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Sister Patricia Benson, OP, Presents Spiritual Lessons from St. Catherine of Siena

May 4, 2020, Adrian, Michigan – Disciples of Jesus today can learn much from the experience and wisdom of a medieval Dominican mystic and saint whose focus was on love of God and love of neighbor.

Sister Patricia Benson, OP, a member of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Spirituality Committee, gave a presentation to Sisters and Associate via live stream, “The Challenge of St. Catherine of Siena Today” on St. Catherine’s Feast Day, April 29, 2020. 

Sister Patricia began her presentation by noting that St. Catherine lived through the Black Death plague, which historians believe killed about a third of the population of Europe. St. Catherine “was supported by her faith,” Sister Patricia said. “Our living God will support us, too, as we live day by day, and I hope that this short presentation will support us as we each take our own next steps in response to God’s invitation."

“What is unique is [St. Catherine’s] focus on one’s motivation for loving,” Sister Patricia said. “The very same act can be motivated in different ways. The challenge to us is to accept God’s invitation to purify our motivation of self-centeredness and to really love more unconditionally, as Jesus did.”

Sister Patricia also noted St. Catherine’s focus on self-knowledge, which helps us to determine our motivation and provides the humility to see ourselves as we are in relation to God and others.

Motivation is the key factor in the various spiritual stages that people of faith tend to go through, Sister Patricia said. These stages range from the Mercenary Stage – motivated by “fear of damnation” and by a greater desire to please others rather than God – through the last two stages. 

The Filial Stage is “marked by peace and a deep realization that we are the dearest daughter or son of God,” as well as the desire to do God’s work, Sister Patricia explained. The final stage, Union with God, is one of perfect love, in which “the soul is on fire or ablaze with love,” Sister Patricia said. “One is fused with the blood of Christ and runs to the table of the cross. One is willing to suffer for love of the other.” 

The teaching of St. Catherine “truly challenges us to grow in self-knowledge and to develop love,” Sister Patricia said. “As God sustained her to accomplish great things, so does that same love support each of us as we endeavor to carry out the mission of Jesus in Church and society in these difficult days.”


From West to East, Sisters Creatively Celebrate Jubilees

April 29, 2020, Adrian, Michigan – For many people around the world, 2020 will mark the year of the COVID-19 virus and the many fears and challenges that it brought about. But 2020 is also a special year for 69 Adrian Dominican Sisters. It marks their Jubilee in religious life, whether 25, 50, 60, 70, or 75 years. 

In the midst of sheltering in place and physical distancing, Sisters have found creative ways to celebrate their Jubilees this year.

Before most areas imposed shelter-in-place orders, Sister Patricia (Michael Dominic) Erickson, OP, celebrated her Diamond (60-year) Jubilee with nine other Sisters from the Diocese of San Diego, California. The diocese’s 21st Annual Appreciation and Jubilee Celebration for Women Religious included Mass and dinner. Bishop Robert W. McElroy and Auxiliary Bishop John P. Dolan presided over the celebration.

Sister Pat, a nurse practitioner, came to San Diego to offer her medical services to migrants who had applied for asylum in the United States but were forced to stay in Mexico while awaiting their hearing. “I miss going to the shelters and wonder every day how the migrants in Tijuana are,” she said.

Before this ministry in San Diego, Sister Pat had served as a nurse in Florida, caring for unaccompanied children from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras who were awaiting sponsors in the United States while staying at a specially designated Air Reserve Base in Florida.

At the Jubilee Celebration of the Diocese of San Diego are, back row, from left, Bishop Robert W. McElroy; Sisters Judith Sheridan, SMSM, Lilia Vega, SJS, Rosemary Nicholson, RJM, and Kathleen Warren, OSF, and Auxiliary Bishop John P. Dolan; and front row, from left, Sisters Maureen Kelley, RSM, Patricia Erickson, OP, Katharina Contreras, TM, Angelina Robles Larios, HCJS, Maria Luisa Pelayo, SJS, and Guadalupe Jimenez, TM. Photo by Denis Grasska, The Southern Cross Newspaper

 

From left, Sisters Adrienne Schaffer, OP, and Patricia Sporer, OP, celebrate Sister Mary Kay's Jubilee.

In the Detroit area, Sister Mary Kay (Mark Christine) Homan, OP, received an impromptu, heart-warming Jubilee celebration when Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates drove through the parking lot of her apartment complex in Warren, Michigan, A Mass and dinner scheduled for Friday, April 24, was postponed.

“COVID-19 can take away a lot of things, but it can’t ever take away our spirit, love, and care for each other,” said Sister Mariane Fahlman, OP, who coordinated the event. “Seventeen cars processed through the Burg apartment complex, horns blaring and faces covered in masks, with broad smiles.” 

In her 60 years in religious life, Sister Mary Kay ministered as a teacher, principal, high school president, pastoral associate, and member of the Congregation’s General Council. Now she brings Communion to the homebound, visits hospital patients, and tutors weekly at the Dominican Literacy Center in Detroit.

“I made the decision to enter at a young age but I found I had to keep making the decision,” she said. “It has been a good decision for me, one I never regretted. I have made dear friends and have felt great support throughout my life.” 

The Congregation’s celebration of the 2020 Adrian Dominican Jubilarians is suspended until 2021. The Adrian Dominican Congregation also honors the memory of the 2020 deceased Jubilarians, who would have celebrated 80, 75, 70, 60, and 50 years of religious life.



From left: Sisters Pat Magee, OP, left, and Mary Kay Homan, OP, enjoy the celebration. Associate Carol Hofer participates in the drive-by Jubilee celebration.


Feature photo (top): From left, Sister Patricia Erickson, OP, Sister Rosemary Nicholson, RJM, and Bishop Robert McElroy at Jubilee Mass. Sister Pat reads intercessions in Spanish and Sister Rosemary in English. Photo by Denis Grasska, The Southern Cross Newspaper


 

 

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