December 5, 2017, Adrian, Michigan – People involved in all aspects of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Ministry Trust Fund gathered at Weber Center recently for the Ministry Trust Mission Effectiveness Workshop, focusing on the history and procedures of the Ministry Trust.
Via video, Sister Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP, Vicaress and General Councilor, welcomed participants, which included those receiving grants and members of the committee that administer the Ministry Trust Fund. Sister Frances Nadolny, OP, General Councilor and Administrator, also welcomed participants, who came from various parts of Michigan and as far away as Wisconsin and Texas to gain insight into the Ministry Trust granting process. They represented non-profit organizations that serve populations ranging from formerly incarcerated men and women to inner-city youth, women dealing with crisis pregnancy or housing issues, and spirituality seekers.
After a litany of prayer for the “success of the work of the hearts” of the various ministry sites, Sister Fran offered background information on the history of the Ministry Trust. “From the moment we began ministry at St. Joseph Hospital and Home for the Aged in 1884, we were aware of the importance of sharing with others,” Sister Fran said. The Ministry Trust specifically was born out of the Congregation’s 1970 policy to “allocate resources to people in critical need of care, people who were disenfranchised.”
The Ministry Trust was founded in 1995 by Sister Patricia McCarty, OP, then Adrian Dominican Sisters Director of Development. Sister Pat directed the Ministry Trust Office, established in 1999, for two years. Under the 12-year leadership of Sister Joanne Lucas, the grant application process was developed, along with local and national granting committees and criteria for applicants.
Dee Joyner, Adrian Dominican Associate and Director of the Congregation’s Office of Resilient Communities, gave a presentation on resilient communities – the focus of one of the four Enactments of the Congregation’s 2016 General Chapter.
“Community resiliency represents a community’s ability to bounce back from shocks and stresses caused by climate change and extreme weather events, but also man-made stresses, which come about as a result of economic downturns or cultural and racial tensions,” Dee explained.
An April 2017 gathering of Sisters, Associates, and people in ministry with the Congregation came up with a working definition of a resilient community: “One that has a long-range, sustainable vision that emerges from the community and evidences grassroots leadership, community participation, collaboration, and partnership and a diversity of people engaged, healing and celebrating the human spirit, and one-planet thinking.”
Based on this draft definition, Dee said, many of the organizations represented at the workshop already work with some elements of resilient communities. She noted that the leadership of the Congregation has set aside 2018 as a year to study to come up with specific grant criteria for resilient communities.
Participants then heard about the Flint, Michigan experience of economic injustice through a presentation offered by Sister Carol Weber, OP, Co-founder and Co-director of St. Luke’s N.E.W. Life Center in Flint, and Cara Manns, who earned her GED through the Center and now serves as its receptionist.
Cara spoke of her family’s experience of dealing with the water crisis: from the presence of lead in her grandson’s blood to having to use bottled water to brush their teeth, cook, and bathe. She also noted the challenge of trying to get to one of four water distribution sites in the city after work – when the sites begin to close down.
The water crisis “has caused an already poverty-stricken city to be even more burdened,” Sister Carol said. “The only image I can think of is people who already have everything on their backs, and this water crisis is one more thing laid on their backs.”
The N.E.W. Life Center responded to the crisis at first by serving as a water distribution site, and later added weekly nutrition classes to help mothers and grandmothers prepare nutritious meals to offset the effects of the lead poisoning in their children. The Center also offers job preparation and training, as well as a sewing co-op so that the women can earn a living. Among the new products created by the co-op are filters created from recycled water bottle pellets, under a partnership with General Motors, Sister Carol said.
Participants also learned about practical aspects of applying for a Ministry Trust grant: writing a proposal for the grant, developing measurable goals and objectives, and engaging in stewardship and financial accountability.
The 24 Ministry Trust grant recipients for fiscal year 2018 serve a variety of populations in various settings: from the rural poor in Kentucky, inner-city residents of Detroit, and homeless people in West Palm Beach, Florida, to crisis pregnancy help in Detroit and support for struggling families in Yakima, Washington.
Feature photo: Cara Manns, left, and Sister Carol Weber, OP, offer a workshop on Environmental Injustice, relating it specifically to their experience of the Flint water crisis at their ministry, St. Luke’s N.E.W. Life Center in Flint.