August 16, 2018, Adrian, Michigan – During Partners VI, the annual gathering of Associates, three new Associates were welcomed through the Rite of Acceptance on August 11.
Judi Engel, an Adrian Dominican Sister from 1964 to 2006, is an artist, educator, and consultant living in Columbus, Ohio. She had taught in inner city schools and was involved in a variety of other ministries for the Archdiocese of Detroit and the Diocese of Columbus. While beginning her retirement, she anticipates remaining involved in spirituality and art – drawing, watercolors, and photography.
“Judi is best known for her preaching with her gift of art,” said Associate Trudy McSorley, who mentored Judi. She noted examples of Judi’s work around the Motherhouse campus. “In the Roncalli hallway, Judi’s mural of Dominic looking over this very campus is a powerful meditation as we consider resiliency in community,” Trudy said. Judi’s sculpture, Christ Rising, in the meditation room at INAI: A Space Apart “invites us into that very mystery,” she said.
Judi said she is “a Dominican for life – not just in the vowed structure.” Upon her acceptance, she presented a new art work, distributing printed copies to those present, using the theme, “It happens, sometimes, that the way is beautiful.” That line, her own simplified translation of a line from the French book, Miserere, by French painter Georges Rouault, “is a summary of my own journey with the Adrian Dominican Congregation, and with profound gratitude I offer it as a statement of my desire to continue to share that journey as an Adrian Dominican Associate.
Gladys Cruz, of Isleton, California, was born in Tokyo, Japan, to a U.S. Roman Catholic father and a Japanese Buddhist mother. She has lived in the United States since the age of 6. Gladys met the Adrian Dominican Sisters at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz. She and her husband Greg are the parents of four adult sons – including a special needs son – and have four grandchildren. She is a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society and a catechist.
Associate Connie Brady, mentor of Gladys, said the two of them have come “full circle.” Twenty years ago, she said, Gladys was instrumental in Connie entering the Catholic Church. “We became great friends, and over the years, I learned that Gladys had one phrase she said over and over again: ‘When somebody needs help, you just help them.’”
Thanking Connie and Associate Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life, for their formation work with her, Gladys noted how she had been influenced by the Dominican family. “When I look back at my life, Dominican priests and nuns have been a firm part of my religious journey,” she said. “I can hear God saying, ‘Gladys, I’m not through with you yet.’”
Eileen Negus, of Adrian, has been involved with Sisters at the Dominican Life Center, especially assisting at Bingo games and baking for the Sisters, funerals, and fundraisers. A life-long Catholic, she assists at the food pantry and hospice program at St. Mary’s Parish in Adrian and with a cancer support group; she lost her only daughter to cancer years ago.
Associate Marge Coneset, mentor of Eileen, met Eileen four years ago when they both took a water aerobics class from the late Sister Rose Celeste O’Connell, OP. During her formation in Associate Life, “it became very clear that Eileen has what it takes to be committed to Associate Life,” Marge said. “Her faith is steadfast and she is grateful to God for all of her blessings. Her love of community and of the Adrian Dominican Sisters and caring for those in need have become her mission.”
Ellen expressed her gratefulness in becoming an Associate. “It has become very clear that my mission of serving my community and my church fits in with the Dominican charism. … I’m blessed with my life and want to help others when I can. I hope to continue my mission as an Associate.”
After the formal introductions, Mary Lach formally questioned Judi, Gladys, and Eileen, on their willingness to be known as an Adrian Dominican Associate. All Associates and Sisters present at the ritual affirmed the new Associates, saying, “We acknowledge the oneness of our baptismal commitment and work together to deepen our faith in Jesus Christ. … May we continue to explore the meaning and exercise of ministry for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a developing future.”
The new Associates completed the formalities of their new status by signing the Agreement of Association, stating their willingness to enter into a formal relationship with the Adrian Dominican Sisters. As a symbol of this commitment, the new Associates each received an Associate logo from her mentor.
At the conclusion of the ritual, the Associates in attendance presented their own signed commitments to Associate Life until the next General Chapter in 2022. The signed documents were placed in a basket at the foot of the altar, where they represented the Associates’ offering of their lives to God.
Associates are women and men – married or single – at least 18 years of age and committed to sharing the Mission and Vision of the Adrian Dominican Sisters. While maintaining their independent lifestyles, Associates share in the Sisters’ mission and vision and participate in Congregational, spiritual, and social events with the Sisters.
If you’re interested in becoming an Adrian Dominican Associate, contact Mary Lach at 517-266-3531 or email@example.com. If you are a single Catholic woman interested in discerning vowed religious life with the Adrian Dominican Sisters, contact Vocation Co-Directors Sister Tarianne DeYonker, OP, at 517-266-3532, firstname.lastname@example.org or Sister Mariane Fahlman, OP, at 517-266-3537, email@example.com.
Feature photo (top): Mentors present the Associate Life logo to new Associates. From left are Associates Gladys Cruz, Connie Brady, Eileen Negus, and Marge Coneset.
Associates sing the Dominican Blessing over the new Associates.
August 8, 2018, Adrian, Michigan – Adrian Dominican Sisters, Associates, Co-workers, family members, friends, and colleagues of Sister Janet Capone, OP, gathered August 5-6, 2018, for two days of formal and informal services to honor the former Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
The special days included an August 5 wake and Vigil Service, during which participants shared their personal memories of Sister Janet, and the Funeral Mass and Rite of Committal on August 6. Participants also had the opportunity to share their memories after the formal Vigil Service on August 5, during the lunch that followed the Committal, and at various other informal gatherings.
Highlights of Sister Janet’s term as Prioress, from 1998 to 2004, included the merger of the Adrian Dominican Sisters with the Edmonds Dominican Sisters. In addition, she and the General Council oversaw the renovation of Holy Rosary Chapel, the construction of St. Catherine Chapel to replace the smaller Maria Chapel at the Dominican Life Center, and the renovation of Weber Retreat and Conference Center.
During the Vigil Service on the evening of August 5, Sister Mary Ann Caulfield, OP, Chapter Prioress of the Florida Mission Chapter, gave a eulogy, focusing on the life of Sister Janet. Read some of the details of her life here.
As a professed Adrian Dominican Sister, “Janet continued to grow as a woman of prayer, wisdom, and grace,” Sister Mary Ann said. Sister Janet’s mantra were the words she spoke to the Congregation at General Chapter 2004 toward the end of her term as Prioress of the Congregation. Drawing on the words of Lee Ann Womack in her song, “I Hope You Dance,” Sister Janet had told the Adrian Dominican Sisters, “When you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance.”
Sister Mary Ann used that theme throughout her eulogy in describing Sister Janet’s various ministries and the spirit with which she lived. In September 2017, Sister Janet began to experience health issues “but continued the dance of life as a valiant and courageous woman until her death,” Sister Mary Ann said. “So, Janet, you have graced us with your presence. You have blessed us in so many ways. Now you rejoice with your Beloved. Your spirit dances with the divine presence. You are clothed in majesty.”
Sister Maureen Comer, OP, who had served on the General Council when Sister Janet was Prioress, maintained a friendship with Sister Janet after their terms in office. Sister Maureen drew on Sister Janet’s favorite quote from Rumi: “Beyond the place of right judgment and wrong judgment, there is a field. I will meet you there.”
“One of the outstanding gifts of Janet was that she would invite people to meet in that field, where one is known and accepted, right or wrong, and here we are – blessed persons, each one of us, and especially blessed because Janet Ann Capone came into our lives,” Sister Maureen said.
She further described Sister Janet as “the consummate educator,” who successfully taught first-grade students to read. “She was a great teacher for those of us a lot older than first grade,” Sister Maureen said. “She helped many to know who we are, to accept who we are, to celebrate who we are.”
Carole Goguen, Sister Janet’s grand-niece, spoke for the family. “We call Boston home, and while Sister Janet was not always present physically, her presence was always with us – a faraway friend who always answered the phone when we needed her. She was always watching over us. She was observant. She was thoughtful. She was helpful. She was concise – and she was ours,” Carolyn said. “Today, as we honor our sister, our friend, our friend, our leader, we should take comfort in knowing that our everyday angel on Earth now has a better view, and we’ll continue to honor her memory.”
During the funeral on August 6, Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress, offered a brief reflection on Sister Janet and the courage she showed throughout her life – particularly during their visit in January 2018, when Sister Janet had begun to realize that she would likely not recover from cancer. “She said to me, ‘Pat, I have placed myself within the heart of God. I know that it’s safe there.’ And that is one of Janet’s last gifts to us: her placing herself into God’s heart. It gives us permission to do the same.”
Sister Eunice Drazba, OP, who had ministered with Sister Janet at Emmaus Community in St. Louis, delivered a reflection, focusing in turn on each of the readings. The first reading, from Wisdom, described a valiant, faithful woman. “What gives this woman wisdom and makes her faithful?” Sister Eunice asked. “Being able to dance for joy and in sorrow, knowing her labors are worthwhile and pursuing them daily, and a step at a time.”
Psalm 111, the responsorial psalm, “leads us to giving thanks to God and celebrating the goodness present to us daily,” Sister Eunice said. “Janet lived these praises daily, starting each day putting two feet on the floor and showing up. This was one of her mottos: just show up. In showing up, we trust God to be with and lead us to our next move, decision, choice, plan.”
Describing the Beatitudes as “the blueprints of walking with Jesus,” Sister Eunice noted that Sister Janet “created and followed her blueprint that Jesus modeled.” She invited the assembly, in memory of Sister Janet, to reflect on their own lives as inspired by the readings and to “tweak or affirm our own blueprint for the life worth living.”
The formal farewell to Sister Janet concluded at the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ cemetery, where Sister Janet was laid to rest in the circle of discipleship and friendship among other Adrian Dominican Sisters who have joined the Communion of Saints in Heaven.
Feature photo (top): Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress, places into the hands of Sister Janet Capone, OP, vows she made as a Sister.
Sister Patricia Harvat, OP, General Councilor, blesses Sister Janet during the Rite of Committal in the Congregation Cemetery.