August 18, 2015, Henderson, Nevada – Sister Xiomara Méndez-Hernández, OP, currently a chaplain at the Siena Campus of St. Rose Dominican hospitals, recently renewed her vows as an Adrian Dominican Sister in the presence of Adrian Dominican Sisters and her new family from St. Rose.
“It was a very simple and beautiful celebration during an evening prayer service,” Sister Xiomara recalled. Presiding was Sister Kathleen Klingen, OP, Chapter Prioress of the Dominican Midwest Mission Chapter based in Chicago. The service was followed by an informal gathering to continue the celebration.
Sister Xiomara came to St. Rose on January 2, 2015, after completing the Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program at Loyola Medical Center in Chicago. During this time, Sister Judith Benkert, OP, then Chapter Prioress of the Dominican West Chapter, invited her to serve as chaplain at one of the two hospitals sponsored by the Adrian Dominican Congregation.
While visiting Dignity Health - St. Rose Dominican hospitals, Sister Xiomara said, she “fell in love with the quality of the care and the beautiful facilities in Henderson, and I was so proud of the work our Sisters have achieved here in our ministry.” Although she loved Chicago, Sister Xiomara added, she felt called to serve at St. Rose Dominican to be part of the Adrian Dominican presence there.
As chaplain at the Siena Campus, Sister Xiomara ministers to patients in about half of the campus facilities, including neo-natal intensive care, the pediatric unit, and surgical units. She is also on call twice a month, responding to emergencies at all three campuses, including Rose de Lima and the newest campus, San Martín.
Sister Xiomara also offers her pastoral presence to family members of patients, as well as to the staff members. “The staff is always appreciative of our support because they are affected by their work,” she explained. “This is a very vulnerable work and everybody’s exposed to this vulnerability.”
She gave the example of an incident that took place on the night of her Renewal of Vows, when a nurse came to her in great worry over a colleague, a nurse who had worked at the hospital for 10 years and was now in intensive care because of cancer. The next morning, she visited the nurse and “took time with everyone who needed it – nurses and people on staff.”
“It’s a privilege to be with them,” Sister Xiomara said. “It’s not just being a chaplain. For me it’s an honor and a commitment to serve as the compassionate presence of God as St. Dominic asks of us.”
Along with loving her new family at St. Rose, Sister Xiomara is enthralled by the “unique beauty” of the area and amazed by the wetlands that are found in the desert. The water runs beneath the desert surface, she said, and plants have to develop deep roots to get to that water. “It was a beautiful metaphor for me,” she said. “To survive you have to develop deep roots. The longer the roots, the more beautiful and fruitful.”
A native of the Dominican Republic, Sister Xiomara first met the Adrian Dominican Sisters in her home country in 1994. She earned her Licentiate in Industrial Arts at the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo in 2002 and a master’s degree in industrial sewing from Instituto Nacional de Formación Técnico (INFOTEP), Santo Domingo in 2006. Before entering, Sister Xiomara owned a fashion design business and taught fashion design.
Sister Xiomara entered the Adrian Dominican Congregation in 2008 from her home parish, Immaculate Heart of Mary in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic. She was an Adrian Dominican Associate for three years before her entrance.