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:
“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.
So good to have a place to remember these wonderful women who have shared their vision and ministry as Dominican Women. I am proud to have known Esperanza in formation 1963-64 along with Evangelina, Regina, and Digna. And more proud of the work they continue to do. God bless you all.
Thank you so much for this lovely tribute to our sisters in the Philippines. They are a blessing to us .