August 25, 2015, Adrian, Michigan – More than 70 Adrian Dominican Associates and Sisters gathered at the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse August 14-16 for Partners III, a weekend of prayer, inspiration, talks, discussion, discernment, and community-building.
Associates are women and men, at least 18 years of age, who share in the Mission and Vision of the Adrian Dominican Sisters through a non-vowed commitment.
After registration and dinner, Partners III opened officially on Friday evening with a welcome and overview by Planning Committee Chair Connie Brady and an opening prayer in memory of the seven Associates who had died since Partners II in August 2014. The assembly remembered and rejoiced in the gifts of deceased Associates Milandros Rodriguez, Joanne Bellaire, Wilma Brandt, Judy Lavelle, Sonia Gutierrez, Henrietta Oenbrink, and Virginia Michael.
Participants in Partners III pose in front of Madden Hall on the Motherhouse Campus. Photo by Lad Strayer.
In her opening address, “Fuel the Fire,” Associate Peggy Treece Myles spoke of the symbolic significance of fire in all cultures. Fire is symbolic of passion, energy, assertiveness and, in the Christian tradition, the Holy Spirit. She focused her talk on outlining the four fires addressed as part of the planning process for the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ General Chapter 2016 and of the related Dominican charisms exhibited by Associates.
• The Soul’s Fire calls us to be “authentically who we are” (John O’Donohue), which involves self-knowledge and a life of depth. “Sometimes, we are so busy trying to fit into our contemporary society that we neglect our inner lives,” Peggy said. “Exploring and giving voice to our inner lives is not selfish; it is authentic.”
• The Creative Fire “signals the work we love, energizing our willingness to express our gifts in their fullness,” Peggy said, quoting Angeles Arrien. Peggy noted that this fire “requires that we take ourselves out of the familiar and challenge ourselves to grow, to learn, to experience.” She gave the example of 14th Century Dominican mystic St. Catherine of Siena, who took such risks as confronting popes.
• The Fire of Vision “reveals dreams and possibilities, inspiring us to manifest what we see or are called upon to do” (Clarissa Pinkola Estes). Peggy described St. Dominic as the model of this fire, for envisioning and bringing about the new mendicant Order of Preachers, in contrast to previous orders that remained in monasteries.
• The Fire of the Heart “teaches us about what and whom we love, opening us to new beginnings” (Ilia Delio). “The Fire of the Heart is the love we feel, the love we cannot define or describe.” This kind of love – the kind that shows deep appreciation for all of creation – “shows in every word and every action,” Peggy said.
Peggy concluded her talk by encouraging the participants in Partners III to “feel the flames burning within us and allow the flames to spread among us,” so that with united flames, they could “go forth with passion to act on our God-given gifts.”
During the Saturday morning session, participants heard from four Associates who related their particular ministries with one of the four fires. Opening this session, Associate Dee Joyner, Chair of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Portfolio Advisory Board (PAB) spoke passionately about the 40 years of the PAB’s pioneering work in fostering corporate social responsibility and making low-interest loans to non-profit community organizations. Watch her talk.
Associate Pat Heriford described her involvement with her husband in a 20-week program on Christian living for prisoners at the Jackson, Michigan reception and guidance center. Watch her entire presentation.
Associate Katie Love walked her audience through her experiences in the fall of 2014 as a volunteer at Annunciation House, a center for immigrants in El Paso, Texas. Watch Katie's entire talk.
Susan Jayich spoke of her unique ministry: leading participants through Viso-Divina, a process of reflecting on Scripture through art. Watch this presentation.
The Saturday afternoon session focused on the future of Associate Life. Sister Lorraine Reaume, OP, spoke of the positive impact of the Associates and of the affirmation that their involvement with the Congregation gives to the Sisters. She noted that Associates have an important and distinct role to play in the Congregation. Associate Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life, walked the Associates through some changes that will take place and invited small groups to discuss their ideas for a special board of Associates.
Saturday concluded with a special celebration: the formal Ritual of Acceptance of five women as Adrian Dominican Associates. The new Associates are: Carole Watters, of Saginaw, Michigan, former director of Saginaw’s Diocesan Center and leader of Befriender Ministry in two parishes; Marge Coneset, of Adrian, who ministers through her crafts and her outreach to those in need; Mary Miller, of Toledo, secretary of St. Patrick of Heatherdowns Parish and member of the parish St. Vincent de Paul Society; Pam Kyzer, of Anchorage, Alaska, a nurse, volunteer parish nurse, and volunteer dog handler for the Iditarod Sled Dog Race; and Cindy Lentine, also of Anchorage, who teaches a faith formation class, volunteers with the Paws Therapy Dog Training program, and is developing a free library for her local neighborhood.
Partners III closed on Sunday with a presentation by Sister Cheryl Liske, OP, Co-Convener of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ General Chapter Planning Committee, and Associate Tibbi Ellis on her efforts to procure a first-degree relic of St. Catherine of Siena for the formation house chapel in the Dominican Republic.
Associate Life is open to any adults who share in the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Mission and Vision. For more information, contact Mary Lach at 517-266-3531 or firstname.lastname@example.org.