November 2, 2018, Chicago – Sherrie Ashley, a retired special education teacher and current teacher’s aide living in Manteno, Illinois, became the newest Adrian Dominican Associate during the annual Fall Chapter Assembly of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Dominican Midwest Mission Chapter, based in Chicago. The assembly was held October 27 at the Mercy Center.
The ritual included a brief introduction by Sister Norine Burns, OP, Sherrie’s mentor; Sherrie’s formal acceptance of the call to be known as an Adrian Dominican Associate; the signing of the formal documents of commitment; and Sherrie’s reception of the Adrian Dominican Associates logo.
“I am inspired but also blessed to have learned and to be learning about living simply and praying deeply; studying and preaching; and being a voice of justice, especially for those who have no voice,” Sherrie said. She added that her formation as an Adrian Dominican Associate “has affected me in all areas of my life, especially in my chosen ministries and in my paying job for men with developmental disabilities.”
In her application, Sherrie stated that she hoped, as an Adrian Dominican Associate, to receive “partnership in a community of faithful believers in Jesus and in his mission for each of us, support and guidance in deepening my own walk with Jesus.”
While familiar with the Racine Dominican Sisters, Sherrie first became aware of the Adrian Dominican Sisters when one conducted a mission appeal at her parish. She felt the call to live simply and to be compassionate to “those who are disabled, suffering, poor, or dying,” she said.
Sherrie is active at her parish, St. Joseph Catholic Church in Manteno, as a catechist, lector, and Eucharistic minister and has been training to be a hospice volunteer. She is also in discernment about becoming a chaplain. A “life-long learner, always studying and reading,” Sherrie holds two master’s degrees: in curriculum/special education and in educational leadership.
Sherrie and her husband have two adult children and two grandchildren. They also devote time and energy to a rescue for great danes, and care for the massive dogs when their owners can no longer care for them.
Associates are women and men, at least 18 years of age, who make a non-vowed commitment to share in the Mission and Vision of the Adrian Dominican Sisters. While maintaining their independent lifestyle, they participate in ministries and activities of the Adrian Dominican Sisters. For more information on becoming an Associate, contact Mary Lach, Director of Associate Life, at 517-266-3531 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a single Catholic woman interested in religious life – or know of a young Catholic woman who is – contact Sister Tarianne DeYonker, OP, at 517-266-3532 or email@example.com or Sister Mariane Fahlman, OP, a 517-266-3537 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feature photo: Sherrie Ashley, a new Associate, signs her document of commitment in front of her mentor, Sister Norine Burns, OP. Photos by Sister Jane Zimmerman, OP
October 26, 2018, Chicago – More than a year after her death on September 7, 2017, Sister Mary Rita McSweeney, OP, received the St. Louise de Marillac Award for her 25 years of dedicated ministry to the senior citizens through Marillac St. Vincent Services. The award and Sister Mary Rita’s former ministry site are named for St. Louise de Marillac, co-founder with St. Vincent de Paul of the Daughters of Charity in France.
Among those attending the October 12, 2018, Beacon of Hope Luncheon were Adrian Dominican Sisters Norine Burns, OP, Nancy Murray, OP, Cyrilla Zarek, OP, and Jane Zimmerman, OP. Also attending in Sister Mary Rita’s honor were her nephew Michael McSweeney of Louisville, Kentucky; nieces, Diana McSweeney of Scottsdale, Arizona, and Mary McSweeney of Canton, Michigan; and five seniors with whom Sister Mary Rita had ministered.
Marillac St. Vincent Services is the result of a 2002 merger between two independent organizations run for more than 100 years by the Daughters of Charity: Marillac Social Center and St. Vincent de Paul Center. Marillac offers services to people in need in Chicago, from early childhood programs for newborns through 5-year-olds, to youth services, programs for pregnant teens, adult employment programs, to food pantries and other programs for senior citizens.
After teaching for 40 years, Sister Mary Rita retired from Catholic education and began 25 years of ministry with Marillac’s senior programs. Her ministry included visiting and calling homebound seniors and working with the Take Charge senior group, which grew to more than 80 participants.
“The meetings were social and informational,” explained Maureen Hallagan, MSW, Chief Operating Officer of Marillac St. Vincent Services. “Sister cooked meals for each group meeting and sent everyone home with the leftovers.” Maureen described Sister Rita as a “mentor, teacher, and friend” to the Marillac community. “She taught us all that it is important to have faith in everyone you meet, that there is good in everyone. She demonstrated that a smile goes a long way in making people feel special and, most importantly, that you never know when a good deed might make a difference in someone’s life.”
The awards luncheon was “a nice tribute to [Sister Mary Rita] and a nice way to keep her memory alive and to let us know that her good works continue at Marillac,” said Sister Norine Burns, who lived with Sister Mary Rita for 25 years. “A lot of people came up to us and old us about what Mary Rita meant to them.”
Sister Norine especially remembers the joy that Sister Mary Rita found in her ministry at Marillac. “She would always say, ‘I have the best job in the world,’” she recalled. “She never minded going to work … and she loved working with the poor, and especially the seniors.”
Sister Norine also described her friend as prayerful. “She trusted in God,” she said. “I think that’s why she loved the seniors so much, because seniors are religious people – and especially the African American people. They saw that in her they recognized that quality and they loved her for it.”
A very balanced person, Sister Mary Rita “knew how to have a good time and when it was time to work,” Sister Norine recalled. “She was a wonderful friend and a wonderful person to live with. She brought a lot of life and laughter into our time together.”
Read a profile of Sister Mary Rita McSweeney and watch a video of the luncheon.
Feature photo (top): Robert Christopher, Director of Development of Marillac St. Vincent Services, presents the St. Louise D’Marillac Award to family members of Sister Mary Rita McSweeney, OP, from left, nieces Mary McSweeney and Diana McSweeney and nephew Michael McSweeney.
Clockwise, from left: Volunteer Mary Sue McDonald, left, with Sister Norine Burns, OP. Sister Cyrilla Zarek, OP, left, and Diana McSweeney, niece of Sister Mary Rita. Irene Knox, left, one of Sister Mary Rita’s seniors, with Sister Jane Zimmerman, OP. Photos by Sister Jane Zimmerman