Adrian Dominican Sisters Dedicate Memorial Marker for Filipina Sisters

May 1, 2017, Adrian, Michigan – In a brief but moving ritual, the Adrian Dominican Sisters on April 28 dedicated a memorial marker for Sisters in the Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter, based in Pampanga, Philippines. 

Engraved on the stone marker in the Congregation’s cemetery are the names of Sisters Aleli Mayor José, OP; Esperanza Leonardo Bonifacio, OP; Lettyham Gomez Espiritu, OP; and La Purisima Alcantara Careso, OP. The names of other Sisters from the Remedies Chapter will be engraved on the marker upon their deaths.

The memorial marker is testament to the close connection between the Dominican Sisters in the Philippines and the Adrian Dominican Sisters, who helped the Filipino congregation become established in the 1960s. The Adrian Dominican congregation provided formation of the first Remedies Sisters. The two congregations merged in November 2011, on the Feast of Our Lady of Remedies.

The ritual began in the gathering space of St. Catherine Chapel, where Sister Kathleen Schanz, OP, former General Councilor, facilitated the service. Sister Rosemary Ferguson, Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters at the time of the Remedies Sisters’ independence, read a letter she had written at the time. 

“It is gratifying to see the fruits of our own Sisters’ ministry among these Filipina Sisters,” Sister Rosemary had written. “They are a fine and noble group of women, beautiful in the Lord – unusually so – very Asian, very Dominican. They have a beautiful fortitude and grit. … I believe that our Congregation will be blessed for our part in the formation of the diocesan community, for they seem to be a prophetic sign in the Philippines.”

As a symbol of the connection, Sister Zenaida Nacpil, OP, Chapter Prioress of the Remedies Mission Chapter, brought hand-sewn scarves of the colors of her native country. Each member of the Leadership Council – made up of the General Council and the Chapter Prioresses of each of seven Chapters – chose a scarf and wore it during the procession and dedication at the cemetery.

Noting poet John O’Donohue’s reference to stones as “tabernacles of memory,” Sister Kathleen spoke to the small group of Sisters and Co-workers gathered around the marker in the cemetery. “We stand within a circle of stone and of rich memory, at the same time surrounded by circle in this cemetery,” she said. “Circles of stone, in silence and stillness, they are tabernacles of memory for all of us as Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates, our family and our friends.” 

During the ritual, members of the Leadership Council read brief biographies of the Sisters whose names are etched in the marker:

  • Sister Aleli Jose (1939-1994) was born in Manila and came to know the Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of Remedies during her involvement with the Young Christian Workers in the region of Pampanga. She entered in May 1967 and was the Congregation’s third Prioress. She was always focused on struggling people, especially farmers and fisher folks, and pioneered the Congregation’s social action ministry.

  • Sister Esperanza “Esper” Bonifacio (1933-2007) was a pioneer of the Remedies Congregation, one of four Filipina Sisters who traveled to Adrian, Michigan, for their formation. Back in the Philippines, her first ministry was as a catechist (religion teacher); later she also ministered in training catechists; coordinated feeding programs for mothers and children; and served as secretary to the Office of Archbishop of San Fernando in Pampanga.

  • Sister Lettyham “Letty” Espiritu (1965-2011) was born in Saigan, Viet Nam, but at the age of 5 moved with her family to the Philippines, her family’s native country. She met the Congregation at Mother of Good Counsel Seminary in San Fernando and entered in 1993. She taught; served as treasurer of Holy Rosary College; ministered at the Tala Leprosarium Hospital; served as Formator for Sisters in temporary profession; and as coordinator of the Dominican Social Action Pastoral Ministry.

  • Sister La Purisima “PuringCareso, the first of the Filipina Sisters to die as an Adrian Dominican Sister, died on May 29, 2016, at the age of 62. She entered in 1982 and ministered as treasurer in various parochial schools; coordinated of the Social Action Center; and ministered with the indigenous Aeta community. She was also well known as a musician and composer. 

“We are reminded of the holiness and the aliveness of Aleli, of Esper, of Letty, of Puring, and of what a blessing their lives are to their people and to us,” Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress, said as she began the sprinkling rite, blessing the marker.

   
LEFT: Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress, right, holds a basket while Sister Carol Jean Kesterke, OP, a member of the Leadership Council, selects a hand-sewn scarf from the Philippines. Sister Frances Nadolny, OP, looks on. RIGHT: Sisters Zenaida Nacpil, OP, left, and Patricia Siemen, OP, lead a procession to the cemetery.

 


Sisters surround the memorial marker for the dedication.

$35 million gift to help Mercy Housing Northwest build new housing and services facility

May 1, 2017, Seattle, Washington – Mercy Housing Northwest received a gift of $30 million from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and another $5 million from the City of Seattle to “develop, own, and operate” a supportive housing and services facility for families experiencing homelessness in Seattle, according to a press release from the City of Seattle, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, and Mercy Housing Northwest. 

“Yesterday we received an anniversary gift beyond our biggest dreams,” Sister Judy Byron, OP, wrote in an April 27 email to Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates. Sister Judy serves on the Board of Directors of Mercy Housing Northwest. “The [Paul G. Allen Family] Foundation came to us and invited us into this partnership.”

The purpose of the project is to create permanent, stable homes for families experiencing homelessness and, through a number of onsite services, help them to break the cycle of homelessness. Some 1,684 families in King County, Washington, are homeless. 

Sister Judy and Sister Lorene Heck, OP, have been involved in Mercy Housing Northwest from its beginning 25 years ago. They were Edmonds Dominican Sisters and the organization was founded as Intercommunity Housing. The Edmonds Dominican Sisters and the Adrian Dominican Sisters merged in 2003.

“Each year, more than 5,000 children and adults, including single-parent families, multigenerational households, elders, immigrants, and refugees in Washington State are at home in one of our properties,” Sister Judy said. “And, because a home is just the beginning, we provide on-site services such as health and wellness classes, life skills training, and after-school programs that help residents live up to their potential and move out of poverty.” 

Sister Judy expressed deep gratitude to Paul Allen and to the religious communities of the Northwest – the Tacoma Dominicans, the Edmonds (now Adrian) Dominicans, the Sisters of Providence, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, and the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary – for their long-time commitment to the housing ministry.

To learn more about the project, read this article by Vernal Coleman of the Seattle Times.


 

 

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