November 5, 2018, Adrian, Michigan – About 100 Catholic Sisters from most of the 19 religious communities serving in the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan, gathered October 20 at the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse. The annual event, coordinated by the diocesan Office of Consecrated Life, offers the women religious the opportunity to get to know each other through a program of prayer, lunch, conversation, talks, and Mass.
Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Congregation, welcomed the Sisters to the Motherhouse. She expressed the hope that the participants would “continue our conversations and go a bit deeper with each other on our lives together, because regardless of the congregation or community that we are members of, we are clearly Sisters to each other and Sisters in our commitment to the Gospel of Jesus.”
Grand Rapids Dominican Sister Rita Wenzlick, OP, Delegate for Consecrated Life for the diocese, also welcomed participants. Inspired by a talk by noted speaker and author Sister Joan Chittister, OSB, on the application of the Rule of St. Benedict to modern life, Sister Rita undertook a similar study of the Rule of St. Augustine, adopted by St. Dominic.
Sister Rita discussed five points about the Rule of St. Augustine and how Sisters can live them out today.
After lunch, Adrian Dominican Sister Marietta Churches, OP, focused on the theme of the gathering, “Celebrating You.” Noting that Sisters often focus on their failures or short-comings, she encouraged the Sisters instead to focus on their gifts from God. “We are wonderful women – we are W-squared,” she said.
“I love being a woman religious,” Sister Marietta said. “To me it is exciting. It is challenging. It is vibrant. It is awesome. It is scary.” Many are concerned about the future of religious life, which is dwindling in numbers. “And yet, I do feel a sense that God is in our midst,” Sister Marietta said. “If I can be assured of that, that’s all I want. And I’m going to walk humbly and walk faithfully with my God.”
Noting that she had never ministered in far places such as Africa or the Philippines, Sister Marietta said that she had been privileged in 1994 to help with the foundation of St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Brighton, Michigan.
She encouraged the Sisters to discern where they might be called in the Church. “I just think that we can make a dynamic impact on the Church,” she said. She encouraged the Sisters to affirm one another rather than to find fault in small matters. “You’re chosen, wanted, and blessed,” she told the Sisters.
Sister Marietta concluded by leading Sisters in an exercise in which they quietly wrote down their own gifts from God and discussed their gifts with the others at their table.
The gathering closed with Mass in Holy Rosary Chapel, celebrated by Bishop Earl Boyea of the Diocese of Lansing. “It’s a great joy to be here with you today,” he told the Sisters. “I’m so appreciative of your many gifts.”
Single Catholic women who feel called to religious life should contact the Vocations Office in her home diocese or the religious community to which they feel a call. Dawn Hausmann, Director of Consecrated Religious Vocations for the Diocese of Lansing, can be reached at 517-342-2506.
Those interested in vowed life as an Adrian Dominican Sister should contact one of the Co-directors of Vocations: Sister Tarianne DeYonker, OP, 517-266-3532, firstname.lastname@example.org; and Sister Mariane Fahlman, OP, 517-266-3537, email@example.com.
Feature photo (top): Sisters serving in the Diocese of Lansing work on a project to identify their gifts during the annual gathering of Sisters.
November 2, 2018, Chicago – Sherrie Ashley, a retired special education teacher and current teacher’s aide living in Manteno, Illinois, became the newest Adrian Dominican Associate during the annual Fall Chapter Assembly of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Dominican Midwest Mission Chapter, based in Chicago. The assembly was held October 27 at the Mercy Center.
The ritual included a brief introduction by Sister Norine Burns, OP, Sherrie’s mentor; Sherrie’s formal acceptance of the call to be known as an Adrian Dominican Associate; the signing of the formal documents of commitment; and Sherrie’s reception of the Adrian Dominican Associates logo.
“I am inspired but also blessed to have learned and to be learning about living simply and praying deeply; studying and preaching; and being a voice of justice, especially for those who have no voice,” Sherrie said. She added that her formation as an Adrian Dominican Associate “has affected me in all areas of my life, especially in my chosen ministries and in my paying job for men with developmental disabilities.”
In her application, Sherrie stated that she hoped, as an Adrian Dominican Associate, to receive “partnership in a community of faithful believers in Jesus and in his mission for each of us, support and guidance in deepening my own walk with Jesus.”
While familiar with the Racine Dominican Sisters, Sherrie first became aware of the Adrian Dominican Sisters when one conducted a mission appeal at her parish. She felt the call to live simply and to be compassionate to “those who are disabled, suffering, poor, or dying,” she said.
Sherrie is active at her parish, St. Joseph Catholic Church in Manteno, as a catechist, lector, and Eucharistic minister and has been training to be a hospice volunteer. She is also in discernment about becoming a chaplain. A “life-long learner, always studying and reading,” Sherrie holds two master’s degrees: in curriculum/special education and in educational leadership.
Sherrie and her husband have two adult children and two grandchildren. They also devote time and energy to a rescue for great danes, and care for the massive dogs when their owners can no longer care for them.
Associates are women and men, at least 18 years of age, who make a non-vowed commitment to share in the Mission and Vision of the Adrian Dominican Sisters. While maintaining their independent lifestyle, they participate in ministries and activities of the Adrian Dominican Sisters. For more information on becoming an Associate, contact Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life, at 517-266-3531 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a single Catholic woman interested in religious life – or know of a young Catholic woman who is – contact Sister Tarianne DeYonker, OP, at 517-266-3532 or email@example.com or Sister Mariane Fahlman, OP, a 517-266-3537 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feature photo: Sherrie Ashley, a new Associate, signs her document of commitment in front of her mentor, Sister Norine Burns, OP. Photos by Sister Jane Zimmerman, OP