March 28, 2018, Adrian, Michigan – The presence, Mission, and Vision of the Adrian Dominican Sisters are lived out not only at the Motherhouse in Adrian, but wherever Sisters and Associates minister, and particularly in the universities, schools, hospitals, and literacy centers sponsored by the Congregation.
The widespread presence and Mission of the Congregation was celebrated March 22-24, 2018, during the Sponsorship Conference “Dominican Spirit: A Great Hope in Common” at Weber Retreat & Conference Center in Adrian. Attending were Sisters and Co-workers from Barry University, Miami Shores, Florida; Siena Heights University, Adrian; Regina Dominican High School, Wilmette, Illinois; Rosarian Academy, West Palm Beach, Florida; Dominican Hospital, Santa Cruz, California; and St. Rose Dominican Hospitals, Henderson and Las Vegas, Nevada.
Also attending were Sisters and Co-workers from the Congregation’s seven sponsored literacy centers, under the umbrella of Dominican Rea Literacy Centers: All Saints Literacy Center, Detroit; Adrian Rea Literacy Center, Adrian; Aquinas Literacy Center, Chicago; DePorres P.L.A.C.E., West Palm Beach, Florida; Dominican Literacy Center, Detroit; St. Luke’s N.E.W. Life Center, Flint, Michigan; and Siena Literacy Center, Detroit.
The conference gave participants the opportunity to get to know one another, learn about the Mission and history of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, experience times of contemplative sitting, share their experiences of living out the Congregation’s Mission in their institution, and learn new ways that they and their institution can live out the Mission.
“Today we gather in the spirit of St. Dominic – vibrant in our world for over 800 years,” said Sister Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP, General Councilor, in her welcome to the conference participants on March 23. Sister Mary Margaret is the General Council liaison to the Sponsorship Commission, which plans and organizes the sponsorship conference.
Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress of the Congregation, gave an overview of the history of the Dominican Order and the Adrian Dominican Sisters and of the four pillars of Dominican life – study, prayer, community, and preaching. In addition, she introduced participants to the four Enactments from the Congregation’s 2016 General Chapter: Spiritual Longings, Sustainability, Resilient Communities, and Diversity-Relationships. Members of the General Council explained the Enactments in greater detail on the morning of March 24.
“My heart is abundantly grateful to each of you for your commitment to participate with us and even more so for your faithful commitment to your ministry or institution,” Sister Pat said. “As the number of our Sisters and Associates serving in our institutions decline, we give to you our Dominican history and heritage. We stand ready to assist and give moral and spiritual support.”
Co-workers from each of the institutions shared their own reflections and experiences of living out the Adrian Dominican Mission, both individually and in their respective institutions.
Ministering at St. Rose Dominican Hospitals has been “transformational and relational,” said Teressa Conley, President of the St. Rose de Lima Hospital. “We are changed by working side by side with our Sisters. They show us the ‘why’ of health care and the difference between a healing experience and a simple clinical experience.”
She recalled the tragic day, October 1, 2017, when 58 people in Las Vegas were killed in a mass shooting. “Our hospitals played a major part [in healing those who were wounded], and our Sisters were front and center in healing, ministering, and grieving – not only with patients and families but with the staff. … If you were to ask staff what is the most important part of being a faith-based community, I know what they would say.”
Jill Farrell, Dean of the Adrian Dominican School of Education at Barry University, said she always felt included and accepted in the Barry community – and challenged to grow. “I think I’m a reflection of what happens to all of us” at Barry, she said. “We are able to dig deep within ourselves. We get to know ourselves so well that we grow into the person we’re supposed to be.” She said she was then able to help develop leaders for the local community and the global community, bring Barry programs to the Bahamas, and “grow a vibrant presence there.”
Nanette Mickiewicz, MD, President of Dominican Hospital, said she sees the Adrian Dominican mission in action every day at the hospital: through traditional health care ministries such as the mobile van and the work of doctors and nurses – but also through other employees of Dominican. “I see the food and nutrition workers, the social workers, and the engineers,” she said “Even though their job isn’t specific patient care, we couldn’t do our job without them. They remind us that this isn’t our job – it’s our mission.”
In small groups, participants from different institutions discussed what their own institution was doing to “develop, live, nurture and sustain the Dominican identity and spirit” and how they could improve on what they were doing. The next morning, after hearing more detailed descriptions of the four General Chapter Enactments, participants discussed them in small groups.
During the final afternoon, Sisters and Co-workers from the same institution gathered to discuss how they would move forward the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Mission, Vision, and Enactments. Drawing on the 2016 General Chapter theme, “A Great Hope in Common,” the conference culminated with the final formal session, in which representatives of each institution shared their “action plan” for continuing to nurture the Adrian Dominican spirit and Mission. Representatives of each institution wrote their action plan on the back of a puzzle piece that contained their institution’s name, so that the institutions – and the Adrian Dominican Sisters – together shared “A Great Hope in Common.”
Sister Mary Margaret sent the group out with a new responsibility: “to take this message to your board, your employees, your patients, your students.”
Sister Pat closed the last formal session by expressing her gratitude to the conference participants – and to their colleagues back home at their institutions. “You are the ones with feet on the ground who are literally living the Gospel, who are literally bringing our Dominican charism to life,” she said. “We support you and we entrust you to the future.”
Members of the Sponsorship Commission are: Roxanne Davies, Barry University; Sister Sharon Weber, OP, Siena Heights University; Sister Mary Jean Williams, OP, Regina Dominican High School; Linda Trethewey, Rosarian Academy; Sister Rita Eileen Dean, OP, Dominican Hospital; Sister Kathleen McGrail, OP, St. Rose Dominican Hospitals; and Sister Carleen Maly, OP, Dominican Rea Literacy Centers.
This opportunity really had a surreal feel as to the depth and breadth of the Dominican History and Reach around the world. The most amazing thing is that after all of their existence the Mission has not changed or waivered. What a wonderful experience.