October 2, 2019, Adrian, Michigan – Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates, family members and friends, gathered September 27, 2019 to celebrate the 100th birthday of Sister Marie Bride Walsh, OP. This year also marks Sister Marie Bride’s 80-year Jubilee.
The celebration began with Mass in St. Catherine Chapel. Sister Joanne Peters, OP, Co-Chapter Prioress of Holy Rosary Mission Chapter at the Motherhouse, welcomed Sisters, three generations of Sister Marie Bride’s family, friends, and former colleagues from St. Joseph Academy in Adrian and Regina Dominican High School in Wilmette, Illinois.
“We’ve come to celebrate life – Marie Bride’s life for all these years, walking for all these years with many of us,” said Father James Hug, SJ, Motherhouse Chaplain. “We celebrate the gift of our lives and of her life with ours.”
During her homily, Sister Maria Goretti Browne, OP, noted that Jesus taught with authority, through example and not just words, and of the way that he lifted the burdens from people’s shoulders. Like Jesus, she said, “Sister Marie Bride taught by her example. Many of her former students still come to visit her. They don’t come because she was a good math teacher. They come because she listened to them. … Like Jesus, she lifted them up. She was a kind, approachable, forgiving listener. How much more like Jesus could she be?”
The afternoon reception gave participants the opportunity to pay tribute to Sister Marie Bride formally. Sister Patricia Dulka, OP, Co-Chapter Prioress of Holy Rosary Chapter, served as mistress of ceremonies. Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress of the Congregation, assured Sister Marie Bride of the gratitude and prayers of the Adrian Dominican Congregation.
Sister Rosemary Asaro, OP, Assistant for Holy Rosary Chapter, offered an opening prayer. “May the blessings of this day be the memories of a long life, the blessings and support of your family and community…and the love we all have for you, Sister Marie Bride.”
The formal program focused on the reading of proclamations by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist, State Senator Dale Zorn, State Representative Bronna Kahle, and U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters and an Apostolic Blessing by Pope Francis.
The proclamations noted Sister Marie Bride’s accomplishments and the wisdom that she gained through a long life complete with many changes. Senator Gary Peters noted the impact that Sister Marie Bride had. “As a teacher for 67 years, you touched the lives of thousands of children as you enhanced their math and science skills,” he wrote.
Born September 27, 1919 in Chicago, Sister Marie Bride was the youngest of five children born to John and Bridget (Lyons) Walsh: Jean, who changed her name to Janet; Mary Elizabeth; Catherine, known fondly as Toss; and Joseph, two years older than Sister Marie Bride. She was baptized Therese Rita Walsh, and took her religious name – Marie Bride – in honor of her mother.
Sister Marie Bride was a little over a year old when her mother died. “One of my uncles, Father John Lyons, contacted his sisters in the east and three of us went to my Aunt Kate’s in Troy, New York,” Sister Marie Bride said. “My brother and oldest sister went to relatives in Rensselaer, New York, where my mother’s sister and her husband ran a farm.”
After their father remarried a widow, May Kendrick, the children resided with him at Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in Chicago until they moved to Maywood, Illinois when Sister Marie Bride was about four years old. The three youngest daughters were sent to St. Joseph Academy in Adrian. The next year, as a junior, Mary Elizabeth entered the Adrian Dominican Congregation, taking the religious name Sister Mary Jean.
By the time Sister Marie Bride was in seventh grade, her sisters at St. Joseph Academy had graduated. She returned to Troy, New York, with her aunt, attending eighth grade there and graduating from Catholic Central in Troy in 1937. She attended Siena Heights College (University) for a year and followed her sister into the Adrian Dominican Congregation on January 6, 1939.
Sister Marie Bride holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Siena Heights College, 1943, and a master’s degree in mathematics from the University of Michigan, 1948.
Sister Marie Bride spent her ministerial years as a teacher, first at the elementary school level at St. Joseph in Port Huron, Michigan, from 1940 to 1941 and then at St. Paul in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, from 1941 to 1943.
In 1943, she began teaching at the high school level in Michigan, Illinois, Florida, and California. Her assignments included two schools sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Sisters: St. Joseph Academy, then a boarding school, 1962 to 1968, and Regina Dominican High School in Wilmette, where she spent her last years of teaching, from 1976 to 2007. She stayed at the Regina Dominican convent until 2010, when she came to the Dominican Life Center in Adrian.
“I enjoyed teaching,” Sister Marie Bride said. “We all had teaching in our blood.” Among her many fond memories were her years of teaching science at St. Joseph Academy. She recalls Sister Miriam Michael Stimson demonstrating experiments in physics at Siena Heights to her every Thursday night. “I would take them back to St. Joseph’s and do them with the students during the week and then I would go back the next Thursday for the next set.”
Sister Marie Bride also took advantages of several opportunities to travel. She visited England, Ireland, and France on one trip with her sisters, Janet and Sister Mary Jean and, with Sister Francina Reuther, OP, enjoyed a six-week tour of Europe. She also spent three weeks in Rome visiting Sister Mary Jean, who at the time was serving at the headquarters of the Dominican Order in Santa Sabina, Rome.
Sister Marie Bride is grateful for the many blessings in her life, including her loving family, her superiors and the many Sisters who mentored her, and the opportunity to teach children for all her years of ministry.
From left: Long-time friends Sisters Marie Bride Walsh, OP, and Marion O’Connor, OP. Sister Rosemary Asaro, OP, displays the Apostolic Blessing bestowed by Pope Francis on Sister Marie Bride Walsh, OP. Sister Carol Fleming, OP, ministered with Sister Marie Bride Walsh, OP, at Regina Dominican High School in Wilmette, Illinois.
October 25, 2017, Adrian, Michigan – Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates, family members and friends, and members of the greater Adrian community gathered October 25 for a special celebration: the 100th birthday of Sister Ann Seraphim Schenk, OP. The celebration included a Mass in St. Catherine Chapel, a festive dinner for Sister Ann Seraphim and her family, and an afternoon reception.
During the Mass, which formally opened the celebration, Sister Ann Seraphim sat with her nieces and nephews, who had come from as far away as Illinois, California, New Jersey, and Texas to share in the celebration.
Father James Hug, SJ, Motherhouse Chaplain, in reflecting on the Gospel in which Jesus asks the disciples to let the children come to him, noted Sister Ann Seraphim’s example through her years as a teacher. Sister Ann Seraphim was a “wonderful example in our midst of God loving little children generation and generation after generation – blessing them, teaching them, praying with them, helping them to know God, laying your hands in blessing,” he said. “It’s a wonderful witness you’ve given to us of how Jesus loves little children. Thank you. Thank you.”
The afternoon reception gave Sisters and government officials the opportunity to pay tribute to Sister Ann Seraphim. Sister Patricia Dulka, OP, Chapter Prioress of many of the Sisters in the Dominican Life Center, noted the many people who benefited from Sister Ann Seraphim’s 100 years of life. “All the children that you touched, all the Sisters who lived with you and were especially taken by you, everybody that you touched, in some way they’re carrying that spirit because of you,” Sister Patricia said.
Sister Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP, Vicaress and General Councilor, extended congratulations on behalf of the entire General Council. “We just glory in the 100 years of life that you are serving and many years in this Congregation,” Sister Mary Margaret said.
Sister Mary Margaret noted that a special papal blessing from Pope Francis was on its way to Sister Ann Seraphim “in celebration of who you are and all of the service that you have given to the children of the world.” In addition, she extended the congratulations and blessings of Bishop Earl Boyea, of the Diocese of Lansing.
Sister Noella Marie McLeod, OP, sent an email noting Sister Ann Seraphim’s impact on her life, from the time that Sister Noella started kindergarten at St. Gabriel in Detroit to her entrance into the Congregation in 1956, when Sister Ann Seraphim served as her companion, and through the years beyond. “I thank God for you, a constant in my life for so many years,” she concluded.
James Berryman, Mayor of Adrian, presented Sister Ann Seraphim with the Mayor’s Community Service Award, based on a quotation by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “Life’s most persistently burning question is, what are you doing for others?” To Sister Ann Seraphim, he said, “Your life’s dedication and work certainly exemplifies that quote. Thank you, Sister Ann Seraphim, for your years of service of God’s children and for the life of a Dominican Sister.”
Sister Ann Seraphim also received tributes and congratulations from U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan), State Representative Bronna Kahle (R.-Dist. 57), State Senator Dale Zorn (R-Dist. 17), Michigan Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. In addition, Sister Ann Seraphim received a basket of about 140 birthday cards from Sisters and Associates from throughout the country.
Born October 25, 1917, in Belleville, Illinois, and baptized Doris Rose Schenk, Sister Ann Seraphim was the daughter of Henry and Linda (Hoff) Schenk. She graduated in 1936 from Bishop Muldoon High School in Rockford, Illinois – where she was taught by Adrian Dominican Sisters – and entered the Congregation in June of that year.
Sister Ann Seraphim was predominantly an educator, teaching in elementary schools in Michigan, Illinois, and Arizona. She taught general subjects and music in kindergarten and at various grades at the elementary level. “I taught everything from Kindergarten, first and second grade to elementary school graduation,” she recalled.
Her longest terms of service included ministering as elementary and music teacher at St. Gabriel, Detroit, 1939-1945; elementary and music teacher at St. Theresa, Detroit, 1951-1959; principal and teacher at St. Mary, Chelsea, Michigan, 1960-1966; and principal of St. Bridget, Love’s Park, Illinois, 1975 to 1989.
After her retirement in 1991, Sister Ann Seraphim volunteered at St. Patrick’s Clothes Closet in Rockford, Illinois, until she moved to the Dominican Life Center in Adrian in 2004.
Sister Ann Seraphim earned a bachelor’s degree in science in 1947 and a master’s degree in administration and school supervision in 1970, both from Siena Heights College (now University).
Among Sister Ann’s favorite memories was her work with math students. “They won several local contests,” she recalled. She also enjoyed teaching kindergarten. “I tried to be a part of them, to connect with them,” she said.
In her years of teaching, Sister Ann Seraphim taught a range of students, from those who were brilliant to those who had more difficulty in their studies. She recalled especially the efforts she put into teaching students who were challenged by their class work. “I had to find an angle to reach them so they could flow in there and start working with the larger group,” she explained. “Then they’d get fired up.”
Through the years, Sister Ann Seraphim has been avid in crocheting, having completed enough crochet projects – hats, scarves, mittens, shawls, and afghans – “to fill this whole room.” She has given her creations away as gifts and has sold her creations at the Motherhouse Christmas bazaar.
Asked about advice she would give to younger Sisters and to people who aspire to reach 100 years, Sister Ann Seraphim advised younger Sisters not to approach community life or ministry with the attitude that they are “it,” but rather to see themselves as part of something much greater than themselves. To those who wished to reach her age, she said, “Just don’t worry about how many days you’ve got – just go live them!”
Sister Ann Seraphim with her family.
Feature photo (top): Sister Joanne Peters, OP, Co-Chapter Prioress, presents Sister Ann Seraphim Schenk, OP, with a basket of birthday cards from Sisters and Associates around the country.