October 27, 2017, Adrian, Michigan – Two Adrian Dominican Sisters were recognized during Siena Heights University’s Homecoming Weekend, October 13-15, 2017.
The weekend officially opened with an alumni reception and art exhibit, featuring the paintings of Sister Barbara Cervenka, OP. On exhibit in the Klemm Gallery at Siena Heights University were the majority of the 1,000 cranes painted by Sister Barbara as a fundraiser for the ministries of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, of Iraq. The Sisters, along with thousands of other Christians and other minorities from the Nineveh Plains, were forced to flee their villages three years ago under the threat of ISIS. Since then, the Sisters have ministered to their fellow refugees through their presence and through clinics and schools that they built.
The 6 inches by 6 inches paintings of origami cranes are given to those who donate at least $100 to the 1,000 Cranes for Iraq Project. Donors also have the option of choosing the paintings of cranes by Sister Janet Wright, OP, and Sister Suzanne Schreiber, OP, who has taken photos of cranes and of people with origami cranes. During the reception, Sister Barbara told the story of her 1,000 Cranes for Iraq Project.
Sister Barbara Cervenka, OP, with some of the 1,000 cranes she painted to raise funds for the ministry of the Dominican Sisters of Iraq. The cranes are exhibited at Siena Heights University’s Klemm Gallery through Friday, November 3.
Sister Patricia Dulka, OP, received the Saint Dominic Award during the October 14 Alumni Awards Ceremony in the university’s Rueckert Auditorium. Sister Peg Albert, OP, President of Siena Heights University, welcomed guests to witness the presentation of four alumni awards. “Listen to the stories of what an impact these people have had on the world,” Sister Peg encouraged her guests. “There’s a ripple effect. You do something positive in our world and it affects somebody, and they do something positive, and they do something positive. It’s the best change agent in the world.”
Sister Patricia received the Saint Dominic Award in recognition of her “commitment to Christian education in family, school, or community,” and as somebody who “embodies the Dominican philosophy and the spirit of Siena Heights University.” Sister Marilee Ewing, OP, presented the award.
Known as an “outstanding teacher” after years of ministering in Catholic schools in Michigan and Ohio, Sister Patricia reached a turning point when a number of new students came from the Appalachian region of Kentucky and Tennessee. “Pat realized that to truly understand her students, she must begin by understanding their values,” Sister Noreen Burke, OP, wrote in her nomination form. “So she spent her summers in the mountains of Kentucky, living among the people, learning from them.”
After earning her Master’s in Social Work (MSW), Sister Patricia served at Mercy Grace Home in Chicago and then, for 11 years, as director and therapist for Catholic Charities of Lenawee County. She was elected Chapter Prioress of the Dominican Midwest Chapter, based in Chicago, in 1998. She is now Co-Chapter Prioress of Holy Rosary Chapter, based at the Motherhouse in Adrian.
In accepting the award, Sister Patricia focused on two major influences in her life: St. Dominic and Siena Heights University. She noted that the founder of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) reached out to especially to the most vulnerable people of his time. “Driven by his deep love for the Gospel, [St. Dominic de Guzmán] was compelled to be God’s own compassion and mercy to others,” Sister Patricia said.
Sister Patricia Dulka, OP, right, receives the St. Dominic Award from Sister Peg Albert, OP, President of Siena Heights University, center. Also pictured is Katie Hatch ’07, President of the Alumni Association.
Siena Heights University influenced Sister Patricia from her early years of study at the college. “My teachers here at Siena encouraged the importance of making connections and seeing relationships in the content rather than just memorizing facts,” she recalled. “What I have learned from my Siena Heights education is that it’s all about relationship, all about making connections.”
Other events during the Homecoming Weekend included a luncheon for alumni; men’s and women’s soccer games; a matinee performance of Sunday in the Park with George; a football game against St. Francis-Indiana; Mass; brunch; and a “State of the University” presentation by Siena Heights administrators.
October 13, 2016, Adrian, Michigan – Adrian Dominican Sisters Catherine DeClercq, OP, and the late Sharon McGuire, OP, were recognized as Outstanding Alumni during a ceremony October 7 in St. Dominic Chapel. The special recognition was part of Siena Heights University’s Homecoming festivities.
The Outstanding Alumni Award is given to a Siena Heights graduate “whose outstanding professional achievements and/or volunteer contributions promote Siena positively to the community; who demonstrate strong leadership characteristics; who serve as significant role models for others; and who embody the spirit of Siena Heights University.”
Sister Catherine serves as Executive Vice President of Sponsorship and Governance at Trinity Health Systems in Livonia, Michigan, where she has ministered for 29 years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in music from Siena Heights and a master’s degree in music education from the University of Michigan, but much of her ministerial life has been spent in leadership and health care.
After serving as a musician and high school music teacher, Sister Catherine was appointed as Co-Provincial Superior in the Detroit area. After that, she served as administrative secretary and then assistant director of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). Recognizing her leadership skills, delegates at two General Chapters – 1978 and 1982 – elected her as Administrator on the Congregation’s General Council.
In 1987, she began her health care ministry as assistant to the President of Mercy Health Services in Detroit, which later – with Sister Catherine’s assistance – evolved into Trinity Health. In her current role, she has developed a formation program for lay leaders, helping them to understand their roles in the mission of Catholic health care.
Sister Sharon McGuire devoted her life to teaching, nursing, advocating for social justice, and scholarly writing. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in English from Siena Heights and teaching at the elementary level, she earned a master’s degree in physical education from Wayne State University.
She began to focus on ministering to migrants and immigrants as a community organizer and fundraiser at the United Farm Workers Center in Keene, California, and later ministered with migrant farm workers in Florida. Realizing the migrants’ need for health care, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. Her ministry took her to the Colorado Migrant Health Program, where she served as a community health nurse, and to the San Vicente Family Health Center in El Paso as a nurse practitioner.
Sister Sharon then returned to the ministry of education, coordinating the newly established community health nursing major at the University of Texas at El Paso. After earning her PhD in nursing from the University of San Diego, she returned to Siena Heights in 2008 to serve as consultant and faculty member of the University’s new Nursing Department. While still living in Adrian, she also taught in the Nursing Education online program at Walden University in Minneapolis. During this time, Sister Sharon wrote numerous scholarly articles and chapters in nursing textbooks. She died on May 17, 2016.
Also receiving awards were Amy Wertenberger, a licensed professional counselor specializing in equine assisted counseling, Recent Graduate Award; Patty Driscoll-Shaw, a nurse who has advocated for the poor and oppressed, particularly in Latin America, the Sister Ann Joaquim Award; Katie Guilbault Decker, who, as principal, transformed an inner-city Las Vegas school into the best in the state, St. Dominic Award; and Dr. Louis Vaccaro, president of Siena Heights from 1978 to 1983, Honorary Alumni Award.
Siena Heights University’s Homecoming Weekend also included an art welcome reception and gallery opening; a ground-breaking ceremony for the new Spencer Performing Arts Center; evening productions of The Addams Family: A New Musical; Siena Heights Saints football against St. Francis University, Indiana; an alumni reunion and dinner; Homecoming Mass; and concluding brunch.
Feature photo: Sister Fran Nadolny, OP, Administrator and General Councilor of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, introduces Sister Catherine DeClercq, OP, Outstanding Alumni Award recipient at Siena Heights University. Photo by Laura Harvey, of Siena Heights University