July 13, 2018, San Fernando, Philippines – Members of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter, based in San Fernando, the Philippines, gathered June 30 to celebrate the Transfer of Leadership of Chapter Prioress to Sister Rosita Yaya, OP. Sister Rosita was elected in April 2018 to that position, succeeding Sister Zenaida Nacpil, OP, the first Chapter Prioress of the Remedies Chapter.
The Our Lady of Remedies Chapter had at one time been a separate congregation of Dominican Sisters. At the request of Bishop Emilio Cinense, the Adrian Dominican Sisters in 1961 took on the formation of the first members of the Congregation based in the Philippines. The community became an independent congregation in 1972. In 2011, at the request of the Filipino Sisters, Our Lady of Remedies merged with the Adrian Dominican Sisters and became a Mission Chapter within the Adrian Dominican Congregation. Sister Zenaida was elected as the first Chapter Prioress in 2012.
Sister Rosita saw her election as a “graced moment,” particularly because it had taken place on Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018. “Jesus is assuring me, ‘Do not be afraid. I am here with you. I am alive,’” she said. “With this assurance, we continue to live out our preaching mission, guided by the 2016 General Chapter Enactments, centered in the context of our Philippine situation.”
Sister Rosita hopes that the Sisters in her Chapter will remain “centered in the risen Christ” as they continue their pastoral ministry, “empowering our poor brothers and sisters, in becoming self-reliant communities, especially those we serve: the Aetas, the indigenous peoples; the street children; the families of victims of extra-judicial killings; those in family and life ministry; the people on the move; and migrant workers in Norway.”
As Chapter Prioress, she hopes to “explore possibilities of deepening our relationship with our North American Sisters,” and to work closely with the Prioress, General Council, and Leadership Council in implementing the General Chapter Enactments.
Sister Rosita was involved in leadership for the Remedies Congregation several times. She served on the Council from 1994 to 2000 and from 2004 to 2007. No stranger to Adrian, Michigan, she traveled there with her Congregation’s Council to discuss the possibility of the merger between the two Dominican Congregations. She also served as the Remedies Congregation’s Vocation Director and a Formator of Novices and Postulants.
At the time of her election in April, she was School Head of the Dominican School of Apalit. She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in education with a major in guidance and counseling, both from the University of the Assumption in San Fernando, and a doctorate in education management from the University of St. Tomas in Manila.
From left, Sisters Patricia Harvat, OP, General Councilor; Sister Rosita Yaya, OP, newly elected Chapter Prioress; Sister Zenaida Nacpil, OP, outgoing Chapter Prioress; and Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP, Vicaress and General Councilor after the April 1, 2018, election of Sister Rosita.
June 25, 2018, Adrian, Michigan – In a spirit of joy, gratitude, and friendship, Diamond (60 years), Golden (50 years), and Silver (25 years) Jubilarians returned to the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse for a week of prayer and celebrations and took time to renew their friendships and their commitment to the Congregation’s Mission. The special week, June 20-23, 2018, was set aside to recognize and celebrate the Congregation’s 23 Diamond Jubilarians, eight Golden Jubilarians, and one Silver Jubilarian.
The 18 Double-Diamond Jubilarians, celebrating their 70th Jubilees, had been recognized during a special Liturgy and Dinner in May.
Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress, set the tone for Jubilee week during the opening session and public reception for the Jubilarians on June 20. “Jubilee is a time of stepping back, to give thanks and express gratitude,” she said. “It is a time when we recognize God’s year of favor. … It’s a time of rest and inner renewal, a time for creativity and imagination, a time to slow down, a time to be with family and friends.” Above all, Sister Pat said, Jubilee is a time to “allow God to love us even more tenderly.”
Noting her own personal joy in welcoming the Jubilarians home, Sister Pat invited them to take time to gather together but also to “take some leisurely and prayerful time to spend in our multiple sacred spaces across our beautiful campus.”
The Jubilarians met the next day with Sister Pat and the General Council of the Congregation for a traditional tea. During the week, Jubilarians also had the opportunity to spend time with friends, to visit the Sisters in the Dominican Life Center, and to enjoy a concert by Sister Magdalena Ezoe, OP.
June 22 brought a more reflective spirit to the Jubilee Week as the Jubilarians and other Sisters on campus gathered for a Liturgy for Deceased Jubilarians and former Adrian Dominican Sisters. In a special ritual, Jubilarians recalled the life stories of the deceased and the qualities and gifts that they brought to the world.
