November 5, 2018, Adrian, Michigan – About 100 Catholic Sisters from most of the 19 religious communities serving in the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan, gathered October 20 at the Adrian Dominican Motherhouse. The annual event, coordinated by the diocesan Office of Consecrated Life, offers the women religious the opportunity to get to know each other through a program of prayer, lunch, conversation, talks, and Mass.
Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress of the Adrian Dominican Congregation, welcomed the Sisters to the Motherhouse. She expressed the hope that the participants would “continue our conversations and go a bit deeper with each other on our lives together, because regardless of the congregation or community that we are members of, we are clearly Sisters to each other and Sisters in our commitment to the Gospel of Jesus.”
Grand Rapids Dominican Sister Rita Wenzlick, OP, Delegate for Consecrated Life for the diocese, also welcomed participants. Inspired by a talk by noted speaker and author Sister Joan Chittister, OSB, on the application of the Rule of St. Benedict to modern life, Sister Rita undertook a similar study of the Rule of St. Augustine, adopted by St. Dominic.
Sister Rita discussed five points about the Rule of St. Augustine and how Sisters can live them out today.
After lunch, Adrian Dominican Sister Marietta Churches, OP, focused on the theme of the gathering, “Celebrating You.” Noting that Sisters often focus on their failures or short-comings, she encouraged the Sisters instead to focus on their gifts from God. “We are wonderful women – we are W-squared,” she said.
“I love being a woman religious,” Sister Marietta said. “To me it is exciting. It is challenging. It is vibrant. It is awesome. It is scary.” Many are concerned about the future of religious life, which is dwindling in numbers. “And yet, I do feel a sense that God is in our midst,” Sister Marietta said. “If I can be assured of that, that’s all I want. And I’m going to walk humbly and walk faithfully with my God.”
Noting that she had never ministered in far places such as Africa or the Philippines, Sister Marietta said that she had been privileged in 1994 to help with the foundation of St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Brighton, Michigan.
She encouraged the Sisters to discern where they might be called in the Church. “I just think that we can make a dynamic impact on the Church,” she said. She encouraged the Sisters to affirm one another rather than to find fault in small matters. “You’re chosen, wanted, and blessed,” she told the Sisters.
Sister Marietta concluded by leading Sisters in an exercise in which they quietly wrote down their own gifts from God and discussed their gifts with the others at their table.
The gathering closed with Mass in Holy Rosary Chapel, celebrated by Bishop Earl Boyea of the Diocese of Lansing. “It’s a great joy to be here with you today,” he told the Sisters. “I’m so appreciative of your many gifts.”
Single Catholic women who feel called to religious life should contact the Vocations Office in her home diocese or the religious community to which they feel a call. Dawn Hausmann, Director of Consecrated Religious Vocations for the Diocese of Lansing, can be reached at 517-342-2506.
Those interested in vowed life as an Adrian Dominican Sister should contact one of the Co-directors of Vocations: Sister Tarianne DeYonker, OP, 517-266-3532, firstname.lastname@example.org; and Sister Mariane Fahlman, OP, 517-266-3537, email@example.com.
Feature photo (top): Sisters serving in the Diocese of Lansing work on a project to identify their gifts during the annual gathering of Sisters.
May 19, 2017, Adrian, Michigan – Several hundred people gathered in St. Catherine Chapel at the Adrian Dominican Sisters Motherhouse May 18-19 to bid farewell to Sister Nadine Foley, OP. Sister Nadine was Prioress of the Congregation from 1986 to 1992 and was an influential figure in religious life.
Attending the Vigil Service and Funeral Liturgy were Adrian Dominican Sisters and Associates, nearly 40 family members, representatives of other religious orders, and Sister Nadine’s former students and colleagues.
The Vigil Service on May 18 gave the assembly the opportunity to welcome Sister Nadine’s body, reflect on Scripture passages, to share personal stories about Sister Nadine, and commend her to God.
“This is a poignant moment for us as a congregation,” Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress, noted in her welcome to members of the assembly. Even with the sadness of the loss, she said, “we know she is indeed looking down upon us and bestowing on us her love, wisdom, and insights.”
After the Scriptures were proclaimed, Sister Mary Jane Lubinski, Chapter Prioress, led off a period of personal sharing with a summary of Sister Nadine’s life and influence. “It is no easy task to tell the story of this accomplished woman – author, preacher, teacher, vocalist, leader, advocate for women’s rights – the list goes on,” she said.
Sister Mary Jane shared Sister Nadine’s life story through the framework of two instructions by St. Catherine of Siena, great Dominican mystic and reformer: “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire” and “Proclaim the truth and do not be silent through fear.” Sister Nadine found her voice through her years as educator, leader of the Adrian Dominican Congregation, leader in religious life throughout the nation, and advocate for women’s rights, Sister Mary Jane said.
“Nadine, you were all that God meant you to be and you did, indeed, set the world on fire,” Sister Mary Jane said.
Members of the 1986-1992 General Council who served with Sister Nadine spoke in turn on Sister Nadine’s influence on their lives and in their leadership.
Sister Linda Bevilacqua, OP, now President of Barry University, was a student of Sister Nadine’s. “I have often said that I am because of my parents love,” Sister Linda said. “But I am Adrian Dominican because of Nadine.”
Sisters Sharon Weber, OP, and Donna Markham, OP, described Sister Nadine’s as trusting the Holy Spirit and being an extraordinary mentor of leadership.
Other speakers recalled their own special memories of Sister Nadine, sharing them through touching and humorous stories. Tricia Foley and Michael Foley – among the youngest of Sister Nadine’s seven siblings – shared stories of experiencing her as an older sister who had already left home before they were born, and learning through the years to relate to her as a beloved sister.
The Funeral Liturgy on May 19 gave Sisters and guests another opportunity to celebrate the life of Sister Nadine and to rejoice in the eternal life that she gained through her death.
During her preaching, Sister Attracta Kelly described Mary Magdalen and St. Catherine of Siena as examples of women sent by Jesus on apostolic missions. Sister Nadine, influenced by both of those women, “believed we were summoned to express our charism of preaching,” Sister Attracta said. “She thought of us as called to be peacemakers and reconcilers, to share our charism with others … with the whole world.”
Noting that Sister Nadine “was never very elaborate in her praise,” Sister Attracta added, “We always knew that [Sister Nadine’s] constant challenge to us, as well as to the entire congregation, was the same challenge that Catherine left to us: ‘Be all that you can be and you will set the world on fire.’ ”
Just as music was a major component of Sister Nadine’s life, so it played a key role in the final celebration of her life. Her niece, Maura, sang a prelude. The Chapel Choir, made up of Sisters and Associates, added to the atmosphere of reverence, hope, and joy as they sang O Sacrum Convivium for their long-time member.
Finally, members of the assembly processed with Sister Nadine to her final resting place in the Congregation’s cemetery, a “circle of friendship and discipleship” for Adrian Dominican Sisters who joined the Communion of Saints in Heaven.
Read Come Wisdom: Remembering Sr. Nadine Foley, written by Sister Elise D. García, published by Global Sisters Report:
Read more about Sister Nadine’s life and contributions:
Read Sister Nadine’s obituary and watch her Vigil Service, Funeral, and an interview: