michigan, and at St. Joseph Parish in Trenton, Michigan.
Sister Pat addresses the Sisters of Holy Rosary Chapter,
while Sister Helen listens.
Sister Attracta Kelly, OP, Prioress of the Congregation, addresses Sisters Patricia Dulka and Helen Sohn.
Sister Marilee Ewing extends her blessings on the new Prioress and Vicaress of Holy Rosary.