Specially honored were Sisters Barbara Ann Beerkle, OP, Sharon Carroll, OP, Phyllis Duffie, OP, Barbara Matteson, OP, Mary Rita McSweeney, OP, Lorraine Mordenski, OP, and Mary Tardiff, OP, deceased Diamond Jubilarians, and Mary Jane Bourgeois, Mary Jane Bruske Blau, Linda Jackson Glance, Ann Mary Kreft, Gloria Maliszewski, and Mary Catherine Wildern, deceased former Adrian Dominican Sisters.
Sister Attracta Kelly, OP, Diamond Jubilarian and former Prioress of the Congregation, welcomed the assembly to the memorial of the women who are now in the “invisible neighborhood, where the dead dwell. ... Our friends are now enjoying eternal life where all that we see – goodness, unity, beauty, truth, love, eternal life – are no longer distant but are now completely present to them.”
Father James Hug, SJ, presider and Motherhouse Chaplain, prayed in gratitude for the lives of the deceased Jubilarians and former members. “Their generous willingness to commit their lives with us, to extend your tender love to all your people in so many places and in so many ways is a gift that touches and challenges our spirits to rise to your call today,” he said.
Sister Carol Jean Kesterke, OP, Golden Jubilarian and Chapter Prioress of the Detroit-based Great Lakes Mission Chapter, reflected on the Scripture passages that were proclaimed during the Liturgy – and on the “fourth text” – the lives of the deceased women who were being honored. “The point of this fourth text is not to eulogize these 13 women, but to search the text of their lives, just as we search the other texts, for insights about how we may live more fully in God,” Sister Carol Jean said. “These women have left us many beautiful qualities and many things to admire.”
The week culminated on June 23 with a celebration open to the Jubilarians and their guests. The bilingual Mass brought in the elements of joyful music and dance to proclaim the joy and hope of the Jubilarians, their families and friends, and the Congregation.
“Today we are gathered to honor and celebrate our Sisters who have joyfully and with great fidelity lived their vows as Dominican women for 25, 50, and 60 years,” said Sister Pat, in her formal welcome to the liturgy.
Bishop Emeritus of Tucson Gerald F. Kicanas, presider of the Jubilee liturgy, echoed Sister Pat’s spirit of joy in honoring the Jubilarians. “What a great joy it is to gather here to celebrate the anniversaries of so many of our Sisters,” he said.
In her reflection, Sister Patricia Harvat, OP – Golden Jubilarian and member of the General Council – picked up on the theme of the text of the Jubilarians’ lives from the previous day’s reflection. “The daily text of our book of life as Dominicans began with clean and empty margins,” she noted. “But as we gather today to celebrate this life, those margins of the text are filled with daily entries of our words and gestures of love, mercy, hope, suffering, doubts, and longing.”
She spoke of the years in which the Jubilarians followed the call of Jesus. “There really are no adequate words to describe the ride, what it meant to leave our homes and walk into the lives of hundreds of people … in different cultures and global realities,” she said. After 60, 50, and 25 years, the Jubilarians continue to follow Jesus and to write the text of their lives. “There still is room in the margins of our text in the book of our lives to continue writing the call to live a dream and to love, following God with all the twists and turns life may present us.” Read Sister Patricia's full homily.
The Jubilarians demonstrated their commitment to follow their call as vowed Dominican women as they gathered at the altar to renew their vows to Sister Pat Siemen, to “make profession and promise obedience to almighty God, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to our holy Father St. Dominic,” and to Sister Patricia and her lawful successors, “according to the Rule of St. Augustine and the Constitution of the Sisters of St. Dominic of the Congregation of the Most Holy Rosary until death.”
The celebration continued after Liturgy with a festive dinner for the Jubilarians and their special guests. The week was planned by the Jubilee Committee: Co-workers Krystal Baker, Susan Kremski, and Jeanette McIntosh and Sisters Virginia Corley, OP, and Joan Sustersic, OP. Sister Joy Finfera, OP, served as Chair, succeeding Sister Rose Celeste O’Connell, OP, who had chaired the committee for some 20 years before her death in May 2018.
Feature photo: Jubilarians gather around the altar to renew their vows during the Jubilee Mass on June 23, 2018.